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Declan Rice has become Arsenal’s £105m game-winning machine after seizing occasion at Luton

Declan Rice rescues Arsenal and Raya with last-gasp winner at Luton – latest reaction
Declan Rice was once again the hero for Arsenal - Reuters/David Klein

Arsenal did not pay £105 million for Declan Rice so he could score last-minute winners. They bought him to mould games, rather than win them. But such is the midfielder’s sheer force of personality, and such is his taste for match-defining moments, that it seems there can be no stopping him when he decides to seize the occasion for his own.

When Rice struck the late winner against Manchester United earlier this season, he might have thought his season had peaked, in goalscoring terms at least. And yet this flicked header, in the final seconds of the most chaotic of encounters, at the most raucous of arenas, must have felt even sweeter.

The seventh goal of the night, scored in the 97th-minute: it does not get bigger than that, and players do not get bigger – in terms of influence and determination – than the man who now bestrides the Arsenal midfield.

For much of this season, Arsenal had been the Premier League’s masters of calm control. No drama, no fuss, no panic. And then they arrived at Kenilworth Road, a ground like no other in this division, and found themselves lurching around in a world of unwanted and unexpected chaos.

Before this trip up the road to Luton Town, Arsenal had conceded a total of three league goals away from home all season. Within 57 minutes of action here, that tally had been doubled. The league’s best defence suddenly looked like the most vulnerable, and the home side appeared to be feasting on the uncertainty in front of them.

The thing about chaos, though, is that it can be the most fun of all. Especially when it ends like this, with Mikel Arteta wheeling around in delight and the Arsenal players pouring towards the away end in a sea of flailing limbs. For Rice, especially, these are the moments that define a player’s standing at a club, and go a long way towards justifying that fee.

In truth, Rice was already worth the money – without the goals. For him to be adding these goals, on top of everything else, really is spoiling the Arsenal supporters, many of whom would have spent their night in fear over what Luton might do to their defence next.

The headlines will rightly focus on Rice but Luton’s part in this sensational evening of football should not be overlooked. Rob Edwards sent out his side with all the usual aggression and intensity, but also with real quality at key points of the game.

For Luton to score three times was a measure of their quality, even if the nature of their goals will prompt more uncomfortable questions for Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya. The Spaniard lost his cool, allowing himself to be out-jumped by Elijah Adebayo and then failing to save Ross Barkley’s low shot.

Adebayo’s goal was the second that Luton scored from a corner, following on from Gabriel Osho’s effort in the first half, and Arsenal were rattled at dead-ball situations. It was not a weakness they knew they had, and those goals came despite Arteta picking his tallest and strongest defence.

Raya
David Raya was at fault for two goals including this Adebayo header - Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

It says plenty, though, about Arsenal’s self-belief that they were still so devastating in attack despite the challenges of the occasion and the nature of the goals they conceded. Clearly, it takes more than three goals to keep this Arsenal side down. That will be a worrying thought for every other team in the title race.

Rice was joined on the scoresheet by Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz. There is so much firepower in this Arsenal team that there could easily have been goals for Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard, too.

These two teams had not met each other in any competition since 1991, and Arsenal arrived without a win here since 1984. It was only a short trip for Arteta’s side – Kenilworth Road is the same distance from their training ground as the Emirates Stadium – but it was still unfamiliar territory for the league leaders.

Luton, encouraged as ever by their supporters, were eager to make it as inhospitable a night as possible. Within 10 minutes of action, both Martinelli and Saka had been floored by painful challenges in their backs. A few minutes later, a set of Luton studs found a temporary home in the foot of Gabriel Magalhaes, the Arsenal defender.

This was the sort of challenge that Arsenal expected, but they surely did not expect the game to be so wild. When Martinelli converted Saka’s cross, they might have thought they would stroll to victory. But then Osho struck, before Adebayo and the excellent Barkley also found the net after half-time.

Before the second Luton goal, Jesus had put Arsenal back in front. His movement, and his header from Ben White’s cross, was a riposte to those who claim he is not a natural finisher.

There were five minutes between Arsenal’s opener and Luton’s first, and only three minutes between Luton’s third and Arsenal’s equaliser. In truth it was hard to make sense of it all as Jesus found Havertz in the box, and the German converted his third goal in four games. He is starting to come alive in an Arsenal shirt.

Edwards and Arteta are friends – a legacy of a coaching course they completed together – but there was no time for sympathy at the end, when Rice struck to send Arsenal into the most frenzied of celebrations.


Arteta lauds Arsenal’s quality in Luton win

Mikel Arteta hailed his Arsenal side’s “spirit, quality and courage” as they extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table with a thrilling victory over Luton Town.

“An incredible evening,” said the Arsenal manager. “Congratulations to Luton: their players, the staff, the atmosphere they created — it made it a special night to play football.

“They are so good at set pieces and they made us really fight for the game. At the end, it was a beautiful win.

“Credit to the opponent, they did really well and will cause problems to any team. It’s something we have to improve, conceding three goals from home makes life difficult.

“But the team showed spirit, quality and courage to go and go again. We never gave up and tried to the end. Big credit to the team, the way they go every three days is remarkable. Luton have been really unlucky with their results, they are well organised and they are a threat.”

Rice’s goal was his second late winner in an Arsenal shirt already this season, following a similarly dramatic strike against Manchester United in September.

“He had an incredible game again,” said Arteta of the club-record signing. “The leadership, the quality that he’s showing every week, every game it is getting better and better. And then in the opponent’s box, he’s got that ability and that smell to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Rice said Arsenal will not allow themselves to think of any of their opponents in this season’s title race. “We have to take every game as it comes,” he said. “They [Arsenal] were eight points clear last season. We have new players like me coming in and learning. It’s just about us and not worrying about anyone else and getting three points each week.”

Arteta was unwilling to talk about the individual performance of goalkeeper David Raya, who was at fault for two of Luton’s three goals. The errors will once again put the spotlight on the controversial goalkeeping situation at Arsenal, with Aaron Ramsdale remaining on the bench here.

Rob Edwards, the Luton manager, said his side’s performance against a team of Arsenal’s quality provided more reason to believe they can achieve “something special” this season.

“For a newly-promoted team to be fighting like we are and to show that quality…” he said. “We have a belief in this group, I believe in this group and with the spirit and fight we are showing we hope we can achieve something special.”


Arsenal’s last-gasp winner sends them five-points clear – as it happened


10:58 PM GMT

Winners are grinners

Declan Rice
Declan Rice was the match-winner tonight with his last-gasp header that allowed Arsenal to go five clear at the top of table - Getty Images/Julian Finney

10:56 PM GMT

Ross Barkley speaks to Amazon Prime Sport...

On the result and performance...

“We have positives to take from the game, we scored three against the top of the table. It was a killer to concede in the last minute. But got big game on Sunday [against Man City] so we need to be positive.”

On his goal and form...

“I am pleased and enjoying my football and being here.We’ve still got ways of improving and have to get a few wins but I am  enjoying my football.”

On confidence in the camp...

“Our confidence has been growing and today we put in a good performance. Hope well can win a few games in December and January when games come thick and fast.”

On Sunday’s game against City...

“We’ll go into the City game with the same mentality we had tonight. We’ve shown we can score against anyone in the league, we’ll will put this defeat behind us and go again on Sunday.”


10:47 PM GMT

Rob Edwards speaks to Amazon Prime Sport...

On Luton’s performance...

“Before the match we thought ‘lets have a go’.  Tactically we have to be better but we were brave tonight. [Arsenal] want order and we tried to make it chaotic. I am really flat for everyone but proud of them as well.”

On fact it doesn’t get any easier in the Premier League...

“No...arguably it gets tougher. But these are the games we wanted. But we’re giving memories for our supporters who have been through a lot.”

On what this match will give Luton...

“We go again, we have the belief and are growing in confidence. We wanted to make it uncomfortable for them, we have to use this place as a bit of a leveler and not give teams he games they want when they are here.”


10:43 PM GMT

Mikel Arteta speaks to Amazon Prime Sport

On the last-gasp win...

“I am so happy, I knew it would be a big battle, we made it hard for ourselves but our quality showed in the right moments and we were rewarded big time today.”

On conceding three goals...

“Sometimes you need to applaud the opponent and big credit to them. It was a tough night.”

On being asked about Raya’s errors...

“I am so happy with the team.”

On being pressed about Reya’s errors...

“They are all jumping. I am a really happy manager today.”

On the team’s character...

