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Liverpool's Sadio Mane rediscovers his touch after pep talk with Jurgen Klopp over derby mishap

Sadio Mane’s first year at Liverpool was ended by a knee injury in the Merseyside derby. This season he has just recovered from the mental wound suffered in the same fixture. Jurgen Klopp has revealed how affected Mane was by an error in the 1-1 draw with Everton in December. With Liverpool one up before half-time, Mane elected to shoot when team mates waited for a tap-in. That, Klopp believes, led to a dip in form. A managerial pep talk was needed to restore the African’s confidence. “After the Everton game when he didn’t pass the ball, everybody made a big criticism of him,” said Klopp. “I didn’t mention it to be honest. I didn’t mention it at half-time, I didn’t mention it after the game, it was not mentioned in any meeting because I saw in Sadio’s eyes that if he could turn the clock backwards he would do it.  “At that moment he was convinced he would score, he was a striker and a striker has to make a decision. I want him to make these decisions, but sometimes you have to accept that these decisions are wrong.  “I accept it, you have to accept it as well. So as long as you don’t do the same in the next 20 similar situations so that people start thinking, ‘what’s that about?’ that is no problem. You cannot play football without mistakes. He didn’t want to do it.  Now he is completely different again." It is a timely return to form for Mane after the sale of Philippe Coutinho Credit: Reuters Klopp hopes Mane's struggles are over. Last week’s display against Manchester City was his best for months.  “Of course we had talks,” said Klopp. “I like to be honest and I don’t want to say Sadio was brilliant when he wasn’t. Everyone could see that he struggled a bit. It didn’t look like it was too easy for him.  “How can I say to you what I told the player in a one-to-one meeting? It is not possible, but it was about what he did so far. Good, good, good, good, good; one or two things not that good, but the rest good.   “So lets build on that and ignore the rest. You cannot think all the time about your mistakes because that makes no sense. You cannot forget all the good things. “At Burnley he scored a fantastic goal but it was not a world class game of Sadio, Since then he is now really back, he works hard, he protects the ball, no risky dribbling and he is a world class player. The two goals he scored (against Burnley and Manchester City) – I don’t know a lot of players who could have scored these.” With Coutinho gone, it is a timely return to form. “It had nothing to do with Phil, but Sadio is one of the players who, for sure, can fill this gap if you want,” said Klopp. Liverpooltravelled to Swansea on Sunday ahead of Monday’s fixture, but despite his return to training Daniel Sturridge was not part of the squad. Sturridge’s Anfield career is drawing to an end, Inter Milan and Sevilla trying to secure a loan agreement. Inter have been in the more advanced discussions with the Liverpool hierarchy – their terms more favourable – but Sturridge has expressed a preference to move to La Liga. Liverpool will not let the striker leave unless the financial package is favourable – they will not subsidise Sturridge’s wages while he is loan. They would also prefer an agreement that leads to a permanent transfer. Klopp, meanwhile, continues to take a pragmatic view on the future of Emre Can who remains a focal point of his line-up despite his refusal to pledge his long-term future to the club. Klopp hopes such situations do not become frequent, but says it is difficult to prevent. “We have to make it as difficult, let me say it like this, for (players) to want to leave, but it still can, and probably will, happen,” he said.   “There are other places with football clubs as well. We cannot ignore that. In this age group maybe not all of them are one team players, or one club players.”                

Liverpool's Sadio Mane rediscovers his touch after pep talk with Jurgen Klopp over derby mishap

Sadio Mane’s first year at Liverpool was ended by a knee injury in the Merseyside derby. This season he has just recovered from the mental wound suffered in the same fixture. Jurgen Klopp has revealed how affected Mane was by an error in the 1-1 draw with Everton in December. With Liverpool one up before half-time, Mane elected to shoot when team mates waited for a tap-in. That, Klopp believes, led to a dip in form. A managerial pep talk was needed to restore the African’s confidence. “After the Everton game when he didn’t pass the ball, everybody made a big criticism of him,” said Klopp. “I didn’t mention it to be honest. I didn’t mention it at half-time, I didn’t mention it after the game, it was not mentioned in any meeting because I saw in Sadio’s eyes that if he could turn the clock backwards he would do it.  “At that moment he was convinced he would score, he was a striker and a striker has to make a decision. I want him to make these decisions, but sometimes you have to accept that these decisions are wrong.  “I accept it, you have to accept it as well. So as long as you don’t do the same in the next 20 similar situations so that people start thinking, ‘what’s that about?’ that is no problem. You cannot play football without mistakes. He didn’t want to do it.  Now he is completely different again." It is a timely return to form for Mane after the sale of Philippe Coutinho Credit: Reuters Klopp hopes Mane's struggles are over. Last week’s display against Manchester City was his best for months.  “Of course we had talks,” said Klopp. “I like to be honest and I don’t want to say Sadio was brilliant when he wasn’t. Everyone could see that he struggled a bit. It didn’t look like it was too easy for him.  “How can I say to you what I told the player in a one-to-one meeting? It is not possible, but it was about what he did so far. Good, good, good, good, good; one or two things not that good, but the rest good.   “So lets build on that and ignore the rest. You cannot think all the time about your mistakes because that makes no sense. You cannot forget all the good things. “At Burnley he scored a fantastic goal but it was not a world class game of Sadio, Since then he is now really back, he works hard, he protects the ball, no risky dribbling and he is a world class player. The two goals he scored (against Burnley and Manchester City) – I don’t know a lot of players who could have scored these.” With Coutinho gone, it is a timely return to form. “It had nothing to do with Phil, but Sadio is one of the players who, for sure, can fill this gap if you want,” said Klopp. Liverpooltravelled to Swansea on Sunday ahead of Monday’s fixture, but despite his return to training Daniel Sturridge was not part of the squad. Sturridge’s Anfield career is drawing to an end, Inter Milan and Sevilla trying to secure a loan agreement. Inter have been in the more advanced discussions with the Liverpool hierarchy – their terms more favourable – but Sturridge has expressed a preference to move to La Liga. Liverpool will not let the striker leave unless the financial package is favourable – they will not subsidise Sturridge’s wages while he is loan. They would also prefer an agreement that leads to a permanent transfer. Klopp, meanwhile, continues to take a pragmatic view on the future of Emre Can who remains a focal point of his line-up despite his refusal to pledge his long-term future to the club. Klopp hopes such situations do not become frequent, but says it is difficult to prevent. “We have to make it as difficult, let me say it like this, for (players) to want to leave, but it still can, and probably will, happen,” he said.   “There are other places with football clubs as well. We cannot ignore that. In this age group maybe not all of them are one team players, or one club players.”                

Alexis Sanchez's imminent Man Utd arrival fires up Anthony Martial and Romlu Lukaku

As Jose Mourinho sat in the press conference room at Turf Moor, satisfied by Manchester United’s seventh away victory in the Premier League this season, he insisted the imminent arrival of Alexis Sanchez was governed solely by a need to provide some competition among his forwards. He had plenty of defensive and midfield options. But up front, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic once more indisposed, he has only three players to choose from. ‘‘We need that extra internal competition,” he said. Whether those were the precise words used in the lengthy negotiations with the Chilean – ‘‘to be honest Alexis, we only want you to keep Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford on their toes” – appears unlikely. And £400,000 a week seems a sizeable return for someone whose principal purpose is to make others better. But there was a sense in this bruising victory that both Martial and Lukaku are already benefiting from feeling the potential new arrival’s breath on their collar. They conjured up a superb goal here to win the match. Lukaku, widely criticised as having have a poor touch for a big man, created it with a lovely pass after battling his way through the Burnley backline. But it was the clinical aplomb of  Martial’s finish that stood out, as he deceived Nick Pope in goal before shooting with real conviction. ‘‘We know when we put him in the one-v-one situation with a full back it’s difficult for the full back because he has so many attributes,” said Mourinho of the Frenchman. ‘‘He can go inside, can go outside, he can shoot to the far post, he can shoot to the near post like he did today and he has lots of attributes. So it is one more reason to be happy with Romelu because he knew if we put Anthony in a one-on-one situation he is difficult.” Sean  Martial scored the only goal of the game Credit: PA Dyche, the Burnley manager, was no less admiring of the strike. ‘‘It’s a fantastic finish,” he said. ‘‘Sometimes you have to hold your hands up. I have seen it back and he looks for the gap and finds the gap in the top corner, and I think there is often a reason why those footballers move to Man United for 30 million quid.” Martial’s contribution, however, was a rare moment of quality in a game more attritional than aesthetic. Showing little evidence of a lack of confidence brought on by a poor run, Burnley were tough opponents: organised, spirited, determined. Based around Steven Defour and Jack Cork they have a midfield of pace and intelligence. How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? Indeed, what the match demonstrated was that whatever weaknesses in his squad Mourinho is hoping to address with the addition of Sanchez, they do not lie in his defence. This was the fourth clean sheet his team have delivered since the New Year. And this against a Burnley team who chucked everything at them, including the kitchen sink in the shape of Pope trundling forward for a couple of injury-time set pieces, in the desperate scramble for an equaliser. ‘‘That was the defining image,” said Mourinho of the goalkeeper’s intervention. And the smile he wore as he said it suggested that, unlike many of his peers, he is a manager who still prefers a battle to an exhibition. At the heart of United’s resistance was Phil Jones, who, under Mourinho’s stewardship, is finally looking like the centre back he has long threatened to be. His every touch booed by the home fans for his Blackburn past, Jones was magnificent. With his speed, strength and timing he provided a smothering blanket, ensuring for all Burnley’s drive, David De Gea was only infrequently pressed into service. ‘‘The character and determination we showed, the willingness to fight and close down was terrific,” Jones said. ‘‘And when you come to a place like this, that is what you have to do. I’m pleased for the lads.” Watching from afar Sanchez must have been pleased too. If and when he finally arrives in Manchester, he will find it something of a new experience playing in a team that gains as much pleasure from stopping the opposition as from scoring themselves.

Alexis Sanchez's imminent Man Utd arrival fires up Anthony Martial and Romlu Lukaku

As Jose Mourinho sat in the press conference room at Turf Moor, satisfied by Manchester United’s seventh away victory in the Premier League this season, he insisted the imminent arrival of Alexis Sanchez was governed solely by a need to provide some competition among his forwards. He had plenty of defensive and midfield options. But up front, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic once more indisposed, he has only three players to choose from. ‘‘We need that extra internal competition,” he said. Whether those were the precise words used in the lengthy negotiations with the Chilean – ‘‘to be honest Alexis, we only want you to keep Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford on their toes” – appears unlikely. And £400,000 a week seems a sizeable return for someone whose principal purpose is to make others better. But there was a sense in this bruising victory that both Martial and Lukaku are already benefiting from feeling the potential new arrival’s breath on their collar. They conjured up a superb goal here to win the match. Lukaku, widely criticised as having have a poor touch for a big man, created it with a lovely pass after battling his way through the Burnley backline. But it was the clinical aplomb of  Martial’s finish that stood out, as he deceived Nick Pope in goal before shooting with real conviction. ‘‘We know when we put him in the one-v-one situation with a full back it’s difficult for the full back because he has so many attributes,” said Mourinho of the Frenchman. ‘‘He can go inside, can go outside, he can shoot to the far post, he can shoot to the near post like he did today and he has lots of attributes. So it is one more reason to be happy with Romelu because he knew if we put Anthony in a one-on-one situation he is difficult.” Sean  Martial scored the only goal of the game Credit: PA Dyche, the Burnley manager, was no less admiring of the strike. ‘‘It’s a fantastic finish,” he said. ‘‘Sometimes you have to hold your hands up. I have seen it back and he looks for the gap and finds the gap in the top corner, and I think there is often a reason why those footballers move to Man United for 30 million quid.” Martial’s contribution, however, was a rare moment of quality in a game more attritional than aesthetic. Showing little evidence of a lack of confidence brought on by a poor run, Burnley were tough opponents: organised, spirited, determined. Based around Steven Defour and Jack Cork they have a midfield of pace and intelligence. How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? Indeed, what the match demonstrated was that whatever weaknesses in his squad Mourinho is hoping to address with the addition of Sanchez, they do not lie in his defence. This was the fourth clean sheet his team have delivered since the New Year. And this against a Burnley team who chucked everything at them, including the kitchen sink in the shape of Pope trundling forward for a couple of injury-time set pieces, in the desperate scramble for an equaliser. ‘‘That was the defining image,” said Mourinho of the goalkeeper’s intervention. And the smile he wore as he said it suggested that, unlike many of his peers, he is a manager who still prefers a battle to an exhibition. At the heart of United’s resistance was Phil Jones, who, under Mourinho’s stewardship, is finally looking like the centre back he has long threatened to be. His every touch booed by the home fans for his Blackburn past, Jones was magnificent. With his speed, strength and timing he provided a smothering blanket, ensuring for all Burnley’s drive, David De Gea was only infrequently pressed into service. ‘‘The character and determination we showed, the willingness to fight and close down was terrific,” Jones said. ‘‘And when you come to a place like this, that is what you have to do. I’m pleased for the lads.” Watching from afar Sanchez must have been pleased too. If and when he finally arrives in Manchester, he will find it something of a new experience playing in a team that gains as much pleasure from stopping the opposition as from scoring themselves.

FD: Mourinho wants competition in United's attack

Following Manchester United's narrow 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday (20th January), manager Jose Mourinho admitted he wanted more competition among his attacking players, with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez imminent.

FD: Mourinho wants competition in United's attack

Following Manchester United's narrow 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday (20th January), manager Jose Mourinho admitted he wanted more competition among his attacking players, with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez imminent.

FD: Mourinho wants competition in United's attack

Following Manchester United's narrow 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday (20th January), manager Jose Mourinho admitted he wanted more competition among his attacking players, with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez imminent.

FD: Mourinho wants competition in United's attack

Following Manchester United's narrow 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday (20th January), manager Jose Mourinho admitted he wanted more competition among his attacking players, with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez imminent.

Chelsea interested in Burnley striker Barnes

The Blues are looking at a range of options for a back-up striker in the January transfer window, with Peter Crouch also under consideration

Burnley Fan View: Three talking points from Man Utd loss

Chelsea interested in Burnley striker Barnes

The Blues are looking at a range of options for a back-up striker in the January transfer window, with Peter Crouch also under consideration

Man United adapted well to beat 'brave' Burnley - Mourinho

Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United adapted their performance well to clinch a tight 1-0 win against a 'brave' Burnley side.

Man United adapted well to beat 'brave' Burnley - Mourinho

Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United adapted their performance well to clinch a tight 1-0 win against a 'brave' Burnley side.

