Punch-ups, penalties and pizza: The 10 best bust-ups from Manchester United v Arsenal encounters
There has been many a hissy fit thrown for the cause when Manchester United and Arsenal have locked horns. Here's the 10 best.
David Rocastle v Norman Whiteside (January 24, 1987)
Sir Alex Ferguson had only been in the job for two months when he took on Arsenal for the first time. But these were markedly different times. While Fergie was desperately trying to steady a listing ship, the Gunners had embarked on a 22-match unbeaten run. There was only one way to stop these young Guns and that way went by the name of Norman Whiteside. According to Ferguson the Northern Ireland international got away with "about 45 fouls" without getting booked, prompting a frustrated Rocastle to take the law into his own hands. Rocky hit Whiteside, got himself sent off and United won 2-0 in an ill-tempered affair that produced six further yellow cards - but not one went to storming Norman.
Nigel Winterburn v Brian McClair (February 20, 1988)
One of many FA Cup classics between the two sides. United dragged themselves back into this fifth round clash with a second-half Brian McClair goal at Highbury. With United 2-1 down with two minutes to go, that man Whiteside again went down like a stuck pig as Michael Thomas jockeyed him in the area. Arsenal's players were furious and even after McClair ballooned his spot-kick into the back row of the North Bank, Winterburn unleashed a relentless tirade of abuse at the chastened McClair - sowing the seeds of future ill-feeling between the two sides.
Man United XI v Arsenal X (October 20, 1990)
David Seaman was the only player not to get involved in this 21-man brawl which began on the Old Trafford touchline as the bad blood between Winterburn and McClair resurfaced again - almost literally. After Winterburn went down under a challenge McClair and Denis Irwin appeared to kick the left-back as he lay on the ground. Cue: mayhem as every player (bar the Arsenal goalkeeper) got involved in the skirmish. Arsenal, who won the game 1-0 thanks to Anders Limpar's strike, fined manager George Graham and five players two weeks' wages and an FA commission fined both clubs £50,000. Worse still, the Gunners were deducted two league points and United one. Graham's side had the last laugh, however, celebrating their second title win in two years the following May with a 3-1 win over United at Highbury.
Ian Wright v Peter Schmeichel (February 19, 1997)
Arsene Wenger’s first experience of Manchester United was overshadowed by a race row involving Ian Wright and Peter Schmeichel. When the two sides met at Highbury, Wright lunged at the United goalkeeper with a two-footed tackle, much to the fury of Ferguson - and Schmeichel, who confronted him in the tunnel afterwards. Although the rift was smoothed over it sparked the start of a long-standing rivalry between Wenger and Ferguson.
Roy Keane v Patrick Vieira, round 1 (August 22, 1999)
In a mesmerising pressure-cooker match between two title contenders, Roy Keane scored twice - the last an 88th-minute winner - as the previous season's treble winners United came from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 at Highbury. It was a sweet moment for Keane as just four minutes earlier, he'd got involved in a contretemps with Gunners enforcer Patrick Vieira, who narrowly missed landing one on the fiery Irishman following a crunching tackle. Several players piled in, in scenes that threatened to relive the Old Trafford Brawl.
Arsene Wenger v Sir Alex Ferguson, round 1,038 (2002)
The psychological mind games between these two Premier League colossi are too many to number but some of their verbal spats are worth recollecting. Back in a time when Arsenal used to win trophies, Wenger had the upper hand off the pitch as well as on it. After a near-hysterical Ferguson, following his side's exit from the Champions League, claimed that United had been the best team in the Premiership since Christmas, Wenger famously put him down by coining the phrase: "Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home."
Martin Keown v Ruud van Nistelrooy (September 21, 2003)
One of the most memorable confrontations in Premier League history saw Martin Keown morph into a vampire bat as he goaded Ruud van Nistelrooy for missing a last-minute penalty. Arsenal were still seething at the Duthman's part in getting Patrick Vieira sent off at Old Trafford, so when Van Nistelrooy’s effort went the way of Brian McClair's (see 1988), Keown decided to jump on his back and generally accost him. Another brawl between the two sets of players ensued. Keown knew something was amiss afterwards when even his usually-supportive wife told him, "I think you've gone and done it now." Keown was banned for three matches for his troubles, team-mate Lauren for four matches, and Ray Parlour and Vieira one apiece. Wenger's men were fined £175,000 but Van Nistelrooy’s miss proved priceless as Arsenal went on to finish the season unbeaten.
Sir Alex Ferguson v some pizza (October 24, 2004)
While the Keown incident saw Arsenal go on to become 'the Invincibles', they were denied a 50th unbeaten match 13 months later by their great rivals under controversial circumstances. This time, perhaps because Keown had moved on, Van Nistelrooy did score from the spot before Wayne Rooney made it 2-0 at the death. Arsenal were miffed, though, at Rooney's dive for the penalty and the treatment doled out to Jose Antonio Reyes by the Neville brothers. A dispute in the tunnel resulted in Fergie getting hit in the face by a flying slice of pizza. Although the guilty party remains nameless, Ashley Cole did shed some light on Pizzagate, revealing: "The culprit wasn’t English or French, so that should narrow it down."
Sir Alex Ferguson v Arsene Wenger, Round 2,327 (2004) Following Pizzagate, the hitherto war of words very nearly turned physical. According to Fergie: "Wenger was criticising my players, calling them cheats, so I told him to leave them alone and behave himself. He ran at me with hands raised saying 'What do you want to do about it?' To not apologise for the behaviour of the players to another manager is unthinkable. It's a disgrace, but I don't expect Wenger to ever apologise, he's that type of person." Miaow...
Roy Keane v Patrick Vieira, Round 2 (February 1, 2005)
With tensions mounting before yet another crucial encounter between the two main title contenders, this amazing 'behind-the-scenes' barney between Keane and Vieira was caught on camera. As the players lined up in the Highbury tunnel the 5ft 10in Irishman confronted the 6ft 4in Vieira for trying to intimidate the 5ft 11in Gary Neville, jabbing his finger and saying "Picking on Gary Neville. Why don't you pick on one of us on someone your own size?" Despite Graham Poll's attempts to calm him down Keane continued to mutter darkly, before saying "I'll see you out there" . Vieira scored after eight minutes but Keane's United, reduced to 10 men after Mikael Silvestre was sent off, won a pulsating match 4-2 as well as the title.
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