24 min: Pepe completely wastes a free-kick on the left, looping the ball miserably out of play.
23 min: Halfway through the first half and neither keeper has had to make a save. In fact, no one has had a shot yet. Not a one.
22 min: Leno gathers James’s low cross after a nice but of work from McTominay in midfield.
20 min: Players from both sides surround Kevin Friend: Arsenal players want Lingard booked for pulling back Pepe; United’s are eager to point out that their should’ve been a handball against Guendouzi just prior to Pepe’s break. Neither set of players seem particularly satisfied by Friend’s response.
18 min: Tuanzebe calmly and confidently deals with a dangerous through-ball under pressure. He’s started well.
16 min: James again runs at Chambers but this time his touch is too loose and the Arsenal man can deal with the situation. Pretty clear what United’s plan is at the moment – get the ball to Daniel James and ask him to run at the Arsenal defence.
14 min: Kolasinac charges forward into space and looks to curl a pass into the danger area. He does … but his teammates aren’t on the same wavelength and De Gea can collect with little bother.
12 min: McTominay and Pogba are getting the better of Arsenal’s midfield trio thus far.
10 min: Chambers goes into Kevin Friend’s Big Book Of Very Naughty Boys for a pulling back Daniel James. It’s 2-0 to the United winger so far.
9 min: … slung deep to Maguire, who wins the header but Rashford can’t bring the loose ball under his spell.
8 min: James gets a chance to run at Chambers and gets the better of his man. David Luiz blocks the low cross – corner to United …
6 min: It’s been a bit of a scrappy start, with United enjoying most of the ball but things all a little untidy.
4 min: Xhaka takes a quick free-kick looking long for Chambers flying forward. Tuanzebe nods behind for an Arsenal corner …
2 min: The rain continues to hammer down at Old Trafford. Guendouzi gives away the first free-kick of the evening with a trip on McTominay.
1 min: Interestingly Tuanzebe has started at left-back for United, with Ashley Young switching to the right.
The players are in the tunnel … handshakes, hugs and smiles seem to be the order of the day rather than angry words and jabbing fingers. Ashley Young and Arsenal’s newly-confimed full-time captain Granit Xhaka lead the teams out.
A bit of pre-match Ole: “It’s two good attacking teams. We have to stamp our authority on the game. Getting the first goal is always important in these games.”
Roy Keane is on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football for the first time. He’s been reminiscing about his rivalry with Patrick Vieira and some of those classic Arsenal-Manchester United meetings – and he’s been great in all honesty. He’s much better on these topics than he is in Old-Man-Shouts-At-Cloud mode.
I should point out as I made an error in the team lineups earlier: Maitland-Niles is not suspended; he’s on the bench having served his one-match ban in midweek.
A bit of pre-match stattage: Bukayo Saka, at 18 years and 25 days old, is the youngest player ever to start in this fixture in the (apologies) “Premier League era”. Axel Tuanzebe, meanwhile, hasn’t started a game for Manchester United since May 2017.
A bit of pre-match Unai. He’s asked about the absence of Mesut Ozil. “Not today!” he says of the Germany midfielder, which is as goos an answer as any I suppose.
Weather watch: it’s hammering it down at Old Trafford.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; McTominay, Pogba; Andreas Pereira, Lingard, James; Rashford. Subs: Romero, Rojo, Williams, Fred, Mata, Matic, Greenwood.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Leno; Chambers, Sokratis, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Torreira; Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka. Subs: Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Ceballos, Willock, Nelson, Martinelli
Referee: Kevin Friend
So two changes for Arsenal – Chambers and Torreira for Maitland-Niles and Ceballos (who are both on the bench). As expected, Rashford and Pogba are both passed fit for United, which means Mason Greenwood drops to the bench. No Wan-Bissaka for United, so Axel Tuanzebe is in at right-back.
A bit of pre-match reading:
Here’s Jonathan Wilson on the malaise at Manchester United: “It may be that a squad this piecemeal, patched together from the remnants of four very different managers’ inclinations under a board that has demonstrated little in the way of football expertise, makes the act of management almost impossible …”
And here’s Nick Ames on tonight’s game: “Anyone still tuning in for the spit and snarl of the 1990s and 2000s – the bust-ups involving Schmeichel, Wright, Keane, Vieira, Keown, Van Nistelrooy, Fàbregas, a pizza buffet, Wenger and Ferguson – will be short-changed.”
Hello all. And welcome to what could be a wet and wild night in Manchester and this clash between perhaps the two most interesting teams in the Premier League right now.
Of course, being interesting isn’t necessarily a good thing. There are strains of fungal infection that are presumably extremely interesting (to some) but that doesn’t mean you want to get intimately involved with them. Or follow their progress through thick and thin over nine months.
Manchester United have won one in five Premier League games since the opening day of the season. Indeed since that stunning win over PSG in Paris back in March, their league record reads: P15 W4 D4 L7 Pts16 which is in many ways, I’m sure you’ll agree, a far more interesting record than when they were winning all those titles in the 90s. Perhaps only Marco Silva at Everton looks on thinner ice than Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who is hamstrung by injuries this evening.
Unai Emery’s Arsenal, meanwhile, are something of a footballing fruit machine at the moment, at times paying out gloriously, at times so frustrating you just want to pour your pint over them and find something else to do.
Kick-off is 8pm BST.