Manchester United v Arsenal: Premier League – live!
Latest updates from the 8pm kick-off at Old TraffordSpurs v Southampton, Wolves v Chelsea and more: clockwatch – live!Live scores – follow all tonight’s goals as they go in!Feel free to email Paul or to tweet: @Paul_Doyle 7.54pm GMT “I admit to be being massively biased against Mourinho,” announces Ben Lake. “I will never be able to get past him throwing medical staff under the bus in a pathetic attempt to cover his teams failings. Keeping that in mind, I’m not getting on board with any attempt to lessen the fault he carries with United’s current problems. Yes, recruitment has been an issue, in that he hasn’t been able to get exactly who he wanted but he has had a lot of money spent on this squad. A lot. The problem remains the manager, we saw at this year’s world cup that plenty of his players are completely capable of fantastic performances. Lukaku and Pogba being the obvious ones. It’s also not like Pogba was being played in a dynamic attacking formation. I also won’t get on board with the lazy players idea. Yes, some might not be putting a shift in but if you had a miserable boss who came into work everyday and blamed the tea lady, the feng shui and everyone around him for all his problems, we might all lose motivation too. Context must be provided but we shouldn’t shy from the idea that Mourinho is cocking this up good and proper.” 7.52pm GMT “Jose’s constant team changes seem to me a reaction to being mercilessly trolled by his own players,” reckons David Flynn. “His starting 11 never play well and results are only saved by his subs. So he starts those same subs in the next game and they revert back to awful until he replaces them and the cycle continues. It would without doubt be hilarious if I weren’t a United fan.” 7.47pm GMT Here’s Arsenal fan Krishna Moorthi with a summary of where these teams are at: “United are eighth, have 22 points from 14 games and a negative goal difference. Arsenal are unbeaten in 19, won the North London Derby convincingly and have been a joy for fans recently. This is the perfect time for us to screw up.” 7.43pm GMT “I’ve noticed how the United players tend to get more dynamic the longer they are away from any Mourinho interaction or tactics or when his gameplan is changed via an opposition goal,” writes Paul Fitzgerald. “Then they reset when he gets them in at half-time. Last week’s game against Southampton was a prime example.” 7.41pm GMT “It is with immense sadness that I provide a counterpoint to James Kelly,” chimes Matt Richman. “I never like to stump for sacking anyone (Mou is still a person, after all), but if I owned a business where the CEO was lashing out at all the change agents he hired I would be looking for a new CEO. Jose does not seem happy by any stretch at any rate; parting ways just seems a sensible thing to do. Another painful aspect of this is I have no replacement in mind. Would love to see Poch at the club, but he’s far too dignified to make that move. Zidane would be a massive coup, but I severely doubt his interest. Sad days for this long-time supporter.” 7.40pm GMT “James Kelly [19.33] is right,” hollers Loren Dunlop. “These are sad times for United fans, and sheer delight for the vast, vast majority of the rest of the footballing public.” 7.38pm GMT “In regards to Mourinho’s alterations match to match, in his defence (and I’m loathe to ever defend this guy) the recruitment, scouting and youth development have been all over the place since the last few years of Fergie through Moyes and Van Gaal resulting in a lopsided, incoherent squad that has no style apart from containment (which only some of the players are capable of),” writes Eddie Munro. “Emery has taken over from the vision of one other person, added a couple of proper central midfielders and the squad suddenly looks balanced (obviously he’s also a bit of a genius).” That’s true. But it can’t be ignored that the recruits that Mourinho sanctioned have not worked out so far. Mourinho certainly isn’t the only problem at United, and maybe not even the biggest. But he’s not looking like part of the solution these days, after good early years. 7.33pm GMT “When I read the line where you wrote ‘Arsenal should win this’, I felt like kicking a cat, not a real one, but my twins’ stuffed toy,” miaows James Kelly. “I thought ‘How dare he!” Then I realised it’s because the truth bloody hurts. I’ve never called for a manager’s head at United and I won’t start now. And I remember when it was bad. However, the fact the two marquee signings of Jose are now benched due to not trying hard enough can’t be ignored. I still hope he turns it around, just because the manager merry go round creates further instability. Sad times for United fans. Sheer delight for ABUs.” 7.25pm GMT Funny, isn’t it, how Emery is acclaimed for adjusting his team from match to match to take account of the strengths and weaknesses of different opponents; while when it comes to Mourinho’s alterations, you suspect some of them are motivated by exasperation and a slightly desperate bid to cover his own team’s problems. 7.20pm GMT Asked whether his team selection, particularly players just coming back from injury, represents a gamble, he replies: “I don’t think gambling, I think sacrifice. They are confident. I would never play a player if he has too many doubts. That was what happened against Southampton, they had too many doubts. They are confident and ready for that sacrifice you need, the sacrifice Jones was able to do against Southampton. Now it’s for others.” About Rojo, in particular, he says: “Zero minutes of competition all season, I think it’s hard to play a game of this dimension but he’s confident, mentally ready and very happy.” And about the omissions of Pogba and Lukaku he says: “You know, technical and tactical decisions. We’re going to play with Lingard, Rashford and Martial. We did that before against Young Boys. We were not successful with the goals we wanted to score but we were happy with the situations we were able to create. We believe the combination of these three young, fast, creative players ... we believe in their dynamic and appetite.” 7.16pm GMT That’s a barren looking United midfield, chosen primarily to provide protection to a frail back three. Arsenal should win this. But Emery isn’t careless enough to declare that publicly before the game. Instead he says: “They have big players and a very experienced coach ... This is a big challenge for us.” He also says of United: “We’re in a very early stage of the season and there is still time for them to get into the top four.” Patronising much? 7.08pm GMT Mourinho has made seven changes to the side that struggled to a draw at Southampton on Saturday - and two of them are especially notable: Pogba and Lukaku have been demoted to the bench. Both were awful at St Mary’s. Without naming names, Mourinho writes in his programme notes for this match that “there is no space for players who are not ready to give their all”. Meanwhile in defence, Bailly makes his return after two months out and Rojo is drafted into a back three to play his first game since being tormented by Kylian Mbappé at the World Cup - there’s every chance that Aubameyang will treat him to a similar ordeal?United: De Gea; Bailly, Smalling, Rojo; Dalot, Herrera, Matic, Darmian; Lingard, Rashford, Martial. 12.35pm GMT Hello, welcome to something momentous. This fixture used to be a title decider and then, in the last decade, it became a barometer showing by how far Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal had slid. Now Arsenal arrive at Old Trafford looking to provide yet more evidence of a resurgence under Unai Emery by gaining their first Premier League win at this venue since 2006 – and that, in turn, would intensify the focus on how far United are sliding under José Mourinho.It is hard to believe United finished second in the Premier League last season, 18 points above Arsenal. Now United are eighth, eight points behind fourth-place Arsenal. That’s a 26-point swing and today’s match is not going to radically alter the underlying causes of that – but it could certainly reinforce them. Continue reading......read full article