While games between Manchester United and Arsenal are always keenly contested and intriguing affairs, the most recent instalments of this classic fixture have lacked the drama and intensity of yesteryear. As the two sides battled for supremacy at the turn of the century (when they claimed seven consecutive league titles between them) they engaged in many ferocious battles on the field of play, from a tempestuous clash at Highbury in February 2005 to the notorious 2-0 victory for the Red Devils at Old Trafford in 2004 as Arsenal failed in their bid to stretch go fifty league matches undefeated.
With this in mind, what are the best three encounters of the last fifteen years from a United perspective?
Man United 6 Arsenal 1, February 2001
Heading into the game thirteen points clear of the Gunners at the top of the league, Alex Fergusons’ team delivered a devastating performance that all but sealed a third consecutive title. Despite scoring a consolation goal through Thierry Henry, Arsenal’s slow and makeshift defence was put to the sword as a Dwight Yorke hat-trick had United 3-1 up after just 22 minutes. Roy Keane, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham added further goals to complete a memorable win
Man United 8 Arsenal 2, August 2011
While the Premier League betting odds make Arsenal slight favourites for Saturdays’ encounter, there was a time in recent history where the Gunners could not buy a victory against United. This was certainly the case in 2011, when Arsenal visited Old Trafford and were thrashed by eight goals to two. Wayne Rooney led the way with a stunning hat-trick, while the late dismissal of Gunners’ defender Carl Jenkinson heaped further misery on Arsene Wenger’s men.
Arsenal 2 Man United 4, February 2005
Just four months after the infamous ‘Battle of the Buffet’ and Arsenal’s failed attempt to complete a fifty match unbeaten run, Manchester United travelled to Highbury for the highly anticipated return fixture. After a confrontation between United skipper Roy Keane and Arsenal midfielder Patrick Viera prior to kick-off, the game was a riotous affair that turned when a quick-fire Cristiano Ronaldo brace helped to overturn a 2-1 deficit. John O’Shea added a brilliant fourth late on, and not even a controversial red card for Mikael Silvestre could scupper the Red Devils.