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  • 5 looks at a few memorable moments from meetings between Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League era

Most rivalries are born out of geographical gripes, with near neighbours renowned for their incessant bickering.

Occasionally, though, feuds break out which buck this trend.

Take Manchester United and Arsenal for example - two clubs separated by almost 200 miles.

Distance has proven to be no barrier in this instance, with events in the heat of battle helping to stoke this particular fire.

Bad blood has not always existed between these northern and southern giants, with the tension only really taking off in the last 20 years or so.

It is safe to assume, though, that a return to the cordial relationship of the not too distant past is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Fireworks are now promised each and every time these two heavyweights go toe-to-toe, regardless of venue, competition and personnel.

Having traded blows on a regular basis throughout the Premier League era, their rivalry is now firmly engrained in English football folklore.

Suffice to say, the deterioration in pleasantries between the two has led to the odd talking point or two down the years.

Here takes a look at a few of the more memorable moments from Manchester United versus Arsenal fixtures since the birth of the Premier League in 1992.

Studs up

Ian Wright and Peter Schmeichel were no shrinking violets during their playing days and when the two came face-to-face you could rest assured that neither would back down. The last thing you needed to see then, with two combustible characters in direct opposition, is a 50-50 ball running loose into the box. That was precisely what happened though during an infamous encounter in February 1997, and it came as no surprise to find that Wright and Schmeichel soon found themselves at the centre of a controversy. The Manchester United keeper was always favourite to win the race to the ball and comfortably got to it first. Wright, though, decided that he would attempt to hamper the giant Dane by lunging in two-footed. Schmeichel reacted angrily to the rash challenge, barking his discontent in Wright's face, while the issue is also reported to have dragged on after the final whistle, with the duo almost coming to blows in the tunnel as they left the field.

Ooh la la

Thierry Henry will be remembered for a lot of things once the time comes to hang up his boots, with his actions over recent months likely to have tarnished a once glorious reputation. However, long before he was beating the Republic of Ireland at basketball, the Frenchman was setting the Premier League alight with Arsenal. A goal-laden spell with the Gunners saw him re-write the record books and safely secure his place in football's Hall of Fame. His vision and grace illuminated Highbury on many an occasion, with the Clock End often left shaking their heads in disbelief at what they had just witnessed. One such moment came against Manchester United in October 2000, with Henry bringing a nation - United fans excluded - to its feet with one sublime moment of individual brilliance. Picking up the ball with his back to goal, some 25 yards out, the Gallic superstar nonchalantly flicked ball into the air, spun on the spot and lofted a dipping volley over the head of the motionless Fabian Barthez. Rightly regarded as one of the finest Premier League goals ever, it is fitting that such a strike was beamed live to millions all over the world.

Theatre of Dreams

As is often the case in titanic tussles between two evenly matched sides, there has often been little to choose between the two clubs in their frequent meetings down the years. There is, however, one result which stands out above all others when running a quick eye over the history books. The 25th February 2001 is likely to live long in the memory of Red Devils everywhere, as United ran riot at Old Trafford against their arch-rivals. The hosts ran out 6-1 winners that day, with everything Sir Alex Ferguson's side touched turning to goals. Admittedly the presence of the ineffective Igor Stepanovs at the heart of Arsenal's back four aided their cause, but nothing can take away the fact that United were just a different class. Dwight Yorke proved to be the Gunners' tormentor in chief, with the perma-smiled frontman bagging a hat-trick inside the opening 22 minutes. Roy Keane, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham also got in on the act, with Henry offering a tame reply from the visitors.

Seconds out

The tension between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger had been simmering before 2002, with the two having clashed on a regular basis over a wide range of issues. However, things really started to get heated around this time as the two exchanged blows on an ever-increasing basis. The fiery Scot and the passionate Frenchman became a journalistic dream, offering sound bites here, there and everywhere. There are too many to mention here to do the verbal jousting justice, so we will just have to settle for one of the most memorable. During the run-in to the 2001/02 campaign, Ferguson became increasingly restless as United slipped out of the UEFA Champions League and lost ground in the title race. He insisted that his side were the best in the country at the time, and had been unfortunate on a number of occasions. Enjoying getting one over on his nemesis, Wenger took the claims in his stride, famously saying: "Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home."

