Where did it all go wrong? Five crucial games in Arsenal's 12 turbulent months

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Goals: Van Nistelrooy 73 pen (1-0); Rooney 90 (2-0).

Arsenal team: Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Touré, Cole, Ljungberg, Vieira, Edu, Reyes (Pires 70), Bergkamp, Henry. Substitutes not used: Van Persie, Taylor, Fabregas, Cygan.

Bookings: Cole, Edu, Vieira.

Attendance: 67,862.

Referee: M A Riley (W Yorkshire).

Manchester United ended Arsenal's 49-game unbeaten run in a controversial match at Old Trafford. Jose Antonio Reyes felt that he was the subject of some "rough treatment" from the Neville brothers, while Ruud van Nistelrooy was later banned for a stamp on Ashley Cole. Wayne Rooney won a dubious penalty after a trip by Sol Campbell, converted by Van Nistelrooy. Alan Smith set up Rooney in the dying minutes as Arsenal pushed forward. However, the controversy did not end on the pitch: in the tunnel afterwards Alex Ferguson claimed that the Arsenal players threw food at him and that Arsène Wenger charged at him with his fist raised.

30 Oct 2004 ARSENAL 2 SOUTHAMPTON 2

Goals: Henry 67 (1-0), Delap 80 (1-1), Delap 85 (1-2), Van Persie 90 (2-2).

Team: Lehmann, Lauren, Cygan, Touré, Cole, Ljungberg (Van Persie 83), Edu (Fabregas 65), Vieira, Reyes (Pires 61), Bergkamp, Henry. Substitutes not used: Senderos, Almunia.

Bookings: Vieira.

Attendance: 38,141.

Referee: M D Messias (W Yorkshire).

Arsenal squandered the lead and were rescued by Robin van Persie's last-minute equaliser. In between, Rory Delap scored two almost identical headers unchallenged from set-pieces for bottom-team Southampton.

1 FEBRUARY 2005 ARSENAL 2 MAN UTD 4

Goals: Vieira 8 (1-0), Giggs 18 (1-1), Bergkamp 36 (2-1), Ronaldo 54 (2-2), Ronaldo 58 (2-3), O'Shea 89 (2-4).

Team: Almunia, Lauren (Fabregas 83), Campbell (Hoyte 79), Cygan, Cole, Ljungberg, Flamini (Reyes 70), Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry. Substitutes not used: Lehmann,Van Persie.

Bookings: Pires, Reyes.

Attendance: 38,164.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Going into the game Arsenal were ahead in the table but the gulf between the sides was enormous. The Arsenal players were shell-shocked at full-time. Alex Ferguson won the tactical battle and Roy Keane the physical battle. Before kick-off, Patrick Vieira, the Arsenal captain, and Keane clashed in the tunnel when Vieira confronted Gary Neville. Keane challenged Vieira and the two were separated by the referee.

10 SEPTEMBER 2005 MIDDLESBROUGH 2 ARSENAL 1

Goals: Yakubu 40 (2-1), Maccarone 59 (2-0), Reyes 90 (2-1).

Team: Lehmann, Lauren, Touré, Cygan, Cole, Pires (Van Persie 72), Flamini (Fabregas 60), Silva, Hleb, Bergkamp, Reyes. Substitutes not used: Senderos, Clichy, Almunia.

Bookings: Cole, Fabregas, Flamini, Lauren.

Attendance: 28,075.

Referee: M A Riley (W Yorkshire).

In a match which bore all the hallmarks of a team in turmoil, Arsenal dominated the first half having all the chance and most of the possession, hit the post and went in to the break a goal down. In the second half Boro scored a second and despite all the intricate passing and delicate touches Arsenal never looked like equalising.

15 OCTOBER 2005 WEST BROM 2 ARSENAL 1

Goals: Senderos 17 (0-1), Kanu 38 (1-1), Carter 76 (2-1).

Team: Lehmann, Lauren, Touré, Senderos, Clichy, Ljungberg (Eboue 36), Fabregas, Flamini (Owusu-Abeyie 77), Pires, Reyes, Bergkamp. Substitutes not used: Song Billong, Cygan, Almunia.

Bookings: Clichy, Reyes.

Attendance: 26,604.

Referee: B Knight (Kent).

The match which has probably characterised Arsenal's season so far. With five first-team players out injured, Wenger's team still managed to take the lead. However, after numerous chances to make it two they conceded a sloppy goal before the break to ex-Gunner Kanu and went on to lose after a wonderful shot from Darren Carter.

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