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THE NEW PREMIER League champions are at the Emirates this afternoon.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail ben@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United

Good afternoon and welcome along. With their 20th title already in the bag, Manchester United travel to North London for a meeting with old rivals Arsenal.

The big news is that former Gunners favourite Robin van Persie starts at the Emirates.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski. Subs: Mannone, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, Jenkinson, Gervinho.

Manchester United: De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Jones, Nani, Rooney, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez, Cleverley, Kagawa, Buttner.

Arsenal, currently one point ahead of Spurs, are desperate to secure a Champions League spot for next season and have entrusted Lukas Podolski, normally deployed on the wing, up front.

Earlier this week, Arsene Wenger confirmed that his players will give United a guard of honour: “I want the traditions of English football to be respected,” the Frenchman said.

Arsenal kick off and we’re underway.

GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United (Theo Walcott)

We haven’t played two minutes and already the hosts are ahead. Van Persie of all people loses possession at the halfway line and the ball is threaded through to Walcott, who fires past David De Gea.

There’s a suspicion of offside but the linesman’s flag stayed down.

Phil Jones finds Van Persie inside the Arsenal box but the Dutchman’s first effort of the day is high and wide, which the crowd are delighted to see.

Then Nani goes past Arteta and Ramsey before being bundled over but referee Phil Dowd waves play on. Alex Ferguson is livid on the touchline.

Jones is the first man into Dowd’s book for a heavy tackle on Arteta but he resulting free-kick is wasted.

Down the other end, Van Persie finds himself out with where he gets a yard to cross for Jones. He gets good contact but can’t direct the header on target.

Rafael Da Silva is next to earn himself a yellow card after pulling Tomas Rosicky back. United looking more than a little sluggish after a day or two of celebrations earlier this week.

Boos ring around the Emirates as Van Persie dives in rashly on Per Mertesacker. He hasn’t been in the game thus far (much like the rest of his team-mates) and now will have to be careful after becoming the latest United player on a yellow.

This is becoming just a little bit comical. Jonny Evans clips the back of Walcott’s heal as he attempts to roll the defender and, yep you guessed it, he’s booked too. That’s 4-0 to United on the card count.

Arsenal break in numbers after they catch their opponents in possession and Ramsey overhits a pass for Podolski but the German international makes De Gea work with a decent strike which is batted away.

Walcott is clearly still upset about Evan’s tackle on him and goes flying into a challenge on Evra to become his team’s first player to be cautioned.

Excellent closing down by the Arsenal defence to prevent Nani from getting his 20-yard strike away. They’re really up for this.

Great chance for United. Nani gets free down the left flank and lands a cross right onto the head of Van Persie. He gets the effort away but sees it come back out off the head of Wojciech Szczesny.

Bakary Sagna then does just enough to put Jones off scoring from a couple of yards out.


GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United (Robin van Persie)

Sagna gets himself in trouble by giving the ball away and, in an attempt to make up for the mistake, takes down Van Persie inside the box. The striker steps up himself and plants the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards.

Half-time: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United

RVP the latest played to choose not to celebrate after scoring against his former club.

Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

We’re up and running in the second half. Both sides have returned with the same XI so we’re as you are.

Rosicky tries his luck from distance but it’s just wide.

Rafael gets a shot off but he’s leaning back and it sails over. United much more competitive now after the shaky start.

Wayne Ronney, who has come into the game more and more, heads into the hands of Szczesny.

With a half hour to play, Wenger looks to add some urgency in Arsenal’s play by bringing Jack Wilshere on for Rosicky.

Cazorla pings a pass in the direction of Kieran Gibbs, who takes it on chest before Antonio Valencia handles just outside the box – resulting in a yellow card and a free-kick.

The Spanish midfielder fires wide with the set-piece.

Gervinho replaces Podolski. 19 minutes remaining.

There’s a first change for United too. Anderson is introduced for Rafael meaning Jones will take up the right-back position and the Brazilian slops into midfield.

Looks who’s cheering on the Red Devils…

Credit: Twitter/SamFares

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain gets 12 minutes to make an impact, taking the place of Ramsey as Arsenal’s final change.

Cazorla calls De Gea into action and Dowd waves away a penalty claim after Ferdinand brings down Gibbs. Giggs, on for Nani, is played in by Rooney and cuts back onto his weaker left to let fly. The ball comes off Oxlade-Chamberlain and goes out for a corner, however.

Four minutes of added time to be played. Looks like it’s going to end all-square.

Full-time: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United

So, after a sluggish start, United get back into the game and a draw is a fair result in the end. That puts Arsenal on 64 points –  one off Chelsea and two ahead of Spurs. United can’t beat Chelsea’s record of 95 points now as they sit on 85 with three fixtures to play.

About the author:

Ben Blake