Game of the Week – Manchester United vs Arsenal

There was a time in the fairly recent past when this fixture was one between fierce and bitter rivals who had little if any love for each other. The animosity when they were undeniably the two top sides in the country fed clashes such as ‘Pizzagate’ in December when United halted the Gunners’ 49-match unbeaten run with a 2-0 victory that degenerated into a cocktail of punch-ups and food fights in the tunnel after the game.

Alas, this week has been marked by Sir Alex Ferguson making a plea for his own fans to call time on an unfortunate and tasteless chant about his opposite number, Arsene Wenger. In a reminder to Old Trafford regulars about the damage done by some lines of ‘terrace wit’, he said, “Manchester United and its supporters should know very well the chants that have been levelled at us over the years – ie songs about Munich [the 1958 air disaster] – and understand the sensitivity that is felt. I don’t agree with it at all. There’s enough to think about and admire in the game without resorting to denigrating people.” Of course Sir Alex would always have kept clear blue water between himself and such slander from supporters, but the fact he is proactively looking to stamp it out indicates how much of the personal venom in this encounter appears to have dissipated. If a game between two top sides can be kept to being a pure football contest then maybe we have something massive to thank Roman Abramovich and Chelsea for.

United’s theme this season has become almost a clich

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