“You have to find a way to win. [We’ve won] six in a row and each found different ways to win.”

On Declan Rice...

“He has quality and aura about him.”


10:32 PM GMT

Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka speak to Amazon Prime Sport

Rice on the result...

“Luton are top side, they cannot be overlooked ion this league. They made us pay at set pieces. But for us to score last minute and win it is huge for us, to continue that momentum.”

Rice on the possibility of winning the title...

“We take it every game as it comes. There are so many good teams, anything can happen,  but we’ll look after ourselves and keep it going.”

Rice on his winner...

“We were knocking on the door, I went off his [Osho’s] back shoulder and attacked it, it went in the bottom corner. To be honest I am just taking it all in, What a game and honour to score the winner.”

Saka on the victory...

“This is not an easy place to come, we didn’t play our best tonight. Luton were direct, but we conceded two sets pieces but thought we controlled the game.”


10:23 PM GMT

Last-minute JOY for Arsenal


10:22 PM GMT

Another thing to mention is the goalkeeping issue at Arsenal...

...is far from over. Raya was at fault for two of the Luton goals and he looked far from solid while Ramsdale looked on, freezing cold sat on the sub’s bench.


10:21 PM GMT

Hard luck on Luton

Who if they play like that the rest of the season at home should be fine. They pressed, harried and fought well against Arteta’s side and were worth a draw. But in the end the pressure told and an fine cross from Odegaard, combined with Rice’s glancing header, did the trick for Arsenal.


10:18 PM GMT

FULL-TIME: Luton 3-4 Arsenal

Arsenal just found a way to win in the last minute of a fabulous match. Luton more than deserved a point but the visitors have a steel in them this season and they kept on going and via the head of Rice, who had a fairly quiet match, got the winner and three points to send them five points clear at the top of the table.


10:14 PM GMT

GOOOOOAAAAAALLLL!

Luton 3-4 Arsenal

They have done it thanks to the head of Rice...

There’s time for one last Arsenal attack and they all come forward for it. Zinchenko hits a free-kick towards the Luton box. Luton clear the initial danger before Odegaard gets his foot on the ball. He passes out to Zinchenko who gets it back to the Norwegian who wraps his boot around it into the box and Rice gets a jump on Osho and glances it into the net...

What a finish to this classic match.


10:12 PM GMT

93 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Another corner for Arsenal - can they grab a last-minute winner? Not from this set-piece they cannot as Mengi heads the cross away. Luton have defended well these past 25 minutes.


10:09 PM GMT

91 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Corner to Arsenal - but Luton clear the danger well.


10:08 PM GMT

88 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

There will be six minutes of added time. Plenty of time for either to win it, though, Arsenal are definitely more in the ascendancy at the moment.


10:04 PM GMT

86 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

More decent passing from the visitors ends with ZInchenko standing the ball up into the box and Havertz’s header is tipped over by Kaminski.

A minute later Trossard lets fly from distance and it just goes wide. Arsenal are certainly piling on the pressure now...


10:03 PM GMT

84 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Luton are repelling most of the Arsenal threats as they are increasingly under the cosh. They aren’t posing much of an attacking threat themselves and this, you suspect, will be a fraught last five or so minutes.


10:01 PM GMT

82 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Luton have, on the whole, defended well. Arsenal have tried this intricate, pass-you-to-death tactic in and around the box this evening but Luton haven’t dived in and held their shape well. That’s what they do here as Mengi stands up Trossard well and not chance comes the way of the Belgian after he’s played in by Havertz.


10:00 PM GMT

80 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Free-kick for Arsenal about 35 yards out. Odegaard stands over it and goes low to Jesus in the inside-left channel but Luton noticed the canny run and can snuff out the danger at source.


09:58 PM GMT

78 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

It’s another Arsenal corner - can they make this one count? Trossard cannot get the ball over the first man (criminal in football parlance, not in real life thank god...). But from there Arsenal pass the ball about before White crosses, finds Havertz’s head and it’s just too far for Trossard to turn the ball into the back of the net at the back post.


09:55 PM GMT

77 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Good little period this for Arsenal as Morris loses the ball for Luton. Saka dribbles down the right before cutting in (as he tends to do) he loses the ball as well but it falls for Trossard and his shot is deflected for another corner. Luton defend the set piece well.


