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13 December 2010
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 75227
Ji-Sung Park 41'
90' + 4'
FULL TIME! Final score at Old Trafford: Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal. Ji-sung Park's solitary goal maintains the home side's unbeaten record in the Premier League and sees them leapfrog the visitors to move to the top of the table! That's all from Old Trafford but stay with Goal.com for the match report and all the reaction from the game.
90' + 3'
Chance for Walcott! A high ball from Van Persie is headed onto the youngster at the far post. He takes it first touch and smashes it into row Z.
90' + 2'
Arsene Wenger is on the touchline gesturing to the officials to hurry up a dawdling United. Time is running out at Old Trafford.
Into FOUR minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game. Still time for Arsenal...
Strong run by Walcott who fizzes a cross into Van Persie at the far post. It's a decent ball and Ferdinand just gets enough on it. However, Arsenal have a throw and can keep the pressure on.
Giggs slings a ball over the top for Rooney to chase but Koscielny does well to nod the ball to Sagna who can clear.
Good save by Szczesny! Rooney is played through and tries an audacious little dink over the goalkeeper. However, the Arsenal shot-stopper just manages to get his fingers on the ball to deny him!
Yellow Card Alex Song
Now the home side make the change. Off goes Anderson and on comes Ryan Giggs for the final five minutes or so.
Arsenal are in possession in the United half but then a poor pass by Song allows Evra to nick in and steal the ball. Song comes back at the full back to win the ball back but fouls the full back and picks up a yellow card for his troubles as well.
Nani and Fletcher combine well to get into the Arsenal penalty area until the Portuguese international's cross is cleared easily by the Gunners and allows them to bring the ball forwards.
Arsenal win a free-kick which is slung into the box and finds Chamakh who gets a head on it but can only send it straight at Van der Sar.
Walcott does well to get past Carrick with some nimble feet but he can't produce a shot to match the approach work and fires wide. Meanwhile Ryan Giggs looked as though he might be about to come on but the veteran has just sat back down and put his coat back on.
The Arsenal fans get their wish as Arsene Wenger plays his final card and throws on Walcott for Arshavin. Fabio Capello is also here tonight and he'll be watching the substitute with interest no doubt.
Great drama at Old Trafford and can Arsenal now salvage something from this game? They have a little over 15 minutes and the visiting fans know what they want, they are calling for Theo Walcott!
Penalty save Wojciech Szczesny
Missed Penalty Wayne Rooney
Yellow Card Samir Nasri
ROONEY SMASHES THE PENALTY OVER THE BAR! What a let-off for Arsenal! The United man bends his run before sending his shot way too high! What a poor penalty!
PENALTY TO UNITED! Clichy goes to ground against Nani, the ball hits his hand, the crowd cry penalty, Howard Webb obliges and hands a yellow to Nasri following the Frenchman’s complaints!
Ferdinand catches Sagna with a painful looking challenge and the full-back needs some treatment. The centre-back protests his innocence and escapes a caution, but Sagna's shirt has a hole in it which shows how high the challenge was.
Clichy conceds a free-kick out wide on the right, silly foul really. Nani plays it in, Arsenal clear but it comes back with Evra picking out Anderson who skids a shot just wide.
Panic in the United box! A proper mix-up has the Stretford End with its heart in its mouth but somehow United escape. Still, nervy defending by the home side.
Robin van Persie
Back to Greg Stobart who is seeing stars at Old Trafford: "The Chilean miners are just a few yards from me and they seem to be having a great time as they sing viva Chile at the top of their voices. I think I'm more awestruck than I have ever been by a footballer."
There's activity down on the Arsenal bench and Arsene Wenger decides it's time for a change. On come Fabregas and Van Persie and off go Wilshere and Rosicky. Not a bad pair of subsitutes eh?
Wilshere is hobbling after a challenge witn Carrick but it's United with the free-kick. The ball is played short but United keep the pressure on and eventually win a corner.
And now Nani has a great chance! A super break starts when Anderson robs Wilshere and sets United forward. Nani, loses out to Clichy initially but then wins the ball back and just has Szczesny to beat but fires over the bar!
Arsenal really starting to threaten now. The visitors are starting to dominate possession and the home fans are starting to sound somewhat anxious.
What a chance for Chamakh! Much better from the visitors. A cross shot from Nasri is only parried by Van der Sar. Chamkah just has to tap in but is denied by a sliding Vidic!
Great chance for Anderson! So close to a second. Rooney slips in a cute ball into the box and the midfielder just has Szczesny to beat but the goalkeeper does really well to make the block!
