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May 1, 2011
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: C. Foy
• Attendance: 60107
90' + 5'
And that's full-time! Arsenal beat United and blow the title race wide open. Three games to go and United's lead at the top is cut down to just three points, and Chelsea come to town next weekend. Wowsers indeed.
90' + 4'
Nani takes... and it's straight against the wall. Seconds to go.
90' + 3'
Freekick just over 25 yards out after Wilshere fouls Rooney...
90' + 2'
Valencia cannot control an over-hit pass and it's a goalkick to Arsenal. United straight back on the attack though but Arsenal continue to defend very well.
90' + 1'
One minute down and Arsenal remain camped inside their own half as United try to break them down.
Yellow Card Aaron Ramsey
Four minutes of added time.
Into the final minute of normal time. United going all out, and leaving themselves at risk of the counter.
Wild appeals from Owen as Clichy appears to trip Owen just inside the area. I've seen those given before, Arsenal can count themselves lucky there... but when you take into account Vidic's handball in the first half, it would have been harsh for that to be given.
I don't think Berbatov has touched the ball since coming on, not in a helpful way at least.
Fabio, already on a yellow remember, fells Wilshere outside the United area. Freekick. Van Persie is over it but his attempt is straight at Van der Sar.
Great chance to make it 2-0 to Arsenal as they break with speed through Arshavin and Van Persie but the chance goes to groans around the ground as the latter's final ball is well over hit.
Here's Mr Veysey again, direct from the Emirates: "The excellent Wojciech Szczesny has just been given a mini standing ovation by the home fans after beating away Nani's shot. The Portugese could, perhaps, have crossed but it was another fine piece of work by the young goalkeeper, who has stood up well in the second half to everything that has been thrown at him."
Into the final 10 minutes. If it stays like this, this well blow the title race well and truly wide open.
Defensive substition by Wenger as he brings on Eboue for Walcott.
And now Arsenal go close! Think Van Persie against Barcelona, but an even tighter angle... so tight he cannot direct it inside the near post.
Another great chance for United as Rooney breaks on the halfway line and angles his run to allow Nani to follow him on the outside, the winger is found but his shot is well parried by Szczesny. Chance wasted.
Yellow Card Fabio Da Silva
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
Another United freekick on the edge of the area... they've come close with the previous two... it's Rooney... it's over the wall... it's straight at Szczesny.
And Fergie is going for that equaliser as he brings on Berbatov in place of Hernandez.
Into the final 20 minutes here and United need at least a draw to give them some breathing space ahead of the Chelsea game next weekend.
...and Squillaci's first involvement is to take advantage of a Hernandez slip and steal possession off him and power up field. He's quickly seen to by Ferdinand though.
Substiution for Arsenal as a limping Djourou is replaced by Squillaci.
Not even half a shout for a penalty from that man Patrice Evra as he goes down under a challenge inside the Arsenal penalty box. Clutching at straws.
Yellow Card Ji-Sung Park
Well, you're not going to help your team like that Mr Patrice. The Frenchman cuts inside and tries to send a "Hollywood" pass from left-to-right towards Valencia but he thoroughly overhits it.
Right on cue, here is Wayne Vesey, from the Emirates, with the latest: "'1-0 to the Arsenal' and 'Only one Aaron Ramsay' chant the home fans following the hosts' superbly worked opener. Van Persie tied United's left flank in knots before teeing up the hitherto quiet Ramsay for a clinical side-foot finish - his first of the season and his first since that horrific leg injury early last year."
Yellow Card Alex Song
Bit of handbags as Song is penalised for a foul and some of the other players feel the need to get involved. Correct decision by Chris Foy but, naturally, Arsene Wenger doesn't agree.
...and Vidic rises highest but he cannot direct his header on target and it bounces wide.
First chance for a response for United as Sagna concedes a corner...
Now what from United? A great goal for Arsenal, an even better one for Chelsea.
Assist Robin van Persie
Goal Aaron Ramsey
GOAL! 1-0 to Arsenal and it's the comeback kid Aaron Ramsey!! Just after United come close through a Nani freekick, Arsenal go straight up the other end with Van Persie on the right side of the penalty area, the Dutchman looks up and sees Ramsey waving for the ball, Van Persie duly obliges and Ramsey cooly slots the ball across Van der Sar for a fine, fine goal.
Brilliant cross by Nani on the right and Hernandez is mere inches away from connecting to it. That's the difference between United and Arsenal. That cross was almost from nowhere and so nearly ended up with a goal, whereas Arsenal are struggling to find Van Persie, despite having more opportunities to do so.
More slow build-up play from Arsenal ends when Sagna, who was poor in the first half, finding a space to run into and have a pop, but he drags his shot wide. Good attempt though.
Great save by Szczesny! United win a freekick just outside the area and Rooney takes on honours and curls a fine effort over the wall and towards the top corner, only for the young goalkeeper to get across and palm the ball away.
Just to confirm, Nasri has a slight hamstring problem. Hence his withdrawal.
Good work from Wilshere as he runs diagonally across the face of the area before finding Walcott on the right, but the winger cannot find a decent cross into the area and United clear.
And Manchester United get us back underway. It's currently 0-0 at the Emirates.
The teams are on their way back out for the second half, with Arshavin coming on in place of Nasri... not sure whether that is tactical or through injury yet...
Here are Wayne Veysey's thoughts on the first half: "Van Persie is deep in conversation with the officials as the players make their way down the tunnel following a half dominated by Arsenal and the failure to award a penalty for Vidic's handball. After a strong start by Arsenal, United looked very comfortable soaking up the pressure and waiting to sting the home side on the counter-attack. They will surely come out of their shell more as the game progresses."
So that was the first 45 minutes. A very strong start for Arsenal but they couldn't make their pressure count before United started growing in confidence. Massive shouts for a penalty with that Vidic handball, that could well have seen Vidic sent off aswell. But only Van Persie appeared to notice, so it remained 0-0. I'll be back in 10 minutes for the second half.
45' + 1'
And that's half-time!
Into the single minute of stoppage time as Clichy fouls Nani out wide on the right.
Another chance for United as Anderson has a pop from the edge of the area... it's straight at Mr Copy-and-Paste Szczesny though.
Another half chance for United, who have really stepped it up after a poor first 20 minutes, as Rooney sends in a neat ball across goal after Koscielny gives it away but it's just infront of the lurking Hernandez.
And here is Mr Veysey again as we approach the half-time whistle: "It's livened up here following Nemanja Vidic's clear handball in the box, which should have merited a penalty and a red card. Robin van Persie, who was waiting to get on the end of Walcott's cross before Vidic's intervention, went apopletic at the failure to censure Vidic. The United defender is getting booed every time he touches the ball, now."
Yellow Card Wayne Rooney
...and corner comes in but Van Persie clears from Vidic, no hands being used this time though. Arsenal break with Wilshere and the youngster powers past Rooney, but the latter doesn't like that idea and brings him down. Yellow card for the striker.
Half a chance for United as Rooney picks up the ball on the edge of the area and tries a low drive at goal but it's deflected wide...
Here's a treat, our man at the Emirates Wayne Veysey gives us his two cents on the proceedings so far: "Sir Alex Ferguson has been unimpressed by his team's scratchy start here, leaping from his dugout to scream instructions at his players. Arsenal have been far more fluent than the visitors, with Jack Wilshere particularly impressive, but have been unable to capitalise on their domination. It is a fairly low-key atmosphere. The first player to have his name sung by the home fans is one who no longer wears the red-and-white, Patrick Vieira.
Meanwhile, Fabio does really well down the right flank to skip past two challenges, but Koscielny stops him fairly in his tracks as he enters the final third.
Strangely the only person to even attempt a protest against the supposed hand ball was Van Persie, who was furious. More replays suggest it was on purpose by Vidic aswell, as he knows he couldn't get his head to the ball.
Vital, vital clearance from Vidic as he clears a wickedly whipped cross from Walcott away from the diving Van Persie... but what did the Serbian clear the ball away with? Replays suggest his hand. More controversy in the capital?
More magic from Rooney as he handles the ball and is quickly penalised for it.
Deary me Sagna, deary me. Ramsey does remarkably well to skips through a couple of challenges and thread and ball out wide to the right-back but instead of taking time over a decent delivery, he rushes it and almost completely misses the ball. Goal. Kick.
Credit where credits due though, one of the main reasons why Rooney has been so quiet is because of the strong and sturdy Alex Song.
