Sheffield United caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom believes Arsenal are where they deserve to be ahead of facing the Blades this weekend.

Paul Heckingbottom said: “You can say that but we are at the stage of the season where you are where you deserve to be. You have seen in their games they can really open you up – there have been questions, there are moments when they can blow teams away, we have to try and make them not be that good and play on the back foot while keeping an eye on those players they have who can produce a bit of magic and take a game away from you.”

However, he says there are weaknesses within the Arsenal side that Sheffield United will look to exploit as they go in search of just a fifth league win of the campaign, with the Gunners’ 3-0 defeat against Liverpool last week highlighting frailties.

Paul Heckingbottom added: “We will obviously try to, we have seen a few changes in their game, sometimes they go short, but they have also started going a bit long. We have to prepare for both. If we have to press high we have to be ready for that, if they are going to take that option away and go longer than we have to be ready for that. You have to accept that Arsenal are going to get through you, they do that every time – people will always highlight the negatives but they create a lot of chances at the top end of the pitch.”

Arsenal won 2-1 in the Premier League fixture against Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in October, and also won in the FA Cup at Bramall Lane last June. However, the Gunners lost 1-0 against the Blades in the league last season, with Lys Mousset scoring the only goal of the game at Bramall Lane. And Heckingbottom is hoping for a similar outcome, although he admits it will be difficult for the beleaguered Blades, who are 15 points from safety in the Premier League with eight games to play.

Paul Heckingbottom said: “We would love a repeat of that performance and result. We know the one thing that is missing is the fans, that atmosphere is electric but as it stands on Sunday we won’t have that but what we can control is our feelings and try and draw on those memories – we are going to prepare the best we can to give that type of performance.”

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