Greatest Football Matches #3 – 2004 Premier League Game – Man United vs Arsenal

Some things are meant to be and some things aren’t. May be it was fate that wanted Arsenal to defeat Man United so that they could embark on a 49 game streak without a loss. May be it was fate that wanted Ruud Van Nistelrooy to avenge his humiliation that took place exactly an year ago at Old Trafford. This game was much more than just football. It had all the elements that made a super hit hollywood movie – drama, envy, heroism, revenge and what not. Read along to find out.

Nistelrooy's emotional celebration

The Setup

In 2004, Arsenal were undoubtedly the best side in England. They had just finished a season without a single defeat and the “Invincibles” were on a 49 match undefeated streak. To win 50, all they needed was a draw or a win at Old Trafford. Going 50 games undefeated in the Premier League is a barrier that was never breached. But, the Invincibles had to overcome their best rivals.

The game also was a bit personal personal for Ruud van Nistelrooy. It was about revenge for him.

The History

The season before this game, Arsenal were at Old Trafford facing Man United. van Nistelrooy won a last minute penalty after Patrick Viera got sent off for a foul. Unfortunately, the penalty kick bounced off against the bar. The scenes that followed that penalty miss were a disgrace to the Arsenal Football Club. Almost every player from the Arsenal side surrounded the Dutch man and began pushing and showing him. The people couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. Arsenal players were fined for their actions but they still went on to win the league undefeated.

If Ruud van Nistelrooy had scored that penalty, Arsenal’s streak would have ended at just seven games. But, it didn’t. Arsenal went on to win 42 more and now, they were at Old Trafford once again.

The Match

The game went on without an incident for most part of the game but United were the better team. On the 73rd minute, Wayne Rooney was tripped by Sol Campbell at the edge of the penalty area. The referee awarded a spot kick and it was of course Nistelrooy who took it. This time though, he kept it low and fooled the keeper to score from a penalty. The commentator said, “the noise says it all, the celebrations says it all” and it was true. Nistelrooy has avenged his humiliation as the 75,000 people at Old Trafford let out a deafening cry of celebration. Nistelrooy, who was on his knees celebrated in front of the Stretford End with the weight of guilt lifted off his shoulders.

Rooney went on to add one more goal as Manchester United won 2-0 and put an end to Arsenal’s undefeated streak. But for the scenes that took place after the game, it is still referred as the “Battle of the Buffet.

The Aftermath

Temper was boiling after the game. Sol Campbell and Patrick Viera refused to shake Rooney’s hand as the players headed into the tunnel. Food ranging from peas to pizza kept flying back and forth inside the tunnel. Ashley Cole described in his autobiography that a pizza went straight and hit the face of Sir Alex Ferguson and. The incident is popularly known as the Pizzagate.

The game, however was very important in the history of Arsenal FC. The game ended the streak of Arsene’s Invincibles and displayed a crack in their structure. Chelsea made the most out of this game as they went on to win their first title under new manager Jose Mourinho. Arsenal however, were never able to recover from this defeat. They are yet to win a league title after this game.

If you liked this, check out my other related Articles.Greatest Football Matches #2 – 2005 UEFA Champions League finals – Liverpool vs AC MilanGreatest Football Matches #1 – 2001 WC Qualifiers – England vs Greece

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Edited by Staff Editor