I havespent many hours researching the history of the games played between the two clubs and different sites had different records. Based on my research I believe that the results that I’m using are reliable however the records go back 121 years so it is still possible that there may be some minor discrepancies. ………………………………………………………………………………………………….
The first game between the two world famous clubs took place away at North Road, Manchester. It was played on Saturday October 13th 1894 and the game ended in a 3-3 draw. Both teams were in League Division 2 and at the time – United were known as Newton Heath and Arsenal as Woolwich Arsenal.
During our years in Division 2 we played United on 20 occasions with a winning record of W10 L7 D3, both teams had dominant home records.
Arsenal finished 2nd in 1903/4 with 49 points and gained promotion to Division 1 beating out United who finished 3rd with 48 points. United gained promotion the following season and our first game in Division 1 took place away on Nov 10th, 1906 we lost 0-1 and won our home game 4-0.
We were relegated back to Division 2 in 1912/13 but due to some back room shenanigans by Sir Henry Norris we “popped” back up 1919/20 and have remained in the top flight of English football to this day – much to the dismay of those who remain in our everlasting shadow.
Our overall Division 1 record was incredibly close with United coming out on top by 2 games out of 126 played with a record of W50 L48 D 28.
The Premier League was formed in 1992/3 and there have been many classic encounters between the two teams but for a variety of reasons that have been (repeatedly) debated over the years we have invariably come out second best. United have dominated the Premier League winning 13 championships and only finishing outside of the top 3 on 1 occasion in 22 seasons.
Like most clubs we have a poor PL record against United with a record of W11 L21 D13 we have an awful record at Old Trafford with a record of W3 L14 D5 our home record is more positive at W8 L7 D8.
Although I have not researched other teams records against United our overall record may well be the best with only a 13 game difference in 212 total games played over our 121 year history.
Finally let’s take a look at our FA Cup record, but first here are brief reports on some of the more memorable clashes –
Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal 2011 FA Cup – Quarter-Final
Neither side came into this clash high on confidence with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United having lost their previous two matches against Chelsea and Liverpool, while Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal had recently lost a League Cup final to Birmingham and been dumped out of the Champions League by Barcelona. Despite Ferguson naming an extraordinarily defensive side on paper, with seven defenders and Darron Gibson accompanying Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, it was United who ran out 2-0 winners. Fabio da Silva opened the scoring and Rooney sealed it with a second soon after the break. The joy was short-lived however as United were beaten by rivals Manchester City in their Wembley semi-final.
Arsenal 0-0 (5-4 pens) Manchester United 2005 FA Cup – Final
History was made in Cardiff when the FA Cup final was decided on penalties for the first time with Arsenal beating Manchester United 5-4 on spot-kicks after a goalless draw. United had enjoyed by far the better of the game itself with Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy each hitting the woodwork and when Jose Antonio Reyes was sent off in the final moments of extra-time their dominance was confirmed in numbers as well as chances. But the Gunners showed extraordinary resilience and were blemish-free from 12 yards, while Paul Scholes saw his penalty saved by Jens Lehmann. The winning kick was taken by Captain Patrick Vieira in what was to prove his final game for the club.
Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal 2004 FA Cup – Semi-Final
Arsenal had won the FA Cup in each of the previous two seasons and the Invincibles were en route to going unbeaten throughout an entire Premier League season when the sides met at Villa Park in April 2004. However, it was Manchester United who progressed to the final against lower-league Millwall thanks to a 1-0 win. Edu and Patrick Vieira both hit the woodwork for the Gunners but with Thierry Henry omitted from the starting line-up and Ruud van Nistelrooy injured for the Red Devils, it was left to Paul Scholes to provide the incision, firing home from close range just after the half-hour mark. United held on to end Arsenal’s 18-game unbeaten run in the competition and claimed the trophy when they defeated Millwall 3-0 the following month.
Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal 1999 FA Cup – Semi Final
This famous FA Cup meeting between the two clubs had enough drama for five classics. David Beckham opened the scoring by curling into the far corner – the first goal Arsenal had conceded in over seven hours. But Dennis Bergkamp equalised midway through the second half with a great turn and shot and the Gunners could’ve gone ahead when Nicolas Anelka had a goal disallowed for offside. When Roy Keane was sent off shortly afterwards, Arsenal were in the ascendancy and looked set to win it when Phil Neville conceded a last-minute penalty by bringing down Ray Parlour. But Peter Schmeichel saved brilliantly from Bergkamp and when Patrick Vieira surrendered possession to substitute Ryan Giggs, the Welshman scored one of the great solo goals. “The luckiest team won” said Arsene Wenger
Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal 1983 FA Cup – Semi Final
The 1983 FA Cup semi-final was the second domestic cup competition in which the two teams had faced off that season, with Ron Atkinson’s United already 6-3 aggregate winners over two legs of the League Cup. England international Tony Woodcock gave the Gunners the lead at Villa Park but Bryan Robson came up with an equaliser just before half-time. A 17-year-old Norman Whiteside was the hero for United when he thumped in the winner. “It was a great moment,” Robson told the official Manchester United website recently. “To have won the semi-final and be on the way to Wembley was fantastic.” It was to get better for Atkinson’s team when they beat Brighton at the second attempt to lift the trophy with both Robson and Whiteside among the scorers.
Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United 1979 FA Cup – Final
The old cliché about never being more vulnerable than when you’ve scored a goal ought to have been written for this game as Alan Sunderland ensured United’s comeback counted for nothing. The Gunners had gone ahead through Brian Talbot before Frank Stapleton doubled the lead just before half-time with Liam Brady once again the architect. But Gordon McQueen pulled one back from a set-piece with just five minutes remaining and a late equaliser by Sammy McIlroy, wriggling free from his markers, seemed to complete the comeback. However, just as the momentum seemed to be with Dave Sexton’s side, Sunderland popped up at the far post to turn in Graham Rix’s cross and win it for Arsenal. No wonder it was dubbed the ‘Five Minute Final’.
Our FA Cup record against United is very close with the exception of games played at Old Trafford where we have a record of W2 L4 D0. Our complete record is-
I acknowledge that stats don’t count for anything on game day but they show that it takes a brave person to be confident of a win at Old Trafford – the writer is one of the brave but I once read that a coward dies a thousand deaths while a brave man only dies once, oh boy – am I prepared to die for the cause……………??