Mark Lawrenson states his prediction for Sheffield United v Arsenal
Mark Lawrenson is backing Sheffield United to beat Arsenal on penalties in the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday
Mark Lawrenson is backing Sheffield United to beat Arsenal on penalties in their FA Cup quarter-final clash at Bramall Lane on Sunday afternoon.
The Gunners ended their losing run on Thursday evening thanks to a 2-0 victory over Southampton at St Mary’s courtesy of goals from Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock.
Arsenal moved to within a point of eighth-placed Sheffield United after Chris Wilder’s side failed to win for the third successive game after a 3-0 loss to Manchester United.
The Gunners appear unlikely to finish in the Champions League spots this season given that Chelsea FC have an 11-point cushion over the London rivals in the Premier League table.
While Arteta’s Arsenal side might miss out on a place in next season’s Champions League, the Spanish head coach still has a chance to finish the campaign with silverware.
No team has won the FA Cup more times than Arsenal as the Gunners look to show some progress under the former Manchester City assistant manager this term.
However, former Liverpool FC defender Lawrenson reckons Arsenal supporters will experience more heartache when they face Sheffield United in the last eight on Sunday afternoon.
“Like Norwich, Sheffield United are another team who do not look like they have got a goal in them at the moment,” Lawrenson told BBC Sport.
“The Blades are just not playing as well as they were earlier in the season, but maybe the fact they are playing Arsenal might help them out.
“Arsenal are just a mess at the moment, and this is a situation that has been coming for while.
“Some people point the blame at former manager Arsene Wenger, but I don’t agree with that. Even his worst Gunners team would beat this current Arsenal side, easily.
“There just seems a total lack of a cohesive plan at the club when it comes to things like scouting, recruitment and contracts, and I feel sorry for current manager Mikel Arteta, because none of it is his fault.
“Since Wenger has gone, there has been a scattergun approach – and it has not worked.
“As for this tie, I am going for the Blades to win on penalties, but Arsenal’s problems will not be over by a long shot even if they do get through.”
Arsenal were 4-2 winners against Sheffield United in their last meeting in the FA Cup back in March 2005.
The Gunners have only won one of their last eight games at Bramall Lane, having lost to Sheffield United earlier this term.
Arsenal do have an excellent record in the FA Cup over the past couple of decades, progressing from 13 of their past 15 quarter-final clashes.
Sheffield United’s last appearance in the FA Cup quarter-final came back in 2013-14 when the Blades beat Charlton Athletic.
Arsenal will return to Premier League action on Wednesday night with a home clash against Norwich City.
Sheffield United will host Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday night as they face both north London sides in the space of a week.