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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
3 November 2012
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 75492
R. van Persie 3'
P. Evra 67'
Well, that's it from Old Trafford this afternoon. Many thanks for joining me, and stay with Goal.com today for more Premier League action!
Sir Alex's side go top with that win. For the time being, anyway. More questions than answers for Arsene Wenger's side however. It was a very lacklustre performance from the Gunners.
FULL TIME at Old Trafford. The referee didn't even bother with kick-off as he blows for the end straight after that Cazorla strike, and United win 2-1.
90' + 5'
Goal Santi Cazorla
GREAT GOAL FROM CAZORLA!! The visitors load the box and Cazorla - at the second time of asking - drives a superb effort from the edge of the box into the far corner.
90' + 2'
Rooney nearly finds himself through on goal but Mannone comes out to smother. Giroud has a fantastic chance at the other end, meeting Cazorla's low ball six yards out, but he drills it straight at De Gea.
90' + 1'
Arteta is booked for a clumsy challenge on van Persie as we enter four minutes of stoppage time at Old Trafford.
Yellow Card Mikel Amatrian Arteta
The Arsenal fans are still singing away. They haven't had much to cheer about this afternoon. United snuff out another Gunners attack as we approach injury time.
Arsenal deal with the danger and Cazorla nearly breaks forward, but the Spaniard finds himself isolated and eventually loses the ball in the centre circle.
Giroud blasts a 30-yard effort straight into Ferdinand's back and United move quickly up the other end, with Mertesacker conceding a corner
Anderson flies past Mikel Arteta with far too much ease, before trying to find Valencia with a slotted pass, but Mannone gathers again.
United content with keeping the ball and moving it around at walking pace. Arsenal are tiring and the hosts could try to exploit that and push for a third. Van Persie is nearly set loose but Mannone comes out quickly to smother the ball.
Yellow Card Andrey Arshavin
The game has hit a bit of a lull since that red card. Substitute Andrey Arshavin adds to the yellow card tally by taking out Rafael.
Yellow Card Wayne Rooney
Walcott breaks forward over the halfway line and Rooney cynically clips the Arsenal man's heels, sending him flying. Rooney unsurprisingly earns a yellow card for his efforts.
Another offside goal! Van Persie slides the ball across goal into the path of Anderson who coolly slots it into the corner, but the flag goes up.
Giroud - another Arsenal player who has had a frustrating afternoon - gets on the end of a cross but can't direct his header anywhere meaningful and United gather possession.
Van Persie drills the ball into the net after being flagged offside, before Valencia tries to trick his way through three Arsenal players. The Gunners defence holds firm though and the pressure is eventually let off after Young fouls Sagna
Walcott finally has a chance to get forward after Carrick gives the ball away in midfield. Cazorla collects and feeds the substitute, but Walcott disapppointingly blasts it high up into the stands.
This will be United's fourth straight league win if they hold out as expected, and the Red Devils will also go top of the league for a few hours at least.
Arsenal press forward but Santos loses the ball and eventually concedes the foul. That pretty much sums up his afternoon.
Yellow Card Anderson
More from Greg Stobart; here are his thoughts on that sending off: "A few of us in the press box predicted that second booking for Jack Wilshere. He was clearly starting to tire and grow increasingly frustrated - and now the game is effectively over as a contest. Arsene Wenger looks very, very miserable."
United keeping the ball comfortably, and Rooney has a 20-yard effort blocked. The hosts still have possession though and Arsenal look like they're chasing shadows.
Yellow/Red Jack Wilshere
You felt it was coming, and Jack Wilshere is heading off for an early bath. He goes in late on Evra and the referee has no choice but to give the Arsenal midfielder a second yellow. An even bigger mountain to climb for the visitors now.
Anderson nearly makes it three after Valencia pulls back to him on the edge of the box, but the Brazilian blasts it well over the bar. Arsenal in danger of slipping away here.
Assist Wayne Rooney
Goal Patrice Evra
EVRA MAKES IT TWO!! Young and Rooney work the short corner, and the England man's perfect cross is met by Evra, who nods into the corner to double the hosts' lead.
WHAT A SAVE!! Van Persie springs the offside trap and has time to collect Young's ball and pick his spot, but Mannone produces a world-class fingertip save to push it wide.
Cazorla wins a foul on the right-hand side and Wilshere swings it into the area. The ball evades everyone and Vermaelen can't quick reach it at the far post.
Anderson had a superb match against Chelsea on Wednesday, and nearly finds Young with a fantastic chipped ball, but the winger is caught offside.
Rooney steals the ball off Walcott and United stroke the ball around. Substitute Anderson presses forward and finds Valencia who wins a throw off Santos.
Greg Stobart is glad to see the Gunners fighting to get back into it here: "Some signs of life, finally, from Arsenal, and it has brought a response from their supporters, who are starting to believe they can get back in the game. Arsene Wenger is marching around his technical area as the action picks up, with Robin van Persie just booked for a crunching late challenge on Bacary Sagna."
