Monday, 13 June 2011

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

22nd March 1994 Arsenal 2 Manchester United 2.

This game was one of the most extraordinary games I have ever attended. The atmosphere an ugly and tense one, the weather dark and bitter as Man Utd arrived dressed in their new black looking like Nazi storm troopers. Amongst their ranks the villain of the moment Eric Cantona, the cod philosopher who had been sent off four days earlier, and deservedly so, against Swindon.

United led twice in the game courtesy of Lee Sharpe this meant having to endure the sight of him doing that awful Elvis impersonation at the corner flag. Twice Arsenal struck back via an own goal and a superb Merson drive. Save for a wrongly ruled off side winner from Arsenal this game would have resulted in an Arsenal victory.
Merse

We were fresh from our victory over Torino and United were in a poor spell, but United were at that time the most hated team in the land and the atmosphere of hostility transmitted itself onto the pitch with one or two unsavoury challenges.

Then the peak of animosity was reached when Cantona was given his marching orders for a clumsy challenge on Adams; I have never heard a player so roundly vilified by an Arsenal crowd until Ashley Cole on his first return to Arsenal with Chelsea.

At the final whistle the crowd knew that they had taken part in an extraordinary night of football. It felt like a boxing match between two sluggers who would not drop.

Manchester United went on to win the League and FA Cup and Arsenal achieved the improbable by winning the European Cup winners Cup. Both teams were soon to undergo major transformations.
But this was a night that was and is unforgettable

Arsenal (4-3-3): Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn; Jensen, Selley, Davis (Campbell, 69); Smith, Wright, Merson. Substitutes not used: Keown, Miller (gk).
Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Parker, Bruce, Pallister, Irwin; Giggs, Keane, Ince, Sharpe (Robson, 83); Hughes, Cantona. Substitutes not used: Robson, Sealey (gk).

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