17 May 2009

Manchester United are champions

6:38 am on 17 May 2009

Manchester United have captured their 18th English league football title when they secured the point they needed in a nervy nil-all draw at home to Arsenal.

It was a cautious display by United, who endured some anxious moments late on before the final whistle sealed a hat-trick of titles and moved them alongside Liverpool as the teams with most English league crowns.

Arsenal, who will finish a distant fourth, enjoyed plenty of possession and came agonisingly close to silencing Old Trafford when captain Cesc Fabregas struck a shot against the outside of Edwin van der Sar's post with seven minutes remaining.

United hung on, however, moving to 87 points with one game remaining to end the formidable challenge of Liverpool whose title drought stretches back to 1990. Liverpool, who visit relegation fighters West Bromwich Albion tomorrow, have 80.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson can now rest players for next weekend's finale at Hull City in preparation for the clash against Barcelona in Rome on May 27th when United can add the Champions League to the League Cup and FIFA's Club World Cup they won in Japan.

That will be a huge comfort to Hull who drew 1-1 at Bolton Wanderers to climb out of the bottom three with one match remaining at the expense of Newcastle United who slumped to a 1-nil home defeat by Fulham.

Middlesbrough could only draw 1-all at home to Aston Villa, a result that virtually doomed them to relegation as they are three points behind Hull with an inferior goal difference.

Everton moved into fifth place with a 3-1 defeat of West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester City 2-1 and Stoke City defeated Wigan Athletic 2-nil.