|(Football) Defensive Gunners keep Man U in check
Arsenal and Manchester United each had cause for regret after playing out an attritional and occasionally turgid 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium in the English Premier League yesterday.
Both teams had suffered damaging results at the weekend, Arsenal crashing 5-1 at Liverpool and United drawing 2-2 at home to bottom club Fulham, and the tentativeness on either side made for a game of only sporadic excitement, AFP reports.
Robin van Persie came closest to scoring for United, spurning an excellent early chance and later hitting the crossbar with a header, while Arsenal center-back Laurent Koscielny had a header cleared of the line.
Arsenal would have gone top of the table with victory, but the draw left Arsene Wenger's side a point behind Chelsea in second place.
“The title race is absolutely open for many teams,'' said Wenger.
“Overall, we could have won it. It was a game of few chances. Our defensive focus was extreme as we conceded so many goals on Saturday. In the end, either side could have won 1-0.''
The result also had costly ramifications for United, who fell 11 points below fourth-place Liverpool in the race for Champions League football after the Merseyside club won 3-2 at Fulham.
Van Persie got an opportunity within seconds of kick-off. He was allowed to creep up behind Mikel Arteta and steal possession from the Spaniard, but with only Wojciech Szczesny to beat he drove a tame low shot into the Arsenal goalkeeper's arms.
In response, Jack Wilshere had a shot blocked by Chris Smalling after a weaving run, with Olivier Giroud heading over from the ensuing corner, while Tomas Rosicky saw a deflected effort saved by David de Gea.
With Antonio Valencia replacing Ashley Young for United, the champions deployed Juan Mata on the left flank. The club's record signing teed up Van Persie with a pass down the inside-left channel, only for the Dutchman to shoot wastefully wide.
Giroud continued to best United captain Nemanja Vidic in the air, but he was unable to find the target with a succession of headers.
The French striker was also involved in a collision with Rafael da Silva that saw the United full-back land awkwardly on his neck. After soldiering on until half-time, the Brazilian gave way for Rio Ferdinand.
A war of attrition took hold early in the second period, with neither side able to fashion a chance as attacks foundered on imprecise passes and fouls.
The home fans almost had something to shout about in the 62nd minute, but although Koscielny's glancing header from a right-wing corner beat the diving De Gea, Valencia was on hand to head the ball off the line.