In a season where your team wins the league and European Cup, it is incredibly difficult to decide on which games shines out from the rest, and is worthy of the “Best Match of the Season” title.
For me, the greatest game has to tick the boxes in several categories. The opposition has to be one you really like to see your team beat. The result has to be one that is both deserved and impressive. Exciting and beautiful football has to be on display. Finally, the result has to mean something, whether that’s getting one step closer to the title or progressing in a cup.
In terms of importance alone, no game can measure up to the European Cup final vs Chelsea or our final game of the season against Wigan that saw us crowned Champions. However, if we are to find a game that measures up against all criteria, we have to be a little less obvious.
So, as voted for by members of the RoM forum, here is United’s match of the 07-08 season.
I stayed rooted in my seat for some time after the final whistle blew on derby day at Old Trafford last season. I struggled to remember a time I had been left more gutted by a result. After all the hype and anticipation, with the media focussing on the Munich anniversary for weeks preceding the game, to lose, but not only that, lose in the fashion that we did, was soul destroying. Mutterings of ‘the occasion getting to them’ left me infuriated.
A week later I returned to Old Trafford still feeling the hurt of the previous match. It was Arsenal in the Cup and the lads were going to have to pull out some performance to even come close to start undoing the anger they had instilled in the fans the week before.
Much was made of Wenger fielding a weakened team, although Fabregas, Gallas, Toure, Eduardo and Hleb were in their starting line-up. United too rested players, with Ronaldo, Hargreaves and Giggs not even making an appearance on the bench. Instead, Fletcher, Nani, Park and Anderson were given starts in our midfield, with Tevez available, if needed, as a substitute.
With 20 minutes played, United were already 2-0 up, Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher scoring our goals.
Fabregas couldn’t handle Anderson, whilst Nani ripped the Arsenal back four apart. We were flying.
Wayne Rooney had a fantastic game as always against the Gunners, although Nani was probably our man of the match, after scoring a goal and assisting two others. William Gallas was somehow allowed to stay on the field and escaped later punishment by the FA, after kicking Nani in an off the ball incident. It seems as though Nani hurt their feelings when he lauded his skills over them, playing keepy-uppy in the centre of the field when we were 4-0 up. After the game, Wenger angrily hit back, claiming that they didn’t like to be humiliated. Was he talking about Nani or the scoreline…?
Throwing their dummies out of the pram is a trademark of Arsenal at Old Trafford. If they’re not throwing pizza at our manager following defeat, they’re kicking out at our players. When Eboue came in dangerously and intentionally on Evra’s thigh, there was no option but to see him walk, with United standing 3 goals ahead. Obviously, Arsenal were more eager to condemn dangerous play when Eduardo had his leg broken the following weekend.
No, this result didn’t make up for the derby day defeat. We knew back then that only victory in the European Cup final could redeem them of that. However, it was truly thrilling to watch such a devastating United performance against our old rivals.
It also signalled the beginning of the end for Arsenal, with them drawing against Birmingham the following weekend, then against Villa, then Wigan, then Boro, before losing to Chelsea.
United were crowned Champions again and our season really started to take shape after this match. After much of the praise had been given to Arsenal previously, it was great to see our lads proving themselves when given the chance to shine.
So with of the majority vote, United vs Arsenal in the FA Cup is the RoM Match of the Season.
BBC: Arsenal, who have enjoyed taunting outclassed teams in the past, were not enjoying getting a taste of their own medicine and William Gallas was lucky to escape punishment for an ill-disciplined kick at Nani.
The Guardian: Napoleon can hardly have retreated from Moscow with less dignity than Arsenal returned to London from Manchester. This drubbing exposed not only the team’s inadequacy on the day in the face of a rampant United side who sensed miserable resistance almost from the kick-off, but also Arsène Wenger’s tepid commitment to the FA Cup, whatever his ready-made complaints of depleted resources before and after.His excuses were limp and unconvincing and did him and his team no great service when his normal candour would have been more appropriate.This might have been United’s easiest win of the season – in any competition – and Wayne Rooney was the man who inspired everyone from Nani, Anderson and Darren Fletcher marauding about up front, to a midfield whose command of territory and possession was almost total.
Do you agree with this choice?