Following on from a recent TV documentary, which brought Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane face-to-face for the first time since their playing days, Ladbrokes’ news team has picked a ‘Best XI’ from Manchester United and Arsenal’s Premier League vintage.
The Red Devils, who are 28/1 to win the Premier League, are currently languishing in 9th spot in the table and find themselves 13 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
The Gunners are 9/4 to lift the title next May but could this combined XI do any better than the current crop of stars plying their trade at the Emirates and Old Trafford?
Peter Schmeichel – The Great Dane came to the attention of United through his international displays and quickly cemented his place in Old Trafford folklore, keeping 22 clean sheets in his second season to end a 26-year title wait. Schmeichel made almost 400 appearances and claimed 10 major honours, including a 1999 FA Cup after saving a Dennis Bergkamp semi-final penalty.
Gary Neville – Only a few players can lay claim to the moniker Mr. United and Neville is one of them. Roundly hated by most non-United fans in his playing career, but eight titles, two Champions League – wins not to mention three FA Cups and two League Cups – saw the one-club right-back earn their respect.
Tony Adams – Nothing involving the Gunners would be complete without Mr. Arsenal himself, Tony Adams. The former England captain spent his entire 22-year playing career in north London, captaining the club four 14 seasons. Adams, who was ranked number three in a list of Arsenal’s all-time greatest players, racked up 669 appearances for the club and won 10 major honours, which included two Premier League and FA Cup doubles.
Rio Ferdinand – Ferdinand became the world’s most expensive defender for a second time when leaving Leeds for Old Trafford but has proven value for money across 12 successful seasons. The former Hammer has taken extra pride from restricting Arsenal’s success during his trophy-laden spell, which has landed him six Premier league titles, two League Cups and a Champions League.
Ashley Cole – Cole may be public enemy number one for many Arsenal fans after his bitter move to rivals Chelsea but there should be no doubting his role in this combined side. The England international rose through the ranks in north London to become one of the best attacking full-backs in world football. And while Arsenal fans may never forgive Cole for his 2006 move across London, they will have fond memories of him holding his nerve in the FA Cup Final penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United in 2005 – the last time Arsenal held aloft a piece of silverware.
Roy Keane – The Ferguson fallout may have tarnished Keane’s legacy at Old Trafford but the Irishman was the lynchpin of a United side that claimed seven titles during his 13-season spell. The combative side of Keane’s game was most prevalent in matches with Arsenal, as evidenced by THAT tunnel bust up.
Patrick Vieira – One of Arsene Wenger’s first signings as Arsenal manager, Patrick Vieira was a mainstay of the Gunners’ midfield for nine years. The former Arsenal captain, who won three Premier League titles in north London, was the complete all-action midfielder. His rivalry with Roy Keane is the stuff of legend and there will not be many stepping forward to tackle this dream midfield pairing.
Paul Scholes – Having Barcelona duo Xavi and Iniesta, not to mention Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane, listed as big admirers emphasises the talents that Paul Scholes brought to the game. At the height of his powers the Class of 92 graduate possessed arguably the sweetest right foot in the game and could fill a Christmas highlights DVD with his goals alone.
Cristiano Ronaldo – The youngest player to make the team, Ronaldo quickly went from awkward trickster to world beater under the tutelage of Alex Ferguson. Eight major honours and 118 goals from 292 games gives the Portugal winger the nod ahead of David Beckham in this side and showed Arsene Wenger what he missed out on after contemplating a move for Ronaldo in 2002.
Ryan Giggs – Superlatives surround Ryan Giggs aplenty at present as his longevity continues to surprise. The most decorated player in the game has now made 954 appearances for United and while there are no shortage of highlights, his FA Cup semi-final winning goal against the Gunners sticks out. Picking the ball from Vieira, Giggs mocked the Arsenal back four before rasping a shot past a helpless David Seaman.
Thierry Henry – The New York Red Bulls star joined Arsenal from Juventus as an inconsistent but tricky winger, but the end product was one of the most feared strikers in Premier League history. And Manchester United found out first-hand about his prowess in front of goal, announcing himself to the rivalry in October 2000 with his exquisite flick, spin and volley over Fabien Barthez to give the Gunners a 1-0 win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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