2005 FA Cup Final

The 2005 FA Cup Final was a football match played between Arsenal and Manchester United on 21 May 2005 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. It was the final match of the 2004–05 FA Cup, the 124th season of English football’s primary cup competition, the FA Cup. Arsenal became the first team to win the FA Cup via a penalty shoot-out, despite being outplayed throughout the game, after neither side managed to score in the initial 90 minutes or in 30 minutes of extra time. The shoot-out finished 5–4 to Arsenal, with Patrick Vieira scoring the winning penalty after Paul Scholes' shot was saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

As both teams were in the highest tier of English football, the Premier League, Arsenal and Manchester United entered the competition in the third round. Matches up to the semi-final were contested on a one-off basis, with a replay taking place if the match ended in a draw. Both clubs only needed one replay along the way to the final; Arsenal's tie against Sheffield United in the fifth round was decided by a penalty shootout, whereas Manchester United overcame non-league Exeter City in the third round, after the original tie ended goalless.

Protests over the impending takeover of Manchester United by American businessman Malcolm Glazer had threatened to overshadow the final, though demonstrations in Cardiff required little intervention from the police. Both managers for the final made surprising changes to their team; Arsène Wenger unconventionally deployed a defensive formation, while Sir Alex Ferguson left midfielder Ryan Giggs on the bench. Manchester United dominated the match, creating four times as many shots as their opponents, but struggled to find the breakthrough. In extra time, Arsenal's José Antonio Reyes was sent off for a second bookable offence, becoming only the second player to be sent off in an FA Cup final.

The British press unanimously agreed that Arsenal were fortunate to win; Wenger himself admitted so in his press conference afterwards. A television audience of over 480 million worldwide watched the final; in the United Kingdom, coverage of the match peaked at 12.8 million, making it the highest-rated game in Cup history since the 1996 final. The departures of captains Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane before the year end, coupled with the changing objectives of both clubs, meant the 2005 final is considered as the natural end point in the rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United under Ferguson and Wenger.

2005 FA Cup Final
2005 FA Cup Final programme
The match programme cover
Event2004–05 FA Cup
Arsenal Manchester United
0 0
After extra time
Arsenal won 5–4 on penalties
Date21 May 2005
VenueMillennium Stadium, Cardiff
Man of the MatchWayne Rooney (Manchester United)[1]
RefereeRob Styles (Hampshire)
WeatherMostly cloudy, rain showers
10 °C (50 °F)[2]

Route to the final

The FA Cup is English football's primary cup competition. Clubs in the Premier League enter the FA Cup in the third round and are drawn randomly with the remaining clubs. If a match is drawn, the tie is replayed at the ground of the away team from the original match. As with league fixtures, FA Cup matches are subject to change in the event of games being selected for television coverage and this often can be influenced by clashes with other competitions.[3] In September 2004, it was announced that the Millennium Stadium was chosen as the venue for the semi-finals, in addition to the final.[4]


Round Opposition Score
3rd Stoke City (H) 2–1
4th Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) 2–0
5th Sheffield United (H) 1–1
Sheffield United (A) 0–0
(4–2 pen)
6th Bolton Wanderers (A) 1–0
SF Blackburn Rovers (N) 3–0
Key: (h) = Home venue; (a) = Away venue; (n) = Neutral venue.

Arsenal's cup run started with a home tie against Stoke City. The visitors took the lead just before the break, but goals from José Antonio Reyes and Robin van Persie in the second half meant Arsenal won 2–1.[5] They then faced Wolverhampton Wanderers at home in the next round; a goal apiece from Patrick Vieira and Freddie Ljungberg secured a comfortable 2–0 victory.[6]

Arsenal's opponent in the fifth round was Sheffield United. After 35 minutes Dennis Bergkamp was sent off for his apparent push on Danny Cullip. With eleven minutes of normal time remaining, Robert Pires scored for Arsenal, but the team conceded a late penalty which Andy Gray converted.[7] The equaliser for Sheffield United meant the match was replayed at Bramall Lane on 1 March 2005. Both teams played out a goalless draw after full-time and throughout extra-time, so the tie was decided by a penalty shootout. Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia saved two penalties, which ensured progress into the quarter-finals.[8]

Bolton Wanderers hosted Arsenal at the Reebok Stadium in the sixth round of the competition. Ljungberg scored the only goal of the tie after just three minutes; he had an opportunity to extend Arsenal's lead in stoppage time, but hit the ball over from six yards. It was described by BBC Sport as the "most glaring miss of the match, if not the entire season."[9]

Arsenal faced Blackburn Rovers in the semi-final which was played on 16 April 2005. Two goals from Van Persie and one from Pires gave Arsenal a 3–0 win, in a match marred by Blackburn's aggressive tactics.[10]

Manchester United

Round Opposition Score
3rd Exeter City (H) 0–0
Exeter City (A) 2–0
4th Middlesbrough (H) 3–0
5th Everton (A) 2–0
6th Southampton (A) 4–0
SF Newcastle United (N) 4–1
Key: (h) = Home venue; (a) = Away venue; (n) = Neutral venue.

Manchester United, the holders of the FA Cup, began their defence of the trophy with a home tie against non-league Exeter City.[11] United had made several first team changes and struggled to find a breakthrough in the tie. Even with the second half introductions of Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo, the visitors held on for a goalless draw.[12] The match was replayed at Exeter's home ground, St James Park on 19 January 2005. Ronaldo scored the opening goal of the match in the ninth minute and Wayne Rooney added a second, three minutes from normal time.[13]

Manchester United's opponents in the fourth round was Middlesbrough. Rooney scored twice in the team's 3–0 victory – he lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer for his first goal and volleyed it for his second. Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren credited Rooney's performance afterwards and said he made the difference in the tie. Everton hosted Manchester United in the next round at Goodison Park. A goal apiece from Quinton Fortune and Ronaldo in either half ensured a 2–0 win.[14]

