Sheffield United 1 Arsenal 0
Moussett 30

Unai Emery came to rue his team selection which saw Arsenal cut down by Sheffield United on Monday night in the Premier League. The only goal of the game came after the Gunners failed to clear a loose ball from a corner, enabling the unmarked Lys Mousset to tap in from six yards. The sight of fit again, Kiran Tierney, Rob Holding and Alexander Lacazette all on the substitutes’ bench where they also found Dani Ceballos and Lucas Torreira proved to be a massive faux pas for Emery.If they were all fit, then why didn’t they start? Once again, an Arsenal team had the overwhelming share of possession, 68%, but once again they failed to make that count. In fact, Blades’ ‘keeper Dean Henderson had only to deal with a long range effort from Granit Xhaka, and that was it really. Nicolas Pepe horribly squandered a side footed effort after a slick passing move which should have seen the Gunners level. On his current form, and just a solitary penalty to his name so far this season, many Arsenal fans are wondering why he commanded a £70m fee. By the time Ceballos, Lacazette, and the talented Gabriel Martinelli all came on, United had gotten accustom to sitting deep and denying the visitors any end product to their creativity. Bukayo Saka was shown aa yellow card for diving, the decision seemed harsh as his marker definitely had an impact of the teenager’s tumble. Emery will be upset too of course. But when your team has had ample time to prepare after an international break for a tricky away day in the north, then surely his side has to be doing better than this.

What is it about Arsenal and red striped opponents. Last season saw the Gunners suffer their first Premier League loss in twenty three games at Southampton, and then there is that minor inconvenience called Stoke. Emery might have had team preservation in his mind, however he didn’t have the nouse to claim the three points that would have seen Arsenal up to third in the Premier League. Maybe that’s a good thing as saying that the Gunners merit being in the shadow of either Liverpool or Manchester City would be fanciful. We can’t be certain of course, but it would be a fair bet to say that neither of those two teams would have come away empty handed from Bramall Lane. Chris Wilder has his team drilled to the nuances of defensive certainty much to the way that Emery hasn’t, with the Blades back three of Jack O’Connell, Chris Basham and John Egan all showing how it’s done.

On his goal scoring record to date, the Martinelli should have been used earlier. His talent to unlock a defence would have been an interesting, and who knows a profitable option had Emery seen that, however giving the Brazilian just twelve minutes against a dug in defence of a side who are 1-0 up just doesn’t add up.

“We’re very disappointed with that result. There is the result, and secondly is how we managed the 90 minutes in the match. Really I think we created more chances than them, the better chances, but tonight we didn’t achieve the efficiency to win that match. We conceded more corners to them than we wanted, and from one they scored. Also, when they are pushing and they are taking a lot of corners, they can do that. We created more corners, 12 [compared to] seven or eight for them,” noted Emery.

The Arsenal manager felt that VAR should have enabled his side to have a penalty for an infringement of Sokratis. Nothing was given or checked, but isn’t that what VAR is there for, questioned Emery.

“I was on the bench and really I watched perfectly, he won the timing to head the ball and for me it was a clear penalty. I think the VAR is for this reason. My point is to review and after to decide, but we need to also help the referees. I think the reason for the VAR is this.”

On a frustrating nigh for Emery and his men, Freddie Ljunberg was shown a yellow card following Saka being denied a penalty.

Much however will be made of Emery’s failure to send out a strong starting eleven, not too dissimilar to the team which finished the match. The Arsenal manager surely knows his best starting eleven, doesn’t he? Emery deflected attention from that assertion.

“My point of view tonight is that there are things to analyse and improve. Defensively at the beginning of the match they pushed and we didn’t stop them. We didn’t concede a lot of chances, but they had corners offensively and they can score from these corners. We had more than them, but we know they are a strong team in that situation and they use it to win matches. In other situations throughout the 90 minutes I think we controlled it in moments to create more chants. We didn’t score tonight, but if we played another match like tonight, I think it’s more easy to achieve the points.”

Arsenal next host Vitoria in Thursday’s Europa League fixture where an accomplished performance will be the absolute minimum for Emery’s side.