It’s that time again for us to take another trip down memory lane, and ironically enough, Arsenal will be playing the very same team today that they did nine years ago on this day. We are, of course, referring to Manchester United, but back in 2009 it wasn’t your run of the mill Premier League clash between the two giants of English football – it was a UEFA Champions League semi-final.
By the end of the season, The Red Devils had won the PL once again whereas the Gunners finished in 4th, but regardless of that, all eyes were always going to be on this two-legged tie to determine who would play Barcelona in Rome.
Unsurprisingly Sir Alex Ferguson’s men came into the tie as the overwhelming favourites, which makes sense, given that they were on an absolute tear throughout the season which saw them register a whopping 90 points in the Premier League. Still, you can never be all too certain as to how a two-legged encounter is going to go, and you could feel the nerves building up on both sides at Old Trafford.
United were attempting to defend their European crown having won it a year earlier, meanwhile, Arsenal were attempting to erase the disappointment of losing to Barcelona in Paris just three years prior. The chance at revenge was all too appealing for Gunners supporters, but within 20 minutes, their hopes were dampened by the most unlikely of goalscorers.
Arsenal failed to clear a fairly simple corner which allowed John O’Shea of all people to pop up and prod the hosts into the lead. From that point on it was clear to see that Fergie was going to mastermind another fantastic tactical display against Arsene Wenger’s side, as Arsenal just weren’t able to enforce their usual free-flowing football that their fans had come to love.
Instead, United pushed them back at will and looked as if they could’ve added to their total on several different occasions. It was one-sided, it was dominant, and it was a little bit embarrassing for Arsenal given just how much hype had gone into the first leg.
It wasn’t the end of the world as they still had the second leg to contend with at the Emirates, but as we all now know, that didn’t exactly go much better.
What are your favourite memories from the 2008/09 season?