Arsenal manager Unai Emery admitted that Nicholas Pepe's first-half miss proved to be critical in his side's 1-0 loss to Sheffield United on Monday.

Pepe, a $93 million summer signing from Lille, was forced to fire off target when he found himself in front of the goal following Sead Kolasinac's pin-point cross. The scoreline at that point was 0-0. The home side ensured Arsenal pay for the miss as Lys Mousset netted one in the 30th minute following a corner and that turned out to be the winning goal.

In a post-match interview, Arsenal boss insisted that had Pepe scored in the first half, things would have been different. He also mentioned that it's not easy to create chances but he thought Arsenal controlled the ball better in most of the positions.

"That was the key I think because if that (Pepe’s chance) goes in – they are the team in the Premier League who have conceded least goals with Liverpool, seven only. And if they score the first goal then defensively they are very strong and they defended very well in the second half," Emery said.

"It’s not easy to create the chances, but I think we controlled the ball more in the (better) positions. I think we deserved more. I don’t think we deserved to lose the match, but I appreciate (Sheffield United’s) work and I appreciate they are here with their supporters," the Spaniard added.

Sheffield United striker Lys Mousset (2nd L) celebrates the winner against Arsenal
Sheffield United striker Lys Mousset (2nd L) celebrates the winner against Arsenal AFP / Oli SCARFF

Emery also lamented referee's call not to award Arsenal an early penalty when Sheffield defender John Egan pulled his counterpart Sokratis' t-shirt as the home side defended a corner.

"It was very clearly a penalty. I think it was very clear. Then the first chance for us, from Pepe," Emery said.

With the loss at Bramall Lane, Arsenal missed a chance to move back up to the third spot on the Premier League table. That also brought their eight-game unbeaten run to an end. With 15 points, Arsenal are currently placed fifth with the likes of leaders Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester City and Chelsea above them.

“We’re very disappointed with that result. We created the best chances, but we didn’t achieve everything to win that match," the Arsenal boss added.