Wilshere and Arshavin combine superbly. They feed an overlapping Sagna who crosses to the far post but Rafael does well to head behind and concede the corner.
A great pass by Arshavin picks out Nasri in the box. The Frenchman does well to earn some space and fire a low cross in but it's too close to Van der Sar.
Good header from Song! Rafael and Nani combine well down the right with Nani's cross looking destined for Rooney until a diving Song puts it behind for a corner.
Bit better from the Gunners. They work the ball nicely, it eventually comes to Rosicky on the right and he punts a ball goalwards but it rolls just wide.
Early pressure from the hosts. First Nani's shot is blocked and then Fletcher whips in a cross but catches Rooney napping and the ball goes out for an Arsenal throw.
No changes for either side at the break as Arsenal get this second half underway.
45' + 3'
And quickly time for Greg Stobart's half time musings: "That’s the half-time whistle and Manchester United come in at the break with a 1-0 lead they just about deserve thanks to a clever looping header from Park Ji-Sung. It was a goal the game badly needed after it had fizzled out following a bright start. Arsenal are snapping into tackles but they have been toothless up front so far and their central defenders will once again be questioned as they were caught on their heels for the goal."
45' + 2'
HALF-TIME! So Manchester United lead 1-0 at the break courtesy of Ji-sung Park's header! Can Arsenal respond? Join me after the break to find out!
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Andrey Arshavin
45' + 1'
A rather peculiar kick by Szczesny has Clichy scrambling to keep the ball in play and it's all he can do concede a throw. Arshavin then joins Chamakh in the book after dawdling on the edge of his own box before fouling Fletcher.
Into two minutes of added time at the end of a feisty, frantic first half...
Yellow Card Marouane Chamakh
And the first booking of the night goes to....Chamakh! The Arsenal man sees yellow for a rather crude effort on Nani.
Back to our man Greg Stobart for his thoughts on the goal: "How about this for fickle support? My South Korean friend was on his feet as Park Ji-Sung headed the opener this game so badly needed. That’s his match report written. At first it looked a bit lucky, but that was a very clever header and it caught Wojciech Szczesny ever so slightly off his line."
Goal Ji-Sung Park
GOAL! UNITED LEAD AND IT'S PARK WHO SCORES! Nani is the creator, whipping in a cross from the right, it seems to take Park by surprise but he gets a head on it and the ball loops over Szczesny and into the back of the net!
Lovely footwork by the in-form Nasri sees the Frenchman go around Rafael and try to dink it past Ferdinand but he's put too much on it and Van der Sar is out smartly to collect.
Nemanja Vidic gets a talking to after lunging in on Chamakh. The Arsenal striker goes down but he'll live. Seconds later Fletcher is blocked off by Song and the furious Scot has to be calmed down by the referee who is trying his best to let the game flow.
Back to Goal.com's Greg Stobart at Old Trafford: "Not much happening at the moment on or off the pitch. Groans from both home and away support, who are getting frustrated with the lack of a final ball."
United get Nani free down the right again but once more his cross is too close to goalkeeper Szczesny who plucks it out of the air to deny the home side.
Both teams guilty of giving the ball away under very little pressure. First Carrick and then Wilshere much to the frustration of both sets of fans.
Over half an hour gone and still quite frantic at Old Trafford. The home side have gone closest but there is very little between the two sides at the moment, although some composure wouldn't go amiss.
UNITED WANT A PENALTY! A Nani cross is fired into the box, it hits Chamakh on the arm, the crowd shout penalty but nothing doing! Drama at Old Trafford!
A short back pass by Sagna alerts Rooney who is onto it in a flash but Szczesny doesn't panic and gets there first to calmly hoof clear.
Arsenal win a corner from the left which is taken short. The ball is then swung in by Wilshere to the far post but Carrick is on hand to head clear.
Wilshere goes in strongly on Evra and leaves the Frenchman in a heap. The full-back is not impressed and lets the referee know exactly what he thinks about it but there's no booking and on we go.
Time for another update from Greg Stobart at Old Trafford: "The South Korean journalist next to me isn't very pleased with Park Ji-Sung's performance so far. I wasn't sure that was allowed. My Korean friend is tutting away but Park tends to play well against Arsenal so I wouldn't be writing him off yet. Meanwhile, the visiting Gunners' fans are in surprisingly good voice and have dreamed up an amusing chant for Patrice Evra - which is unrepeatable here!"
