Arsenal’s title challenge is surely over after a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Arsenal produced a strong display against the league leaders, and took the lead when Emmanuel Adebayor met Robin Van Persie’s cross in the 48th minute. However, six minutes later, referee Howard Webb awarded the home side a penalty after the ball struck William Gallas’s hand. Cristiano Ronaldo fizzed the spot-kick past the recalled Jens Lehmann and into the bottom corner of the net.
United took the lead in the 72nd minute when England international Owen Hargreaves curled a 20-yard free-kick over a rather static-looking Arsenal wall and past Lehmann. Arsenal rallied late on, forcing a number of decent saves from Edwin Van Der Saar, most notably from a late Nicholas Bendtner header. The result leaves Arsenal out of realistic contention for the title. Chelsea, who play Wigan on Monday night, are now the only serious threat to United.
Liverpool look to have done enough to secure Champions’ League football next season. They were dominant in a 3-1 defeat Blackburn Rovers, with a rare goal from Andrei Voronin adding to goals from midweek heroes Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
Everton lost further ground in the race for 4th place, held to a 1-1 draw at St Andrews by a resilient Birmingham City side. Argentine scoring sensation Mauro Zarate was again on the scoresheet for City, scoring a late equaliser with a fine curling free-kick from distance. It was a good weekend for most of the relegation strugglers, as Fulham recorded a rare away win at Reading thanks to goals from captain McBride and striker Eric Nevland, while Bolton Wanderers also managed to three precious points, beating mid-table West Ham 1-0 at the Reebok.
There was no improvement in the fortunes of relegated Derby County, who were hammered 6-0 at home by Aston Villa. Sunderland, however, remain in danger after a disappointing 2-1 home defeat by Manchester City. A late goal from former England striker Darius Vassel won the points for City, who are astonishingly rumoured to be considering sacking their manager Sven-Goran Ericksson.
Newcastle, with neither Premiership status nor Europe to play for, played out a 0-0 draw with Portsmouth at Fratton Park. In a match similarly devoid of significance, Tottenham and Middlesbrough shared the points in a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.