Arsenal dents Man United’s title chances

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Arsenal dents Man United’s title chances


Aaron Ramsey (16) of Arsenal is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal against Manchester United during their English Premier League football match at the Emirates Stadium in north London, Sunday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

LONDON - Arsenal threw open the English title race Sunday with a 1-0 win over Manchester United that left the Premier League leader vulnerable to a late charge by defending champion Chelsea.

Aaron Ramsey scored in the 56th minute at the Emirates Stadium to cap a dominant display by Arsenal and cut United’s lead over the Blues to three points with three games remaining.

With third-place Arsenal still six points off the lead, the Gunners’ victory may have come too late to re-ignite its title hopes.

But after beating Tottenham 2-1 on Saturday, Chelsea’s goal difference is now identical to United’s, giving the defending champion the chance to go top if it beats United at Old Trafford next Sunday.

“It gives Chelsea a major chance now,’’ United manager Alex Ferguson said. “But in terms of ability - a game at Old Trafford, the supporters will be ready for it - and so will our players.’’

Also Sunday, Liverpool moved ahead of Spurs on goal difference into fifth place with an untroubled 3-0 win over Newcastle.

Although Spurs have played one game fewer, their chances of reaching the top four to make the Champions League for a second straight season appear to be over.

Manchester City, in the fourth and final Champions League place, beat last-place West Ham 2-1 to move seven points ahead of Liverpool and Spurs.

Nigel de Jong and Pablo Zabaleta scored in the first half for City but Liverpool still has a good chance to finish in fifth place - two places higher than last season.

“We’ll just keep going and see what we get,’’ Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said. “It’s great reward that we’ve got to where we are.’’

United is likely to reach the Champions League final on Wednesday and was unbeaten in seven meetings with Arsenal but the closest it came to scoring at the Emirates Stadium was when Wayne Rooney curled a 49th-minute free kick toward the top corner. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved and Patrice Evra put the rebound into the side netting.

Szczesny also blocked a near-post shot from Nani following a 77th-minute counterattack and Arsenal, which drew its previous three home matches and lost 2-1 at Bolton last weekend, held firm with the youngest team fielded by any club in this season’s Premier League.

Ramsey’s inclusion in place of captain Cesc Fabregas, who was kicked on the thigh in training Friday, meant that the average age of Arsenal’s starting lineup was 23 years, 296 days.

But it crucially meant that, with Jack Wilshere and Alex Song also playing, the Gunners’ midfield was more muscular. With United stalwart Ryan Giggs missing because of flu, Arsenal dominated possession, taking 80 percent in the first 15 minutes and 57 percent overall.

“I didn’t think we started playing until we lost a goal to be honest,’’ Ferguson told United’s MUTV channel. “It was a very low-key performance up until then.

“They’ve run themselves into the ground and tried their best in terms of effort but we never started playing until then.’’

Van Persie set up Ramsey’s first Premier League goal of the season, and his first since December 2009, after he was released down the right by Theo Walcott.

The Dutch striker carried the ball into the area and, given time by United’s defense to weigh up his options, spotted Ramsey screaming for the ball just inside the box with his arms aloft.

Van Persie rolled a pass to the unmarked midfielder, who placed a first-time shot from 15 meters across goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and in at the far post. United could have had a late penalty when Gael Clichy trod on Michael Owen’s leg just inside the area but the Red Devils were lucky not to concede a kick of their own in the first half when Nemanja Vidic blatently used his hand to deflect a cross away from Van Persie’s head.


한글 관련 기사 [일간스포츠]

‘박지성 풀타임’ 맨유, 아스날에 덜미…‘우승 빨간불’

'산소탱크' 박지성(30)이 풀타임을 소화하며 분전했지만, 소속팀 맨체스터 유나이티드의 패배를 막아내진 못했다.

맨유는 1일 밤(이하 한국시간) 영국 런던 에미레이츠 스타디움에서 열린 아스널과의 2010~2011시즌 잉글랜드 프리미어리그 35라운드 원정경기서 후반11분 아론 램지에게 허용한 선제골을 만회하지 못해 0-1로 패했다. 이로써 맨유는 올 시즌 4번째 패배(21승10패)를 허용하며 승점 추가에 실패했고, 우승을 향한 행진에도 제동이 걸렸다. 맨유는 승점73점으로 선두 자리를 유지했지만 2위 첼시(70점)와의 승점 차가 3점 밖에 되지 않는 데다 36라운드서 첼시와의 맞대결이 예정돼 있어 정상 등극을 자신할 수 없는 상황에 놓였다.

박지성은 맨유의 왼쪽 날개 미드필더로 선발 출장해 풀타임을 소화하며 그라운드를 누볐다. 특유의 성실한 움직임은 여전했지만, 아스널의 적극적인 압박 전술에 맨유 선수들의 발이 묶이면서 이렇다 할 찬스를 만들어내지 못했다. 이따금씩 시도한 회심의 슈팅은 수비벽에 가로막혔다. 안토니오 발렌시아가 투입된 후반 중반 이후에는 중앙미드필더로 보직을 바꿔 공격 지원 임무를 수행했으나 공격포인트를 기록하지는 못했다.

결승골은 후반11분에 터졌다. 맨유의 위험지역 내 오른쪽을 파고든 아스널 공격수 로빈 판 페르시가 정면으로 패스했고, 램지가 침착한 오른발 땅볼 슈팅으로 골네트를 흔들었다. 맨유는 이후 안토니오 발렌시아, 디미타르 베르바토프, 마이클 오언 등 공격자원들을 줄줄이 투입하며 만회골을 노렸지만 뜻을 이루지 못했다.

아스널에겐 의미가 남다른 승리였다. 아스널은 최근 들어 부진의 늪에서 허덕였다. 정규리그와 컵대회를 합쳐 최근 7경기서 1승5무1패에 그쳤고, 이 과정에서 선두권 경쟁에서도 한 발 물러났다. 숙적 맨유와의 맞대결에서도 최근 4연패 포함 1무6패로 기를 펴지 못했다. 램지가 터뜨린 선제 결승골은 맨유에 눌려 있던 아스널의 자존심을 되살린 득점포였다. 승리를 거둔 아스널 사령탑 아르센 벵거 감독은 알렉스 퍼거슨 맨유 감독과의 맞대결 전적도 15승11무19패를 기록, 격차를 좁혔다. 리그 성적도 19승10무6패 승점67점으로 선두 맨유에 6점 차로 다가섰다.

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