Sheffield United welcome Arsenal to Bramall Lane on Monday night. Tom Carnduff picks out two best bets at attractive prices.
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Sheffield United v Arsenal
- 2000 BST kick-off on Sky Sports Premier League
Sheffield United get the Monday Night Football treatment as they welcome Arsenal to Bramall Lane.
The Blades' start to life back in the Premier League has been a positive one. Their three defeats have all been by single-goal margins, including against Liverpool, while they picked up a point away at Chelsea.
I said across the summer that I felt United would pick up points against those traditional top-six opponents and I stand by that view. In fact, they can go one step further and gain victory here.
Chris Wilder has got the Blades playing a brand of football that is not only entertaining but also effective. The lazy assumption that they would play direct football when they were promoted couldn't be further from the truth.
There is now a case to say that Arsenal's defensive problems aren't as bad as previous seasons. Even if that is correct, though, United's overlapping centre-backs and overloading of wide areas should prove to be problematic.
The form of Chris Basham has carried over from the Sky Bet Championship into the Premier League, on the whole. The centre-back has shone in fixtures against Crystal Palace, Everton and Watford.
Not only can he be trusted with the defensive duties, but his ability to carry the ball forward and operate on the right wing at times gives Wilder's side a creative outlet that most don't have.
I was a fan of the sub-markets in Sheffield United games last season and good value was on offer in the shots on target market in particular, and the same applies here with Basham, who is 13/2 to have at least one on target.
The really good news here comes with the news that Mike Dean is the referee, which almost guarantees theatre regardless of the scoreline.
Dean has shown at least four yellows in six of his seven Premier League games this season and two of those contests also had a red, so under the floodlights and with high-class visitors, we should expect the world's favourite referee to be busy.
Arsenal to receive most bookings is tempting, but not as tempting as the 15/4 about David Luiz being booked. The Gunners centre-back already has two yellows on his tally this season, one of which came when Dean was the official, and should be on everyone's radar here.
He may not have committed as many fouls as Granit Xhaka, who sits second in the Premier League and is still available at 11/5 at the time of writing, but Luiz has still fallen foul of a couple of officials and another card could well be coming.
That price of 15/4 is worth taking with anything upwards of 2/1 considered good value.
In terms of the contest itself, I am tempted by the 3/1 on a home victory for reasons listed above. Backing the Blades to score two or more goals at 7/4 also made the shortlist, but we'll stick with Basham to hit the target and Luiz to receive a card on what could be a good night for the hosts.
Prediction: Sheffield United 2-1 Arsenal (Sky Bet odds: 12/1)
Best bet: David Luiz to be shown a card at 15/4
- Sheffield United are unbeaten in their last four top-flight home games against Arsenal (W1 D3) since a 0-2 loss in April 1991. However, this is their first such meeting since December 2006.
- Arsenal have played more Premier League games at Bramall Lane without victory than they have any other ground in the competition (3 – D2 L1).
- Arsenal have won their last seven Premier League games in Yorkshire – the longest winning run by an away side in the county in English top-flight history.
- Sheffield United have lost their last three Premier League home games. They last lost four in a row at home in league competition in April 1965.
- Arsenal are winless in their three away league games since beating Newcastle on the opening weekend (D2 L1). Under Unai Emery, the Gunners have kept just two clean sheets in 23 away Premier League matches (1-0 at Watford and 1-0 at Newcastle).
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League matches on a Monday (W8 D2), going down 0-3 against Crystal Palace in April 2017.
- Sheffield United haven’t lost a league game on a Monday since January 2012 (2-3 vs Carlisle), winning six and drawing six since. This is their first top-flight game on Monday since January 2007 (1-3 vs Middlesbrough).
- Sheffield United have scored just one goal before half-time in the Premier League this season, fewer than any other side. All seven of their goals have also all been scored by different players, including benefitting from two own goals.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 49 goals in 75 games for Arsenal in all competitions – a goal here would see him become the sixth fastest player to reach the 50 milestone for the Gunners.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 80% of Arsenal’s Premier League away goals this season (4/5), with Lucas Torreira netting the other.
Odds correct as of 1400 BST on 18/10/19
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