Manchester United captured their 18th English league title on Saturday when they secured the point they needed in a nervy 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal. It was a cautious display by United, who endured some anxious moments late on before the final whistle sealed a hat-trick of titles and moved them alongside Liverpool as the teams with most English league crowns. Arsenal, who will finish a distant fourth, enjoyed plenty of possession and came agonisingly close to silencing Old Trafford when captain Cesc Fabregas struck a shot against the outside of Edwin van der Sar's post with seven minutes remaining. United hung on, however, moving to 87 points with one game remaining to end the formidable challenge of Liverpool whose title drought stretches back to 1990. Liverpool, who visit relegation fighters West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, have 80. "That was the longest 90 minutes in history," said United manager Alex Ferguson, who has won 11 league title in 22 years at the club and is already setting his sights on claiming another one next season. "It will be even more special when we get in front of them (Liverpool). We are a young team and next season we'll go for it again. This is a great side, a great squad, I could have picked two teams today," he told Sky Sports. Liverpool could finish second with 86 points, the highest total not to win the Premier League, and Ferguson said Rafael Benitez's side had been tough to keep at bay. "They beat us 4-1 at home, which was a travesty of a result, but they got great impetus from that. That gave them the scent and they took the scent and credit to them because they've battled all the way." The Scot can now rest players for next weekend's finale at Hull City in preparation for the clash against Barcelona in Rome on May 27 when United can add the Champions League to the League Cup and FIFA's Club World Cup they won in Japan. That will be a huge comfort to Hull who drew 1-1 at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday to climb out of the bottom three with one match remaining at the expense of Newcastle United who slumped to a 1-0 home defeat by Fulham. Middlesbrough could only draw 1-1 at home to Aston Villa, a result that virtually doomed them to relegation as they are three points behind Hull with an inferior goal difference. Everton moved into fifth place with a 3-1 defeat of West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester City 2-1 and Stoke City defeated Wigan Athletic 2-0. ARSENAL SCARE It was not the dashing, swashbuckling football on Saturday that United's fans have been used to this season and which blew Arsenal away in their recent Champions League semi-final. Instead there were chewing fingernails as Arsenal's Robin van Persie wasted the best chance of the first half when he headed over unmarked and the Dutchman also tested Edwin van der Sar late on with a fierce shot. United were restrained throughout, with Carlos Tevez forced to forage largely alone up front. The Argentine was substituted midway through the second period -- a decision that drew boos from the crowd before he received a standing ovation in what could be his last home game for the club. Cristiano Ronaldo nearly spared United's nerves with a vicious free kick with 12 minutes remaining while the Portuguese set up Park Ji-sung for a goal that was ruled offside. However, the final minutes produced the rare sight of a United side hanging on with 10 men behind the ball as Arsenal sensed a chance to spoil the party and Fabregas almost extended the title race until the final day of the season. UNITED FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Wayne Rooney, Peter Schmeichel, Carlos Tevez Q&A Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud Van Nistlerooy One on One David Beckham, George Best Ask A Silly Question Bryan Robson Boy's A Bit Special Danny Simpson Perfect XI Garth Crooks, Bryan Robson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona What Happened Next? David May, Norman Whiteside Sing When You’re Winning Dominic Monaghan, Ian Brown And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan Plus! Rate United players (and others) on Talentspotter
16 May 2009
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