Arsenal vs Manchester United Head to Head


Teams: Arsenal, Manchester United

First meeting: 13 October 1894, Football League Second Division, Newton Heath 3–3 Woolwich Arsenal

Stadiums: Emirates Stadium (Arsenal), Old Trafford (Manchester United)

Total matches: 239

Manchester United wins: 99 goals

Arsenal wins: 87

Drawn: 53

Most player appearances: Ryan Giggs, 50 matches

Top scorer: Wayne Rooney, 12 goals


The rivalry between two of the most popular football clubs in the world, Arsenal and Manchester United is one of the most iconic rivalries in English football. It’s a rivalry that has evolved over time, marked by intense battles, dramatic moments, and contrasting managerial personalities.

Today, we’ll delve into the rich history of this rivalry, tracing its roots back to the late 1990s and examining its development over the years.

Arsenal vs Manchester Rivalry History

Two of the most popular Premier League football clubs in the world, Arsenal and Manchester United first crossed paths in a competitive match in October 1894. However, the true intensity of this rivalry didn’t take shape until decades later. It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that this clash of giants began to capture the imagination of football fans worldwide. During this period, both teams were frequent contenders for the Premier League title and the FA Cup.

One of the key elements that contributed to the rivalry’s intensity was the enmity between the two managers: Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger, who held the reins from 1996 to 2018, and Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson, in charge from 1986 to 2013. This clash of managerial titans added another layer of drama to their encounters. The rivalry also extended to the club captains, with Patrick Vieira leading Arsenal and Roy Keane at the helm for Manchester United.

On-Field Drama

Matches between Arsenal and Manchester United often featured on-field incidents and heated confrontations. Notably, between February 1997 and February 2005, seven red cards were shown in their encounters.

One memorable fixture, known as the “Battle of Old Trafford,” occurred in September 2003. Arsenal players believed that Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy had cheated to get Vieira sent off, leading to a post-match melee. The following season, Manchester United ended Arsenal’s unbeaten run in controversial circumstances, resulting in another heated altercation, this time in the tunnel.

Trophies and Records

In terms of trophies won, one of the richest football clubs in the world, Manchester United leads the way with 67 honors, compared to Arsenal’s 48. However, the head-to-head statistics between the two clubs are closely contested and reflect the competitive nature of their rivalry.

As of January 22, 2023, the two clubs have faced each other 239 times in total. Manchester United has secured victory in 99 of those matches, while Arsenal has won 87 times. Additionally, 53 matches have ended in draws. In terms of goals, Arsenal has scored 340, while Manchester United has netted 363 times.

Arsenal vs Manchester Notable Encounters

Throughout the history of this rivalry, there have been several iconic and memorable encounters. One such match occurred on February 1, 1958, when the teams met just days before the tragic Munich air disaster, which claimed the lives of eight Manchester United players. United managed to win that match 5–4, and remarkably, five of the players who later perished in the crash were on the field that day.

Another historic clash unfolded in the final of the FA Cup on May 12, 1979. Arsenal initially led 2–0, but Manchester United mounted a dramatic comeback to level the score. However, in the 89th minute, Arsenal’s Alan Sunderland scored the winning goal, securing the cup for Arsenal in a thrilling encounter.

The Wenger-Ferguson Era

The rivalry intensified significantly when Arsène Wenger took the helm at Arsenal in October 1996. Wenger’s arrival marked a shift in the balance of power, and the first meeting between Wenger’s Arsenal and Ferguson’s Manchester United took place on November 16, 1996. Arsenal’s unbeaten run came to an end in 2003-04, underlining the fierce competition between the two sides.

The 2003-04 season was particularly contentious, with both clubs battling for supremacy. Arsenal’s triumph in the league marked the end of Manchester United’s domestic dominance and the beginning of a new era.

Cooling of the Rivalry

By 2008, former Arsenal player Lee Dixon noted that the rivalry had diminished, and Sir Alex Ferguson also acknowledged that the “heated” exchanges of the past had subsided. Other factors contributing to the rivalry’s decline in the 2010s included the rise of other clubs, including local rivals such as Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester City.


The Arsenal vs. Manchester United rivalry is a storied and intense one that has seen numerous iconic moments and thrilling encounters. While its intensity may have waned in recent years, the history and legacy of this rivalry continue to captivate football fans around the world. As both clubs look to the future, the prospect of renewed clashes and memorable moments is always on the horizon.


When did Arsenal and Manchester United first meet in a competitive match, and what was the result?

Arsenal and Manchester United first met on October 13, 1894, in a Football League Second Division match, which ended in a 3-3 draw.

When did the intense rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United begin to take shape?

The rivalry began to intensify in the late 1990s and early 2000s when both teams were competing frequently for the Premier League and FA Cup titles.

Who were the key managers and club captains during the peak of this rivalry?

The rivalry was marked by the enmity between managers Arsène Wenger (Arsenal) and Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United). Club captains during this period were Patrick Vieira for Arsenal and Roy Keane for Manchester United.

Were there any notable on-field incidents in matches between Arsenal and Manchester United?

Matches often featured heated confrontations, with seven red cards shown between February 1997 and February 2005. The “Battle of Old Trafford” in 2003 and a tunnel altercation the following season are memorable incidents.

How do the trophy records and head-to-head statistics between Arsenal and Manchester United compare?

Manchester United leads in trophies with 67 honors to Arsenal’s 48. However, head-to-head statistics are closely contested. As of January 2023, they’ve played 239 times, with Manchester United winning 99, Arsenal 87, and 53 draws. In goals, Arsenal scored 340, and Manchester United netted 363.

Can you share some notable encounters in the history of this rivalry?

One historic match occurred just days before the Munich air disaster in 1958, which Manchester United won 5-4. In the 1979 FA Cup final, Arsenal initially led 2-0, but Manchester United made a dramatic comeback. Arsenal’s Alan Sunderland scored the winning goal in the 89th minute.

How did the rivalry intensify during the Wenger-Ferguson era?

The rivalry intensified significantly when Arsène Wenger took charge at Arsenal in 1996. The 2003-04 season was particularly contentious, marking the end of Manchester United’s domestic dominance.