Mission accomplished

With a goalless draw against Arsenal, Manchester United have taken just five points from a possible 18 against their top four rivals. But none of that mattered a jot as United celebrated their record-equalling 18th title on the pitch at the end. By Paul Wilson.

Apoint was all Manchester United needed and a point was all Arsenal let them have - quite literally, since Arsenal's win at the Emirates in November 2008, coupled with this comfortable stifling of the champions' attacking ambitions, only underlined the fact that United have taken just five points from a possible 18 against their top four rivals. But none of that mattered a jot as United celebrated their record-equalling 18th title on the pitch at the end.

Yet, after failing to bring a save from Lukasz Fabianski in the whole of the match, there could be some sympathy for Rafa Benitez's assertion that, in some areas, United have not always been the best team this season. Much of a forgettable firsthalf had been played at walking pace on a warm day, with United rarely managing to generate their usual tempo. The home side seemed to want to crown their season's achievement with a goal fit for the cameras, too, tending to waste what good positions they achieved by going for something a little too ambitious.

Cristiano Ronaldo cut back a cross for Wayne Rooney when a level ball would have found Carlos Tevez in a much more threatening position. Then a marvellous crossfield pass by Rooney was effortlessly controlled by Ronaldo only to be given away at the edge of the area.

Fabianski survived the first 45 minutes without any problems, which would have been more embarrassing for United had Robin van Persie not headed wastefully over the bar when picked out in front of goal by Andrey Arshavin. While Ryan Giggs and Rooney had opportunities at the other end, that counted as the game's most clear-cut opportunity until Arshavin again caused problems for United by wriggling through on the left and supplying a cross from which Samir Nasri's shot struck Van Persie and bounced clear.

Despite some below-par performances from key players, Giggs and Tevez among them, United resisted the temptation to tinker at half-time. There were boos when Ji-Sung Park replaced Tevez after 67 minutes, followed by even more predictably chants of "sign him up" - though, in truth, it had not been one of the Argentine's more persuasive displays.

Park had the ball in the net within minutes of coming on, only to be denied by a highly questionable offside flag. But at least his interchange with Ronaldo showed a willingness to run directly at the Arsenal defence. United will need a lot more of that in Rome.

c Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009 THE RESULTS

May 17: Chelsea 2 (Malouda 4, Anelka 59) bt Blackburn 0. Half-time: 1-0; West Brom 0 lost to Liverpool 2 (Gerrard 28, Kuyt 63). Half-time: 0-1. West Brom are relegated.

May 16: Bolton 1 (Steinsson 26) drew with Hull 1 (Fagan 47). Half-time: 1-0; Everton 3 (Saha pen-38 & 76, Yobo 48) bt West Ham 1 (Kovac 24). Half-time: 1-1; Manchester United 0 drew with Arsenal 0; Manchester United are champions; Middlesbrough 1 (Sanli 14) drew with Aston Villa 1 (Carew 57). Half-time: 1-0; Newcastle 0 lost to Fulham 1 (Kamara 41). Half-time: 0-1; Stoke 2 (Fuller 69, Beattie 76) bt Wigan 0. Half-time: 0-0; Tottenham 2 (Defoe 29, Keane pen-86) bt Manchester City 1 (Bojinov 65). Half-time: 1-0.

May 13: Wigan 1 (Rodallega 28) lost to Manchester United 2 (Tevez 61, Carrick 86). Half-time: 1-0.

May 11: Newcastle 3 (Taylor 9, Martins 71, Lovenkrands 86) bt Middlesbrough 1 (Beye o.g. 3). Half-time: 1-1.