Manchester United host Arsenal at Old Trafford tonight in what is traditionally one of the biggest matches in English football. We take a look back at five of the most memorable clashes between them.
United 8 v 2 Arsenal – Premier League – August 2011
There are fewer matches between these two giants that are as memorable as Manchester United’s famous 8-2 win at the beginning of the 2011/12 season. Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger fielded a heavily inexperienced side at Old Trafford, featuring the likes of Francis Coquelin, Carl Jenkinson and Armand Traoré. They paid a heavy price as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side – in a state of transition themselves – ran riot in front of their own fans. Wenger would sign five players in the following two days in reaction.
United 0 v 1 Arsenal – Premier League – May 2002
Ferguson had established his dominance at the top of the English game with three consecutive titles between 1999 and 2001. Wenger’s boys came back fighting in 2001/02, and were on the brink of success when they faced their bitter rivals at Old Trafford in May. A draw would have been enough to end the title hopes for the Red Devils, but the Gunners went one better. A solo strike from winger Sylvain Wiltord sealed the title for the visitors.
Arsenal (P) 0 v 0 United – FA Cup Final – May 2005
In 2004/05, there was a new sheriff in town. A charismatic José Mourinho had just arrived at Chelsea and broken the United-Arsenal duopoly by winning the Premier League. The two old giants were instead left to fight for the FA Cup. In a highly charged final, United dominated their opponents for 120 minutes but could not find the breakthrough to make that dominance count. Paul Scholes squandered a penalty, and Patrick Vieira’s last act as an Arsenal player was to dispatch the winning spot kick.
Arsenal 1 v 3 United – Champions League semi-final – May 2009
United were looking to make history as the first team to retain the modern version of the Champions League when they met their nemeses in the semi-final of the 2008/09 season. A goal from John O’Shea at Old Trafford had given the defending champions an advantage before the second leg at the Emirates. Any hopes that the hosts had of a comeback were however very quickly dashed when Kieran Gibbs’ blunder allowed Ji-Sung Park to score early on. Cristiano Ronaldo struck a double before a Robin van Persie penalty came as scant consolation late in the game.
Arsenal 1 v 3 United – Premier League – December 2017
This game was seen at the mid-way point of last season as the ‘game of the season’. Mourinho’s United flew out of the blocks at the Emirates as they scored two early goals via Antonio Valencia and Jesse Lingard. This jerked the shell-shocked home side to life and they laid a persistent onslaught on their rivals’ goal.
David De Gea produced one of his best performances of the season as he made save after save to frustrate the Gunners and their fans. Alexandre Lacazette finally got through after De Gea had saved from Aaron Ramsey but, against the run of play, Lingard bagged a second for himself shortly after. Even a red card for Paul Pogba could not help Arsenal recover after that.