Southampton was Manchester United's opponent in the sixth round. After two minutes at St Mary's United took the lead; a shot by Roy Keane near the penalty area hit Southampton's Peter Crouch and deflected into the goal. Ronaldo scored United's second and additional goals from Scholes meant they progressed into the last four of the competition; the final score was 4–0.[15]

In the semi-final Manchester United faced Newcastle United at the Millennium Stadium. They took the lead in the 19th minute when Ruud van Nistelrooy scored, and Scholes extended the team's advantage just before half time. Van Nistelrooy made it 3–0 in the 58th minute, before Shola Ameobi scored what proved a mere consolation a minute later, as Ronaldo added United's fourth late on.[16]


The final marked the fifth meeting between the two clubs in the 2004–05 season.[17] Despite finishing six points ahead of Manchester United in the league, Arsenal had lost both league fixtures between the clubs,[18] as well as a League Cup fifth-round tie, which was played out by the clubs' fringe and reserve team players.[19] Arsenal had won the season's first encounter in the FA Community Shield, also at the Millennium Stadium, by a 3–1 scoreline.[20]

The clubs had met in an FA Cup final before – in 1979, when Arsenal won 3–2.[21] Manchester United were appearing in their 17th FA Cup Final, their second in as many years, and had won the FA Cup on 11 of their previous 16 appearances (including beating Milwall in the 2004 final). Two of these victories had yielded a domestic double (in 1994 and 1996) and in 1999 they had won the FA Cup as part of a unique Treble, consisting of the cup, the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. Arsenal were also appearing in their 17th Cup final – their fourth in five years. They had won the cup nine times previously, most recently in 2003, when they beat Southampton in the final.[22]

Millennium Stadium (aerial view)
The match was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for the fifth year in a row.

Meetings between Arsenal and Manchester United were keenly contested during the 2000s and highly publicised by the media; the cup final this season had added significance as neither club won the league after a decade of dominance, and it was their only chance of silverware.[23] The emergence of Chelsea, who were crowned league champions in April, had presented a long-term threat to Arsenal and Manchester United's duopoly on English football, as they were financed by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.[23] Chelsea were accused of "tapping-up" Arsenal defender Ashley Cole in January,[24] and were linked to Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand.[25]

Wenger welcomed Chelsea's emergence, describing them as the "third force" in English football, but he raised concerns over their conduct and what he perceived as artificial growth.[23] Asked whether Chelsea could dominate for the foreseeable, Wenger said: "I feel yes, because they are a financially doped club. They have enhancement of performances through financial resources which are unlimited. For me, it's a kind of doping because it's not in any way linked to their resources."[23] Despite the absence of Thierry Henry, ruled out through injury, and Arsenal's poor recent record against Manchester United, Wenger believed his team were more than capable of winning the match: "What is good in football is that it is not predictable. […] You act now like it is a decade that we haven’t beaten Manchester United – it's not true. It's two games."[26] It was reported on the eve of the final that Philippe Senderos would start ahead of first-teamer Sol Campbell.[27]

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson dismissed suggestions that his team had been over physical in previous meetings against Arsenal. Referring back to the league fixture in October 2004, he told reporters: "We committed three fouls on Reyes, for instance, but that hardly constitutes The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, does it? There were six by them on Cristiano Ronaldo."[28] He questioned the character of Arsenal's players after they lost their unbeaten record, and likened their protest to propaganda, as a way to disguise their crisis – "...it was convenient for them to say they were kicked off the park."[28] United had struggled to score goals in the lead up to the final, and Ferguson stressed the importance of his team taking their chances. "Big games are usually decided that way. They are so close so that whoever gets in front has an advantage," he said.[29]

Planned protests

The build-up to the final had focused upon many Manchester United fans' discontent at their takeover by American businessman and sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer, and large demonstrations were planned inside and outside the Millennium Stadium. Despite this, the final was played in the rain and only a small group of around 100 supporters held protests and sang anti-Glazer songs. The police were out in force but did not have any trouble to deal with.[30]


Team selection

Wenger opted for a 4–5–1 formation, with Bergkamp playing as a lone striker.[31] The absence of Henry also opened a place in midfield for Gilberto Silva, while José Antonio Reyes and Pires were selected on the wings ahead of Ljungberg and Robin van Persie, who were both named as substitutes.[31] As anticipated, Senderos's form saw him selected at centre-back ahead of Campbell, despite the England international's return from injury.[31]

Ferguson had a defensive selection dilemma ahead of the final, with both of his starting full-backs, Gabriel Heinze (ankle) and Gary Neville (groin), having suffered injuries.[32] Neville eventually recovered enough to make the substitutes' bench, despite only playing in one of the team's last five games, but Heinze missed the game entirely, Mikaël Silvestre taking his place at left-back. Neville's absence meant that John O'Shea started at right-back. Neville was joined on the bench by winger Ryan Giggs and goalkeeper Tim Howard; Giggs' omission was a surprise, and it meant that Darren Fletcher started on the right wing, while Ronaldo played on the left.[31] Howard, on the other hand, had been competing for the number 1 jersey with Roy Carroll all season, and it was ultimately the Northern Irishman who was picked.[31]

Roy Keane was appearing in his seventh FA Cup Final having previously played in the 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2004 finals.[33] This was the most number of finals for a player in the post-war period;[33] by 2010 however, Ashley Cole had reached his eighth final.[34]


First half

Manchester United kicked the game off, and also fashioned the first chance of the game; Ronaldo beat Lauren on the left wing to put over a cross, only for Scholes to head the ball over the crossbar after losing his marker.[35] Two minutes later, a break from José Antonio Reyes had Carroll scampering across from his goal to meet the Spaniard, forcing Reyes wide enough to allow the United defence time to get back.[36]

Manchester United had the ball in the back of the net on 27 minutes, when Ferdinand turned in the rebound after Jens Lehmann saved from Rooney, but the assistant referee ruled that Ferdinand was offside.[35] After a brief Arsenal attack, Silvestre played a long, diagonal ball to Van Nistelrooy on the right wing. The Dutch forward controlled the ball and then outpaced Cole to the goal line; he then cut the ball back to Rooney, whose first-time shot was turned over the bar by Lehmann.[37] The consequent corner broke to Rooney on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot was deflected behind for another corner, which Scholes took. The England midfielder floated the ball over to the edge of the penalty area, where Rooney was waiting, only to volley it just over the bar.[37]

In the closing stages of the first half, Van Nistelrooy got his first shot on goal, turning Senderos only to send the ball trickling along the floor for Lehmann to save comfortably.[37] The first half finished with a foul on Rooney, who had done well to break free of challenges from Cole, Vieira and Senderos, who eventually brought Rooney down. The English forward took the free kick himself, but it went over the bar to cheers from the Arsenal fans and the sound of the referee's half-time whistle.[38]

Second half

Manchester United fashioned the first chance of the second half after just three minutes, when Rooney cut inside from the right along the face of the penalty area, but his left-footed shot was blocked away for a corner kick.[35] Soon after, Van Nistelrooy received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and held it up before playing a through-ball to Keane, but the Irishman's low cross was diverted behind by Kolo Touré before it reached Rooney.[37] United then had their third chance in the space of five minutes when Ronaldo shot just wide from 25 yards, from the left corner of the penalty area.[37]

Throughout the match, Lauren committed several fouls on Ronaldo, and confronted the Portuguese winger early in the second half, before finally being booked for persistent fouling in the 62nd minute.[35] Ronaldo took the free kick himself but put it just over the bar from 30 yards. In the 64th minute, Arsenal were awarded a free kick for an O'Shea foul on Reyes; Bergkamp took the kick, which was headed away by Ferdinand, but only as far as Pires, whose side-footed volley went over the bar.[35] The free kick was to be Bergkamp's last contribution to the final, as he was then substituted by Ljungberg in the 65th minute.[37]

United then went back downfield and Ronaldo took on Lauren, who dared not dive in for a tackle and risk a second yellow card.[35] Ronaldo got past the Cameroonian full-back and then chipped a cross into the penalty area, but Van Nistelrooy was unable to make enough contact with the ball to force his header on target.[37] A minute later, Silvestre found Rooney with another diagonal pass; Rooney attempted to drive in a low cross, but it ended up heading towards goal and came back off the foot of the post.[37] Fletcher was first to the ball but he fired a shot across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick. With their very next attack, United sent Ronaldo away down the left wing again; he sent over another cross, but it was again too far in front of Van Nistelrooy.[37]

Reyes received his first yellow card in the 76th minute, when he was late in tackling Silvestre after the French defender had played a backpass to Carroll.[39] The break in play allowed Manchester United to make their first substitution, bringing on Fortune for O'Shea, who appeared to be struggling with a calf injury.[39] With six minutes left in normal time, United won a corner on the left hand side, which Ronaldo played short to Scholes. Scholes returned the ball to Ronaldo, who crossed it into the penalty area, where Keane was unmarked at the back post. The ball eventually broke to the United captain, who shot, only to see four Arsenal players between him and the goal, ready to block his effort behind for another corner.[37] Lehmann came to meet the second corner kick, but missed the ball, allowing it to go all the way through to Van Nistelrooy; the Dutchman headed the ball goalwards, but Ljungberg was on the line and headed it up onto the crossbar and away.[37]

Arsenal then made their second substitution, bringing on Van Persie in place of Cesc Fàbregas.[40] As the match entered injury time at the end of the second half, Ronaldo made yet another run down the left wing, outpacing Lauren to Rooney's through-ball. The ball broke back to Rooney 30 yards from goal, but his shot went over the bar.[41] The second half finished with a Wes Brown cross from the right wing that made its way across the penalty area to Ronaldo, but the Portuguese could only head the ball straight at Lehmann.[41]

Extra time

Manchester United brought Giggs on at the start of extra time, the Welshman taking Fletcher's place in the midfield.[35] They immediately tried to play him in down the left wing, but the pass was over-hit and went beyond Giggs. Arsenal finally got their first shot on target in the seventh minute of extra time, when a Van Persie free kick – awarded for a foul by Silvestre – forced a diving save from Carroll.[42] Four minutes later, Manchester United appealed for a penalty kick when a cross from Giggs struck Cole, but replays showed that the ball hit the Arsenal full-back in the midriff.[35] United sustained their attack, and the ball came to Scholes in the penalty area, but his shot on the turn was well saved by Lehmann.[40] The resultant corner was taken short by Scholes, before it was played back to him; his cross found Van Nistelrooy unmarked in the area, but the Dutchman headed over the bar from the edge of the goal area.[40] United then had another penalty shout when Giggs volleyed a long ball from Scholes into Touré's body and up onto the Ivorian's hand, but referee Rob Styles turned their claims down. Arsenal then brought on Edu to replace Pires for the remaining 15 minutes.[40]

The second half of extra time began with yet another chance for Manchester United, this time constructed from a Giggs break down the left wing, but Van Nistelrooy failed in his attempt to back-heel Giggs' cross into the goal and the opportunity was wasted.[35] Five minutes into the second half, Reyes committed another late tackle on Silvestre, for which he received a final warning from referee Styles. Reyes himself was then the victim of a late tackle by Scholes, who was shown a yellow card.[40] The match threatened to descend into a mass brawl soon after, when Fortune caught Ljungberg in the face with a flailing arm and then committed a high tackle on Edu, provoking a reaction from the Arsenal players.[35] A shoulder-charge by Rooney on Cole resulted in an Arsenal free kick on the left wing; Van Persie swung the ball over and it was only cleared as far as Ljungberg, but the Swede struck a shot with his shin and the ball spun wide.[40] With a couple of minutes left in the extra period, Manchester United won a free kick on the left corner of the Arsenal penalty area when Vieira lazily tripped Ronaldo and received a booking, but Giggs' cross from the free kick was headed away.[43] Meanwhile, Manchester United's substitute goalkeeper, Howard, was seen warming up behind the goal, suggesting that he was preparing to come on for Carroll in the event of a penalty shootout; however, no substitution was made.[43]