JUST WIDE FROM NANI! Great chance for United! A Fletcher cross was headed clear by Squillaci but only as far as Nani who took it first time and smashed it inches wide! Best chance of the game so far.
Rosicky scuffs a speculative shot wide from just on the edge of the box. It rolls across goal but doesn't trouble Van der Sar and is greeted by jeers by the home fans.
Twenty minutes gone at Old Trafford and no goals so far and few chances of note either. Indeed the game has yet to really settle down so far, both sides still sizing up the opposition.
Arshavin gets free down the right this time and manages to get another cross in. However, there's no-one there and instead the ball falls kindly for Rafael to bring clear.
A sloppy pass sees Arsenal give the ball away and Park can go forwards down the left. However, the United man can't beat Squillaci and the visitors have it again.
More from our man Greg Stobart at the game: "You can see what Sir Alex Ferguson meant in his programme notes here, where Arsenal are snapping into early tackles and Gael Clichy in particular is lucky not to be in the book. Bright enough start to the game."
Alex Song is penalised for a foul on Anderson and United have a free-kick in a good area. It's some 35 yards from goal but Nani steps up for a shot. It's on target but straight at Szczesny who watches it all the way and claims confidently.
Now it's Arsenal's turn to attack! Arshavin again down the left, he has Clichy ahead of him but opts to swing in a cross. Chamakh gets a strong head on it but it's too close to Van der Sar who claims.
Good work by Rooney! The striker plucks a long ball out of the sky, has two defenders ahead of him but still manages to get his shot away and force Szczesny into a save.
A quick break by the home side sees Park, Anderson and Rooney all link up well. They move the ball to Nani on the right who gets a cross in but it flies straight into the grateful arms of Szczesny.
Nani gets his first chance to stretch his legs before being brought down rather crudely by Clichy. The home fans bay for a yellow card but the referee opts for a talking too only.
Good defending by Park for United. Arshavin wanders forward and picks out Song on the edge of the box. He shapes to shoot but is denied by the South Korean who gets back well to make the tackle.
Over to Goal.com's Greg Stobart for his first thoughts on the game: "Arsene Wenger was given predictable grief as he walked up the touchline towards the benches but the atmosphere is really crackling here, where Wojciech's Szczesny's first touch of the game is a poorly hit clearance straight to Anderson."
A poor kick by Szczesny hits Anderson and almost puts Rooney in on goal. Fortunately for Arsenal the offside flag is up and they have a free-kick instead.
Here we go! Wayne Rooney and Anderson kick-off for Manchester United and we are underway at Old Trafford!
Back to our man Greg Stobart at Old Trafford: "And here come the Chilean miners, guests of Sir Bobby Charlton, who themselves get a huge round of applause. Great atmosphere building up here."
There is little love lost between these two sides and writing in his programme notes, Sir Alex has a pop at tonight's visitors: "Our matches with Arsenal have always been highly competitive, and don’t be deceived by the popular view that the Gunners can play “pretty football” but can be kicked out of games. Arsene has possibly encouraged this belief, because earlier in the season he was berating two or three teams for being overly physical…but other managers tell me that the present Arsenal side are one of the toughest in the Premier League.”
Goal.com's Greg Stobart is at Old Trafford tonight and here are his pre-match thoughts: "Good evening from Old Trafford, where the Christmas songs are being belted out but there is little goodwill between these two sides. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has just been presented with a photo montage of his best Manchester United moments to a huge roar from the Stratford end. Modest as ever, he refuses to lap up the applause and returns their adulation with little more than an embarrassed wave."
So the big team news for the home side is the exclusion of Dimitar Berbatov, he is left on the bench as United opt for a 4-5-1, while Paul Scholes is also out after failing a fitness test. For the visitors there is a surprise in goal as Wojciech Szczesny starts in place of the unfit Lukasz Fabianski, while Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie have to make do with the bench.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy; Song, Wilshere; Nasri, Rosicky, Arshavin; Chamakh. Subs: Fabianski, Fabregas, van Persie, Walcott, Denilson, Djourou, Bendtner.
Manchester Utd: Van der Sar; Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Park; Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Berbatov, Giggs, Smalling, Hernandez, Obertan.
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com as we bring you live coverage of tonight’s top of the table clash between Manchester United and Arsenal! It’s first against third tonight as Arsene Wenger’s table-toppers travel to Old Trafford where a win for either side would prove a huge boost in the race for the title. It may be a Monday night but it's one of the biggest games of the season so far and we should be in for a cracker. So, sit back and relax as all the action is on its way…
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