Morning all.

Old Trafford. A ground where regardless of which of the two clubs are in form, is hard to predict. Last season, a dreadful Utd team beat us 3-2 in this fixture but to this day I still don’t know how or why we left Manchester without at least a point. I know we struggled towards the end of the season but it was the game at Old Trafford along with the one at Goodison Park which really peed me off. The sad thing for Arsenal though is we go there with a lot of players missing. Oleksandr Zinchenko, Thomas Partey and Mo Elneny are definitely out and both Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Odegaard are doubts, but, both were training yesterday. What a day and venue it might be for Matt Turner if he makes his first team debut today. Same goes for Fabio Vieira if he comes in for Martin Odegaard although I think, as well as hope, it’ll be ESR if our captain doesn’t start. Rumours on Twitter yesterday suggested Ben White is also a doubt.

Erik ten Hag didn’t take long to realise that the weak link in Utd’s defence was Harry Maguire. If England want to go one better than they did at the Euros, Gareth Southgate needs to drop him too. Since EtH dropped Maguire, their results have improved, but despite winning their last three games, a 2-1 defeat of Liverpool being the first, neither 1-0 victory over Southampton and then Leicester City were convincing. New signings Antony and Casemiro are likely to make their first appearance in front of their home fans.

For Arsenal, it’s going to be about how the team copes without the presence of Partey in midfield. Can Sambi Lokonga put in another solid performance? Having been caught out moaning about not playing last season, it’s his chance to prove to the manager that the decision to not sign a midfielder this summer was the right one. By all accounts, he did well against Villa but this is Man Utd at Old Trafford. It’s a big one. It’s the one which if we don’t get at least a point, the media will go on about, saying that our perfect start to the season was/is just another false dawn. Their pencils have probably busy already, headlines already pondered over. Let’s not give them their moment of pleasure.

Mike Riley has dug deep and come up with Greater Manchester born referee Paul Tierney for this game, his two assistants: are Lee Betts and Constantine Hatzidakis. Fourth official is Wiltshire born Simon Hooper with VAR being watched by a sleeping Lee Mason, also born in Greater Manchester. Don’t worry though, Riley wouldn’t pick an official if he thought he was likely to be biased towards either club. Who am I trying to kid eh…. Tierney and Mason are in control, but only if we as a team, give them something to control. Play hard, fast, but fair. Be ruthless when the chances fall our way.

Gabriel Jesus against Raphael Varane should be a great battle. The two went head to head a couple of seasons ago when the now Utd player was at Real Madrid. Jesus pressed him hard every time he could and as a result, the defender was forced into making errors. Errors which led to goals, which ultimately knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League. David de Gea is very up and down these days, so our front men need to take pop shots at his goal early on and if possible, unsettle him. Martinez might have settled down a bit since his awful couple of early performances but he’s not come up against a front three of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus yet and if they’re on form, they can cause any defence problems.

Utd will I’m sure, cause our defence problems too. As said, new boy Anthony will want to make his mark, Rashford will probably be his usual cheating self and McTominay is likely to kick his way in and out of trouble. Sancho is the one to keep an eye on though, in my opinion anyway.

I doubt we’ll see a game as feisty as some of the clashes in the past and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to see a brawl between both sets of players on the pitch, or the behaviour which followed that infamous missed penalty although I loved the Keane v Vieira passion. I just enjoy seeing players play the game as if their world would end if they don’t give their everything for 95 minutes.

Anyway, let’s hope for a strong Arsenal performance, all eleven of Mikel Arteta’s players on the pitch at the end of the game and at the very least, a point comes back to north London.

Catch up in the comments.