Robin van Persie shows just why he is not a defender, wildly sliding into Sagna and picking up a booking. That was not pretty.
Yellow Card Robin van Persie
Cleverley is treading thin ice after taking out Wilshere, but escapes a second yellow. Arsenal can't make anything of the set piece opportunity though and United clear.
Rafael lifts a cross from the right to find Evra at the far post. The left-back lays back to Rooney who shoots first time. It hits Mertesacker and the United players appeal for handball, but replays show the defender's arms were at his side and it would have been very harsh.
Oh dear Andre Santos. He's not had a good afternoon at the back, and has a chance to redeem himself going forward, but completely overhits the cross and the chance is wasted.
Oof! Wilshere clatters into van Persie halfway inside the Arsenal half. Clearly no love lost there...
Off the post! Arsenal enjoying more possession and are desperate to push forward. Cazorla drives a low cross in from the left and Giroud swivels at the near post, fires towards goal and it smacks against the upright and out for a goal kick.
STAT ATTACK: Robin van Persie has now scored against ALL current PL clubs. Only one other player has done this - Yakubu. Incredible statistic from our friends at Infostrada there.
And here comes Walcott. It didn't take Wenger long to make that decision. Ramsey is the man to come off so it's a straight swap.
It's United's turn to lose possession as Rafael gives the ball away. Podolski needs support but it isn't forthcoming. Arsenal starting to press at last and Theo Walcott is getting ready to come on.
Arsenal don't seem to have got started yet. The ball pings around the area before Carrick tries a 25-yard effort which flies well wide.
Should be two! Vermaelen is caught out again and van Persie bursts into the area, sliding the ball across for Valencia but the winger, with the goal at his mercy, can only push the ball wide. Another massive let-off for the Gunners.
The teams are out and Manchester United start things off in the second half.
Greg Stobart can only see one way this might turn around: "Arsene Wenger has never been the most proactive manager with his substitutions but this game is screaming out for the introduction of Theo Walcott. Wayne Rooney’s penalty miss means Arsenal are still in with a chance but the visitors desperately need to inject some energy into their attacks after a listless first-half."
That was a pretty quiet half of football, and Arsene Wenger will be very disappointed with his side's performance so far. Can he turn things round in the second half?
STAT ATTACK: Six of the 10 penalties in Premier League games between Man Utd and Arsenal have been missed.
HALF TIME at Old Trafford and Manchester United go into the break 1-0 up against Arsenal. It could, and should, have been two after Wayne Rooney missed that stoppage time penalty. Will he rue that come the end of the game?
45' + 3'
Rooney doggedly chases Arteta, fouling the Spaniard in the process and conceding a free-kick. Just a few seconds left in the half now.
45' + 1'
Missed Penalty Wayne Rooney
ROONEY MISSES!! The England international goes low to the left and it flies wide of the post. What an escape for Arsenal! Could that change things for the second half?
PENALTY TO UNITED!! Mertesacker has a lucky escape after he slices a clearance over his own crossbar. Rooney plays short to Young, who fires a cross in and Cazorla raises his hands to protect himself and hits the ball. Mike Dean has no choice but to award the spot-kick.
It's given away in midfield yet again by the visitors and United break forward. Young has a chance to cross but completely fluffs it, much to the frustration of the several players who had got into the box.
Cazorla finds Ramsey with an excellent long diagonal ball. The Wales midfielder links up with Sagna but Patrice Evra gets back well to dispossess the Arsenal man.
United seem comfortable with their 1-0 lead and look happy to take that scoreline into the break. Arsenal lift it high to the edge of the area but Jonny Evans clears and the hosts start moving the ball around in the middle.
The Gunners win a corner and Giroud meets it with a header that flies in completely the wrong direction. The referee had already blown for a foul in the box but it was a very poor effort on goal from the striker.
Yellow Card Tom Cleverley
It's another first-half booking, this time for Tom Cleverley who clips Santi Cazorla. The Gunners have a free-kick which Mikel Arteta whips in from a fairly central position 40 yards out, but United clear.
Arsenal aren't being completely denied possession; they just aren't doing very much with it. Wilshere is forced wide but has no support and eventually runs it out for a goal kick to the hosts.
Van Persie wins a header in midfield and sets Cleverley free. The midfielder has two in the box but can't clear Mertesacker with his cross and Arsenal escape once again.
Evra slides a pass around Sagna looking for Young, who is caught offside. A let-off for the visitors there as Sagna and Mertesacker looked out of position.
Rio Ferdinand lofts it high down the right flank for Rafael to chase, but Santos stays calm and gathers the ball on the by-line.
Arsenal still have the ball but it's all being played in front of the hosts at the moment; no real inroads being made. Ramsey eventually gives it away but the Gunners win it back before Santos swings a cross straight into the arms of De Gea.
Yellow Card Ashley Young
Ashley Young picks up a caution for treading on Sagna's toes with a late challenge and Arsenal have possession at the back.
Great save! Carrick lifts a delightful ball into the path of Rooney on the left-hand side of the area, and Mannone produces a strong palm to deny the striker's left-footed effort. Van Persie then heads towards goal but Mannone gathers comfortably.
Rooney pops up on the right-hand side this time, and blasts in a dangerous cross which Bacary Sagna does very well to get a head to and force away.
Wilshere concedes possession in midfield; something Arsenal are doing far too often in this match so far. Santos fouls Valencia on halfway and United keep the ball.
Arsenal break quickly and Ramsey darts into the area, trying a low drilled cross, but David De Gea gets a strong hand to the ball and United survive the attack.
United win a corner from the left which Rooney swings in, but it comes to nothing and the visitors eventually regain possession.
Nearly two! And nearly a brace for van Persie already! Wayne Rooney slides a superb pass through and the Netherlands international shoots right-footed from wide, forcing a parried stop from Mannone.
It's been a strange game so far, with everything happening in midfield. The visitors are still trying to work some meaningful possession but it's all very tentative.
Young drives a low cross in from the left after good work between Wayne Rooney and van Persie, but Mertesacker produces a no-nonsense clearance.
Van Persie is nearly through on goal after Carrick plays the ball past Per Mertesacker, but the 29-year-old is flagged offside, much to Arsenal's relief.
Apart from the goal, it's been a fairly uneventful opening, but the first 15 minutes have flown by. Antonio Valencia tries to get on the end of Carrick's diagonal pass but Arsenal clear the danger.
Yellow Card Jack Wilshere
Aaron Ramsey tries to burst down the right flank but doesn't quite have the pace and Michael Carrick tidies up. Jack Wilshere then slams into Tom Cleverley from behind and Mike Dean brandishes the first yellow card of the afternoon.
The hosts have the ball in midfield, and are passing it around comfortably. Sir Alex's side not in any rush to push forward.
Arsenal desperate to get back into it quickly. They move the ball around in midfield but Olivier Giroud concedes possession with a poor crossfield pass looking for Aaron Ramsey.
Andre Santos has just shown why he plays in defence, blasting a long range effort just inside the corner flag. Not one for the scrapbook.
It was inevitable really, wasn't it? Here are Greg's thoughts: "Just as the Arsenal fans’ unsavoury chants about Robin van Persie reached a crescendo, he answered in the best possible manner. The Dutchman refused to celebrate out of respect for his former club - which is rather ironic given the lengths he went to in forcing through his £24m in the summer. No sign of Arsene Wenger on the touchline yet but he will be furious with his side’s defending."
Goal Robin van Persie
UNITED TAKE THE LEAD!! And it just had to be that man Robin van Persie, didn't it. Thomas Vermaelen fluffs a clearance and the former Gunner hits it first time with his right foot and into the corner. What a start!
It's a slow, tentative start from both sides as they settle into the match. United press forward with Ashley Young but his cross deflects straight into the arms of Mannone.
Referee Mike Dean blows the whistle and Arsenal get the match underway.
The players emerge from the tunnel and we are only a few minutes away from kick-off. I don't know about you, but I can't wait for this to get going.
More from Mr Stobart at Old Trafford now: "The teams have completed their warm-ups and as the announcer reads out the starting line-ups; the Arsenal fans in the corner to my right respond with huge boos when Robin van Persie’s name is read out. So much for Ferguson’s optimistic claim that the Dutchman should be treated like a hero."
STAT ATTACK: Rooney’s 10-goal haul is the highest by a Premier League player against the Gunners (along with Robbie Fowler). Will the England international add to that tally today?
Greg Stobart seems to think so. He's our man in the stands this afternoon: "Hello from Old Trafford, where supporters are tucking in to their bacon sandwiches ahead of today’s lunchtime kick-off between Manchester United and Arsenal. This is a fixture that has rarely failed to deliver in the Premier League era and fans are arriving today expecting another thrilling encounter. I was here for United’s 8-2 win over the Gunners last season and I’m expecting plenty of goals again this afternoon between two teams with strong attacking options but porous defences."
So Robin van Persie faces his old club, and Theo Walcott is only on the bench for the Gunners despite his midweek heroics. It's been a crazy week in the Capital One Cup; both sides conceded five but enjoyed varying fortunes. This fixture last season famously finished 8-2 to United. All signs point to goals today, surely?
ARSENAL: Mannone; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos; Arteta, Wilshere; Ramsey, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud. Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Walcott, Coquelin, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Chamakh
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young; Rooney, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Anderson, Chicharito, Nani, Scholes, Powell, Wootton
First up, let's have a look at today's teams...
Good afternoon and welcome to our play-by-play coverage of today's mammoth Premier League clash between Manchester United and Arsenal. I'm Tom McKeown and I'll be with you through the afternoon to guide you through all the action at Old Trafford. And boy does it promise to be a belter of a match today!
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