The referee added two minutes of injury time at the end of extra time, during which time Manchester United won another free kick, but Scholes' shot was straight at the Arsenal defensive wall.[35] Then, with just seconds left in regulation time, Ronaldo made a break towards the Arsenal half, only to be cynically body-checked by Reyes. Referee Styles made no hesitation and showed Reyes a second yellow card, making the Spaniard the second player to be sent off in an FA Cup Final, after Manchester United's Kevin Moran in 1985.[44] The full-time whistle went immediately after Reyes' dismissal, and the match finished at 0–0, making it the first FA Cup Final to result in a penalty shootout.[35]

Penalty shootout

Van Nistelrooy took the first penalty for Manchester United, in front of the United fans, and sent Lehmann the wrong way to give United the early advantage.[35] Lauren then converted the next penalty for Arsenal, before Scholes stepped up to take United's second, only to see it saved by Lehmann, diving low to his right.[35] The next six penalties were all scored – Ljungberg, Van Persie and Cole for Arsenal, Ronaldo, Rooney and Keane for Manchester United – leaving Vieira with the opportunity to win the FA Cup for his team.[35] Although Carroll guessed the correct way to dive, Vieira's kick was just out of his reach, giving Arsenal their 10th FA Cup.[35]

Match details

Arsenal0–0 (a.e.t.)Manchester United
Lauren Penalty scored
Ljungberg Penalty scored
Van Persie Penalty scored
Cole Penalty scored
Vieira Penalty scored
5–4 Penalty scored Van Nistelrooy
Penalty missed Scholes
Penalty scored Ronaldo
Penalty scored Rooney
Penalty scored Keane
Manchester United
GK 1 Germany Jens Lehmann
RB 12 Cameroon Lauren Yellow card 59'
CB 28 Ivory Coast Kolo Touré
CB 20 Switzerland Philippe Senderos
LB 3 England Ashley Cole Yellow card 16'
CM 15 Spain Cesc Fàbregas Substituted off 86'
CM 4 France Patrick Vieira (c) Yellow card 118'
CM 19 Brazil Gilberto Silva
RW 7 France Robert Pires Substituted off 105'
LW 9 Spain José Antonio Reyes Yellow card 75' Yellow-red card 120'
CF 10 Netherlands Dennis Bergkamp Substituted off 65'
GK 24 Spain Manuel Almunia
DF 23 England Sol Campbell
MF 8 Sweden Freddie Ljungberg Substituted in 65'
MF 17 Brazil Edu Substituted in 105'
FW 11 Netherlands Robin van Persie Substituted in 86'
France Arsène Wenger
Arsenal vs Man Utd 2005-05-21
GK 13 Northern Ireland Roy Carroll
RB 22 Republic of Ireland John O'Shea Substituted off 77'
CB 5 England Rio Ferdinand
CB 6 England Wes Brown
LB 27 France Mikaël Silvestre Yellow card 21'
RM 24 Scotland Darren Fletcher Substituted off 91'
CM 16 Republic of Ireland Roy Keane (c)
CM 18 England Paul Scholes Yellow card 112'
LM 7 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo
SS 8 England Wayne Rooney
CF 10 Netherlands Ruud van Nistelrooy
GK 1 United States Tim Howard
DF 2 England Gary Neville
DF 25 South Africa Quinton Fortune Substituted in 77'
MF 11 Wales Ryan Giggs Substituted in 91'
FW 14 England Alan Smith
Scotland Sir Alex Ferguson

Match officials

Man of the match

Match rules

  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Penalty shootout if scores still level.
  • Five substitutes named.
  • Maximum of three substitutions.


Statistic Arsenal Manchester United
Goals scored 0 0
Possession 56% 44%
Shots on target 1 8
Shots off target 4 12
Corner kicks 1 12
Offsides 3 6
Fouls 30 23
Yellow cards 3 1
Red cards 1 0


As the Arsenal players ran towards Vieira and Lehmann to celebrate, Ferguson and Keane were seen consoling various players and staff members.[46] Mark Lawrenson, the BBC's co-commentator for the final, summarised to his counterpart John Motson: "Well, we must congratulate Arsenal on the way they took the penalties – they were excellent [...] But I have to say over the course of the 120 minutes, Manchester United have been mugged."[46]

Wenger conceded his opponents were the better side, but praised his team's resolve, telling reporters: "It was important to score the first goal and with neither team scoring it remained tight for a long, long period. There were some times in the second half when we were a bit lucky but we defended very well and to keep a clean sheet is good."[47] He admitted his players had practiced taking penalties, but was quick to point out "you don't score because of the practising – keeping your nerve is more important."[47] Lehmann, who had been side-lined by Wenger during the course of the season, credited his teammates for scoring all five penalties, and described it as a "big mental achievement."[47] Cole called Arsenal's win a "…great team performance, we didn't have too many chances but we defended really well and battled really hard."[47] Henry, who sat out the final due to injury expressed sympathy for Manchester United, and recollected a similar experience from his early Arsenal career: "I know how they feel because we lost against Liverpool and did not deserve to lose. If your name is on the cup you win it."[48]

Wayne Rooney 2
Wayne Rooney (pictured in 2006) was chosen as man of the match.

Ferguson was proud of his team's performance, but admitted their failure throughout the season to convert chances into goals, had cost them once more.[48] Of the game, he continued: "In cup football, you need a break and we didn't get one. We've had luck in the past, so you understand it can happen. It's not a nice experience but it's one you have to accept."[48] Ferguson criticised the referee for failing to send Vieira off during extra-time as he fouled Rooney, and labelled Arsenal as "boring" for deploying negative tactics.[50] Keane, like his manager, rued the missed opportunities and said it was a small consolation: "We dominated but I'm sure the Arsenal players won't be too bothered about that – they've got the winners' medals and the cup and we haven't."[50]