Man United adapted well to beat 'brave' Burnley - Mourinho

Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United adapted their performance well to clinch a tight 1-0 win against a 'brave' Burnley side.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1: Early blitz provides hope for life after Alexis Sanchez

A day out for the flat-track bullies or glimpses of an exciting new beginning without Alexis Sanchez? Fans of Arsenal have seen enough false dawns to instinctively suspect the former but, even allowing for Crystal Palace’s very obvious limitations, there was still enough here to suggest that life after Sanchez might actually be an improvement on the past year. Arsenal really should have begun this process with Sanchez’s sale last summer and, after having a £45 million bid rejected on Saturday, are also now preparing to return with a second bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also due imminently to arrive from Manchester United and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexandre Lacazette and Jack Wilshere all influential here in a match that was effectively over at 4-0 after just 22 minutes, Arsenal’s main problem has never really related to their offensive options. It is the defensive shape of the team and, in switching to a third different system of the season, manager Arsene Wenger might finally have found the optimum balance. The addition of Mohamed Elneny just behind two more liberated central midfielders in Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka meant a return to four at the back and provided the platform for an immediate dominance of possession. Laurent Koscielny scored before he was taken off as a precaution Credit: reuters Whereas Xhaka, Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all midfielders who like to break forward in attack, Elneny did an extremely effective and disciplined job just simply parked in front of the defence. Crystal Palace, who are close to the signings themselves of both Jaroslaw Jach and Erdal Rakip, must have intended to exploit all the simmering tension that is hovering just now around The Emirates but were undone by a defensive horror-show duly that gifted Arsenal three goals in only 13 minutes. Arsenal were certainly passing the ball slickly but did not actually have to produce much in the final third to establish this unassailable advantage, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring the first and then even providing two assists in what was his first match for a month. Iwobi’s shot had initially been tipped over by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, from Xhaka’s corner, Monreal simply lost James McArthur and headed Arsenal into the lead. Monreal then sprinted onto Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s miscued clearance and crossed for Iwobi to finish past Hennessey. From another Xhaka corner, Monreal was again completely unmarked to hook the ball back along the six-yard box for another returning defender, Laurent Koscielny, to finish. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal Few managers are ever more aggrieved to concede from set-pieces than Roy Hodgson and his Crystal Palace players can expected plenty of time devoted to ironing out these players over this next week. “It is hard to take when it is from corners,” said Hodgson. Having emerged as the unlikely answer to any creative concerns without Sanchez, Monreal then signalled that he was feeling pain in his hamstring and was quickly taken offer ahead of the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal’s goals might have been uncharacteristically scrappy but a wonderful blur of passing then did follow between Ozil and Wilshere that culminated with the German playmaker delightfully backheeling for Lacazette to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hodgson had been talking about the “sadistic pleasure of management” in interviews before this game but, with 70 minutes still remaining, even he was already fearing just how many Arsenal might ultimately score. “Arsenal showed their full range of their passing skills and I thought we were staring down the barrel of a gun against a team of their quality,” he later said. “Had we not martialled ourselves and showed the character, desire, work-rate and energy we did in the second half it would have been an avalanche.” Wenger admitted after the game that Sanchez had travelled up to Manchester to complete his move Credit: Reuters Indeed, Palace did then consolidate defensively and actually also began to pose an attacking threat. After some typically nimble dribbling, Wilfried Zaha forced a first save of Petr Cech and the Arsenal goalkeeper was then required to make an even better block to deny Christian Benteke. Cech had been aiming for a record 200th Premier League clean sheet but Luka Milivojevic’s volley ensured that landmark must wait and at least provided Palace with a late consolation. “We reduced the deficit to minus three rather than the seven or eight it could have been at one stage,” said Hodgson. Arsenal were denied a penalty when Lacazette was upended by James Tomkins but the match also ended badly for Palace when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off. Cabaye left The Emirates on crutches and Hodgson fears ankle ligament damage amid a worsening list of injuries. “The two goalkeepers and 16 outfield players in the squad are all we have available,” he said. Arsenal have considerably more options even without Sanchez and, in highlighting just how disruptive these past weeks have been, Wenger sounded almost relieved to report that his star striker had been travelling up to Manchester during the game. “It is the first time in January that we have lost one of our big players,” said Wenger. “It is a bit more destabilising than usual. It is not only to lose a world class player: this uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing-room and is why the transfer period is difficult during the season. Once clear, the team focus on the job. We played how we know we can play when everybody is focussed and in good shape. It was a convincing win.”  4:52PM FULL TIME Palace undone by 20something minutes of madness after kick-off. Arsenal's post-Sanchez world doesn't look too bad after all. 4:51PM 90 mins +2 Lacazette goes down in the area after the team tries to walk the ball into the area. It looks like a clear penalty at first look... and the replay makes me think the same thing. The game's done anyway, it doesn't really matter at this stage. 4:48PM 90 mins Bad news for Palace fans. Cabaye has been stretchered off. Riedewald replaces him. 4:46PM 88 mins Palace are now in control of the ball but can't thread anything in behind the Arsenal defence. Cabaye goes down injured as Arsenal attack, the referee doesn't stop anything, players want the game stopped to allow him treatment. To the disappointment of the crowd, Bellerin eventually does put the ball out for a throw.  4:43PM 85 mins Palace want to make substitutions but Arsenal haven't given up the ball for about five minutes. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:40PM 83 mins Palace have committed a few more players forward in attacks, sensing a small chance to maybe test Arsenal but Van Aanholt moves inside the pitch, loses the ball and Arsenal counter quickly. They have a four on two chance but the ball is played ahead of Nelson and cut out, with Wilshere desperate for the pass out on the left. Iwobi is replaced by Kolasinac. 4:38PM 80 mins Wilshere finds Lacazette with a brilliant through ball but the striker runs out of ideas and tries a couple of fairly useless shots at the near post.  4:37PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! The comeback is on! Palace win a corner thanks to Zaha, Benteke heads it on and Milovejic has scored an absolute belter, controlling off the chest and executing a superb volley into the far corner while surrounded.  Arsenal 4 - 1 Crystal Palace (Luka Milivojevic, 78 min)   4:36PM 78 mins Zaha is enjoying his role as WWE style villain here today. The crowd are booing him, he's getting involved in little battles all over the pitch and he's reacting in a suitably theatrical way. It's great. Credit: GETTY IMAGES   4:34PM 76 mins Arsenal have slowed to walking pace, Palace don't seem to mind. Lacazette nearly tees up Bellerin for a wonder goal but his volley at near post hits Van Aanholt. That would have taken the net off! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Héctor Bellerín, 75 min)   4:31PM 74 mins Elneny overlaps on the right as Lacazette is deemed to have won the ball fairly on the edge of ARsenal's penalty area... but Elneny's shot at the near post is saved. Milivojevic has a clumsy kick at Wilshere and gives away a free-kick. Nelson comes on for Ozil. Credit: REUTERS  Xhaka goes down off the ball and stays there, play continues. 4:29PM 71 mins I've been really impressed with Elneny today. He's provided the defensive cover that Xhaka and Wilshere need - this formation suits Arsenal's style of play so much better than the 3-4-3. He's always just in front of the back two, drops deep to start passing moves and snaps at attackers when they get near the area.  4:25PM 68 mins Wilshere goes down holding his face after a clash with McArthur on the edge of the area, Palace go forward until play is stopped. He seems to have taken a wee knock to the back of his head but is fine to continue. 4:23PM 65 mins And on replay, it looks very much like Zaha was genuinely tripped and should have won a penalty! I was wrong, Wilf. I was wrong!   4:22PM 63 mins Arsenal are playing some really nice football, keeping possession under pressure and moving it up the pitch quickly. They then run into trouble near the Palace box, and now that there's an actual defence to work, slow down in the final third. The fans starting to get a little impatient. 4:19PM 60 mins Zaha is such a good player but jeez louise he goes down in the box a lot. He tries to go past Elneny with some quick feet, leans so he's just off balance and then goes down as Elneny bumps into him while the two collide. He's furious about not being given a penalty but he must know. He must know. Palace win a corner with another quick attack. If anyone is going to score the next goal, it's Palace at the moment. 4:15PM 57 mins And Iwobi nearly scores from the attack! He has a player in miles of space over on the edge of the box but decides to shoot at the near post, hitting the goalkeeper in the chest. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 56 min)   4:14PM 55 mins Palace look much tighter in defence now, are holding their defensive line better and don't look like falling apart. Arsenal have taken their foot off the gas as you'd expect... and Mustafi has almost scored an own goal, heading back to Cech but putting the ball over his head. Luckily it ends up wide of goal. Palace work the ball into the area from the corner, Arsenal try and counter but can't... and then do. 4:10PM 52 mins Palace have switched to something like a 4-5-1 with Sako wide left and Zaha wide right. Sako takes too long on the ball when there was a chance to shoot, electing to keep the ball instead of a hopeful punt... and he's crowded out. This is a much better start to the half. Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace   4:09PM 50 mins No corners for Arsenal yet which is good news for the Crystal Palace net.  4:05PM 48 mins Credit: OFFSIDE That was Fosu-Mensah's facial review of his team's first half. Palace have started this half much better, managing to find teammates with passes and attacking the area. 4:04PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! How will Palace get on here? 4:01PM Roy Hodgson's team talk [Aggressive] Show me something else in the second half. 3:48PM HALF TIME Great performance from Arsenal but Palace didn't even turn up for this one. Poor defending, shocking reaction to going behind and Roy Hodgson will probably send his team out in the second half to ensure the scoreline doesn't get any more embarrassing. Arsenal vs Crystal Palace shots on goal   3:46PM 45 mins +1 Xhaka is very upset about a challenge by Tomkins on him and squares up to the defender near the Palace box. The referee is standing next to them as they go at it and Tomkins shoves Xhaka away.  Xhaka shoots but is high and wide. 3:45PM 45 mins ZAHA! Saved by Cech. A loose pass from Maitland-Niles gives Zaha a chance to shoot as he lollipops his way to a yard of space in front of Elneny and shoots low to the corner.  Cech catches superbly from the resulting corner and calms things down after. 3:42PM 42 mins Elneny has been excellent so far. As you can see from this weighted positions graphic, the game has basically flowed through him in the centre of the park. Arsenal playing a 2-3-2-3 for most of the match. Average touch positions (40 min)   3:40PM 39 mins Wilshere and Ozil push the skill buttons on the edge of the box, pinging those quick passes together which dazzle defenders and then Wilshere scoops the ball on the move into Ozil's path. Arsenal playing with a real swagger here, except Lacazette who is still trying to be a little too delicate in the box. 3:38PM 37 mins Zaha is starting to get more of the ball and is keeping Bellerin busy. Cech has been told to get the ball moving forward quickly, usually aiming for Iwobi or Ozil high up the pitch. It's putting Arsenal on the front foot straight away. 3:35PM 35 mins Monreal is coming off here to be replaced by Maitland-Niles. He must have picked up a little injury there and since the game is already done, it makes sense to get him off and treated straight away. Monreal disappears down the tunnel. 3:33PM 32 mins Bellerin stretches the defence but can't spot an opportunity to get the ball into the area. Palace just boot the thing clear when get it. 3:31PM 30 mins A counter-attack! Palace survive a set-piece and a ball oer the top puts Sako away! He tries to turn Elneny inside out, Elneny goes down in pain while turning sharply and Sako's shot is saved low by Cech.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Bakary Sako, 28 min) That injury has given Hodgson a chance to talk to/shout at his players. Elneny seems to be OK to continue. 3:28PM 27 mins 3 - Arsenal's three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the PL since the Gunners themselves at Newcastle in Feb 2011 - Newcastle coming from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 in that game. Nerves.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2018 Arsenal are firing short, quick passes around the final third and it's pulling Palace apart. It's so hard to stop them on this form.  3:25PM 24 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine being a Crystal Palace here now. You know you're absolutely done but also realise there are 70 minutes of this left. Iwobi is able to stroll through the middle of midfield and almost sets up another goal.  Attempt Saved: Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 24 min)   3:24PM GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Uh oh. What a goal this is by Arsenal, who look more determined here today than they have done over the entire season. Wilshere finds Ozil with a clever pass but Ozil's backheel flick, rolling the ball back to Lacazette, is absolutely superb.  Arsenal 4 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   3:22PM 21 mins Fosu-Mensah takes a long diagonal pass down with his first touch as he finds space behind Monreal but his attempted cross, or shot, or whatever it is, isn't very good.   3:20PM 20 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Palace finally have a chance to counter-attack with Zaha down the left but Koscielny reads him and slides into take the ball off him easily.  3:19PM 19 mins Zaha and McArthur have swapped wings now. That won't make an awful lot of difference but watching Monreal's forward runs is probably the reason. 3:17PM 16 mins And straight away it looks like Arsenal are going to score a fourth! Xhaka is one of a number of players on an overload but his shot is blocked on the edge of the area. Roy Hodgson must be going mental on the touchline. Credit: REUTERS   3:15PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! What on earth have Palace been doing in training this week? Absolutely hopeless. This could be a proper smashing. Arsenal aren't doing anything special other than committing to winning headers and attacking quickly to catch a sleepy Palace defence out. Arsenal 3 - 0 Crystal Palace (Laurent Koscielny, 13 min)   3:14PM 13 mins Cech has to slap a high corner away but is able to gather the ball easily from the second ball into the area, then sends Iwobi away with a quick forward pass. Bellerin dummies his way past two defenders and slides a pass into Lacazette... who is closed down and wins a corner. Arsenal are attacking quickly here, catching Palace off guard. 3:12PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! The defending here is awful. Iwobi tires a hopeful pass, it's not cleared, Monreal gets to the six yard box and pulls the ball back - again the interception is missed - and it's a tap in for Iwobi. Arsenal 2 - 0 Crystal Palace (Alex Iwobi, 10 min)   3:11PM 10 mins Ozil tries to cut the ball back to set up Lacazette for a goal scoring chance but a defender is able to get a toe on it and Fosu-Mensah slides in to deny another. But Arsenal are all over them here! There's space in the box! 3:09PM 8 mins Palace get forward and win a corner but there's a push in the area and Arsenal win the ball back.  3:08PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! It's Monreal! Palace defend man-to-man in the area and Monreal has space to attack at the back post, burying his header past the goalkeeper. Arsenal 1 - 0 Crystal Palace (Nacho Monreal, 6 min)   3:07PM 5 mins Elneny is sitting deepest in the midfield three, Ozil is wide left in the forward three. Ozil links play on the left and Iwobi has a shot... which is tipped over the bar for a corner. 3:05PM 3 mins Palace aren't sitting back trying to contain and have already sent numbers forward to try and press the Arsenal backline.  The visitors also get the first dangerous attack of the day! Van Aanholt overlaps on the left to attack the space and sends a cross into the area that Mustafi does really well to head behind. Xhaka heads it away at the near post, Arsenal try to break but are slowed down and have to go back. 3:01PM KICK-OFF And they're off! 2:56PM  Here come the players It is raining a lot in the Emirates but the players are out on the pitch and ready to get going. 2:45PM Roy Hodgson pre-match Roy Hodgson's pre-match comments. It’s always a tough test when you play teams like Arsenal away from home but I thought we played quite well against them recently in a game that was relatively even and I am hoping my players give a similar type of performance today. #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/q15sKoo3QE— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   2:36PM Arsenal could do with updating their club shop window display Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM The important people behind the scenes Credit: GETTY IMAGES   2:28PM An interesting internet spot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went and played 5-a-side in Dortmund tonight with his mates...while his team-mates were playing away at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Hmm. With an Ousmane Dembélé shirt on. Hmm. [��BILD] pic.twitter.com/s8U12iAIHd— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) January 19, 2018   2:12PM The missing man Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? He's not an Arsenal player yet but Mkhitaryan isn't on teamsheet at Man Utd vs Burnley either... 2:05PM Starting lineups Arsenal are a 4-3-3. Wenger going back to his roots. Arsenal Here's how we line up for #AFCvCPFCpic.twitter.com/SAu8L8cXgr— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 20, 2018 Crystal Palace Here's the #CPFC �� side to take on @Arsenal! #ARSCRYpic.twitter.com/CncMfrVfzy— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) January 20, 2018   1:33PM Good afternoon Hello everyone! It's Saturday, it's nearly 3pm - it's football time. The big talking points for today's game don't really focus on the sport on the pitch though - the soap opera drama off it is where you'll find the buzz. I'm talking about Alexis Sanchez of course. Will he? Won't he? Won't somebody think of the children?! We can probably agree that it's a certainty Sanchez will actually leave and he won't be on the teamsheet today, no chance to wave goodbye to the home fans. That is unless he's feeling very brave and fancies coming onto the pitch to a chorus of booing from them... and that's not happening. As for the actual soccerball, Crystal Palace are on something of a hot streak of form at the moment, with Roy Hodgson having overseen a reversal in fortunes for the south London side. You can read more about how he's actually done that by reading this thing I wrote earlier in the week: How Roy Hodgson fixed Crystal Palace Back to today. Arsenal will most likely be a 3-4-3 with Jack Wilshere in midfield and Alex Iwobi one of the number 10s, Alexandre Lacazette will be substituted in the 70th minute and Palace will give them a real challenge. As to who might win? Normally you'd assume Arsenal would eventually break down a stubborn defence but Palace have grown in confidence and might really fancy their chances today. Regardless, it should be entertaining and you can follow all the action right here in this liveblog.

