The match this weekend between Manchester United and Arsenal is one of the most important in recent years, with both teams battling for a place in the top three in order to avoid the qualifying round of next year’s Champions League. Before Arsenal’s memorable 2-1 FA Cup win earlier in 2015, we took a look at the best FA Cup matches played out by these two giants. So, ahead of this Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford, here are the greatest Premier League matches between United and Arsenal.
1. Arsenal 2-1 Man United, 21 January 2007, Emirates Stadium
We start off at the Emirates in early 2007, and with both teams fighting at the top of the table, their showdown at the Emirates was an early title decider. United were six points ahead and looking to extend it to nine but Arsenal, and a certain Thierry Henry, had other ideas. Cue the last minute goal and wild celebrations..
2. Man United 8-2 Arsenal, 28 August 2011, Old Trafford
This was the horrific end to one of the worst months in Arsenal’s history, and certainly the worst month during Arsene Wenger’s reign as Arsenal manager. At the start of the 2011-12 season, their two midfield maestros Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri decided to leave Arsenal and so Wenger was left with a threadbare squad going into the opening games of the season. Their third game of the season was an 8-2 humiliation at the hands of United, and it left them just one point off the relegation zone by the end of August.
3. Man United 1-0 Arsenal, 8 May 2002, Old Trafford
Going into Arsenal’s visit to United in 2002, the home side knew they had to win to stay in touch with Arsenal for the title. Both teams were missing key players, as Ferguson decided to start van Nistelrooy on the bench, and Wenger missing Adams and Henry. Despite this, the quality of the game was typically exceptional and, after withstanding a first 45 minutes of United pressure, Arsenal managed to grab a famous winner in the second half. Sylvain Wiltord finished a rebounded Ljungberg shot, and then came Martin Tyler’s famous “Wiltooooord”.
4. Man United 2-0 Arsenal, 24 October 2004, Old Trafford
Matches like these don’t really happen between United and Arsenal anymore. The first of the two ‘Battle’s that came about a year after van Nistelrooy’s famous penalty miss that allowed Arsenal to go on the unbeaten run they were hoping to maintain against United. “The Battle of the Buffet”, as it came to be known, was not short of controversy, and resulted in United putting a dramatic end to Arsenal 49-game unbeaten run.
5. Man United 0-0 Arsenal, 21 September 2003, Old Trafford
Even though it was fairly early on in the 2003-04 season, such was the intensity of the United-Arsenal rivalry that their first meeting of the season became possibly their most famous. Dubbed the “Battle of Old Trafford” (or ‘Pizzagate’ from reports of a food fight in the tunnel), this 0-0 was aggressive and totally representative of the significance of their rivalry. A 10-men Arsenal were facing defeat in the face when van Nistelrooy had a penalty in the last minute of the game (which the Arsenal defenders obviously did not think was a penalty). When the Dutch striker missed and the final whistle went, Arsenal surrounded van Nistelrooy in anger, and sparked a full 11v11 fracas on the pitch.