Arsenal vs. Manchester United  1 - 1


Ferguson slams referee Dowd

28 April 2013 21:30

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has claimed referee Phil Dowd "could not keep up" with the pace of his side's draw 1-1 with Arsenal.

In a feisty game at the Emirates Stadium, Theo Walcott's early strike was cancelled out by Robin van Persie's penalty as both sides were forced to share the spoils on Sunday.

Five Manchester United players were booked during the match, with Van Persie, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Rafael and Antonio Valencia all cautioned.

However, Ferguson did not agree with Dowd's assessment of the match and criticised him for booking so many players.

"Arsenal set off at a fantastic pace, very aggressive and a lot of tackles," Ferguson told Sky Sports.

"The referee just could not keep up at that point. When we had a foul, he booked us straight away. We had five players booked.

"We have got probably the best disciplinary record in the country. For Manchester United to have five players booked, I do not think that is right."

Ferguson also believed his side should have won the game, blaming missed chances in the second half for United's failure to take the three points.

He added: "We expected a tough game and we got a tough game. Arsenal are fighting for the Champions League. We expected a real challenge.

"But, in fairness to the players, once we had scored, if they had taken one or two of their chances, I think we would have won quite comfortably."


Premier League: Arsenal 1 Manchester United 1

28 April 2013 18:57

Robin van Persie scored on his return to Arsenal as newly crowned champions Manchester United snatched a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

Theo Walcott gave the hosts the lead after just two minutes, but the Dutchman's equaliser means Arsene Wenger's side's chances of finishing in the Premier League's top four are no longer in their hands with fifth-placed Tottenham two points behind, but with a game to play.

With Olivier Giroud suspended, Lukas Podolski started up front for Arsenal, while Kieran Gibbs replaced Nacho Monreal at left-back.

Manchester United also made two changes as Rio Ferdinand and Nani came in for Shinji Kagawa and Ryan Giggs, with Phil Jones moving into central midfield.

After receiving so much pre-match attention, United's guard of honour passed without incident, while Van Persie – who moved from Arsenal to Manchester for 24 million pounds in the summer – was booed as expected on his return to the Emirates Stadium.

Van Persie's impact in the first goal was telling, but it came at the wrong end of the pitch for the Premier League champions, as he gave the ball away in midfield and Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky split the defence open with a great pass that played Walcott in down the right.

The Englishman, who was shown to be offside on television replays, charged past Patrice Evra before slotting the ball past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea to delight the home fans.

Santi Cazorla had a terrific effort shortly after, with De Gea required to turn the ball over the bar, as Wenger's side started superbly.

Jones nodded wide from close range after 17 minutes for United, while Van Persie and Jonny Evans were booked for crude challenges before the half-hour mark.

Arsenal remained on top and Podolski had a shot from a tight angle beaten away by De Gea, but Alex Ferguson's men responded just before the break, with Van Persie having a header well saved by Wojciech Szczesny before Jones nodded over.

And United did have their equaliser before the break, as a reckless Bacary Sagna lunge saw Van Persie go down in the penalty area.

The striker dusted himself off and expertly dispatched his spot-kick, giving Szczesny no chance as the two sides headed into the break level.

Arsenal came out full of running in the second half and Rosicky had an early effort turned wide, while Ramsey's strike from distance was hit straight at De Gea.

At the other end, Rooney headed at Szczesny, while the heated nature of the contest continued with Sagna, who had already been booked, lucky to stay on the pitch after a tackle on Evra.

Laurent Koscielny went close with 17 minutes left, but could only turn a shot over following a corner, while Arsenal had shouts for a penalty when Gibbs collided with Rio Ferdinand, although referee Phil Dowd was not interested.

Giggs had a goal-bound effort deflected wide in the 88th minute but in the end both sides were forced to share the spoils after an entertaining encounter.

With the title already secured, Manchester United enter another big match; a home clash with Chelsea on Sunday; in a relaxed frame of mind, while Arsenal will fancy their chances at the already-relegated QPR a day earlier as their bid for a top-four finish continues.


Premier League Preview: Arsenal v Manchester United

26 April 2013 18:31

Premier League champions Manchester United travel to Arsenal on Sunday looking to maintain their charge to beat Chelsea’s points record.

Robin van Persie’s hat trick won the game for United over Aston Villa on Monday night which sealed their 20th league title, and they will be full of confidence given they have only lost once in the league this year.

In 2004-05 Chelsea set a new record for the number of points accumulated in a season with 95, but United know that if they win all of their remaining fixtures they will eclipse that record by one point.

Sunday will be the first time former Arsenal forward Van Persie has returned to the Emirates, he will undoubtedly get a mixed reception from the home crowd which could be made worse if the game were to start with a guard of honour from Arsenal for the new champions.

One of the stars of the season for Arsene Wenger's side has been Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard joined the club from Malaga in the summer and has scored 12 goals in 34 Premier League games.

Cazorla is key to Arsenal's passing game and believes that they can trouble United on Sunday, if they can keep the ball from their opponents.

He told Arsenal's official website: "If we have the ball, we’re definitely going to hurt them. We’re a team that keeps possession well and knows how to hurt the opposition.

