HomeWilder says Sheffield United players 'damaged' after Arsenal rout

Wilder says Sheffield United players ‘damaged’ after Arsenal rout

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Chris Wilder acknowledged he is working with a “damaged” group of players after Sheffield United’s dreadful season took another turn for the worse with Monday’s crushing 6-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Sheffield United entered Monday’s game looking to avoid a fourth successive rout in front of their own fans, having lost 5-2 and 5-0 to Brighton and Hove Albion either side of another 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa in their last three at Bramall Lane.

They had shipped another five by the 39-minute mark as Arsenal ran riot, with the Blades’ 6-0 defeat leaving them with a goal difference of -50, having conceded 72 goals in 27 league games this term.

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Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Wilder said Sheffield United had no choice but to pick themselves up and go again, though he suggested he might use the last 11 games of the season to blood young players with Premier League survival looking increasingly unlikely.

“We’ve got to dust ourselves down and go again on Saturday. We have an obligation,” Wilder said.

“I thought our supporters were amazing and I understand supporters leaving, but the noise at the end shows what an amazing club this is. We can get back to that.

“It’s a painful season, and the boys are a damaged group of players, there’s no doubt about that. It’s been a long season and they’ve had to take some big hits.

“We have to take responsibility, whether pre-me or now, we can’t get away from that. It might be time for me to have a little peek at who takes us forward for the next 11 games.

“I thought the young guns who came on at half-time… [Oliver] Arblaster, [Andre] Brooks and [William] Osula, maybe they’re the ones that might take us forward. There were certainly disappointing performances from us, all over the park.

“When you’re not at that level, you’re going to get punished really brutally, like we were today. They were in a different league, on a different planet, to us today.”

Arsenal, meanwhile, have won their first seven league games of 2024 while scoring 31 goals in the process, and they sit two points behind league leaders Liverpool and one back from Manchester City in second, ahead of those sides doing battle at Anfield on Sunday.

Arsenal resisted the urge to sign a striker despite fan pressure in January, and Mikel Arteta is delighted to see them sharing the goals around, with five Gunners netting alongside Jayden Bogle’s own goal.

“We really love our players, and our job is to improve them, to give them the resources and put them in situations where they can show their qualities,” Arteta said.

“The fact that so many of them are scoring, it obviously creates a sense of confidence and threat around the team that anybody can score a goal.”

Next up for Arsenal is Saturday’s clash with Brentford, which gives them the opportunity to go top of the table before their two title rivals face off the following day.

Asked how important it could be to jump to the summit, Arteta said: “I don’t know, but I know how tough it will be against Brentford – it always is.

“We will try to prepare for the game in the best possible way, and hopefully we can carry on performing in the way we are doing.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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