Jurgen Klopp: England must take Adam Lallana to the World Cup

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told Gareth Southgate he would be crazy to leave Adam Lallana out of  England’s World Cup squad. Lallana has only played 129 minutes in the Premier League for Liverpool this season having missed the first part of the campaign with a thigh injury. The 29-year-old has been eased back into action with just two starts – both 2-1 wins, against Burnley in the league and Everton in the FA Cup – since he returned at the end of November. Klopp’s caution with the creative midfielder has led to concerns over whether he will get sufficient game time before the tournament in Russia. However, following Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million sale to Barcelona, Lallana is expected to feature prominently in the second half of the season. England manager Southgate must then decide whether to call up Lallana for their friendlies against Holland and Italy in March. Lallana missed a huge chunk of the season through injury Credit: AP Klopp, who takes his team to face Swansea City on Monday, acknowledged that Lallana needs to build up fitness, but insists he should be a key part of the World Cup plans for the summer. “If Mr Southgate can leave Adam out of his squad, wow, then really I congratulate you already for winning the World Cup!” Klopp said with more than a hint of sarcasm. “Because then it is a squad like I can’t imagine how strong. “Adam was out for half-a-season and like all players he needs all his physical strength. In a few weeks he will be 100 per cent. He is really close. He could play so far but you saw when he played with all the genius moments he had, very decisive moments, you could see that he really feels the intensity. “He had a big muscle injury so we cannot push him through, and say ‘Come on, try it again, try it again’. That is impossible. “It is not that Adam is the replacement for Coutinho but he is back. Cool. It is another creative, offensive midfield player. Does he have the same free-kick as Philippe? No, but there are a lot of things he can do. He can make us stronger in these situations.” Klopp says no one else will be following Philippe Coutinho out of the club Credit: AP Klopp claims no Liverpool player would want to quit Anfield and join one of their Premier League rivals during the January transfer window. Arsenal are poised to sell Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United but even though Coutinho left for Barcelona, it would have been a different if an English club had been in for the Brazilian. “No Liverpool player of this squad would leave,” Klopp insisted, “because of their commitment to the club. “It’s just impossible. No player is here, and then says ‘OK, come on, in the middle of the season I go there or there’ to a [top] six club. I really cannot see that situation. “It doesn’t mean that players can’t leave the club but we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen often that a player wants to leave.” Klopp also agreed that Liverpool are not in a rush to spend the cash banked from Coutinho’s sale and are happy to wait until the summer to conduct more transfer business. “Absolutely,” added the German. “Obviously we don’t hesitate to spend the money, but it is not about the  moment, it is about making the right decision. It’s not about doing something to cool the situation down or show the people we don’t sleep.”

Jurgen Klopp: England must take Adam Lallana to the World Cup

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told Gareth Southgate he would be crazy to leave Adam Lallana out of  England’s World Cup squad. Lallana has only played 129 minutes in the Premier League for Liverpool this season having missed the first part of the campaign with a thigh injury. The 29-year-old has been eased back into action with just two starts – both 2-1 wins, against Burnley in the league and Everton in the FA Cup – since he returned at the end of November. Klopp’s caution with the creative midfielder has led to concerns over whether he will get sufficient game time before the tournament in Russia. However, following Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million sale to Barcelona, Lallana is expected to feature prominently in the second half of the season. England manager Southgate must then decide whether to call up Lallana for their friendlies against Holland and Italy in March. Lallana missed a huge chunk of the season through injury Credit: AP Klopp, who takes his team to face Swansea City on Monday, acknowledged that Lallana needs to build up fitness, but insists he should be a key part of the World Cup plans for the summer. “If Mr Southgate can leave Adam out of his squad, wow, then really I congratulate you already for winning the World Cup!” Klopp said with more than a hint of sarcasm. “Because then it is a squad like I can’t imagine how strong. “Adam was out for half-a-season and like all players he needs all his physical strength. In a few weeks he will be 100 per cent. He is really close. He could play so far but you saw when he played with all the genius moments he had, very decisive moments, you could see that he really feels the intensity. “He had a big muscle injury so we cannot push him through, and say ‘Come on, try it again, try it again’. That is impossible. “It is not that Adam is the replacement for Coutinho but he is back. Cool. It is another creative, offensive midfield player. Does he have the same free-kick as Philippe? No, but there are a lot of things he can do. He can make us stronger in these situations.” Klopp says no one else will be following Philippe Coutinho out of the club Credit: AP Klopp claims no Liverpool player would want to quit Anfield and join one of their Premier League rivals during the January transfer window. Arsenal are poised to sell Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United but even though Coutinho left for Barcelona, it would have been a different if an English club had been in for the Brazilian. “No Liverpool player of this squad would leave,” Klopp insisted, “because of their commitment to the club. “It’s just impossible. No player is here, and then says ‘OK, come on, in the middle of the season I go there or there’ to a [top] six club. I really cannot see that situation. “It doesn’t mean that players can’t leave the club but we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen often that a player wants to leave.” Klopp also agreed that Liverpool are not in a rush to spend the cash banked from Coutinho’s sale and are happy to wait until the summer to conduct more transfer business. “Absolutely,” added the German. “Obviously we don’t hesitate to spend the money, but it is not about the  moment, it is about making the right decision. It’s not about doing something to cool the situation down or show the people we don’t sleep.”

Jurgen Klopp: England must take Adam Lallana to the World Cup

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told Gareth Southgate he would be crazy to leave Adam Lallana out of  England’s World Cup squad. Lallana has only played 129 minutes in the Premier League for Liverpool this season having missed the first part of the campaign with a thigh injury. The 29-year-old has been eased back into action with just two starts – both 2-1 wins, against Burnley in the league and Everton in the FA Cup – since he returned at the end of November. Klopp’s caution with the creative midfielder has led to concerns over whether he will get sufficient game time before the tournament in Russia. However, following Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million sale to Barcelona, Lallana is expected to feature prominently in the second half of the season. England manager Southgate must then decide whether to call up Lallana for their friendlies against Holland and Italy in March. Lallana missed a huge chunk of the season through injury Credit: AP Klopp, who takes his team to face Swansea City on Monday, acknowledged that Lallana needs to build up fitness, but insists he should be a key part of the World Cup plans for the summer. “If Mr Southgate can leave Adam out of his squad, wow, then really I congratulate you already for winning the World Cup!” Klopp said with more than a hint of sarcasm. “Because then it is a squad like I can’t imagine how strong. “Adam was out for half-a-season and like all players he needs all his physical strength. In a few weeks he will be 100 per cent. He is really close. He could play so far but you saw when he played with all the genius moments he had, very decisive moments, you could see that he really feels the intensity. “He had a big muscle injury so we cannot push him through, and say ‘Come on, try it again, try it again’. That is impossible. “It is not that Adam is the replacement for Coutinho but he is back. Cool. It is another creative, offensive midfield player. Does he have the same free-kick as Philippe? No, but there are a lot of things he can do. He can make us stronger in these situations.” Klopp says no one else will be following Philippe Coutinho out of the club Credit: AP Klopp claims no Liverpool player would want to quit Anfield and join one of their Premier League rivals during the January transfer window. Arsenal are poised to sell Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United but even though Coutinho left for Barcelona, it would have been a different if an English club had been in for the Brazilian. “No Liverpool player of this squad would leave,” Klopp insisted, “because of their commitment to the club. “It’s just impossible. No player is here, and then says ‘OK, come on, in the middle of the season I go there or there’ to a [top] six club. I really cannot see that situation. “It doesn’t mean that players can’t leave the club but we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen often that a player wants to leave.” Klopp also agreed that Liverpool are not in a rush to spend the cash banked from Coutinho’s sale and are happy to wait until the summer to conduct more transfer business. “Absolutely,” added the German. “Obviously we don’t hesitate to spend the money, but it is not about the  moment, it is about making the right decision. It’s not about doing something to cool the situation down or show the people we don’t sleep.”

Dyche annoyed with Burnley's 'big six' results

Manchester United's win at Burnley left Sean Dyche irritated to see a good performance from his side against a top team go unrewarded.

Burnley 0 Man Utd 1: Anthony Martial scores again as United show winning mentality to grind out result

Life is about to change for Manchester United’s attacking talent when at last Alexis Sanchez arrives at Old Trafford to share goalscoring responsibilities, but in the meantime they delivered their manager Jose Mourinho a crucial third consecutive win at one of the Premier League’s most hostile outposts. This was Turf Moor in full cry, with Sean Dyche berating the officials and goalkeeper Nick Pope dispatched into the away team’s penalty area for the last corner of the game to test United’s nerve one final time as they defended a lead given to them by Anthony Martial. United are buying Sanchez to make days like these a little easier, but it should also be noted that in their four games of 2018, United are yet to concede a goal to anyone. Afterwards, Mourinho said that Sanchez’s arrival was “so close, so close, so close” and he may well even be in the side to play Yeovil Town in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday or, failing that, away to Tottenham Hotspur the following Wednesday. For Martial, as well as Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, there will be a powerful new attacking force in the side and it may well mean that standards are raised all round. Not that there was much wrong with United at Turf Moor after a first half in which they were corralled by Burnley. They struck nine minutes after the break when the centre-halves Ben Mee and James Tarkowski allowed Lukaku to break through in the middle of the pitch. Dyche’s two centre-halves did little else wrong all game but Lukaku switched the ball left to Martial and his finish, wrong-footing Pope, was the game’s moment of defining quality. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) Mourinho is still trying to frame the argument that his attacking options are all but run out, declaring that now there is “no competition for places” and listing his injury absentees including Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the reason that the club are undertaking such an enormous investment. The questions over the money paid to Sanchez and his agent, as well as Arsenal, will inevitably come and Mourinho is preparing the ground in that respect. “We look to the attacking areas and we need that extra competitive internal competition and more solutions for us,” the United manager said. “I expect [the Sanchez transfer to be completed] soon or never. I think is so close, so close, so close that if it doesn't happen [now] it's not going to happen so I am positive, I know my people is doing everything they can, the owners with the green light, Mr [Ed] Woodward and Matt Judge [head of corporate development, with responsibility for contracts] working hard and everybody is giving everything they can and I think they are going to be successful.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? For Dyche, there was praise for his side that ran United very close but also regrets about falling the wrong side of many of referee Mike Dean’s decisions, including a penalty appeal for substitute Sam Vokes. “That was one of about three thousand but that was the main one,” Dyche said. “But I will stick to that one. The margins are tight in refereeing decisions, it’s always a tricky one.” Dyche felt that Paul Pogba had walked a fine line, pulling the shirt of Jack Cork and then kicking the ball away but escaping a booking on that occasion before later picking one up for fouling the same opponent. “I don’t want players to be sent off by the way, make sure you put that, because I think some of the rules are crazy… but over 90 minutes if you are not getting the right side and there was a lot that went against us, they can all add up.” Jose Mourinho gestures on the touchline Credit: Getty images Burnley pushed hard in the closing stages with Vokes, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and finally Nahki Wells sent on to attack United, even so it took an excellent one-handed stop from Pope to stop a shot from Martial on the breakaway. Dyche would not be drawn on the interest in signing Aaron Lennon from Everton but let it be known that Burnley would not be signing anyone on wages of £100,000-a-week. At the centre of United’s defence, Phil Jones was excellent and at left-back Ashley Young was back in the team ahead of Luke Shaw. The Englishman had been picked for the last five games, and on Friday Mourinho let it be known that Shaw that he was one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. On Saturday he dropped him. After conceding, Burnley came closest when Johann Berg Gudmundsson hit a free-kick that clipped David De Gea’s bar and later a ball from the Icelander ran across the United goalmouth after Lukaku had lost possession. By the next time United play, the likelihood is that they will be that much more formidable. 4:59PM They scraped it, but credit where credit's due United didn't set the world alight here but Tony Martial's strike early in the second half was a worthy winner of this otherwise pretty dull affair. Burnley only truly got going after that goal and in truth they didn't ever look like scoring. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling defended brilliantly, and dealt with the aerial bombardment valiantly. A hard-earned three points for Mourinho's men. 4:56PM Full time United clear once, twice, three times, it's really, really great defending, and they hold on! United take a far from pretty but still crucial three points back to Manchester. 