The "Battle of Old Trafford" was a Premier League match played on Sunday, 21 September 2003 between Manchester United and Arsenal. The name was later applied to the same fixture during the following season. The final result, a 0–0 draw, turned out to be significant for Arsenal as they went on to finish the league season without a single defeat, something that had only been achieved once before in English football, by Preston North End in 1888–89.
The highlights of the match included the sending-off of Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira for a second bookable offence, for an incident that also brought about a booking for Manchester United centre-forward Ruud van Nistelrooy, and the decision by referee Steve Bennett to award Manchester United a penalty kick in the last minute of the match. Players from both teams were charged by the Football Association (FA) for their reactions at the end of the game, five Arsenal players and two Manchester United players were forced to pay fines.
|Battle of Old Trafford|
The match programme cover
|Event||2003–04 FA Premier League|
|Date||21 September 2003|
|Venue||Old Trafford, Manchester|
|Referee||Steve Bennett (Kent)|
Fixtures between Manchester United and Arsenal had seen a number of controversial incidents in the previous seasons. The rivalry between the two clubs had grown more intense since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, since when all but one Premier League title had been won by Manchester United or Arsenal (Blackburn Rovers won the title in 1994–95). However, the rivalry could be traced back to Alex Ferguson's first fixture against Arsenal as United manager in 1987, when David Rocastle was sent off and a row erupted. The following season, Brian McClair missed a penalty for United in an FA Cup tie and Nigel Winterburn made a point of aggravating him. McClair got his revenge in 1990: after a lunging tackle from Winterburn on Denis Irwin, McClair and Irwin both kicked Winterburn while he lay on the floor, sparking a 21-man brawl. Both teams were fined and deducted points and it has often been suggested that this was a turning point in relations. The rivalry continued to intensify as "hard men" such as Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane and Martin Keown joined the sides.
The previous league match between the two clubs in April 2003 at Highbury was a competitive and bad-tempered affair. In a match that finished in a 2–2 draw, Sol Campbell received a straight red card for violent conduct after elbowing Ole Gunnar Solskjær in the face. Manchester United went on to claim the title from Arsenal by five points after clawing back from being eight points down at the start of March 2003.
The clubs had also been paired together in the fourth round of the FA Cup in February 2003. Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy of Manchester United, and Patrick Vieira of Arsenal were all shown yellow cards within the first seven minutes of the match and referee Jeff Winter had to call Vieira and Roy Keane together to calm their teammates down. Keane himself received a yellow card in the first half and Ryan Giggs missed an open goal from 18 yards. Arsenal eventually won the match 2–0 and the result infuriated Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson to such an extent that he kicked a boot across the changing room that hit David Beckham above the left eye.
As Manchester United and Arsenal won the Premier League and FA Cup respectively, both teams met in another heated match at the Millennium Stadium a month earlier for the 2003 Community Shield. Phil Neville was booked in the first minute for a challenge on Patrick Vieira, and a minute later Ashley Cole received a booking for fouling Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Yellow cards were also given to Quinton Fortune and Paul Scholes for United and Patrick Vieira for Arsenal, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a straight red for a kick on Phil Neville and, despite originally going unpunished, Sol Campbell was later given a three-match ban by the FA for kicking out at Eric Djemba-Djemba. The game finished 1–1 after 90 minutes and United eventually won the Shield 4–3 on penalties. Ruud van Nistelrooy had his spot kick saved by debutant Jens Lehmann but it was his opposite number and fellow debutant Tim Howard who was the hero, saving penalties from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Robert Pires.
Arsenal entered the match in second place in the Premier League after five matches, holding an unbeaten record that stretched back to the end of the previous season. Manchester United were a point behind Arsenal in third place, but they had already lost one match that season, against Southampton three weeks earlier.
Arsenal were missing defender Sol Campbell from their team after the death of his father, and manager Arsène Wenger dropped wingers Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord in favour of Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg, creating a more physical midfield. Wenger's tactics worked, as the Arsenal defence withstood the pressure from the Manchester United attack. United themselves were without Paul Scholes due to injury, and they played a 4–3–2–1 formation with Phil Neville, Roy Keane and Quinton Fortune completing a defensively minded midfield.
When Cristiano Ronaldo was fouled on the right wing 40 yards from goal in the 13th minute, Ryan Giggs was presented with the first chance of the match; although intended as a cross, Giggs' free-kick hit the outside of the post. Another foul on Ronaldo gave Giggs another chance to apply pressure with a crossed free-kick shortly after, but Ruud van Nistelrooy was only able to loop the ball over the goal with his head with goalkeeper Jens Lehmann beaten. Arsenal's attacking play lacked their usual ambition, with their best opportunity coming in the 75th minute, when a deft touch from Dennis Bergkamp almost played Patrick Vieira into the penalty area.
The match was characterised by a large number of fouls – 13 by United, 18 by Arsenal – and referee Steve Bennett showed four yellow cards to each team, although most of those came as a result of the fracas at the end of the game. Vieira was booked in the 77th minute for a foul on Quinton Fortune, and was shown a second yellow card not long after, in the 80th minute. In challenging for a high ball outside the Arsenal penalty area, Van Nistelrooy jumped up onto Vieira's back. Vieira fell to the ground and kicked out at Van Nistelrooy in retaliation, causing the Manchester United striker to jump backwards. Van Nistelrooy was booked for the original foul, and although Vieira's kick failed to connect with the Dutchman, the referee believed that the intent was there and booked Vieira for the second time, resulting in his dismissal.
Despite Arsenal being reduced to 10 men, the scores remained level as the game went into its final minute, when Diego Forlán went to ground in the penalty area under a challenge from Arsenal defender Martin Keown while trying to reach a Gary Neville cross. The referee deemed this a foul and awarded a penalty. Van Nistelrooy stepped up to take the penalty, despite having missed his previous two penalties for Manchester United. Lehmann tried to put him off by moving from side to side along the goal line, and it appeared to work: the shot hit the bar and rebounded back into play, and the Dutchman was immediately confronted by Keown. Within a minute, the final whistle blew and the match finished as a goalless draw.
At the final whistle, Van Nistelrooy was immediately confronted by Arsenal players Martin Keown, Lauren, Ray Parlour, Ashley Cole and Kolo Touré. Keown jumped up next to Van Nistelrooy and brought his arms down hard on the Dutchman's back, while Lauren pushed Van Nistelrooy in the back and Parlour and Cole offered verbal abuse. Van Nistelrooy did not react and was escorted away by Manchester United captain Roy Keane, but the incident escalated away from the two of them. In defence of their teammate, Manchester United players Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gary Neville, Mikaël Silvestre, Quinton Fortune and Rio Ferdinand also became involved in the situation.
|Shots on target||5||0|
In the post-match interviews, Van Nistelrooy was accused by both Vieira and Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, of feigning contact to get Vieira sent off, while United manager Alex Ferguson defended his player and denied he had dived.
As a result of these reactions, six Arsenal players, two Manchester United players and Arsenal Football Club itself were charged with improper conduct by The Football Association. As a club, Arsenal were charged with "failing to ensure the proper behaviour of their players", while their players' charges ranged from one charge of improper conduct for Ashley Cole's "involvement in a confrontation with Cristiano Ronaldo after the final whistle" to Lauren's two counts of violent behaviour for "kicking out at Quinton Fortune following the penalty award and for forcibly pushing Ruud van Nistelrooy in the back following the final whistle", and two counts of improper conduct for "confronting Van Nistelrooy after Patrick Vieira's sending-off, and for confronting Ryan Giggs after the final whistle". Manchester United as a club were not charged, but Ryan Giggs was charged with improper conduct for "his involvement in a confrontation with Lauren after the match had ended" and Cristiano Ronaldo was charged with improper conduct for "confronting Martin Keown at the conclusion of the match". Phil Neville was also warned about his future behaviour.
Arsenal and their players pleaded guilty to the charges against them, but still received a £175,000 fine, the largest ever given to a club by the FA. Lauren, Martin Keown, Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour were all suspended for between one and four matches: Lauren received a four-game ban – half of the potential ban he could have received – and a £40,000 fine; Keown was suspended for three matches and had to pay a £20,000 fine; Vieira and Parlour were given one-game bans and had to pay £20,000 and £10,000 respectively. Jens Lehmann was originally charged but this was later dropped. Ashley Cole was not suspended but was given a £10,000 fine. Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo both pleaded not guilty to their involvement in the incident, but after a five-hour hearing in December 2003, Giggs was handed a £7,500 fine and Ronaldo a £4,000 fine and both were warned about their future conduct.
