Scroll to Photostream above left for match photos, click on the statistics tab for match stats. Manager reaction below.
Robin van Persie scored on his return to Arsenal as newly crowned Barclays Premier League champions Manchester United snatched a 1-1 draw.
Theo Walcott gave the hosts the lead after less than two minutes, but the Dutchman's equaliser means Arsene Wenger's side's chances of finishing in the Barclays Premier League's top four are no longer in their hands with fifth-placed Tottenham two points behind, but with a match in hand..
With Olivier Giroud suspended, Lukas Podolski started up front for Arsenal, while Kieran Gibbs replaced Nacho Monreal at left-back. United also made two changes as Rio Ferdinand and Nani came in for Shinji Kagawa and Ryan Giggs, with Phil Jones moving into central midfield.
Van Persie's impact in the first goal was telling, but it came at the wrong end of the pitch for the champions, as he gave the ball away in midfield and Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky split the defence open with a great pass that played Walcott in down the right. The Englishman charged past Patrice Evra before slotting the ball past United goalkeeper David de Gea, to delight the home fans.
Santi Cazorla had a terrific effort shortly after, with De Gea required to turn the ball over the bar, as Wenger's side started well. Jones nodded wide from close range after 17 minutes for United, while Van Persie and Jonny Evans were booked before the half-hour mark.
Arsenal remained on top and Podolski had a shot from a tight angle beaten away by De Gea, but Sir Alex Ferguson's men responded just before the break, with Van Persie having a point-blank header well saved by Wojciech Szczesny before Jones nodded wide.
United did get their equaliser before the break, as a Bacary Sagna lunge brought Van Persie down in the penalty area. The striker picked himself up and dispatched his spot-kick, giving Szczesny no chance as the two sides headed into the break level.
Arsenal came out full of running in the second half and Rosicky had an early effort turned wide, while Ramsey's strike from distance was hit straight at De Gea. At the other end, Rooney headed at Szczesny.
Laurent Koscielny went close with 17 minutes left, but could only turn a shot over following a corner, while Arsenal had shouts for a penalty when Gibbs collided with Rio Ferdinand, although referee Phil Dowd was not interested.
Giggs had a goal-bound effort deflected wide in the 88th minute after a break but in the end both sides were forced to share the spoils after an entertaining encounter.
With the title already secured, Manchester United enter another big match; a home clash with Chelsea on Sunday; in a relaxed frame of mind, while Arsenal will fancy their chances at the already-relegated QPR a day earlier as their bid for a top-four finish continues.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “From the first to the last minute, it was two teams giving absolutely everything to win. We gave everything and, at the end of the day, the regret you have is the way we conceded the goal. Just before half-time, that was a serious blow to us.
“It was a quality game with a lot of intensity. I believe we were on top in the first half and it was disappointing to concede the equaliser the way we did. Why? Because it put us in a position in the second half where we had to completely open ourselves up and throw everything forward, and sometimes [we did that] more with energy than technique.
"We opened ourselves up for the counter-attacks where we could have lost the game. I feel that equaliser played a big part in this game because it put us in a difficult position. Overall I can only praise the players for the effort, the dynamic and the desire we put in. Let's keep it going like that and we will have a chance to be where we want to be.”
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "We expected a tough game and we got a tough game. Arsenal are fighting for the Champions League. We expected a real challenge. But, in fairness to the players, once we had scored, if they had taken one or two of their chances, I think we would have won quite comfortably."
“[The match] swung back and forth. In the first 20 minutes, we were surprised by Arsenal’s aggression and some of their tackles. That put us on the back foot. We probably had the best chances – we had four fantastic chances from headers. We went through time and time again in the last third of the field and perhaps with a bit more composure we would have won the game.”
“If we had taken one or two of our chances we would have won comfortably. We always looked a bigger threat, but that’s not to take away from Arsenal putting a lot into the game. They worked their socks off and credit to them.
“Arsenal had fantastic pace, they were really aggressive and put in a lot of tackles. But in the last 20 minutes the game was end-to-end stuff. The best chances definitely fell to us and we should have done better with them. Arsenal are fighting for a place in the Champions League and we expected a real challenge to us. We got one.”
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|20 Sep 2014||v Aston Villa (A)|