Wenger’s 5 most infamous Man United clashes ahead of final face-off
Arsene Wenger heads to Old Trafford on Sunday for what will be his last time as manager of Arsenal.
The Gunners boss is stepping down after 22 years in the hot-seat and during his time, he’s rewritten history against Manchester United forming one of the fiercest rivalries of the Premier League era.
The two battled head-to-head for supremacy in the late nineties and early naughties, with their clashes some of the most intense in the league’s 26 year history.
Here, we take a look back at some of the veteran French coach’s best and worst away trips to Manchester United.
Premier League leaders Arsenal headed to Old Trafford in May 2002 needing just a point to secure the title and the double, having beaten Chelsea four days earlier to lift the FA Cup.
With Tony Adams, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires all missing, Sylvain Wiltord proved the unlikely hero. The France forward scored the only goal on the break just before the hour mark when he tapped in after Freddie Ljungberg’s shot was saved.
There was, though, no such party atmosphere when Wenger’s side were back at Old Trafford for a league encounter during September 2003. Arsenal saw captain and midfield enforcer Patrick Vieira sent off for a second caution late on for flicking out at United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy.
With a feisty match heading towards a goalless draw, United were then awarded a controversial penalty in stoppage-time when Diego Forlan went down under Martin Keown’s challenge. Van Nistelrooy, though, blasted the spot-kick against the crossbar.
Arsenal players revelled in United’s misfortune – with Keown jumping in front of Van Nistelrooy, glaring into his face and an unsavoury fracas followed. The Football Association took disciplinary action, with Arsenal fined a then record £175,000 for failing to control their players, while defender Lauren received a four-match ban, defender Keown three, while Vieira and midfielder Ray Parlour were also hit with a one-game suspension.
Battle of the buffet
Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ went to Old Trafford on October 24, 2004, looking to extend a 49-match unbeaten run. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, though, broke the deadlock with 15 minutes left of what had been a bad-tempered affair when Van Nistelrooy scored from the penalty spot after Wayne Rooney went down under what looked minimal contact from Sol Campbell at best.
The England forward then added a late second to seal victory. The bad blood continued to spill over off the pitch as tempers flared in the tunnel, with Wenger said to have confronted Van Nistelrooy for a hefty challenge on defender Ashley Cole, which had gone unpunished.
Ferguson then stepped in to give the Frenchman a piece of his mind – and ended up being hit by a slice of pizza, which resulted in the United boss having to change into a club tracksuit to conduct post-match media duties. Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas was long suspected to have thrown the offending buffet item – which the Spaniard eventually confirmed himself during a TV game show several years later.
Where do I go?
United enjoyed another home success over Arsenal in August 2009 – which ended with Wenger clambering into the stands at Old Trafford after being sent off. With his side losing 2-1, Wenger saw a stoppage-time equaliser from Robin van Persie ruled out for offside and he let his frustrations boil over when kicking a water bottle down the touchline.
Referee Mike Dean was not impressed and promptly dismissed the Arsenal boss. Wenger initially headed for the seats behind the dugout, only to find there were not any there and stood with his arms wide apart asking where he was expected to go – much to the amusement of the United fans around him.
Wenger later received an apology over the incident from referee’s chief Keith Hackett.
Hit for eight
In one of the lowest points of his Arsenal career, Wenger’s much-changed side were smashed 8-2 at Old Trafford in August 2011, as Rooney plundered a hat-trick.
Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen were both ruled out for the Gunners, while midfielder Francis Coquelin was handed his Premier League debut, and later replaced on the hour by a fresh-faced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Defender Carl Jenkinson was sent off with 13 minutes left to complete a miserable afternoon, which saw Wenger’s side left just a place above the relegation zone and with only one point from their opening three league games.
Who will win at Old Trafford on Sunday?
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