4:55PM 90 mins +5 Fellaini tries a ludicrous flick and gives possession back to Burnley. They launch an attack and have one last chance from a corner. Everyone is up. Pop included. 4:54PM 90 mins +4  Valencia is felled and takes a good 30 seconds to get back to his feet. Top notch game management, this. 4:52PM 90 mins +2 Lukaku is well positioned again to clear. The ball back in from Defour causes mayhem in the box, but United stand firm and scramble is clear. Nkoudou brings it back towards goal but is brought down by Rashford.  Gudmundsson whips in the free-kick but Vokes heads over.  United replace Martial with Herrera to eat up some valuable seconds. 4:51PM 90 mins +1 Taylor wins a corner. Load the box. 4:50PM 90 mins Pogba feeds Rashford, but Taylor gets back to shut him out well. FIVE minutes added on. Can Burnley find an equaliser? 4:49PM 89 mins Final sub for Burnley as Nakhi wells replaces Ashley Barnes. 4:47PM 87 mins Martial goes flying towards goal, jinks onto his left and then stings Pope's fingers with a fierce shot. Well hit, decent save. 4:46PM 85 mins Good build-up from Burnley ends with a cross that Vokes can't quite get on the end of, but Smalling heads behind for a corner. Gudmundsson takes it, and Vokes shows great strength to beat Fellaini to the cross even though he is clearly having his shirt pulled - but he can only head wide. Vokes suggests to Mike Dean that he could have had a penalty there, but the ref isn't interested. Miss: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Sam Vokes, 85 min) 4:43PM 84 mins Some nice intricate play from United to get into the Burnley box, and Martial nearly finishes it off but can't quite escape the grasp of Ben Mee. 4:41PM 81 mins Matic has just had the worst shot ever. Very nearly went for a throw-in. Out: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Nemanja Matic, 81 min) Sam Vokes and Spurs loanee Georges-Kevin Nkoudou come on for Arfield and Hendrick for the hosts. 4:39PM 80 mins Rashford replaces Lingard for the final 10 minutes. 4:39PM 79 mins Martial is too slow to get his head up, then his pass to put in Lingard is at him, rather than ahead of him, allowing Mee to get back and block the shot. 4:37PM 77 mins Defour puts the ball into the box, Barnes heads at goal, but he gets too much on it when it just needed a glance and he puts it well wide. 4:36PM 76 mins Cynical take-down from Matic on Arfield. Yellow card. 4:35PM 15 minutes to go Burnley still very much in this one. Plenty of time for an equaliser, but United are a threat on the counter. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 4:32PM 71 mins The corner finds Mee at the back post, who powers a header across goal but Lukaku is really well placed to clear.  Burnley come again, with Gudmundsson played in on the right, and his low ball across the face of goal is just to far ahead of Arfield at the back post. Replays show Smalling got a crucial touch. Mourinho responds to the Burnley onslaught by replacing little, harmless Juan Mata with big, scary Marouane Fellaini. Seems a wise move. 4:30PM 69 mins Pogba stops Cork in his tracks and earns himself a yellow. The big men plod forward with the ball about to be launched into the box. It's played short to Defour, who whips at goal from more of an angle than the central free-kick had allowed. Mee stoops to head at goal, and his looping header is tipped over for a corner.  4:27PM 67 mins Jones nips in to intercept a poor pass and launch a United counter. He feeds Martial, who plays inside to Lukaku but Mee gets enough of a block to turn the shot away from goal.  Bardsley is booked for a late challenge on Smalling. 4:25PM 64 mins What a challenge from Tarkowski with Lukaku bearing down on goal. He gets a toe in at the very last opportunity and denies Lukaku a clear sight of goal. 4:19PM 59 mins Burnley have livened up now. A cross into the box finds Arfield, who heads at goal and it hits Smalling - the whole ground wants a penalty for handball, but Mike Dean says a firm 'no'. 4:17PM Off the bar! It's Gudmundsson in fact who takes the free-kick, left-footed, and he beats the wall, and seems to have beaten De Gea, too. The United keeper stands and stares as the ball cannons off the top of his crossbar and away to safety. So close! Post: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Johann Berg Gudmundsson, 57 min) 4:16PM 57 mins Burnley have a chance with Mata giving away a free-kick right on the edge of the United box. United know all about Defour's ability from here. The Belgian stands over it. 4:15PM GOOOOOALL!!  Martial puts United ahead! Finally United have a shot on target and with it they have a goal! Lukaku gets the ball in an inside right position on the break and has Martial in support on the left. He takes an age to get the ball under control and eventually finds the Frenchman in space. Martial opens his body up but shoots towards the near post top corner and completely befuddles Pope, firing into the net off the underside of the bar. What a finish. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) 4:13PM 54 mins The game looks to be opening up up a little now with the sides exchanging counter-attacks and the volume in Turf Moor rising accordingly.  4:12PM 52 mins United get into a decent position down the left, Mata's drilled cross is deflected behind for a corner. Burnley clear/ 4:08PM 48 mins So nearly a chance! But there isn't one. Lingard looks to wind one up after coming in off the left but is tackled, before Lukaku lifts his leg to shoot, but is crowded out.  4:04PM The players are back out Please, please, please can we have something else this half, guys? Burnley get the second half started. 0-0 half time here. Burnley vs Man Utd. Best thing so far has been the performance at HT of @seanruane reminded me of Italia 90...��������— Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton) January 20, 2018 4:03PM Michael Carrick is with the away fans at Turf Moor Credit: Getty images 3:51PM Half time I've seen some bad United games under Mourinho but this has to be up there with the worst first half of his reign. So little imagination, so little ambition, so little penetration. Just terrible. Burnley started well enough and there was the odd bright moment for both teams but nothing to at all to get excited about. There were a lot of over-hit crosses... So, so many over-hit crosses. I've had enough. Hopefully we see something completely, utterly, totally different after the break. Please. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal Average touch positions (half time) 3:47PM 45 mins Just one minute to be added on. 3:46PM 42 mins Best chance of the game for United and it's all of Young's making. He looks like he has absolutely nothing on in a wide left position, but in the blink of an eye he nutmegs Gudmundsson and is into the box.  Still very wide but running to straight at goal to shape to cross, he opens his body up and bends an effort at the far corner, but just doesn't get around it enough, and it goes wide. Unlucky, but still no shot on target for United. Miss: Burnley 0 - 0 Man Utd (Ashley Young, 42 min) 3:43PM 40 mins Hendrick advances well, and gets into the United box. He tries to feed Arfield but Smalling gets there to snuff it out and clear. 3:38PM 36 mins What a ball from Lingard out to Martial in space on the left. He drives at Bardsley, and looks to have him in the perfect position, backtracking towards his own goal. A confident, in-form Martial goes flying past a full-back there; this one stumbles, delays and shoots straight into Bardsley. The chance goes. 3:36PM 34 mins Possession: Burnley vs Man Utd More possession for United so far, but they aren't doing enough with it. 3:34PM 31 mins Mee catching Lingard late, and it doesn't look too bad on first viewing but the United man has stayed down as play goes on, before the ball is eventually put out of play. The Burnley skipper gets a slightly harsh yellow card for his trouble. 3:32PM 29 mins Biggest cheer of the afternoon as Martial chases down Pogba's over-hit pass, can't get to it, and falls over the advertising hoardings. 3:31PM 28 mins Burnley's best chance of the game, as Mee heads over from a very good position from a corner. Should do better. 3:30PM 27 mins Both teams are moving the ball well enough and creating opportunities in wide areas, but neither has been able to penetrate the narrow defence they are facing.  Antonio Valencia sends a cross over everyone and out for a goal kick. Point made. 3:28PM 25 mins Bored as the rest of us, Jose?  There's not been much excitement at Turf Moor Credit: Reuters Hendrick fires harmlessly wide from a frankly ludicrous position on the half volley, against one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.   3:24PM 21 mins Pogba tries a very ambitious ball over the extremely deep Burnley defence, Lukaku - quite reasonably - can't get anywhere near it, and Pogba gestures at his team-mate that he should be quicker onto it. Not sure about that one, Pogs. 3:21PM 18 mins Pogba is everywhere for United. He goes charging onto a ball on the left and cuts back for Martial in the centre - how/when has he seen that that pass was on?! - but Martial's shot is deflected wide.  The corner comes to nothing. 3:17PM 14 mins Burnley race up the other end with Gudmundsson cutting in from the right and shooting low at goal left-footed, but that's easy for De Gea. 3:16PM 13 mins First shot of the game for United comes from a lovely disguised, dinked pass over the defence from Young for Pogba who has gone tip-toeing into the Burnley box. It's a really tough chance, but he tries to poke it at goal as it comes dropping over his shoulder and can't keep it down. 3:15PM 12 mins Burnley having the slightly better of this one so far. Very early days, though, of course. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 3:11PM 8 mins And quickly after Pogba gives possession away inside his own half, Burnley spring into action and Defour finds Hendrick, who slips Barnes in  but he has Jones for company and the United defender does enough to put him off. Hendrick's follow up is tame and straight at De Gea. 3:09PM 7 mins This. Is. Burnley. A long, raking ball from a free-kick in their own half finds Tarkowski at the back post, and he nods back across goal but there's no team-mate close enough to get on the end of it. A first bit of excitement for the home fans. 3:07PM 5 mins Lukaku has a few times already come off the Burnley defence to drop into a good position and bring midfielders into play. This time the ball makes its way out to Martial on the left but his cross is poor and Pope claims well. 3:05PM 2 mins An early warning for Burnley, who look surprisingly and pretty worryingly open very early on. Pogba, Lukaku and Lingard combine but the latter's cross is overhit. 3:00PM Here come the players United are in that horrible grey away kit; Burnley in the usual claret and blue. Cyril Regis, a pioneer, a trailblazer and a wonderful footballer, passed away this week, and there will be a minute's silence before kick off. 2:57PM Kick off approaches Can Burnley further dent United's hopes of finishing second? The players will be out on the pitch shortly. 2:43PM Last time they met With this weekend the reverse fixtures of the Boxing Day lineup, these two teams meet for the second time in four weeks. Then, Burnley very nearly escaped from Old Trafford with all three points, but only ended up with one. Having gone into a two goal lead, Jesse Lingard was United's hero, scoring two second half goals to rescue a 2-2 draw. It was the third time in these sides' five meetings since Burnley returned to the top flight that Sean Dyche's men had taken points off United. I wouldn't be surprised if they did so again today. Steven Defour scored a stunning free-kick in the draw when these sides met at Old Trafford on Boxing Day Credit: Getty images 2:19PM Reasons for United to be optimistic #OnThisDay 22 years ago @ManUtd were 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind leaders Newcastle after 23 matches, before going on to win the title in May... They currently sit 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind #PL leaders Man City after 23 games �� pic.twitter.com/688wLHwgiV— Premier League (@premierleague) January 20, 2018 2:10PM How Burnley line up They make one change to the side that lost to Palace last weekend with Scott Arfield returning. Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Cork, Defour,  Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Arfield, Barnes. Subs: Lowton, Nkoudou,  Westwood, Wells, Lindegaard, Long, Vokes.   TEAM NEWS: Here's your Clarets team to face @ManUtd at Turf Moor today. pic.twitter.com/g0pCISaxNK— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) January 20, 2018 2:09PM United line up confirmed As revealed by Sam Wallace, there's no place for Shaw while Martial starts alongside Lukaku. United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Pogba,  Matic, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Rojo, Rashford,  Romero, Ander Herrera, Shaw, Fellaini, McTominay.  The team news is in, #MUFC fans! Here's your starting XI to take on Burnley in today's @PremierLeague game. #BURMUNpic.twitter.com/tJEcZgQkER— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 20, 2018 2:02PM Shaw left out by Mourinho We have breaking news from our chief football writer Sam Wallace at Turf Moor: Luke Shaw has been left out of Manchester United’s starting XI to face Burnley today by Jose Mourinho, having started the last five games in a row for the club. It will be Ashley Young, back after suspension, who starts in place of Shaw at left-back the older man’s first action since he played in the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Dec 30. Shaw, who is on the bench, has struggled to make an impression on the United first team this season, only playing his first games in the EFL Cup ties in September and October. He has made just ten appearances for the club this season, although his recent form has led to suggestions that Shaw could break back into the England squad in time for the World Cup finals this summer. Mourinho has praised the 22-year-old in recent weeks describing the player as one of the best in his position in the league. Mourinho said: “I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw. “He had played very well. He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time he was coming step by step, and now with a good run of matches and continuity, he is solid.  "Physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. I'm really happy.” 1:44PM United still wait on Sanchez Manchester United travel to Burnley without Alexis Sanchez as a deal for the Chilean has not yet been signed off. United were unable to complete the formalities of Sanchez's switch from Arsenal by the midday deadline yesterday in order for him to be available to make his debut at Turf Moor this afternoon. Henrikh Mkhitaryan isn't included in United's squad as negotiations over his switch to Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was also left out of the squad that faced Stoke on Monday due to the uncertainty over his future. Both Mkhitaryan and Sanchez trained with their respective sides on Friday. Though Jose Mourinho has ruled out Mkhitaryan at Burnley, he does have Ashley Young back from suspension. However, his glowing reference of Luke Shaw, who has started the past successive five games - his longest run in Mourinho's time at the club, suggests he will retain his left-back spot. "(He's) played very well," Mourinho added of Shaw. "He was already improving and playing well when I started playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League, he was coming step by step and now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match - good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding much better the game and what we need in different phases and circumstances. "I'm really happy. You like the transfer market, I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw."

Burnley 0 Man Utd 1: Anthony Martial scores again as United show winning mentality to grind out result

Life is about to change for Manchester United’s attacking talent when at last Alexis Sanchez arrives at Old Trafford to share goalscoring responsibilities, but in the meantime they delivered their manager Jose Mourinho a crucial third consecutive win at one of the Premier League’s most hostile outposts. This was Turf Moor in full cry, with Sean Dyche berating the officials and goalkeeper Nick Pope dispatched into the away team’s penalty area for the last corner of the game to test United’s nerve one final time as they defended a lead given to them by Anthony Martial. United are buying Sanchez to make days like these a little easier, but it should also be noted that in their four games of 2018, United are yet to concede a goal to anyone. Afterwards, Mourinho said that Sanchez’s arrival was “so close, so close, so close” and he may well even be in the side to play Yeovil Town in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday or, failing that, away to Tottenham Hotspur the following Wednesday. For Martial, as well as Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, there will be a powerful new attacking force in the side and it may well mean that standards are raised all round. Not that there was much wrong with United at Turf Moor after a first half in which they were corralled by Burnley. They struck nine minutes after the break when the centre-halves Ben Mee and James Tarkowski allowed Lukaku to break through in the middle of the pitch. Dyche’s two centre-halves did little else wrong all game but Lukaku switched the ball left to Martial and his finish, wrong-footing Pope, was the game’s moment of defining quality. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) Mourinho is still trying to frame the argument that his attacking options are all but run out, declaring that now there is “no competition for places” and listing his injury absentees including Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the reason that the club are undertaking such an enormous investment. The questions over the money paid to Sanchez and his agent, as well as Arsenal, will inevitably come and Mourinho is preparing the ground in that respect. “We look to the attacking areas and we need that extra competitive internal competition and more solutions for us,” the United manager said. “I expect [the Sanchez transfer to be completed] soon or never. I think is so close, so close, so close that if it doesn't happen [now] it's not going to happen so I am positive, I know my people is doing everything they can, the owners with the green light, Mr [Ed] Woodward and Matt Judge [head of corporate development, with responsibility for contracts] working hard and everybody is giving everything they can and I think they are going to be successful.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? For Dyche, there was praise for his side that ran United very close but also regrets about falling the wrong side of many of referee Mike Dean’s decisions, including a penalty appeal for substitute Sam Vokes. “That was one of about three thousand but that was the main one,” Dyche said. “But I will stick to that one. The margins are tight in refereeing decisions, it’s always a tricky one.” Dyche felt that Paul Pogba had walked a fine line, pulling the shirt of Jack Cork and then kicking the ball away but escaping a booking on that occasion before later picking one up for fouling the same opponent. “I don’t want players to be sent off by the way, make sure you put that, because I think some of the rules are crazy… but over 90 minutes if you are not getting the right side and there was a lot that went against us, they can all add up.” Jose Mourinho gestures on the touchline Credit: Getty images Burnley pushed hard in the closing stages with Vokes, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and finally Nahki Wells sent on to attack United, even so it took an excellent one-handed stop from Pope to stop a shot from Martial on the breakaway. Dyche would not be drawn on the interest in signing Aaron Lennon from Everton but let it be known that Burnley would not be signing anyone on wages of £100,000-a-week. At the centre of United’s defence, Phil Jones was excellent and at left-back Ashley Young was back in the team ahead of Luke Shaw. The Englishman had been picked for the last five games, and on Friday Mourinho let it be known that Shaw that he was one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. On Saturday he dropped him. After conceding, Burnley came closest when Johann Berg Gudmundsson hit a free-kick that clipped David De Gea’s bar and later a ball from the Icelander ran across the United goalmouth after Lukaku had lost possession. By the next time United play, the likelihood is that they will be that much more formidable. 4:59PM They scraped it, but credit where credit's due United didn't set the world alight here but Tony Martial's strike early in the second half was a worthy winner of this otherwise pretty dull affair. Burnley only truly got going after that goal and in truth they didn't ever look like scoring. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling defended brilliantly, and dealt with the aerial bombardment valiantly. A hard-earned three points for Mourinho's men. 4:56PM Full time United clear once, twice, three times, it's really, really great defending, and they hold on! United take a far from pretty but still crucial three points back to Manchester. 4:55PM 90 mins +5 Fellaini tries a ludicrous flick and gives possession back to Burnley. They launch an attack and have one last chance from a corner. Everyone is up. Pop included. 4:54PM 90 mins +4  Valencia is felled and takes a good 30 seconds to get back to his feet. Top notch game management, this. 4:52PM 90 mins +2 Lukaku is well positioned again to clear. The ball back in from Defour causes mayhem in the box, but United stand firm and scramble is clear. Nkoudou brings it back towards goal but is brought down by Rashford.  Gudmundsson whips in the free-kick but Vokes heads over.  United replace Martial with Herrera to eat up some valuable seconds. 4:51PM 90 mins +1 Taylor wins a corner. Load the box. 4:50PM 90 mins Pogba feeds Rashford, but Taylor gets back to shut him out well. FIVE minutes added on. Can Burnley find an equaliser? 4:49PM 89 mins Final sub for Burnley as Nakhi wells replaces Ashley Barnes. 4:47PM 87 mins Martial goes flying towards goal, jinks onto his left and then stings Pope's fingers with a fierce shot. Well hit, decent save. 4:46PM 85 mins Good build-up from Burnley ends with a cross that Vokes can't quite get on the end of, but Smalling heads behind for a corner. Gudmundsson takes it, and Vokes shows great strength to beat Fellaini to the cross even though he is clearly having his shirt pulled - but he can only head wide. Vokes suggests to Mike Dean that he could have had a penalty there, but the ref isn't interested. Miss: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Sam Vokes, 85 min) 4:43PM 84 mins Some nice intricate play from United to get into the Burnley box, and Martial nearly finishes it off but can't quite escape the grasp of Ben Mee. 4:41PM 81 mins Matic has just had the worst shot ever. Very nearly went for a throw-in. Out: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Nemanja Matic, 81 min) Sam Vokes and Spurs loanee Georges-Kevin Nkoudou come on for Arfield and Hendrick for the hosts. 4:39PM 80 mins Rashford replaces Lingard for the final 10 minutes. 4:39PM 79 mins Martial is too slow to get his head up, then his pass to put in Lingard is at him, rather than ahead of him, allowing Mee to get back and block the shot. 4:37PM 77 mins Defour puts the ball into the box, Barnes heads at goal, but he gets too much on it when it just needed a glance and he puts it well wide. 4:36PM 76 mins Cynical take-down from Matic on Arfield. Yellow card. 4:35PM 15 minutes to go Burnley still very much in this one. Plenty of time for an equaliser, but United are a threat on the counter. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 4:32PM 71 mins The corner finds Mee at the back post, who powers a header across goal but Lukaku is really well placed to clear.  Burnley come again, with Gudmundsson played in on the right, and his low ball across the face of goal is just to far ahead of Arfield at the back post. Replays show Smalling got a crucial touch. Mourinho responds to the Burnley onslaught by replacing little, harmless Juan Mata with big, scary Marouane Fellaini. Seems a wise move. 4:30PM 69 mins Pogba stops Cork in his tracks and earns himself a yellow. The big men plod forward with the ball about to be launched into the box. It's played short to Defour, who whips at goal from more of an angle than the central free-kick had allowed. Mee stoops to head at goal, and his looping header is tipped over for a corner.  4:27PM 67 mins Jones nips in to intercept a poor pass and launch a United counter. He feeds Martial, who plays inside to Lukaku but Mee gets enough of a block to turn the shot away from goal.  Bardsley is booked for a late challenge on Smalling. 4:25PM 64 mins What a challenge from Tarkowski with Lukaku bearing down on goal. He gets a toe in at the very last opportunity and denies Lukaku a clear sight of goal. 4:19PM 59 mins Burnley have livened up now. A cross into the box finds Arfield, who heads at goal and it hits Smalling - the whole ground wants a penalty for handball, but Mike Dean says a firm 'no'. 4:17PM Off the bar! It's Gudmundsson in fact who takes the free-kick, left-footed, and he beats the wall, and seems to have beaten De Gea, too. The United keeper stands and stares as the ball cannons off the top of his crossbar and away to safety. So close! Post: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Johann Berg Gudmundsson, 57 min) 4:16PM 57 mins Burnley have a chance with Mata giving away a free-kick right on the edge of the United box. United know all about Defour's ability from here. The Belgian stands over it. 4:15PM GOOOOOALL!!  Martial puts United ahead! Finally United have a shot on target and with it they have a goal! Lukaku gets the ball in an inside right position on the break and has Martial in support on the left. He takes an age to get the ball under control and eventually finds the Frenchman in space. Martial opens his body up but shoots towards the near post top corner and completely befuddles Pope, firing into the net off the underside of the bar. What a finish. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) 4:13PM 54 mins The game looks to be opening up up a little now with the sides exchanging counter-attacks and the volume in Turf Moor rising accordingly.  4:12PM 52 mins United get into a decent position down the left, Mata's drilled cross is deflected behind for a corner. Burnley clear/ 4:08PM 48 mins So nearly a chance! But there isn't one. Lingard looks to wind one up after coming in off the left but is tackled, before Lukaku lifts his leg to shoot, but is crowded out.  4:04PM The players are back out Please, please, please can we have something else this half, guys? Burnley get the second half started. 0-0 half time here. Burnley vs Man Utd. Best thing so far has been the performance at HT of @seanruane reminded me of Italia 90...��������— Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton) January 20, 2018 4:03PM Michael Carrick is with the away fans at Turf Moor Credit: Getty images 3:51PM Half time I've seen some bad United games under Mourinho but this has to be up there with the worst first half of his reign. So little imagination, so little ambition, so little penetration. Just terrible. Burnley started well enough and there was the odd bright moment for both teams but nothing to at all to get excited about. There were a lot of over-hit crosses... So, so many over-hit crosses. I've had enough. Hopefully we see something completely, utterly, totally different after the break. Please. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal Average touch positions (half time) 3:47PM 45 mins Just one minute to be added on. 3:46PM 42 mins Best chance of the game for United and it's all of Young's making. He looks like he has absolutely nothing on in a wide left position, but in the blink of an eye he nutmegs Gudmundsson and is into the box.  Still very wide but running to straight at goal to shape to cross, he opens his body up and bends an effort at the far corner, but just doesn't get around it enough, and it goes wide. Unlucky, but still no shot on target for United. Miss: Burnley 0 - 0 Man Utd (Ashley Young, 42 min) 3:43PM 40 mins Hendrick advances well, and gets into the United box. He tries to feed Arfield but Smalling gets there to snuff it out and clear. 3:38PM 36 mins What a ball from Lingard out to Martial in space on the left. He drives at Bardsley, and looks to have him in the perfect position, backtracking towards his own goal. A confident, in-form Martial goes flying past a full-back there; this one stumbles, delays and shoots straight into Bardsley. The chance goes. 3:36PM 34 mins Possession: Burnley vs Man Utd More possession for United so far, but they aren't doing enough with it. 3:34PM 31 mins Mee catching Lingard late, and it doesn't look too bad on first viewing but the United man has stayed down as play goes on, before the ball is eventually put out of play. The Burnley skipper gets a slightly harsh yellow card for his trouble. 3:32PM 29 mins Biggest cheer of the afternoon as Martial chases down Pogba's over-hit pass, can't get to it, and falls over the advertising hoardings. 3:31PM 28 mins Burnley's best chance of the game, as Mee heads over from a very good position from a corner. Should do better. 3:30PM 27 mins Both teams are moving the ball well enough and creating opportunities in wide areas, but neither has been able to penetrate the narrow defence they are facing.  Antonio Valencia sends a cross over everyone and out for a goal kick. Point made. 3:28PM 25 mins Bored as the rest of us, Jose?  There's not been much excitement at Turf Moor Credit: Reuters Hendrick fires harmlessly wide from a frankly ludicrous position on the half volley, against one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.   3:24PM 21 mins Pogba tries a very ambitious ball over the extremely deep Burnley defence, Lukaku - quite reasonably - can't get anywhere near it, and Pogba gestures at his team-mate that he should be quicker onto it. Not sure about that one, Pogs. 3:21PM 18 mins Pogba is everywhere for United. He goes charging onto a ball on the left and cuts back for Martial in the centre - how/when has he seen that that pass was on?! - but Martial's shot is deflected wide.  The corner comes to nothing. 3:17PM 14 mins Burnley race up the other end with Gudmundsson cutting in from the right and shooting low at goal left-footed, but that's easy for De Gea. 3:16PM 13 mins First shot of the game for United comes from a lovely disguised, dinked pass over the defence from Young for Pogba who has gone tip-toeing into the Burnley box. It's a really tough chance, but he tries to poke it at goal as it comes dropping over his shoulder and can't keep it down. 3:15PM 12 mins Burnley having the slightly better of this one so far. Very early days, though, of course. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 3:11PM 8 mins And quickly after Pogba gives possession away inside his own half, Burnley spring into action and Defour finds Hendrick, who slips Barnes in  but he has Jones for company and the United defender does enough to put him off. Hendrick's follow up is tame and straight at De Gea. 3:09PM 7 mins This. Is. Burnley. A long, raking ball from a free-kick in their own half finds Tarkowski at the back post, and he nods back across goal but there's no team-mate close enough to get on the end of it. A first bit of excitement for the home fans. 3:07PM 5 mins Lukaku has a few times already come off the Burnley defence to drop into a good position and bring midfielders into play. This time the ball makes its way out to Martial on the left but his cross is poor and Pope claims well. 3:05PM 2 mins An early warning for Burnley, who look surprisingly and pretty worryingly open very early on. Pogba, Lukaku and Lingard combine but the latter's cross is overhit. 3:00PM Here come the players United are in that horrible grey away kit; Burnley in the usual claret and blue. Cyril Regis, a pioneer, a trailblazer and a wonderful footballer, passed away this week, and there will be a minute's silence before kick off. 2:57PM Kick off approaches Can Burnley further dent United's hopes of finishing second? The players will be out on the pitch shortly. 2:43PM Last time they met With this weekend the reverse fixtures of the Boxing Day lineup, these two teams meet for the second time in four weeks. Then, Burnley very nearly escaped from Old Trafford with all three points, but only ended up with one. Having gone into a two goal lead, Jesse Lingard was United's hero, scoring two second half goals to rescue a 2-2 draw. It was the third time in these sides' five meetings since Burnley returned to the top flight that Sean Dyche's men had taken points off United. I wouldn't be surprised if they did so again today. Steven Defour scored a stunning free-kick in the draw when these sides met at Old Trafford on Boxing Day Credit: Getty images 2:19PM Reasons for United to be optimistic #OnThisDay 22 years ago @ManUtd were 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind leaders Newcastle after 23 matches, before going on to win the title in May... They currently sit 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind #PL leaders Man City after 23 games �� pic.twitter.com/688wLHwgiV— Premier League (@premierleague) January 20, 2018 2:10PM How Burnley line up They make one change to the side that lost to Palace last weekend with Scott Arfield returning. Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Cork, Defour,  Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Arfield, Barnes. Subs: Lowton, Nkoudou,  Westwood, Wells, Lindegaard, Long, Vokes.   TEAM NEWS: Here's your Clarets team to face @ManUtd at Turf Moor today. pic.twitter.com/g0pCISaxNK— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) January 20, 2018 2:09PM United line up confirmed As revealed by Sam Wallace, there's no place for Shaw while Martial starts alongside Lukaku. United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Pogba,  Matic, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Rojo, Rashford,  Romero, Ander Herrera, Shaw, Fellaini, McTominay.  The team news is in, #MUFC fans! Here's your starting XI to take on Burnley in today's @PremierLeague game. #BURMUNpic.twitter.com/tJEcZgQkER— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 20, 2018 2:02PM Shaw left out by Mourinho We have breaking news from our chief football writer Sam Wallace at Turf Moor: Luke Shaw has been left out of Manchester United’s starting XI to face Burnley today by Jose Mourinho, having started the last five games in a row for the club. It will be Ashley Young, back after suspension, who starts in place of Shaw at left-back the older man’s first action since he played in the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Dec 30. Shaw, who is on the bench, has struggled to make an impression on the United first team this season, only playing his first games in the EFL Cup ties in September and October. He has made just ten appearances for the club this season, although his recent form has led to suggestions that Shaw could break back into the England squad in time for the World Cup finals this summer. Mourinho has praised the 22-year-old in recent weeks describing the player as one of the best in his position in the league. Mourinho said: “I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw. “He had played very well. He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time he was coming step by step, and now with a good run of matches and continuity, he is solid.  "Physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. I'm really happy.” 1:44PM United still wait on Sanchez Manchester United travel to Burnley without Alexis Sanchez as a deal for the Chilean has not yet been signed off. United were unable to complete the formalities of Sanchez's switch from Arsenal by the midday deadline yesterday in order for him to be available to make his debut at Turf Moor this afternoon. Henrikh Mkhitaryan isn't included in United's squad as negotiations over his switch to Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was also left out of the squad that faced Stoke on Monday due to the uncertainty over his future. Both Mkhitaryan and Sanchez trained with their respective sides on Friday. Though Jose Mourinho has ruled out Mkhitaryan at Burnley, he does have Ashley Young back from suspension. However, his glowing reference of Luke Shaw, who has started the past successive five games - his longest run in Mourinho's time at the club, suggests he will retain his left-back spot. "(He's) played very well," Mourinho added of Shaw. "He was already improving and playing well when I started playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League, he was coming step by step and now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match - good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding much better the game and what we need in different phases and circumstances. "I'm really happy. You like the transfer market, I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw."

Burnley 0 Man Utd 1: Anthony Martial scores again as United show winning mentality to grind out result

