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ARSENAL: Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Campbell, Cygan, Pires, Fabregas (Flamini 80), Silva, Hleb (Bergkamp 73), Reyes (Eboue 89), Henry.

Subs Not Used: Almunia, Senderos.


MAN UTD: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Brown, Silvestre, Ronaldo, Fletcher, O'Shea, Giggs (Park 73), Rooney, van Nistelrooy.

Subs Not Used: Howard, Saha, Bardsley, Pique.



Att: 38,313

Remember (not so long ago) when Man Utd against Arsenal was the biggest game in English football? Well that seems decades ago, as the two sides played out a 0-0 draw that even flattered itself being goal-less!

Jose Mourinho was probably the only man on the planet to enjoy every second, as this performance just about handed him his second Preiership title.

This goalless draw simply enabled Mourinho's side to retain a 13-point lead over United, with Arsenal now 24 points adrift.

A point at Highbury is by no mean an easy achievement, but the difference these days is that Chelsea secured all three only last month.

United offered nothing as an attacking force until two minutes before the interval, when Ruud van Nistelrooy suddenly unleashed a fierce shot towards the far corner of the net. He was denied by a fine one-handed save by Jens Lehmann, but the rebound still fell invitingly into the path of Cristiano Ronaldo, only for the Portugal international to balloon his shot into the crowd.

United's influence continued to grow after the restart, with Wayne Rooney looping a header just wide, while Ronaldo picked out Giggs with a deep cross only for the winger to volley wildly into the crowd.

Van Nistelrooy was not much closer when Rio Ferdinand's astute through-ball enabled him to beat the offside trap and Arsenal were indebted to Kolo Toure as he slid in to deny the Dutchman.

Pires stretched to reach Henry's cross-shot at close range but Van der Sar just managed to smother the ball, while Gary Neville appeared to catch Fabregas from behind at the same time as making contact with the ball inside the area. No penalty though, referee Graham Poll decided.

These days, Chelsea are simply a class apart from all the rest. Indeed, on this evidence, they can win prosper when they are not playing.



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Writer:Cantona
Date:Thursday January 5 2006
Time: 10:33AM

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