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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam