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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 26 May, 2020


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Hello everybody and welcome along to our minute-by-minute coverage of this afternoon’s highly-anticipated clash between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates.

Technically this can’t be referred to as a ‘derby’, so to speak, but the meeting of these two clubs has all the highly-charged, competitive elements to match most derbies in world football. 

A rivalry is perhaps the best way to describe it. Not so long ago these two giants of English football were slugging it out for Premiership (remember when we used to call it that?) titles and FA Cups, but today a potential Champions League spot is what’s up for grabs.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men rolled back the years on Wednesday with the most dramatic, pulsating and indescribable comeback against PSG.

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League - Emirates Stadium Source: John Walton

Marcus Rashford’s stoppage time penalty booked United’s place in the quarter-finals of the European Cup, throwing fans all the way back to famous nights of old under Alex Ferguson.

Arsenal, on the other hand, suffered a European nightmare this past week. Unai Emery’s men fell 3-1 in Rennes in the Europa League in a disappointing away defeat which threatens to end the Gunners’ prevails on the continent this season.

Both clubs will want to be competing in Europe’s elite club competition again next season. Just one point separates the sides in fourth and fifth place, so it’s all to play for today at the Emirates in the hunt for that almighty Champions League spot.

Stick with us, kick-off is coming up in just under an hour’s time at 4.30pm, with today’s game live on Sky Sports Main Event if you happen to be near a TV.

Let’s get started with the team news…

TEAM NEWS: Unai Emery makes five changes from the side which suffered that dismal defeat in Rennes on Thursday, the most notable switch being Aaron Ramsey’s introduction in place of Matteo Guendouzi.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has opted for three changes from that incredible victory in Paris on Wednesday night. Paul Pogba was suspended for that win and naturally returns in midfield this afternoon, with Nemanja Matic and Diogo Dalot also returning to the United starting XI.

Arsenal: Leno; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac; Özil; Aubameyang, Lacazette

Substitutes: Cech, Mustafi, Elneny, Guendouzi, Suárez, Iwobi, Nketiah

Man United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Matic, Fred, Pogba; Dalot, Lukaku, Rashford

Substitutes: Romero, Bailly, Rojo, McTominay, Pereira, Martial, Greenwood

It’s a huge game in the race for top four. Man United have been on a quite phenomenal run of form ever since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge, including six away wins in the Premier League. His side came out on top in the FA Cup when these sides met at the end of January too, but who will come out on top today? Let us know below.

Poll Results:

Man United win (216)
Arsenal win (207)
Draw (62)

Some pre-game reading material ahead of kick-off:

What the manager’s have said…

Unai Emery: ”We played against them one month ago in the FA Cup, we lost 3-1 but I remember we did very good things, created chances.

“We know Sunday is a tough match and it is for everybody an amazing match with very good players and we are going to play at home with our supporters.

“We need to have a very big performance from each player and tactically like a team but I am looking forward also to playing against a team like Manchester United and how they are in this moment with each player – very big confidence after the PSG match.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer File Photo Source: Martin Rickett

“But with our supporters, I want to create a big atmosphere, a positive atmosphere for us and help us to give us the best and strongest support for the match.”

Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer: “We’ve gone through to the [Champions League] quarter finals, which is what we sometimes expect at Manchester United.

“It was the way that it happened, the celebrations at the end, just happens when you win a game at the end like we did. Arsenal is a fantastic game to get ready for again.

“I love managing these boys, love working here and as I said so many times I’m just doing the best I can every single day and if and when it comes to decision to be made we’ve got to think about that.”


Arsenal begin on the front foot and this energetic early start almost yields a goal right away. A powerful cross into the box fizzed in by Sead Kolasinac is nearly steered home by Alexandre Lacazette from close range, but the French striker’s effort flies just wide of David De Gea’s lefthand post.


Another chance for the Gunners, two in quick succession. Granit Xhaka floats a free-kick into the danger zone, with the ball being thumped into the air like an unwanted potato. It comes back down to earth where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is free, but his acrobatic effort flies over the Manchester United crossbar.


Really, really impressive early start here by Arsenal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang peels away from Chris Smalling following a through ball from Kolasinac. It’s a dramatic foot-race between defender and attacker which Aubameyang is always going to win, but his touch is off and this gives Smalling enough room to recover and force his opponent into a mistake.

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League - Emirates Stadium Source: John Walton


Crossbar! Manchester United explode into life suddenly at the other end. Romelu Lukaku with a fine effort which leaves Bernd Leno flatfooted on his goal-line. Everyone inside the Emirates stops and stares as the ball drops down and down almost in slow motion… before clattering off the woodwork and back out. A lucky escape for the hosts there.

Flag 12Mins


Arsenal capitalise on their good start to this game and it’s Granit Xhaka who’s broken the deadlock. A strange goal really, the Gunners’ midfielder collected possession on the edge of the box before opting to have a pop. A standard enough effort, Xhaka’s shot bends slightly and that movement in the air completely fools David de Gea — who doesn’t read the flight of the ball at all, and it nestles into his bottom corner to make it 1-0.


Unai Emery’s men are not content to just rest on their laurels here. Another breakneck attack on the counter sees Alexandre Lacazette break through on goal. He looks certain to pull the trigger from inside the box, but Ashley Young does really well to make it back in time to provide an all-important sliding challenge. 


Man United have looked a little passive in this game so far. Lukaku’s effort off the crossbar has been the visitor’s only real chance so far, with Arsenal’s thunder and impetus in attack really catching Solskjaer’s men off guard early doors here.


Off the post! Fred collects possession a good 25 yards out from goal and decides to test Leno’s reactions. The Brazilian strikes a low effort and it very nearly creeps into the bottom corner. Leno scrambles across before the ball smashes off the bottom of his lefthand post and away. Very close to an equaliser.


Very end-to-end game, this, and there’s almost a second for Arsenal as Ainsley Maitland-Niles cuts back a cross into the mixer, but the ball is played slightly behind Aaron Ramsey — who curls his shot well wide of the target.


Marcus Rashford gets his first shot of the afternoon. He collects the ball from Luke Shaw’s header inside the box, but the England striker curls a poor effort well wide of Bernd Leno, who went untested there.


Lacazette with some really lovely step-overs on the edge of the United box at the other end. He smacks a left-footed strike goal-bound, but it’s deflected wide for a corner kick — a corner which David De Gea duly catches with little fuss. Very exciting opening 25 minutes at the Emirates, it has to be said.


Oooooof, that’s very close to an equaliser. Romelu Lukaku’s dinked cross into the penalty area finds Marcus Rashford free at the back post. He sticks a leg out to try and stuff it into the back of the net, but his angles are slightly off as Rashford slides the ball just wide of the bottom corner.


Arsenal buzz down the other end, once again finding time and space down the lefthand channel. Sead Kolasinac sends in a low ball right across the face of goal, but neither Lacazette or Aubameyang is on hand to get a touch.


A free-kick is spilled towards the edge of the box where Diogo Dalot is free and on his own. The 19-year-old sizes up a shot, aiming for Leno’s top corner, but it goes astray and over the German’s crossbar.


A very entertaining affair so far, with Arsenal producing 8 sights at goal to Manchester United’s 7. An evenly-fought affair, but so far the hosts have looked just more vicarious and energetic in the final third. Aubameyang and Lacazette are a frightening pair to defend against when they play like this. That pace.


So, so close for Manchester United again. Romelu Lukaku takes possession inside the box and goes around Leno, but the German goalkeeper does really well to recover and get a strong right arm to keep Lukaku’s left-footed shot away. 


Emery’s men are going forward in waves right now, absolutely relentless. Lindelof and Smalling have struggled in this opening half, but for all this possession Arsenal do only lead by a single goal. They could easily be two or three ahead, but if Lukaku’s shot that hit the crossbar went in and Fred’s effort off the post this could be a different game entirely. Chaotic stuff out there.


A lull has descended over the last few minutes following a really exciting opening half at the Emirates. Both sets of players look like a pair of boxers short on energy waiting for the bell. Manchester United enjoying a spell of possession as Fred, Matic and Pogba stroke the ball about inside their own half.


Another promising attack by United following an excellent passage of passing play from one end of the pitch to the other. Romelu Lukaku cuts the ball back on a plate for Marcus Rashsford on the penalty spot, and just as he prepared to pull the trigger Granit Xhaka re-appeared to provide a crucial block.


There will be two minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the first half.

Flag 45Mins


A very entertaining 45 minutes of football, one which Arsenal have shaded. Unai Emery’s men have been full of energy and attacking intent so far, with Granit Xhaka’s left-footed effort from outside the box the difference between the sides at the interval. More action to come shortly!


Right from the off Bernd Leno is forced into action for Arsenal. A ball over the top from Paul Pogba sees Romelu Lukaku race clean through on goal. The German goalkeeper takes some inspiration from his countryman Manuel Neuer and deploys the sweeper-keeper role — bringing the ball out with a clever touch before hoofing it upfield.


