Manchester United will host Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday and with it comes the last time Arséne Wenger will manage Arsenal against United. Therefore it seems appropriate to look back on some of the most memorable encounters between the two sides which dominated English football in the late 20th and early 21st century.
5. Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United (5th May 2009)
Manchester United were 1-0 winners in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Old Trafford which left the second leg beautifully poised. Only for United to then crush Arsenal’s hopes of progressing through to their second Champions League final in four years by scoring two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the game to virtually seal United’s progression. Cristiano Ronaldo added another late on and a van Persie penalty proved consolation as United were dominant on the night. The game saw Ronaldo score a ludicrous free-kick from 40 yards out before finishing off one of the most mouthwatering counter-attacking goals you’re likely to see later in the match in this classic fixture.
4. Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal (28th August 2011)
This Premier League classic saw Manchester United record one of their biggest wins in Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at the club as they completely dismantled an injury-riddled Arsenal side. The game saw a Wayne Rooney hat trick of set-piece goals, two from Ashley Young in one of his finest performances at United, as well as goals from Danny Welbeck, Nani and Ji-Sung Park. A couple of consolation goals from Walcott and van Persie, who could’ve had a double himself had he not of had a penalty saved by de Gea earlier on, didn’t help spare the blushes of Arsenal who were completely outclassed in one of the most humiliating scorelines in Premier League history.
3. Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal (8th May 2002)
This game went down in history for Arsenal who, with a 0-1 win at Old Trafford, consequently saw themselves Premier League champions. Despite winning the FA Cup the Saturday before, Arsenal showed no ill-effects and were the better team throughout. Slyvain Wiltord’s 55th minute goal on his 100th appearance for Arsenal confirmed a famous victory in what was a famous season for Arsene Wenger’s side, who did their second double in four years and managed to navigate an entire league season without an away defeat.
2. Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal (21st September 2003)
A remarkable game not only at the time but also in the context of the history of the great United vs Arsenal rivalry. It would later be remembered as the eighth game of Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run in the Premier League which saw a 91st minute penalty from Ruud van Nistelrooy rattle the crossbar – prompting Arsenal captain Martin Keown to jump in celebration around him, elbowing him in the head and roaring in his face in the process which remains one of the most iconic moments of the fixture’s history. This game which produced eight yellow cards, a sending off for Patrick Viera, and an endless amount of fines for Arsenal represented everything about this unique and fierce rivalry.
1. Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal (24th October 2004)
This game will always be remembered as the game in which Manchester United ended Arsenal’s sensational unbeaten league run which halted at 49 games. Ruud van Nistelrooy avenged his penalty miss in the 0-0 draw in the previous season, and we saw a young Wayne Rooney terrorise Arsenal in his debut season at United as they, along with the help of some questionable refereeing, overturned ‘The Invincibles’. Rooney won the penalty which Ruud van Nistelrooy this time made no mistake of converting, before adding one himself to secure the 2-0 victory at Old Trafford. The post-match incidents were equally as incredible as the match itself, with Cesc Fabregas allegedly hurling pizza at Sir Alex Ferguson in the spats which followed, which famously led to the game being dubbed ‘Pizza Gate’.
A word on Arséne Wenger
As this encounter between United and Arsenal on Sunday will be the last in which we see Wenger in the opposing managerial box, I would quite like to add my appreciation for one of the finest managers in Premier League history. In his reign at Arsenal, he produced one of the finest teams in the PL era and did what no manager has ever achieved in England’s top flight and that is to win a Premier League title going a whole league campaign unbeaten. He won three league titles and a record SEVEN FA Cups all while dedicating a remarkable 22 years of his life to one football club, the kind of longevity that is so rare and so precious in football. As well as this, he produced one of the greatest rivalries with Manchester United and with Sir Alex Ferguson which, as a United fan, I enjoyed watching thoroughly growing up. His impact on the Premier League and the way in which he revolutionised English football will always be remembered, and I genuinely hope he can end his Arsenal career by winning the Europa League trophy in May. I salute you Mr. Wenger.