Arsenal versus Manchester United. If you believe the hype, the animosity between the two clubs began when Arsene Wenger arrived to challenge Alex Ferguson’s stranglehold on the Premier League trophy.
But it’s not true; the rivalry began long before the Premier League was in its embryonic stages but the hurt which sewed the seeds began in North London on a baking hot Saturday afternoon…
1979 FA Cup Final
The five-minute final. A match which had it not been for the final five minutes, would be remembered for one of the most one-sided at Wembley.
Brian Talbot started the scoring, arriving fractionally ahead of Alan Sunderland to stab the ball home after 12 minutes. Frank Stapleton made it 2 – 0 two minutes before half-time, leaving United down and out.
With five minutes to go, the score remained unchanged. In the royal box, the trophy was being prepared with the yellow and blue ribbons tied around the handles.
Two minutes later, they were being hastily ripped off (which makes a change as it’s usually the FA ripping fans off but that’s a debate for another day) as McQueen and McIlroy sparked a Mcnificient comeback.
The ribbon tiers should have waited. A tired Liam Brady rode a challenge and flicked the ball wide to Rix. From there, the Yorkshireman slung over a deep cross and Alan Sunderland scored to win the FA Cup, twisting his ankle in the process.
Wembley hasn’t seen the like of it since.
1988, FA Cup Fifth Round
Another FA Cup tie, another 2 – 0 half-time lead for Arsenal. It’s a bit of theme and not a bad one at that.
But this is the day that the needle between the two clubs took on a life of its’ own. McClair pulled one back early in the second half and as the clock ran down, found himself mano a mano with John Lukic.
Whiteside tumbled theatrically in the area, the referee pointed to the spot. McClair stood poised, the North Bank jeered before bursting into derision and uncontrollable laughter as the Scot’s spot-kick soared over the Arsenal bar.
Nigel Winterburn let McClair know exactly what he thought of him and the United striker didn’t take too kindly to it…
2005 FA Cup Final
It’s a final which is often derided but one which proved to be the final moment for Arsene Wenger to claim a trophy at Manchester United’s expense.
Arsenal’s Invincibles proved human after all, as their 49-match unbeaten run ended at Old Trafford, amid acrimony which still lives on in the minds of Arsenal fans to this day.
However, revenge would be sweet come the season’s traditional showpiece. Wembley was out of commission and the final transplanted to Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium. Arsenal made themselves quite at home with wins over Chelsea and Southampton in previous finals.
We won’t mention the defeat to Liverpool where a clear handball denied Arsenal a penalty in the 2001 defeat.
But this was a win which tastes so much better than it should do.
Henry and Campbell were missing, leaving Arsenal playing a 4 – 5 – 1 with Dennis Bergkamp leading the line. United, at full strength, pummelled the Arsenal goal but Jens Lehmann produced one of the games of his career to keep the Gunners in the game.
Forty-five minutes passed without score turning into ninety minutes without a goal. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Arsenal probed occasionally but
The match, with threatened to boil over as temper’s frayed, went into extra-time but not before Arsenal found the odds stacked against them. Ronaldo broke, Reyes body-checked him and received his second yellow card.
Jens Is Le Man!
The deadlock remained and penalties arrived. There was no message down his sock or notes in a glove bag; this time it was Lehmann versus United in a penalty shootout.
Van Nistelrooy scored, Lauren matched him. The crucial moment of the ten spot-kicks arrived. Paul Scholes stepped up, drove his penalty low and hard to the goalkeeper’s right. Lehmann guessed correctly and saved. Freddie Ljungberg scored and suddenly the two teams were no longer inseparable.
Ronaldo, Van Persie, Rooney and Cole all scored to take us to United’s last kick. Up stepped Roy Keane, who levelled the shootout at 4 – 4 with just one Arsenal kick remaining. Up stepped Patrick Vieira and with the last kick of a ball in an Arsenal shirt, stroked home the penalty for a fairy tale ending to win the cup.
Aaron Ramsey, you know what you must do.
How To Watch Arsenal vs Manchester United
|Canada||Sportsnet World; Sportsnet Ontario|
|India||Sony Ten 2 India|
If, however, you are not in one of those countries, watching what promises to be one of the most enthralling FA Cup ties so far this season couldn’t be easier.
Instead of a continually buffering stream, try using ExpressVPN. They have produced a handy guide on how to stream UK football using their robust market-leading service.