Arsenal legend admits he was to blame for infamous tunnel bust-up with Man Utd

Arsenal and Manchester United’s rivalry was at its peak in the early 2000s, with Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clashing in the tunnel before a Premier League showdown

Arsenal legend Robert Pires has made a surprising claim about the infamous tunnel bust-up against Manchester United in February 2005, admitting that it started because of him.

The incident saw captains Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clashing heads before a high-stakes showdown at Highbury. The pair were seen shouting at each other down the narrow tunnel before stepping onto the pitch for the Premier League clash. with Keane adding: “I’ll see you out there.”

However, Pires, who was in the starting line-up for Arsenal, has now admitted that he may have been the one to ignite the tensions. “Things started to get heated and I think it was because of me actually,” the French winger confessed to The Times back in 2021.

Gary Neville arrived and barged into me. I reacted in French because I was annoyed. It starts kicking off and at that point, Pat arrives. He said to him, ‘You speak too much, you. Shut up.'”

At that moment, Keane arrives. And he goes, ‘You talk too much as well. I’ll see you on the pitch.’ It was dicey between the two of them, tense. That for me was one of the best moments.”

Vieira netted the first goal for Arsenal just eight minutes into the game, only for an own goal by Ashley Cole to level the score for the opposition. Dennis Bergkamp managed to score once more for the Gunners right before half-time, but a double from Cristiano Ronaldo in the second half and a late goal from John O’Shea secured a significant 4-2 victory for the Red Devils.

During this period, United and Arsenal, under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger respectively, were considered the titans of English football. This often resulted in heated encounters between the two teams.

The infamous ‘Battle of the Buffet’ incident, where an unidentified Arsenal player reportedly threw a slice of pizza at Sir Alex, occurred just a few months before the tunnel clash between Keane and Vieira. The rivalry is set to resume on Sunday when the two meet again at Old Trafford in a match that is crucial to Arsenal’s title hopes.

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