United and Arsenal: The Wenger years
Sunday marks the end of an era. Not just for Arsenal fans – who will see the longest-serving manager in their club’s history lead them into battle at Old Trafford for the final time – but for United fans, too.
The match will be Arsene Wenger’s 60th against the 20-times champions of England, which means he is our most familiar managerial foe – and by quite some distance.
The Strasbourg-born supremo’s current tally of 59 matches against us puts him 10 clear of the next man, Brian Clough, and 11 clear of Harry Redknapp. Both faced United with different clubs, but Wenger has done so only with the Gunners.
That alone would be remarkable enough, but then you remember the contests, the moments, the matches themselves. It’s no exaggeration to say that Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal fronted up to Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United like few other opponents.
Giggsy's wonder goal against ArsenalVideo
Arsenal would not finish in one of the top two positions again until 2015/16, as Chelsea and then later, Manchester City, replaced the Gunners as the team regularly vying with United for the title. There were still classic encounters, including a Champions League semi-final in 2009, which Sir Alex's men won 4-1, with O’Shea again punishing Arsenal in the first leg at Old Trafford, before Ronaldo turned on the afterburners in the second leg in London. Wenger’s side would record the odd victory over United, but the Reds retained the upper hand for the majority of the time – something underlined by a remarkable 8-2 trouncing in 2011 – as Arsenal struggled to recapture the form of their title-winning years.