Who remembers when Arsenal and Manchester United were competing for Premier League titles?

The two clubs used to have a huge rivalry as they went head-to-head to become champions of England.

Arsene Wenger vs Sir Alex Ferguson, Patrick Vieria vs Roy Keane. The fixture was always the most anticipated every Premier League season.

Between the 1997/98 season and the 2005/06 campaign, neither Arsenal or Manchester United finished outside the top three.

In fact, until Chelsea were transformed into title winners, Arsenal and United shared 11 of the first 12 titles in the Premier League era.

There’s no doubt they were the two best sides in England. It’s no wonder, then, some of the clashes between the two sides boiled over.

By the 2003/04 campaign, the rivalry was intense.

They met in the season curtain-raiser in the Community Shield, which United won on penalties.


However, there were a number of incidents including Phil Neville being booked in the first minute for a challenge on Patrick Vieira and Ashley Cole receiving a yellow card for fouling Solskjaer a minute later. Francis Jeffers was later shown a straight red for a kick on Neville and, despite not being seen on the day, Campbell was given a three-match ban for kicking out at Eric Djemba-Djemba.

The first Premier League clash between the two sides at Old Trafford was always going to be tasty – and tasty it certainly was. It led to the ‘Battle of Old Trafford’.

In fact, the ending of the match is so iconic that a two-minute video of what happened is now going viral on Twitter.

The match was 0-0 with 10 minutes remaining when Vieira and Ruud van Nistelrooy challenged for a header. After falling on the floor, the Arsenal captain kicked out at the United striker. He didn’t make contact but the Dutch striker made sure referee Steve Bennett saw it. The Arsenal players were furious.

It looked as though Arsenal would hold on for a draw until Martin Keown hauled down Diego Forlan in the penalty area and the home side were awarded a penalty.

We all know what happened next as Van Nistelrooy smashed the penalty against the crossbar and was then mobbed by Arsenal players – especially Keown – as the referee blew the final whistle. It was carnage.

A tweet captioned: “The most heated ending to a football match since I can remember. The streets won’t forget this type of rivalry,” is going viral and fans have been reminiscing after watching the footage.

Check it out:

VIDEO: The ending of Man Utd vs Arsenal is still incredible to watch

In the end, six Arsenal players and two Man Utd players as well as Arsenal as a club were charged with improper conduct by the FA.

Arsenal received a £175,000 fine, the largest ever given to a club by the FA. Meanwhile, players Lauren, Martin Keown, Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour were all suspended for between one and four matches – Lauren was given a four-match ban for “kicking out at Quinton Fortune following the penalty award and for forcibly pushing Ruud van Nistelrooy in the back following the final whistle”. Jens Lehmann was originally charged but this was later dropped. Ashley Cole was not suspended but was given a £10,000 fine.

On the United side of things, Ryan Giggs was handed a £7,500 fine and Cristiano Ronaldo a £4,000 fine and both were warned about their future conduct after their involvement after the final whistle.

Someone that wasn’t involved in the melee was Keane – although he’s later admitted he regrets not getting involved.


“I had a lot of hatred for Arsenal,” he said. “I can’t think of any other word when I was getting ready to do battle with Arsenal. Hatred was the word. I don’t remember liking anybody at Arsenal. I knew I had to be at my angriest against them. I didn’t feel like that about any other team, but Arsenal brought out something different in me – I behaved myself that day and I regret it”.

Arsenal went on to win the Premier League that season – going unbeaten doing so. It could have been a very different story had Van Nistelrooy scored that penalty.


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