Arsenal finished the league season without a single defeat and earned the tag of The Invincibles, a tag once given to the 1888–89 Preston North End team, the only previous team to go through a league season undefeated. Van Nistelrooy's missed penalty, therefore, was a crucial moment in Arsenal's season. The return fixture between the two sides at Highbury finished as a 1–1 draw and passed without incident. Manchester United finished in third place in the league table behind Chelsea but defeated Millwall in the 2004 FA Cup Final. Their run included a semi-final victory against Arsenal courtesy of a Paul Scholes goal. The following season, after Manchester United had brought Arsenal's unbeaten run to an end after 49 matches, the two clubs were involved in another incident at Old Trafford, variously dubbed the Battle of Old Trafford II, the Battle of the Buffet or simply the Battle of Old Trafford.
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.Battle of Nuremberg (2006 FIFA World Cup)
The Battle of Nuremberg (Portuguese: Batalha de Nuremberga, Dutch: Slag van Neurenberg; also known as Massacre of Nuremberg) is the nickname of a football match played in the Round of 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup between Portugal and the Netherlands at the Frankenstadion in Nuremberg on 25 June 2006. Russian referee Valentin Ivanov issued a FIFA World Cup record four red cards and 16 yellow cards, setting a new record for cards shown at any FIFA-administered international tournament.Battle of the Buffet
The "Battle of the Buffet" is a name used by the British press to refer to a Premier League match played between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford, Manchester, on 24 October 2004. The match saw a series of unprofessional fouls that were overlooked by referee Mike Riley, such as Rio Ferdinand on Freddie Ljungberg in the 19th minute and striker Ruud van Nistelrooy's studs-up challenge on Ashley Cole. Arsenal dictated much of the early play and created several openings, but as the game progressed Manchester United threatened. The home team were awarded a controversial penalty in the 73rd minute, as Wayne Rooney allegedly tumbled over Sol Campbell's outstretched leg. Van Nistelrooy converted the penalty kick and late in the game Rooney scored for 2–0. The result ended Arsenal's record-breaking 49-match unbeaten run. Many Arsenal fans were disgruntled, as they believed Rooney had dived and the penalty should not have been given.
In the tunnel after the match tempers boiled over between staff of both clubs, and amid the brawl a slice of pizza was thrown at Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Cesc Fàbregas confirmed in 2017 that he had thrown the pizza. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger was furious in his post-match briefing, criticising Riley for his performance and describing Van Nistelrooy as a cheat. His comments were investigated by the Football Association, who later fined him £15,000 for improper conduct. Van Nistelrooy was retroactively banned for three matches as his challenge on Cole was missed by Riley.
The result was pivotal in the league season and in the rivalry between the two clubs. Arsenal's form suffered as a result; having entered the match as league leaders they found themselves five points behind Chelsea in December. Manchester United struggled for consistency and finished behind Arsenal in third. Both clubs later met each other in the Football League Cup quarter finals and FA Cup Final. Ferguson, following his retirement in 2013, said that he considered the "Battle of the Buffet" to be a watershed moment for Wenger as it disoriented his management and put a strain on their relationship.Manchester United F.C.–Arsenal F.C. brawl
Manchester United F.C.–Arsenal F.C. brawl may refer to:
Manchester United F.C.–Arsenal F.C. brawl (1990)
Battle of Old Trafford, 2003
Battle of the Buffet, 2004Manchester United F.C.–Arsenal F.C. brawl (1990)
On 20 October 1990, Manchester United Football Club faced Arsenal Football Club in a Football League First Division fixture at Old Trafford, during the 1990–91 season. Arsenal won by a single goal, but the game was best remembered for a brawl between both teams. The Football Association (FA) took the unprecedented step of deducting league points from the two clubs.
The only goal of the match came moments before half-time, scored by Arsenal midfielder Anders Limpar. In the second half, Limpar was involved in a contest for the ball with Manchester United defender Denis Irwin; Limpar's teammate Nigel Winterburn made a tackle on Irwin that precipitated a melee between both sets of players. All but one of the twenty-two players on the field were involved; it lasted no more than 20 seconds and referee Keith Hackett booked only Limpar and Winterburn for their actions.
