|1||Van der Sar|
United are once again champions of England and inevitably, it was achieved the hard way, with a nail-biting goalless draw against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
A tense, nerve-wracking afternoon saw few chances at either at end, as a largely dour match dragged agonisingly to its conclusion. Hearts were in mouths for United fans throughout the afternoon, and never more than when Cesc Fabregas struck the post with six minutes remaining.
Victories over Manchester City and Wigan had the champions six points clear of second-placed Liverpool going into the match, meaning a point would secure a record-equalling 18th league title. Mindful of the dangers of playing for a draw, the Reds were quick out of the traps.
Barely 15 seconds had passed before Cristiano Ronaldo got the better of Kieran Gibbs, exposing the space behind the young full-back to race onto Darren Fletcher’s through-ball. The Portuguese declined to continue his sprint, however, and his cross was cleared before it could reach Ryan Giggs.
That early opening heralded a sustained spell of United pressure, which only served to heighten the expectant buzz which had hummed around Old Trafford long before kick-off.
However, Arsenal, still reeling from their Champions League exit at the hands of United, and the subsequent scrutiny of their silverware drought of recent years, were not at Old Trafford to simply roll over for the champions-elect.
Robin van Persie headed wastefully over from Andrey Arshavin’s pinpoint right-wing cross, despite having no United defenders in his immediate vicinity, while it took a last ditch challenge from Jonny Evans to halt an Arshavin run which had bypassed three of the Reds’ backline.