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Page last updated at 08:54 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 09:54 UK

Man Utd 0-0 Arsenal

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Old Trafford

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Man Utd celebrate Premier League title win

Manchester United sealed a third successive Premier League title by getting the point they needed against Arsenal - but the Old Trafford celebrations only started after an afternoon gripped by tension.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side knew a draw would ensure they equalled Liverpool's long-time record of 18 titles, but Arsenal ensured they did not earn their prize without a fight.

Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas both wasted opportunities to drag the title race into its final week and leave United with more work to do at Hull City on the last day of the season as nerves jangled in the closing stages.

But United's defence, so often the bedrock of their success this season, delivered another clean sheet when Ferguson needed it most and Old Trafford erupted in ecstasy at the final whistle as an 11th Premier League success was confirmed.

Old Trafford title win extra special - Rooney

Wayne Rooney missed United's best chance with a first-half header, and there was an intriguing cameo when Old Trafford voiced its resounding disapproval when the popular Carlos Tevez was substituted in what could prove to be his final home appearance.

But nothing could overshadow United's achievement - or the joy of players, fans and management - as the presentations were made after the final whistle with club captain Gary Neville lifting the Barclays Premier League trophy.

United saw off a stirring challenge from an improving Liverpool this season to once again set the standards their rivals must meet, despite a stumble when defeats against Rafael Benitez's side and Fulham threatened to undermine their challenge.

And as so often during this campaign, United got the result they needed when not at their most fluent, with the industry of Darren Fletcher and the defensive solidity of Nemanja Vidic taking centre stage as Arsenal kept Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo on the margins.

More to come from young side - Giggs

United's squad were introduced individually as the presentations began, but the biggest ovation of all was reserved for Ferguson, whose hunger, drive and desire have again been the inspiration for this triumph.

And as the pyrotechnics flashed around Old Trafford, Ferguson could start the preparations for further glory as he attempts to make United the first club to successfully defend the Champions League when they meet Barcelona in the final in Rome.

Tevez's spectacular equaliser at Wigan earned him a starting place ahead of Dimitar Berbatov - with Ferguson clearly unmoved by continued speculation surrounding the Argentine's future.

Andrey Arshavin was restored to Arsenal's side after illness, and he saw plenty of possession in a first 45 minutes that saw Arsene Wenger's side acquit themselves far better than when the pressure was on in the recent Champions League semi-final against United.

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The Russian provided an inviting cross for Van Persie after 13 minutes, but he headed off target with United's defence unlocked.

United's response was a Rooney header from John O'Shea's cross four minutes later. He should have at least tested Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski, but directed a low header just wide.

Arsenal had a foothold in the game without putting United's defence under concerted pressure, but there was enough on show to subdue the atmosphere of anticipation inside Old Trafford.

United had one final opportunity as the interval approached, but Ryan Giggs, who would later collect his 11th Premier League title medal, shot well over the top after good work on the left flank by Rooney.

Van Persie had already been booked for a reckless challenge on Ronaldo, and he was fortunate to escape with a lecture from referee Mike Dean early in the second half for another poor tackle, this time on Patrice Evra.

Neville praises 'strongest squad'

United had struggled to create clear-cut opportunities, but Fabianski had to be alert on the hour to block Tevez, with Ronaldo firing the loose ball yards over the bar.

It was the final contribution for Tevez, who was replaced by Ji-Sung Park. Ferguson's decision was not well received by Old Trafford, in fact it was met with open derision as the popular striker made his way to the touchline.

Tevez milked the situation for all it was worth, waving to all sides of the ground in apparent farewell - going a step further by acknowledging the fans after taking his place on the bench.

Ronaldo thought he had scored the goal that rubber-stamped the title with 12 minutes left, but his 20-yard angled free-kick dipped just wide with Fabianski beaten.

We did it the hard way - Carrick

Fabregas almost stunned Old Trafford with seven minutes left and the clock ticking down towards the title triumph. He found space inside the penalty area but, to widespread relief from the home support, could only find the side-netting.

Van Persie then shot straight at Van der Sar as United looked to have settled for the stalemate that would see them retain their crown.

The Dutch striker gave Old Trafford one final scare when his free-kick was bravely blocked by Michael Carrick.

Seconds later, referee Dean sounded the final whistle and United were crowned champions again.


Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson:
"The great challenge now is to try to win it next year because that would be something special.

"A 19th league title would give us a special place in the club's history."
Man Utd reaction in full

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:
"United are worthy champions. They did well in every single competition and that is very difficult.

Defensive record the difference - Wenger

"It was a very interesting championship. I think United won it because they got more points at home than any of the other teams in the top four.

"Our ambition was to win the game. United were very cautious, and we did not find an opening.

"We lacked sharpness and quality in the final third but overall we dominated the game.

"United's strength is to defend well and that is what they did today."


Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney (Anderson 90), Tevez (Park 67).
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Neville, Berbatov, Scholes, Rafael Da Silva.

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Toure, Song Billong, Gibbs (Eboue 76), Nasri (Bendtner 69), Denilson, Diaby, Fabregas, Arshavin (Walcott 69), van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Vela, Ramsey, Silvestre.

Booked: van Persie, Arshavin, Fabregas, Nasri, Song Billong.

Att: 75,468

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin 7.51 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Barca clinch Spanish league title
16 May 09 |  Europe
Ferguson hungry for four in a row
16 May 09 |  Man Utd
How the Premier League was won
16 May 09 |  Premier League
Man Utd dream team
16 May 09 |  Man Utd
Alan Hansen's column
16 May 09 |  Football
Race for the title in photos
16 May 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
16 May 09 |  Premier League
Premier League photos
16 May 09 |  Premier League
Ferguson stays cool on title bid
13 May 09 |  Premier League
Lawro's predictions
16 May 09 |  Football


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