Roy Keane's blunt response to Arsenal thinking Gary Neville is an easy target

Manchester United’s rivalry with Arsenal has tamed in recent years.

But there was a time when the fixture was one of the most physical in the English game, and in 2005 tempers flared before the players were even on the pitch.

Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane had to be pulled apart in the Highbury tunnel after an argument broke out, with referee Graham Poll among those calming the feuding captains.

The Premier League clash that followed proved to be a feisty affair with six bookings and a red card being dished out over the course of the 90 minutes.

Manchester United eventually came away with all three points from a 4-2 win, with Keane putting in a man of the match performance for United.

Roy Keane was interviewed after Man United's win over Arsenal
Roy Keane was interviewed after Man United’s win over Arsenal

After the match the Irishman was selected for interview by Sky Sports, and opened up on his pre-game spat with Vieira, in which he claimed the Arsenal midfielder was picking on his Manchester United team-mate, Neville.

Keane told Sky Sports: “I don’t want to get into too much detail but Patrick Vieira is six foot four and he starts having a go at Gary Neville.

“I said, ‘Come and have a go at me’, it’s as simple as that.

“If players want to intimidate some of my team-mates then let’s have a go at some of the other players. They think Gary Neville is an easy target, well I’m not having it.”

Referee Graham Poll speaks to Patrick Vieira in the tunnel
Referee Graham Poll speaks to Patrick Vieira in the tunnel

On the match itself, he added: “It was a tough game, especially when we went down to 10 men. I thought we played some decent stuff.

“The first half we were very poor, but we knew that if we improved our performance we’d get chances and hopefully score goals like we did in the second half.”


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