Four Highbury encounters to whet the appetite

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United's goalkeeper, Harry Gregg, looks on as Duncan Edwards clears the ball at Highbury in 1958 Popperfoto

1 FEBRUARY, 1958

Arsenal 4 Manchester United 5

THIS LEAGUE match has a poignancy because it was the last the Busby Babes played in England before eight of them perished in the Munich air disaster. Yet even if they had returned safely from Belgrade the game would still have lingered long in the memory. United led 3-0, a goal by Duncan Edwards leading the storm. With Red Star four days away, however, the inclination was to relax and Arsenal swept back to 3-3. Again United increased the pressure, mostly through Albert Scanlon's fierce left-sided running, to lead 5-3 before the home side narrowed the gap again. It was a performance any artist would have been proud of and a fitting memorial for the Babes. Arsenal, who were defeated 19 times that season, finished in midtable.

Attendance: 63,578

22 AUGUST, 1970

Arsenal 4 Manchester United 0

Arsenal had given no real hint of greatness the previous season, finishing 12th, and this was the first suggestion of the form that would bring them the Double nine months later. A visiting team that included Law, Best and Charlton were ripped apart by Arsenal for whom John Radford scored a hat-trick and George Graham, a future United captain, got another goal. The fact that a former Gunner, Ian Ure, was a hapless victim of the rout was not lost on Highbury. On December 29, with United fifth from bottom, Wilf McGuinness was dismissed manager after 18 months in charge while Arsenal would defeat Tottenham at White Hart Lane on a glorious May evening to win the title for the first time in 18 years.

Attendance: 54,117

A mass brawl had broken out at Old Trafford a month earlier, causing Arsenal to be deducted two points and United one, but on this occasion, in the fourth round of the Rumbelows Cup, football had enough punch on its own. Lee Sharpe, in arguably his finest performance for United, scored a hat-trick although the game swayed far more than the scoreline would suggest. Arsenal, 3-0 down at half-time, pulled it back to 3-2 with goals from Alan Smith until the visitors took off again. United lost in the Rumbelows final to Nottingham Forest but gained ample compensation by winning the European Cup-Winners' Cup while Arsenal, despite the points penalty, won their second championship in three years.

Attendance: 40,884

28 NOVEMBER, 1990

Arsenal 2 Manchester United 6

Arsenal's David Platt heads home the winner that broke Manchester United's hearts in 1997 Allsport

9 NOVEMBER, 1997

Arsenal 3 Manchester United 2

The first season after Eric Cantona's retirement, United nevertheless were attempting to win a hat-trick of titles while Arsenal appeared to be in a state of transition as Arsene Wenger's buys bedded in. The first half hour reflected their differing status as United played superbly. The scoreline showed something else as wonderful strikes from a youngster called Nicolas Anelka and Patrick Vieira put Arsenal two ahead. Teddy Sheringham drew things level by the interval only for David Platt to seal a breathless match with a header. Sheringham and United declined, Arsenal got stronger and stronger, completing their second Double nine months later. Some transition.

Attendance: 38,205

By Guy Hodgson