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Arsenal v Luton: Premier League – live

18 min: Arsenal are far from fluid. The Emirates crowd is a nervy one.

16 min: Ross Barkley glides past two challenges, draws the third and releases Clark down Luton’s left. Clark cuts the ball back when he should really have dribbled through the open space to the byline. Zinchenko cuts out the Clark pass.

14 min: Havertz has on a couple of occasions broken forward with the ball and checked back when he might have gone for goal. On each occasion the move has broken down as retreating Luton players have swarmed back.

11 min: A break in play while Kaboré breaks his fast for Ramadan. Both teams also take fluids on board.

8 min: Luton play out from the back and come unstuck. Havertz’s shot earns Arsenal a corner. Nobody has scored more from corners (13 goals) this season. Odegaard takes it short and sets up Zinchenko for a long rangers, but Doughty makes a great block!

6 min: Not a shock to see Luton go to a back five when they don’t have the ball. It will be up to Arsenal to find the half spaces and break down the low block. A big shift in tactics from Sunday.

4 min: Nelson looks up for it, lively coming in from Arsenal’s right wing. What an opportunity this is for him.

2 min: Cagey start from both sides. Gabriel is lucky to get a free kick when tussling with Morris. Could easily have gone the other way.

Peeeeeeeeeep! Peeeeeeeeeep! And we’re off at the Emirates.

Two more Luton players to highlight tonight.

Mpanzu starts. His is an amazing story if you don’t know.

Also: Christian Chigozie, who turned 16 just last month, is on the bench.

An email from Charles Antaki:

“Emile Smith Rowe! Excellent news for the Arsenal faithful, who still relish seeing another likeable Academy player make the grade, though admittedly time seems to be running out for this one. Reiss Nelson is a more difficult case to diagnose: he’s played more often, to be sure, but that’s just meant he’s been more visibly underwhelming more often (leaving aside his winning goal against Bournemouth last year). After Sunday’s 0-0 to the Arsenal, a chance for them both to shine against more biddable opposition. If not, the door outwards creaks open a little further.”

I’m not convinced that either will be sold in the summer, despite the strange FFP laws which seem to encourage the sales of home-grown players. Both ESR and Nelson are excellent squad options, and seem to be happy(ish) with their lot at the moment. The importance of a harmonious squad will not be lost on Arteta. I would expect Partey and possibly Vieira to leave before those two, but what do I know?

Should be pointed out to Arsenal fans that both Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are on Manchester City’s bench.

Arteta on Saka’s absence tonight.

This is not the only Premier League match going on tonight of course. I’ll keep you abreast of the action at Brentford v Brighton (also a 7.30pm BST kick-off) and then there is the small matter of Manchester City v Aston Villa, which has a later kick-off of 8.15pm BST. You can follow the latter here with Taha Hashim.

Hunky Rob Edwards, Luton’s manager, has been talking to the TNT cameras.

It’s difficult when you’re not getting results. We have unprecedented injuries. But confidence is high, considering. We want to compete tonight. We can never guarantee a result. We’re bare bones. Alfie Doughty is fit though, he has been a key player for us all season.

Edwards claimed in the lead up to tonight’s match that his side are missing 13 first-team players to injury. Eeeeesh.

Two players that must have been close to an England recall in the March friendlies were Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been in fine form for Milan (scoring at the weekend too) and Luton’s Ross Barkley, who has been sensational all season. Luton have a cracking chant for him, too, to the tune of Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t nobody’.

Ain’t nobody, like Ross Barkley …

It’s been a rough start to Luton life for Daiki Hashioka, who joined the club in January from Belgian side Sint-Truidense. The Japan international has lost all but one of his five Hatters matches so far, and the right back will likely have to battle Leandro Trossard tonight, with Gabriel Martinelli lurking on the bench. Here’s what he had to say before tonight’s match:

“I knew the standard of the Premier League would be very high before coming here but I am enjoying every minute of it. Although we’ve got lots of injuries, if we could win against Arsenal, it would give us a huge boost going into the next match against Bournemouth, so we need to keep our confidence high.”

The games comes thick and fast at this stage of the season. City was Sunday. Luton today. Brighton on Saturday. Bayern next Tuesday. Of all the games to rest Saka and Rice, this feels like the right one. Gunners fans will hope that the squad rotation doesn’t bite Arteta in his arse.

Meanwhile, in Turkey … ya Gunners yaaaaaaa.

Rice on the bench! No Saka in the squad! Smith Rowe makes his first start since January! Partey makes his first start since August! Nelson makes his first league start of the season! Now then!

Arsenal: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Odegaard, Partey, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Havertz, Trossard.
Subs: Ramsdale, Gabriel Jesus, Martinelli, Nketiah, Kiwior, Tomiyasu, Jorginho, Vieira, Rice.

Luton: Kaminski, Hashioka, Mengi, Kabore, Townsend, Mpanzu, Barkley, Doughty, Clark, Onyedinma, Morris.
Subs: Shea, Berry, Woodrow, Chong, Krul, Johnson, Nelson, Piesold, Chigozie.

With the possible exception of Sunday at the Etihad, every game feels must-win at the moment for Arsenal. And this feels like possibly the most winnable game of the season, at home to one of the weakest teams in the division, a struggling side who themselves are woefully out of form.

Equally, this is exactly the sort of game that Arsenal could fumble, just as they did last year. Almost exactly a year ago, Arsenal blew their title chances with three successive draws, twice blowing 2-0 away leads at Liverpool and West Ham, before a 3-3 home draw with a doomed Southampton side ended all hope of catching Manchester City.

The latter result feels pertinent here. Underestimate Luton, as Arsenal nearly did in the return fixture at Kenilworth Road in which Declan Rice scored an injury-time winner in a 4-3 win, and they have the smarts and the spirit to punish even the best sides.

Luton are on a rotten run of form – without a win since January – but in the intervening 10 matches have only lost by more than one goal on three occasions. They have been in most matches. It would be a surprise if Arsenal didn’t win this, but it would also be surprising if this was a walkover. Let’s see.

Kick-off: 7.30pm BST.

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