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Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal
Stadium: Old Trafford, England
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 16 May 2009
Kickoff: 11:45 GMT, 7:45 EST
Manchester United clinched their third-consecutive Premiership title, and 18th league title overall, by securing a 0-0 draw against Arsenal! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
With their come-from-behind victory against Wigan on Wednesday, Manchester United have one firm hand on their third-consecutive League title (and 18th overall). All they need is a draw against arch-rivals Arsenal, and it will be enough to ensure that the trophy will stay at Old Trafford for at least another year. Manchester United would love nothing more than to win the trophy before the home fans, especially since they’re on the road next weekend. Additionally, wrapping up the title early means that they can give some of their stars a rest going into the Champions League Final on May 27th.
And, of course, there’s always the added treat of making Arsene Wenger and his young Gunners watch the Red Devils celebrate. Arsenal fans still chant about how they won the 2002 title at Old Trafford, and United want to silence those taunts once and for all. Plus, for all the talk about the detente between the two gaffers, you get the feeling that Sir Alex would love nothing more than to rub Arsene Wenger’s nose in it one more time. He’s already done it earlier this month, what with those two thumpings that Manchester United gave Arsenal in the Champions League. Now, with Arsenal reeling after a heavy loss to Chelsea, which ended their unbeaten streak in the Premiership, they need a strong result against Manchester United in order to rebuild their shattered confidence.
They’ve already beaten Manchester United once during the season, and they’ll get a boost as Andrei Arshavin should be available after missing last weekend’s match against Chelsea with the flu. However, Manuel Almunia remains a doubt after hurting his ankle while Eduardo, Gael Clichy, and William Gallas are sidelined with long-term injuries. Tomas Rosicky has returned to training, but he won’t feature in this match. That’s probably a good thing, since he hasn’t played football since January – of 2008.
As for Manchester United, this will be their last match at Old Trafford this season, which means that it could be the final time the home fans see Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, and possibly Nemanja Vidic in United kits. As such, a title-clinching performance could be exactly what the team needs to forget about its recent distractions (Ronaldo-gate, the Tevez Saga, Ferdinand’s injury, to name a few), especially with a trip to Rome on the horizon.
Will Manchester United make it Title #18? Or will Arsenal spoil the party? Tune in and find out!
Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs (c), Rooney, Tevez.
Subs: Kuszczak, Neville, Anderson, Berbatov, Park, Scholes, Rafael Da Silva.
Three changes from the side that defeated Wigan on Wednesday. Giggs comes in for Scholes, Fletcher will replace Anderson, and Tevez will get one last (?) start in front of the Old Trafford faithful in place of Berbatov. That will, no doubt, make the fans happy. Giggs will wear the armband, which means that he’ll lift the trophy if they clinch today.
Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Toure, Song Billong, Gibbs, Nasri, Denilson, Diaby, Fabregas (c), Arshavin, van Persie
Subs: Mannone, Vela, Walcott, Ramsey, Silvestre, Bendtner, Eboue.
Arsenal will make 3 changes from the side that got shellacked by Chelsea last weekend. Song will replace ex-Man Utd. man Silvestre at center-back, Denilson will replace Diaby in midfield, and Arshavin will come in for Walcott.
No medal for Macheda, and that’s too bad. No medal for Wes Brown or Ben Foster either. You’d think that they would deserve it more than Nani (who has a medal). This is where I think Major League Baseball has it right. The players decide who gets championship rings, not the Commissioner’s office. Why shouldn’t Manchester United get to decide who should get winner’s medals? Then again, maybe they’ll get special dispensation later. Anyway, we get a brief rendition of “Championes, championes, ole ole ole!” and that’s it. Setanta decides to go with Newcastle/Fulham. I’m canceling my Setanta account, by the way.
The players all have their medals and they’re popping the champagne corks now. Great coverage from Setanta, as they missed the entire medal ceremony. I guess they wanted to satisfy their French audience there.
Now, they cut to an Arsene Wenger interview, and he’s speaking in French. I have no idea what he’s saying, but based on his face, he actually seems to be in good spirits. His team played hard today, and he can’t really complain about the outcome. He’s got some work to do in the offseason, though.
The players are introduced one-by-one and they get the usual salute from the crowd. Guess who gets the loudest ovation. Here’s a hint: he’s answers to the name “Carlito.”
Trophy Presentation: Screw it! I’m staying on-line to cover the trophy presentation. I wonder who’s going to get special dispensation for a winner’s medal. I’d imagine Foster would get one. Maybe Kuszczak. I think Macheda should get one too. After all, he may have scored the single-biggest goal of the season for United.
90′ + 4 This just in: Rafa Benitez still thinks that Liverpool were a better team.
90′ + 3 United have to hold on for the next minute and they’ll get to lift the trophy. There’s the whistle and we’re done! Manchester United are your 2008-2009 Premier League Champions! Congrats to the Red Devils on a fine season! Thanks to everyone who followed along! Join me for the UEFA Cup Final next week. See you then!
90′ + 2 It’s a dangerous kick from Van Persie, but it’s deflected out for a corner kick. Van Persie sends it in and Rooney heads it away. Arsenal get it back, but they get called for a foul. United will waste some time and they bring off Rooney for Anderson.
90′ + 1 Rooney gives away a needless foul on the right edge of the box to Sagna. Not a smart move. He could have kicked it away instead but hit Sagna on the boot to concede the free kick.
90′ There will be three minutes of added time, which doesn’t make Wenger very happy.
89′ Rooney sends it to Ronaldo, and he skips past Toure. Ronaldo has to give it up to Giggs and he sends it back to Rooney. He tries to make the run into the box, but he loses it and Fabianski is there to take it.
88′ Ronaldo tries to play it through to Giggs in the middle of the box, but he doesn’t have the legs to get to it and Fabianski is there to cut it out.
87′ Arsenal win a free kick from about 45 yards out. It’s probably too far for Fabregas to go for goal, so he tries to curl it into the box. United clear it away but Arsenal knock it around and Van Persie gets it on the right edge of the box. He fires a tame effort on goal and Van der Sar has it easily.
86′ Fletcher grabs Song’s shirt and throws him down. He probably should have been booked for that, but I guess the ref took pity on him.
85′ Ronaldo heads the corner away and United avert danger.
84′ Good work from Song as he gets past a couple of defenders and he sends it to Fabregas, who is unmarked down the right edge of the box. He fires a shot and Van der Sar just gets a finger on it. Or does he? Van der Sar denies it and on the replay, it looks like the ball got past him and nicked the post. No matter, though, as it’s a corner for Arsenal.
82′ Sagna looks fine and should be good to go. Ronaldo tries to get around Toure down the left, but Toure does well to hold his ground. Toure tries to taunt Ronaldo a bit with some stepovers.
81′ Giggs tries to thread it through to Ronaldo down the middle. He’s through on goal if he can get it. Luckily for Arsenal, Song is there to knock it away. Back the other way and Rooney collides with Sagna and the defender hits the wall hard. I bet Wenger saw that one with 20/20 vision.
79′ Ronaldo curls it in and he just misses the top corner. That was close.
78′ Poor giveaway from Denilson and Ronaldo is off to the races. He has Evra open down the middle, but Song throws an elbow and fouls Ronaldo on the left edge of the box. Smart foul there, although Song will get a booking for that. That’s five yellows for Arsenal now. One more, and they’ll have to make a donation to the F.A. Hopefully, that won’t affect their spending this summer.
77′ Gibbs will come off and it’s time for everyone’s favorite Gunner, Eboue. That’s Arsenal’s final substitution.
76′ Van Persie gets it inside the box, but he has his back to the box. Vidic is all over him and the Serb eventually knocks it out for an Arsenal throw. Those two have been going at it today, haven’t they?
74′ Fabregas sends it long to Walcott and O’Shea looks like he could be exposed here. Van der Sar comes out for it, though, and he corrals it before Arsenal can do anything with it.
72′ Park combines with Ronaldo and Park finds the back of the net, but it’s waved off as Ronaldo was offside. Fletcher was also an option down the right (and was on-side), and Park probably should have passed it to him instead.
70′ Rooney (who’s spent more time at left-back than at left-wing in this half), tracks back and does a great job to close off Sagna from Walcott’s pass. It’s out for a goal-kick.
69′ Van Persie goes down in the box after taking a slight touch from Vidic. Once again, the ref is not moved. Meanwhile, Tevez is still waving goodbye and blowing kisses to the fans. Man, that would be embarrassing for him if he were to come back after all that, wouldn’t it? Arsenal will make two changes as Arshavin and Nasri will come off and Bendtner and Walcott will come on. Those aren’t the two that I would have removed, but I’m not managing Arsenal…
68′ Nasri with a cross from the left, but Evans clears it away in front of goal.
66′ Park is coming on and it looks like Tevez will be sacrificed. The crowd does not appreciate it and Tevez waves to the fans. It looks like he’s waving goodbye and I think that tells you all you need to know about what he’s thinking. “Manchester City here I come!”
65′ Park looks like he’s coming on. We’ll see who gets the early shower today.
63′ Gibbs is deep down the left and Ronaldo (!) is there to defend him. Gibbs wins a corner and we’ll see what they can do here. Arshavin sends it into the six yard box, but Van der Sar is there.
62′ Van Persie sends a hard shot into the box and Carrick takes it right on the noggin. He looks like he’s a little dazed, but he gets an appreciative hand from the crowd.
61′ Evra is called for a handball on the edge of the box. He’s lucky he wasn’t a few feet over to his right. Van Persie will take it right on the edge of the box.
60′ Fletcher with a nice ball into the box from the right wing and Tevez takes it away from the sliding Fabianski. The keeper is stranded in no man’s land, but Tevez can’t quite control it. Ronaldo then rushes his shot from distance, and it’s well over the crossbar. Nice bit of defending from Arsenal when it looked like they were going to concede.
59′ Sagna with a cross from the right edge of the box and Arshavin gets it on the left edge. He passes up the shot, much to the relief of the United fans and Gibbs ends up hitting the side netting with his shot. You can hear a loud gasp from the crowd every time Arshavin looks like he’s going to shoot.
58′ Fabregas gets his signals crossed with Sagna as his through-ball goes right to Evra. His clearance is poor though, and he nearly gives it back to Fabregas on the edge of the box. Vidic is there to deal with it, though.
57′ Ronaldo gets it past the wall, but Song blocks it before it can test Fabianski.
56′ Giggs is tripped by Fabregas, and the Arsenal skipper better be careful. No booking, though, and Fabregas won’t have to make the long walk to the dressing room. United will have a chance from about 40 yards out, and it’s about the same distance from where Ronaldo scored against Almunia in the Champions League.
55′ Ronaldo gets it and makes a run across the edge of the box. He loses it but Giggs gets it. He holds it, as if he isn’t sure what to do, and Denilson is able to take it away. Not the best showing from Giggs today.
53′ Poor pass from Arshavin after he gets it on the short corner. Tevez has it and he leads the counter-attack. He tries to cross it into the box from the right to Rooney, but Fabianski is out to intercept it. It’s raining heavily now, which could slow things down a bit.
52′ They’re deep down the right wing, which means Van Persie will send it in with his left foot. He curls it into the box, but United knock it away. Fabregas comes back and he wins a corner off Evans.
51′ Tevez runs Nasri over and Arsenal will have a good chance here.
50′ Free kick goes into the box and Tevez gets it with his back to goal. He tries to lay it back to Fletcher, but he can’t handle it. Ronaldo gets it down the right edge of the box, but he loses it for a goal-kick.
49′ Nasri gets a yellow for a tackle on Evra and it certainly looks like they’re targeting the Frenchman. That’s four yellows for Arsenal now (and I bet Wenger didn’t see any of them).
48′ Evra glares at Fabregas as he makes his way off the pitch for treatment. Evra’s back on the pitch and Van Persie catches him with an elbow. That draws a crowd of United players and Dean warns both Van Persie and Fabregas to cool it. I guess Arsenal really were angry about that “babies” comment from Evra a couple of weeks ago.
