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Photos: Arsenal held, United march on

Last updated on: January 2, 2013 09:23 IST

Arsenal held at Southampton, Henry loan ruled out

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A new year is born but Arsenal still frustrate their fans after summing up the season by beating Europa League combatants Newcastle United 7-3 at the weekend and then needing an own goal to draw 1-1 at lowly Southampton.

Saturday's English Premier League classic featured a hat-trick from Theo Walcott and prompted comparisons with Arsenal great Thierry Henry but his return to former club Southampton on Tuesday was far less spectacular and proved he is still a work in progress up front.

Walcott's cross was deflected in by Guilherme do Prado but the England winger also had a goal rightly ruled out for offside and showed a renewed tendency to shoot too early when there was precious little space.


Image: Southampton's Guly Do Prado (right) scores an own goal
Photographs: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

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Did we underestimate Southampton? I hope not: Wenger

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Many of his team mates had a worse game with the defence and especially full back Bacary Sagna all at sea for Gaston Ramirez's opener.

Southampton's record signing almost grabbed a winner when the Uruguayan's strike was chalked off for a minor push as the 17th-placed hosts went for broke and Arsenal struggled to fashion any clear-cut chances.

"We were not very good offensively, we didn't create enough. We lacked sharpness and desire to get into the box," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports before being asked why they had been so lacklustre.

"I don't know. Did we underestimate Southampton? I hope not. The chances we created were not enough."


Image: Arsenal's Theo Walcott breaks through the Southampton defence
Photographs: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

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Wenger rule out any prospect of signing Henry on loan

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Thierry Henry, the club's record goal-scorer, has been training with Arsenal in the Major League Soccer off-season but Wenger seemed to rule out any prospect of signing the New York Red Bulls striker on loan.

"At the moment we are not on that case," said the manager.

Tuesday's draw, against a team they beat 6-1 at home in September, snapped fifth-placed Arsenal's four-game league winning streak.

The good run had looked to have banished Arsenal's memories of a painful early December when they lost 2-0 at home to Swansea City and were knocked out of the Capital One (League) Cup on penalties by fourth tier Bradford City.

Southampton's third straight draw edged the promoted side out of the relegation zone.

"We gave ourselves an opportunity to get the three points. It just shows how far we have come," boss Nigel Adkins said.

"All round we had some really good performances yet again, they're a really good bunch of lads."


Image: Arsene Wenger
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Van Persie shines again as United march on

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Manchester United striker Robin van Persie bagged a contrasting double in a 4-0 win at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday to hand Roberto Mancini another painful reminder of why he looks the difference in the title race.

Mancini's Manchester City did their job by winning 3-0 at home to Stoke City but the Premier League champions remain seven points behind rivals United following Van Persie's masterclass, with Tottenham Hotspur up to third after a 3-1 victory over Reading.

Dutchman Van Persie was pinpointed by Mancini in the pre-match buildup as the reason why United may snatch back their title and the former Arsenal hotshot continued 2013 where he left off in 2012, curling in a beauty just before the break.

A late tap-in took Van Persie's total to 16 league goals this season as the leaders powered on to 52 points from 21 games, their best tally at this stage in six years.


Image: Manchester United's Robin Van Persie (right) shoots to score
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters
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Van Persie's ability is exceptional: Alex Ferguson

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"Wigan are a difficult team to play against, particularly at their own ground, so 4-0 is a good result for us," United manager Alex Ferguson told the BBC.

"The game started slowly but once we got the first goal we were away and we were happy to go in at halftime 2-0 up," added Ferguson.

"Javier Hernandez is a goal-scorer, a real penalty box player. Van Persie's ability is exceptional and his first goal was magnificent -- we expected him to be a major player and add something to us and that is exactly what he has done."


Image: Manchester United's Robin Van Persie (centre) celebrates
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

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Today we did a good performance: Mancini

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The New Year brought a rare goal for City defender Pablo Zabaleta before in-form Edin Dzeko doubled the lead after the break to show Mancini that his strikers are still top class despite the failure to sign Van Persie from Arsenal in August.

Sergio Aguero, who later limped off, squeezed in a penalty to make it 3-0 after Steven N'zonzi had clipped the heels of David Silva -- possibly outside the area.

"Today we did a good performance," Mancini told Sky Sports.

An usually fragile Stoke were completely outgunned by City for most of the first half, much as Aston Villa were at Swansea City as their run of three defeats while conceding 15 goals and scoring none looked set to continue before they sealed a 2-2 draw.


Image: Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta celebrates
Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters

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