Life is about to change for Manchester United’s attacking talent when at last Alexis Sanchez arrives at Old Trafford to share goalscoring responsibilities, but in the meantime they delivered their manager Jose Mourinho a crucial third consecutive win at one of the Premier League’s most hostile outposts. This was Turf Moor in full cry, with Sean Dyche berating the officials and goalkeeper Nick Pope dispatched into the away team’s penalty area for the last corner of the game to test United’s nerve one final time as they defended a lead given to them by Anthony Martial. United are buying Sanchez to make days like these a little easier, but it should also be noted that in their four games of 2018, United are yet to concede a goal to anyone. Afterwards, Mourinho said that Sanchez’s arrival was “so close, so close, so close” and he may well even be in the side to play Yeovil Town in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday or, failing that, away to Tottenham Hotspur the following Wednesday. For Martial, as well as Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, there will be a powerful new attacking force in the side and it may well mean that standards are raised all round. Not that there was much wrong with United at Turf Moor after a first half in which they were corralled by Burnley. They struck nine minutes after the break when the centre-halves Ben Mee and James Tarkowski allowed Lukaku to break through in the middle of the pitch. Dyche’s two centre-halves did little else wrong all game but Lukaku switched the ball left to Martial and his finish, wrong-footing Pope, was the game’s moment of defining quality. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) Mourinho is still trying to frame the argument that his attacking options are all but run out, declaring that now there is “no competition for places” and listing his injury absentees including Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the reason that the club are undertaking such an enormous investment. The questions over the money paid to Sanchez and his agent, as well as Arsenal, will inevitably come and Mourinho is preparing the ground in that respect. “We look to the attacking areas and we need that extra competitive internal competition and more solutions for us,” the United manager said. “I expect [the Sanchez transfer to be completed] soon or never. I think is so close, so close, so close that if it doesn't happen [now] it's not going to happen so I am positive, I know my people is doing everything they can, the owners with the green light, Mr [Ed] Woodward and Matt Judge [head of corporate development, with responsibility for contracts] working hard and everybody is giving everything they can and I think they are going to be successful.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? For Dyche, there was praise for his side that ran United very close but also regrets about falling the wrong side of many of referee Mike Dean’s decisions, including a penalty appeal for substitute Sam Vokes. “That was one of about three thousand but that was the main one,” Dyche said. “But I will stick to that one. The margins are tight in refereeing decisions, it’s always a tricky one.” Dyche felt that Paul Pogba had walked a fine line, pulling the shirt of Jack Cork and then kicking the ball away but escaping a booking on that occasion before later picking one up for fouling the same opponent. “I don’t want players to be sent off by the way, make sure you put that, because I think some of the rules are crazy… but over 90 minutes if you are not getting the right side and there was a lot that went against us, they can all add up.” Jose Mourinho gestures on the touchline Credit: Getty images Burnley pushed hard in the closing stages with Vokes, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and finally Nahki Wells sent on to attack United, even so it took an excellent one-handed stop from Pope to stop a shot from Martial on the breakaway. Dyche would not be drawn on the interest in signing Aaron Lennon from Everton but let it be known that Burnley would not be signing anyone on wages of £100,000-a-week. At the centre of United’s defence, Phil Jones was excellent and at left-back Ashley Young was back in the team ahead of Luke Shaw. The Englishman had been picked for the last five games, and on Friday Mourinho let it be known that Shaw that he was one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. On Saturday he dropped him. After conceding, Burnley came closest when Johann Berg Gudmundsson hit a free-kick that clipped David De Gea’s bar and later a ball from the Icelander ran across the United goalmouth after Lukaku had lost possession. By the next time United play, the likelihood is that they will be that much more formidable. 4:59PM They scraped it, but credit where credit's due United didn't set the world alight here but Tony Martial's strike early in the second half was a worthy winner of this otherwise pretty dull affair. Burnley only truly got going after that goal and in truth they didn't ever look like scoring. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling defended brilliantly, and dealt with the aerial bombardment valiantly. A hard-earned three points for Mourinho's men. 4:56PM Full time United clear once, twice, three times, it's really, really great defending, and they hold on! United take a far from pretty but still crucial three points back to Manchester. 4:55PM 90 mins +5 Fellaini tries a ludicrous flick and gives possession back to Burnley. They launch an attack and have one last chance from a corner. Everyone is up. Pop included. 4:54PM 90 mins +4  Valencia is felled and takes a good 30 seconds to get back to his feet. Top notch game management, this. 4:52PM 90 mins +2 Lukaku is well positioned again to clear. The ball back in from Defour causes mayhem in the box, but United stand firm and scramble is clear. Nkoudou brings it back towards goal but is brought down by Rashford.  Gudmundsson whips in the free-kick but Vokes heads over.  United replace Martial with Herrera to eat up some valuable seconds. 4:51PM 90 mins +1 Taylor wins a corner. Load the box. 4:50PM 90 mins Pogba feeds Rashford, but Taylor gets back to shut him out well. FIVE minutes added on. Can Burnley find an equaliser? 4:49PM 89 mins Final sub for Burnley as Nakhi wells replaces Ashley Barnes. 4:47PM 87 mins Martial goes flying towards goal, jinks onto his left and then stings Pope's fingers with a fierce shot. Well hit, decent save. 4:46PM 85 mins Good build-up from Burnley ends with a cross that Vokes can't quite get on the end of, but Smalling heads behind for a corner. Gudmundsson takes it, and Vokes shows great strength to beat Fellaini to the cross even though he is clearly having his shirt pulled - but he can only head wide. Vokes suggests to Mike Dean that he could have had a penalty there, but the ref isn't interested. Miss: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Sam Vokes, 85 min) 4:43PM 84 mins Some nice intricate play from United to get into the Burnley box, and Martial nearly finishes it off but can't quite escape the grasp of Ben Mee. 4:41PM 81 mins Matic has just had the worst shot ever. Very nearly went for a throw-in. Out: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Nemanja Matic, 81 min) Sam Vokes and Spurs loanee Georges-Kevin Nkoudou come on for Arfield and Hendrick for the hosts. 4:39PM 80 mins Rashford replaces Lingard for the final 10 minutes. 4:39PM 79 mins Martial is too slow to get his head up, then his pass to put in Lingard is at him, rather than ahead of him, allowing Mee to get back and block the shot. 4:37PM 77 mins Defour puts the ball into the box, Barnes heads at goal, but he gets too much on it when it just needed a glance and he puts it well wide. 4:36PM 76 mins Cynical take-down from Matic on Arfield. Yellow card. 4:35PM 15 minutes to go Burnley still very much in this one. Plenty of time for an equaliser, but United are a threat on the counter. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 4:32PM 71 mins The corner finds Mee at the back post, who powers a header across goal but Lukaku is really well placed to clear.  Burnley come again, with Gudmundsson played in on the right, and his low ball across the face of goal is just to far ahead of Arfield at the back post. Replays show Smalling got a crucial touch. Mourinho responds to the Burnley onslaught by replacing little, harmless Juan Mata with big, scary Marouane Fellaini. Seems a wise move. 4:30PM 69 mins Pogba stops Cork in his tracks and earns himself a yellow. The big men plod forward with the ball about to be launched into the box. It's played short to Defour, who whips at goal from more of an angle than the central free-kick had allowed. Mee stoops to head at goal, and his looping header is tipped over for a corner.  4:27PM 67 mins Jones nips in to intercept a poor pass and launch a United counter. He feeds Martial, who plays inside to Lukaku but Mee gets enough of a block to turn the shot away from goal.  Bardsley is booked for a late challenge on Smalling. 4:25PM 64 mins What a challenge from Tarkowski with Lukaku bearing down on goal. He gets a toe in at the very last opportunity and denies Lukaku a clear sight of goal. 4:19PM 59 mins Burnley have livened up now. A cross into the box finds Arfield, who heads at goal and it hits Smalling - the whole ground wants a penalty for handball, but Mike Dean says a firm 'no'. 4:17PM Off the bar! It's Gudmundsson in fact who takes the free-kick, left-footed, and he beats the wall, and seems to have beaten De Gea, too. The United keeper stands and stares as the ball cannons off the top of his crossbar and away to safety. So close! Post: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Johann Berg Gudmundsson, 57 min) 4:16PM 57 mins Burnley have a chance with Mata giving away a free-kick right on the edge of the United box. United know all about Defour's ability from here. The Belgian stands over it. 4:15PM GOOOOOALL!!  Martial puts United ahead! Finally United have a shot on target and with it they have a goal! Lukaku gets the ball in an inside right position on the break and has Martial in support on the left. He takes an age to get the ball under control and eventually finds the Frenchman in space. Martial opens his body up but shoots towards the near post top corner and completely befuddles Pope, firing into the net off the underside of the bar. What a finish. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) 4:13PM 54 mins The game looks to be opening up up a little now with the sides exchanging counter-attacks and the volume in Turf Moor rising accordingly.  4:12PM 52 mins United get into a decent position down the left, Mata's drilled cross is deflected behind for a corner. Burnley clear/ 4:08PM 48 mins So nearly a chance! But there isn't one. Lingard looks to wind one up after coming in off the left but is tackled, before Lukaku lifts his leg to shoot, but is crowded out.  4:04PM The players are back out Please, please, please can we have something else this half, guys? Burnley get the second half started. 0-0 half time here. Burnley vs Man Utd. Best thing so far has been the performance at HT of @seanruane reminded me of Italia 90...��������— Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton) January 20, 2018 4:03PM Michael Carrick is with the away fans at Turf Moor Credit: Getty images 3:51PM Half time I've seen some bad United games under Mourinho but this has to be up there with the worst first half of his reign. So little imagination, so little ambition, so little penetration. Just terrible. Burnley started well enough and there was the odd bright moment for both teams but nothing to at all to get excited about. There were a lot of over-hit crosses... So, so many over-hit crosses. I've had enough. Hopefully we see something completely, utterly, totally different after the break. Please. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal Average touch positions (half time) 3:47PM 45 mins Just one minute to be added on. 3:46PM 42 mins Best chance of the game for United and it's all of Young's making. He looks like he has absolutely nothing on in a wide left position, but in the blink of an eye he nutmegs Gudmundsson and is into the box.  Still very wide but running to straight at goal to shape to cross, he opens his body up and bends an effort at the far corner, but just doesn't get around it enough, and it goes wide. Unlucky, but still no shot on target for United. Miss: Burnley 0 - 0 Man Utd (Ashley Young, 42 min) 3:43PM 40 mins Hendrick advances well, and gets into the United box. He tries to feed Arfield but Smalling gets there to snuff it out and clear. 3:38PM 36 mins What a ball from Lingard out to Martial in space on the left. He drives at Bardsley, and looks to have him in the perfect position, backtracking towards his own goal. A confident, in-form Martial goes flying past a full-back there; this one stumbles, delays and shoots straight into Bardsley. The chance goes. 3:36PM 34 mins Possession: Burnley vs Man Utd More possession for United so far, but they aren't doing enough with it. 3:34PM 31 mins Mee catching Lingard late, and it doesn't look too bad on first viewing but the United man has stayed down as play goes on, before the ball is eventually put out of play. The Burnley skipper gets a slightly harsh yellow card for his trouble. 3:32PM 29 mins Biggest cheer of the afternoon as Martial chases down Pogba's over-hit pass, can't get to it, and falls over the advertising hoardings. 3:31PM 28 mins Burnley's best chance of the game, as Mee heads over from a very good position from a corner. Should do better. 3:30PM 27 mins Both teams are moving the ball well enough and creating opportunities in wide areas, but neither has been able to penetrate the narrow defence they are facing.  Antonio Valencia sends a cross over everyone and out for a goal kick. Point made. 3:28PM 25 mins Bored as the rest of us, Jose?  There's not been much excitement at Turf Moor Credit: Reuters Hendrick fires harmlessly wide from a frankly ludicrous position on the half volley, against one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.   3:24PM 21 mins Pogba tries a very ambitious ball over the extremely deep Burnley defence, Lukaku - quite reasonably - can't get anywhere near it, and Pogba gestures at his team-mate that he should be quicker onto it. Not sure about that one, Pogs. 3:21PM 18 mins Pogba is everywhere for United. He goes charging onto a ball on the left and cuts back for Martial in the centre - how/when has he seen that that pass was on?! - but Martial's shot is deflected wide.  The corner comes to nothing. 3:17PM 14 mins Burnley race up the other end with Gudmundsson cutting in from the right and shooting low at goal left-footed, but that's easy for De Gea. 3:16PM 13 mins First shot of the game for United comes from a lovely disguised, dinked pass over the defence from Young for Pogba who has gone tip-toeing into the Burnley box. It's a really tough chance, but he tries to poke it at goal as it comes dropping over his shoulder and can't keep it down. 3:15PM 12 mins Burnley having the slightly better of this one so far. Very early days, though, of course. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 3:11PM 8 mins And quickly after Pogba gives possession away inside his own half, Burnley spring into action and Defour finds Hendrick, who slips Barnes in  but he has Jones for company and the United defender does enough to put him off. Hendrick's follow up is tame and straight at De Gea. 3:09PM 7 mins This. Is. Burnley. A long, raking ball from a free-kick in their own half finds Tarkowski at the back post, and he nods back across goal but there's no team-mate close enough to get on the end of it. A first bit of excitement for the home fans. 3:07PM 5 mins Lukaku has a few times already come off the Burnley defence to drop into a good position and bring midfielders into play. This time the ball makes its way out to Martial on the left but his cross is poor and Pope claims well. 3:05PM 2 mins An early warning for Burnley, who look surprisingly and pretty worryingly open very early on. Pogba, Lukaku and Lingard combine but the latter's cross is overhit. 3:00PM Here come the players United are in that horrible grey away kit; Burnley in the usual claret and blue. Cyril Regis, a pioneer, a trailblazer and a wonderful footballer, passed away this week, and there will be a minute's silence before kick off. 2:57PM Kick off approaches Can Burnley further dent United's hopes of finishing second? The players will be out on the pitch shortly. 2:43PM Last time they met With this weekend the reverse fixtures of the Boxing Day lineup, these two teams meet for the second time in four weeks. Then, Burnley very nearly escaped from Old Trafford with all three points, but only ended up with one. Having gone into a two goal lead, Jesse Lingard was United's hero, scoring two second half goals to rescue a 2-2 draw. It was the third time in these sides' five meetings since Burnley returned to the top flight that Sean Dyche's men had taken points off United. I wouldn't be surprised if they did so again today. Steven Defour scored a stunning free-kick in the draw when these sides met at Old Trafford on Boxing Day Credit: Getty images 2:19PM Reasons for United to be optimistic #OnThisDay 22 years ago @ManUtd were 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind leaders Newcastle after 23 matches, before going on to win the title in May... They currently sit 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind #PL leaders Man City after 23 games �� pic.twitter.com/688wLHwgiV— Premier League (@premierleague) January 20, 2018 2:10PM How Burnley line up They make one change to the side that lost to Palace last weekend with Scott Arfield returning. Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Cork, Defour,  Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Arfield, Barnes. Subs: Lowton, Nkoudou,  Westwood, Wells, Lindegaard, Long, Vokes.   TEAM NEWS: Here's your Clarets team to face @ManUtd at Turf Moor today. pic.twitter.com/g0pCISaxNK— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) January 20, 2018 2:09PM United line up confirmed As revealed by Sam Wallace, there's no place for Shaw while Martial starts alongside Lukaku. United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Pogba,  Matic, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Rojo, Rashford,  Romero, Ander Herrera, Shaw, Fellaini, McTominay.  The team news is in, #MUFC fans! Here's your starting XI to take on Burnley in today's @PremierLeague game. #BURMUNpic.twitter.com/tJEcZgQkER— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 20, 2018 2:02PM Shaw left out by Mourinho We have breaking news from our chief football writer Sam Wallace at Turf Moor: Luke Shaw has been left out of Manchester United’s starting XI to face Burnley today by Jose Mourinho, having started the last five games in a row for the club. It will be Ashley Young, back after suspension, who starts in place of Shaw at left-back the older man’s first action since he played in the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Dec 30. Shaw, who is on the bench, has struggled to make an impression on the United first team this season, only playing his first games in the EFL Cup ties in September and October. He has made just ten appearances for the club this season, although his recent form has led to suggestions that Shaw could break back into the England squad in time for the World Cup finals this summer. Mourinho has praised the 22-year-old in recent weeks describing the player as one of the best in his position in the league. Mourinho said: “I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw. “He had played very well. He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time he was coming step by step, and now with a good run of matches and continuity, he is solid.  "Physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. I'm really happy.” 1:44PM United still wait on Sanchez Manchester United travel to Burnley without Alexis Sanchez as a deal for the Chilean has not yet been signed off. United were unable to complete the formalities of Sanchez's switch from Arsenal by the midday deadline yesterday in order for him to be available to make his debut at Turf Moor this afternoon. Henrikh Mkhitaryan isn't included in United's squad as negotiations over his switch to Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was also left out of the squad that faced Stoke on Monday due to the uncertainty over his future. Both Mkhitaryan and Sanchez trained with their respective sides on Friday. Though Jose Mourinho has ruled out Mkhitaryan at Burnley, he does have Ashley Young back from suspension. However, his glowing reference of Luke Shaw, who has started the past successive five games - his longest run in Mourinho's time at the club, suggests he will retain his left-back spot. "(He's) played very well," Mourinho added of Shaw. "He was already improving and playing well when I started playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League, he was coming step by step and now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match - good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding much better the game and what we need in different phases and circumstances. "I'm really happy. You like the transfer market, I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw."

Burnley 0 Man Utd 1: Anthony Martial scores again as United show winning mentality to grind out result

Life is about to change for Manchester United’s attacking talent when at last Alexis Sanchez arrives at Old Trafford to share goalscoring responsibilities, but in the meantime they delivered their manager Jose Mourinho a crucial third consecutive win at one of the Premier League’s most hostile outposts. This was Turf Moor in full cry, with Sean Dyche berating the officials and goalkeeper Nick Pope dispatched into the away team’s penalty area for the last corner of the game to test United’s nerve one final time as they defended a lead given to them by Anthony Martial. United are buying Sanchez to make days like these a little easier, but it should also be noted that in their four games of 2018, United are yet to concede a goal to anyone. Afterwards, Mourinho said that Sanchez’s arrival was “so close, so close, so close” and he may well even be in the side to play Yeovil Town in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday or, failing that, away to Tottenham Hotspur the following Wednesday. For Martial, as well as Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, there will be a powerful new attacking force in the side and it may well mean that standards are raised all round. Not that there was much wrong with United at Turf Moor after a first half in which they were corralled by Burnley. They struck nine minutes after the break when the centre-halves Ben Mee and James Tarkowski allowed Lukaku to break through in the middle of the pitch. Dyche’s two centre-halves did little else wrong all game but Lukaku switched the ball left to Martial and his finish, wrong-footing Pope, was the game’s moment of defining quality. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) Mourinho is still trying to frame the argument that his attacking options are all but run out, declaring that now there is “no competition for places” and listing his injury absentees including Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the reason that the club are undertaking such an enormous investment. The questions over the money paid to Sanchez and his agent, as well as Arsenal, will inevitably come and Mourinho is preparing the ground in that respect. “We look to the attacking areas and we need that extra competitive internal competition and more solutions for us,” the United manager said. “I expect [the Sanchez transfer to be completed] soon or never. I think is so close, so close, so close that if it doesn't happen [now] it's not going to happen so I am positive, I know my people is doing everything they can, the owners with the green light, Mr [Ed] Woodward and Matt Judge [head of corporate development, with responsibility for contracts] working hard and everybody is giving everything they can and I think they are going to be successful.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? For Dyche, there was praise for his side that ran United very close but also regrets about falling the wrong side of many of referee Mike Dean’s decisions, including a penalty appeal for substitute Sam Vokes. “That was one of about three thousand but that was the main one,” Dyche said. “But I will stick to that one. The margins are tight in refereeing decisions, it’s always a tricky one.” Dyche felt that Paul Pogba had walked a fine line, pulling the shirt of Jack Cork and then kicking the ball away but escaping a booking on that occasion before later picking one up for fouling the same opponent. “I don’t want players to be sent off by the way, make sure you put that, because I think some of the rules are crazy… but over 90 minutes if you are not getting the right side and there was a lot that went against us, they can all add up.” Jose Mourinho gestures on the touchline Credit: Getty images Burnley pushed hard in the closing stages with Vokes, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and finally Nahki Wells sent on to attack United, even so it took an excellent one-handed stop from Pope to stop a shot from Martial on the breakaway. Dyche would not be drawn on the interest in signing Aaron Lennon from Everton but let it be known that Burnley would not be signing anyone on wages of £100,000-a-week. At the centre of United’s defence, Phil Jones was excellent and at left-back Ashley Young was back in the team ahead of Luke Shaw. The Englishman had been picked for the last five games, and on Friday Mourinho let it be known that Shaw that he was one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. On Saturday he dropped him. After conceding, Burnley came closest when Johann Berg Gudmundsson hit a free-kick that clipped David De Gea’s bar and later a ball from the Icelander ran across the United goalmouth after Lukaku had lost possession. By the next time United play, the likelihood is that they will be that much more formidable. 4:59PM They scraped it, but credit where credit's due United didn't set the world alight here but Tony Martial's strike early in the second half was a worthy winner of this otherwise pretty dull affair. Burnley only truly got going after that goal and in truth they didn't ever look like scoring. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling defended brilliantly, and dealt with the aerial bombardment valiantly. A hard-earned three points for Mourinho's men. 4:56PM Full time United clear once, twice, three times, it's really, really great defending, and they hold on! United take a far from pretty but still crucial three points back to Manchester. 4:55PM 90 mins +5 Fellaini tries a ludicrous flick and gives possession back to Burnley. They launch an attack and have one last chance from a corner. Everyone is up. Pop included. 4:54PM 90 mins +4  Valencia is felled and takes a good 30 seconds to get back to his feet. Top notch game management, this. 4:52PM 90 mins +2 Lukaku is well positioned again to clear. The ball back in from Defour causes mayhem in the box, but United stand firm and scramble is clear. Nkoudou brings it back towards goal but is brought down by Rashford.  Gudmundsson whips in the free-kick but Vokes heads over.  United replace Martial with Herrera to eat up some valuable seconds. 4:51PM 90 mins +1 Taylor wins a corner. Load the box. 4:50PM 90 mins Pogba feeds Rashford, but Taylor gets back to shut him out well. FIVE minutes added on. Can Burnley find an equaliser? 4:49PM 89 mins Final sub for Burnley as Nakhi wells replaces Ashley Barnes. 4:47PM 87 mins Martial goes flying towards goal, jinks onto his left and then stings Pope's fingers with a fierce shot. Well hit, decent save. 4:46PM 85 mins Good build-up from Burnley ends with a cross that Vokes can't quite get on the end of, but Smalling heads behind for a corner. Gudmundsson takes it, and Vokes shows great strength to beat Fellaini to the cross even though he is clearly having his shirt pulled - but he can only head wide. Vokes suggests to Mike Dean that he could have had a penalty there, but the ref isn't interested. Miss: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Sam Vokes, 85 min) 4:43PM 84 mins Some nice intricate play from United to get into the Burnley box, and Martial nearly finishes it off but can't quite escape the grasp of Ben Mee. 4:41PM 81 mins Matic has just had the worst shot ever. Very nearly went for a throw-in. Out: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Nemanja Matic, 81 min) Sam Vokes and Spurs loanee Georges-Kevin Nkoudou come on for Arfield and Hendrick for the hosts. 4:39PM 80 mins Rashford replaces Lingard for the final 10 minutes. 4:39PM 79 mins Martial is too slow to get his head up, then his pass to put in Lingard is at him, rather than ahead of him, allowing Mee to get back and block the shot. 4:37PM 77 mins Defour puts the ball into the box, Barnes heads at goal, but he gets too much on it when it just needed a glance and he puts it well wide. 4:36PM 76 mins Cynical take-down from Matic on Arfield. Yellow card. 4:35PM 15 minutes to go Burnley still very much in this one. Plenty of time for an equaliser, but United are a threat on the counter. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 4:32PM 71 mins The corner finds Mee at the back post, who powers a header across goal but Lukaku is really well placed to clear.  Burnley come again, with Gudmundsson played in on the right, and his low ball across the face of goal is just to far ahead of Arfield at the back post. Replays show Smalling got a crucial touch. Mourinho responds to the Burnley onslaught by replacing little, harmless Juan Mata with big, scary Marouane Fellaini. Seems a wise move. 4:30PM 69 mins Pogba stops Cork in his tracks and earns himself a yellow. The big men plod forward with the ball about to be launched into the box. It's played short to Defour, who whips at goal from more of an angle than the central free-kick had allowed. Mee stoops to head at goal, and his looping header is tipped over for a corner.  4:27PM 67 mins Jones nips in to intercept a poor pass and launch a United counter. He feeds Martial, who plays inside to Lukaku but Mee gets enough of a block to turn the shot away from goal.  Bardsley is booked for a late challenge on Smalling. 4:25PM 64 mins What a challenge from Tarkowski with Lukaku bearing down on goal. He gets a toe in at the very last opportunity and denies Lukaku a clear sight of goal. 4:19PM 59 mins Burnley have livened up now. A cross into the box finds Arfield, who heads at goal and it hits Smalling - the whole ground wants a penalty for handball, but Mike Dean says a firm 'no'. 4:17PM Off the bar! It's Gudmundsson in fact who takes the free-kick, left-footed, and he beats the wall, and seems to have beaten De Gea, too. The United keeper stands and stares as the ball cannons off the top of his crossbar and away to safety. So close! Post: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Johann Berg Gudmundsson, 57 min) 4:16PM 57 mins Burnley have a chance with Mata giving away a free-kick right on the edge of the United box. United know all about Defour's ability from here. The Belgian stands over it. 4:15PM GOOOOOALL!!  Martial puts United ahead! Finally United have a shot on target and with it they have a goal! Lukaku gets the ball in an inside right position on the break and has Martial in support on the left. He takes an age to get the ball under control and eventually finds the Frenchman in space. Martial opens his body up but shoots towards the near post top corner and completely befuddles Pope, firing into the net off the underside of the bar. What a finish. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) 4:13PM 54 mins The game looks to be opening up up a little now with the sides exchanging counter-attacks and the volume in Turf Moor rising accordingly.  4:12PM 52 mins United get into a decent position down the left, Mata's drilled cross is deflected behind for a corner. Burnley clear/ 4:08PM 48 mins So nearly a chance! But there isn't one. Lingard looks to wind one up after coming in off the left but is tackled, before Lukaku lifts his leg to shoot, but is crowded out.  4:04PM The players are back out Please, please, please can we have something else this half, guys? Burnley get the second half started. 0-0 half time here. Burnley vs Man Utd. Best thing so far has been the performance at HT of @seanruane reminded me of Italia 90...��������— Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton) January 20, 2018 4:03PM Michael Carrick is with the away fans at Turf Moor Credit: Getty images 3:51PM Half time I've seen some bad United games under Mourinho but this has to be up there with the worst first half of his reign. So little imagination, so little ambition, so little penetration. Just terrible. Burnley started well enough and there was the odd bright moment for both teams but nothing to at all to get excited about. There were a lot of over-hit crosses... So, so many over-hit crosses. I've had enough. Hopefully we see something completely, utterly, totally different after the break. Please. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal Average touch positions (half time) 3:47PM 45 mins Just one minute to be added on. 3:46PM 42 mins Best chance of the game for United and it's all of Young's making. He looks like he has absolutely nothing on in a wide left position, but in the blink of an eye he nutmegs Gudmundsson and is into the box.  Still very wide but running to straight at goal to shape to cross, he opens his body up and bends an effort at the far corner, but just doesn't get around it enough, and it goes wide. Unlucky, but still no shot on target for United. Miss: Burnley 0 - 0 Man Utd (Ashley Young, 42 min) 3:43PM 40 mins Hendrick advances well, and gets into the United box. He tries to feed Arfield but Smalling gets there to snuff it out and clear. 3:38PM 36 mins What a ball from Lingard out to Martial in space on the left. He drives at Bardsley, and looks to have him in the perfect position, backtracking towards his own goal. A confident, in-form Martial goes flying past a full-back there; this one stumbles, delays and shoots straight into Bardsley. The chance goes. 3:36PM 34 mins Possession: Burnley vs Man Utd More possession for United so far, but they aren't doing enough with it. 3:34PM 31 mins Mee catching Lingard late, and it doesn't look too bad on first viewing but the United man has stayed down as play goes on, before the ball is eventually put out of play. The Burnley skipper gets a slightly harsh yellow card for his trouble. 3:32PM 29 mins Biggest cheer of the afternoon as Martial chases down Pogba's over-hit pass, can't get to it, and falls over the advertising hoardings. 3:31PM 28 mins Burnley's best chance of the game, as Mee heads over from a very good position from a corner. Should do better. 3:30PM 27 mins Both teams are moving the ball well enough and creating opportunities in wide areas, but neither has been able to penetrate the narrow defence they are facing.  Antonio Valencia sends a cross over everyone and out for a goal kick. Point made. 3:28PM 25 mins Bored as the rest of us, Jose?  There's not been much excitement at Turf Moor Credit: Reuters Hendrick fires harmlessly wide from a frankly ludicrous position on the half volley, against one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.   3:24PM 21 mins Pogba tries a very ambitious ball over the extremely deep Burnley defence, Lukaku - quite reasonably - can't get anywhere near it, and Pogba gestures at his team-mate that he should be quicker onto it. Not sure about that one, Pogs. 3:21PM 18 mins Pogba is everywhere for United. He goes charging onto a ball on the left and cuts back for Martial in the centre - how/when has he seen that that pass was on?! - but Martial's shot is deflected wide.  The corner comes to nothing. 3:17PM 14 mins Burnley race up the other end with Gudmundsson cutting in from the right and shooting low at goal left-footed, but that's easy for De Gea. 3:16PM 13 mins First shot of the game for United comes from a lovely disguised, dinked pass over the defence from Young for Pogba who has gone tip-toeing into the Burnley box. It's a really tough chance, but he tries to poke it at goal as it comes dropping over his shoulder and can't keep it down. 3:15PM 12 mins Burnley having the slightly better of this one so far. Very early days, though, of course. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 3:11PM 8 mins And quickly after Pogba gives possession away inside his own half, Burnley spring into action and Defour finds Hendrick, who slips Barnes in  but he has Jones for company and the United defender does enough to put him off. Hendrick's follow up is tame and straight at De Gea. 3:09PM 7 mins This. Is. Burnley. A long, raking ball from a free-kick in their own half finds Tarkowski at the back post, and he nods back across goal but there's no team-mate close enough to get on the end of it. A first bit of excitement for the home fans. 3:07PM 5 mins Lukaku has a few times already come off the Burnley defence to drop into a good position and bring midfielders into play. This time the ball makes its way out to Martial on the left but his cross is poor and Pope claims well. 3:05PM 2 mins An early warning for Burnley, who look surprisingly and pretty worryingly open very early on. Pogba, Lukaku and Lingard combine but the latter's cross is overhit. 3:00PM Here come the players United are in that horrible grey away kit; Burnley in the usual claret and blue. Cyril Regis, a pioneer, a trailblazer and a wonderful footballer, passed away this week, and there will be a minute's silence before kick off. 2:57PM Kick off approaches Can Burnley further dent United's hopes of finishing second? The players will be out on the pitch shortly. 2:43PM Last time they met With this weekend the reverse fixtures of the Boxing Day lineup, these two teams meet for the second time in four weeks. Then, Burnley very nearly escaped from Old Trafford with all three points, but only ended up with one. Having gone into a two goal lead, Jesse Lingard was United's hero, scoring two second half goals to rescue a 2-2 draw. It was the third time in these sides' five meetings since Burnley returned to the top flight that Sean Dyche's men had taken points off United. I wouldn't be surprised if they did so again today. Steven Defour scored a stunning free-kick in the draw when these sides met at Old Trafford on Boxing Day Credit: Getty images 2:19PM Reasons for United to be optimistic #OnThisDay 22 years ago @ManUtd were 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind leaders Newcastle after 23 matches, before going on to win the title in May... They currently sit 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind #PL leaders Man City after 23 games �� pic.twitter.com/688wLHwgiV— Premier League (@premierleague) January 20, 2018 2:10PM How Burnley line up They make one change to the side that lost to Palace last weekend with Scott Arfield returning. Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Cork, Defour,  Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Arfield, Barnes. Subs: Lowton, Nkoudou,  Westwood, Wells, Lindegaard, Long, Vokes.   TEAM NEWS: Here's your Clarets team to face @ManUtd at Turf Moor today. pic.twitter.com/g0pCISaxNK— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) January 20, 2018 2:09PM United line up confirmed As revealed by Sam Wallace, there's no place for Shaw while Martial starts alongside Lukaku. United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Pogba,  Matic, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Rojo, Rashford,  Romero, Ander Herrera, Shaw, Fellaini, McTominay.  The team news is in, #MUFC fans! Here's your starting XI to take on Burnley in today's @PremierLeague game. #BURMUNpic.twitter.com/tJEcZgQkER— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 20, 2018 2:02PM Shaw left out by Mourinho We have breaking news from our chief football writer Sam Wallace at Turf Moor: Luke Shaw has been left out of Manchester United’s starting XI to face Burnley today by Jose Mourinho, having started the last five games in a row for the club. It will be Ashley Young, back after suspension, who starts in place of Shaw at left-back the older man’s first action since he played in the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Dec 30. Shaw, who is on the bench, has struggled to make an impression on the United first team this season, only playing his first games in the EFL Cup ties in September and October. He has made just ten appearances for the club this season, although his recent form has led to suggestions that Shaw could break back into the England squad in time for the World Cup finals this summer. Mourinho has praised the 22-year-old in recent weeks describing the player as one of the best in his position in the league. Mourinho said: “I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw. “He had played very well. He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time he was coming step by step, and now with a good run of matches and continuity, he is solid.  "Physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. I'm really happy.” 1:44PM United still wait on Sanchez Manchester United travel to Burnley without Alexis Sanchez as a deal for the Chilean has not yet been signed off. United were unable to complete the formalities of Sanchez's switch from Arsenal by the midday deadline yesterday in order for him to be available to make his debut at Turf Moor this afternoon. Henrikh Mkhitaryan isn't included in United's squad as negotiations over his switch to Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was also left out of the squad that faced Stoke on Monday due to the uncertainty over his future. Both Mkhitaryan and Sanchez trained with their respective sides on Friday. Though Jose Mourinho has ruled out Mkhitaryan at Burnley, he does have Ashley Young back from suspension. However, his glowing reference of Luke Shaw, who has started the past successive five games - his longest run in Mourinho's time at the club, suggests he will retain his left-back spot. "(He's) played very well," Mourinho added of Shaw. "He was already improving and playing well when I started playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League, he was coming step by step and now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match - good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding much better the game and what we need in different phases and circumstances. "I'm really happy. You like the transfer market, I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw."

Burnley 0 Man Utd 1: Anthony Martial scores again as United show winning mentality to grind out result

