On Monday Manchester United and Arsenal locked horns in the Premier League. There’s been rivalry between the two clubs in recent years and their encounters have given us some interesting sights, from Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane exchanging heated words prior to kick-off in the Highbury tunnel in 2005 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwcpFXOsrY8) to Arsene Wenger’s saint-like pose as he was sent to the stands the last time his side were at Old Trafford. United’s 1-0 victory on Monday was far from a classic so Toppo’s Top Ten this week looks back at some memorable meetings between the two down the years.
Manchester United and Arsenal are two of the most decorated clubs in England, having won a combined 31 league titles between them, 21 FA Cups and numerous European titles. During the Premier League years their rivalry intensified as they’ve been going for the Championship on many occasions and any match between the two is eagerly anticipated. They’ve met in the league, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League and below are ten clashes which will be remembered by football fans for years to come.
10: Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal – Premier League 2003
A key match in the rivalry between the clubs came during the 2003-04 season at. Whilst there were no goals the game is remembered as the ‘Battle of Old Trafford’ as Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira was sent off, Manchester United were awarded a last-minute penalty and there were ugly scenes at the final whistle.
The match was heading into the 92nd minute when referee Steve Bennett awarded a penalty to United after Diego Forlan went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Martin Keown. Controversial maybe, but the penalty was missed by Ruud van Nistelrooy who smashed his effort off the underside of the bar and the game ended 0-0. However following the miss, several Arsenal players confronted the striker in jubilation which led to a fracas after the final whistle. Many players from both teams were booked and received fines for their actions – but the draw was vital for the Gunners as they ended the season as unbeaten league Champions – the team now known as ‘The Invincibles.’
9: Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United – Premier League 1997
Early on in their 1997-98 title-winning campaign, Arsenal hosted United at Highbury in an end-to-end match the Gunners won. In the first-half a young Nicolas Anelka gave Arsenal the lead and Patrick Vieira added to it with a superb curling drive which went in off the bar. However before half-time a Teddy Sheringham brace cancelled out the two-goal defecit. At 2-2 late in the second-half Arsenal forced a corner. Nigel Winterburn curled the ball out to the edge of the six yard box where David Platt met it with a header that looped into the top corner of the net for the winner.
8: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal – League Division One 1990
In October 1990, Manchester United and Arsenal met in a league game at Old Trafford which is claimed to be the match which kicked off the rivalry between the two teams. The game was won 1-0 by Arsenal thanks to an Anders Limpar goal but the match is remembered for the 21 man brawl between both sets of players.
After a tackle by Nigel Winterburn on United full-back Denis Irwin tempers flared. Irwin and team-mate Brian McClair kicked Winterburn as he lay on the ground which sparked the brawl involving every player on the pitch except one – the mild-mannered David Seaman. United were deducted a point, Arsenal two but for the Gunners it didn’t matter too much as they still went on to win the league that season.
7: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United – Champions League Semi-Finals 2009
The draw for the 2009 Champions League Semi-Finals pitted the two English clubs against each other for a place in the Rome final and the tie lived up to its billing. United won the first leg at Old Trafford 1-0 and Arsenal’s hopes of overturning that deficit were ended within 11 minutes of kick-off in the second leg thanks to Park Ji-Sung’s strike and a 40-yard thunderbolt of a free-kick from Cristiano Ronaldo, the two away goals putting United 3-0 up on aggregate. An outstanding breakaway goal from Wayne Rooney put the seal on an impressive United performance, before Robin van Persie grabbed a consolation with a penalty.
6: Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal – Premier League 2004
The game which ended Arsenal’s record-breaking 49-game unbeaten run in the league and was afterwards dubbed as the ‘Battle of the Buffet.’ The Gunners arrived at Old Trafford in October 2004 aiming to go 50 league games unbeaten but with the controversy surrounding their last trip to Manchester (the game which included Van Nistelrooy’s penalty miss) fresh in the memory.
The game was 0-0 in the 72nd minute when referee Mike Riley awarded Manchester United a penalty after Arsenal’s Sol Campbell was adjudged to have fouled Wayne Rooney in the penalty box. Ruud van Nistelrooy stepped up to banish the demons of 18 months before by putting United in the lead and Wayne Rooney added a second in the 90th minute to seal a United victory and inflict Arsenal’s first league defeat in 49 matches. As the players headed down the tunnel after the final whistle, there was a heated exchange which carried on into the post-match area. There were accusations that pea soup and pizza had been thrown across the room by an Arsenal player which hit Sir Alex Ferguson, leading to the ‘Battle of the Buffet’ tag. What a sight that must have been.
