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Manchester United Vs Arsenal Game So Violent Both Were Docked Points

Manchester United Vs Arsenal Game So Violent Both Were Docked Points

Thirty years ago, Man United vs Arsenal descended into a 21-player fight so violent both sides were docked points.

If you thought Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira, 'Pizzagate' or the 2003 'Battle of Old Trafford' that saw Martin Keown gurning at Ruud van Nistelrooy was intense: look away now.

Alex Ferguson's team hosted Arsenal in October 1990 and in the second half, it stopped being a football match and became a Battle Royal. As Denis Irwin scrapped with Anders Limpar for the ball, Arsenal's Nigel Winterburn flew in with a reckless lunge. So naturally Irwin and Brian McClair began laying in kicks to Winterburn on the deck.

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Chaos followed. David Rocastle had his hands on McClair's throat, Paul Ince shoved Limpar over an advertising hoarding - it was so bad that Arsenal hard man Tony Adams actually tried to act as peacemaker by pulling players apart. It didn't work.

Fergie and Arsenal boss George Graham were up and onto the pitch, while David Seaman was the only player of the 22 not involved (probably daydreaming about what he'd look like with a ponytail).

Referee Keith Hackett had no chance of controlling it and booked two Arsenal players, Winterburn and Limpar, as a token gesture.

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The real punishment came post-match as the FA charged both sides with "misconduct and with bringing the game into disrepute." Each club was fined £50,000 but the big blow was the unprecedented step of a league points deduction.

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Man United were handed a -1 point penalty, Arsenal suffered a -2 deduction. The punishment for the north Londoners was greater as Arsenal had been involved in a similar incident against Norwich City a season before.

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It remains the only time in English top-flight history that teams have been docked points due to player misconduct.

The result on the day was a 1-0 win for Arsenal, Limpar having squeezed a shot over the line before half-time. The two-point deduction also didn't harm the Gunners too badly: Arsenal won the 1990/91 league title by seven points anyway, suffering only one defeat all season (United finished sixth).

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The incident was, however, the spark for a fierce rivalry between United and Arsenal which carried on into the Premier League era. It just never quite got this physically violent again.

As McClair, now director of United's youth academy, said afterwards: "I couldn't believe what I'd just done. The worst thing of all was watching myself on television behaving very badly."

Well said, Brian. But men behaving very badly does still make for amazing viewing 30 years on.

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All Imagery: PA Images/YouTube

Topics: Football News, Football, Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, Man utd, Paul Ince, Premier League, Arsenal, Tony Adams

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Alex Reid

Alex Reid is a writer at SPORTbible who’s previously strung words together for FourFourTwo, Boxing News, The Guardian and, yes, Cruise International (it’s about big ships, not Tom). Interests range from football and boxing to real sports like WWE and darts. He is not a cage fighter.