Arsenal clinched victory at Old Trafford on Sunday to end a 14-year wait for a Premier League win against Manchester United in their backyard.
The Gunners won 1-0 at Old Trafford in September 2006, with Emmanuel Adebayor scoring the only goal. Then, years of nothing in the league. No wins, only draws and defeats. Pure misery, really. Now in November 2020, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the only goal to mirror that result 14 years prior.
So that’s it. The streak is over (actually two streaks are over as Arsenal also won away to a “big six” rival for the first time since 2015) and we can all go on with our lives. But 14 years is one hell of a long time. It’s almost impossible to remember what football was like back then, so we’ve had a look back and come up with a list of 10 things that have happened in football between Arsenal’s two wins at Old Trafford.
1. Paul Scholes’ wild ride
Soon after losing to Arsenal at Old Trafford, Paul Scholes struck up a great partnership with Michael Carrick (who replaced him in the defeat to the Gunners) and formed the midfield engine that drove United to three straight titles as well as three Champions League finals in four years (winning one). He then retired in 2011 and became a coach at United but couldn’t stay away for too long. In January 2012, he dramatically reversed his decision to hang up his boots and made his first appearance back in an FA Cup win over Manchester City. In his first full season back, he helped United win yet another league title before retiring for a second and final time and becoming a pundit on TV.
2. The dawn of RB Leipzig
In September 2006, RB Leipzig did not exist. But, three years later the club came into existence and began playing in the fifth division of German football a few months after Arsenal played in the Champions League semi-final. Since then Leipzig have risen through the ranks all the way up to the Bundesliga. In their very first season in the Bundesliga they finished second and made their way into Europe. Then in just their third European season, Leipzig quite incredibly made their way to the Champions League semi-finals, meaning they’ve appeared in Europe’s final four as many times as Arsenal during their entire existence.
3. Two two-time treble winners
When Arsenal beat Manchester United in 2006, the Red Devils were the only modern-day side to have won the treble, doing so in 1998/99. Since that date, however, we’ve witnesses a trio of treble winners (Barcelona, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich) and most impressively, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have managed to win the treble twice. Think about that. These sides have won all the major competitions available to them in a single season on two separate occasions, meanwhile Arsenal couldn’t even win at Old Trafford that whole time.
4. The Rise and Fall of Gareth Bale
When Arsenal last won at Old Trafford, Gareth Bale was a teenage left-back playing in the Championship. Since then he has signed for Spurs, went 24 games without a win, became a left-winger, then a right-winger, moved to Real Madrid, led Wales to a European Championship semi-final, won four Champions Leagues in five seasons (scoring three goals in finals) and then finally moved back to Spurs and made his second debut. And in classic Bale fashion, he had to upstage Arsenal on their big day by scoring a dramatic winner for Spurs just hours after Arsenal finally broke their winless streak at Old Trafford.
5. Freddie Leaves Arsenal over and over (and over)
When Manchester United beat Arsenal, Freddie Ljungberg was playing for Arsenal. The Swede left Arsenal at the end of that season, joining West Ham. After eight years playing at various clubs around the world he retired as a player and joined Arsenal’s academy as U-15’s coach. Two years after that, he left Arsenal again to go be assistant manager at Wolfsburg. But, in 2018 Freddie once more joined Arsenal, this time to coach the U-23 side. He then became interim head coach after Unai Emery was sacked, but after one win, three draws and two losses he was demoted to being a first-team coach once Mikel Arteta took over. Then finally in August 2020, Freddie left Arsenal for a third time, meaning he wasn’t around to experience the streak-breaking win.
6. Cristiano is crowned knockout king
Cristiano Ronaldo was dispossessed by Arsenal in the lead-up to their game-winning goal back in 2006. It was a frustrating moment for a talented player who had yet to score a single Champions League goal. He registered his first (and second) later that season in the quarter-finals against Roma. This was something of a dam-bursting moment as the Portuguese went on to score goals by the fistful for Manchester United, Real Madrid and now Juventus. All told Cristiano Ronaldo scored 130 goals in Europe’s top competition between Arsenal victories at Old Trafford, but most impressive of all is that 67 of those goals have come in the knockout rounds, more than Arsenal have managed in that same time period (37).
7. The Leicester Miracle
In September 2006, Leicester were already in the Championship. They then got relegated to League One and were truly out of sight. Thai company King Power brought the club, however, and the Foxes began climbing the football pyramid. They made it back to the Premier League in 2014/15 and, after barely avoid relegation, appointed Claudio Ranieri and went on to do the unthinkable.
Powered by Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante, Kasper Schmeichel and captain Wes Morgan, Leicester had a phenomenal season and won the 2015/16 Premier League! They really did win the league title, and with a degree of comfort, too! It’s so rare that the good guys win, but watching Claudio Ranieri lift that league title was a wonderful moment, one made funnier by the fact that during their winless run at Old Trafford, Leicester actually have more relegations and more league titles than Arsenal.
8. Leo Messi: Title Machine
Leo Messi had already won two league titles when Arsenal won at Old Trafford in 2006, but Barcelona were descending into crisis under Frank Rijkaard. However once Pep Guardiola turned up and revolutionised football, Leo Messi in particular went supernova and became the best player the world has ever seen. The Argentine has powered Barcelona to eight La Liga triumphs during Arsenal’s winless run at Old Trafford; that’s as many league titles as Arsenal have won since the end of the Second World War. Yes, that’s right. Messi has won as many league titles in 14 years as Arsenal have managed in 75 (seventy-five!).
9. Maldini’s Odyssey
Paolo Maldini is one of football’s finest fellows. Since Arsenal’s last win at Old Trafford in 2006 the AC Milan legend has won the Champions League in 2007, lost in the San Siro to Arsenal in 2008, retired in 2009, qualified for an ATP Challenger Tour tennis tournament (no, really), become AC Milan technical director, and then watched his sons Christian and Daniel make their professional debuts, the latter doing so for his beloved AC Milan. What an odyssey it’s been for the Italian legend, a lifetime’s worth of feats all while Arsenal failed to win at Old Trafford.
10. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s entire career
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored two Premier League away goals against Big Six rivals:
⚽️ vs. Man Utd
⚽️ vs. Man Utd
Finding the net at Old Trafford again. 🧊 pic.twitter.com/uTD96BUNix
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 1, 2020
When Arsenal finally won at Old Trafford, when they ended their 14-year run of misery, they did so thanks to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty. Arsenal’s captain and talisman stepped up to convert the spot-kick that ended the streak, but what is so incredible is that even as Aubameyang has such stature and commands such respect at the Emirates, he wasn’t even a player when the Gunners last won at Arsenal.
Yup. The final “thing” that happened between Arsenal victories at Old Trafford is quite literally the entire professional career of Arsenal’s captain. When Arsenal got their win in 2006, Aubameyang was playing for Bastia’s youth team. He then joined AC Milan’s youth team before being loaned out all over the place, branded a flop, only to resurrect himself with Saint-Etienne. He then went international again with Borussia Dortmund and then, finally, joined Arsenal, where he’s been one of the two most prolific forwards in the country and, of course the match-winner as Arsenal finally snapped their 14 year winless streak away to Manchester United.
Nice one, Pierre!