Writing for The Daily Telegraph, pundit Alan Hansen felt the ease in which Manchester United dominated the final and Arsenal's inability to vary tactics highlighted why Wenger needed to make changes in the close season.[51] Hansen agreed with Ferguson that United's lack of goal threat cost them on the day, but felt their future was rosier than Arsenal's.[51] Nonetheless, he was of the opinion that Chelsea manager José Mourinho had little to be concerned about, concluding his piece with the sentence: "A London club did come away from Cardiff as big winners but it was not Arsenal, it was Chelsea."[51] In the same newspaper, Paul Hayward praised the performances of Rooney and Ronaldo – "surely the best one-club pairing of under-21s in world football,"[52] while ex-Arsenal player Alan Smith noted his former club's win demonstrated how Wenger "for the first time, practically, in his nine-year Highbury tenure, had set up his side with the opposition in mind."[53] Capturing United's sombre mood, The Times football correspondent Matt Dickinson wrote: "The black shirts turned out not to be in protest at Glazer but a reflection of their mood after the first FA Cup Final to be decided by a penalty shoot-out."[54]

The match was broadcast live in the United Kingdom by both the BBC and Sky Sports, with BBC One providing the free-to-air coverage and Sky Sports 1 being the pay-TV alternative.[55] BBC One held the majority of the viewership, with a peak audience of 12.8 million (67.1% viewing share), which made it the most-watched final in nine years.[56] The match itself was watched by 10 million viewers (61%), and coverage of the final averaged at 7.3 million (50.5%).[56] Viewing figures compiled by The Guardian showed the BBC's coverage was second only to ITV's broadcast of the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and A.C. Milan, which amassed 13.9 million viewers.[57] Global audience figures for the 2005 FA Cup Final totalled 484 million.[58]

Aftermath and legacy

Patrick Vieira NYCFC
Patrick Vieira was sold to Juventus in the summer of 2005.

The 2005 final was Vieira's last match as an Arsenal player; he joined Juventus in the close season for a combined total fee of €20 million.[59] Wenger's decision to sell his captain was made so the team could benefit from Fàbregas, who broke into the first eleven during the season.[60] In later years, Wenger deviated from his usual counter-attacking style, and imposed a fluent system, with less emphasis on physicality.[61] The immediate seasons after Arsenal relocated to the Emirates Stadium in 2006 saw Wenger sell several experienced players, and integrate more young talent, as a means of fostering an identity with the club.[62] Financing for the stadium however meant Arsenal prioritised its expenditure instead of the squad and trophies.[63] Though Wenger managed to solidify the club’s position in the Premier League's top four and secure the necessary funds to pay back its debtors, the 2005 Cup win represented Arsenal's last silverware for nine years. In 2014, he led Arsenal to a record-equalling 11th FA Cup,[64] and became the record equalling most successful manager in the competition's history a year later, as his side beat Aston Villa.[65]

Like Arsenal, Manchester United endured a period of transition after the final. The Glazer's takeover of the club resulted in disaffected fans setting up F.C. United of Manchester, which, as of 2016, has become the largest supporter-owned football club in the United Kingdom.[66] On the pitch, Manchester United began the 2005–06 season poorly; they were eliminated in the group stages of the Champions League and the manager was booed at home after United lost to Blackburn Rovers.[67] Journalist Henry Winter in December 2005 opined that Ferguson needed to resign, writing in his column: "Under Ferguson, United became football's answer to the Magic Circle. But the magic now drains away and so, next summer, must Ferguson."[68] He stayed, however, and having already called time on Keane's career at United,[69] he began reinvigorating his squad, by signing defenders Nemanja Vidić and Patrice Evra.[70] United returned to the Millennium Stadium eight months after the FA Cup loss, and beat Wigan Athletic to win the 2006 Football League Cup Final.[71] Ferguson guided his team to their first League title in four years the following season, after stern competition from Chelsea, and won a further 13 competitive honours until his retirement in 2013.[72]

Kevin McCarra regards the final as a turning point in the rivalry between the two clubs: "...Arsenal and United, who could barely be prised apart in 2005, have since gone their separate ways. The signs of divergence were already apparent that afternoon."[73] The match is considered an example of Wenger setting his team up pragmatically and going against his ideals.[74] Having later asserted he would never use the 4–5–1 system again, Wenger adopted the formation for Champions League matches and his approach resulted in Arsenal reaching the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final.[75]



  • Lawrenson, Mark, Motson, John (commentators), Lineker, Gary (presenter), Hansen, Alan, Schmeichel, Peter, Wright, Ian (studio guests) (21 May 2005). Match of the Day Live [FA Cup Final – Arsenal v Manchester United] (Television production). BBC.


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Further reading

2004–05 FA Cup

The 2004–05 FA Cup was the 124th season of the world's oldest football competition, the FA Cup. The competition began on 28 August 2004, with the lowest-ranked of the entrants competing in the Extra Preliminary Round. For England's top 44 clubs, from the 2004–05 Premier League and 2004–05 Football League Championship, the FA Cup began at the Third Round in January.

Ties were all single-legged and took place at the stadium of the club drawn first. If scores were level at the end of a match, the match was replayed at the away club's stadium, usually in the middle of the following week. If the scores are still level, extra-time and penalties (if necessary) are used to determine a winner. From the semi-finals onwards, the ties take place at a neutral stadium, and there are no replays. That is to say, extra-time and penalties are played if necessary to determine a winner in a single match.

The new Wembley Stadium was still at least a year away from being ready for use, so the final was staged at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff on 21 May 2005. The FA Cup Final was won by Arsenal on penalties after a goalless draw with holders Manchester United, the first time that the FA Cup Final had been decided on penalties.

2004–05 Manchester United F.C. season

The 2004–05 season was Manchester United's 13th season in the Premier League, and their 30th consecutive season in the top division of English football.The season finished trophyless (only their fourth trophyless season in 17 seasons) for United, who finished third in the Premier League with 77 points. The title went to Chelsea, who finished the season with a record 95 points and lost just one game all season, with the previous season's champions Arsenal finishing runners-up.

Their Champions League campaign ended in the Second Round at Milan, while they were eliminated from the League Cup by Chelsea in the semi-finals. The last chance of silverware was blown by a Paul Scholes penalty miss against Arsenal in a shoot-out after a goalless draw in the 2005 FA Cup Final.

On a more positive note for the club, newly signed 19-year-old striker and leading club goalscorer Wayne Rooney was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.

