For the latest from the pitch sign up for our football newsletter
We have more newsletters
Arsenal icon Martin Keown has no regrets about getting up close and personal with Ruud Van Nistelrooy in the 2003 'Battle of Old Trafford' after the Manchester United striker's glaring penalty miss.
The pair's rivalry had been brewing since May 2002 when Keown claims Van Nistelrooy stamped on his foot as Arsenal lifted the title at Old Trafford – causing the defender to miss the rest of the season. And Keown insists the Dutch attacker was upto to his old tricks again when the two sides met in December that year – prompting the Gunners star to lash out by swinging his elbow into Van Nistelrooy who fell the ground.
Van Nistelrooy's theatrics led to Keown receiving a fine from the FA. And the bickering pair clashed again in February 2003 when the ex-PSV forward crashed into the former England star – sparking a melee between the sides.
READ MORE: Fans cannot get over Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny's Fantasy Football FPL team name
And Van Nistelrooy, who now manages PSV Eindhoven, caused Arsenal problems once again in December 2003, when Keown feels he made a meal of a challenge from Patrick Vieira – leading to the midfielder's dismissal. But it was Keown's actions later on in the match that caused tensions to spill over in United's backyard.
Do you think Keown was in the wrong for his actions in the Battle of Old Trafford? Let us know in the comments below
The Red Devils were awarded a last minute penalty when Keown fouled Diego Forlan.
And when Van Nistelrooy's penalty effort smacked the crossbar – the Arsenal legend couldn't contain his emotions and goaded his bitter foe by snarling in his face.
Ugly scenes ensued following Keown's passionate reaction that saw his team-mate Lauren grab Phil Neville by the neck and push Van Nistelrooy. The mass brawl resulted in a £175,000 fine for the Gunners from the FA , and a number of individual fines for the culprits.
Lauren was hit the hardest with a £40,000 fine and a four game ban, while Keown's actions earned him a £20,00 fine and a three match ban. However, despite the ban and hefty fine, Keown wouldn't change a thing about the incident that took place 20 years ago, as he feels Van Nistelrooy got his just desserts.
Keown explained in his Daily Mail column: "I felt like justice had been served and so did my team-mates. Looking back, perhaps we could have toned down our reaction. But it happened in the heat of the moment and I don’t regret anything I did."
But the Gunners went on an unbeaten run for the rest of the season despite their suspensions, which Keown feels showed their resilience. And he even tried to patch things up with Van Nistelrooy in 2004 by attempting to shake his hand when Arsenal faced United in the FA Cup semi-final.
And although Keown's happy with the outcome of the 'Battle of Old Trafford', he bears no ill will to Van Nistelrooy. But he is keen to see how Van Nilsterooy's PSV side fares against Premier League leaders Arsenal on Thursday evening in the Europa League.
He added: "certainly don’t hold any malice towards Van Nistelrooy today. What happened, happened, and I’m looking forward to seeing how his PSV side try to stop Mikel Arteta’s high flyers from securing another win this evening!"
'Beast' Arsenal striker could neck 10 super-strength ciders and stay 'normal' on nights out
Drake wins over £11million on latest bet while wearing Thierry Henry Arsenal shirt
Arsenal youth ‘weren’t allowed to tackle’ Invincibles who ‘never went out on nights out’
- Manchester United FC
- Arsenal FC
Source: Read Full Article