Arsenal v Man United: 12 classic clashes ahead of their FA Cup tie

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Arsenal versus Manchester United is no longer the enthralling, thunderous, swashbuckling rollercoaster fixture of old when Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger ruled the Premier League – but it remains one of the highlight fixtures of the English season.

The two meet at the Emirates on Friday evening in the FA Cup fourth round – a competition that has stirred up some magic between these two sides down the years.

With United resurgent under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Arsenal still finding their feet under Unai Emery, it should be a blockbuster clash – even if it is not quite top of the bill anymore.

Ahead of the game, we pick out 12 classic Arsenal v United encounters from down the years.

1 Arsenal 1-2 United (after extra-time, FA Cup semi-final replay, April 14, 1999)

Ryan Giggs scores THAT goal against Arsenal in 1999.

Ryan Giggs scores THAT goal against Arsenal in 1999.

The greatest FA Cup game ever? Perhaps. The greatest FA Cup goal ever? A distinct possibility.

This was prime United v Arsenal, Ferguson v Wenger rivalry. David Beckham put United ahead with a scintillating long-range effort, Dennis Bergkamp equalised with a deflected dipping effort from outside the box.

Roy Keane was then sent off and Arsenal were one kick away from Wembley when Phil Neville clumsily brought down Ray Parlour in the area, but Peter Schmeichel saved superbly from Bergkamp.

Then, in extra-time, Ryan Giggs intercepted a tired Patrick Vieira pass and slalomed his way through the Arsenal defence for the most breathtaking goal, truly fit to win any game. United went on to win the treble.

2 Arsenal 2 United 4 (Premier League, February 1, 2005)

As memorable for the tussle in the tunnel before the game as it was for the action on the pitch – which was also pretty good.

Keane was incandescent with rage prior to kick-off, pointing the finger of blame at Vieira for picking a fight with Gary Neville. “I’ll see you out there, always shouting your mouth of, you” were Keane’s infamous words as the teams lined up to come out at Highbury, with referee Graham Poll having to break the pair up.

The hosts took the lead twice through captain Vieira and Bergkamp, with Giggs grabbing a deflected goal to make it 2-1 at the break.

A young Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in the space of four minutes to put the Red Devils ahead before John O’Shea had the final say with a quite brilliant run and chip over Manuel Almunia to win it.

3 United 8-2 Arsenal (Premier League, August 28, 2011)


“I’d 8-2 be an Arsenal fan” was the text and social media message joke that went viral after this utterly bonkers result.

It came at a time when United weren’t exactly at their most effervescent – Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Nani and Ashley Young the four in midfield – though Arsenal were pretty shaky during this period, with their bench packed with inexperience at a time when they were ravaged by injury and suspension.

Still, United were rampant, with a hat-trick for Wayne Rooney, two sublime strikes from Young and the pick of the bunch arguably Nani’s chip. Additional goals came from Danny Welbeck and Park Ji-sung, with Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie salvaging a morsel of pride for Arsenal, who saw a Van Persie penalty earlier saved by a David De Gea – in a testing debut season at Old Trafford – and Carl Jenkinson sent off late on.

4 United 0-0 Arsenal (Premier League, September 21, 2003)

No goals in this one, but that did not matter a jot in this tempestuous contest marred at the end by Arsenal players’ ugly treatment towards Ruud van Nistelrooy after he had thumped a 91st minute penalty against the crossbar.

In a game that became known as the “Battle of Old Trafford”, visiting players were incensed by the Dutchman’s part in getting Vieira sent off earlier in the game – even though he did nothing untoward when the Frenchman aimed a kick at him following a foul by the striker.

In stoppage time, Martin Keown fouled Diego Forlan and Van Nistelrooy – who had missed his two previous penalties – thundered his effort off the woodwork.

At the final whistle Keown, Lauren, Parlour and Ashley Cole rushed to confront and goad Van Nistelrooy who was led away by, of all people, Keane. Five Arsenal and two United players were forced to pay fines.

5 Arsenal 1-3 United (Champions League semi-final second leg, May 5, 2009)

 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United

Back to the football for a moment. And United were ruthless in this one, on their way to the Champions League final – a third in four seasons.

