While the result wasn’t enough to prevent Manchester United from lifting the Premiership trophy yesterday, Arsenal may have restored some pride in battling to a scoreless draw at Old Trafford in the second-to-last league match of the Premiership season.
The Gunners performed much better on Saturday than in the two Champions League semifinal matches against its English rivals, even controlling much of the possession in both halves, but it must be said that United played within themselves knowing a draw was all that was needed to retain the title.
Robin van Persie had a couple decent chances, but misfired on a header in the opening half and saw a couple dangerous free kicks headed away by Darren Fletcher later in the match.
Some fine buildup play from Arsenal resulted in near misses in the second half, with Cesc Fabregas hitting the side of the post after being set up by Alex Song, and Kieran Gibbs’ shot hitting the side netting at the end of another attack.
It was good to see young Gibbs given another run-out against Manchester United, after his slip in the secong leg Champions League semi allowed for the game’s opening goal.
And it was interesting to see one name not included on the Arsenal team sheet for this match, as Emmanuel Adebayor was not even a sub on the bench for this encounter. Manager Arsene Wenger said the omission was due to a small groin problem for the Togo international. But might some comments from Adebayor in a recent interview with BBC Sports’ Football Focus (located at http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/football_focus/8053447.stm) have played a part in the manager’s decision?
Post-match interviews from Wenger also included his comment that Mikael Silvestre was also left out due to a groin injury. With these two players out of the squad for the match, rumors have of course begun to swirl that both Adebayor and Silvestre will move on from the Emirates for the 2009-10 season. Maybe the lineup for next week’s finale against Stoke City will offer some further indication on the matter?
But that match won’t mean much for the table and league standings, as the Gunners have finished fourth, after watching champions United celebrate yesterday. Wenger commented on the side potentially being spurred on by United’s celebrations, saying, “The hope is there that we can do it. The quality is there as well and you saw that today.
“Deep down you want to be out there celebrating. They were the better team this year and congratulations to them,” he continued. “Let us make sure it is on our side next year. In sport, things can change quickly and what we have shown today is that we have the quality to be up there. We have to keep the belief and work very hard. My team have learned a lot and we were not far. Since November we have lost just one game. We were close in the Champions League and the FA Cup, and were remarkably consistent. ”
Wenger concluded by noting, “at the moment, the team doesn’t get the credit it deserves and it is down to us to show the same consistency. It is not a victory today but it was very important for our pride.”