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November 10, 2013
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: M. Oliver
• Attendance: 75138
R. van Persie 27'
I've been Tom J Doyle, and thanks for joining us for the action at Old Trafford. It's a huge win for David Moyes' men, and the title race still looks wide open - we're all set up for a fantastic season. Bye for now.
In truth it was a game with little quality to speak of, but the hosts' desire to take the game to the Gunners in the first 45 minutes paid off. Arsene Wenger's men left it until the 59th minute to register their first shot on target, and although they threatened towards the end, it was too little too late.
That's it! Robin van Persie's first-half header wins the game 1-0 for Manchester United, and they now trail Arsenal by five points in the Premier League title race.
90' + 3'
Rooney wins a free kicks on the wing and that should be that if United can keep the ball...
90' + 2'
So close for Bendtner! Sagna again puts in a terrific cross which the United defenders have to leave or else put it in their own net, and the Dane gets a toe to the ball at the back post but can't convert it. That sums up his career so far.
90' + 1'
There will be three minutes of injury time, and Wenger is remonstrating with the fourth official with the board above his head. No Fergie Time for Arsene...
Rooney again gets stuck in with a committed tackle on the wing, and the crowd respond with chants of 'Rooney, Rooney.' He's been superb today.
This is Giggs' 50th appearance against Arsenal - 36 of which have been in the Premier League, according to Opta Sports.
Bendtner gives away a free kick here to his confusion - that's been the striker's most meaningful contribution since coming on.
Three minutes for Arsenal to find an equaliser. Wenger would hate to lose to a goal from his former talisman, but it's looking that way at the moment.
Rooney, Wilshere and Giggs all compete for the ball on the wing - this is a real battle, and it's brilliant to watch.
Robin van Persie
The goalscorer Van Persie comes off to a thunderous reception and is replaced by Marouane Fellaini, who looks to be playing his old Everton role further forward for the final minutes.
The chance comes to nothing, but make no mistake - this will be tough for United in the last five minutes.
Mikel Amatrian Arteta
A top challenge from Smalling now as he denies Giroud a shooting chance from 12 yards with an excellent toe-poke, then Cleverley clears. Wilshere bursts into the box moments later and the Gunners get a corner.
What a miss by Smalling! Van Persie puts in a glorious cross from the free kick, and the defender breaks the offside trap. He's eight yards out but the ball glances off of his face and out for a goal kick. That was the chance to win it.
Yellow Card Jack Wilshere
Wilshere drags down Evra and is booked for his troubles - the midfielder has a few choice words for referee Oliver, and one of them is 'off'. That pottymouth just won't do, Jack.
Ten minutes left for Arsenal to rescue a point or maybe more - as it stands United would be five points behind the Gunners.
Sagna puts in another cross from the right for the two tall strikers now on, but De Gea again collects well. The Spaniard has had little to do in the way of saves, but he's been great in the air.
Two substitutions now as Ryan Giggs replaces Kagawa, while Nicklas Bendtner comes on for Cazorla as a gamechanger. That perhaps says more about the Gunners' strength in depth than I ever could.
Gibbs hits a harmless volley from 25 yards which Van Persie sticks out a leg to clumsily deflect - luckily for United it rolls right to De Gea, but that could have been a disaster.
Yellow Card Wayne Rooney
Rooney was lucky to escape a caution a few minutes ago but this is a nailed-on booking as he cynically takes down Ramsey in Arsenal's half.
Kagawa finds some space on the edge of the area and drives in on a shooting angle from 12 yards, but dallies and his attempted pass to Van Persie is blocked. He should have blasted that one.
So close for the Gunners! A great cross comes in from Sagna on the right but somehow evades Gibbs and Giroud, with Evans getting the vital touch to prevent an easy chance.
The United crowd shout 'Attack, attack, attack' as they want their side to put daylight between themselves and the Gunners.
Ozil is almost in here as he ghosts past Evra to get onto a long ball through the United back line, but there's too much on it and De Gea collects.
We're into the final 20 minutes now - Arsenal have seen more of the ball after the break, but haven't created many chances.
Arsenal try to bulldoze their way through the United defence here, but Wilshere cant find a way through. Rooney gets a great reception as he charges from defence to clatter into Vermaelen 70 yards up the pitch. He gives away a foul, but the crowd is in fine voice.
Valencia breaks with the ball and feeds Rooney - the striker attempts to chip Szczesny from 22 yards, but screws his effort wide of the right-hand post. A neat idea, but poor execution.
Wilshere takes a heavy touch in the United area and fouls Jones - the midfielder isn't happy, but Oliver is unmoved.
United deal with the ball well again, with Rooney making a diving header to clear it. He may still want a move, but his commitment in games is in no doubt.
Arsenal have another free kick on the wing after Evra fouls Sagna - can the Gunners exploit the absence of Vidic?
Flamini has been replaced by Jack Wilshere - he'll provide more of an attacking threat than the Frenchman, though it may open up more space for United in the final third.
A big miss from Rooney! The striker takes the ball and beats his man to line up a shot at goal from 20 yards - the ball goes through Vermaelen's legs but creeps wide of Szczesny's left-hand post. That was a huge chance for United.
Ramsey shots from range now, but it rolls into De Gea's arms. The Welshman has been quiet so far.
Close for Ozil! The German cracks a shot at goal from the left of the area which deflects off of Rooney and into the side-netting - the Gunners fans thought it was in, but that's the closest they've come to a goal.
De Gea collects the ball with a catch on the byline but the linesman somehow gives a corner thinking the ball had gone out of play. The keeper is furious, but Arsenal have the corner...
United finally get forward now and Valencia crosses for Rooney, who can't quite reach it but chases down Sagna on the flank, much to the crowd's delight. The hosts then win a corner on the opposite flank that comes to nothing, but they're more settled now.
Arsenal look to be getting a grip on the game now and win a corner after Carrick shanks a cross out, but it comes to nothing. United have ceded the middle to the visitors, it seems.
Giroud is again frustrated as he gives away a free kick with the Gunners in a promising position. He remonstrates with Oliver with a United player beneath him, who he's presumably chosen to ignore.
Ozil and play a one-two towards United's area, then a three-four, though the Frenchman doesn't collect the German's final pass into space in the area. The visitors are beginning to at last threaten now.
It's Vermaelen who steps up and tries to bend it in the top corner, but he hits the ball over De Gea's top right-hand corner by about eight yards. Not a pretty sight, that.
Giroud picks up possession and wins a free kick off of Cleverley from 40 yards out. Can Ozil do better this time around?
Arsenal get forward and almost carve out a chance, but Jones does well to close down Ramsey's shot from 18 yards.
Van Persie steals the ball on the halfway line and United break forward, winning a corner in the process. Nothing comes of it, though Rooney almost plays a delightfull chipped ball through for Kagawa.
We're underway for the second half, and Vidic has indeed been replaced at half-time by Tom Cleverley. Jones will slot in at the back, and that's a big loss for the hosts.
Can the Gunners hit back in the second half? They've got more than enough quality to do so, but it'll be a real test of their title credentials and their temperament.
It's been another fine display from Rooney - after setting up Van Persie from the corner he's got 14 Premier League assists since the start of last season, which is more than any other player says Opta Sports.
Van Persie has a habit of scoring in these games - he's netted in the last five Barclays Premier League encounters between these two sides.
That's the interval, and Manchester United lead Arsenal 1-0 courtesy of a Robin van Persie header. It's been a half of few chances, but the hosts deserve the lead for showing more initiative. The Gunners have been woeful on the ball, and Wenger will have to have strong words in the break.
45' + 4'
Vidic is up but he's holding his head and spitting blood, and doesn't seem to know where he is. He's heading down the tunnel with the medical staff - that would be a crucial loss for United if he doesn't appear for the second half.
45' + 2'
De Gea comes out and gets another great punch on a cross, but catches Vidic with his hip. The Serbian looks dazed and confused, and it takes a lot to keep him down.
We'll have two minutes of injury time at Old Trafford now, and Moyes will be thrilled with his side's display so far.
Yellow Card Mathieu Flamini
Flamini is next in the book for a late challenge, which Oliver cautions him for after waving play-on. Good refereeing there.
Yellow Card Phil Jones
Jones collects a booking for the collision. The defender is shocked, though the caution may have perhaps been more in response to the recent concussion discussions more than anything else.
Szczesny bravely comes for the ball and collides with Jones. The Gunners keeper looks like he's out cold, but after a minute or so is back up. With the recent furore over Lloris, should the keeper have gone off?
Kagawa wins a corner off of a challenge from Sagna - replays shows it should've been a goal kick. Will United punish Arsenal from a set-peice again?
Rooney is incensed as he wants a penalty after being shoved to the floor by Giroud. It would've been a foul anywhere else on the pitch as the striker was clumsy, but Oliver may have thought it a little too soft for a spot kick.
Rooney and Van Persie are finding plenty of space in front of Arsenal's back line - the Gunners' defensive midfielders will need to get tighter to the forwards.
Giroud has a free header 15 yads out and meets it really well - a little too well in fact as he loops the ball over the bar.
Cazorla schemes on the edge of the area and shifts it out to the right, but the ball into the box is again cut out by Evans, who's having a decent game so far.
Arsenal play it short and then cross the ball, and De Gea launches the ball around 40 yards with a massive punch. Pity any striker that meets that fist in future, as their head would get knocked clean off.
Giroud tries a floated through-ball but finds absolutely nobody, while Cazorla's shot is closed down well. Arsenal have a corner now, but they have been poor in possession so far.
Yellow Card Bacary Sagna
Sagna is the first player in the book as he takes out Evra as the Frenchman looks to go round him on the wing. With the marauding left-back and Kagawa to deal with, Sagna will have to be careful for the next hour.
Oh Mesut - by the German's impeccable standards that is a terrible free kick as he simply punts it at the first man, and United break.
That goal has riled Arsenal and they're getting forward with intent - Sagna puts in a cross which Evans has to deal with, and now Ozil has a chance to put in a free kick from the right wing...
Assist Wayne Rooney
Goal Robin van Persie
VAN PERSIE SCORES!!! The former Gunner opens the scoring with a superb glancing header at the near post which flies into the top corner over the despairing jump of Gibbs on the line. A top, top effort from the Dutchman, and United lead 1-0.
Rooney gets free down the left and whips in a devlish cross towards Van Persie that Vermaelen does excellently to head out for a corner.
Twenty minutes of the half left now and there have been few opportunities for either side, with neither manager keen on leaving themselves too open early on.
Arsenal almost break through the United back line now as Cazorla slips as he tries a slide-rule pass, and Evra does well to play it out before he can be closed down on the edge of the area.
Chris Smalling is primarily a defensive full-back, but shows his attacking prowess now by bursting through down the right. He keeps the ball in and plays a one-two with Valencia, but is offside as he crosses. Good work from the young defender though.
Jones tries another lung-bursting run through the Arsenal back-line but is prevented by a good sliding challenge. Straight after the Gunners defence push out to play Van Persie offside but Rooney runs through, only to be denied by a similar tackle. Not a great offside trap there.
The Gunners fans though are not going quietly, with their 'Oh Santi Cazorla' song ringing out from the away section.
Jones does well now to get in front of Giroud and force a free kick from the striker. From the free kick, United get forward and win a throw after a cross from Evra is punted out. The United fans are right behind their team so far.
Stats show that 81 per cent of the play has been in the centre of the pitch so far - not surprising given the sheer amount of players selected in there by both managers.
Van Persie is frustrated now as he wins the ball off of Vermaelen and sets Valencia away down the right, but Oliver blows up for a foul by the Dutch striker.
Giroud is lurking as Evans and De Gea get a little too close to one another, and the defender's back-pass forces the keeper into a falling punt that is lucky not to fall to an Arsenal player.
Rooney shows good strength to get away down the left wing after side-stepping Arteta's interception, but then gets his feet mixed up and just passes it out for a throw-in. Not his finest moment.
Bacary Sagna is down injured now after an aerial clash on the right wing - the Gunners wanted a free kick but referee Oliver gives nothing, and the Frenchman limps away clutching his right thigh.
Aaron Ramsey has been stunning so far this season, but proceeds to lose possession by playing a backheel to nobody when under no pressure. Wenger will remind him at half-time that Old Trafford is no place to be casual with the ball.
Wayne Rooney looks up for this one - he gets into space around 30 yards for goal but his shot is blocked and spins into the diving arms of Szczesny.
Phil Jones does his best enthusiastic dog impression now as he gallops forward into space, and proceeds to overrun the ball and lose possession. Not the most composed moment for the youngster, but his drive was impressive.
Evra delivers a high curling cross from the left wing which Wojciech Szczesny claims well. No problems there for the goalkeeper.
United are dictating possession at the moment, stroking it around midfield without really finding a way through. Arsenal will presumably be content to sit back and soak up the pressure before counter-attacking.
Kagawa tries to link with Patrice Evra on the left but can't keep it in play. It's a big day for the playmaker, though how much impact he can have from the left wing is still in question.
Evans is down after a late challenge from Giroud as he clears the ball upfield - it's a clumsy tackle, and the forward is perhaps a little lucky not to be cautioned by Michael Oliver.
Kagawa gets down the left wing and puts a cross over the top of Van Persie, and Antonio Valencia wins a corner on the right. A promising start for United...
We're underway at Old Trafford! Vidic plays a lazy pass from the back and Jones gives away a free kick in 20 seconds - expect to see a few more of those as we go on.
The players line up around the centre-circle for a minute's silence for Remembrance Sunday. The centre-circle is made into a banner with a large poppy and the message: "we will remember them" - a touching tribute.
Mesut Ozil is in quiet contemplation before we kick off here. Moyes revealed this week he didn't sign the German because he didn't think United 'needed' the playmaker. Will he prove the United boss wrong?
The teams are out of the tunnel to a thunderous reception from the Old Trafford faithful. United would slip 11 points behind the Gunners with a defeat, so the fans know how important this one is.
Expect controversy in the penalty areas today - in the 15 Premier League games between at Old Trafford, there have been 10 penalties and six have been missed according to Opta Sports.
Sunderland have just beaten Manchester City 1-0 at the Stadium of Light - with Manuel Pellegrini's men suffering their fourth defeat this season already, Moyes and Wenger will know the title race is well and truly open.
We're 10 minutes away from kick-off at Old Trafford, and if history is anything to go by, this one should be an absolute corker. Van Nistelrooy's penalty miss, 'Pizzagate', Wiltord's title-winning goal, an 8-2 drubbing - this fixture has had it all. Let's hope for drama today - and plenty of goals.
A sickness bug in the Arsenal camp means Tomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker miss out - the loss of the big German at the back could be crucial for the Gunners after impressive displays against Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund.
Jack Wilshere has made the squad but will have to settle for a place on the bench - though to be honest, it's unlikely Wenger would have dropped any of Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini or Aaron Ramsey for the Englishman.
Arsenal subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Monreal, Wilshere, Gnabry, Hayden, Bendtner.
Man Utd subs: Lindegaard, Cleverley, Fellaini, Giggs, Januzaj, Nani, Hernandez.
The big news for the hosts is that Van Persie starts after rumours around the ground that he would miss out. Jonny Evans slots in alongside Nemanja Vidic at the back, Phil Jones partners Michael Carrick in the middle, while Shinji Kagawa gets a start as Moyes places his faith in the Japanese playmaker.
Arsenal XI: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey, Flamini; Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud.
Man Utd XI: De Gea; Smalling, Evans, Vidic, Evra; Jones, Carrick; Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa; Van Persie.
Arsen Wenger's men can go five points clear and send a real statement of intent to the rest of the league with a win today. The Red Devils meanwhile need a result to stay in touch after a poor start to David Moyes' reign, so there's a lot at stake for both managers.
Good afternoon and welcome to the LIVE Text Commentary of Manchester United v Arsenal at Old Trafford. I'm Tom J Doyle and I'll be guiding you through all the action in what will be a massive game for both Premier League title chasers.
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