Sheffield United v Arsenal: Togetherness is key as Blades aim to rattle the Gunners, says Chris Wilder

Sheffield United's Phil Jagielka: First showed his Premier League quality against Arsenal 16 years ago, said manager Chris Wilder.
Sheffield United's Phil Jagielka: First showed his Premier League quality against Arsenal 16 years ago, said manager Chris Wilder.
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SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder believes that the strong connection between his players and Blades supporters will contribute significantly towards the club achieving their declared aim of Premier League survival.

Read more Why Gunners don’t like Sheffield

In certain games, it just goes to another level. The level of support we have received has been outstanding.

Chris Wilder

After the recent high-profile home appointment against leaders Liverpool, another marquee moment in United’s campaign arrives this evening when Arsenal visit Bramall Lane – in a fixture which will be beamed live across the globe.

Despite an impressive start to their top-flight season, the Blades are seeking to avoid a fourth successive home league defeat tonight.

Regardless of the setbacks on home soil, where the hosts’ only three points in 2019-20 arrived against Crystal Palace on August 18, support has been unstinting in the stands.

The levels of backing in United’s last home game were such that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp immediately applauded the home supporters at the final whistle and lavished praise on the atmosphere at Bramall Lane after the game.

On the togetherness between home players and supporters, Wilder remarked: “I think it is important at every club. There needs to be that.

“When you do not have it there, it is very rare you are going to be successful. When this club has been at its best, there has been a togetherness.

“When we came in, there were seven or eight parts of the club which worked independently – and that was not for me.

“The players relate to the crowd. I have been in changing rooms where players have slagged off supporters and I have been out and about when supporters have hammered players.

“I have never had that feeling when players are saying ‘sod that lot out there. We are in it ourselves.’ It has happened before, when players go insular. But I have never felt that here.

“Never. Okay, people might have a moan up about individual performances or results. But these lads never leave themselves open for it.

“In certain games, it just goes to another level. The level of support we have received has been outstanding.

“We want to show what we are about as a team and the supporters will want to show what Sheffield United are like as a football club to the public.”

His side may have acclimatised to their Premier League surroundings relatively quickly, but Wilder admits to being a little disappointed that the Blades’ points tally is not higher, with work still to do in that regard in the weeks ahead.

The Blades chief commented: “We have got to keep picking up points. We were a touch disappointed we did not pick up more against Watford.

“When I reflected on that, it was tough for our front boys when they (Watford) just sat in and you heard the comments from there afterwards.

“I do think we are a touch light in terms of points. But you get what you deserve. I am not looking at May, I am looking at the next run of games.

“Arsenal will be a competitive game. Yet again, another club comes to town with a fantastic history that is looking to challenge at the top end of the division.”

Tonight’s fixture will offer a rewind to several eventful and dramatic meetings between the sides in days gone by.

One of the most famous ones was staged at Old Trafford in an FA Cup semi-final meeting in 2003 – when United were denied a goal by a miraculous save from Gunners goalkeeper David Seaman in front of Unitedites in the Stretford End, whose number included Wilder.

Wilder said: “I had a ticket behind the goal. There is still a picture at Bramall Lane, in the corridor, of that one-handed save.

“Everybody behind the goal, myself included, thought that was the opportunity.

“I thought Jags’ (Phil Jagielka) performance against Thierry Henry that day was magnificent.

“I thought that was the day when he announced himself as a Premier League quality player.”