Revisit the Rivalry: Arsenal v Manchester United

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Arsenal against Manchester United was arguably the big game of the first decade of the Premier League era.

Under Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson respectively, there was a fierce rivalry between the two clubs.

It was the game you’d plan your weekend around. The result could, and usually would, decide where the title ended up at the end of the season.

Both sides have plenty of work ahead to catch Manchester City this season. But Saturday’s clash at the Emirates could still be huge.

Before the game, here’s a look back at some of the big flashpoints over the years.

1999: FA Cup semi-final and Giggs’ wonder goal

The last two decades of football may have gone very differently if Dennis Bergkamp had scored a late penalty to take Arsenal into the FA Cup final.

In reality, the Dutchman’s effort was saved by Peter Schmeichel and the game went to extra-time. Ryan Giggs went on to score his famous solo effort to win the game. It was a huge step on United’s way to the treble.

2002: Wiltord’s winner

Arsenal won their second double in four years in 2001-02. To make the achievement even sweeter, they sealed the title at Old Trafford.

Sylvain Wiltord scored the only goal of a game in a 1-0 win. Arsene Wenger described his side’s triumph as a “shift of power”.

It didn’t quite work out that way in the long-term. But at the time, it seemed Arsenal were on the verge of something very special.

2003: Battle of Old Trafford

The tensions between the two sides escalated in a 0-0 draw in the early stages of 2003-04. Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card for kicking out at Ruud van Nistelrooy, though he didn’t make contact with the striker.

United then won a penalty in the final stages. Van Nistelrooy stepped up and smashed it against the bar. Still furious over his antics for Vieira’s red card, Arsenal players surrounded the striker after his miss.

Martin Keown and Lauren pushed him, while Ray Parlour and Ashley Cole made their feelings very clear as well.

Arsenal eventually received a £175,000 fine for failing to control their players. Lauren, Keown, Parlour and Vieira all received bans and fines for their parts too.

2004: Battle of the Buffet

Arsenal’s next trip to Old Trafford saw them looking to extend their record unbeaten run to 50 league games. But United ended up 2-0 winners, with the second goal coming after Wayne Rooney won a controversial penalty.

But this game is best known for what happened after the full-time whistle. Tempers boiled over in the tunnel. In the mayhem, someone threw a slice of pizza that hit Ferguson right in the face.

The culprit remained unknown for years, until Cesc Fabregas recently confirmed it was him on a TV talk show.

2005: Tunnel Showdown

The two respective captains, Vieira and Roy Keane, couldn’t even wait to get on the pitch before their bust-up at Highbury.

Roy Keane accused Vieira of trying to intimidate Gary Neville and referee Graham Poll had to defuse the situation.

Vieira opened the scoring after eight minutes, but United came back to win 4-2.

2011: 8-2 Thrashing

Arsenal’s failure to compete for the title saw the rivalry cool down for several years. But that won’t have made the Gunners’ 8-2 defeat to United feel any better.

A makeshift Arsenal side were blown away by United. It was the club’s heaviest defeat for 84 years.

2016 onwards: Wenger v Mourinho?

Wenger and Jose Mourinho clashed throughout the Portuguese tactician’s two spells at Chelsea. They have very different personalities and approaches to the game.

But there’s been little sign of conflict since Mourinho took over at United. Maybe this weekend’s game will change that…

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