Football Features

Arsenal vs Manchester United bet365 Bet Builder: The Hostilities at Highbury and how history could repeat itself

By Andrew Francis

Arsenal v Man United bet builder

Published: 18:15, 21 January 2023

The latest chapter in one of Premier League history’s biggest battles takes place this weekend when Arsenal and Manchester United clash at the Emirates.

One of the most memorable meetings between the two Premier League giants took place almost 18 years ago to the day, when Man United made their penultimate league trip to Highbury (Arsene Wenger’s Emirates-bound Arsenal later switched stadiums in 2006).

To mark the occasion for any nostalgia-driven punters who may be reading, here’s a bet builder that takes the very best from a game that had everything.

Arsenal vs Man United: bet365 Bet Builder

Prediction Odds
Man United to win 33/1 with bet365
Over 4 goals in the match
Over 4 cards in the match

You must be 18 or over to gamble. Odds correct at time of writing (21/01/23, 18:00). For more information, visit begambleaware.org

But how likely is the prospect of history repeating itself this weekend? Let’s take a look at what happened on that huge Tuesday evening in February almost 20 years ago.

The stage is set

Arsenal and Manchester United had been the front-runners in the Premier League for the best part of a decade going into the game, with one of the sides being crowned champions in each of the last nine seasons. There was plenty of noise coming from West London, though, with Chelsea having been bought by Roman Abramovich in 2003 and starting to really push for the title.

It was indeed Chelsea that were the team to beat coming into this game, with Arsenal 10 points behind their rivals at the top of the table and Man United one point further behind the Gunners.

A win for either team would cement them as the contenders most likely to overhaul Chelsea in the pursuit of their first Premier League title.


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Today the set-up is slightly different. Arsenal have an eight-point lead and a game in hand over third-placed United, though an away win on Sunday would make Erik ten Hag’s team title contenders. At the time of writing, Opta give United a 1.94% chance of winning the title, with Arsenal’s chances standing at 51.06% compared to Manchester City’s 46.25%.

As for goals, each of the last three meetings for United and Arsenal have involved at least four. The visitors have averaged 2.25 goals per game across all competitions post-World Cup. For Arsenal, that figure is 2.2.

Pre-match posturing

Pressure was building before the teams even reached the pitch, with the tight tunnel at Highbury forcing the teams to share a close space. It all proved too much and tensions spilled over, with captains Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane having to be separated by teammates and officials after engaging in a foul-mouthed argument.

Those tensions were certainly still present after kick-off, with every decision made by Graham Poll being met with protests from both sets of players.

Poll was certainly busy throughout the 90 minutes, issuing six yellow cards as well as a red card to Mikael Silvestre for a clear, and silly, headbutt on Freddie Ljungberg.

Casemiro’s suspension would appear to take some bit out of United’s midfield but Scott McTominay, his potential replacement, averages 2.59 fouls per 90 minutes of Premier League football — more than any other teammate this season. He also has five yellow cards in just 659 minutes of league play for an average of 0.68 per 90 minutes, the highest in the division. The next best? Fred, another potential Casemiro replacement, on 0.65 yellow cards per 90.

A true Premier League classic

In 2005, the Arsenal v Man United match itself was of a high quality, showcasing some of the best talent the Premier League has ever seen. Keane, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo lined up for the visitors…

…while Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry were on the other side of the pitch.

The first hour of the game swung back and forth, with Arsenal grabbing an early lead through their captain, Vieira, before United were able to strike back via an own goal just before the 20-minute mark.

It was the hosts who took the lead heading into the break, though, Henry and Bergkamp combining to give the Gunners a 2-1 lead.

The second half turned the game on its head, though, and although he still hadn’t quite reached his peak, it was Cristiano Ronaldo who made all the difference. The Portuguese wide man scored twice within four minutes to give the visitors the edge heading into the final half hour.

That red card for Silvestre put Sir Alex Ferguson’s men under increasing pressure but it was the travelling fans who were sent into raptures again, just two minutes before the full-time whistle. The goal came through the most unlikely of sources too when John O’Shea, found himself through on goal and produced the coolest of chips to seal the game for his side.


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What happened next?

All of the theatrics and drama, ultimately, counted for nothing. Chelsea won their maiden Premier League title, Arsenal finished 12 points behind them and Manchester United wound up 18 points off top spot.

United would pick up five more titles in subsequent seasons before their barren run began in 2013 (it is nearly ten years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final title-winning campaign). Away from the high-profile names who beat Arsenal in 2005 such as Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and, of course, recent United departure Cristiano Ronaldo, there was…

  • Roy Carroll, first-choice ‘keeper in the season in question. He left the club in the summer, going on to enjoy spells in Greece, Denmark and back home to finish his career in Northern Ireland. His final game was a shock appearance just this month (aged 45) for his boyhood club Ballinamallard United, a semi-pro side contending with an injury crisis. The football gods refused to play ball, however. A hamstring injury restricted Carroll’s return to just 36 minutes and Ballinamallard lost 4-0.
  • Mikael Silvestre would eventually sign for Arsenal three years later, going on to play in Germany, MLS and the Indian Super League before retiring in 2014.
  • Gabriel Heinze, the “idol” of current centre-back Lisandro Martinez, spent another two seasons at Old Trafford before falling out with Ferguson and requesting a move to Liverpool. That request was denied, and Heinze instead joined Real Madrid. Subsequent clubs also included Marseille, Roma and Newell’s Old Boys. He currently manages the latter and once publicly predicted Lionel Messi will re-join the Argentine Primera Division club before retiring.
  • Darren Fletcher’s time at Old Trafford was dogged with injury and illness but he remained a firm favourite with the fans until his departure in 2015. He played for West Brom and Stoke before retiring in 2020, acknowledging that his long term illness had effectively ended his time on the pitch. He is currently technical director at Man United, showing how highly regarded he is at the club.

That season proved to be the end of the Arsenal stranglehold at the top of the table. They failed to finish in the top two again until the 2015/16 season and, with the departures of their truly world-class players, struggled to make the Champions League each season.

That 19-year title drought could be about to end, though. Arsenal top the table, five points ahead of City.

The best Man United can hope for this weekend is cutting the deficit between them and the Gunners to five points. As we approach the 18th anniversary of that memorable clash at Highbury, could this Bet Builder from bet365 show that history repeats itself?

Arsenal vs Man United: bet365 Bet Builder

Bets Odds
Man United to win 33/1 with bet365
Both Teams to score
Over 4 goals in the match
Over 4 cards in the match

You must be 18 or over to gamble. Odds correct at time of writing (21/01/23, 18:00). For more information, visit begambleaware.org

If so, we could be in for one of the most exciting Premier League matches in recent memory when these two sides continue their rivalry on Sunday afternoon.

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