The Red Devils led 1-0 from the home leg but, in all blue at the Emirates, they left Arsenal feeling blue following a cutthroat performance.

Park and a rocket of a free-kick from all of 40 yards from Ronaldo, which bamboozled Almunia, made it 3-0 on aggregate, while Ronaldo added another on the hour following a breathtaking counter-attack involving Park and Rooney. Van Persie’s late penalty was nothing but a scant consolation, although Darren Fletcher’s unjust red card in the lead up to the incident was farcical and would hurt United in the final.

Shorn of Fletcher, United were undone by brilliant Barcelona in Rome – Samuel Eto’o and a brilliant Lionel Messi header earning the Blaugrana a 2-0 victory.

6 United 2-0 Arsenal (Premier League, October 24, 2004)

OK, and back to the drama. A little over a year on from the Battle of Old Trafford, we come to the “Battle of the Buffet”. The 49th game of the ‘Invincibles’ incredible 49-game unbeaten run.

Van Nistelrooy, somewhat fittingly yet hugely controversially, put the first nail in Arsenal’s coffin when he opened the scoring from the penalty spot – with Rooney’s tumble in the box under Sol Campbell’s challenge soft at best.

Rooney himself wrapped up the victory in stoppage time, sweeping in Alan Smith’s pass to finally halt Arsenal’s epic run.

Another ill-tempered match spilled over after the final whistle, with tempers boiling over between staff of both clubs. Amid the brawl a slice of pizza was thrown at United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Only in 2017 did former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas confirm that it was he who had thrown it.

7 United 0-1 Arsenal (Premier League, May 8, 2002)

A game that lives long in the memory for Arsenal fans, Slyvain Wiltord’s 55th minute goal on his 100th appearance for Arsenal confirming a famous victory as the Gunners clinched the Premier League title at Old Trafford.

It followed on from winning the league at White Hart Lane in 1971 and Anfield in 1989. Wenger’s side had lifted the FA Cup the Saturday before and were the better team throughout.

It was their second double in four years as they navigated their way through an entire league season without an away defeat.

In a bitterly disappointing campaign for United they conceded their crown in graceless fashion, with Wiltord starting the move when he found Freddie Ljungberg before steering home a composed finish after the Swede saw his effort save by Fabian Barthez.

8 United 0-0 Arsenal (Arsenal win 5-4 on penalties, FA Cup final, May 21, 2005)

Arsenal lift the FA Cup

The two most successful teams in FA Cup history (Arsenal and United have won the trophy 25 times between them; Arsenal 13, United 12) met in Cardiff 14 years ago.

Strangely it was the first meeting of Ferguson and Wenger in the final, and it sadly failed to live up to high expectations.

United dominated for 120 minutes in the driving rain with Rooney and Van Nistelrooy both hitting the woodwork. Jose Antonio Reyes was sent off for Arsenal but the 10 men held on to take it to penalties where Paul Scholes missed the decisive kick in an otherwise perfect shootout.

It was left for Juventus-bound Vieira to score the decisive penalty, hammering high beyond Roy Carroll and denying United back-to-back FA Cup wins.

9 United 6-1 Arsenal (Premier League, February 25, 2001)


A day for Dwight Yorke to remember as United hit Arsenal for six, with the hosts home and dry by half-time as they’d roared into a 5-1 lead.

Yorke, who had slipped from first to fourth in the strikers’ pecking order in a frustrating season, took full advantage of only his second start in nine games to prove he was far from finished.

United essentially confirmed their seventh title in nine seasons with a comprehensive win that moved them 16 points clear with just 10 games remaining.

Yorke’s blistering hat-trick came inside the opening 22 minutes as the champions blew their rivals away. Keane and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ensured United went into half-time 5-1 up – Thierry Henry had equalised for Arsenal. Teddy Sheringham added the final touch in stoppage time.

10 Arsenal 3 United 2 (Premier League, November 9, 1997)

Another epic installment of the Arsenal-United saga, even if it is not as widely celebrated as many others.

Four goals were scored in the first half as United drew level after going two goals down inside 30 minutes. Nicolas Anelka and Vieira gave the hosts a comfortable two goal lead at Highbury, but that lead was cancelled out by a Sheringham brace.

