10 defining moments of the Arsenal v Manchester United rivalry

The bitter rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal may have cooled down in recent years, but this time of year has really come to a head. Indeed, on 8 May 2002, Sylvain Wiltord’s famous strike at Old Trafford earned the Gunners a second Premier League title.

Here are 10 moments the rivalry turned upside down, producing entertainment both on and off the field:

1) Arsenal win the title on the last day

Manchester United – Arsenal 0-1, 2002

We start with the game that celebrates its anniversary today. Arsenal traveled to Old Trafford on the penultimate weekend of the 2001-02 season needing a draw to seal their first league title in four years after finishing as runners-up to United three times in a row. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side fought hard for a result but eventually fell to a goal from Sylvain Wiltord on his 100th appearance for the club.

2) Keown freaks out at Van Nistelrooy

Manchester United – Arsenal 0-0, 2003

One of the most intense battles between the two teams came in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in 2003, when both sets of players went hard into the tackle, hardly hiding their dislike for each other. The worst offenders were Martin Keown and Ruud van Nistelrooy, who argued constantly throughout the match before the Arsenal defender brought him down in the box.

When Van Nistelrooy missed the penalty, Keown screamed in his face, repeating the trick at the full-time whistle, with a mob of angry players from both sides soon forming.

3) Pizza CAST as the Invincibles are beaten

Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal, 2004

Arsenal’s 49-match unbeaten run was ended by United at Old Trafford a year later following a controversial penalty and a late Wayne Rooney strike. However, the match is just as famous for what happened in a post-match tunnel explosion when pizza was thrown – with Cesc Fabregas hitting Ferguson in the face with a slice.

4) Keane and Vieira clash before kick-off

Arsenal 2-4 Manchester United, 2005

Even when the fun on the field is high, somehow these two teams have managed to change the story. A brace from Cristiano Ronaldo helped overturn a 2-1 deficit at Highbury in February ’05, but the game is best remembered for the pre-kick-off altercation between the two captains, Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane. Having disliked each other for years, their argument came to a head as they waited in the tunnel, with Keane ending the row by telling the Frenchman “See you there”, claiming the Arsenal captain had picked the players from at United. .

5) Ferguson gives Beckham a boot

Manchester United 0-2 Arsenal, 2003

Furious with his team after a 2-0 defeat at home to Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup, Ferguson took the famous hairdryer treatment a step further and kicked David Beckham, hitting him just above the eye. Fergie was apparently unhappy that Beckham’s work rate was falling as rumors of Real Madrid’s interest grew – and unsurprisingly, the incident proved to be the beginning of the end.

6) Giggs scores a wonderful goal at Villa Park

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United, 1999

United’s famous FA Cup semi-final victory was defined by that incredible Ryan Giggs winner, which was made extra special by the fact that it was against their arch-rivals. It was a superb game and in fact Giggs’ goal overshadowed other highlights including Dennis Bergkamp missing a late penalty and Roy Keane being sent off. Who needs replays, FA suits anyway?

7) Overmars goal sets Arsenal up for title win

Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal, 1998

Arsene Wenger’s first league title with Arsenal was an unlikely one. They trailed United by 12 points before a 10-game winning streak turned things around and the defining moment was a win at Old Trafford to put them six points clear of the champions with three games in hand. Marc Overmars scored the goal with 10 minutes remaining, condemning the hosts to their second league defeat in seven days.

8) Campbell sees red in dramatic draw

Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United, 2003

United managed to overturn a big lead from Arsenal in the 2002-03 season to win the title, and one of the most important results came in April. United have won nine of their last 10 league games, drawing once – 2-2 against Arsene Wenger’s side, in which they equalized twice through goals from Thierry Henry. Sol Campbell also received a red card for elbowing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

9) Some humiliate their rivals

Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal, 2011

One of the best games in the Premier League was also Arsenal’s heaviest defeat since 1896. A Wayne Rooney hat-trick stands out among United’s many goalscorers on the worst day of Wenger’s tenure. The margin of victory was not big enough as it turned out as Manchester City won the title on goal difference thanks to Sergio Aguero’s last minute winner against QPR.

10) Rashford marks his arrival with a brace

Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal, 2016

After two goals on his Europa League debut three days earlier, 18-year-old Marcus Rashford scored another brace against Arsenal at Old Trafford on his league debut. This was also the game in which Louis van Gaal threw himself to the ground in protest, although that will certainly not be remembered as much as Rashford’s magical start.

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