09:54 PM GMT

76 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Saka wins a corner, but Arsenal cannot fashion a chance from the set piece.


09:53 PM GMT

74 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Odegaard picks up the ball 30 yards out and it’s clear he’s only got one thing on his mind, head down, work a bit of space and let fly. His shot is saved well (but a regulation one at that) by Kaminski.


09:50 PM GMT

72 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Luton seeing plenty of the ball at the moment. Their confidence is up and, you suspect, they more than fancy their chances of nicking a winner. The ball is played towards the Arsenal box and Saliba defends well. Arsenal have, whatever happens, been ruffled tonight. Their ball players, Saka and Odegaard etc etc haven’t been allowed much time on the ball at all.


09:47 PM GMT

70 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Twenty minutes to go and it’s beautifully poised. It’s also anyone’s game. Arsenal have had 12 shots to Luton’s five.


09:47 PM GMT

Havertz to Arsenal's rescue


09:46 PM GMT

Look away now David Raya

Here’s Barkley’s goal.


09:45 PM GMT

67 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Bit of a lull in this match now - not been a goal for a few minutes...


09:41 PM GMT

63 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Changes for Arsenal: Zinchenko and Trossard on for Martinelli and Kiwior.


09:41 PM GMT

62 mins: Luton 3-3 Arsenal

Before that Arsenal equaliser I was about to type that this is the first time Luton have scored three in a top-flight match since against Chelsea in 1991...

Changes for Luton: Adebayo, Townsend, Brown make way for Morris, Chong, Ogbene.


09:38 PM GMT

GOOOOOAAAAAALLL!!

Luton 3-3 Arsenal 

Havertz finds the back of the net - it’s raining goals now...the ball is lumped into the box by Saka, Jesus does brilliantly, using his body before volleying first time to the onrushing German who stabs the ball into the net.

Great game this...


09:34 PM GMT

GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL!!

Luton 3-2 Arsenal 

Barkley puts the hosts ahead! He’s been Luton’s best player and has reminded everyone why he was once so coveted. He drives with the ball out of the Luton half and takes on the Arsenal midfield before passing inside to Townsend. The fellow former England man then gives it back to Barkley who gets into the box before striking low. Reya should have saved it but well played Barkley and Luton.


09:33 PM GMT

52 mins: Luton 2-2 Arsenal

Arsenal are attacking the Luton box when there’s a coming together between Townsend and Havertz. It looks six of one and half a dozen of the other as they both seem to tread of each other on the edge of the area. It goes to the Var and the video boffins rightfully decide no foul was committed. Phew, would be good if, for once we could just talk about goal, saves, tackles rather than Var....


09:29 PM GMT

50 mins: Luton 2-2 Arsenal

Luton are well worth that equaliser. sorry to sound like a broken record but they’ve looked good tonight. And whatever happens they’ve proved their a Premier League club.


09:27 PM GMT

GOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLL!

Luton 2-2 Arsenal

Another corner another goal and this time it’s Adebayo with the headed equaliser.

Townsend wins the hosts the set piece, Doughty takes it. It’s in the mixer, so to speak, and it’s great from the Luton big man and very poor from Raya, who comes and fails to collect, and, I think, Rice, who loses Adebayo.


09:25 PM GMT

46 mins: Luton 1-2 Arsenal

Doughty has been impressive tonight and again he makes a nuisance of himself on the left getting to the byline before Arsenal can clear the danger.


09:22 PM GMT

45 mins: Luton 1-2 Arsenal

No changes from either side...Arsenal have won all the matches they’ve been ahead at half time in this season and Luton have lost all the matches they’ve been behind in at the break...will those trends continue?


09:21 PM GMT

Rob Edwards speaks to Amazon Prime Sport at the break...

“We can give them no gifts second half like we did in the first....We can’t give goals away like that. There have been a lot of good things but we know there are areas where we can expose and hurt them.”


09:15 PM GMT

Luton have looked good

They’ve not allowed Arsenal to pass their way out from the back with ease and made the north Londoners work hard. Ross Barkley has been impressive, also, he’s looked the hosts best player by some distance. Doughty has also looked decent.


09:07 PM GMT

HALF-TIME: Luton 1-2 Arsenal

That was an entertaining half and one in which Luton more than played their part. But Arsenal have seen more of the ball and been composed when they had to be in the final third and just about edge the first 45 minutes.


09:06 PM GMT

48 mins: Luton 1-2 Arsenal

Doughty does a good impression of Bergkamp, showing a great first touch, plucking the ball out of the sky before then getting to the byline and earning Luton a corner.

They scored from their first corner, can they do the same with their second? The answer is a ‘big fat no’ but not before A Saliba header ultimately comes to Mengi whose long range shot is straight at Raya.


09:03 PM GMT

45 mins: Luton 1-2 Arsenal

There will be five minutes added time here - shame Luton are behind but (cliche alert) Arsenal’s extra bit of class has shone through when they needed it to.


09:00 PM GMT

GOOOOOAAAAAALLL!

Luton 1-2 Arsenal

Jesus heads Arsenal ahead again. This goal was scored by the Brazilian but is all about the run and movement of Ben White. He is out wide on the right, looks up and plays a one-two with Saka before dinking a cross that flirts with the six-yard box and is just asking ‘go on, head me into the back of the net’. Which, as luck would have it for Arsenal, is exactly what Jesus does.


08:58 PM GMT

41 mins: Luton 1-1 Arsenal

Martinelli has been in the wars this half and he’s hobbling on the left touchline.


08:57 PM GMT

38 mins: Luton 1-1 Arsenal

Another decent save from Kaminski, this one comes after a typical piece of Saka skill with the England man cutting in of the right before shooting from the edge of the area. The replay shows that it was curling into the far corner and the Belgian does well to tip it past the post.

From the resulting corner there’s a shout of handball but it went off the defender’s head onto his arm, and unlike last week in Paris, this one is rightfully not given.


08:54 PM GMT

36 mins: Luton 1-1 Arsenal

Luton are doing well. They’re forcing the odd error out of Arsenal and asking questions of their opponents on the odd occasion they have a chance.

They play the ball forward here and Adebayo does well to win the free-kick. Can Luton create something from this? ‘Nope’ is the long and short of it as Arsenal clear the danger from the set-piece just inside their half.


08:51 PM GMT

34 mins: Luton 1-1 Arsenal

Arsenal pass the ball around well on the right with Jesus to playing a big part (he’s making some good runs) but Luton stick to their guns and hold their shape well, forcing the error, with Ben White offside when the ball is eventually played into the box.


08:48 PM GMT

32 mins: Luton 1-1 Arsenal

Good save from Kaminski and Jesus cuts the ball back for Martinelli who hits his shot with his trusty left peg forcing a save with his strong right hand from the Luton keeper.


08:47 PM GMT

30 mins: Luton 1-1 Arsenal

Luton’s work rate has been brilliant so far, Exhibit A in that argument is Doughty winning the ball three times and losing it twice in the pace of about eight seconds. Rob Edwards said the team needed legs tonight and boy was he right.


08:46 PM GMT

And here's Luton's response...


08:45 PM GMT

Here's Martinelli's opener...


08:45 PM GMT

27 mins: Luton 1-1 Arsenal

Luton deserved that in the sense they didn’t deserve to be one down...they’ve given as good as they’ve got and Arsenal know they’re in a game here.


08:41 PM GMT

GOOOOOOAAALLL!

Luton 1-1 Arsenal 

Well, well, well...A couple of errors allowed the visitors to score and they then allow Luton to immediately get back into the game. This goal comes from a Luton corner, the ball is swung in and Osho, loses his man, think it was Martinelli, and has a free header which he directs superbly past Raya.


08:39 PM GMT

22 mins: Luton 0-1 Arsenal

Two errors in the matter of second were clinically punished by Arsenal. Luton would have most likely got away with it in the Championship against Plymouth or Rotherham, Arsenal? Not so much....


08:36 PM GMT

GOOOOOOAAAALLL!

Luton 0-1 Arsenal

Martinelli opens the scoring.

Luton have done so well so far and this strike comes from their first mistake of the match. There’s a very loose back pass and Kaminski is forced to kick into touch. Jesus takes the throw in very quickly, Luton switch off, Doughty is caught out allowing Saka to get into the box and set up Martinelli who slots home from near the penalty spot.


