It’s not the most crucial meeting of Arsenal and Manchester United we’ve ever seen, but there’s still a good bit riding on it. We may not see a post-match pizza fight, but there’s every chance of a cracking game.
The Manchester United players may have spent the week uploading lame celebratory photos to Instagram, but as Fergie as been mumbling something about setting a new highest points total, they’re probably not going to let up, especially against his old frenemy, Arsene Wenger. On the other hand, Arsenal would love a win for their Champions League push and the enjoyment of seeing Robin van Persie look a bit sad.
If you’re out and about, away from a television or afraid of using Twitter due to the high likelihood of reading one of Piers Morgan’s opinions, then this is the place to stay up to date with what’s happening at the Emirates. I’ll bring you all the latest news and sarcastic comments you need to be up to speed with the game.
Feel free to join in by leaving comments in the comments section below or giving a shout on Twitter where I’m @MinistryOfGlove
Arsenal 1 – 1 Manchester United FT
5.53pm: FULL TIME Fergie time passes with no major incident. It’s ends all square and RVP is still getting booed. He got a goal though and that will feel like some sort of vindication, but so will the the shiny Premier League winners’ medal he’ll be getting.
And although the game ended up being a bit crap, van Persie scored last, which triggers our Money-Back Special on the game! I’ll post more details elsewhere on the blog shortly.
5.49pm: We’ve got four minutes of Fergie time.
5.46pm: Giggs wiggles free in the box and gets a shot away. Oxo gets a leg in to block it.
SUB! Despite playing the ball that let Giggs get behind the Arsenal defence, Wayne Rooney gets the hook. Don’t worry, he’s getting used to it now. Chicharito comes on for him.
5.43pm: Arsenal appeal for a penalty for a ‘tackle’ on Oxlade Chamberlain from Rio Ferdinand and to be fair, it was a good shout.
Cazorla has a shot from 20 yards out which De Gea parries low to his left.
5.40pm: SUB! Nani shows about as much energy as he’s shown all game by waddling off. Ryan Giggs comes on leaving his wife dangerously unattended.
5.39pm: BOOKING! Phil Dowd goes back and books Oxlade Chamberlain for a bad tackle. The player looks dismayed for some reason, but it was a fair cop.
5.36pm: SUB! Aaron Ramsey is called ashore and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain comes on to ensure it’ll be a busy few minutes for my typing skills.
5.34pm: There’s some more huffing and puffing from Arsenal, but once again, they can’t turn it into a clear cut chance and United clear.
5.31pm: CHANCE AND SUB! Koscielny fires a volley narrowly over from a scrappy corner and Fergie decides he needs more belly in his midfield, so brings on Anderson in place of Rafael.
5.29pm: SUB! Podolski puts an end to what he will comically refer to as his ‘being a striker’ and Gervinho comes on.
In other news, the actor James Nesbitt is in the United section. With all the other fans. Like a real-life muggle!
5.28pm: 20 minutes to go and the odds are: Arsenal 13/5 | Draw Evens | United 5/2
5.23pm: YELLOW CARD Antonio Valencia handballs on the edge of the box. Arsenal shout for a penalty, but Phil Dowd surprises everyone by getting the call right. Tony gets booked and Cazorla wastes the free kick by trying to be Gareth Bale.
5.20pm: SUB! Rosicky comes off and Jack ‘Am I fit, am I not fit? Who actually knows?’ Wilshere takes his place.
5.19pm: Sagna is very lucky to be on the pitch. He lunges into a tackle on Evra that was definitely worth another yellow. Strange refereeing from Phil Dowd.
5.15pm: CHANCE! Another header for United and another missed opportunity. Rooney gets his head onto a Nani cross, but his head is into the ground and easy for Szczesny to gather.
5.09pm: HALF CHANCE! Van Persie does well down United’s left. He gets into the box and slides a great ball into the six yard box, but neither Rooney or Valencia can get close enough to make a connection.
That sounded more ‘online dating summary’ than I intended.
5.06pm: CHANCE! Rosicky shoots wide from the edge of the box. It wasn’t that close, but it’s a chance for the home team so naturally the fans nearly wet themselves.
5.05pm: It’s been a subdued start to the second period, but that gives us a chance to appreciate Szczesny’s face save again.
And by ‘appreciate’ I mean ‘laugh at’.
5.03pm: The teams are out after their half-time bollockings. United get the second half underway.
4.48pm: HALF TIME! It was good at the start, good at the end and a bit rubbish in the middle. If you’re not watching, this is pretty much what happened:
GUARD OF HONOUR – GOAL – BOOKING – BOOKING – BOOKING – BOOKING – BOOKING – PENALTY – BOOKING – GOAL – HALF TIME
4.43pm: GOAL! RVP puts it to the right of the goal and although he guessed right, Szczesny was nowhere near it.
In commentary, Alan Smith sums up the game and his odd command of the English language by telling us:
It’s harsh on Arsenal, they’ve been the more superior team
4.42pm: PENALTY! AND YELLOW CARD Sagna brings down RVP. Nailed on peno. The Frenchman goes into the book probably just for being so utterly stupid.
4.41pm: CHANCE! Another chance for United. Phil ‘The Gurnmonster’ Jones gets on the end of a cross with a diving header, but it goes straight into the ground and bounces up high and wide.