5: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal, Premier League 1998
During Arsene Wenger’s first full season in charge in 1997/98, the Frenchman led the club to the league and FA Cup double, the second time the Gunners achieved the feat having done so previously in 1971. A pivotal moment in their title win came as they faced United at Old Trafford in March 1998 in what was effectively a title-decider.
The cagey match was settled 11 minutes from time as Arsenal winger Marc Overmars latched onto a flick-on and burst into United’s penalty area before firing the ball between Peter Schmeichel’s legs. The win helped Arsenal overhaul United’s 11 point lead at the top of the table as they won their first league title since 1991.
4: Manchester United 6-1 Arsenal – Premier League 2001
In the 2000/01 season Manchester United clinched a hat-trick of Premier League titles, with one of their standout performances coming with a 6-1 thrashing of the Gunners, also in the hunt for the title. Having been frozen out earlier in the campaign, United’s striker Dwight Yorke made an emphatic return to the team, scoring three goals. He gave United the lead which was cancelled out by Thierry Henry, then United ran riot for the remainder of the first-half, taking a 5-1 lead into the break. Yorke’s treble plus goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Roy Keane and Teddy Sheringham made it 6-1, ensuring it was an unhappy trip back down to London for Arsenal and their fans.
3: Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United – FA Cup Final 1979
Now for a match from the days when Ferguson and Wenger were managerial novices and it was Dave Sexton and Terry Neill in charge of United and Arsenal respectively. This FA Cup Final is regarded as a classic and remembered as ‘The Five Minute Final’ thanks to a frantic last few minutes under the Twin Towers at Wembley.
With 85 minutes gone Arsenal were leading 2-0 through goals from Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton. Gordon McQueen pulled a goal back for United in the 86th minute following a set-piece and two minutes later Sammy McIlroy dribbled past two Arsenal defenders and squeezed a shot beyond Pat Jennings to level matters in dramatic fashion. As the match seemed to be heading for extra-time, Arsenal went forward and Graham Rix’s cross from the left was turned into the net at the far post by Alan Sunderland, putting the Londoners 3-2 ahead and completing five of the most action-packed minutes of cup final football ever seen.
2: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal – Premier League 2002
Another significant 1-0 win for Arsenal at Old Trafford which clinched the Premier League title in their rivals’ backyard. Having won the FA Cup a few days earlier against Chelsea, The Gunners could complete another League and Cup double with victory in this match and they did that thanks to a solitary goal from Sylvain Wiltord.
In the 55th minute of the game Freddie Ljungberg made a trademark run from midfield, beating United’s Laurent Blanc on the edge of the area and shooting at goal. Fabien Barthez parried the effort away but only as far as fellow Frenchman Wiltord who steered the ball home, silencing the majority of Old Trafford and moving the league trophy ever closer to North London. Arsenal kept up their record of scoring in every league match that season and with the victory ended United’s quest for a fourth successive Championship.
1: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United – FA Cup Semi-Final replay 1999
This was the last ever FA Cup Semi-Final replay and probably the greatest. In 1999 the two met at Villa Park and after a dour 0-0 draw in the first game, played out an enthralling encounter four days later. United were aiming to win an unprecedented treble of the FA Cup, Premier League and the Champions League while Arsenal were in the hunt for a League and Cup double themselves.
The match was a joy for the neutral. David Beckham gave United the lead in the 17th minute with a bending shot which flew past the despairing dive of David Seaman and the Red Devils were looking strong throughout the first half. After the break Arsenal came back into the game and levelled when Dennis Bergkamp’s 25-yard strike deflected off Jaap Stam and beyond Peter Schmeichel. Nicolas Anelka then thought he’d scored but his effort was ruled out for offside and not long after United captain Roy Keane was sent off for a second bookable offence after fouling Marc Overmars.
Arsenal made the most of the advantage and were handed a golden opportunity to reach the Wembley final when Phil Neville conceded a last-minute penalty (where have we seen that before?) for a foul on Ray Parlour. Bergkamp stepped up but saw his spot-kick saved by Schmeichel diving to his left. United had a reprieve and the match entered extra-time.
Five minutes into the second period of extra-time Ryan Giggs, who’d come on as a substitute during the second half of normal time, picked up a wayward pass from Patrick Vieira in his own half and set off on an unbelievable fifty yard run. Dribbling the ball past four Arsenal defenders, Giggs entered the penalty area and rifled an angled shot high into the net, a brilliant individual goal worthy of winning any game. United held on to their 2-1 lead and kept alive their dreams of the Treble.