46′ Arsenal kick off and we’re underway. Quick start from Arsenal as Van Persie plays it through to Fabregas and Evra comes out to clear it. Fabregas catches him on the knee and Evra collapses in pain. Fabregas will be booked and Evra is getting medical treatment here.
46′ As much as it pains me to say, I think today’s game illustrates why Tevez will probably be moving on in the offseason. He’s a good player and he never takes a play off. However, against good teams, he can disappear and it has nothing to do with effort. He just doesn’t have the physical tools that someone like Berbatov does, so I understand why Ferguson favors the Bulgarian. Tevez is probably perfect for the supersub role that Ole was so good at. In other words, he’s great if he costs less than 20 million pounds. Not so much if he costs more than 30.
It’s like a completely different Arsenal squad as they’ve taken it to the defending champions and are unlucky not to be in the lead. United haven’t been at their best, and will need to tidy up their passing if they want to get on the scoresheet. Then again, a 0-0 result will suit them fine, even if it would leave a bad taste in their mouths. We’ll see what the gaffers have in store for the second half.
45′ + 2 Carrick is down on the pitch after a hard tackle from Arshavin and the Russian’s booked. Rooney wins a free kick after a handball on Nasri and Ronaldo will have a chance from about 35 yards out. Ronaldo gets it past the wall, but it goes well wide of the post. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime!
45′ + 1 Two minutes will be added on and United just want to get to halftime with this scoreline intact. It’s been all Arsenal so far.
45′ Van Persie sends it into the 6-yard box and Van der Sar looks to have it covered. Vidic, however, knocks it out for a corner. Great chance on the corner as they play it short and Arshavin sends a dangerous cross from deep down the left that Nasri gets. He fires a shot and Van Persie gets a dangerous deflection on it that, luckily for United, doesn’t end up in the back of the net.
44′ Rooney clashes with Sagna down the right and Rooney is called for the foul. Arsenal will have a great free kick chance from deep down the right wing.
43′ Fabregas curls it into the box, but United clear it away. Rooney looks to have a golden chance on the counterattack, but Denilson does well to cut out his pass. Diaby gets it deep down the left flank and tries to cross it to Van Persie, but it’s over his head.
42′ O’Shea with a late tackle on Arshavin and they’ll have a free kick from about 35 yards out on the left side of midfield.
41′ Rooney gets it and makes a run towards the box. He lays it off to Giggs, who makes the run down the middle. The ball takes a slight bounce and Giggs can’t get his shot on target, as a result.
40′ Van Persie gets another header, but he’s marked this time and he can’t get much power on it. In the end, Van der Sar handles it easily. Gibbs gets past Vidic and Fletcher deals with it nicely. I thought Gibbs won a corner, but no dice.
39′ One thing that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet, Rooney had to go back and defend as a result of Giggs giving it away. As such, he wasn’t in position to help Giggs when he made the run into the box just now.
38′ Another poor pass from Giggs and it looks like one of those days for the United skipper. Of course, then Giggs comes back and makes a great move into the box. He tries a cross, but ends up winning a corner off Toure instead.
37′ Van Persie gets it on the right edge of the box, but Evans makes a nice tackle on him to take it away. Van Persie comes back and gets it on the left edge, but this time Vidic takes it.
36′ United have been very sloppy in possession as of late and can’t seem to string together more than three passes at a time. It’s like a mirror universe version of the Champions League meeting.
35′ Free kick for Arsenal and Van Persie will take it from about 40 yards out. It’s a poor effort from him as he hits the wall. Fabregas tries a shot from long-range, but it’s out for a goal-kick.
34′ Fletcher does a great job and jumps in front of Diaby’s pass. Giggs spoils it, though, and gives it away cheaply.
33′ Van Persie gets booked for a late tackle on Ronaldo near the center line.
32′ Great defense from Evans as he closes off Fabregas from the pass and lets it go out for a goal-kick. Fabregas actually shows some sportsmanship and gives Evans a pat on the chest.
31′ Nasri tries a shot from the edge of the box and it takes a slight deflection. It doesn’t trouble Van der Sar, though, and he takes it easily.
30′ Van Persie and Vidic exchange some words and Van Persie tries to make nice afterwards. I would too.
29′ Vidic sends a little message with Arshavin and puts him on the ground. This ain’t Russia anymore. Evra with a great cross from the left into the center of the box that Tevez nearly gets on the end of. Rooney then tries a shot from the edge of the box, but it’s easily blocked.
27′ Poor clearance from O’Shea and Fabregas has it on the left edge of the box. He tries to set up Nasri, but his pass is too long for Nasri to do anything with it.
26′ Arshavin tries a shot from the edge of the box and United seem to be concerned with where he is at all times. Vidic, Evans, and O’Shea watching him and Vidic gets the block on his shot before it trickles harmlessly to Van der Sar.
25′ Giggs takes it and he’s well over the crossbar. Not his best effort there.
24′ Poor clearance by Song and Ronaldo has it. Song comes back and fouls Ronaldo on the edge of the box, and this one will be dangerous for Arsenal.
23′ Fletcher is a like a man possessed as he gets the better of Gibbs down the right. He tries to find Tevez in front of goal, but Song takes it. Fletcher tries to get it back, but he’s called for a foul on Song, and he takes his time getting up off the pitch.
22′ Good bit of sustained pressure from Arsenal as they pass it around their attacking half. Long pass into the box for Van Persie, but he takes a tumble after Vidic gives him a slight touch. Mike Dean isn’t in the mood, though, and waves it off.
21′ Van Persie with the cross from deep down the right to Diaby in front of goal, but Evans knocks it away.
18′ Carrick with a long pass from the right side of midfield to the far post where Rooney gets in ahead of Sagna. His header is just wide of the post, though, and that was a golden chance for United. United come back as Ronaldo whips in a cross from deep down the right flank, but Fabianski is out to collect it.
16′ Arshavin takes the corner, but it’s easily cleared by the United defense. I think it’s safe to say that Arsenal could have used Arshavin in that Champions League tie…
15′ Arshavin takes on three defenders and nearly gets through. He’s about to shoot on a helpless Van der Sar when Evans just gets a foot on it to concede the corner.
14′ Ronaldo does the stepovers as he takes on Toure from the left wing. Toure has reinforcements, though as Sagna and Song both close him down. Arsenal then counterattack and Arshavin picks out an unmarked Van Persie who is all alone in front of goal. Even he can’t seem to believe it and he sends his header over the bar. That should have been a goal right there.
13′ Giggs sends in the corner, but Fabianski is out to collect it. Ronaldo is still limping a bit from the challenge with Fabregas, so that bears watching.
12′ Gibbs makes a move on the left edge of the box, but Vidic makes a great tackle on him to knock it away. Gibbs comes back with a dangerous cross from the left, but it’s cleared from danger. Ronaldo takes it on the counterattack and he gets past Song. He centers it to Rooney and his shot is deflected out for a corner.
11′ Smart play by Carrick as he’s called for a foul near the center-line but kicks it away so that Arsenal can’t take it quickly. Actually, isn’t that supposed to be a booking?
10′ Nasri with a strong move into the box and he gives it to Diaby. He plays it through to Van Persie and Evra is able to tackle him before he can shoot. Nasri tries to pounce on it, but he handles it and is called for the infraction.
9′ Fabregas gives it away cheaply to Ronaldo, and he then goes down after drawing taking a slight knock to his ankle. He should be fine, though.
8′ Tevez with a nice move to shield Sagna from the ball as Carrick and Giggs fail to execute the give-and-go. Tevez’s called offside, though, and that’s that.
7′ Fletcher gets tangled up with Fabregas but this time, it’s Fabregas that gets called for it. No card, though, and frankly, it was barely even a foul.
6′ Arshavin tries to play it through to Van Persie, but they get their signals crossed and Arshavin’s pass trickles out harmlessly for a goal-kick.
