United Crowned Premier League Champions: Click Here
Manchester United retained their Premier League crown on Saturday with a goalless draw at home against Arsenal, tying Liverpool's record of 18 top-flight titles.
In a lacklustre display on home turf United failed to register a shot all game as they were managed well by their opponents, while Sir Alex Ferguson was booed for substituting Carlos Tevez off as the forward gave a huge indication that he will leave Old Trafford by waving goodbye to the home fans.
The Gunners were intent on delaying United’s title party for at least another week by denying the hosts the point they required to defend their crown, and while they failed to do that they at least muted their celebrations with a display that impressed infinitely more than their Champions League capitulation.
The game started at a frenetic pace and continued in such a manner until half time, and inside the opening minute United opened Arsenal up although Cristiano Ronaldo’s heavy touch took him too wide of goal. It was a bright start from the hosts which faded somewhat as The Gunners edged their way in front with a dominance of possession.
After a high-tempo spell which saw both sides ping the ball about neatly and with confidence, the first real chance came Arsenal’s way. Andrey Arshavin – whose influence on his side was spiriting to watch – drifted a delightful ball onto Robin van Persie’s head at the far post, but the Dutchman’s direction was lacking as he lofted the ball back across goal and well over the bar.
Shortly after the Russian maestro went on a direct run, typical of his ‘can do’ attitude which more than inspired his team’s efforts to match their opponents. As he burst into United’s area a frantic selection of red shirts crowded him out.
Wayne Rooney then nodded United’s first attempt on goal wide as he mirrored Van Persie’s inaccuracy from a Michael Carrick delivery, while Ryan Giggs hoisted a free-kick from the edge of the Arsenal area well over after Ronaldo elicited a set piece with a theatrical fall under the meekest of challenges from Alex Song.
The Arsenal back line was marshalled well by Kolo Toure but even he missed a Patrice Evra cross which evaded everyone as it flew through the visitors’ area untouched, while at the other end the action continued to flow as Samir Nasri flashed in a shot from an Arshavin cutback which Van Persie got a foot on but could not deflect on course for goal.
The second half started just as pacey with challenges flying in. Evra was subjected to some particularly close attention, no doubt in retaliation for his comments questioning the maturity of his opponents in the wake of last week’s Champions League encounter.
Kieran Gibbs hammered a shot into the side netting as Arsenal continued to look the likelier to score, but on a counter attack there was drama at the other end. Darren Fletcher crossed for Tevez, who spun Toure and shaped to shoot, but Lukasz Fabianski flew out of his goal and did just enough to put the United man off.
Tevez was withdrawn on 67 minutes for Park Ji-sung and dropped a huge hint over his likely imminent departure from Old Trafford with an exerted effort to wave and applaud the fans as he trotted off. A brief shaking of the head served to add to the impression the Argentine’s mind had been made up over his future.
One of Park’s first touches saw him free Ronaldo who returned the ball to him for a tap-in, but the Portuguese was incorrectly flagged offside as Bacary Sagna escaped unpunished for a lapse in concentration. Moments later Ronaldo skewed a free-kick inches wide of the upright.
The final ten minutes were entered into with a sense of trepidation around Old Trafford, and that was heightened when Cesc Fabregas was found in space and rifled a powerful shot off the outside off Van der Sar’s right post.
Arsenal continued to attack into the dying moments and put on a rousing finish, but they were ultimately unable to deny United their title.