Sheffield United 1-0 Arsenal: 3 reasons why the Gunners lost | Premier League 2019-20
The Gunners traveled to Bramall Lane hoping to extend an eight-game unbeaten run, but Chris Wilder's men had other ideas. A first-half strike from Lys Mousset, in the 30th minute of play, proved to be Arsenal's undoing as the Blades held on to their lead for the rest of the contest.
With this result, Arsenal spurned an opportunity to climb into the Premier League top 3; they now sit 5th on the standings, with 15 points accrued. The Blades, on the other hand, are now in 9th place thanks to their excellent team performance.
Bramall Lane has not been a happy hunting ground for Arsenal. They have visited the ground on four occasions but never picked up a victory, only managing two draws and two losses.
Here, we look at three reasons why the Gunners lost.
#3 A glorious opportunity missed by Nicolas Pepe
In football, you strike when the iron is hot. But unfortunately for Arsenal in this encounter, Nicolas Pepe spurned what in retrospect was a very vital opportunity in the match.
In the 21st minute, an Arsenal counter started by Pepe deep in his half ended with the Ivorian failing to connect properly with a Sead Kolasinac cross, missing an opportunity to turn the tide firmly in Arsenal's favour. Nine minutes later, Sheffield United stunned Unai Emery's men with the only goal of the encounter.
Pepe was probably one of Arsenal's best performers on a night when so many underperformed. But that miss didn't do his reputation any favours, and the Arsenal faithful continue to demand a justification for his hefty price tag.
Pepe has scored just one goal in nine appearances since his switch to the North London club.
#2 The Sheffield United backline continued to impress
Sheffield United have been impressive as a unit this season, and the team's best element has certainly been their defending. The Blades have conceded a paltry seven goals this season so far, on par with a certain club called Liverpool.
They have been consistently good against top-flight opposition this term, and were very unlucky to come unstuck against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool last time out.
Against the Gunners, they once again brought their gritty defensive orientation to the fore, protecting their one-goal lead with aplomb. Interestingly, the Blades have not lost an encounter after taking pole position at half-time since 2014.
#1 A well-taken opportunity
In the 21st minute, Pepe failed to convert an opportunity that was easier to score than miss, and nine minutes later he was made to rue that as Mousset whipped the Bramall Lane crowd into a frenzy with a well-taken opportunity.
It was a classic poacher's goal. Mousset was on hand to knock the ball into the back of the net from close range, thanks to an assist from Jack O'Connell off a Sheffield United corner kick.
This was the 23-year-old Frenchman's first Premier League start. With the goal, he has given Chris Wilder something to ponder with regard to his first-team selection going forward.