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Blades sharpen double sword

LONDON • Sheffield United are shaking up the order in the English Premier League, with the Blades challenging for a spot in Europe in their first top-flight campaign for 13 years.

Chris Wilder's men travel to Arsenal today four points and four rungs ahead of the 10th-placed Gunners. And having beaten them 1-0 earlier in the season at Bramall Lane, they are confident of doing the double.

"It's an outstanding news story so far and I'd love it to be a brilliant news story at the end of the season," said the Blades manager.

"For us to find ourselves in sixth position at this stage of the season is quite remarkable. But… it's all about where we finish at the end of the season."

The remarkable job he has done in lifting his boyhood club from third-tier League One to challenging the established order in just 21/2 years was rewarded with a contract extension till 2024 last week.

"The club have given me the task of continuing the work that we've started," he added. "The challenge is to make sure we have Premier League football on a regular basis."

Unlike most promoted sides, Sheffield have higher aims than just securing safety. Since Ipswich finished fifth in 2001, the best a promoted side has finished is seventh.

NOT CLEAR CUT

They are really difficult to break down. .. So it will be a very difficult test. I already warned the players today.

MIKEL ARTETA, Arsenal manager, on the challenge he expects from the visitors today. Only runaway leaders Liverpool (14) have conceded fewer Premier League goals than Sheffield United (21) this season.

Yet with 32 points already on the board, Wilder's men are off to the best 22-game start to a league season for a promoted team since Birmingham recorded 33 points in 2010.

They are also two points ahead of eighth-placed Tottenham, last season's Champions League finalists.

The "Big Six" – including Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – are among the top-11 richest clubs in football, according to Deloitte's Football Money League.

At the other end of the spectrum, Sheffield's squad are filled with journeymen, who like Wilder, have battled their way through the English football pyramid to earn their chance on the biggest stage.

The contrast with his opposite number today could not be more stark. Mikel Arteta was handed the chance to take charge of one of England's biggest clubs despite having no previous touchline experience.

However, Wilder is among those already impressed with the Spaniard's impact since taking over late last month.

He said: "Arsenal have made a fantastic appointmentRead More – Source