Arsenal v Manchester United: Has the heated rivalry fizzled out?

Fergie and Wenger in 2008: When this game was a genuine title clash
Fergie and Wenger in 2008: When this game was a genuine title clash
  • vs

Paul Merson has called it a more important game for Arsenal than the north London derby. But is the Magic Man speaking sense? Lewis Jones takes a look back through the years to see if Arsenal v Manchester United still has the same intense rivalry...

"A team which consisted of Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny were thrashed, walloped and hung out to dry 8-2 by a rampaging United. It was Arsenal's worst defeat since 1896 and perhaps this was the moment this famous Premier League match lost much of its spark, excitement and prestige in the British game."


Arsenal are due to face Manchester United at the Emirates on Saturday in what is a fixture that is among the most bad-tempered in the history of the Premier League.

Formerly locking horns for the Premier League title on a year-to-year basis, Arsenal and Manchester United currently find themselves outside the top-four with question marks lurking about their ability to mix it with the very best that this league has to offer.

Is this now a rivalry that has fizzled out over the years? Let's rekindle some of the glory days.


Nigel Winterburn sparks 20-man brawl

A flare up that was deemed serious enough by the FA to dock United one point and the Gunners two. Tempers flared after a lunge by Arsenal's Winterburn on United full-back Denis Irwin.

From there it was every man for himself with everything but a steel chair getting involved. Many people feel this was the root of this poisonous rivalry.


Ruud van Nistelrooy v Martin Keown

This was the day the Arsenal Invincibles could have never existed.

In a key 2003/04 Premier League clash early in the season, Ruud van Nistelrooy, who had already played a part in getting Patrick Vieira sent off, had a chance to win the game deep into stoppage time with a penalty.

He missed it.

What followed is etched into Premier League history as an infuriated Keown led a surge of Arsenal team-mates in rushing to Van Nistelrooy to drop a forearm smash and many other verbal insults.


"The Battle Of The Buffet"

A year later and boasting an incredible 49 Premier League games unbeaten, Arsenal returned to Old Trafford aiming to complete the heroic achievement of a half century of games unbeaten.

It was a game that rested Van Nistelrooy's demons of that penalty miss in the previous encounter in Manchester.

This time the Dutchman found the back of the net and celebrated emotionally in front of the Stretford End and the Invincibles were no more. Arsenal have failed to hit those heights ever since.

The drama didn't end there as it royally kicked off once again in the tunnel after the game.

The then United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said Arsene Wenger came sprinting at him with fists raised shouting "What do you want to do about it?" while Cesc Fabregas is rumoured to have thrown a pizza at Ferguson as the two teams embarked in a food fight of farcical proportions.

Arsenal have failed to hit those heights ever since.


Roy Keane v Patrick Vieira

Back when Premier League players at the top-level weren't contracted by major sportswear brands to be the best of mates and over-the-top tackles were deemed the norm, there was a genuine hatred between players in the battle to be the best.

Put simply in this incident, Vieira tries to rattle Gary Neville's cage, Keane steps in and all hell breaks loose in the tunnel which in turn boils over to the handshakes.

"I said to him that if he touched Robert Pires I would come after him," Vieira later admitted.

Brilliant.

Can we expect the same from Wayne Rooney and Mikel Arteta on Saturday? If so, I know who I'll be backing.


Arsenal humiliated

A dark day for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal: a day which signified just how far Arsenal had fallen behind the top teams in the Premier League.

A team which consisted of Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny were thrashed, walloped and hung out to dry 8-2 by a rampaging United.

It was Arsenal's worst defeat since 1896 and perhaps this was the moment this famous Premier League match lost much of its spark, excitement and prestige in the British game.


***

What do you think? Is Arsenal v Man Utd just another fixture these days? Or will it always be a massive game in the Premier League calendar? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting @Betfair


Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses
Bet now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles