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Friday, 8 November 2013

MANCHESTER UNITED - ARSENAL RIVALRY

Its no longer news that Manchester United and Arsenal FC are great rivals when it comes to the English Barclays premier League as both clubs are recognised as having great history and traditions. Although the two clubs have frequently been in the same division as each other since 1919, the rivalry has largely arisen since around 1990. Many of the clashes in recent times between the two teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s have been due to the teams being fierce rivals for the Premier League and FA Cup. During this period, there was enmity between the two longest serving managers in Premier League history, Arsenal's Arsène Wenger (1996−present) and United's Sir Alex Ferguson (1986−2013), and their former club captains Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane. The rivalry has been noted for on-field trouble, particularly the contests in 1990, culminating in 2003 and 2004.

Though no one knows the exact time the bitter rivalry between the two clubs began but history has it that it may have begun with a notorious match at Old Trafford on 20 October 1990, which resulted in both clubs being docked points in the 1990–91 First Division.
Alex Ferguson has stated that he believes that the rivalry predates this by a few years, however, to a match in January 1987 when David Rocastle was sent off for retaliating against a foul by Norman Whiteside.
Another high profile clash came more than 20 years later, in the final of the FA Cup on 12 May 1979. A 100,000-strong crowd saw Arsenal take a 2–0 lead in the first half thanks to goals from Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton, and with just five minutes left on the clock their lead was still intact. Then, in the 86th minute, Gordon McQueen pulled a goal back for United, and two minutes later they equalised with a goal from Sammy McIlroy. However, barely a minute after United equalised, Arsenal's Alan Sunderland scored an 89th minute goal to win the cup 3–2 for Arsenal which broke the hearts of the United faithful.
Since then on wards every clash between Arsenal and Manchester United is always accompanied with an on field drama.
With Manchester United dominance in the early years of the new English premier league, the rivalry began to loose its bitter taste but with the arrival of Arsene Wenger in 1996, the bitter taste was resurrected as Arsenal became perennial rivals for the Premier League.
Wenger's first taste of the fixture would not have been complete without a drama and so the players of both teams produced one as Arsenal's Ian Wright and United's Peter Schmeichel came to a head with confrontations on the pitch and in the tunnel after the match.

This fierce rivalry took another twist as the managers became involved too,  In April 1997, Ferguson publicly commented on Wenger's views on United's fixture list by saying: "Wenger doesn't know anything about English football. He's at a big club – well, Arsenal used to be big. He should keep his mouth shut, firmly shut. He's a novice and should keep his opinions to Japanese football.
As the competition for titles became fierce so too was the intensity of the rivalry. During the 2003–04 Premier League season. Arsenal went on to win the league with an unbeaten record. They were labeled as "The Invincibles" and during their first game with Manchester United, they drew 0–0 at Old Trafford in a match dubbed the "Battle of Old Trafford". Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira was sent off in the 80th minute for two bookable offences and in second half stoppage time, Gunners defender Martin Keown brought down United's Diego Forlán in the Arsenal penalty area, Ruud van Nistelrooy stepped up for the spot kick but his shot rebounded off the crossbar. This was followed by scenes of jubilation from the Arsenal players, especially Martin Keown who confronted Van Nistelrooy after his miss. The resulting scuffle led to another fracas after the final whistle, which ended up with four players from both sides being given yellow cards.
The next game between these two clubs was held at Highbury, which resulted in a 1–1 tie. At the end of the season, Arsenal ended with 90 points while Manchester United finished with 75 points in the third position. Arsenal eclipsed Manchester United and truly began a hatred between the two clubs. Even famous arguments and fights occurred between players, such as Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane. Arsenal went on to hold a national record of 49 games unbeaten, which was ended by a controversial 2–0 defeat at Old Trafford after Wayne Rooney was accused of diving to win the penalty converted by Van Nistelrooy to give United the lead. This game was later called "Battle of the Buffet" and was a huge catalyst in the ongoing rivalry of these two clubs. In the corresponding fixture, Keane and Vieira had to be separated in the tunnel before the match by referee Graham Poll. Vieira gave Arsenal the lead in the eighth minute of the match but United ran out 4–2 winners.

The 2005 FA Cup Final, between the two sides, was the first time in the competition's history that the final was decided on a penalty shoot-out. Arsenal beat United 5–4, following a goalless draw after extra time. Arsenal forward José Antonio Reyes became the second player in Cup Final history to be sent off, following his second yellow card near the end of extra time. The 2005 FA Cup was the last trophy the Gunners have lifted till date, while United have gone on to win more Premier league title, The Carling Cup, The UEFA Champions league and the FIFA World club world cup. And this is something the Arsenal fans cannot stand.
The arrival of Jose Mourinho from Porto to Chelsea stoled the swag out of this classic encounter between Manchester United and Arsenal with Sir Alex perceiving Chelsea as the new threat to their Premiership title ambition.
In December 2010, United manager Alex Ferguson made a personal plea to the United fans to no longer sing a "sick" chant at Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, as those kind of chants from fans were considered an embarrassment to Manchester United. With both teams going for the Premier League title in May 2011, Arsenal won their first game against Manchester United since November 2008, to leave United just three points ahead of Chelsea and six ahead of Arsenal going into the final three games of the season. Nevertheless, United won the league, nine points ahead of Chelsea and twelve points ahead of Arsenal.
In August 2011, Arsenal suffered their heaviest league defeat in 84 years as they lost 8–2 to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Arsenal had not lost a league game by such a margin since 1927 when they lost 7–0 to West Ham United in the old Football League First Division. This was also the first time they had conceded eight goals in a game since 1896, when they lost 8–0 to the now defunct Loughborough F.C. in the old Football League Second Division.
In August 2012, then-Arsenal captain Robin van Persie transferred to Manchester United after stating that he would not renew his contract with Arsenal. Van Persie was in incredible form, after years of being very injury prone. It was speculated that he would move to a club overseas, as a sign of respect for his former club, but eventually, he controversially signed for Manchester United and this was such a heavy blow to the gunners. In an attempt to win over the fans Arsene Wenger went on to bring in new faces such as Cazorla, Areta, Giroud, Podolski into the club in the space of two seasons with the latest being Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for a club record fee of £43 million.

The 2013/2014 have seen drastic change in the build up to this fixture, with Sir Alex retiring and Arsenal being in the form of their lives with every department of the squad firing in the right dimension.
Not withstanding the fixture will not loose an atom of its bitter sweet taste in the mouth of soccer followers worldwide.

Fixture top scorers in the Premier League
Rank
Scorer
Club
Goals
1
Arsenal
8
Manchester United
8
3
Arsenal, Manchester United
5
Arsenal
4
Manchester United
4
Manchester United
4
Manchester United
4
8
Arsenal
3
Manchester United
3
Manchester United
3
Manchester United
3


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