Football

‘They had everything’: Ryan Giggs names the toughest opponents he faced at Manchester United


Manchester United and Arsenal shared the title between 1996 and 2004 (Picture: Getty)

Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs says the Arsenal side of the late 1990s is the toughest team he faced during his career.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won back-to-back Premier League titles in the early 90s before Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United fleetingly threatened their superiority.

But it was the arrival of Arsene Wenger in 1996 that gave the Premier League its most iconic rivalry as Ferguson found his match in the Frenchman.

Wenger inherited Arsenal’s famous back five but added astute signings in midfield and flair up front to make Arsenal a more rounded side.

Arsenal and United battled it out for eight years (Picture: Allsport)

The Gunners won the title by a point in 1998 before United did the same in 1999 and though it was Ferguson’s side that won the Treble, Arsenal could have easily done the Double Double such was the fine margins between the teams.

Giggs, of course, played on for a further 15 years after the Treble and battled off the likes of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City but he says Wenger’s first great Arsenal side was his toughest opponents.

‘They [Arsenal 98/99] had such an experienced team,’ Giggs told Sky Sports.

‘Obviously at the back the famous back five but in front of them had a bit of everything.

‘They had power, they had pace, imagination with Dennis Bergkamp, goals and penetration with Nicolas Anelka.

‘I agree with you [Gary Neville] they were the toughest team to play against.

‘I mean Jose’s Chelsea team were tough in a different way they were pragmatic and tough to break down but Arsenal could do everything.

‘They were similar to ourselves they could build up, could counter attack, they were similar, right through the spine they were so strong right from the goalkeeper through to Bergkamp and Anelka.’

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