Manchester United vs Arsenal: Classic Premier League Clashes

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Roy Keane
Keane and Vieira were key figures during the two club’s rivalry in the 1990s and 2000s | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester United vs Arsenal.

16 Premier League titles between them – United with 13, Arsenal with three – and two of the most dominant forces of modern English football.

Their rivalry during the late 1990s and early 2000s was the stuff of legend, as Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger sent their respective teams out to do anything in the name of victory, and inevitably there have been a number of classic clashes over the years.

So here at 90min, we chewed over the best ones and spat out the following as the best of the best. Enjoy.

Thierry Henry
Henry scored a last minute winner with his head | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

A game most fondly remembered by Arsenal fans due to Thierry Henry’s last minute headed winner, this was a classic encounter held at the Emirates Stadium for the first time.

Wayne Rooney had given Manchester United the lead in the second half with a wonderful diving header, before Robin van Persie broke his foot, literally, scoring the equaliser with a thunderous strike.

Henry then took centre stage – as he so often did – thundering Emmanuel Eboue’s cross past a helpless Edwin van der Sar with his bonce.

Fabian Barthez made two errors to gift Arsenal the win
Fabian Barthez made two errors to gift Arsenal the win | David Ashdown/Getty Images

Another one to look away from if you’re a United fan, courtesy of two absolute stinkers from Fabian Barthez.

Once again, it was Henry who was the beneficiary – tucking away with ease twice after Paul Scholes and Freddie Ljungberg had exchanged goalscoring pleasantries earlier in the game.

Talk about a French Connection, eh.

Man Utd v Arsenal
Dwight Yorke got a first-half hat-trick in this thrashing | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

In the early 2000s, these two sides were at their absolute barnstorming best.

So it was somewhat of a surprise as United absolutely pumped the Gunners at Old Trafford, courtesy of a first half hat-trick from Dwight Yorke.

Roy Keane and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it five at half time, before Teddy Sheringham added the gloss late on to seal a memorable 6-1 win. Not one of Arsene’s finest moments.

With Arsenal really starting to show their title credentials, it was all eyes on Highbury as Manchester United rocked up in north London back in November 1997.

What followed was one of the greatest top of the table clashes of modern times, as Arsenal took an early two-goal lead thanks to Nicolas Anelka and Patrick Vieira’s first strikes for the club.

A quick-fire Teddy Sheringham brace levelled the scores before half-time, before Peter Schmeichel’s supreme save denied Christopher Wreh The hosts would have the last laugh though, as David Platt’s stunning header won a pulsating clash at the death.

Frederik Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira, Edu, Martin Keown, Ray Parlour, Ashley Cole
Arsenal players celebrate winning the league at Old Trafford | PAUL BARKER/Getty Images

Believe it or not, Manchester United aren’t the only team to have won the Premier League at Old Trafford, no no.

The Gunners travelled up north knowing that a win over Sir Alex’s side would guarantee them the title. It was a close affair, but one that was sealed by Sylvain Wiltord’s second half strike – clinching their second Premier League crown under Lord Wenger.

Arsenal's Martin Keown taunts Manchester
Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a last minute penalty | PAUL BARKER/Getty Images

This match wasn’t a classic per say, but it produced one of the most iconic moments in Premier League history.

Arsenal were in the middle of their famous 49-game unbeaten run when Manchester United were awarded a penalty in injury time at Old Trafford. Lethal striker and regular penalty taker Ruud van Nistelrooy stepped up – but crashed his effort off the crossbar.

What followed was nothing short of sensational – as Martin Keown, Lauren and Ray Parlour among others taunted the Dutchman and engaged in a lovely dose of pushing and shoving. Handbags all round and it was glorious.

Marc Overmars
Marc Overmars got the only goal of the game | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

While this game didn’t officially seal Arsenal’s first Premier League title, it’s the victory that is widely regarded as the turning of the tide.

Arsenal were tight defensively and then in the 79th minute, Dutch winger – and speedster extraordinaire – Marc Overmars raced beyond Gary Neville to slot past Peter Schmeichel for the winner.

The rest, as they say, is history, as the Gunners won their games in hand and nabbed the title by a single point.

Manchester United's English striker Wayn
Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick in this huge win | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Not content with hammering six past Arsenal at the start of the century, United went berserk a decade later – as they smashed Arsenal for eight at Old Trafford.

A hat-trick from Wayne Rooney, two from Ashley Young, plus goals from Danny Welbeck, Nani and Park Ji-Sung did the damage – sealing the biggest margin of victory ever seen between the two sides.

Van Persie and Theo Walcott, incidentally, scored for Arsenal, in case you wondered.

Manchhester United's Wayne Rooney (R) fi
Wayne Rooney ended Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run | PAUL BARKER/Getty Images

Remember that unbeaten run that was mentioned earlier? Well, wouldn’t you know that it was good old Manchester United who eventually ended it – albeit in controversial fashion.

After 49 consecutive Premier League games without defeat (so many we feel obligated to mention it twice), the Gunners were on the wrong end of a bit of a dodgy one; with Sol Campbell adjudged to have fouled Wayne Rooney.

Van Nistelrooy dusted himself down and put to bed the demons of a year previously, before Rooney wrapped up the win late on.

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (L) cel
The tunnel fracas wasn’t the only memorable thing about this game | JIM WATSON/Getty Images

Two of the fiercest competitors to ever play the game, it was pure box office when Patrick Vieira came up against Roy Keane.

The two had previous heading into their clash at Highbury in 2005, and the fireworks were lit for this one before the players had even strode out onto the pitch. Keane lost his sh*t, Vieira wound him up some more and poor Graham Poll, the man with the whistle, tried to work out how to control the rowdy Irishman.

The on-field action didn’t disappoint either, with United emerging 4-2 winners on the night – winning a see-saw battle that saw Vieira open the scoring, Cristiano Ronaldo net a rapid brace and John O’Shea – of all people – bag a delightful late dink over a stranded Jens Lehmann.



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