Top 5: Sheffield United

Usually when I write these top fives, I try to select games that have taken place at the venue that the game is about to be played at. However, due to a lack of interesting stories at Bramall Lane, coupled with the fact that we've had some extraordinary matches against The Blades at other grounds, it seems fitting to discuss some of the great stories from those matches as well. 

Arsenal Offer a Replay

Back in 1999, Arsenal were hoping to defend the FA Cup. The Gunners were drawn against Sheffield United in the fifth round and for a long time it seemed like any other cup tie between a giant and an underdog. 

Patrick Vieira had given the holders the lead before Marcelo had levelled for The Blades to set up a grand-stand finish. Arsenal were desperate to avoid a replay at Bramall Lane, and so were pressing for a winner. With just 15 minutes of time to play, Sheffield United goalkeeper Alan Kelly kicked the ball into touch so that Lee Morris could receive treatment at the other end of the pitch.

When play resumed, Ray Parlour's intended throw back to the visitors was seized upon by new-signing Nwankwo Kanu, who rolled the ball across the box for Marc Overmars to tap home. Steve Bruce's side were furious and many of the Arsenal players embarrassed with the manner in which they had won. 

It was confirmed shortly after the match that Arsenal had offered the opportunity for the game to be void and subsequently replayed a week later at Highbury, which Steve Bruce and Sheffield United had accepted. Tickets were also sold at half price for supporters wishing to attend. 

Arsenal went onto win the replay 2-1, with first-half goals from Marc Overmars and a sublime chip by Dennis Bergkamp enough to clinch passage to the quarter finals. 

Sensational Seaman

Arsenal reached the 2003 FA Cup final after a 1-0 win over Sheffield United, but were given a mighty scare and relied on heroics from David Seaman to see them over the line. 

The Gunners were of course red-hot favourites going into the tie at Old Trafford, but made hard work of what had been expected to be a routine day at the office. 

Freddie Ljungberg got the crucial, yet controversial opening goal. Referee Graham Poll ignored a Sheffield United injury, before inadvertently blocking a challenge in the build up to the goal. Arsenal didn't care though, with Ljungberg converting after Sylvain Wiltord had struck the post.

The story of the game though came just minutes before the end. An out-swinging corner was kept alive, before forward Carl Asaba helped the ball onto the back post. Paul Peschisolido seemed certain to score, before Seaman defied all by clawing the ball away from the goal, where Paul Jagielka hammered high and wide. On Seaman's1000th senior appearance, the England goalkeeper had made one of the best, if not the greatest save of his career. 

Arsenal would go onto beat Southampton 1-0 in the final to make it back-to-back cup wins and three consecutive final appearances. 

Emirates Victory

Arsenal welcomed Sheffield United to Emirates Stadium in September 2006 looking for their first league win at their new home. The Gunners had twice drawn 1-1 at home to Aston Villa and Middlesbrough respectively, and were looking to make their state-of-the-art ground feel like home. 

The hosts were frustrated for much of the encounter, but finally took the lead through William Gallas, who stole in a the back post. Phil Jagielka then scored an own goal before Thierry Henry headed home to make absolutely certain of the points in the 80th minute. 

Despite only losing once in the league in their new home that season, they would be frustrated by a number of draws and for a second consecutive season, would end the season in fourth position. 

Eduardo Announces His Arrival

When Arsenal were drawn away to Sheffield United in the fourth round of the League Cup in 2007, they were hoping to continue their fine start to the season. With the traditional array of changes made to the starting XI by Arsene Wenger, new signing Eduardo and a young Nicklas Bendtner were chosen to lead the line.

Much had been made of Thierry Henry's departure from the club in the summer, with Eduardo brought into help replace him alongside Bendtner, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor. Despite a few appearances, and a couple of goals in the Champions League, Eduardo was yet to firmly cement himself in the Arsenal line up. 

When he was given the opportunity at Bramall Lane, he took it with both hands and showed why Wenger had decided to bring him to the club. Just eight minutes in, he was played wide by Bendtner, before the Croatian hammered a rocket with his left-foot into the top corner. A simply superb strike.

It would get better for Eduardo though, as he doubled his tally five minutes into the second half. Kieran Gibbs lofted a pass through, and Eduardo made no mistake as he passed a sublime finish into the bottom corner to ensure Arsenal safe passage through to the next round. 

Denilson would later add a third from long distance, but it was Eduardo who stole the headlines with a brilliant brace.

Lockdown Cup Success

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Arsenal were drawn away to Sheffield United. The original tie was scheduled for March but all football was postponed just nine days before, with the game eventually being played behind closed doors in June. 

John Lundstram thought he had given the Blades the lead in the ninth minute, only for his goal to be ruled out for offside following a VAR review. The Gunners then opened the scoring through a penalty converted by Nicolas Pepe. 

Arsenal looked as if they were going to see the game out, only for David McGoldrick to grab an equaliser in the 87th minute. Arsenal had other ideas though, and scored the winner deep into stoppage time through Dani Ceballos to send The Gunners through to the next round. 

The tie and remainder of the campaign may have been unorthodox, but it ended up being a season to remember for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, who would go on to beat Chelsea at Wembley to secure their 14th FA Cup win.