"If we don’t, it’ll be the reverse. They’ll cause us problems because they have a lot of quality and when given space they can threaten us.

Keeping the ball is the key. We need to force them back and not give them time on the ball as they have players that can make a difference.

"We always look forward to the big games. They’re coming here having won the league and we hope that they’ll be more relaxed than if they had to win the league on our pitch, but it’s going to be a very difficult game.

"At the moment, they’ve got the best team in the Premier League - they’ve proven that by winning the league with games to spare. But I hope we can get the three points at home because we need them more than they do."

United’s recent record against Arsenal is impressive; they have only lost once to Arsene Wenger’s side in their last eight meetings and have scored 12 goals in their last three encounters.

Wenger's side continue to face a battle with Tottenham and Chelsea for a top four spot at the end of the season and they are in excellent form with just four games to play.

They have not lost in their last seven matches and have only dropped two points in that time which has pushed them right back into contention for a Champions League spot next season.

Alex Ferguson has injury concerns around Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling, with neither defender appearing in the win over Villa they may not be risked given United have already secured the title.

Arsenal could be without Mikel Arteta in the centre of midfield, but they will definitely be without Abou Diaby who has been ruled out for the rest of the season for Arsenal with a knee injury, while Lukasz Fabianski's rib injury will see him miss out.


Ferguson pleased with Arsenal respect

26 April 2013 14:44

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has thanked Arsene Wenger for the guard of honour Arsenal will give the champions on Sunday.

After securing their 20th English top-flight title on Monday against Aston Villa, Ferguson's men will visit Arsenal in what is traditionally one of the best games of the season.

Arsenal boss Wenger announced earlier this week that his players would show their respect to United before the match, a move that has pleased Ferguson.

"I'm glad Arsene has done that," Ferguson said.

"When they came to Old Trafford some years back [2002], we did exactly that and that's what great clubs should do."

While Arsenal's players will give Manchester United a good reception, the same cannot be said for the supporters of Wenger's side.

Dutch striker Robin van Persie – who crossed from Arsenal to United for 24 million pounds in the off-season – has enjoyed a stellar campaign for his new club, scoring 28 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions.

Sunday's fixture will be the first time he returns to Emirates Stadium and he is sure to be the target of vocal abuse from the Arsenal supporters, not that it will bother him or Ferguson.

"I'm not really bothered about that [Van Persie's reception] to be honest with you," he said.

"I don't think Robin should bother about it either. There was some booing of him when he played against Arsenal at Old Trafford and I think you probably expect a portion of the fans will do that.

"But that's the modern generation and modern society, I'm afraid. Robin showed in his celebrations how much winning the league meant to him."

Despite having the title wrapped up, Ferguson has called for his players to finish the season the way they started and in the process, achieve the record points tally in Premier League history, which is achievable if the club win their last four matches.

Games against Arsenal and Chelsea will also ensure his players need no extra motivation, according to Ferguson.

He said: "Having won the league, there's always a danger of falling into the trap of 'it's all over and we can relax' and enjoy ourselves but I think we've got a duty to other clubs who are chasing Champions League places.

"Also, the rivalry we've had with Arsenal and then Chelsea [who United will play on May 5] over the years does put an edge to these games anyway so hopefully we'll represent ourselves in the right way."

Ferguson added that he expects to have a near full-strength squad to choose from on Sunday, with Ashley Young hoping to return from an ankle injury.


Arsenal will form United guard of honour - Wenger

26 April 2013 12:09

Champions Manchester United travel to the Emirates on Sunday with Arsene Wenger confirming Arsenal will form a guard of honour.

The London side will also welcome former striker Robin van Persie back to his old ground for the first time since his big-money move to Old Trafford.

Van Persie sealed United's latest title triumph with a superb hat-trick on Monday against Aston Villa to rub salt into Arsenal's wounds.

Arsenal boss Wenger said: "I want the traditions of English football to be respected.

"We respect Robin van Persie like every other player who has left and comes back. I want the player to be respected.

"He is a massive talent with world-class technique and huge experience with the national team and in the Champions League. I had no doubt he'd adapt.

"I think Arsenal had a positive impact on the life and career of Robin van Persie."

United want to beat Chelsea's record Premier League points total, meaning the hosts will need to be on top form to advance their UEFA Champions League hopes.

Wenger added: "You always miss a big player, but not we are stabilised. We are on a very strong run. We have a good level of confidence and a great desire.

"What we know is that we will need a great performance to beat Manchester United. That's what we will focus on."


Van Persie will get respect on Arsenal return, says Wenger

25 April 2013 17:11

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes Robin van Persie will be shown respect by supporters upon his return to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Dutchman has starred for Manchester United this season following a £24 million move from Arsenal, notching 24 top-flight goals to help fire Sir Alex Ferguson's side to the Premier League title.

It has been suggested that some Arsenal fans are set to turn their backs on the planned guard of honour for the newly-crowned champions in protest at Van Persie's perceived betrayal.

However, Wenger is certain the Netherlands international will be well received.

"We will respect the players that have played for us a long time as we always have done and treat them well before and after the game," he said.

"As a champion or not as a champion it is exactly the same.

"What I want is for us to have a good game and to beat them, it doesn't matter what kind of status they come with."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25
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