After losing to Liverpool 5-1, and drawing 2-2 at home to bottom club Fulham, both Arsenal and Manchester United were eager to make amends when the two face each other on Wednesday night.
Unfortunately last night ended up as a drab 0-0 draw; however there have been some memorable meetings between the two clubs over the years.
Lets look back at the five best meetings between the two sides in the Premier League era.
Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal, 22nd October 2004
If this was a Friends episode, this would be called, “The One Where the Pizza was Thrown.” This controversial match was the day that Arsenal had their amazing run of 49 unbeaten games end in the worst possible way.
In a game where both teams could have easily been down to nine men due to terrible tackles, Arsenal fell behind to a Ruud Van Nistelrooy penalty after Wayne Rooney (who turned 19 that day) dived after tangling with Sol Campbell. Arsenal’s misery was complete when Rooney got the decisive goal in the last minute of the game, sending Arsenal to defeat for the first time in the league for 17 months.
If everyone thought that the match was a spectacle, the aftermath was even better. Tempers boiled over in the tunnel, and it was reported that Sir Alex Ferguson was the victim of having food thrown at him by a then unknown Arsenal player, which turned out to be Cesc Fabregas. Sol Campbell refused to shake Wayne Rooney’s hand after the penalty incident, whilst Van Nistelrooy and Ashley Cole squared up following a dangerous tackle by the Dutchman during the match.
United faced Arsenal five times that season, with Arsenal eventually getting the last laugh, defeating United on penalties in the FA Cup final.
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester United, 21st January 2007
The first Premier League meeting between the two clubs at the Emirates was going to be a great occasion. Arsenal had beaten United in the corresponding fixture a few months earlier, but were 12 points behind United when the two sides faced again.
It looked like Arsenal’s first defeat at their new stadium was imminent when Wayne Rooney scored from a diving header 10 minutes after the restart, but RVP (who spent more time on the Arsenal treatment table at this point of his career), scored which looked like to have saved Arsenal a point.
However, they don’t call him King Henry for nothing. With a minute to go, Thierry Henry scored a fantastic header from an Eboue cross to help Arsenal complete the double over their arch nemesis. It was the first time since their double winning season of 2001/02 that Arsenal did the double over United, but United got the last laugh by winning the league for the first time in four years.
Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United, 22nd January 2012
This game makes Arsenal fans infuriate. It was the first meeting since the 8-2 riot, and Arsenal were desperate for revenge. After a tight first half, Arsenal fell behind thanks to an Antonio Valencia goal on the stroke of half time.
But after bashing the United defence with many changes during the second half, Arsenal finally got their goal from a former fan favourite in Robin van Persie after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain practically ran rings around the United defence. The goal brought over loaded optimism to Arsenal fans, as everyone related to the club thought the Gunners actually had a chance of beating United.
The fans, players and bench were hyped, as Arsenal were playing so well that victory was well insight, the pay back was on.
However, this mere thought was dashed away when Wenger decided to bring off the English starlet for Russian flop Andrei Arshavin. The sub back fired as Arshavin was dispossessed in the middle of the park, which lead to Danny Welbeck’s 81st minute winner. Wenger even said in his post match interview that the sub didn’t work, and Arsenal paid the price. Arshavin was loaned out to Zenit a few weeks later.
Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal, 21st September 2003
The Battle at Old Trafford, the game that played a pivotal moment in Arsenal’s title winning season.
In a tight game of football, where there were limited chances, the game exploded into life when Patrick Vieira saw red for kicking out at Ruud Van Nistelrooy, despite not actually making any contact with the Dutchman with 13 minutes remaining. The Arsenal players were ballistic, the United fans were joyful and the fans of both sets of teams were excited for a tense finale.
With seconds to go, United flop Diego Forlan was floored by Martin Keown and United were given a penalty. A scuffle broke out and this seemed to effect Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s concentration.
Up he stepped and the ball crashed against the crossbar with Arsenal celebrating the point that they knew that they were going to get.
The whistle went and everything exploded. Martin Keown’s famous jump triggered off a massive melee which was greeted with heavy fines and lengthy suspensions. Ray Parlour, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Martin Keown and Patrick Vieira were all fined by the FA whilst Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo were punished for their wrong doings.
The bust up between the players was costly as Manchester United and Arsenal paid a total of £250,000 between them for the incident.
Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal, 28th August 2011
Everyone knew a thrashing was on the cards, but not like this.
The two sides had contrasting summers; Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea were all signed for United whilst Arsenal sold Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Eboue and Gael Clichy without signing anyone significant before the match apart from Gervinho (who was suspended for the match), and Carl Jenkinson, a 19 year old defender who had only made 8 league appearances for Charlton.
Arsene Wenger relied on youth and inexperience for the match by selecting players such as Henri Lansbury, Giles Sunu, Armand Traoré and Carl Jenkinson. The expected risk didn’t work as Arsenal suffered their worst league defeat since the 1800’s.
A hat trick from Wayne Rooney, a double from Ashley Young (his first goals for the club), Danny Welbeck, Nani and Park Ji-Sung rubbed deadly salt in the ever increasing Arsenal wound. To make things worse for Arsenal that day, RVP missed a penalty and Carl Jenkinson, a boyhood Arsenal fan was sent off with 13 minutes to go. A damaging day for Arsenal indeed, however, there was some good news.
It was the first time in the Premier League era that Arsenal had scored two goals at Old Trafford against Manchester United in the league. Every cloud has a silver lining I guess.