4.38pm: GREAT CHANCE! United finally get their shit together and carve out a great chance for RVP. From five yards out he heads it straight into Szczesny’s face.
It’s amusing, but he really should have put it away. The chance, not Szczesny’s face.
4.35pm: Van Persie is still getting roundly booed whenever he touches the ball. He looks like he’s about as arsed as Jose Boswingwa when QPR got relegated.
4.33pm: YELLOW CARD! A charged up Walcott goes into the book for a silly tackle. Deserved it.
4.31pm: CHANCE! De Gea beats away a Podolski shot. It should have been a better chance, but Ramsey’s crap pass put Podoloski in a worse position than it needed to be.
4.29pm: ANOTHER YELLOW CARD! I don’t know if the celebrations or the panic in securing several morning after pills for their groupies, but for some reason, United look really off the pace. Jonny Evans clatters into the back of Theo Walcott and picks up the team’s fourth yellow card of game.
4.27pm: YELLOW CARD! The Arsenal crowd are going to love this! Van Persie goes into the book for a clumsy tackle on Mertesacker. He’s slightly lucky because a bit more contact and it could have been red.
4.23pm: YELLOW CARD! Another yellow for United, this time Rafael for pulling back Rosicky. It seems slightly unnecessary as the Czech midfielder generally moves with all the pace of a glacier.
4.20pm: 20 minutes gone are Arsenal are now 4/7 to win it. Phil Jones is about 1/500 to gurn at least once before half time.
4.18pm: CHANCE! Jones picks himself, goes down the other end and gets his head to a cross. From about eight yards out, his free header goes wide, but not by much.
4.16pm: YELLOW CARD! Phil Jones goes into the book for a forceful tackle on Arteta. It’s the type of tackle would have got away with it if it was back in the day when Anders Limpar was about the extent of Arsenal’s foreign flair.
4.12pm: Sir Alex gives the fourth official a bollocking for the first official (i.e. the referee) not giving Nani a free kick. He does know that the fourth official is just there for substitutions and letting everyone know how much injury time Fergie wants?
4.11pm: Phil Jones does well to gurn and then play RVP in. His shot is very high and wide and the Arsenal fans greet it with a cheer that was almost as loud as the goal celebrations.
4.08pm: It looks like the small child who is Arsenal’s mascot for the day has run out on the pitch and is playing for them!
No wait, it’s Thomas Rosicky.
4.06pm: Santi Cazorla tries his luck from about 25 yards out. It’s a decent effort, but De Gea makes it look for dangerous than it was. He fumbles the corner, but United get it away.
4.05pm: United have started slowly after their title celebrations during the week. Arsenal starting with all the freshness you’d expect from a team who haven’t had to celebrate a trophy in about eight years.
4.02pm: GOAL! 1-0 ARSENAL! Theo Walcott gets Arsenal off to a flying start by latching on to a Rosicky through ball and slotting the ball past De Gea. He was about a yard offside and it was a shocking decision, but no-one’s going to feel too much sympathy for United.
4.01pm: Some very committed booing of RVP from the Arsenal fans. Someone’s been praticising by going to a lot of pantos.
4pm: Arsenal kick off wearing their home kits as you’d expect. United have changed from their tablecloth jersey to the white one.
3.57pm: The guard of honour goes off without a hitch and quite a lot of booing. No-one even tries to trip up van Persie.
3.51pm: Before all this guard of honour nonsense, here’s a quick (and surprisingly interesting) stat attack:
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 28, 2013
3.44pm: Fergie is looking far more red in the face than even his normally high levels of redness. I think he may have just realised he put Nani in the team by mistake.
3.38pm: Right, that’s enough slagging everyone for the moment, it’s time to ever so subtly communicate how great Paddy Power by showing you an image that tells you all about today’s awesome Money-Back Special:
3.32pm: Arsene Wenger is being interviewed now and he calls for Robin van Persie to be welcomed with ‘some class’ by the Emirates crowd. I think he’s got more hope of Andre Santos suddenly turning into an adequate defender.
3.23pm: It’s confirmed that Reading and QPR are heading for the Championship and if ever there was a dull game to prove that they deserved it, that was it.
3.19pm: Andy Gray previewed this game for us the other day and he’s saying lump on the draw.
Yes his tips for yesterday’s matches were a bit crap and he predicted Newcastle to win by one goal yesterday (just wrong by seven in the end), but every failure brings us closer to our next success. We hope. Or else there’s not much point paying him.
3.10pm: TEAM NEWS
The teams are in and although it’s not the most exciting thing ever, it will distract us from the bilge that is Reading v QPR.
Arsene Wenger has gone with just about the strongest team available to him. Apart from leaving out Vermaelen who he seems to have some sort of beef with. Wilshere is on the bench continuing the ‘is he fit/isn’t he fit? What actually is the story?’ thing that’s been going on for much of the last couple of years.
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski
Even though the title is in the back, Fergie has named a strong team. Well, a strong team and Nani.
De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Jones, Nani, Rooney, van Persie
3.05pm: There’s just under an hour to go until the game begins and that means there’s plenty of time to get your bets on. If you’re slightly unsure of how the game might go or you just have a fetish for garish looking pie charts, you might find this useful: