Arsenal v. Man.Utd. - Highlights and Lowlights

Last updated : 07 February 2003 By Bernard Azulay

Thierry Henry and Paul Scholes at Highbury - 1.10.2000
No matter the fluctuating fortunes or the changing faces of those involved, this fixture has always retained an unparalleled glamour. Yet where once I might have coveted the fact that it was United who were the major draw, it remains a relatively unnatural novelty for us to have been transformed from the 'boring, boring' Arsenal that everybody loved to hate, to the team everyone prefers to see perform. As these two titans of British football continue to tighten their stranglehold on success, these momentous meetings have become epoch-making reference points of this era. Long may it continue!

01/02/58 Before I was born but my pop was privileged to be present at Highbury to witness one of the most exciting encounters of all time, as the Arsenal were beaten 4-5 by the Busby Babes. Fate couldn't possibly have thrown up a more fitting testament to the enormity of the tragedy that was to take place in Munich five days later. Sir Matt's side made such an impression on the old man that of all the superstars he saw perform in the subsequent forty years, in his opinion there wasn't a player who could hold a candle up to the late, great Duncan Edwards.

12/05/79 The 'Five Minute Final', perhaps the most dramatic conclusion ever to the FA Cup. Waiting for the whistle, 2-0 up singing "Ee, eye, addio, we won the Cup" until McQueen pulled one back and then Sammy McIlroy silenced our end as he shimmied his way through our defence and stabbed the ball past Pat Jennings. With extra-time looming, Alan Sunderland settled the matter, sending Arsenal fans into orbit. Bizarrely, as I look back it is Sunderland's fuzzy, ginger perm which is my most vivid image.

23/02/83 Storming Norman Whiteside was the star of a 2-4 triumph in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal at Highbury. With hopes of making the final so faint the return match in Manchester was memorable for the hush that befell the 56,000 crowd at the break as the stadium announcer informed us with baited breath that Deirdre Barlow had chosen Ken instead of Corrie bad boy Mike Baldwin

02/05/83 We'd long since lost any chance of the league title, but after the Red Devils had done for us in two semis that season, revenge was sweet in this 3-0 triumph at Highbury. Notable for perhaps the lowest league turnout between the two teams, a meagre 23,000 mocked BFR as he was sent off from the dugout

20/02/88 Coincidentally this was also the fifth round of the cup, but in the good old days of FA Cup competition 54,000 crammed into Highbury. After United had pegged it back to 2-1, those perched perilously on the roof of the flats behind the Clock End must have had a marvelous view as McClair's penalty missed by miles. Instead of delighting in the pictures of the ball disappearing into a densely packed North Bank on the back pages of the Sunday morning papers, I prefer a moment's silence to mourn the demise of so many magnificent terraces

20/10/90 A 1-0 victory was incidental in the infamous battle of Old Trafford. These days a "Do you want some?" from Tony Adams is more likely to be a prelude to a pot of Earl Grey than a bunch of fives. Such niceties weren't being proffered to Paul Ince after he'd pushed Limpar over the advertising hoardings. Thankfully we ended up such comfortable Championship winners that we were able to spend the last few weeks of the season singing about the resultant punishment, suggesting the authorities stick their two point deduction where the sun doesn't shine!

28/11/90 A rampant Lee Sharpe ensured that our only home defeat of the season was a real stuffing in the Rumbelows Cup (2-6). However fans of both sides will be pleased to recall that the Scousers bore the brunt of the backlash from this result, surrendering 3-0 the following Sunday

09/11/97 It was bad enough blowing a 2-0 lead at Highbury, but insult was added to injury when Teddy Sherringham used our taunts as his inspiration to score both. David Platt may have played a largely peripheral part in the season's proceedings but if he's remembered for anything, it will be for rising above the United defence to head home the winner in this game

14/03/98 Marc Overmars' late goal at Old Trafford might have announced our assault on the title but for many the most memorable image of the night was the one captured by the Sky cameras, the euphoric retribution for so many years of frustration, frozen on the frightening, eye popping phizog of a single Gooner in the crowd

14/04/99 I can't think of many more significant moments in any match than Dennis Bergkamp's penalty miss in this semifinal at Villa Park. When Patrick made Ryan a present of the ball in extra-time, it was a tired pass which put United on the road to the Treble and three successive titles. Naturally United fans will recall the images of Ryan Giggs' half-decent impersonation of Richard Keys, displaying his hairy chest after dancing through our defence (a nightmare we are not allowed to forget thanks to the interminable replays on our TV screens). But for us Gooners we will forever wonder how different it all might have turned out, if only Dennis hadn't let the pressure get to him and had pummelled the ball home from the spot instead.

26/05/99 Most United fans won't know of the salt that was rubbed in Gooner wounds on this auspicious evening. We were doing our best to ignore the Champions League business in Barcelona as we commemorated the tenth anniversary of Anfield 89 at an event in the Clock End complex. With United losing 0-1, eventually the majority's preference prevailed and one of the TV screens showing the video of our game was tuned into the live match. Talk about synchronicity, the interventions of Sherringham and Solskjaer was perfectly timed to put the kibosh on the climax to our 'one minute' celebration

01/10/00 Thierry Henry's terrific 30 yard volley was worth the price of admission alone in this 1-0 triumph at Highbury

25/02/01 Subsequent to a decade of the incredibly high standards set by Dixon, Adams, Keown, Bould and Winterburn, there were Gooners leaving Old Trafford at half-time unable to stand the insufferable sloppiness of messrs Stepanovs, Grimandi, Luzhny and Cole in this slipshod 1-6 farce

25/11/01 "Give it to Barthez" was the cry from the North Bank when poor Fabien presented his French team mate with not one, but two goals, to gift us a 3-1 victory in the last ten minutes. I can still see the stunned look on Thierry Henry's face when both opportunities fell at his feet. It's probably a blessing that Barthez is bald because he would have been tearing it out in chunks otherwise

08/05/02 All the highlights put together of United v Arsenal encounters in my three decades of spectating don't amount to the pleasure of putting one over on the old enemy by taking the title at the theatre of our dreams and United's worst nightmares. To be honest it is all a bit of a blur after Sylvain Wiltord buried the decider but I can't imagine it gets much better than that (unless that is we end up back here for a European final in May!)