The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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- Arsenal and Manchester United meet at Highbury on Wednesday in a game that will go a long way to deciding this season’s Premier League title. The following is a brief look-back at five memorable encounters between two of English soccer’s biggest clubs:

l Feb. 15, 2003: FA Cup fifth round (Old Trafford) — Manchester United 0 Arsenal 2: The most recent meeting and one of the most explosive. United’s Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy were all booked as the hosts tried unsuccessfully to rough Arsenal up.

Scholes, in particular, incurred the wrath of the Arsenal players with a crude challenge from behind on Patrick Vieira — Arsenal’s Robert Pires described the tackle as that of “a butcher”. Van Nistelrooy, in unusually bullish mood, was also lucky not to be sent off.

Arsenal showed the stuff of champions by weathering the storm before picking United off with a goal in each half by Edu and Sylvain Wiltord. But it could have been a different story had United winger Ryan Giggs not missed an open goal with the score at 0-0.

l May 8, 2002: Premier League (Old Trafford) — Manchester United 0 Arsenal 1: The sweetest of title deciders for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s men started the game five points ahead of United, so victory clinched the championship in the backyard of their biggest rivals, to the fury of around 60,000 United fans.

Wiltord scored the winner after 56 minutes with a low finish after Freddie Ljungberg’s shot was parried by United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, and United captain Keane left the pitch with a face like thunder.

The result meant Arsenal became the first top-flight side for more than a century to remain unbeaten away from home in the League all season and condemned United to a first trophyless campaign since 1998. It also completed another Double, with Arsenal having beaten Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup final four days earlier to match their achievement of 1998.

l Feb. 25 2001: Premier League (Old Trafford) — Manchester United 6 Arsenal 1: One of the most humiliating defeats in Arsenal’s history as United, on their way to winning their seventh title in nine seasons, tore the Londoners to shreds. Striker Dwight Yorke claimed a hattrick in the first 22 minutes and it was 5-1 at halftime as Arsenal’s Latvian stand-in central defender Igors Stepanovs endured a personal nightmare.

Roy Keane, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham completed the rout for United, while Thierry Henry hit Arsenal’s only riposte, putting Arsenal level for all of two minutes.

Arsenal suffered an equally agonising end to the season, finishing runners-up to United in the League for the third successive year and losing the FA Cup final to Liverpool by conceding two late goals to Michael Owen.

l April 14, 1999: FA Cup semi-final replay (Villa Park) — Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2 (at extra time): A game that had everything: a sending-off, a penalty save, and a wonder-goal winner in extra time.

David Beckham gracefully fired United in front after 17 minutes before Dennis Bergkamp’s deflected shot levelled the scores after 69 minutes. Keane was then sent off for a second yellow card offence and depleted United looked down and out when a tired Phil Neville clumsily brought down Ray Parlour to concede a last-minute penalty.

But Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel plunged left to keep out Bergkamp’s spot kick, setting the stage for a dramatic extra time period.

The tie was settled after 109 minutes when Giggs intercepted a wayward Patrick Vieira pass. The Welshman snaked past Arsenal defenders Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and Tony Adams and crashed the ball high past David Seaman into the Arsenal net before setting off on a bare-chested romp down the touchline, pursued, it seemed, by half of Manchester.

United went on to complete the greatest season in their history, beating Newcastle United 2-0 in the Cup final, clinching the League title and sealing a historic Treble by beating Bayern Munich 2-1 in the most dramatic Champions League final in history thanks to two goals in the dying minutes.

l May 12, 1979: FA Cup final (Wembley) — Arsenal 3 Manchester United 2: Probably the most extraordinary FA Cup final of all, played out in front 100,000 disbelieving fans at Wembley. Liverpool were the dominant team in the country but United had knocked them out thanks to Jimmy Greenhoff’s headed winner in a semi-final replay.

Terry Neill’s Arsenal, shocked by 0-1 by Ipswich Town in the previous season’s FA Cup final, raced into a 2-0 lead with first-half goals by Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton.

United looked finished and when defender Gordon McQueen pulled a goal back after 86 minutes, it seemed merely a consolation. Amazingly, though, Sammy McIlroy equalised two minutes later.

But just as everyone was gathering their senses in preparation for extra time, Graham Rix crossed from the left, United goalkeeper Gary Bailey flapped and Arsenal striker Alan Sunderland, resplendent in moustache and afro-style perm, dashed in at the far post to claim an outrageous victory.


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