Half-time chill-out zone. Relax and float downstream. You’ll need all of your energy for the second half.
Fifty minutes of high-octane fun comes to an end. Just the three goals. It could have been 5-1, 2-6, or anything in between.
45 min +3: The corner nearly results in a goal … up the other end, as Arsenal counter, Odegaard powering a shot through a crowded box. De Gea saves well.
45 min +2: Ramsdale’s distribution has been comically poor this afternoon. He shanks one out of play under no pressure whatsoever. From the resulting throw, Dalot aims for the top left from distance. Ramsdale redeems himself with a fine save. He goes to gather … only for Cedric, again under no pressure, to hack out for a corner! A total lack of communication and a whole load of panic.
45 min: … but they’ll have to wait for it. There will be five added minutes.
44 min: The first drop in energy. Both teams perhaps dreaming of their half-time cup of tea.
42 min: A United corner leads to Odegaard taking a whack upside the head. A brief pause in play. Odegaard is checked and good to go.
40 min: Elneny steers a diagonal shot from the edge of the box towards the bottom left. De Gea extends to save brilliantly. From the resulting corner, Saka’s shot from the middle of a melee is blocked. There is no way this match will end 2-1.
38 min: Incidentally, when Ronaldo scored – his 100th Premier League goal, by the way – there was no ostentatious celebration. Instead, he quietly and discreetly crossed himself before sending a kiss to the heavens.
36 min: Telles goes down, taking an accidental whack in the mush. An opportunity for everyone to calm down? Arsenal don’t take it. Ramsdale and White exchange risky passes that very nearly let Sancho in on goal. They eventually clear. This game is absurd.
United are back in it! Sancho feeds Matic down the right. Matic curls to the far post, where Ronaldo sticks out a telescopic leg to thrash home. Simple as that! Tavares and Gabriel were standing around doing nothing, mind, making things very easy for Ronaldo there.
33 min: Fernandes has a long list of grievances, and he’s reading them out to the referee. It’s fair to say United aren’t happy with the penalty decision.
Saka gives De Gea the eyes, sends the keeper one way, and slots into the bottom left. What a cool penalty, after such a lengthy VAR kerfuffle.
31 min: Telles is booked for the foul. Saka, fresh from penalty success at Chelsea, will take the spot kick.
29 min: VAR is checking for offside. Yep, Nketiah was an inch or two off. But they’re also going to check for a penalty, Telles having shoved Saka in the back as he received the ball. The referee goes over to the monitor, and …
It’s fair to say a goal has been coming. But at what end? Here we go. Odegaard pings another ball down the inside-right channel. Saka, his back to goal, tries to shield the ball from Telles. The ball pings left to Nketiah, who takes a touch and slams home.
25 min: Arsenal go up the other end and nearly make it two. Odegaard flicks a ball down the inside-right to release Nketiah into the box. He’s one on one with De Gea, and lashes hard. Straight at the keeper, though, who parries.
24 min: United hit the bar! Dalot arcs a full-blooded effort over Ramsdale and towards the top left. It’s really travelling but hits the woodwork and twangs out. Ronaldo tries to recycle the ball but no dice.
23 min: Sancho dribbles down the left and into the Arsenal box. Cedric falls to the floor, and the ball deflects off his arm. You’ve seen penalties given for less, but neither referee nor VAR shows any interest.
21 min: A bit of space for Elanga out on the right. An exchange of passes with Dalot, who cuts back for Ronaldo. From the right-hand edge of the D, Ronaldo sends a screamer inches over the bar. Neither defence looks exactly watertight.
19 min: Odegaard sends a weak effort high over the bar.
18 min: Nketiah busies himself down the inside-left channel and is shoved over from behind by Elanga. Free kick, just to the left of the D. Odegaard’s eyes light up.
16 min: Sancho wriggles out of a tight spot on the left and wins a corner. A lovely dribble. Nothing comes of the set piece, but United have responded pretty well to the early blow of the goal … in attack, anyway. The defence still looks a shambles.
15 min: Elanga zips into the Arsenal box from the right and goes over in the environs of Tavares. He’s looking for the penalty, and though VAR takes a look, he isn’t going to get one.
14 min: Nketiah once again nearly springs the United defence, scuttling down the left this time. Dalot and Varane, attempting a pincer movement on Nketiah, nearly clatter into each other, but somehow avoid catastrophe and clear.
13 min: Odegaard is this close to releasing Nketiah down the inside right with a forensic wedge. Varane gets in the way, just in time.
12 min: From the corner, McTominay wins another header, though stretching at full capacity, he’s got little chance of getting this one on target. It sails high over the bar.
11 min: United should be level. Ramsdale plays a ludicrous pass straight to McTominay, who slips Fernandes into space on the edge of the box. Fernandes tries to chip the keeper, but Gabriel hares in to deflect the shot out for a corner.
10 min: Saka goes down and requires a little bit of treatment. After some running repairs, he’s good to continue.
8 min: The clock turns to seven, and Arsenal’s fans applaud in a show of sympathy for Cristiano Ronaldo and his family. A lovely gesture.
7 min: McTominay rises to meet the corner, six yards out. He should hit the target at least, but heads harmlessly wide. That little burst of activity might give United some much-needed succour.
6 min: Ronaldo springs United into action with a clever backflick and a one-two with Fernandes. Suddenly the ball’s rolled down the inside-right channel for Elanga, who tears into the box but shoots straight at Ramsdale, who turns away for a corner.
4 min: That was a fine Arsenal move, though Telles should surely have cut out Xhaka’s cross. He was all over the shop.
Arsenal certainly are! Xhaka swings a couple of balls into the United box. United half clear. Xhaka has a third go, from the left. The ball drops to Saka, on the right-hand corner of the six-yard box. Saka aims for the bottom left. De Gea fingertips it out, but only to Tavares, who bundles in from a couple of yards. Oh United.
2 min: A brisk, if uneventful, start to the game. Both teams seem full of energy.
Before kick off, a moment of applause in memory of former Arsenal chief scout Steve Rowley. The man who spotted Tony Adams, Ray Parlour and Cesc Fabregas. RIP. Then the knee. There’s no room for racism. Manchester United get the ball rolling.
The teams are out! Arsenal are in their Herbert Chapman-approved red tops with white sleeves, while Manchester United are blue in both shirt and spirit. A lovely sunny day in north London, if a little blustery. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes!
Ralf Rangnick speaks to BT. Should the announcement of Erik ten Hag’s impending arrival give the players a boost? “I don’t know, to be honest. It shouldn’t, actually. We owe that to ourselves, to our supporters, to everybody at the club, that we show the best of us today and get a good result.” He also says that the bomb threat made to Harry Maguire “is not the only reason” the world’s most expensive defender has been benched.
Mikel Arteta also talks. Are Arsenal going into this match on a high after the Chelsea result? “That game is gone. Now it’s Manchester United and this is our focus. We know how important this is for us.”
Some retro pre-match fun.
Just the one change for Arsenal after the 4-2 win at Chelsea. Cedric returns at right back, allowing stand-in Ben White to move back to central defence. Rob Holding drops to the bench.
Manchester United make five changes in the wake of the 4-0 fiasco at Anfield. Cristiano Ronaldo returns from compassionate leave. Raphael Varane, Scott McTominay, Alex Telles and Jadon Sancho also start. They replace the injured Paul Pogba, and the benched Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Maguire has been rested after his bomb-scare ordeal earlier in the week.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Elneny, Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Nketiah.
Subs: Leno, Lacazette, Holding, Tomiyasu, Pepe, Sambi Lokonga, Martinelli, Azeez, Swanson.
Manchester United: de Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Alex Telles, McTominay, Matic, Elanga, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho, Ronaldo.
Subs: Bailly, Jones, Maguire, Mata, Rashford, Lingard, Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Garnacho.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).
Once upon a time, this was the Premier League rivalry. The fixture that would decide the title. It will surely come around again some time, too. But for now, here we all are. And to be fair, it’s not as though today’s meet-up isn’t a biggie in its own right. Arsenal sit fifth, Manchester United sixth, and both harbour hopes of nicking fourth spot and making it to the Champions League next season. This might not decide the destination of the Premier League, but there’s plenty riding on it nevertheless.
Only problem is, both teams blow hot and cold to a preposterous degree. Arsenal won five in a row not so long ago. They followed up that sequence with four losses in five, then last Wednesday rocked up at Chelsea and routed their London rivals 4-2. Good luck guessing which Arsenal turns up today. United are similarly unpredictable, in so much as they’re completely all over the shop. Can they respond to Tuesday’s humiliation at Anfield? We’ll soon find out. Kick off at the Emirates is at 12.30pm BST. It’s on!