3′ Tevez makes a nice move to get past Toure, and that draws a nice hand from the crowd. You get the feeling that Tevez can do no wrong with the Old Trafford faithful at this point. Rooney gets past Sagna down the left, but his cross is cut out by Toure.
2′ Arsenal attack and Van Persie nearly gets a chance on the left edge of the box, but he can’t quite control it and has to pass up the shot. Fabregas then tries a long-range shot and it’s well over the crossbar. Torrid start so far.
1′ United will kick off and we’re underway! United will be defending the Stretford End, which is their preference when they’re at home. Mike Dean is our ref. Early charge from United as Fletcher plays it through to Ronaldo and he’s into the box. Ronaldo doesn’t shoot, though, and he tries to cross it to Carrick. That allows the Arsenal defense to recover and knock it away.
0′ Adebayor has a “strained hamstring” today. So that’s what they’re calling it now? If so, then all credit to Ronaldo and Tevez for playing through their strained hammies.
0′ The United players line up and they pass by Nani, who doesn’t even make the bench for today’s match. What a difference a year makes.
0′ Shame about Martin Laursen’s retirement due to a knee injury. Aston Villa were never the same once he went down.
0′ Interesting that Adebayor won’t be available. I didn’t hear about any injury. Maybe he’s on his way out the door?
0′ As for Arsenal, they’ve been hemorrhaging goals as of late, as they really have to solve their defensive woes in the offseason. Losing Gallas and Clichy hasn’t helped, but let’s face it. They weren’t that good with those two in the lineup. I would think that Brede Hangeland would be perfect for the squad, but it looks like he’s staying at Fulham.
0′ Losing to Middlebrough doesn’t help, either.
0′ Rafa Benitez could very well be right in saying that Liverpool probably would have won the title if Gerrard and Torres had stayed fit all year. Then again, it shows the risk of relying on two players the way that Liverpool does. Manchester United have been relatively lucky with injuries this season, but they missed Ronaldo for the first month of the season and Rooney has been in and out of the lineup. The difference is that United have enough depth to weather the storm while Liverpool don’t.
0′ Should be a great match today, as Arsenal must win in order to delay Manchester United’s title celebration. While Manchester United thoroughly outplayed Arsenal in the Champions League, we know that past results mean nothing when these two hook up. Plus, Arsenal will be getting a pretty big weapon back today in Arshavin. If he bags 4 against United the way he did against Liverpool, then United could be looking at next weekend’s match at Hull as their title-clincher.
0′ Hello everyone and welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the English Premier League! Manchester United will look to clinch their 3rd consecutive title and 18th overall as they host Arsenal at Old Trafford! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger today! I’m watching this match on Setanta Broadband. For information on how to access that service, feel free to consult this article about how to watch football online. Click here for free streaming options. I think I know which link will get more clicks, but I’ll reserve judgment. These are tough times, after all.
It wasn’t the best performance by United, and they showed that a slick passing team that takes care of the ball can give them plenty of problems (are you listening Barcelona?). Still, they defended well and did what they had to in order to secure the title. It was a nervy performance, and they were on the verge of blowing it, but they came through in the end. Now, they’ll focus on the real prize of the season, their second consecutive Champions League title.
As for Arsenal, they certainly acquitted themselves well and did a lot to get the bitter taste of their previous encounter with United out of their mouths. They outplayed the champions for the balance of the match and deserved to win. They have a lot of questions to answer in the offseason, but for now, they can hold their heads high.
Man of the Match:
While Ronaldo gets the headlines for his flashy goals (and his sometimes childish behavior), it’s Rooney that is the heartbeat of this team. His unselfishness is such that he’s willing to play out of position on the left side of midfield and even spend time as a makeshift left-back. Once again, he sublimated his ego and did what was asked of him, creating chances for his teammates, nearly scoring on a header in the first half, and tracking back to preserve the draw. As for Arsenal, Arshavin was looking like their most dangerous player, which made it all the more puzzling that he would be sacrificed for someone like Bendtner. Every time he geared up to shoot, you could feel everyone in the stadium hold his or her breath. This guy is going to be a dominant player in the league and I shudder to think what might happen if Arsenal actually spend some money in the offseason.