Manchester United and Arsenal took immediate action by fining a number of their players; Arsenal also punished their manager, George Graham. A month after the game, the FA fined both clubs £50,000 for bringing the game into disrepute. Arsenal were docked two points, one more than Manchester United as they were involved in a similar brawl against Norwich City in 1989. This did not impact on Arsenal's title challenge, however, as they went on to become league champions with just one defeat.
As of 2017, it is the only instance in English league football history in which any team has been docked points due to player misconduct. The match is considered to have instigated the rivalry between the two clubs, who competed with each other for silverware regularly through the 1990s and 2000s.Ruud van Nistelrooy
Rutgerus Johannes Martinus "Ruud" van Nistelrooy (Dutch: Ruud van Nistelrooij; [ˈryt fɑn ˈnɪstəlroːi̯] (listen); born 1 July 1976) is a Dutch football coach and former player. He is currently the coach of the PSV Eindhoven under-19s team. A former striker, he is the fifth-highest goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history with 56 goals. He is a three-time UEFA Champions League top scorer, as well as a top scorer in three different European domestic leagues.
Van Nistelrooy began his career with Den Bosch, before moving onto Heerenveen, eventually making a name for himself at PSV Eindhoven, where he won two Eredivisie titles. His goalscoring record at PSV attracted attention from Manchester United; a deal was in place in the summer of 2000, but because of injury problems, his move was secured a year later for a then British record fee of £19 million. His time at United was successful, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, Football League Cup and FA Community Shield, along with winning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year twice. Van Nistelrooy hit 150 goals in just 219 games for United, as well as becoming, at the time, their all-time European record goalscorer, but fell out of favour towards the end of his tenure. Real Madrid then secured his services in 2006. Although an injury blighted the end of his days with Madrid, he won La Liga twice and the Supercopa de España before signing for Hamburger SV during the January transfer window in 2010. After one-and-a-half seasons with Hamburg, he moved back to Spain with Málaga in the summer of 2011. His retirement from football was announced on 14 May 2012.
Internationally, Van Nistelrooy represented the Netherlands on 70 occasions, netting 35 times. He was part of the Euro 2004, 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008 squads.Ryan Giggs
Ryan Joseph Giggs, (born Wilson; born 29 November 1973) is a Welsh football coach and former player. He is the manager of the Wales national team and a co-owner of Salford City. He played his entire professional career for Manchester United, and briefly served as Manchester United's interim manager.
The son of rugby union, and Wales international rugby league footballer Danny Wilson, Giggs was born in Cardiff but moved to Manchester at the age of six when his father joined Swinton RLFC. Predominantly a left winger, he began his career with Manchester City, but joined Manchester United on his 14th birthday in 1987. He made his professional debut for the club in 1991 and spent the next 23 years in the Manchester United first team. At the end of the 2013–14 season, he was named as Manchester United's interim player-manager following the sacking of David Moyes. He was named as assistant manager under Moyes' permanent replacement, Louis van Gaal, on 19 May 2014; he retired from playing the same day. He holds the club record for competitive appearances. At international level, Giggs played for the Wales national team 64 times between 1991 and 2007, and was named as the captain of the Great Britain team that competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He is one of only 28 players to have made over 1,000 career appearances.During his time at United, Giggs won 13 Premier League winner's medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, three League Cup winner's medals, two UEFA Champions League winner's medals, a FIFA Club World Cup winners medal, an Intercontinental Cup winner's medal, a UEFA Super Cup winner's medal and nine FA Community Shield winner's medals. Manchester United and Liverpool are the only clubs in English football history to have won more league championships than Giggs. Giggs captained United on numerous occasions, particularly in the 2007–08 season when regular captain Gary Neville was ruled out with various injuries.
Giggs also has a number of personal achievements. He was the first player in history to win two consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards (1992 and 1993), though he did not win the PFA Player of the Year award until 2009. He was the only player to play in each of the first 22 seasons of the Premier League, as well as the only player to score in each of the first 21 seasons. He was elected into the PFA Team of the Century in 2007, the Premier League Team of the Decade in 2003, as well as the FA Cup Team of the Century. Giggs holds the record for the most assists in Premier League history, with 271. He was named as BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2009. In addition to the many honours Giggs has received within football, he was appointed an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours List for his services to football.
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