Life is about to change for Manchester United’s attacking talent when at last Alexis Sanchez arrives at Old Trafford to share goalscoring responsibilities, but in the meantime they delivered their manager Jose Mourinho a crucial third consecutive win at one of the Premier League’s most hostile outposts. This was Turf Moor in full cry, with Sean Dyche berating the officials and goalkeeper Nick Pope dispatched into the away team’s penalty area for the last corner of the game to test United’s nerve one final time as they defended a lead given to them by Anthony Martial. United are buying Sanchez to make days like these a little easier, but it should also be noted that in their four games of 2018, United are yet to concede a goal to anyone. Afterwards, Mourinho said that Sanchez’s arrival was “so close, so close, so close” and he may well even be in the side to play Yeovil Town in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday or, failing that, away to Tottenham Hotspur the following Wednesday. For Martial, as well as Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, there will be a powerful new attacking force in the side and it may well mean that standards are raised all round. Not that there was much wrong with United at Turf Moor after a first half in which they were corralled by Burnley. They struck nine minutes after the break when the centre-halves Ben Mee and James Tarkowski allowed Lukaku to break through in the middle of the pitch. Dyche’s two centre-halves did little else wrong all game but Lukaku switched the ball left to Martial and his finish, wrong-footing Pope, was the game’s moment of defining quality. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) Mourinho is still trying to frame the argument that his attacking options are all but run out, declaring that now there is “no competition for places” and listing his injury absentees including Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the reason that the club are undertaking such an enormous investment. The questions over the money paid to Sanchez and his agent, as well as Arsenal, will inevitably come and Mourinho is preparing the ground in that respect. “We look to the attacking areas and we need that extra competitive internal competition and more solutions for us,” the United manager said. “I expect [the Sanchez transfer to be completed] soon or never. I think is so close, so close, so close that if it doesn't happen [now] it's not going to happen so I am positive, I know my people is doing everything they can, the owners with the green light, Mr [Ed] Woodward and Matt Judge [head of corporate development, with responsibility for contracts] working hard and everybody is giving everything they can and I think they are going to be successful.” How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? For Dyche, there was praise for his side that ran United very close but also regrets about falling the wrong side of many of referee Mike Dean’s decisions, including a penalty appeal for substitute Sam Vokes. “That was one of about three thousand but that was the main one,” Dyche said. “But I will stick to that one. The margins are tight in refereeing decisions, it’s always a tricky one.” Dyche felt that Paul Pogba had walked a fine line, pulling the shirt of Jack Cork and then kicking the ball away but escaping a booking on that occasion before later picking one up for fouling the same opponent. “I don’t want players to be sent off by the way, make sure you put that, because I think some of the rules are crazy… but over 90 minutes if you are not getting the right side and there was a lot that went against us, they can all add up.” Jose Mourinho gestures on the touchline Credit: Getty images Burnley pushed hard in the closing stages with Vokes, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and finally Nahki Wells sent on to attack United, even so it took an excellent one-handed stop from Pope to stop a shot from Martial on the breakaway. Dyche would not be drawn on the interest in signing Aaron Lennon from Everton but let it be known that Burnley would not be signing anyone on wages of £100,000-a-week. At the centre of United’s defence, Phil Jones was excellent and at left-back Ashley Young was back in the team ahead of Luke Shaw. The Englishman had been picked for the last five games, and on Friday Mourinho let it be known that Shaw that he was one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. On Saturday he dropped him. After conceding, Burnley came closest when Johann Berg Gudmundsson hit a free-kick that clipped David De Gea’s bar and later a ball from the Icelander ran across the United goalmouth after Lukaku had lost possession. By the next time United play, the likelihood is that they will be that much more formidable. 4:59PM They scraped it, but credit where credit's due United didn't set the world alight here but Tony Martial's strike early in the second half was a worthy winner of this otherwise pretty dull affair. Burnley only truly got going after that goal and in truth they didn't ever look like scoring. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling defended brilliantly, and dealt with the aerial bombardment valiantly. A hard-earned three points for Mourinho's men. 4:56PM Full time United clear once, twice, three times, it's really, really great defending, and they hold on! United take a far from pretty but still crucial three points back to Manchester. 4:55PM 90 mins +5 Fellaini tries a ludicrous flick and gives possession back to Burnley. They launch an attack and have one last chance from a corner. Everyone is up. Pop included. 4:54PM 90 mins +4  Valencia is felled and takes a good 30 seconds to get back to his feet. Top notch game management, this. 4:52PM 90 mins +2 Lukaku is well positioned again to clear. The ball back in from Defour causes mayhem in the box, but United stand firm and scramble is clear. Nkoudou brings it back towards goal but is brought down by Rashford.  Gudmundsson whips in the free-kick but Vokes heads over.  United replace Martial with Herrera to eat up some valuable seconds. 4:51PM 90 mins +1 Taylor wins a corner. Load the box. 4:50PM 90 mins Pogba feeds Rashford, but Taylor gets back to shut him out well. FIVE minutes added on. Can Burnley find an equaliser? 4:49PM 89 mins Final sub for Burnley as Nakhi wells replaces Ashley Barnes. 4:47PM 87 mins Martial goes flying towards goal, jinks onto his left and then stings Pope's fingers with a fierce shot. Well hit, decent save. 4:46PM 85 mins Good build-up from Burnley ends with a cross that Vokes can't quite get on the end of, but Smalling heads behind for a corner. Gudmundsson takes it, and Vokes shows great strength to beat Fellaini to the cross even though he is clearly having his shirt pulled - but he can only head wide. Vokes suggests to Mike Dean that he could have had a penalty there, but the ref isn't interested. Miss: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Sam Vokes, 85 min) 4:43PM 84 mins Some nice intricate play from United to get into the Burnley box, and Martial nearly finishes it off but can't quite escape the grasp of Ben Mee. 4:41PM 81 mins Matic has just had the worst shot ever. Very nearly went for a throw-in. Out: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Nemanja Matic, 81 min) Sam Vokes and Spurs loanee Georges-Kevin Nkoudou come on for Arfield and Hendrick for the hosts. 4:39PM 80 mins Rashford replaces Lingard for the final 10 minutes. 4:39PM 79 mins Martial is too slow to get his head up, then his pass to put in Lingard is at him, rather than ahead of him, allowing Mee to get back and block the shot. 4:37PM 77 mins Defour puts the ball into the box, Barnes heads at goal, but he gets too much on it when it just needed a glance and he puts it well wide. 4:36PM 76 mins Cynical take-down from Matic on Arfield. Yellow card. 4:35PM 15 minutes to go Burnley still very much in this one. Plenty of time for an equaliser, but United are a threat on the counter. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 4:32PM 71 mins The corner finds Mee at the back post, who powers a header across goal but Lukaku is really well placed to clear.  Burnley come again, with Gudmundsson played in on the right, and his low ball across the face of goal is just to far ahead of Arfield at the back post. Replays show Smalling got a crucial touch. Mourinho responds to the Burnley onslaught by replacing little, harmless Juan Mata with big, scary Marouane Fellaini. Seems a wise move. 4:30PM 69 mins Pogba stops Cork in his tracks and earns himself a yellow. The big men plod forward with the ball about to be launched into the box. It's played short to Defour, who whips at goal from more of an angle than the central free-kick had allowed. Mee stoops to head at goal, and his looping header is tipped over for a corner.  4:27PM 67 mins Jones nips in to intercept a poor pass and launch a United counter. He feeds Martial, who plays inside to Lukaku but Mee gets enough of a block to turn the shot away from goal.  Bardsley is booked for a late challenge on Smalling. 4:25PM 64 mins What a challenge from Tarkowski with Lukaku bearing down on goal. He gets a toe in at the very last opportunity and denies Lukaku a clear sight of goal. 4:19PM 59 mins Burnley have livened up now. A cross into the box finds Arfield, who heads at goal and it hits Smalling - the whole ground wants a penalty for handball, but Mike Dean says a firm 'no'. 4:17PM Off the bar! It's Gudmundsson in fact who takes the free-kick, left-footed, and he beats the wall, and seems to have beaten De Gea, too. The United keeper stands and stares as the ball cannons off the top of his crossbar and away to safety. So close! Post: Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Johann Berg Gudmundsson, 57 min) 4:16PM 57 mins Burnley have a chance with Mata giving away a free-kick right on the edge of the United box. United know all about Defour's ability from here. The Belgian stands over it. 4:15PM GOOOOOALL!!  Martial puts United ahead! Finally United have a shot on target and with it they have a goal! Lukaku gets the ball in an inside right position on the break and has Martial in support on the left. He takes an age to get the ball under control and eventually finds the Frenchman in space. Martial opens his body up but shoots towards the near post top corner and completely befuddles Pope, firing into the net off the underside of the bar. What a finish. Burnley 0 - 1 Man Utd (Anthony Martial, 54 min) 4:13PM 54 mins The game looks to be opening up up a little now with the sides exchanging counter-attacks and the volume in Turf Moor rising accordingly.  4:12PM 52 mins United get into a decent position down the left, Mata's drilled cross is deflected behind for a corner. Burnley clear/ 4:08PM 48 mins So nearly a chance! But there isn't one. Lingard looks to wind one up after coming in off the left but is tackled, before Lukaku lifts his leg to shoot, but is crowded out.  4:04PM The players are back out Please, please, please can we have something else this half, guys? Burnley get the second half started. 0-0 half time here. Burnley vs Man Utd. Best thing so far has been the performance at HT of @seanruane reminded me of Italia 90...��������— Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton) January 20, 2018 4:03PM Michael Carrick is with the away fans at Turf Moor Credit: Getty images 3:51PM Half time I've seen some bad United games under Mourinho but this has to be up there with the worst first half of his reign. So little imagination, so little ambition, so little penetration. Just terrible. Burnley started well enough and there was the odd bright moment for both teams but nothing to at all to get excited about. There were a lot of over-hit crosses... So, so many over-hit crosses. I've had enough. Hopefully we see something completely, utterly, totally different after the break. Please. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal Average touch positions (half time) 3:47PM 45 mins Just one minute to be added on. 3:46PM 42 mins Best chance of the game for United and it's all of Young's making. He looks like he has absolutely nothing on in a wide left position, but in the blink of an eye he nutmegs Gudmundsson and is into the box.  Still very wide but running to straight at goal to shape to cross, he opens his body up and bends an effort at the far corner, but just doesn't get around it enough, and it goes wide. Unlucky, but still no shot on target for United. Miss: Burnley 0 - 0 Man Utd (Ashley Young, 42 min) 3:43PM 40 mins Hendrick advances well, and gets into the United box. He tries to feed Arfield but Smalling gets there to snuff it out and clear. 3:38PM 36 mins What a ball from Lingard out to Martial in space on the left. He drives at Bardsley, and looks to have him in the perfect position, backtracking towards his own goal. A confident, in-form Martial goes flying past a full-back there; this one stumbles, delays and shoots straight into Bardsley. The chance goes. 3:36PM 34 mins Possession: Burnley vs Man Utd More possession for United so far, but they aren't doing enough with it. 3:34PM 31 mins Mee catching Lingard late, and it doesn't look too bad on first viewing but the United man has stayed down as play goes on, before the ball is eventually put out of play. The Burnley skipper gets a slightly harsh yellow card for his trouble. 3:32PM 29 mins Biggest cheer of the afternoon as Martial chases down Pogba's over-hit pass, can't get to it, and falls over the advertising hoardings. 3:31PM 28 mins Burnley's best chance of the game, as Mee heads over from a very good position from a corner. Should do better. 3:30PM 27 mins Both teams are moving the ball well enough and creating opportunities in wide areas, but neither has been able to penetrate the narrow defence they are facing.  Antonio Valencia sends a cross over everyone and out for a goal kick. Point made. 3:28PM 25 mins Bored as the rest of us, Jose?  There's not been much excitement at Turf Moor Credit: Reuters Hendrick fires harmlessly wide from a frankly ludicrous position on the half volley, against one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.   3:24PM 21 mins Pogba tries a very ambitious ball over the extremely deep Burnley defence, Lukaku - quite reasonably - can't get anywhere near it, and Pogba gestures at his team-mate that he should be quicker onto it. Not sure about that one, Pogs. 3:21PM 18 mins Pogba is everywhere for United. He goes charging onto a ball on the left and cuts back for Martial in the centre - how/when has he seen that that pass was on?! - but Martial's shot is deflected wide.  The corner comes to nothing. 3:17PM 14 mins Burnley race up the other end with Gudmundsson cutting in from the right and shooting low at goal left-footed, but that's easy for De Gea. 3:16PM 13 mins First shot of the game for United comes from a lovely disguised, dinked pass over the defence from Young for Pogba who has gone tip-toeing into the Burnley box. It's a really tough chance, but he tries to poke it at goal as it comes dropping over his shoulder and can't keep it down. 3:15PM 12 mins Burnley having the slightly better of this one so far. Very early days, though, of course. Burnley vs Man Utd shots on goal 3:11PM 8 mins And quickly after Pogba gives possession away inside his own half, Burnley spring into action and Defour finds Hendrick, who slips Barnes in  but he has Jones for company and the United defender does enough to put him off. Hendrick's follow up is tame and straight at De Gea. 3:09PM 7 mins This. Is. Burnley. A long, raking ball from a free-kick in their own half finds Tarkowski at the back post, and he nods back across goal but there's no team-mate close enough to get on the end of it. A first bit of excitement for the home fans. 3:07PM 5 mins Lukaku has a few times already come off the Burnley defence to drop into a good position and bring midfielders into play. This time the ball makes its way out to Martial on the left but his cross is poor and Pope claims well. 3:05PM 2 mins An early warning for Burnley, who look surprisingly and pretty worryingly open very early on. Pogba, Lukaku and Lingard combine but the latter's cross is overhit. 3:00PM Here come the players United are in that horrible grey away kit; Burnley in the usual claret and blue. Cyril Regis, a pioneer, a trailblazer and a wonderful footballer, passed away this week, and there will be a minute's silence before kick off. 2:57PM Kick off approaches Can Burnley further dent United's hopes of finishing second? The players will be out on the pitch shortly. 2:43PM Last time they met With this weekend the reverse fixtures of the Boxing Day lineup, these two teams meet for the second time in four weeks. Then, Burnley very nearly escaped from Old Trafford with all three points, but only ended up with one. Having gone into a two goal lead, Jesse Lingard was United's hero, scoring two second half goals to rescue a 2-2 draw. It was the third time in these sides' five meetings since Burnley returned to the top flight that Sean Dyche's men had taken points off United. I wouldn't be surprised if they did so again today. Steven Defour scored a stunning free-kick in the draw when these sides met at Old Trafford on Boxing Day Credit: Getty images 2:19PM Reasons for United to be optimistic #OnThisDay 22 years ago @ManUtd were 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind leaders Newcastle after 23 matches, before going on to win the title in May... They currently sit 1️⃣2️⃣ points behind #PL leaders Man City after 23 games �� pic.twitter.com/688wLHwgiV— Premier League (@premierleague) January 20, 2018 2:10PM How Burnley line up They make one change to the side that lost to Palace last weekend with Scott Arfield returning. Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Cork, Defour,  Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Arfield, Barnes. Subs: Lowton, Nkoudou,  Westwood, Wells, Lindegaard, Long, Vokes.   TEAM NEWS: Here's your Clarets team to face @ManUtd at Turf Moor today. pic.twitter.com/g0pCISaxNK— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) January 20, 2018 2:09PM United line up confirmed As revealed by Sam Wallace, there's no place for Shaw while Martial starts alongside Lukaku. United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Pogba,  Matic, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Rojo, Rashford,  Romero, Ander Herrera, Shaw, Fellaini, McTominay.  The team news is in, #MUFC fans! Here's your starting XI to take on Burnley in today's @PremierLeague game. #BURMUNpic.twitter.com/tJEcZgQkER— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 20, 2018 2:02PM Shaw left out by Mourinho We have breaking news from our chief football writer Sam Wallace at Turf Moor: Luke Shaw has been left out of Manchester United’s starting XI to face Burnley today by Jose Mourinho, having started the last five games in a row for the club. It will be Ashley Young, back after suspension, who starts in place of Shaw at left-back the older man’s first action since he played in the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Dec 30. Shaw, who is on the bench, has struggled to make an impression on the United first team this season, only playing his first games in the EFL Cup ties in September and October. He has made just ten appearances for the club this season, although his recent form has led to suggestions that Shaw could break back into the England squad in time for the World Cup finals this summer. Mourinho has praised the 22-year-old in recent weeks describing the player as one of the best in his position in the league. Mourinho said: “I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw. “He had played very well. He was already improving and playing well when I start playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time he was coming step by step, and now with a good run of matches and continuity, he is solid.  "Physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding the game much better and what we need in different phases and circumstances. I'm really happy.” 1:44PM United still wait on Sanchez Manchester United travel to Burnley without Alexis Sanchez as a deal for the Chilean has not yet been signed off. United were unable to complete the formalities of Sanchez's switch from Arsenal by the midday deadline yesterday in order for him to be available to make his debut at Turf Moor this afternoon. Henrikh Mkhitaryan isn't included in United's squad as negotiations over his switch to Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was also left out of the squad that faced Stoke on Monday due to the uncertainty over his future. Both Mkhitaryan and Sanchez trained with their respective sides on Friday. Though Jose Mourinho has ruled out Mkhitaryan at Burnley, he does have Ashley Young back from suspension. However, his glowing reference of Luke Shaw, who has started the past successive five games - his longest run in Mourinho's time at the club, suggests he will retain his left-back spot. "(He's) played very well," Mourinho added of Shaw. "He was already improving and playing well when I started playing him after that long spell without minutes. I remember the first time, in the Champions League, he was coming step by step and now with a good run of matches and continuity also, playing like he did against Everton two days after a previous match - good, solid, physically much better, mentally much stronger, tactically understanding much better the game and what we need in different phases and circumstances. "I'm really happy. You like the transfer market, I can say that in this moment I don't see many left-backs better than this Luke Shaw."

Mourinho frustrated at Man United failure to 'kill' Burnley

The Red Devils held out for a narrow win at Turf Moor, but their coach felt they could have made life easier in the closing stages with another goal

Alexis Sanchez 'so close' to completing Man Utd transfer, says Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho declared Alexis Sanchez’s transfer to Manchester United “so close” to completion on Sunday with Arsene Wenger saying that the Chile striker had travelled north to complete the swap deal that will see Henrikh Mkhitaryan join Arsenal. After United’s 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor, with a goal from Anthony Martial, Mourinho said that he expected an announcement imminently. “I expect [the transfer to be completed] soon or never,” he said. “I think is so close, so close, so close that if it doesn't happen [now] it's not going to happen so I am positive, I know my people is doing everything they can, the owners with the green light, Mr [Ed] Woodward and Matt Judge [head of corporate development, with responsibility for contracts] working hard and everybody is giving everything they can and I think they are going to be successful.” Asked about the effect on his attacking players, Mourinho said: “We look to the attacking areas and we need that extra competitive internal competition and more solutions for us.” Mkhitaryan was not in the United squad. Wenger said that he considered including Sanchez in his squad that beat Crystal Palace 4-1, before the 29-year-old was given permission to end his three-and-a-half years at Arsenal. “I was tempted but I didn't take him because there is the question of him moving to Manchester United,” said Wenger. How would Alexis Sanchez fit in at Manchester United? “You cannot drive up north and as well play football. The next 48 hours will be decided one way or another. If you want to have a bet, it could happen. It happens only one way if the other way [Mkhitaryan] happens. It must be coordinated.” Arsenal are also ready to increase their bid for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after a first £45 million offer was rejected by Borussia Dortmund. Aubameyang has been left out of Dortmund’s last two Bundesliga matches amid concerns both at his focus and discipline but Arsenal will probably need to surpass their existing £52 million club record fee for Alexandre Lacazette to complete the deal. Where does Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit into Arsenal's grand plans? Dortmund want around £55 million [€60 million] for a striker who has scored 21 goals already this season in 23 games and has also scored at least 25 times in each of the past three seasons. Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke confirmed that Arsenal have made a bid following complaints that Wenger had acted disrespectfully on Thursday in answering a question about Aubameyang. “That [complaint] looks to be a tactical reaction rather than anything else – they are responsible for their own statements,” said Wenger. Asked if Olivier Giroud could be part of the Aubameyang deal, Wenger said: “No. We are nowhere near anything with Dortmund.”

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Martial and Alexis will be frightening combination for Man Utd

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