Arsenal and Manchester United were always in the same English football division since 1919. Still, their rivalry started after they had to compete for the Premier League and FA Cup titles and trophies. Their first competitive match was in 1894 when Manchester United was still called Newton Heath and ended in a 3-3 draw.
Arsenal and Manchester United have played together since 1894 a total of 237 times, and so far, Arsenal has won 87 times while Manchester United has emerged winner 98 times, and they have ended in a draw 53 times. The most humiliating defeat Arsenal had was back in the summer of 2011 when they lost woefully in a game against Manchester United. On 28 August 2011, they played in an 8-2 loss. It was also their first league game since 1896, where they conceded up to eight goals.
The match between these teams in 1990 defined their disunion, as it was the match that began their numerous years of ferocious rivalry. After the game, a brawl ensued, leading to the stripping of one point for Manchester United and two for Arsenal.
The rivalry went deeper when animosity started between their two managers, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger and Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson. Their first game occurred on 16 November 1996 at Manchester United’s stadium in Old Trafford. Arsenal went into this game after being unbeaten in 10 different games. However, the match ended as a victory for Manchester United after an own goal was scored by an Arsenal defender, Nigel Winterburn, giving them a 1-0 win.
Arsenal rose to power in 2002 and won the double, marking the second time for them in four years. After the game, Arsene Wenger indicated the 1-0 win to Arsenal as a shift of power, although Manchester United won the title again in the 2002/03 season.
Between 2003 and 2004, the hostility between these had risen so high that some of Arsenal’s players were charged with improper conduct, which included Lauren receiving a four-game ban and the players Vieira and Parlour receiving a one-time ban. The cause of this fight was the ridicule of a Manchester United player, Van Nistelrooy, after losing a penalty when his shot bounced off the crossbar. The club was also fined £175,000, the highest amount that the FA had ever charged. After this incident, United won the FA Cup ahead of Arsenal in 2004, while Arsenal won with a 3-1 win in the FA Community Shield.
In May 2005, both teams participated in the final of the 12th FA Cup. The game resulted in a goalless draw, including extra time, and the two teams had to go at it with a penalty shootout. It ended in a 5-2 win for Arsenal. In the game, Arsenal was outplayed. However, they managed to cause the first penalty shootout in FA Cup final history. Patrick Vieira, the Arsenal captain, made the winning goal.
In recent years, the rivalry between both teams has toned down significantly. It is the result of introducing other teams into the football leagues and competitions, like Chelsea, Manchester City, and Tottenham. Under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea won back-to-back both the 2004/05 and 2005/06 games.
Their last six matches show a higher range of percentage wins for Arsenal, with 33% of their games being a draw. As the Premier League is ongoing, the latest match between the two teams was on 4 September 2022, which ended in a 3-1 victory for Manchester United. Their next game, one of the most anticipated matches in the new year, takes place on 21 January 2023.
Just after Arsenal played a draw in a match against Newcastle United on 3 January this year, former player Gary Neville commented on the strength of both Manchester United and Arsenal teams. He concluded with a higher probability of Manchester United doing well with their more trusted players, stating that Arsenal still had a long way to go if they wanted to win the title. Arsenal will be prepared to put all efforts into getting this season’s title, as their last win was in 2004, when they went a full season without being defeated.
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