Rubbing it in

As Ferguson lost his rag heading down the final stretch in 2002, Arsenal quietly went about wrapping up a League and Cup double. The first of those awards, the Premier League title, was sealed on 8th May in fine style. The Gunners headed to Old Trafford knowing three points behind enemy lines would be enough to crown them as champions, and that is what they took. Sylvain Wiltord was the hero of the day, bundling home the only goal of the game after 56 minutes. Cue an impromptu game of leapfrog from Nigerian frontman Kanu and a wild-eyed celebration from some nutter in the crowd. Few things can beat the joy of winning the title on home soil, in front of an adoring public, but doing it front of those who loathe you most must come pretty close.

Handbags at dawn

Ruud van Nistelrooy did little to endear himself to the Arsenal playing staff during his days at Manchester United, and he was quickly tagged as public enemy no.1 in North London. He was, however, a hero to United fans, with his goal scoring exploits marking him out as one the deadliest frontman to ever don the famous red shirt. He was not infallible, though, and it is for one of his few failures from the penalty spot that he enters our list. With the scores locked together at 0-0 entering the final moments of a largely forgettable encounter at Old Trafford in September 2003, all hell suddenly broke loose. United were awarded a dramatic late penalty by referee Steve Bennett and braced themselves for a joyous celebration. Van Nistelrooy, though, lashed his spot kick against the crossbar and the game ended goalless. Martin Keown, not one of the Dutchman's biggest fans, took the opportunity to goad the United ace at the final whistle, bouncing around him like a mad man and flapping his arms like a deranged chicken. Lauren and Ray Parlour also got in on the unsavoury act, which only served to heighten tensions between the two sides.

Invincible no more

Going unbeaten through the entire 2003/04 campaign is an achievement Arsenal can rightly be proud of. The 'Invincibles' are unlikely to see that feat replicated in the foreseeable future, ensuring that they will remain heroes around North London for some time yet. United, though, can console themselves in the knowledge that it was they who proved the Gunners were mere mortals after all as they broke their long-standing unbeaten run. Arsenal arrived in Manchester on the verge of clocking up a half century of games without defeat in October 2004, but would ultimately fall on 49. Controversy, again, dominated the Red Devils' success, with Wayne Rooney accused of diving in order to earn a 73rd-minute penalty. United, though, could not care less about how they got the 2-0 win, just that they did and that they had snatched bragging rights back from their less than humble rivals.


Arsenal did not take kindly to being brought crashing back down to earth and mayhem ensued post-match as players and coaches clashed behind the scenes. The buffet cart provided perfect ammunition for the disgruntled Gunners, who began throwing pizza in the general direction of the United party. Ferguson took one slice in the face, much to his distaste, while others milling around in the tunnel area found themselves at the centre of a childish food fight. The culprit behind the famous Fergie slice has never been revealed, but Ashley Cole did admit in his infamous autobiography that the player in question 'wasn't English or French'. Does not really narrow it down much given the personnel on show, but at least Cole kept his dignity intact on this occasion.

Heat of the battle

Ask any regular viewer of Premier League football over the last 18 years to name you an all-time starting XI and the chances are that the side in question will have Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira at the heart of its midfield. Both men were captains of their respective clubs and possessed the kind of never say die attitude which has made them modern day greats. Both also liked a tackle, a bit of argy-bargy and the odd word in the others ear. It is, in some ways, remarkable then that they did not come to blows sooner than their pre-match spat in February 2005. Waiting patiently in the tunnel before the start of the game, Keane felt Vieira was trying to intimidate his United team-mate Gary Neville and snarled at the Frenchman that he would 'see you out there' - gesturing towards the Highbury pitch. Vieira, unfazed by the threat, broke the deadlock in a pulsating contest after just 10 minutes, but Keane and co hit back to claim an emphatic 4-2 win.

Take a seat

Wenger, throughout his time in England, has never been known for dignity, with the Frenchman often of the opinion that the world and his dog are ganging up on the Gunners. This has led to numerous tantrums, both on and off the touchline - causing hours of amusement for neutral supporters everywhere. His latest show of petulance came during the last meeting between United and Arsenal, at Old Trafford on 29th August 2009. Furious that Robin van Persie had just seen a last-ditch equaliser ruled out for offside, in a game Arsenal would lose 2-1, Wenger proceeded to boot a water bottle down the touchline. Referee Mike Dean did not take kindly to the anger-fuelled act and ordered the Frenchman from the touchline. With just seconds remaining Wenger tried to take up a perch behind the dugouts, but on finding no empty seats he was sent sulking down the tunnel by Dean, with the jeers of delirious United supporters ringing in his ears.

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