Ramsey dents United hopes
Welshman strikes for Arsenal who edge past Red Devils
By James Riach. Last Updated: 01/05/11 4:36pm
Aaron Ramsey strikes to earn Arsenal 1-0 victory over United
Aaron Ramsey's second-half strike dented Manchester United's Premier League title bid as Arsenal prevailed 1-0 at the Emirates.
Only a miracle would see the Gunners finish top of the pile this season but they had the majority of possession and earned a narrow victory that leaves Chelsea just three points behind United with three games left to play.
Nemanja Vidic was lucky not to be penalised for a handball in the first half, with Robin van Persie denied a chance to head home Theo Walcott's dangerous cross.
Arsenal made the breakthrough in the 56th minute though, Ramsey's precise finish from Van Persie's lay-off finding the bottom corner.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men fought for an equaliser but in truth, Arsenal's defence was rarely troubled although Michael Owen went down in the area late on under the challenge of Gael Clichy.
The Gunners may have seen their own title ambitions extinguished following a run of costly draws before defeat at Bolton last Sunday, but at least gave their frustrated fans renewed hope next season might just be different for Arsene Wenger's young side.
Ramsey had only been in the team because of a thigh injury to captain Cesc Fabregas, but his well-taken strike was just rewards for a high-tempo performance and meant the officials' miss of a penalty for handball by Vidic did not eventually prove decisive.
Arsenal started brightly, with Walcott causing problems down the right, and Jack Wilshere dragged an early chance wide from 15 yards after a poor clearance by United skipper Vidic.
Clichy whipped in a low cross from the left but as Walcott arrived in the six-yard box, he was stretching and could only shin the ball over the crossbar.
It continued to be one-way traffic and, after 15 minutes, Patrice Evra got a toe to Wilshere's low centre across the goal with Walcott ready for a tap-in at the far post.
After so much pressure, United then cut Arsenal apart on the break. Fabio burst down the right and into the area before pulling the ball back to Javier Hernandez, with Bacary Sagna making a last-gasp block just as the Mexican shaped to shoot.
There was then a massive let-off for United when Vidic knocked Walcott's cross from the right behind with his hand, taking it off the head of van Persie.
However, neither the referee or nearside assistant Andy Garratt spotted it - leaving the Dutch forward fuming.
When the dust settled, Wayne Rooney had a goalbound 20-yard shot blocked, before going into the book on 41 minutes for pushing Wilshere on the far touchline.
Arsenal made a change for the second half with Samir Nasri, who tweaked a hamstring, replaced by Russia winger Andrey Arshavin.
United were awarded a free-kick some 22 yards out when Park was bundled over by Song. Rooney struck his effort over the wall, but Wojciech Szczesny dived to his right to make a good two-handed save.
Arsenal slowly got themselves back into a rhythm, with Sagna angling a low drive across goal before they swept into the lead on 56 minutes.
Ramsey fed Van Persie, who charged down the right and into the area before cutting the ball back to the penalty spot, where the Welshman arrived on cue to dispatch a cool finish low into the far corner for a first Arsenal goal in over a year.
United now needed a response, and Vidic headed down and wide from a corner.
Tempers boiled over when Song went in on Nani and looked to have won the ball only for referee Foy to book the Cameroon midfielder, which saw several players involved in a scuffle.
Park released Evra down the left channel, but Clichy covered across quickly to bundle the ball out for a corner.
There was concern for Arsenal when centre-half Johan Djourou fell awkwardly and had to be replaced by Sebastien Squillaci on 60 minutes.
United sent on Dimitar Berbatov, back from a groin injury, and had another free-kick in a dangerous position following Ramsey's needless handball. Szczesny, though, was right behind Rooney's flick.
The young Pole then made an impressive save at the near post after Nani was played in by a quick break from Rooney.
Van Persie chipped the ball across goal after breaking down the left as Arsenal looked for a killer second goal.
With five minutes left, United sent on Michael Owen and the former England striker was screaming for a penalty when he looked to have been tripped by Clichy, but again the officials were unmoved.Arsenal closed out four minutes of stoppage-time to claim a victory which was probably greeted with just as loud a cheer across in West London.
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||4|
|6||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|6||West Ham United||12||18|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||12||13|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||12||8|