In light of the upcoming FA Cup quarter final between Manchester United and Arsenal, we’ve taken a look back at some memorable FA cup meetings between the two sides. With last minute wonder goals, an abundance of bookings, and plenty of penalties, these matches had everything any fan could ask for. Of course you’d expect nothing else between these two giants in the FA Cup, as they both hold a record eleven titles each. Here’s to hoping that Monday’s fixture can replicate one of these past contests.
FA Cup Fifth Round 2008
For our first notable tie, we hop back 7 years to United and Arsenal’s FA Cup fifth round clash in 2008. Inspired by a masterful Rooney, United ran Arsenal ragged, leading 3-0 at half-time and eventually beating their rivals 4-0. Cult hero Emmanuel Eboué made an Arsenal comeback impossible by getting sent off soon after the restart for a dangerous tackle. Even though United lost in the next round to eventual winners Portsmouth, their rout against Arsenal showed how strong they were that year - they went on to achieve the Premier League and Champions League double.
FA Cup Semi-Final 2004
In 2004, the two went head-to-head in the FA Cup semi-final. Though Arsenal dominated for the most part, United ran out 1-0 winners in what Gary Neville described as the most important match of their season, having been dumped out of the Champions League and struggling in the race for the Premier League. They’d go all the way in the competition to record their 11th FA Cup victory. Though Arsenal were knocked out of both the FA Cup and the Champions League in the same week, the Gunners bounced back to win the league in style, ending the league season unbeaten and being crowned ‘Invincibles’.
FA Cup Final 2005
In 2005, the rivals met in the FA Cup again, this time in the final. Little did Arsenal and Arsene Wenger know, this would be their last major trophy until their FA Cup Final win against Hull almost ten years later. After 120 minutes of what can only be described as an absolute barrage of Arsenal’s goal from United, in which the Red Devils did everything but score, the game went to penalties. One Lehmann save and five pinpoint Arsenal penalties later, and Wenger’s side had secured their 10th FA Cup. The final was a fitting end to the fierce Keane-Vieira rivalry, as both captains left their clubs later that year.
FA Cup Fifth Round 2003
The 2003 fifth round meeting, in which Arsenal comfortably beat United 2-0 at Old Trafford, is perhaps best remembered for Giggs’ unbelievable open goal miss. With the goal mouth gaping, Giggs somehow fired over from close range and it immediately proved costly as Arsenal took the lead a few minutes after. This typically fiery affair - Scholes and Vieira were booked for fouls and dissent respectively - was the fuel that drove Arsenal to a successful defence of the FA Cup.
FA Cup Final 1979
The penultimate match of this list is certainly one for the older Arsenal fans. Often affectionately referred to as the ‘Five-minute Final’, the 1979 Final between Arsenal and United is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever FA Cup battles. With only five minutes left of regular time and Arsenal seemingly cruising to a 2-0 victory, United struck twice in two minutes to level the match and leave Arsenal fans stunned. Their joy was short-lived though, as from kick off Arsenal raced up the pitch, Graham Rix crossing for Alan Sunderland to nod home the winner.
FA Cup Semi-Final 1999
We conclude this list with arguably the greatest game of football ever played. The FA Cup semi-final between the two heavyweights was the Arsenal-United rivalry filtered into 120 minutes of pure drama. With only a few minutes left to play, Bergkamp had the opportunity to punish 10-men United from the penalty spot. Schmeichel’s save meant the game went to extra time, and up steps Ryan Giggs to steal the show. Giggs’ solo wonder goal won the tie for United and gave them the necessary push to complete a historic treble. What a year for United, and what a goal from Giggs.