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Monday, 29 October 2012

Manchester United v Arsenal: Great Games No 5 - Rooney destroys the Invincibles

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Manchester U v Arsenal

Manchester United and Arsenal have been at the heart of some of the greatest games in Premier League history. Who can ever forget Keane and Vieira's fierce battles on and off the pitch? Henry's memorable strike against Fabien Barthez or those title clinching moments?

This Saturday the two Premier League giants lock horns again at Old Trafford and it promises to be another action-packed afternoon.

All this week we are going to turn the clocks back and look at five memorable Premier League clashes between the Ferguson and Wenger. We are going to start our countdown to Friday's number one with United's controversial 2-0 victory over the Invincibles in October 2004.

Manchester U v Arsenal 5

In 2004 Arsenal were simply invincible. Arsene Wenger's men had gone the entire 2003/04 season unbeaten and rocked up at Old Trafford with their record standing at 49 not out. However, there was no way Sir Alex Ferguson was going to let the Gunners record win number 50 on their ground. No way. But it came in controversial circumstances.

United entered the game 11 points behind the Gunners and it was billed as a must-win game for Ferige's men.

Both sides attacked from the off but no-one could find a way past Roy Carroll or Jens Lehmann. Rooney and Giggs had chances for the hosts while Arsenal were left bewildered when the ref waved play on when Ljunberg went down following a challenge by Ferdinand. Reyes, Henry and Bergkamp were then thwarted by Carroll in their pursuit of an opener.

With the game on a knife-edge, United were awarded a penalty when Rooney went down under a challenge from Sol Campbell. Those of an Arsenal persuasion were convinced the former Everton man took a dive, but the referee had made his mind up. Ruud Van Nistlerooy, who missed a penalty in this fixture the previous season, stepped up to put United one up.

If Arsenal fans thought they were unlucky to concede that penalty they were extremely fortunate when Ashley Cole took out Ronaldo in the box. It was a clear spot-kick but somehow referee Riley waved play on.

With Arsenal chasing an equaliser to keep their unbeaten record going, United broke and Wayne Rooney - who has a habit of scoring against Arsenal - sealed the points for the Red Devils.

That win put United back in contention for the title. Unfortunately Fergie's men finished third a staggering 18 points behind winners Chelsea. Arsenal ended up in second.


Come back tomorrow where we will continue our countdown to our greatest game between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford by looking at a rare Arsenal win.

Calling all United and Arsenal fans: What has been your greatest game between the two at Old Trafford? How much does it mean to get one over them? What do you think the score will be this weekend? Whatever your view we'd love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth



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