The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
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Arsenal beat Man United 1-0 to take title race with Man City to final day of Premier League season

Associated Press Monday, 13 May 2024, 07:11 Last update: about 13 days ago

 It's going down to the wire.

Arsenal ensured the Premier League title race will go to the last day of the season after returning to the top of the standings with a 1-0 win at Manchester United on Sunday.

Leandro Trossard's 20th minute winner at Old Trafford means the Londoners will take defending champion Manchester City to the final round of games next Sunday.

“Today we wanted to really knock (at) that door and open that box of dreams and live the last and final day of the season in front of our people with the opportunity to win the Premier League,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “Everything is at stake. We had no margin for error since January.”

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Anything other than a win for Arsenal against United could have seen City clinch the title with victory at Tottenham on Tuesday. Arteta's team duly delivered and moved one point clear at the top.

Arsenal will host Everton in the final round, when City is at home against West Ham after Tuesday's game at Spurs.

For now, Arsenal has done all it could to keep the pressure on Pep Guardiola's team — improving on last season when it suffered a late collapse to allow City to wrap up a third successive title with three games to spare.

While the title is still in City's hands, it will have to win its remaining two games to be certain of a record fourth-straight English league title.

Arsenal is aiming to be crowned champion for the first time since 2004, when Arsene Wenger's team went an entire league campaign without defeat to earn the nickname of the “Invincibles.”

The current class cannot match that feat, but with 27 wins and 89 goals it has set two new club records in the Premier League era.

“That’s not progress, that’s history,” Arteta said. “That’s very difficult to do, especially in the league where we are playing now.”

The visit to Old Trafford always looked like Arsenal's biggest test during the run-in and history was not on its side, having won only once in its last 16 league games at the home of United. Despite that record, it was still the favorite to overcome a United team that had been ruthlessly exposed by Crystal Palace earlier in the week when routed 4-0 at Selhurst Park.

Casemiro, who had received heavy criticism for his performance as a makeshift center back against Palace, was culpable again for Arsenal's winner when he was slow to push up and played Kai Havertz onside. The Germany forward took advantage and drove into the box before crossing for Trossard to convert from close range.

With so much at stake, the tension appeared to get to Arsenal's players, who could not build on that early advantage and instead ceded long periods of possession to United.

Still, United rarely looked likely to open up its opponent and it was Arsenal that came closest to adding to its lead through substitute Gabriel Martinelli in the second half and Declan Rice.

UNITED SLUMP

Defeat for United was a latest blow for under-pressure manager Ten Hag, whose team lost for the 14th time in the league this season and extended a damaging run that has seen it win just one of its last eight games in England’s top division.

While Ten Hag has the FA Cup final against City to look forward to at the end of the season, there was little to encourage co-owner Jim Ratcliffe, who was in the crowd along with Keir Starmer, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party.

With two games remaining in the league, United is eighth in the standings and in danger of missing out on European soccer next season. United has never finished lower than seventh in the Premier League era.

But Ten Hag believes he still has the backing of the club's fans.

“They understand where we are and where this club is. We have so many injuries in key areas they (the fans) don’t get what (they) deserve, but they understand this and that is why they are behind the team," he said. “I think that is why they are with us, we are united and hopefully we can pay them back in the future.”

CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS

Norwich and Leeds drew 0-0 in the first leg of their Championship playoff semifinal on Sunday. And there was nothing to separate West Bromwich Albion and Southampton in the other semifinal after another goalless draw.

Leeds hosts Norwich in the second leg on Thursday and Southampton is at home against West Brom the following day. All four teams will hope they can produce more creativity and cutting edge in the second legs to secure a place in the final at Wembley on May 26.

WOMEN'S FA CUP FINAL

Manchester United won its first major trophy by routing Tottenham 4-0 in the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley.

Ella Toone’s stunning long-range strike in first-half stoppage time set up victory for Marc Skinner’s team.

United cruised to victory after the break through two goals from Lucia Garcia and another from Rachel Williams.

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