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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee