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"Pires you ***** ****" | Robert Pires on how Arsenal's rivalry with Man United spilled over into hatred

Arsenal and Man United had one of the great rivalries in football. Quality football, great managers, success and hatred.


"Pires you ***** ****" | Robert Pires on how Arsenal's rivalry with Man United spilled over into hatred

Arsenal legend Robert Pires joined Ger Gilroy on the latest OTB Sports Cadbury FC Roadshow to look back on his years with the club, Arsene Wenger and the famous rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United. 

It was a rivalry for the ages.

Between 1995 and 2004, only two teams won the Premier League. Between 2001 and 2006, only two teams won the FA Cup. Arsenal and Manchester United.

Both teams had it all. Superstars like Henry, Giggs, Bergkamp and Beckham. Both had the warrior captain in Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira. And both had iconic managers in Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson.

Competing at the highest level for long with the same people, it is no wonder they grew to develop such a rivalry. Familiarity breeds contempt.

At times though, the rivalry spilled over beyond even contempt.

When asked by Ger Gilroy if it was true that these two sides hated each other, Robert Pires gave a telling nod - "Yes, it is true", he responded.

"It was the fight on the field. I think Man United and Arsenal at this time were the best teams in England, but also in Europe."

"The teams were very similar. Ferguson and Wenger, their objective was to build a very good team. It was amazing, when I used to play against Man United in Old Trafford or in Highbury it was an amazing game."

"It was very electric, very sensational. We felt something between Man United and Arsenal - it was very, very good."

How did this hatred manifest itself? Choose your poison.

You have the infamous tunnel incident between Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Gary Neville - which by all accounts, Pires loved.

"The tunnel in Highbury was very tight."

"We said what's happening? Who is shouting? It was the captains Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, the two captains, can you imagine? It was fantastic."

That incident was as we know now, caused by a tiff between Patrick Vieira and Gary Neville which escalated when Roy Keane jumped to the defence of his teammate.

That teammate in question was able to look after himself on the field though, as Pires can vouch for himself.

"For me it was always very difficult to play against Gary Neville."

"He killed me always. He would shout at me, insult me. It was normal. This is a high level, we were fighting for the same thing. Gary Neville was a great defender and for me, it was difficult to play against him."

What kind of insults would Neville launch at Pires? One small example that pretty much sums up the nastiness of the rivalry.

"Pires, you are a ***** ****"

DEBATE: Gilroy vs. Senator’s WC stadium, James Skehill on grief, Man Utd arrogance, Slovakia

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Arsenal Cadbury Fc Gary Neville Man United Rivalry Robert Pires