Tonight’s game between Manchester United and Arsenal is unlikely to be any sort of title decider. In fact, given both clubs transitional phases right now, this may end up being a game that decided nothing, with each club still on the fringes of being able to qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing in the top four in the English Premier League.
Despite that, Manchester United and Arsenal meeting in the league is always a big deal. The history is what makes the fixture so special, and there’s a lot of it.
Points deducted after huge brawl
Back in the pre-Premier League era of 1990, Manchester United were building a team while Arsenal were the established force. Indeed, they would go on to become champions this season, despite having two points deducted thanks to their role in the brawl that nearly ended it all.
United ride the rail to the title
If ever a side came in on the blind side, it was Manchester United in 2003. Winning nine out of their last ten games in the Premier League, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ryan Giggs both scored at Highbury, but two from Thierry Henry – in the days before VAR might have chalked them both off for being offside – made for a dramatic draw in April of that year.
The battle of old trafford
Just five months later, September 2003 saw the now-infamous ‘Battle of Old Trafford’, where Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ run would have stalled if Ruud van Nistelrooy hadn’t slammed his penalty against the crossbar. The following melee remains one of the worst examples of violence in British top-flight football to have occurred on the pitch.
“I’ll see you out there!”
February 2005 saw old acquaintances well and truly met, with the fire and brimstone of this incredible match-up never better defined. It was Keane vs. Viera and both men played unbelievably in a pulsating match which United would eventually win 4-2 after trailing twice.
Ten goal salute
Fast-forward to 2011, and Arsenal were in no place for a visit to Old Trafford. To say the hosts showed any mercy would be an absolute lie. Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney and company would destroy The Gunners in a damaging defeat that served as a touchstone for Arsene Wenger’s detractors in the final years of his Arsenal career.
Sanchez tears united apart
The most recent game between the two sides where you couldn’t take your eyes from the action on the pitch took place in 2015 when Alexei Sanchez showed the kind of sparkling form that made United break their wage structure to sign in….oh, well, we know how that worked out. This was back when Sanchez was, at times, unplayable in an Arsenal, unwatchable in a Manchester United shirt.
The latest instalment in the history of clashes between these two great Premier League sides may never be remembered as much as those classic moments, but it is another stitch in the fabric of history that keeps us glued to our screens whenever the Gunners and the Red Devils meet.
Tonight, Manchester United go into the game as slight favourites at 7/5, with Arsenal available at 9/5 in general. The Draw is 5/2, but as we said in our Gameweek #7 Preview, the draw with both teams to score looks good at 7/2, with two poor defences on offer.