08:35 PM GMT

Pic sums up the competitive nature of the open 15 mins

Luton Arsenal
It's fairly even-stevens so far... - PA/Joe Giddens

08:33 PM GMT

15 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

Luton are pressing well and Arsenal aren’t able to play out of their half with ease. Pretty sure this match is going to plan for Rob Edwards so far. Easy (ish) to do that for 15 minutes, 90 in another matter. But a mini victory so far for Luton.


08:31 PM GMT

13 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

Luton through Brown and Adebayo ask questions of the Arsenal defence, the visitors clear that danger well enough before Barkley prods and probes and Brown runs at the backline. Arsenal deal with the danger well. Neither keeper yet to make a save.


08:29 PM GMT

12 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

Still no chances of note and that suits Luton just find. The hosts are pressing well and force a stray pass long into the grateful arms of Kaminski in the hosts’ goal.


08:26 PM GMT

10 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

There’s another strong (ish) challenge that sees an Arsenal man fall to the ground. This time it’s Doughty into the back of Saka and it’s a free-kick. Once again, the visitors are unable to fashion a chance from the set-piece.

Arsenal have had the lion’s share of possession, but it’s been a good start from Luton.


08:24 PM GMT

8 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

First attack with real purpose from Luton and they fail to capitalise...they’re in the final third of the left with Brown looking to play through Doughty but the pass it criminally overhit and it goes for a goal kick.


08:22 PM GMT

6 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

Odegaard sweeps the ball forward for Saka but it’s slightly overhit to say the least and Mr 200th appearance (that’s Saka) hasn’t a chance of reaching it.


08:21 PM GMT

5 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

Martinelli is down again - Mengi just catches him on the small of his back.., painful. The Arsenal man looks as though he’s struggling.


08:19 PM GMT

4 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

Martinelli fouled on the left and Townsend catches him and Arsenal have a free-kick in the final third. First question the visitors can ask of Luton. Rice swings it in but the hosts clear the danger well.


08:17 PM GMT

2 mins: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

Back five for the hosts, don’t think the two wide men will push forward too much...Arsenal see most of the early ball but Luton defend well and no chances are created. Keep things tight and go from there will be the order of the day for Rob Edwards’ men.


08:15 PM GMT

1 min: Luton 0-0 Arsenal

They’re under way at Kenilworth Road - the hosts are in their orange kit while Arsenal are in their illuminous yellow away kit. I’d hazard a guess and say this is the first time a team in orange has faced a team in illuminous yellow in the top flight of English football...


08:11 PM GMT

The teams are coming out onto the pitch

And we’re moments away from kick-off.


08:10 PM GMT

Arsenal fans taking to the away end...

It may be a novelty for those Arsenal fans too young to remember a world before the Premier League (The Best League In The World Ever TM) but they’d do well to remember their team haven’t actually won at Kenilworth Road in their past 10 visits...

Arsenal fans on the steps up to the away end
Arsenal fans on the steps up to the away end - PA/Joe Giddens

08:00 PM GMT

Rob Edwards speaks to Amazon Prime - 'Be fearless and brave'

And to his old mate Thierry Henry (they did their coaching badges together, along with a certain Mikel Arteta..)

On how good Arsenal are...

“They’re even good looking as well!”

On the challenge facing Luton this evening...

“We are - but we want to compete and do well. We recognise size of the challenge - Mikel has done an amazing job to turn it around. But if you’d ask me this a year ago, when I came into the job, that we’d be playing Arsenal tonight and then then Man City at the weekend, I’d have taken that!”

On getting the first win at home...

“You do feel relieved. It’s tough in this league. We’ve competed well. It will be hard tonight but we’ll give it a try.”

On running Liverpool close before last-minute equaliser from the visitors...

“We take confidence from that game. Against Liverpool and Spurs we did well. Here the games have been tight and that’s the aim for tonight.”

On what he wants to see from his players..

“I want them to be fearless and brave, that’s what the supporters want. We need to see a committed performance tonight, we need to be brave.”

On the starting XI...

“We have legs in from the start, we’ll have to run and run hard. We were below our standards at the weekend so had to freshen it up. We have real speed in the team - have to be aggressive at the right moment., have to sprint back in to spaces.”

On going for the win...

“Why not indeed, we’ll certainly try. We know our season won’t be defined by tonight but it is our next opportunity to get points and that’s how we see it.”

On the positive thinking in the squad...

