Arsenal beat Man United to stretch title race wide open

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Arsenal‘s Aaron Ramsey blew the Premier League title race wide open as his second-half goal clinched a 1-0 win over leaders Manchester United on Sunday.

A victory at the Emirates Stadium would have put United within touching distance of a record 19th league title, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side gave a strangely subdued display and Chelsea can now climb above them into first place if they win next Sunday’s crunch clash at Old Trafford.

Second-placed Chelsea trail United by just three points and a win in Manchester would leave them favourites to retain the title with only two games to play after next weekend.

View Head to Head for Manchester United vs Chelsea.

United, who have now failed to win at any of their top-six rivals this season, paid the price for their lethargy when Ramsey struck in the 56th minute.

After starting the weekend firmly in control of the title race, United are in severe danger of surrendering the initiative to a resurgent Chelsea, who have won eight of their last nine league games.

“Obviously it gives Chelsea a major chance now and that’s what happens when you get these decisions. It’s too big a game not to get the decisions right,” Ferguson said, referring to a rejected United penalty appeal.

“But in terms of ability, in a game at Old Trafford (against Chelsea), the supporters will be ready for it and so will our players.”

With Cesc Fabregas sidelined by a thigh injury suffered in training on Saturday, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger brought Ramsey into the youngest starting eleven of any Premier League club this season.

Wenger’s side should have had a penalty mid-way through the first half when Nemanja Vidic clearly used his hand to deflect Theo Walcott’s cross away from Robin van Persie as the Dutchman prepared to head towards goal.

However, neither referee Chris Foy nor his linesman Andy Garratt spotted the Serbia defender’s blatant offence.

Arsenal took the lead when Ramsey scored his first Gunners goal since January 2010.

Van Persie twisted and turned in the penalty area before cutting back to Ramsey, who side-footed a first-time shot past Edwin van der Sar.

United’s Michael Owen could have won a penalty when he was tackled by Gael Clichy, but Arsenal deservedly held on for their first victory over United since November 2008, a result which keeps alive their own slender title hopes.

Earlier on Sunday, Liverpool moved into fifth place with a 3-0 win over Newcastle at Anfield.

Maxi Rodriguez opened the scoring in the 10th minute when his shot deflected in off Danny Simpson.

Dirk Kuyt bagged Liverpool’s second goal with a penalty in the 59th minute after Luis Suarez was fouled by Mike Williamson.

Suarez added the third himself six minutes later to lift Liverpool above Spurs on goal difference, although Harry Redknapp’s team have a game in hand to regain the Europa League qualifying place.

At St Andrew’s, 10-man Birmingham boosted their survival bid by holding on for a 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Wolves.

Alex McLeish’s team, who are now four points above the relegation zone, fell behind to Steven Fletcher’s seventh-minute penalty before Sebastian Larsson equalised in the 27th minute.

Birmingham had Craig Gardner sent off for a second booking after the midfielder was penalised for diving but Wolves, who remain second-bottom, were unable to take advantage.

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