25 minutes “I understand why that goal was disallowed,” says James Hupp, “but the push that Tierney ignored was also exactly the kind of contact the umpires were told during normal play to ‘keep the game flowing’. and then pull back to examine the leg contact in detail, really does it flow better than inflating the push would have in the first place?
That is a valid point. It’s all a bit of a mess, isn’t it, and it’s getting more and more annoying.
15 minutes “Why do people see Ten Hag as young when only four managers are older than him?” says Nelson Chiwara. “Statistically, he’s relatively out and a spry 52.”
Novelty, I guess. That and, as I’ve always maintained, being bald takes 10 years off you.
United to appeal for Eriksen foul. Halfway through, he was robbed by Odegaard, with Saka picking up the loose ball. Saka cut United open with a devastating pass to Martinelli, who roared away from Dalot, beating De Gea with confidence.
I think it’s a violation of Odegaard, but whether it’s a clear and obvious mistake is another matter.
There are some potential belt matches in this match, but Bukayo Saka v Tyrell Malacia and Gabriel Jesus v Lisandro Martínez look particularly appetizing. Saka has not started the season very well, which actually bodes well for Arsenal – showing that they can handle it without him and they can get much better – while Malacia has been extremely impressive. Saka will want to lure him in and then turn away, as that’s something he does well and Malacia’s aggression is borderline at times – though his recovery rate can still get him out of trouble.
Jesus, meanwhile, was just the kind player Arsenal needed and he started the season with such confidence. But in Martínez he meets a player who is equally agile and smart, in excellent form. I can’t wait to see how this one goes.
United, meanwhile, will likely play as they did against Liverpool, sitting in a center block and springing into action when they think the ball can be won. The difference this time is that, with Antony on one side and Jadon Sancho on the other, there are two wingers coming in which could help them get some control in midfield – I’m sure this is part of the plan. They will also want to exploit the space behind Arsenal’s back four and, you might think, will give it a more rigorous scrutiny than it has been so far this season.
United make one change to the team that took the win at Leicester – Erik ten Hag cannot resist the temptation to start Antony, who is filling in for Anthony Elanga. However, he continues without Casemiro, who is kept on the bench by the good work Scott McTominay has done recently. It makes sense, I guess, but not as much as doing the reverse.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1/4-3-3): DeGea; Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia; McTominay, Eriksen, Fernandes; Anthony, Sancho, Rashford. Subscribers: Heaton, Dubravka, Lindelof, Maguire, Ronaldo, Fred, Casemiro, Shaw, Elanga.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Lokonga, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka, Martinelli, Jesus. Subscribers: Turner, Tierney, Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Holding, Cedric, Tomiyasu, Vieira, Marquinhos.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Salford)
For some the question is rhetorical, for others it’s asking: how good is Arsenal? We should get an answer soon enough. Four of Arsenal’s next seven games will be against Big Six teams, after which we’ll have a good idea if they’re serious contenders for the top four, the top two or even the best.
They have had a perfect start to the season – five games, five wins – and will remain at the top no matter what happens today. There probably hasn’t been such optimism in the Emirates since the winter of 2015-16. But for now there is an asterisk against Arsenal’s flying start as their victories have been won against the teams in 10th, 13th, 15th, 17th and 20th place. While we shouldn’t necessarily announce that today is the real quiz, it is certainly their biggest test of the season so far.
Old Trafford is a place where Arsenal often experience extreme emotions – the Battles of 1986, 1990 and 2003, taking the Double in 2002, the 49-and-out robbery of 2004, the 8-2, the Overmars game, the false coming of age in 2020 and the rest. Arsene Wenger even coined an expression, “Old Traffordish”, to describe some of the decisions that went against Arsenal.
At the turn of the century this was the best game in English, probably world football. Let’s face it, it’s been a regular on the B-list for the past decade. But it’s still Manchester United v Arsenal, and the first whistle makes us all salivate.
kick off 4.30 pm.