United draw with Arsenal to clinch Premier League title

Manchester United 0 Arsenal 0

Manchester United were today crowned champions of England for a record-equalling 18th time at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side might not have given Usain Bolt a goal to celebrate on his first visit to the Theatre of Dreams but the Premier League trophy will do as consolation after a goalless draw with Arsenal ensured Liverpool cannot now catch their north-west rivals.

After over three decades as the unquestioned kings of English football, the Merseysiders now have someone else to share the title with.

And, if Ferguson is to be believed it will not be long before the Anfield outfit lose it altogether.

While the first half ended with United still on course for the 11th league title of Ferguson's illustrious reign, Arsenal had every reason to be pleased with themselves.

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 Robin van Persie might easily have steered into the net, rather than just over.

However, the world's fastest man did not come to Old Trafford to watch Arsenal.

The hosts certainly started as if they meant business with Darren Fletcher almost sending Cristiano Ronaldo through inside the opening minute.

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 Carlos 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.

There has, of course, never been any discussion over Wayne Rooney.

Had voting for the various player of the year awards been based on the last two or three months' form alone, Rooney would have been top of the pile.

The England striker has added an extra level of consistency to his game that truly deserves him now to be ranked if not at the very top of the game, then only just underneath.

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 did enough to nudge it into the Portugal superstar's path.

After offering his own sprinting guidance yesterday, Bolt must have thought Ronaldo would offer a fitting payment. Instead, he leant back and skied his shot into the Stretford End.

In fairness, Bolt had chosen to come and watch his team on a rare day that they did not need to win.

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.

The title is United's third in succession and sees them equal Liverpool's record of 18 English top-flight league wins, 11 of those coming in the Premier League era.

"It was the longest 90 minutes in history," joked Ferguson.

"There was only one save in the match - it was a cautious match."

When asked whether equalling Liverpool's record was a special moment, Ferguson added to Sky Sports: "It'll make it more special when we are in front of them.

"Next year we are going for it again.

He added: "It's a great side, a great squad. I could have picked two teams today. It's not easy."

Ferguson admitted equalling Liverpool's record had been his target at the start of his Old Trafford reign, although he always knew it would be tough.

"That was the target because they were the greatest side in the land," he said. "But I never thought we could get 11 titles - never in a million years."

Ferguson added that retirement still remains a distant proposition despite his advancing years.

He said: "I'm not contemplating it. I'll carry on. I'm going to stay as a manager and my health will tell me when to quit."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral