Raise your hand if you thought, 22 games into the season, that Arsenal would be looking up at Sheffield United in the table. The second of two automatically promoted teams this season, the Blades were tipped by a lot of people - including literally everyone on this website - to go straight back down to the Championship after this season.
The general rule of thumb for Premier League safety is that anywhere from 37-40 points is usually enough to ensure a team stays up. After 22 games, Sheffield United sits on 32 points, so even if they regress hard for the rest of the season, they should be able to squeeze eight more points out of their remaining 16 games and stay up, proving once again that punditry is pointless.
Anyway. Arsenal come into this game following a draw with Crystal Palace in which Good Old Arsenal, at least the version from the last year or so, popped up again, reminding us all that Mikel Arteta is neither miracle worker or savant. There’s a lot of work to be done at the club, and it won’t be quick, but in every game, we’re seeing tiny signs of progress.
That progress will hopefully continue today as the Blades come to the Emirates - an Arsenal win will pull them within a point of Sheffield United, and two points of fifth place Manchester United, at least temporarily, until Manchester United play Liverpool on Sunday.
There are no unimportant points, but there are some important points to be had today, and hopefully Arsenal can put two good halves together and get all three.
Arsenal v. Sheffield United, Premier League
Saturday, January 18, 2020
7AM PT/10AM ET/1PM BT
Emirates Stadium, London
US TV: NBC Sports, Universo (Spanish language)
US Streaming: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app, Fubo, Sling, Universo Now
Worldwide: Check livesoccer.tv for info in your area
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Arsenal - Leno, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, David Luiz, Saka, Torreira, Xhaka, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Lacazette
Today's team news...— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 18, 2020
Martinelli in starting XI
Mustafi partners David Luiz
Torreira also starts
Sheffield United - Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McBurnie, Mousset
Here’s how we line-up— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) January 18, 2020
Oli McBurnie & Lys Mousset lead the line. Didzy is ruled out with a minor foot injury.#ARSSHU pic.twitter.com/LZXRUEMvbR