The Manchester United vs Arsenal rivalry of the 2000s captivated football fans around the world, and a couple of ex-United stars have now confirmed what many people thought about it.
A new Channel 5 documentary charting the battle between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger sheds a new light on the rivalry between the Red Devils and the Gunners, and features contributions from Paul Scholes and Phil Neville among others.
And – as revealed by our friends at Football.London – Scholes admits that his Manchester United side specifically targeted ‘softer’ Arsenal players whenever the two teams met, especially one of them.
The former United midfielder, who made 718 appearances for the club, enjoyed great success against the Gunners on many occasions during his career – including the winning goal in a FA Cup semi-final, and ending the north London’s 49-match unbeaten run in 2004/05.
Speaking on Fergie vs. Wenger: The Feud , Scholes recalls how Sir Alex Ferguson’s team would often pinpoint the weakest link in their opponents’ line up.
"Win at all costs against anybody, but especially against Arsenal," he said.
"We always felt they had one or two players who were maybe a little bit soft."
Scholes’ former United teammate and current England Women’s national team manager Phil Neville also revealed how the Red Devils would target Spanish winger Jose Antonio Reyes.
"We were ready. In a period of 12 months when they’d got the better of us this was our moment. Sir Alex knew it was our moment.
"He’d placed every little bit of the last two weeks on this particular game. They are not coming to Old Trafford and they are not gonna do us.
"They had a young Spanish winger called Jose Antonio Reyes and we literally kicked him off the park, I think he got subbed off after about 60 minutes.
"Every time he got the ball, Gary [Neville] smashed him. Next time he got the ball I smashed him, next time he got the ball Scholes smashed him, and after a bit I remember looking at him and thinking “what am I doing in English football?”"
The game ended 2-0 to the Red Devils with goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney, but was marred by events at full time.
In the tunnel, tempers boiled over between staff of both clubs with pizza infamously being thrown at United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Fergie vs. Wenger: The Feud airs 10pm Monday 23 April on Channel 5
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