David Platt finally sealed an ill-tempered (shock) affair with a winner – a superb header – in the 83rd minute as Wenger beat Ferguson for the first time in his Arsenal tenure.

11 Arsenal 2-2 United (Premier League, April 16, 2003)

After the Battle of Old Trafford had turned this from a pulsating to a personal rivalry, this game was yet another thrillingly combustible encounter, a four goal humdinger with the title on the line.

The two were the unrivalled superpowers of the Premier League with the game symbolic of the rivalry during its peak, where there was no clear winner.

This was the season after the Wiltord goal had seen Arsenal win the title at Old Trafford and that man Van Nistelrooy opened the scoring in the first-half. Henry’s second-half double swung the pendulum towards the home side but Giggs equalised almost immediately to make it 2-2, with Campbell sent off late on for an elbow on Solskjaer.

12 Arsenal 2 United 6 (Rumbelows Cup, November 28, 1990)

Sharpe (r) celebrates United's 1991 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup win with Mike Phelan and Bryan Robson.

Sharpe (r) celebrates United’s 1991 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup win with Mike Phelan and Bryan Robson.

Before the advent of the Premier League era there was a fair amount of entertainment still to be found in United v Arsenal games. This League Cup clash was a gem of a game with the only thing sharper than United’s snazzy blue and white jagged away kit a young Lee Sharpe who helped himself to a hat-trick.

A month after an infamous brawl between the clubs, which resulted in both being fined and deducted points, they met amid a hostile atmosphere in the fourth round.

Sharpe, 20, was the Highbury hero, with his treble putting him on road to stardom and celebrity as a pop star footballer before the likes of Giggs and Beckham came along.

After treading water for a few years this was one of the games that probably began it all for Ferguson and United, with Danny Wallace starring, making four of the goals, as Fergie’s bold 4-2-4 formation ripped Arsenal to shreds on the counter-attack.

United were beaten 1-0 by Sheffield Wednesday in the final but lifted the Cup Winners’ Cup with a famous win over Barcelona.


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Arsenal boss Unai Emery admits he wanted Alexis Sanchez at PSG

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Unai Emery has revealed he was keen to take Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal to Paris Saint-Germain last winter.

The Chile forward prepares to return to the Emirates Stadium for the first time on Friday night after he ended up leaving the Gunners to join Manchester United.

Sanchez, who moved in an exchange deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, has struggled to make an impact at Old Trafford since signing a big-money contract a year ago.

He has scored just four goals over the course of a difficult first 12 months, while a number of niggling injuries have hindered his progress.

He is back in contention to feature against his former club in the FA Cup fourth round after overcoming a hamstring issue and it could be his first appearance at Arsenal since his departure, with head coach Emery revealing he had been keen on landing Sanchez when manager of PSG.

Asked if he tried to sign the former Barcelona forward, the Spaniard replied: “Yes. He is a very good player and, when I was at PSG, we thought he could help him.

Emery wanted to sign Sanchez from Arsenal.

Emery wanted to sign Sanchez from Arsenal.

“We spoke about a lot of players, about a lot of important players, and one was the possibility of Alexis. But it was not possible.”

Instead Sanchez moved north to join United, who have won all seven of their games under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Former boss Jose Mourinho was sacked in December, with a 2-2 Premier League draw with Arsenal one of his final games at the helm.

Sanchez was injured for that match, but, despite his troubles, Emery knows his defence have to be aware that the 30-year-old can be a threat.

“I respect him,” Emery added.

“In my preparations, every player is (prepared in) playing against the best players from Manchester United and one is Alexis Sanchez.

Alexis Sanchez has struggled since moving to United.

Alexis Sanchez has struggled since moving to United.

“I don’t know why his performances or quality is better or worse in these circumstances. Now, in the last matches, they are playing very, very well with very big performances.

“He’s been starting on the bench after an injury, but, if he plays Friday, we need to work to stop him because he is a very good player.”

Arsenal will be without Hector Bellerin for their FA Cup fourth round clash with Manchester United after the full-back was ruled out for up to nine months with a knee injury.