Another chance for Manchester United. Marcus Rashford collects possession inside his own half and sees a pocket of space right in front of him. Rashford sizes up a shot from distance, but it flies high and wide.


Claims for a penalty from the visiting supporters in the away end. Fred strikes a low effort from close range which comes back off Laurent Koscielny, but the referee waves play on. Soon afterwards the ball finds its way towards Lukaku inside the box, but his shot flies over the bar.

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League - Emirates Stadium Source: John Walton


Koscielny goes down requiring treatment from the Arsenal medical staff. After a few moments being examined on the pitch, the French defended heads to the touchline for a closer inspection. He returns to action after a few minutes.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have come out for the second half reinvigorated. Paul Pogba is driving forward from midfield at every given opportunity with Lukaku and Rashford ahead of him doing their best to force an angle with runs behind enemy lines. Arsenal very much pinned back.


A free-kick on the edge of the area for Manchester United following a foul by Aubameyang on Pogba. Marcus Rashford drives a decent effort goal-bound, but it flies wide of the post. Half an hour remaining.


Decent attack by Arsenal at the other end. Alexandre Lacazette pulls away free from Chris Smalling awaiting a through ball to try and test David De Gea with a shot, but the corresponding pass from Nacho Monreal is overhit and spills wide for a goal-kick.

Britain Soccer Premier League Source: Tim Ireland


Another attack as Mesut Ozil dribbles forward against a pack-peddling United defence under quite a bit of pressure. The German playmaker passes to his right towards Aubameyang, but his cross into the box is cleared away.


Excellent composure from Leno once again. Marcus Rashford collects possession from Pogba’s through ball, but his effort to try and round the German goalkeeper are thwarted as Leno dives onto the ball at just the right moment to end the danger.

Flag 68Mins


The Gunners have the opportunity to double their advantage as Fred bundles into the back of Alexandre Lacazette. It’s a sloppy foul by the Brazilian midfielder following an excellent individual break from Lacazette.

Flag 69Mins


Aubameyang makes absolutely no mistake from the spot, sending David de Gea the wrong way with a cool finish in what is his 20th goal in all competitions this season. Arsenal double their lead and this could be a massive blow for Manchester United’s hopes of a top four finish.


Ooooof, almost a third straight from tip-off for Arsenal. Alexandre Lacazette finds himself with a free strike at goal just on the edge of the area — he smacks a powerful volley but it flies the wrong side of the post and wide.


Amid all the madness Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made his first change. Anthony Martial comes on off the bench in place of Diogo Dalot to try and turn this game around. He has 15 minutes to try and make a difference as his side face an almighty uphill battle.


An odd incident after Arsenal’s second goal there. A fan appeared to make his way from the crowd onto the pitch, running towards Chris Smalling. The spectator is quickly removed and brought away by security. 


Unai Emery makes his first substitution of the evening to try and see this game out, his side two goals to the good. Alex Iwobi is brought on to replace Mesut Ozil.


Time is beginning to slip away from Man United here. Luke Shaw delivers a free-kick into the box, but his cross is headed clear by Nacho Monreal after Chris Smalling successfully knocked the ball down into a dangerous area initially.


A change from each manager with ten minutes to go. Goalscorer from the spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is replaced by Denis Suarez, while Nemanja Matic comes off for 17-year-old Mason Greenwood, who impressed off the bench in Paris four days ago against PSG.


Excellent defensive clearance by Fred there. A break on the counter sees Iwobi cross into the danger zone for Lacazette, but the Manchester United midfielder read the danger and got into a great position to get a toe to the ball and see it away from danger.


One final change for Arsenal as 19-year-old forward Eddie Nketiah comes on to replace Alexandre Lacazette, who has been excellent this evening and an absolute thorn in the side of Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof. Five minutes to go, but with little momentum being built by either side, this looks all but over. 


There will be five minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.


A free header from Marcus Rashford looks certain to halve the deficit as we head into stoppage time. The England striker peels away from Ainsley Maitland-Niles and succeeds in getting plenty of power behind his effort, but it flies right into the arms of Leno between the sticks. It’s been that kind of an evening for Man United.



It’s nine home wins in a row in the Premier League for Arsenal as Unai Emery’s men see off Manchester United with an impressive two goal victory. Granit Xhaka’s strange left-footed effort had the better of David De Gea to break the deadlock, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made sure of the three points from the spot.

A thoroughly entertaining game and one which could have a big impact on who finishes in fourth place in the hunt for that all-important Champions League spot. Thanks a million for joining us. Cya!

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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