Sheffield United came away with all three points against the Gunners, as Lys Mousset goal proved to be the only difference between the two sides, in what was a hard-fought encounter.
The Blades piled on the pressure in the early minutes, not allowing Arsenal any space to begin their dangerous counter attacks. However, they also failed to find chances of their own.
The best chance in the opening minutes came to Arsenal as after a dangerous counter, Bukayo Saka ran down his left wing to deliver a cross to the waiting Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the box.
However, despite Saka’s perfect cross, Pepe was unable to find the touch to put it in the back of the net.
The opening goal came instead about ten minutes later. Following a corner, Jack O’Connell headed the ball downwards from the far post into the centre of the box to find the foot of the unmarked Lys Mousset, who delivered the final touch to get the first goal of the game.
Only a few minutes later, Saka looked to have been fouled in the Blades penalty box. Moans rang out around the stadium at the referee’s whistle as the crowd thought the penalty had been awarded.
However, just a second later, Mike Dean indicated for a free kick and showed Saka the yellow card for simulation, a decision that the replays show was justified.
Over at the Arsenal bench, the situation escalated even more, as coach Freddie Ljungberg saw the same card as Saka after getting a little too hot-headed.
Arsenal controlled the majority of possession and looked to break on the counter a few times but the Blades defense was always well organised and didn’t give their opposition an inch of space.
However, neither side really had any more dangerous opportunities in the remainder of the first half.
Near the end of the half however, Granit Xhaka was waiting at the edge of the Blades box and found himself with the ball at his feet. He put all his power into his shot and it looked like it was about to go in but Dean Henderson dived for it and put it out for a corner.
As the first half came to a close, the Blades went back to the dressing room with the lead intact.
At the start of the second half, Unai Emery looked to shake things up immediately, as Joe Willock went off for Dani Ceballos.
Arsenal piled on the pressure in the opening five minutes but they were unable to find the breakthrough as the Blades defense remained steadfast.
Ceballos had a chance early after having been brought on, as a cross was delivered to him, however, as he attempted the one-touch shot, it was too weak.
Sheffield United looked to have gotten another, as the ball found John Fleck right outside the Arsenal penalty area. He struck a well-hit shot and for a second it seemed as it if it had gone in but a second later it was clear that it only struck the side netting.
About five minutes later, the Blades had another good opportunity. Billy Sharp attempted a shot from far out but it went straight into Bernd Leno’s grasp. However, for a brief second, the German keeper lost control of the ball and David McGoldrick raced to get to it, only for Leno to finally catch it at the last moment.
Arsenal’s first real dangerous opportunity in the second half came around the 72nd minute mark as Alexandre Lacazette was brought down outside the Blades’ penalty box. Pepe stepped up to take the free kick and even though it was on target, it was an easy save for Henderson.
Just about a minute later, Pepe had another good shot towards goal but although it looked dangerous, it ended up being about one metre off target. In the resulting goal kick, Henderson was booked for time wasting.
Even with a few substitutions for both sides, Arsenal couldn’t find the breakthrough and didn’t have any really threatening opportunities as the Blades defense stayed organised throughout the remainder of the second half.
In the end, Sheffield United managed to hang on for the rest of the game and came away with three vital points.
Unai Emery said: “We conceded more corners from them then we wanted and in one corner they scored.
“We got the chances in the offensive corner and one is very clear, the penalty. I think VAR is for that such situation and I think it was very clear.
“I think we deserved more and we didn’t deserve to lose that match but also I appreciate their work and their job and with that result, they felt strong to achieve that result.
“Tonight the match, across the 90 minutes, we controlled it. More possession, more chances, more shots against them. For example, Pepe is improving and he is getting better little by little and the next step is to score.”
Chris Wilder said: “It’s what we’re in the division for, days and nights like this. We needed to produce a big performance against a historic football club and a team that is expected to do really well this year.
(On Mousset’s first league start) “He has been knocking on the door. We had to get him up to speed. A lot of work has been put in with the conditioners and with Lys himself to get him in the condition where he would start a game.
“We’re not buying 40-50-60 million pound players that are established internationals and have played all over Europe. We’re buying players that want to get better and want to improve and are taking their early steps into the Premier League.
“I want to win, I want my team to win, I want my players to win, I want them to win at everything.”
“I want players to have that attitude and within their mindset.”
Sheffield United: Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham; Stevens, Fleck, Norwood (85’ McBurnie), Lundstram, Baldock; Mousset (56’ Sharp), McGoldrick (78’ Freeman). Subs not used: Moore, Robinson, Jagielka, Besic.
Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Xhaka (69’ Lacazette), Guendouzi; Saka, Willock (46’ Ceballos), Pepe (78’ Martinelli); Aubameyang .Subs not used: Martinez, Tierney, Torreira, Holding.
Referee: Mike Dean
Bookings: Sheffield United: Fleck (15’), O’Connell (39’), McGoldrick (66’), Henderson (75)
Arsenal: Saka (35’), Kolasinac (67’), Sokratis (86’), Chambers (90+4’)
Scorers: Sheffield United: Lys Mousset (30’)
HT: 1 – 0
FT: 1 – 0
Man of the Match: Lys Mousset