The Gunners host Solskjaer’s in form United with head coach Emery suggesting he may make changes to his side.

Konstantinos Mavropanos is pushing for a first start of the campaign and Petr Cech will be keen to play in goal, while Bellerin joins former United pair Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck (both ankle) and Rob Holding (knee) on the injury list.

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Emiliano Sala's sister begs rescue workers to keep looking after search called off

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The wreckage, and a body, of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala has been found.

The sister of Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala has begged rescue workers to keep looking for his missing plane after the search was formally called off.

An emotional Romina Sala, speaking in Spanish, told reporters in Cardiff that she feels her brother and his pilot are still alive.

Ms Sala travelled to South Wales after a light aircraft carrying her brother and pilot Dave Ibbotson disappeared from radar on Monday night.

Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker earlier confirmed the “difficult” decision to end the search, saying the chances of survival were “extremely remote”.

The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu left Nantes for Cardiff at 19:15 on Monday, and after requesting to descend, lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

Premier League strugglers Cardiff City signed 28-year-old Sala for a club record £15 million to bolster their attack and he was due to start training on Tuesday.

Mr Barker acknowledged Sala’s family were “not content” with the decision to stop actively searching but said he was “absolutely confident” no more could have been done and that UK coastguard protocols were followed.

He said he hoped the families of the missing pair found some comfort in the incident remaining open, despite searches ceasing.

“I can’t begin to imagine how they must be feeling, but I do understand and I hope they will find some comfort from the fact that we are not closing this incident,” Captain Barker said.

“Although we are stopping searching, the incident remains open and we are continuing with our broadcasts to ships and aircraft that are passing through the area and asking them to report anything that may be linked to the missing aircraft.”

Mr Barker said the plane was last known to be near Hurd’s Deep, an underwater valley north-west of the Channel Islands, which could make recovery of a wreckage very difficult.

Sala’s WhatsApp recordings sent from the aircraft may be used in an investigation into the events and the weather may have played a role in the crash, Mr Barker added.

Cardiff said in a statement on Thursday evening: “At this time of immeasurable sadness, our thoughts are with the family and friends of both men on board, the fans of both FC Nantes, Cardiff City, and their connections around the world.”

The club’s owner Vincent Tan added: “Monday evening’s news shook everyone at Cardiff City FC to the core.

“We were looking forward to providing Emiliano with the next step in his life and career. Those who met Emiliano described a good-natured and humble young man who was eager to impress in the Premier League.

“The response from the football community has been truly touching and we place on record our sincere thanks to those who have sent messages of support. We also thank everyone involved with the search and rescue operation, and continue to pray for Emiliano, David Ibbotson and their families.”

Nantes coach Vahid Halilhodzic was visibly emotional as he paid tribute to Sala in an interview with reporters at the club’s training ground, at one point breaking off to drink from a bottle of water and compose himself before continuing.

He said: “He is a real warrior who loved the club. I have never heard anyone who had a bad word to say about him.

“He thanked me the day he left. I could never have imagined it would be the last time I spoke with him. Life can be cruel, unjust. He does not deserve that.”

Rescue teams have scanned around 1,700 square miles and examined mobile phone data and satellite imagery but found no trace of the aircraft.

Three planes and five helicopters racked up 80 hours combined flying time looking for the plane, working alongside two lifeboats and other passing ships.

Andrew Blackie, an accident investigation expert, who has flown on similar planes and journeys, said the missing aircraft would not have a black box recorder or parachutes.

Speaking ahead of the search being called off, he said there was nothing “inherently wrong” in Sala taking the flight from Nantes but investigators may want to look at “risk choice” alongside technical issues.

“The loss of a piston-powered single engine aircraft, at night, in poor weather over the Channel is hardly a unique occurrence,” he said.

“Icing, loss of instruments, fuel problems, navigation failure, pilot incapacitation, carbon monoxide leaks… the list of hazards is long.”

He added: “Maybe the more important question is why were they there in the first place? Why did it make sense for this aircraft, its pilot and professional footballer passenger to be making this trip?

“It clearly made sense to those involved but, did they understand the associated risks, did they make an informed choice? Understanding this will be key to understanding this accident and helping to prevent future accidents.”

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