Chris Wilder says improved Sheffield United were denied by fine margins in 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal

Chris Wilder was left bemoaning the fine lines and self-belief which stopped a much-improved Sheffield United performance being a winning one.

In their best display since the resumption, the Blades were beaten 2-1 by a stoppage-time goal from Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos in their FA Cup quarter-final at Bramall Lane.

It was a day when little seemed to go right for the hosts with John Lundstram having an early goal correctly chalked off by the video assistant referee, then substituted with his left arm in a makeshift sling. Instead Arsenal took the lead with a soft penalty conceded by Chris Basham.

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But Wilder said before the game he was more concerned with the performance than the result, and on that score he was pretty happy.

INJURY: John Lundstram went off injured after having a goal disallowed

“I had complete belief we would get back into that,” he said. “It was fine lines in terms of John Lundstram being offside and Basham making a bit of a rash challenge.

“They have a lot of pace on the counter-attack but second half I thought we dominated, missed the best chances and I was confident we would have another before the end.”

Sheffield United had not scored since March’s lockdown until David McGoldrick’s 88th-minute equaliser, poking the ball in as it bounced around from Jack Robinson’s long throw-in. Wilder felt the confidence his side lacked after drawing at Villa Park and losing 3-0 at St James’s Park and Old Trafford was pivotal.

“I thought we were the dominant team second half,” he said “They had to defend for their lives at times. They have shown that bit of quality after we gave the ball away pretty cheaply.

“We have just not got that balance right.

“We asked questions of Arsenal. We wanted to be effective and I thought we were but there are a couple of boys who are a bit short of belief and then they take an extra touch and aren’t as bright on their play. If we had got the last pass out, a bit of quality around the box I believe we would have won the game. (There were) encouraging points from our point of view.”

Of Arsenal’s penalty, won by Andre Lacazette and converted by Nicolas Pepe, Wilder said: “He (Basham) has given the invitation out for those boys to go over. Maybe it is natural for those sort of players. It isn’t natural for me and my players.

“There is contact, he has felt it and gone down and given the ref (Paul Tierney) a decision to make. From our point of view, if Bash stays on his feet, we are in a decent position. A couple of things have gone against us today but we have to battle through it.”

Despite his frustrations, Wilder felt it was a positive day for his side.

“One hundred percent, yeah,” he said. “We have pushed Arsenal to the limit. It was pretty comfortable for Manchester United on Wednesday night. That was an uncomfortable afternoon for Arsenal.

“What we have had to do all season is make sure it is a perfect storm. We can’t play at six or seven out of 10 to get a result, we have to be at eight and nines.

“It was more of a Sheffield United performance from start to finish.”

Mikel Arteta praised the character of his Arsenal side, saying: “I am very pleased with the result, it’s a very difficult place to come and win,” he said. “After conceding so late mentally that reaction is not easy. Now we are back at Wembley.

”They did what I asked and the way we dealt with Sheffield’s play. They are really good the way they commit people forward and win second balls.

“Hopefully we can have some momentum (now).”

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