There weren’t many teams that Ruud van Nistelrooy struggled against in his illustrious playing career.
The Dutchman was a top striker for Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Netherlands, but Arsenal were his bogey team.
And the Dutchman is back to face one of his old foes as PSV Eindhoven’s manager.
PSV play Arsenal in the Europa League tonight, and Van Nistelrooy will be looking to get a win against the Gunners.
As a player, Van Nistelrooy made 12 appearances against Arsenal – all for Manchester United.
In those games, he won four times, drew four and lost the other four, while he only scored twice and missed a penalty!
But he is also hated by Arsenal fans.
This hatred all stems from an infamous game during the 2003/04 ‘Invincibles’ season. The match ended 0-0, but it wasn’t short on controversy.
Patrick Vieira had already been booked when he kicked out at Van Nistelrooy, but the Frenchman was nowhere near making contact.
Van Nistelrooy leapt back and acted as if he had been hit and Vieira was dismissed.
The villain of the day was then handed the chance to snatch three points from the penalty spot.
He saw his effort clatter off the post, which provoked Martin Keown to run up and smack the forward’s head in a now infamous image.
The Dutchman was then pounced on by a host of other angry Arsenal players, and from that moment on, the Gunners faithful haven’t been the biggest fans of him.
In his pre-match press conference, he spoke about the reception he might get tonight and jokingly suggested he should be praised for helping Arsenal win the Premier League during the 2003/04 season.
He said: “The pressure was there. Both teams were competing for the Premier League, and it’s possible (the title) would have been decided over the course of those games.
“The penalty miss is why I expect a warm welcome tomorrow. I kept them invincible because of my miss.”
Ruud van Nistelrooy’s stats against Arsenal
Premier League appearances: Nine
Premier League goals: Two
FA Cup appearances: Two
FA Cup goals: None
Community Shield appearances: One
Community Shield goals: None
After that match, Van Nistelrooy never lost to the Gunners again in the Premier League.
However, he only got one more goal against them in a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford in 2004.
But there was more pain for Van Nistelrooy in the FA Cup against the Gunners before he departed Manchester for Real Madrid.
In 2005, United and Arsenal faced each other in the final.
The match ended 0-0 and was settled on penalties, but Van Nistelrooy had a few efforts at goal, including a header that Freddie Ljungberg cleared off the line.
He scored his penalty in the shootout, but Paul Scholes missed for the Red Devils as Arsenal beat their great rivals once again.
Van Nistelrooy has endured a tough time against Arsenal but will hope he can wind the Gunners crowd up once more and claim a win at the PSV helm.
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