United tie up title treble
Man Utd clinched a third consecutive Premier League title after securing the point they needed with a 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal.
Last Updated: 17/05/09 5:03pm
Manchester United clinched a third consecutive Premier League title after securing the point they needed with a 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men headed into Saturday lunchtime's Old Trafford encounter requiring only a draw to match Liverpool's record of 18 top-flight crowns.
And, after seeing Arsenal control possession for long periods and strike the post late on, United greeted the final whistle with huge delight to give Ferguson the 11th championship success of his reign.
After victory over Wigan Athletic in midweek, United set out positively in a bid to wrap up the title on a winning note in front of their own fans and had a chance inside the opening 30 seconds only for Cristiano Ronaldo to pass up a shooting opportunity.
Arsenal, who were beaten in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals by United earlier this month, were out for a modicum of revenge and saw Robin van Persie head over their best chance of the first half.
Wayne Rooney nodded wide for United and Carlos Tevez was unable to turn away from Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski sharply enough in the second half.
The closest either team came to a winner was on 84 minutes when Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas' well-struck shot thumped against the post.
United grew more cautious as the game wore on, but survived some late Arsenal pressure to make it three titles in a row for the second time during the Premier League era.
The hosts certainly started as if they meant business with Darren Fletcher sending Ronaldo through inside the opening minute, but the Portuguese opted against pulling the trigger and his cross was cleared.
After two dire displays that surrendered their Champions League semi-final with the Red Devils, plus a hammering on home soil by Chelsea, it was feared the Gunners would suffer yet another embarrassing mauling.
It surely could not be a coincidence that Andrey Arshavin's return from a combination of being cup-tied and contracting a flu bug coincided with Arsenal's return to form.
As Gunners fans search for reasons to be cheerful ahead of what will be another trophyless summer, the Russian playmaker is the main one.
Arshavin went on one mazy dribble from the left flank that would have opened United up totally had Jonny Evans not raced across to clear.
The former Zenit St Petersburg star was also the provider of a cross lone striker Van Persie might easily have steered into the net, rather than just over.
Yet, as time wore on, it seemed Ferguson's side were adopting a pragmatic approach to the situation, ensuring their goal was tight and secure, pushing forward in numbers only when really necessary.
The energy of Tevez helped in that regard. Sometimes it seems the South American is doing the work of two men.
And, as the speculation over Tevez's future rumbles on, there is little doubt most United fans would want him signed permanently if at all possible.
It seems highly improbable though. And when he responded to his number 32 being flashed up as the man to be replaced by Park Ji-sung, the response, a little shake of the head and a two-handed wave to all four corners of the stadium, looked for all the world like a goodbye.
Rooney stole in behind Bacary Sagna to head a teasing Michael Carrick cross wide after earlier having an effort deflected away by Kolo Toure.
On the brink of his 11th championship, Ryan Giggs curled a free-kick over and was then off target with a volley.
Ronaldo had an even better opportunity at the start of the second period after Tevez had failed to manage a shot after Carrick had supplied the cross, but he leant back and skied his shot into the Stretford End.
For all the side issues surrounding Park's arrival, it suggested even less of an emphasis on attack, although Ronaldo did send one his trademark free-kicks whipping wide.
It marked the end of United's attacking intent.
Fabregas and Van Persie had one last shot at spoiling the party. But with the trophy ready and the tickets sorted, it seemed a shame to stop it.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|0||Shots on Target||4|
|6||Shots off Target||4|