First mention of the game for Mr Wayne Rooney, who has been heinously quiet thus far, and he doesn't do much better when he overhits a cross towards Hernandez for a goalkick to Arsenal.
United are indeed growing in confidence, and it doesn't come soon enough. Anderson now finds a patch of clear grass between Arsenal's midfield and defence but his through ball in well overhit.
From the resulting corner Park's attempted shot for the edge of the area is charged down. Arsenal clear.
Is that the foothold I mentioned starting to... erm... gain a foothold? Wilshere loses possession to Fabio, United break and the Brazilian skips into the area obviously in two minds whether to shoot or pass, he opts for the latter when he spots Hernandez but Arsenal hack it clear. That could have easily been 1-0 and that was United first attack.
Debateable decision there from the referee as the galloping Wilshere is felled outside the area by Vidic. Surely a stone-wall freekick? No according to Chris Foy.
Arsenal really need to make sure they turn these chances into goals as they will know that United will find a foothold sooner rather than later.
Wowsers. Outstanding defending from Evra! With Walcott seemingly about to roll the ball into an empty net, the Frenchman manages to claim a vital touch to divert the ball away!
United are definitely targeting the Arsenal left-back Clichy as a possibly weak spot here as again Nani opts to take him on. Clichy has a torrid time in the reserve fixture this season.
It must be said that despite Arsenal enjoying all the possession and attacking play, the majority of the play is being made in front of the United defence. It's pass, pass, pass, pass from Arsenal... for a change...
This is unrelenting from Arsenal, they have forced United back continually so far as first Clichy crosses for Van Persie to head over, then the left-back plays in Walcott to worry Vidic, but the Englishman fails to get a good enough contact on the ball and the Serbian clears.
Arsenal continue to press though as Walcott and Sagna combine down the right well to put the United defence under pressure. This time the away side clear calmly.
And finally the first signs of something from Man United as they find Nani on the right who cuts inside Clichy and unleashes a left-foot effort at goal... but it's miles wide.
Arsenal starting very strong here with Song throwing himself about in the centre of midfield.
Oooooh, close from Wilshere! More fine attacking play from the hosts allows Nasri to whip a low ball into the six-yard box from the right wing, United hack it clear but only as far as the young Englishman on the edge of the area. Wilshere fires low at the opposite corner but it flashes just wide with Van der Sar rooted to the spot. Cue the ever increasingly common frustrated fit by Wenger on the sidelines.
Some neat, quick passing from Arsenal sees Ramsey, in for the injured Fabregas, find Van Persie on the right-hand corner of the penalty area but as the Dutchman sends a fine curling effort towards Van der Sar, he strays into an offside position and the linesman's flag stops proceedings.
And Arsenal get us underway! This should be an absolute corker...
Anyways, the teams are on their way out onto the Emirates pitch, so I'm going to quit with the ramblings and get down to some serious live minute-by-minute commentary...
Wowsers, that's a stat that will probably surprise most. But, as we have seen time and time again in this sport, anything can happen. Even if it is as unlikely as an Arsenal victory...
We are just over five minutes away from the rather strange kick-off time of 14:05, so time for a stat to whet your appetite from the ever impressive OptaJoe on twitter: "6 - Man Utd have won six and lost none of their last seven matches against Arsenal in all competitions. Gulf."
So the stand-out team news is that Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas was injured in training and therefore misses out for the home side. United make two changes from the side who steam-rolled Schalke in mid-week with Anderson and Nani coming in for Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia.
Man Utd: Van der Sar; Fabio Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Park, Carrick, Anderson, Nani; Hernandez, Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Owen, Berbatov, Smalling, Rafael Da Silva, O'Shea, Valencia.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy; Song, Ramsey, Wilshere; Walcott, Nasri, van Persie. Subs: Lehmann, Squillaci, Arshavin, Eboue, Gibbs, Chamakh, Bendtner.
Let's get those line-ups for you lot then...
United, on the other hand, know that only two more wins will hand them a record 19th title. A win today against Arsenal will all but extinguish Chelsea's late title charge, after the London side were gifted three points against Tottenham yesterday.
This is a biggie, no two ways about it. Arsenal must have accepted that the title will not be theirs this season, but that doesn't mean they cannot beat United and salvage some pride and belief back into their squad.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the Premier League clash between Arsenal and Manchester United. My name is Alex Young and I will be taking you through the game's events.
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