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29th Apr 2018

Arsenal and United fans are not happy about the friendly pre-game exchanges between players in the tunnel

Long gone are the days of Keane an Vieira

Reuben Pinder

It’s Arsène Wenger’s last ever match against Manchester United

When Manchester United and Arsenal play against each other, there is always more at stake than just three points. The two clubs are not geographical neighbours, but they endured a period of intense rivalry during the noughties, when Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson were both at their peak.

Many intense battles were fought out between United and Arsenal over the years, and many words exchanged between Wenger and Ferguson, but there was always a begrudging respect between them. Occasionally, tempers flared and the line was crossed. Pizza-gate, Martin Keown slamming down on Ruud van Nistelrooy, sparking a straight up brawl, Vieira and Keane in the tunnel at Highbury. We’ve not seen that level of intense rivalry both competitively and emotionally since.

But today, with Wenger visiting Old Trafford as Arsenal boss for the last time before he leaves his post as Arsenal boss, there was none of that.

Alex Ferguson presented his old foe with a commemorative gift and the pair shared an embrace. There’s not a lot to play for today, which only adds to the friendly feel of the match, but it’s still a league game and it was quite something to see the two legends share such a moment.

Fans enjoyed this, although they weren’t so keen on the pally nature of what went on between the players in the tunnel pre-game. Opposition players were having a laugh, a hug, and generally being pleasant to each other, such is the modern, globalised world of football.

It didn’t go down too well.