Sportsdesk | April 28, 2013
Arsenal host Manchester United today at Emirates Stadium in what has been one of the fiercest rivalries in English football over the past 20 years. Thomas Woods highlights five flash points.
1990: Battle of Old Trafford
A bad tackle from Arsenal’s Nigel Winterburn on Dennis Irwin sparked a 21-man brawl after both Irwin and United teammate Brian McClair, above, had kicked Winterburn as he lay on the ground. United were docked one point, Arsenal two, but Arsenal still won the league title that season under George Graham.
2003: Battle of Old Trafford II
Arsenal’s “Invincibles” were on their way to an unbeaten season, but had a let-off when Ruud van Nistelrooy – accused of getting Patrick Vieira sent off – missed a penalty in a 0-0 draw. Arsenal players surrounded the striker and taunted him. A melee saw four Arsenal players receive bans.
2004: Battle of the Buffet
After an unbeaten season, Arsenal were aiming for 50 games without defeat. United ended the run, helped by another penalty. But it kicked off post-match as an Arsenal player, later revealed as Cesc Fabregas, above, threw food, including pizza, at United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
2005: Vieira v Keane
The animosity of this rivalry in the 2000s was best summed up by each team’s hardman – Vieira for Arsenal and Roy Keane for United. Before a game in 2005, the pair had to be separated in the tunnel before kick off following an argument. The whole incident was caught on camera.
2011: United 8 Arsenal 2
Arsenal’s poor start to the 2011/12 season was compounded when United inflicted their heaviest defeat since 1896, leaving the Gunners with one point from their first three league games. Wenger called it “humiliating” and “a terrible day for us” yet Arsenal recovered to finish third in the table.