Man United v Arsenal: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
December 11, 2010 1 Comment
Arsenal are back on top of the Premier league, the place their fans will hope they will be come the end of the season. With Manchester United in second the match between the two on Monday, has been described as the most highly anticipated encounter between the two in recent years!
In previous seasons, the winners of the clash have often gone on to win the title, so what is it that we have seen in previous meetings that will re-appear in Monday’s clash?
Well one thing is for sure, when the two meet there is always; the good, the bad and the ugly. Just look at the pre match build up to Monday’s game, there has been Ferguson calling on United fans to get off Wenger’s back (the good), Evra’s random outburst claiming ‘Arsenal won’t win the league’ (the bad) and the on-going who will/ who won’t be wearing a snood (the ugly).
There have been so many ‘good’ moments in Arsenal v Man Utd clashes. By good I mean; world class goals, unmatched skill…real breathtaking moments.
Remember that FA cup semi final in 1998? This was the year of the best FA Cup goal ever …a piece of individual skill that is inferior to none. I set the scene, Arsenal and United are in a bitter battle for both the League and Cup, this game is the chance for both sides to show who the best team in England is. David Beckham got United off to a flyer with a sweet strike on 17 minutes but a second half strike from Dennis Bergkamp levelled the tie. Then with the game at such a competitive high, the United talisman, Roy Keane was sent off, giving Arsenal a clear advantage… an advantage which looked to pay dividends, when Bergkamp was a handed penalty in the 90th minute…he missed!
Extra Time…and 5 minutes in to the second half Patrick Vieira’s misplaced pass fell to Ryan Giggs on the half way line. In Maradona like fashion, Giggs ran at the Arsenal defence skipping past one… two… three… four Arsenal defenders and fired the ball into the back of England and Arsenal keeper, David Seaman’s net. As an Arsenal fan I hope I never see that chest again, but I have to sit back and admire the skill and class shown on that night (Watch Giggs’ goal). United won the treble that year!
And what about Thierry Henry’s magical strike in 2000. Stood some 25 yards out with his back to goal, the ball was rolled in to Henry’s feet. Before Barthez could even blink he had flicked the ball up, swiveled, volleyed and scored sending the Arsenal fans in to raptures. Ok, you may see Messi bamboozle Ramos in El Classico now a days, but the torment that Henry delivered to United throughout the noughties was a real advertisement for the skill on show in the English leagues biggest fixture. (watch Henry’s wonder strike)
And there have definitely been bad moments, moments where players want to close their eyes and fall away into the realms of obscurity, isn’t that right Fabian Barthez.
The French keeper is one of the best shot stoppers I have seen. His agility and ability to hang in the air made him one of the most decorated keepers in history; however being a French keeper he was always going to be a bit mad. Prone to the odd mistake, Barthez chose to make two of his biggest in the same game against title rivals Arsenal…it doesn’t get worse than that.
The first a miss-kick which fell to Thiery Henry, who had nothing left to do but slot the ball nicely into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. And to add insult to injury Barthez had another howler when he spilled the ball, ironically to Henry again, who had an open goal to pass the ball into.
Martin Keown (no that’s not the end of the ugly section) will probably be remembered for the ugliest moment in the meetings history. In 2004 Arsenal were top of the league, unbeaten so far and were drawing 0-0 away at United. Van Nistelrooy, who’s theatrics had landed Arsenal captain, Vieira a red earlier in the match, had controversially won a last-minute penalty. The man who never misses from the spot had just Jens Lehman to beat to take United to the top of the table….clunk he hit the crossbar. The scenes that followed show the passion and desire behind the meeting of England’s two best teams. Keown and Parlour certainly let the Dutchman know what the miss meant to them. Keown’s leapt and landed on Van Nistelrooy whilst Parlour ruffled him up a little bit. Not scenes that you necessarily want to see at a football match, but scenes that show desire, passion and loyalty…traits that aren’t so common in football today. The miss that day meant Arsenal ended the 2004 season unbeaten (Watch Keown’s reaction).
And do you remember that incident in the Highbury tunnel. Vieira and Keane the two captains, the warriors of each side who got a bit close on he pitch many a time finally lost it at each other in the Tunnel.
So what should we expect from the game?
Well I certainly expect a fast paced game with both sides going out to win. I think with the likes of Nasri and Berbatov in hot form at the moment, we will see ‘the good’. Then there is always the chance of a mistake I mean with Arsenal’s current keeping problems and United’s inability to finish games off this season surely we could see ‘the bad’, and what about ‘the ugly’? Well I don’t think there are the Keown’s, Keane’s and Vieira’s in the match up anymore but it wouldn’t surprise me if tempers started flaring!
In terms of a prediction…I am going to say 2-2, who do you think will win?