United also ended Arsenal's record-breaking 49-game unbeaten league run with a 2–0 home win in late October.

2005 FA Community Shield

The 2005 FA Community Shield (also known as The FA Community Shield in partnership with McDonald's for sponsorship reasons) was the 83rd staging of the FA Community Shield, an annual football match contested by the reigning champions of the Premier League and the holders of the FA Cup. It was held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 7 August 2005. The game was played between Chelsea, champions of the 2004–05 Premier League and Arsenal, who beat Manchester United on penalties to win the 2005 FA Cup Final. Chelsea won the match 2–1 in front of a crowd of 58,014.

This was Chelsea's fifth Community Shield appearance to Arsenal's 19th. Relations between the two clubs were hostile before the match, given Chelsea's illicit attempts to sign Arsenal defender Ashley Cole. In the game Chelsea took the lead when striker Didier Drogba scored in the eighth minute. He scored again in the second half, before Cesc Fàbregas replied for Arsenal with a goal in the 64th minute. José Mourinho praised Chelsea in his post-match interview and felt the team looked comfortable in defence. Opposing manager Arsène Wenger admitted Drogba had presented problems for Arsenal and likened his opponents to a long ball team, who on the day played "very direct".

2014 FA Cup Final

The 2014 FA Cup Final was the 133rd final of the FA Cup, the world's oldest football cup competition. The match was contested between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium on 17 May 2014. Hull City made their first appearance in an FA Cup Final, while Arsenal equalled Manchester United's record of 18 final appearances. It was the first time since 2010 that the FA Cup Final had taken place after the end of the Premier League season.Each club needed to win five matches to reach the final. Arsenal beat three of their divisional rivals and needed penalties to defeat cup holders Wigan Athletic. By contrast, four of Hull City's opponents were from the lower divisions; they played one replay in the fifth round against Brighton & Hove Albion.

The match was won by Arsenal, a joint-record 11th Cup, after extra time. Hull scored with two goals in the opening ten minutes from James Chester and Curtis Davies, but Arsenal came back with goals from Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny to level the match by the end of regulation time. Aaron Ramsey scored the winner 11 minutes from the end of extra time.

As Arsenal qualified for the Champions League by their league position, Hull City entered the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League at the third qualifying round; however, due to a change in UEFA rules, this was the last season the runners-up would enter the Europa League if the winners had already qualified for European competition.

Alan Smith (footballer, born 1980)

Alan Smith (born 28 October 1980) is an English footballer who last played for Notts County. He has also represented the England national team, winning 19 caps.

Smith first came to prominence as both a striker and a right winger during his early days at Leeds United; however, after moving to Manchester United he broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in a match against Liverpool, whereupon manager Sir Alex Ferguson converted him to a holding midfielder, a role in which he continued after his transfer to Newcastle United. Smith has earned a reputation as a hard-tackling player and is noted for his high work rate.

He had a short spell as caretaker manager of Notts County in 2017, but later reverted to the role of player-coach after the appointment of Kevin Nolan as manager.

Arsenal F.C.–Manchester United F.C. rivalry

Although Arsenal and Manchester United have frequently been in the same division in English football since 1919, the rivalry between the two clubs only became a fierce one in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the teams regularly competed against each other for the Premier League title and FA Cup. There was also an enmity between the managers, Arsenal's Arsène Wenger (1996–2018) and United's Sir Alex Ferguson (1986–2013), and club captains Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane, and their contests often involved on-field trouble – seven red cards were shown in matches from February 1997 to February 2005. The league fixture in September 2003, known as the "Battle of Old Trafford", was marred by a mêlée instigated by Arsenal players, who felt striker Ruud van Nistelrooy had cheated to get Vieira sent off. A season later, Manchester United ended Arsenal's unbeaten run in controversial circumstances, which led to more disorder, this time in the tunnel.

The rivalry between Ferguson and Wenger ended at the 2005 FA Cup Final, and by 2008 former Arsenal player Lee Dixon noted that the rivalry had diminished. Ferguson also stated that the two teams' meetings had cooled from their previous "heated" exchanges. Other factors for the diminishing importance of the rivalry in the 2010s were the ascendancy of other clubs, including local rivals of both (Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City).Arsenal and Manchester United first played a competitive match in October 1894; as of March 2019, the two clubs have faced each other 231 times in total. United have won 97 to Arsenal's 83, and 51 matches have ended in a draw. Wayne Rooney has scored the most goals in the fixture with 12, while Ryan Giggs has made the highest number of appearances with 50. Several players have featured for both clubs at different stages of their career, including Brian Kidd, Andy Cole, David Platt, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and former manager George Graham.

Cesc Fàbregas

Francesc "Cesc" Fàbregas Soler (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈsɛsk ˈfaβɾəɣəs], Spanish: [ˈfaβɾeɣas]; born 4 May 1987) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Ligue 1 club Monaco and the Spain national team.

Fàbregas came through La Masia, Barcelona's youth academy, leaving at 16 when he was signed by Premier League club Arsenal in September 2003. Following injuries to key midfielders in the early part of the 2004–05 season, he went on establish himself in the team. He broke several of the club's records in the process, earning a reputation as one of the best players in his position, and won the FA Cup in 2005. After a protracted transfer saga, Fàbregas left London on 15 August 2011 to return to Barcelona in a deal worth up to £35 million. During his three-year spell at the Camp Nou, Fàbregas played alongside Xavi and Andrés Iniesta and won a La Liga title, the Copa del Rey, the FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and two Spanish Super Cups. He returned to London in June 2014 to Arsenal's cross-town rivals Chelsea for a fee of £30 million, and in his first year there he helped to secure League Cup and Premier League triumphs.

Internationally, Fàbregas made his debut for the Spanish national team in March 2006. He represented his country in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2008, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, 2013 Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016. He was a key figure in Spain's European Championship victories in 2008 and 2012 and their 2010 World Cup triumph in which he supplied the pass for Andrés Iniesta's winning goal in the final. On 12 October 2015, Fàbregas earned his 100th cap for Spain.

Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Nicolaas Maria Bergkamp (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈdɛnəs ˈbɛrxkɑmp] (listen); born 10 May 1969) is a Dutch former professional footballer, who until 21 December 2017 was the assistant manager at Ajax. Originally a wide midfielder, Bergkamp was moved to main striker and then to second striker, where he remained throughout his playing career. Bergkamp has been described by Jan Mulder as having "the finest technique" of any Dutch international and a "dream for a striker" by teammate Thierry Henry.The son of an electrician, Bergkamp was born in Amsterdam and played as an amateur in the lower leagues. He was spotted by Ajax at age 11 and made his professional debut in 1986. Good form led to an international call-up with the Netherlands a year later, attracting the attention of several European clubs. Bergkamp signed for Italian club Inter Milan in 1993, where he had two disappointing seasons. After joining Arsenal in 1995, he rejuvenated his career, helping the club to win three Premier League titles, four FA Cup trophies, and reach the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final, which marked his last appearance as a player. With the Netherlands national team, Bergkamp surpassed Faas Wilkes's record to become the country's top goalscorer of all time in 1998, a record later eclipsed by Patrick Kluivert, Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation, Bergkamp finished third twice in the FIFA World Player of the Year award and was selected by Pelé as one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players. In 2007, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame, the first and so far only Dutch player ever to receive such honour. Due to his fear of flying, Bergkamp has been affectionately nicknamed the "Non-Flying Dutchman" by Arsenal supporters. In 2017, Bergkamp's famous goal against Newcastle United was voted as the best Premier League goal of all-time in the league's 25-year history.

Didier Drogba

Didier Yves Drogba Tébily (French pronunciation: ​[didje dʁɔɡba]; born 11 March 1978) is an Ivorian retired professional footballer who played as a striker. He is the all-time top scorer and former captain of the Ivory Coast national team. He is best known for his career at Chelsea, for whom he has scored more goals than any other foreign player and is currently the club's fourth highest goal scorer of all time. He was named African Footballer of the Year twice, winning the accolade in 2006 and 2009.

After playing in youth teams, Drogba made his professional debut aged 18 for Ligue 2 club Le Mans, and signed his first professional contract aged 21. After finishing the 2002–03 season with 17 goals in 34 appearances for Ligue 1 side Guingamp, he moved to Olympique de Marseille, where he finished as the third highest scorer in the 2003–04 season with 19 goals and helped the club reach the 2004 UEFA Cup Final.

In July 2004, Drogba moved to Premier League club Chelsea for a club record £24 million fee, making him the most expensive Ivorian player in history. In his debut season he helped the club win their first league title in 50 years, and a year later he won another Premier League title. His displays saw him named in the FIFA World XI for 2007. In March 2012, he became the first African player to score 100 Premier League goals. Just two months later, he scored in Chelsea's 2012 FA Cup Final win over Liverpool to become the first (and as of 2017, the only) player to score in four separate FA Cup finals. He also played in the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final, in which he scored an 88th-minute equaliser and the winning penalty in the deciding shoot-out against Bayern Munich. After spending 6 months with Shanghai Shenhua in China, and one and a half seasons with Turkish club Galatasaray where he scored the winning goal in the final of the 2013 Turkish Super Cup, Drogba returned to Chelsea in July 2014. With a career record of scoring 10 goals in 10 finals winning 10 trophies at club level, Drogba has been referred to as the "ultimate big game player." He joined Canadian club Montreal Impact in 2015 as a Designated Player and played 41 matches over two seasons, scoring 23 goals. Drogba became a player–owner for Phoenix Rising of the United Soccer League in 2017, and retired a year later at the age of 40.

An Ivory Coast international between 2002 and 2014, Drogba captained the national team from 2006 until his retirement from the Ivory Coast team and is the nation's all-time top goalscorer with 65 goals from 105 appearances. He led the Ivory Coast to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, their first appearance in the tournament, and also scored their first goal. He later captained the Ivory Coast at the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. He was part of the Ivory Coast teams that reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006 and 2012, but were beaten on penalties on both occasions. On 8 August 2014, he announced his retirement from international football. In 2018, Drogba retired from professional football at the age of 40. Afterwards, on 11 December, he became Vice President of the international organization Peace and Sport.

Edu Gaspar

Eduardo César Daude Gaspar (born 15 May 1978), commonly known as Edu or Edu Gaspar, is a retired Brazilian footballer who played as a midfielder. He is currently the general coordinator of the Brazil National Football Team.

Freddie Ljungberg

Karl Fredrik "Freddie" Ljungberg (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈfreːdrɪk ²jɵŋːbærj]; born 16 April 1977) is a Swedish former footballer who played as a winger and is an assistant first-team coach at Arsenal.He began his career at Halmstad and went on to spend most of his career at Arsenal, where he won honours including two Premier League titles and three FA Cups, scoring in two finals including the victory in 2002. After leaving Arsenal in 2007, he had short spells at a number of clubs in England, Scotland, the United States, Japan and India. An international for a full decade, Ljungberg earned 75 caps and represented Sweden at Euro 2000, Euro 2004 and Euro 2008, as well as at the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. He was captain of the Swedish national team from 2006 until he announced his international retirement after UEFA Euro 2008.Ljungberg was a model for Calvin Klein underwear until 2007. He previously represented brands such as Nike, Procter & Gamble, L'Oreal, Puma, Beats, ESPN and Pepsi.

Jens Lehmann

Jens Gerhard Lehmann (pronounced [ˈjɛns ˈleːman]; born 10 November 1969) is a retired German footballer who played as a goalkeeper.

He was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for the 1996–97 and 2005–06 seasons, and was selected for three World Cup squads. He was a member of Arsenal's 'Invincibles', playing every match of their unbeaten title-winning season in 2003-04. He also holds the UEFA Champions League record for the most consecutive clean sheets, not conceding a single goal in 10 consecutive matches while he played for Arsenal.

Mathieu Flamini

Mathieu Pierre Flamini (born 7 March 1984) is a French professional footballer and environmental entrepreneur. He plays for La Liga club Getafe.

