On Monday evening at Old Trafford Manchester United and Arsenal come head to head in the Fa Cup once again, the two sides haven’t met in the competition since 12th March 2011. So it’s just a few days short of four years since the two sides came head to head in this great competition. Both clubs have a proud record in the competition, having both won it on eleven occasions. No side has won the Fa Cup more times than either Manchester United or Arsenal. Both clubs and their supporters will be desperate to win the competition again especially as if either one does win the competition this year it will put them one ahead of the other on twelve wins in this great old competition. Manchester United haven’t lifted the Fa Cup since the 2003/04 season when they beat Millwall 3-0 in the Final, they did reach the final the following but lost on penalties to Arsenal after the game had ended 0-0 after extra-time. In this blog we’re going to look at three classic Fa Cup ties between Manchester United and Arsenal
1979 Fa Cup Final – Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United
The 1979 Fa Cup Final took place on 12th May 1979 at the old Wembley Stadium. It is regarded as one of the greatest ever finishes to a Fa Cup final, the match is often referred to as the five minute final. For the first 85 minutes of the match it was forgettable especially for Manchester United fans as they watched their team being outplayed by Arsenal and were 2-0 down by half-time after goals from Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton. With five minutes to go it looked hopeless for Manchester United fans but then in the 86th minute Gordon McQueen bundled home what seem like just a consolation before Sammy McIlroy ended a mazy run to make it 2-2. With the game heading to extra-time, United’s celebrations at getting back in the game were short-lived as in the 89th minute Alan Sunderland met a cross from Liam Brady to give Arsenal the win and leave every Manchester United fan in the land stunned.
1999 Fa Cup Semi-Final Replay – Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
In the 1998/99 season Manchester United and Arsenal were fighting it out in the Premier League, Arsenal were the defending champions in the league and looking to regain their title but Manchester United stood in their way, then they were drawn against each other in semi-final of the Fa Cup, the feeling was that whoever came out on top in the Fa Cup tie would go on to win both the league and cup. Both games were played at Villa Park as they had to be played at a neutral ground. The first game went to extra-time after the game finish 0-0 after 90 minutes and no winner could be found in extra-time. The teams returned to Villa Park on 14th April 1999 for the replay, 3 days after the original game. The deadlock in the tie was finally broken when United took the lead through David Beckham’s curving shot from the edge of the area past a helpless David Seaman.
In the 61st minute both sides made substitutions that would have an effect on the game, Giggs entering the fray for United and Marc Overmars for Arsenal. The introduction of Overmars appeared to instil Arsenal with a new found enthusiasm and in the 69th they got back in the game as Dennis Bergkamp made it 1-1 as the Dutchman sent a blistering drive past Schmeichel, who had no chance of saving it. In the 74th minute United captain Keane received a 2nd yellow card and an early bath after a challenge on Overmars. With the game heading towards extra-time, Phil Neville brought down Ray Parlour in the penalty to seemingly give Arsenal the opportunity to grab a last minute winner. United were saved by the Great Dane Schmeichel as he dived to his left to push Bergkamp’s penalty away and keep the game level.
With the game now in extra-time and Arsenal having the extra man, they appeared to be the most likely winners in the tie but Ryan Giggs had other ideas. In the 109th minute of the game Patrick Vieira gifted the ball to Giggs on the half-way line and Giggs decided to take on the entire Arsenal defence on his on own, surely this defence of Adams, Keown, Winterburn and Dixon wouldn’t allow Giggs to get far with ball. As Giggs went through the Arsenal midfield and defence no one could stop and he rifled the ball into the roof of David Seaman’s net. To score one of the greatest goals we have ever seen in the Fa Cup and he celebrated like it was. United’s defence held out for the final 10 minutes and booked their place in final against Newcastle and I think all United fans know what happened at the of the 1998/99 season.
2004 Fa Cup Semi-Final – Arsenal 0-1 Manchester United
The 2004 Fa Cup semi-final once again saw Manchester United facing Arsenal at Villa Park. Arsenal went into this game on a 18 game unbeaten run in the Fa Cup having not lost in the competition since the 2001 final defeat to Liverpool. Both teams went into the game without their main strikers as Arsenal’s Thierry Henry started on the bench and United. United took the lead in this game in the 31st minute through Paul Scholes, the ball was played to Giggs on the right flank from Gary Neville and Giggs played the ball to Scholes on the edge of the area who rifled a shot into the bottom corner of the Arsenal goal.
Manchester United held firm in the 2nd half and had a grip of the game despite Arsenal introducing a host of attacking talent in the 2nd half. On 57 minutes they introduced Thierry Henry and Jose Antonio Reyes as they looked to put the pressure on United’s defence, then in 76th minute they also introduce the Nigerian Kanu but it was to no avail as United held firm and booked their place in the 2004 Fa Cup final and travelled to Cardiff to face Millwall in the showpiece event and in doing so ended Arsenal’s hopes of emulating United’s feat of winning the treble of League, Fa Cup and Champions League.
Let’s hope we see another classic cup tie between the two sides at Old Trafford tomorrow night and of course a Manchester United win.
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