Manchester United v Arsenal – Memorable Meetings; 7 Of The Best
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on November 19, 2016
As Manchester United & Arsenal lock horns following the tedious international break, I look back at the most memorable matches between the two at Old Trafford.
Manchester United, Arsenal – two clubs of which were the best sides in England during the days of Arsene Wenger & Sir Alex Ferugson clashing- since the Scotsman’s arrival in 1989 & Arsene Wenger’s charisma earning him a place in English football back in 1996, this clash evolved into a tempestuous rivalry.
Even more so – with Jose Mourinho taking over the reigns of Louis Van Gaal at Old Trafford in the curtain raisers to the season. Wenger and Mourinho are known for their bad-tempered relationship off the pitch; spanning from 2005 in which Mourinho had labelled Wenger a “voyeur”. Since then, the spills & thrills have been abundant when the duo are managing opposing sides.
However, the mind games, media gregariousness will be brought to a halt once more when the two meet again on Saturday lunchtime at Old Trafford.
And ahead of the game, I relive the vaults of 7 league memories from these meetings in the past at Old Trafford – from the Battle of Old Trafford in 2003 to the Battle of the Buffet in 2004.
1: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal – Premier League, Old Trafford (May 8 2002)
A game any Arsenal supporter will have positive memories of. Arsenal had clinched the FA Cup against Chelsea a few days earlier – and a win at Old Trafford would have sealed the Premiership title for Highbury too, completing the Double for the 2001/02 season.
United were well out of the title race by the time these two met; and a fiery game which threatened to see temperaments boil. However, a Sylvain Wiltord winner for Arsenal sealed them the title, and – a very historic night for those travelling contingent from London.
But, the following season, Manchester United would go on to win the title at Arsenal’s expense – but take nothing away from a very sweet revenge for Arsene Wenger and his side, having seen his side relinquish the Premiership on 3 occasions.
2: Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal – Premier League, Old Trafford (September 21 2003)
This may not have had goals in it, but boy did it entertain in every way possible.
Also known as the Battle Of Old Trafford by television outlets, the media & journalists alike. The simmering rivalry existing between Manchester United-Arsenal finally boiled over during the clash in September 2003. United were going into the season reigning champions, with Arsenal at the very start of what would be a record-breaking season & run too, which ended in the subsequent clash at the same venue the following year.
There wasn’t much fizzle in it for the majority of the match – but things began to kick off, from when Patrick Viera received a red card for a foul on Ruud Van Nistelrooy, sparking a furious confrontation between both sets of players. The savoury point of the game then emerged, when Diego Forlan was fouled by Martin Keown – in what seemed a fairly innocuous challenge. However, Steve Bennett saw events the other way. And when Van Nistelrooy stepped up and hit the bar with his penalty, the reaction from the Arsenal players which followed at the final whistle can best be billed as un-necessary. The players from Arsenal involved were later fined by the Football Association.
It sparked a massive media outburst – but that was then deemed un-necessary as Arsenal went on to walk the title without losing, and United well off the pacesetters again.
3: Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal – Premier League, Old Trafford (October 24 2004)
Also known as the Battle of the Buffet. This was another clash between the two that sparked ugly scenes throughout. Both sides would have had a case for the happenings of the match – but this exceeded expectations in terms of drama throughout the game. Arsenal were 1 game away from making it 50 games unbeaten – a run spanning from May 2003. They had also made a good start to the 2004/05 season – and how they would have loved to have equalled a superb club run against Sir Alex Ferguson’s men. Unfortunately for Arsenal, it wasn’t to be.
Arsenal’s manager, Arsene Wenger surely would have felt that his side fell victim to some rather crude treatment from Manchester United’s players – with Jose Antonio Reyes citied as not being offered enough protection from the referee. But, then, United will argue it was merely avenging the visitors’ players’ antics the previous season.
The visitors were left feeling extremely aggrieved at Mike Riley’s decision to award a penalty on 72 minutes, when Wayne Rooney seemingly went down very easily under a Sol Campbell challenge. Van Nistelrooy, of all people, stepped up and stroked the penalty past Jens Lehmann – sparking the Dutchman to celebrate in an emotional manner, it seemed.
And it got worse for Arsenal, when youngster Wayne Rooney slotted home on his 19th birthday to seal the win. A bitterly disappointing game from Arsenal’s point of view, and Arsene Wenger was left less than impressed. The media coverage afterwards saw the mention of a restaurant menu summarising the events of the 90 minutes. Many will argue this was when Arsenal’s downfall founded.
4: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal – Premier League. Old Trafford (September 17 2006)
I haven’t given Arsenal much joy in terms of memories in this, so I decided to give them this. This game was their most recent win at Old Trafford in the league , back in September 2006, when Emmanuel Adebayor gave them the three points.
However, they didn’t do it the easy way. Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak was making his debut for the club, standing in for Van Der Sar, and saved Gilberto’s penalty. Just as the game looked like it was heading for a barren draw, Emmanuel Adebayor popped up to slide the ball home. They were the only team to come to Old Trafford in the Premier League & win that season.
United, though, went on to win yet another league title, whilst Arsenal yet again failed to make a serious assault on the other 3 all season around. Few Gooners would have predicted this would be their only win to show at Old Trafford in the league, 10 years on.
5: Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal – Premier League. Old Trafford (May 18 2009)
The day Sir Alex Ferguson & his side knocked their bitter rivals Liverpool off their proverbial “perch” arrived in 2009 – when Manchester United got the draw they needed against an Arsenal side who did everything they could to take the title race to the final day.
But it wasn’t to be – Manchester United claimed their 3rd title win in succession – equalling Liverpool’s record title haul of 18 wins. Arsenal, meanwhile, faltered in the league, finishing 4th, behind Chelsea, Liverpool & United that season. Nevertheless, a memorable day for the Old Trafford faithful, showcasing how far they had gone under Sir Alex Ferguson since his arrival in 1989.
6: Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal – Premier League, Old Trafford. (August 28 2011)
For sure, Arsenal supporters will greet this with grimace. Their trip to Old Trafford can best be described as an unbelievable capitulation, under unexpected circumstances. This was the beginning to one of Arsenal’s worst league starts to a Premiership campaign, and it was no surprise looking at the evidence from this game.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils ran rings around them, completely humiliating them. Wayne Rooney bagged a hat-trick, with Welbeck, Young, Ji-Sung Park & Nani too on the scoresheet. I don’t even think I need to add to this really. Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, a day which will live long in the memory. Even though Manchester United didn’t go on to win the title (being pipped to their ‘Noisy Neighbours’ on the final day of the season), I’m sure they will take pleasure in wallowing over this result. As for Arsenal, their disappointing start meant they were unable to make a title challenge too, finishing 3rd.
7: Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal – Premier League, Old Trafford. (February 28 2016)
The most recent meeting between the two sides. Many expected Arsenal to win given United’s poor form so far in the season, but youngster Marcus Rashford – who was scintillating for United in Europe in midweek in the build up to the game, had other ideas. The Englishman popped up with two goals and Ander Herrera also had a helping hand in a narrow victory against Arsene Wenger’s men – few expecting the result. Arguably, this game proved to be the pinnicle in Rashford’s career.
Of course, who can forget Louis Van Gaal’s dive to the referee? However, Manchester United finished in a well below-par 5th place – costing Van Gaal his job, despite winning the FA Cup at the end of the season. The Gunners finished 2nd, runners up to eventual winners Leciester City.
Will Saturday’s clash make it into this long list of memories in clashes between the two? Comment below your thoughts!