A midfielder, he has played for French side Marseille, English sides Arsenal and Crystal Palace, Italian side Milan and Spanish side Getafe. At international level, he has been capped by the France national team on three occasions.

Flamini is a co-founder of GF Biochemicals, the first company in the world able to mass-produce levulinic acid.

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira (born 23 June 1976) is a French professional football head coach and former player. He is the manager of Nice.

Considered one of the best players of his generation, Vieira began his career at Cannes in 1994, where several standout performances in his debut season garnered him a move to Serie A club Milan a year later. His single season in Italy was marred due to limited playing time, and he featured mainly for the reserve team. This allowed him to relocate to England, in order to join countryman Arsène Wenger at Arsenal, for a fee of £3.5 million in 1996.

During his nine-year stint in the Premier League, Vieira established himself as a dominating box-to-box midfielder, noted for his aggressive and highly competitive style of play, an attitude that also helped him excel as captain of the club from 2002 until his departure in 2005. He helped Arsenal achieve a sustained period of success during his time at the club, where he lifted three FA Cups and three league titles, including one unbeaten. He then returned to Italy, playing for Juventus, but quickly departed after the club sustained relegation for their part in a match-fixing scandal. He then signed for Inter Milan, where he won three league titles, before featuring for Manchester City, where he won another FA Cup before retiring in 2011.Vieira featured at senior level for much of his international career, representing France over a period of 12 years, where he also spent some part as captain. He played in the final in his nation's victorious campaign at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and featured heavily as the team also won Euro 2000. Despite also playing a key role in the side that finished runners-up in the 2006 World Cup, Vieira was used sparingly by France in the latter stages of his career, and he retired from international competition in 2010, after amassing 107 appearances for the side.

Following retirement, Vieira transitioned into coaching, where he took charge of the academy at Manchester City in 2013. He would depart two years later, after signing for sister club New York City. His arrival in Major League Soccer (MLS) saw the team adopt a free-flowing, attacking, press-based system, which gained him many plaudits, and garnered him a move back to his homeland to manage Ligue 1 club Nice in 2018, marking his first managerial role in Europe.

Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes ( SKOHLZ; born 16 November 1974) is a co-owner of Salford City, an English football coach and former player. He spent his entire professional playing career with Manchester United, for whom he scored over 150 goals in more than 700 appearances between 1993 and 2013.

His first managerial position was at Oldham Athletic, for 31 days in February and March 2019.

Scholes came through the Manchester United youth academy as one of Fergie's Fledglings (a group of players recruited by Manchester United under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson). Scholes made his full debut for Manchester United in the 1994–95 season. He went on to make 718 appearances for United, the third-highest number of appearances by any player for the club. Scholes announced his retirement from playing in May 2011 and was appointed as a coach at Manchester United. However, he returned to playing in January 2012, and went on to play one more season for the club before retiring again in May 2013. With United, Scholes won 25 trophies including 11 Premier League titles (more than any other English player) and two Champions League titles.Scholes represented the England national team from 1997 to 2004, gaining 66 caps and participating in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, as well as the UEFA Euro 2000 and Euro 2004 tournaments. Scholes announced his retirement from international football in August 2004, citing his family life and his club career with Manchester United as being more important.Regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation, over his career Scholes has received praise from other managers and players, including Xavi, who said in 2014 that Scholes was "the best central midfielder" he had seen in the previous 15 to 20 years, describing him as "a spectacular player who has everything. He can play the final pass, he can score, he is strong, he never gets knocked off the ball and he doesn’t give possession away." Pelé said: "If he was playing with me, I would have scored so many more." Thierry Henry cited Scholes as the greatest player in Premier League history.

Philippe Senderos

Philippe Sylvain Senderos (born 14 February 1985) is a Swiss professional footballer who is currently out of contract. He last played as a defender for the Houston Dynamo in Major League Soccer (MLS).

Senderos began his career at Servette, before moving to England as a teenager with Arsenal. He made 116 appearances over seven seasons with the North London club, and won the FA Cup in 2005. Following loans to Milan and Everton, he then moved to Fulham on a free transfer in 2010, where he played for four seasons. Senderos then had brief spells at clubs in Spain, England, Scotland, Switzerland and the United States.

A full Swiss international since 2005, Senderos has won 57 caps and scored 5 goals. He was included in the Swiss squads for three FIFA World Cups and at UEFA Euro 2008.

Rob Styles

Robert Styles (born 21 April 1964) is an English football Referee from Waterlooville, Hampshire, who officiated in the FA Premier League, and for FIFA. He retired in 2009.

Roy Keane

Roy Maurice Keane (born 10 August 1971) is an Irish football manager and former professional player. He is the joint-most successful Irish footballer of all time, having won 19 major trophies, 17 of which came at Manchester United, in his club career. He served as the assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland national team from 2013 until 2018.In his 18-year playing career, Keane played for Cobh Ramblers, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United, before ending his career at Celtic. Keane was a dominating box-to-box midfielder, noted for his aggressive and highly competitive style of play, an attitude that helped him excel as captain of Manchester United from 1997 until his departure in 2005. Keane helped United achieve a sustained period of success during his 12 years at the club. He then signed for Celtic, but retired as a player less than a year later.

Keane played at international level for the Republic of Ireland over a period of 14 years, most of which he spent as captain. At the 1994 FIFA World Cup, he played in every Republic of Ireland game. He was sent home from the 2002 World Cup after a dispute with national coach Mick McCarthy over the team's training facilities.

Regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation, in 2004 Keane was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. In 2007, The Times placed him at number 11 in their list of the 50 "hardest" footballers in history.Keane was appointed manager of Sunderland shortly after his retirement as a player and took the club from 23rd position in the Football League Championship, in late August, to win the division title and gain promotion to the Premier League. He resigned in December 2008, and from April 2009 to January 2011, he was manager of Championship club Ipswich Town. In November 2013, he was appointed assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland national team by manager Martin O'Neill. Keane has also worked as a studio analyst for British channel ITV's football coverage.

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