Top 5 Arsenal Players to Come of Age Against Man U

You could be forgiven for lapsing into a stupor as you watched Arsenal toothlessly trot around the pitch against Man U on Monday, but if you were a lucky enough not to become fully catatonic you probably managed to hearken back to the days of yore when Arsenal matched United tackle-for-tackle and usually with a goal or two more.

We know we did. Here then is a salute to those warriors who, when dropped into the snarling Arsenal - Man U rivalry, didn't whimper and whine about the competition. Rather, they hit the ground running and wholeheartedly engrafted through any means into one of England's nastiest rivalries. We present to you then our Top 5 Arsenal Players Who Came of Age Against Man U.

5. Cesc Fabregas
Young as he still may be, Cesc was bled into the rivalry when it was still at its most bitter stage, having witnessed the unbeaten run come to a controversial end at Old Trafford in 2004, an infamous affair he allegedly contributed to in no small way by tagging Sir Alex in the face with a slice of pizza. Instant legend. If that wasn't enough, he's been one of the few to defiantly combat Man U's thuggery in recent years, including memorably hauling them back to a draw in 2007. Nevermind his unrivaled playmaking ability, if we could clone him for his fighting spirit alone perhaps we'd be turning better results against the Mancs.

4. Samir Nasri 

Nasri may have scored on his debut but it wasn't until United came to the Emirates in 2008 that his potential was truly made manifest as he banged in the opener and then what would ultimately be the game winner. He certainly hasn't looked back from there...

3. Marc Overmars 

"Meep Meep" was beginning to prove himself as a reliable goal scorer throughout the 97/98 season, but his winner at Old Trafford in the title run-in of '98 established him as a scorer of truly crucial goals, a characteristic he then cemented by scoring the opener against Newcastle in the 1998 FA Cup Final. The little Dutchman continued to torment Man U throughout the rest of his relatively short stay at Highbury and wasn't ever adequately replaced until the arrival of a certain Robert Pires... 

2. Patrick Vieira 

Seriously, would Paddy Vieira have been half the man he was for Arsenal if it wasn't for Roy Keane and Man United? He placed his stamp of authority on Arsenal's midfield by scoring a stunner against the Mancs at Highbury in '97 and then continued to leave his stamp quite literally on Roy Keane and the rest of the United team for years to come. If the Arsenal - Man U rivalry could be described as a fist fight then Vieira would be the sickening, breath-sapping blow to the stomach that knocked the bravado right out of the United team each time they took the field against Arsenal. You know Gary Neville still pees his pants when he so much as glimpses the towering Frenchman on TV. 

1. Freddie Ljungberg 

The man known for the red-skunk stripe through his hair signaled his intent with style on his debut against Man U by lobbing Peter Schmeichel, and continued to lead the fight against the Mancs throughout the rest of his Arsenal career. There's no denying he specialized in scoring goals against Man U, a feat only rivaled by one Thierry Henry...