“That’s down to the whole group, we knew it was going to be tough...we’ve kept the togetherness, being competitive in our matches has helped...we’ve evolved as a side, a lot of our football is on the floor, it has to be as we have to keep the ball more in the Premier League.”


07:44 PM GMT

Fancy a flutter?

Having a bet on tonight’s match? First take a look at these free bets and betting offers.


07:42 PM GMT

Here's a stat for Luton fans to grab hold of...

Arsenal are without a win in their past 10 visits to Kenilworth Road - their last win at the ground came way back in January 1984...


07:38 PM GMT

Saka in esteemed company


07:33 PM GMT

Mikel Arteta speaks to Amazon Prime...

As ever, he doesn’t give much away...

On the starting XI...

“We have to freshen, we expect a physical game [tonight]. We play every three days [over this period] so every will be involved.”

On playing at Kenilworth Road...

“It’s inspiring, I would say. It’s a big motivation as they’ll make it difficult [for us] to win, they will make it tough - that will motivate us.”

On facing Luton...

“[The players] know [it will be tough]. [Luton] have been getting close they will be difficult to beat we have to be ready.”

On the quality Declan Rice brings to the side...

“His leadership and pressing, to break up play, to progress play - he’s been a terrific signing for us.”

On possibly going five points clear at the top of the table a year after they were also five clear...

“Year is a long time in football - we have to do a lot to win today.”

On the competitive nature of the Premier League...

“The league is getting better and better it’s harder to win, we have to compete harder than the opponents, that’s what we’ll try to do today.”


07:24 PM GMT

The teams in black and white

LUTON TOWN: XI TO FACE ARSENAL: Kaminski, Osho, Bell, Mengi, Doughty, Kabore, Barkley, Ruddock Mpanzu, Adebayo, Brown; Subs: Krul, Ogbene, Berry, Morris, Chong, Clark, Giles, Johnson, Nelson

Rob Edwards makes four changes from the side that started in their 3-1 loss to Brentford at the weekend. Key man Tom Lockyer is injured and Chiedozie Ogbene, Carlton Morris and Tahith Chong all drop to the bench. In come Alfie Doughty,  Andros Townsend, Jacob Brown and Elijah Adebayo.

ARSENAL XI TO FACE LUTON TOWN: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior, Saka, Odegaard, Rice, Martinelli, Havertz, Jesus; Subs: Ramsdale, Nketiah, Soares, Trossard, Jorginho, Nelson, Elneny, Zinchenko, Walters

Takehiro Tomiyasu misses out with an injury, while Oleksandr Zinchenko and Leandro Trossard drop to the bench. Jakub Kiwior, Ben White and Kai Havertz come in.


07:17 PM GMT

Here's how Luton line up


07:17 PM GMT

Here's the Arsenal XI


07:06 PM GMT

Arsenal looking to extend lead over Man City and Liverpool

Luton Town won their first major trophy by beating Arsenal in the 1988 League Cup final, and they are big underdogs again for the clubs’ first league meeting in 32 years this evening.

It feels like Mikel Arteta’s team are starting to shift through the gears, and can extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points with victory at Kenilworth Road.

Certain Arsenal teams of the past 15 years - who continue to linger as a stereotype in the public imagination - might have struggled against direct play and a boisterous crowd, but this team appears made of sterner stuff.

It will be difficult for Luton to ruffle an Arsenal side with a defensive bedrock of William Saliba, Gabriel and Declan Rice. Arsenal have kept 14 away clean sheets in 25 since the start of last season, five more than the next best in the division.

With five goals before half time in the Champions League against Lens last week and two in 14 minutes against Wolves, there are also signs of Arsenal finding their attacking verve.

“We’re going to have to be good without the ball and be more aggressive than the weekend,” said Luton manager Rob Edwards, who saw his team lose 3-1 at Brentford on Sunday.

“We’re coming up against one of the best teams in the world. I think they’re outstanding. They’ve had some changes with a new goalkeeper and Rice and a couple of tactical tweaks.

“But if you look at them they give away so little chances, they’re very well organised, they have such power. They’re a stronger outfit than they were last year.

“They’ve brought in another top player (Rice) and they’re strong in all aspects.They can control the game, from set-pieces they’re strong, they’re quick and technically good.”

Full team news on the way shortly.

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