Title race wide open after Arsenal beat United

Arsenal 1 Manchester United 0

Arsenal blew the Barclays Premier League title race wide open after finally finding the character of champions to beat leaders Manchester United 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

Aaron Ramsey's second-half goal - his first in the Premier League since January 2010 - saw United's lead remain at just three points from Chelsea, whom they face next week at Old Trafford.

The Gunners may have seen their own title ambitions extinguished following a run of costly draws before defeat at Bolton last Sunday, but at least gave their frustrated fans renewed hope next season might just be different for Arsene Wenger's young side.

Ramsey had only been in the team because of a thigh injury to captain Cesc Fabregas, but his well-taken strike on 56 minutes was just rewards for a high-tempo performance and meant the officials' miss of a penalty for handball by United skipper Nemanja Vidic in the first half did not eventually prove decisive.

Arsenal started brightly, with Theo Walcott causing problems down the right, and Jack Wilshere dragged an early chance wide from 15 yards after a poor clearance by United skipper Vidic.

Gael Clichy whipped in a low cross from the left but as Walcott arrived in the six-yard box, he was stretching and could only shin the ball over the crossbar.

It continued to be one-way traffic and, after 15 minutes, Patrice Evra got a toe to Wilshere's low centre across the goal with Walcott ready for a tap-in at the far post.

After so much pressure, United then cut Arsenal apart on the break.

Fabio burst down the right and into the area before pulling the ball back to Javier Hernandez, with Bacary Sagna making a last-gasp block just as the Mexican shaped to shoot.

There was then a massive let-off for United when Vidic knocked Walcott's cross from the right behind with his hand, taking it off the head of van Persie.

However, neither the referee or nearside assistant Andy Garratt spotted it - leaving the Dutch forward fuming.

When the dust settled, Wayne Rooney had a goalbound 20-yard shot blocked, before going into the book on 41 minutes for pushing Wilshere over on the far touchline.

Arsenal made a change for the second half with Samir Nasri, who tweaked a hamstring, replaced by Russia winger Andrey Arshavin.

United were awarded a free-kick some 22 yards out when Park was bundled over by Song. Rooney struck his effort over the wall, but Wojciech Szczesny dived to his right to make a good two-handed save.

Arsenal slowly got themselves back into a rhythm, with Sagna angling a low drive across goal before they swept into the lead on 56 minutes.

Ramsey fed van Persie, who charged down the right and into the area before cutting the ball back to the penalty spot, where the Welshman arrived on cue to dispatch a cool finish low into the far corner for a first Arsenal goal in over a year.

United now needed a response, and Vidic headed down and wide from a corner.

Tempers boiled over when Song went in on Nani and looked to have won the ball only for referee Foy to book the Cameroon midfielder, which saw several players involved in a scuffle.

Park released Evra down the left channel, but Clichy covered across quickly to bundle the ball out for a corner.

There was concern for Arsenal when centre-half Johan Djourou fell awkwardly and had to be replaced by Sebastien Squillaci on 60 minutes.

United sent on Dimitar Berbatov, back from a groin injury, and had another free-kick in a dangerous position following Ramsey's needless handball. Szczesny, though, was right behind Rooney's flick.

The young Pole then made an impressive save at the near post after Nani was played in by a quick break from Rooney.

Van Persie chipped the ball across goal after breaking down the left as Arsenal looked for a killer second goal.

With five minutes left, United sent on Michael Owen and the former England striker was screaming for a penalty when he looked to have been tripped by Clichy, but again the officials were unmoved.

Arsenal closed out four minutes of stoppage time to claim a victory which was probably greeted with just as loud a cheer across in west London.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine