From the vault

From the vault: Five fine wins over Sheffield Utd

William Gallas scores against Sheffield United in 2006

We host Sheffield United on Saturday for what will be their first trip to N5 in three years, rekindling memories of some famous encounters with us in north London.

Matches involving us and the Blades have seen pretty much everything including wondergoals, controversy and big scorelines, and we’ve dug out five of the best to get you all nostalgic heading into this weekend’s latest instalment.

September 21, 1991
Arsenal 5-2 Sheffield United

George Graham’s reigning champions had started the new season slowly, winning just three of their opening eight league games but exploded into life when the Blades came to town by scoring four times in the opening half. Alan Smith prodded home from close range on 12 minutes before Lee Dixon tucked home a penalty four minutes later.

Perry Groves then drove home a vicious half-volley before teeing up David Rocastle to wrap up the points before the interval, and despite Tony Agana pulling one back, Kevin Campbell restored the four-goal cushion again before Clive Mendonca added the seventh goal of an extraordinary afternoon.

February 13, 1999
Arsenal 2-1 Sheffield United

One of the most infamous FA Cup ties in the competition’s illustrious history started according to script when Patrick Vieira flicked home a Dennis Bergkamp delivery to put us ahead, but soon after the break Marcelo equalised for the Division One side. 

With 14 minutes to go, Ray Parlour sportingly threw the ball back to the United defence after a player needed treatment, but some miscommunication led Nwankwo Kanu to race in and slide the ball across for Marc Overmars to score the winner. Plenty of protests ensued, leading Arsene Wenger to magnanimously offer to replay the game 10 days later, which we would win by the same scoreline to reach the quarter-finals.

September 23, 2006
Arsenal 3-0 Sheffield United

Having been held to 1-1 draws by Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, we finally managed to record our first Premier League win at Emirates Stadium at the third attempt via this victory over the Blades, although it took us 65 minutes to find the breakthrough when William Gallas netted his first Gunners goal following his move from Chelsea weeks earlier.

Four minutes later, United skipper Phil Jagielka diverted a Thierry Henry cross into his own goal to put us in command, and it was left to our captain Henry to wrap up proceedings by heading in a third with 10 minutes to go, as we took our first steps towards making our new stadium feel like home.

September 23, 2008
Arsenal 6-0 Sheffield United

Exactly two years later, we doubled that scoreline in this League Cup encounter, as Wenger’s young guns put the Blades to the sword. The average age of our starting line-up was just 19, but they breezed past their more experienced opponents thanks to Nicklas Bendtner netting twice in the first half.

Carlos Vela then took the game by storm, curling home a wonderful third goal before producing an impudent chip over Paddy Kenny for the highlight of the night. 16-year-old Jack Wilshere then drilled home his first goal for the club, before Vela completed his hat-trick after being picked out by Aaron Ramsey to give the home crowd an exciting glimpse at what the future might hold.

October 4, 2020
Arsenal 2-1 Sheffield United

Our last meeting with United came early on in the lockdown season of 2020/21, as we recorded our third win from four at the start of the campaign. We had to be patient to do so, with Aaron Ramsdale impressing in the visitors’ goal by saving well twice from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to keep us at bay.

However on the hour mark Bukayo Saka headed in a Hector Bellerin cross to open his account for the campaign, while the Spaniard was again involved four minutes later by playing a neat one-two with Nicolas Pepe to double the advantage three minutes later. David McGoldrick scrambled one back with six minutes remaining, but Mikel Arteta’s team held on to continue their good start.

Watch more classic encounters with the Blades, including that famous replay in 1999 and a 4-1 thrashing in 1990, in our retro playlist.

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