BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE

Highbury, England

Referee: G Poll | Attendance: 38313

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0 - 0

FT

Arsenal 0-0 Man Utd

No wonder the title race is effectively over. If Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho bothered to tune in to this clash of two former superpowers, he will have seen little to unsettle his champions elect from their lofty perch.

For this was less the Battle of the Buffet, more squabbling over the scraps

left dangling from Chelsea's title table.

Not that it was without intrigue, with the two clubs left trailing in the

Blues' wake competing among themselves for Champions League qualification.

But this goalless draw simply enabled Mourinho's side to retain a 13-point

lead over United, with Arsenal now 'only' 24 points adrift.

A point at Highbury is no mean feat for any visitors but this was still where

Chelsea secured all three only last month.

With Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira missing from the line-ups the sheer

intensity of their direct confrontations was lacking.

Instead, it was more of a cautious affair in which, at times, football even

broke out - but only briefly.

Arsenal played a three-man midfield, echoing not only their FA Cup final

victory but also their unsuccessful attempt to stifle Chelsea's midfield a few

weeks earlier.

With United missing not only Keane, but also Paul Scholes and Alan Smith, that

ensured the Gunners dominated most of the first half, with the visitors

struggling to make any real impact.

Not that Arsenal, for all their defensive solidity, managed to carve out any

more than a handful of openings but they still looked dangerous when they

managed to sweep forward at full pace.

Cesc Fabregas rifled one shot just wide, Edwin van der Sar foiled Robert Pires

at the near post and Thierry Henry's curling free-kick had the Dutchman

frantically scrambling along his line as it whizzed past the post.

There was less spite than usual, with the only real flashpoint coming when

Ryan Giggs fouled Jose Antonio Reyes and the Spaniard's overblown theatrics

ensured a booking for the United winger.

United, meanwhile, offered nothing as an attacking force until two minutes

before the interval, when Ruud van Nistelrooy suddenly unleashed a fierce shot

towards the far corner of the net.

He was denied by a fine one-handed save by Jens Lehmann, but the rebound still

fell invitingly into the path of Cristiano Ronaldo, only for the Portugal

international to balloon his shot into the crowd.

United's influence continued to grow after the restart, with Wayne Rooney

looping a header just wide, while Ronaldo picked out Giggs with a deep cross

only for the winger to volley wildly into the crowd.

Van Nistelrooy was not much closer when Rio Ferdinand's astute through-ball

enabled him to beat the offside trap and Arsenal were indebted to Kolo Toure as

he slid in to deny the Dutchman.

Lauren repeated the feat soon afterwards and Arsenal were finally prompted

into a response.

Pires stretched to reach Henry's cross-shot at close range but Van der Sar

just managed to smother the ball, while Gary Neville appeared to catch Fabregas

from behind at the same time as making contact with the ball inside the area.

No penalty though, referee Graham Poll decided.

The action, meanwhile, continued, with Rooney's temper bubbling to the

surface, while Neville was just inches wide as he slid in at the far post to

meet a low cross.

Both managers made substitutions in a bid to clinch victory, with Park Ji-Sung

and Dennis Bergkamp, as well as Mathieu Flamini and Emmanuel Eboue, all brought

on.

However, neither club has the depth of resources enjoyed by Mourinho and when

Eboue cleared Wes Brown's header off the line in the final minute, it was

confirmed as Mourinho's night.

These days, Chelsea are simply a class apart from all the rest. Indeed, on

this evidence, they can win prosper when they are not playing.

Scoring Summary

  • Arsenal
  • Manchester United
 
 

Match Stats

  • Arsenal
  • Manchester United
8(5) Shots (on goal) 16(6)
17 Fouls 13
6 Corner kicks 9
1 Offsides 2
54% Time of Possession 46%
2 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
2 Saves 3

Teams

  • Arsenal
  • Manchester United
Substitutes
Substitutions
Yellow Cards
Lauren (43')
Pascal Cygan (66')
Ryan Giggs (27')
Wayne Rooney (63')
John O'Shea (71')