When Patrick Vieira walks out of the tunnel at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, it will bring back plenty of memories for the Arsenal legend.
As a player he enjoyed and endured plenty of huge matches against Manchester United, with goals, red cards and plenty of angry exchanges.
Now, he will be wearing a suit rather than his kit, and walking to the away dugout as a manager rather than a fiery midfield general.
Here, Sportsmail takes a look back at his previous flashpoints against Manchester United – and why he’d dearly love to spoil Ralf Rangnick’s first game…
Patrick Vieira is now Crystal Palace manager and preparing to return to Old Trafford
Vieira made his name fighting against United – and old rival Roy Keane in particular
The long-range screamer
The date is November 8, 1997, and Arsenal are second in the Premier League table, behind only Manchester United. The Red Devils travelled to Highbury knowing they could extend their lead at the top to a huge seven points – almost unheard of at that stage of the season.
The task for Arsenal? Hunt them down. With a win, the gap would be reduced to just a single point, but it would take a very special performance from Arsene Wenger’s side.
It started well with Nicolas Anelka putting the home side ahead, before Vieira produced a moment of magic from just outside the area. A Ray Parlour corner was headed away to the edge of the box, not at all at Vieira’s feet, but the Frenchman proceeded to get round the ball before unleashing a stunning effort, which flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
Cue pandemonium in the crowd as the midfielder sprinted away, tongue out, for a knee-slide in front of the dugouts.
A Teddy Sheringham double got United level in the game, but Arsenal secured a late winner courtesy of David Platt… and the Gunners went on to win the Premier League title, a point ahead of their bitter rivals.
In 1997, Vieira unleashed a ferocious strike to put Arsenal 2-0 up against Fergie’s United
Kicking out at Ruud
Six years on, and Vieira was still plying his trade in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield. By this point, he was a two-time Premier League winner, and an experienced pro.
Therefore, what occurred on September 21, 2003 was a huge shock. With the game at Old Trafford entering its latter stages, and the score still goalless, it was a tense affair with both sides desperate to find a winner.
Vieira had the ball at his feet, but snatched at his clearance and gave the ball away, only for it to be fired back in his direction. As he jumped with Ruud van Nistelrooy to try and win the header, the Dutchman landed on the Arsenal man – much to his evident frustration.
A moment of madness in 2003 saw Vieira kick out at Ruud van Nistelrooy at Old Trafford
The ref showed Vieira a second yellow card and his kick-out was called ‘barmy’ by Andy Gray
As he landed on the ground, Vieira – inexplicably – kicked out at the United striker, earning himself a second yellow card and starting a melee on the pitch at Old Trafford.
‘That is absolutely barmy, Patrick’ was the response from co-commentator Andy Gray, standing alongside Martin Tyler in the Sky Sports gantry, but thankfully for Vieira his side did manage to hold on to a 0-0 draw.
That season it was Arsenal again who lifted the trophy, going the entire campaign unbeaten to earn themselves the title of ‘The Invincibles’ – a legendary achievement unlikely to ever be matched.
THAT tunnel bust-up
By February 2005, the rivalry between Arsenal and United was perhaps at its most fierce, and the fiery nature of Vieira and Roy Keane’s relationship was also legendary.
As the two captains of the two biggest teams in the country, there was a lot of pressure on both men, and this time around that spilled over before they even got onto the pitch at Highbury.
For context, the first game between the two sides earlier that season had ended Arsenal’s 49-game run in controversial fashion, and the Gunners were out for revenge a few months later.
The clip has gone down in Premier League history, and begins out of shot at the back of the tunnel. The first thing the viewers see and hear is some shouting and referee Graham Poll racing to the fracas to try and calm it down.
Tempers spilled over in February 2005 before the match even got underway at Highbury
Roy Keane shouted ‘we’ll see you out there’ after Vieira’s tete-a-tete with Gary Neville
Vieira is pulled away by Pascal Cygan, before Keane follows him down to the front of the tunnel a few seconds later, pointing and shouting: ‘We’ll see you out there.’
Poll urges calm between the two sides, repeatedly telling them ‘no more in here’, before eventually they leave and head for the Highbury pitch. After the game, Keane claimed Vieira had started a row with Gary Neville and he was simply standing up for his team-mate.
The trio all appeared on ITV’s Euro 2020 coverage 16 years later, where they were finally asked what really happened… and it ended with Keane calling Vieira a ‘typical Arsenal bully’. So we’ll never really know!
His overall record
VIEIRA VS UNITED
Yellow cards: 7
Red cards: 1
Now that Vieira’s playing career is done and dusted, we are able to look back at his record against Manchester United as a whole – and it doesn’t make for great reading for the Arsenal legend.
With the Gunners, he faced Sir Alex Ferguson’s United 17 times, winning five, drawing five and losing seven.
Later on, at Manchester City, he played them a further time and lost that 1-0, in April 2010.
In the FA Cup, he fared slightly better – recording three wins, one draw and two defeats – the most memorable of which coming in the 2004-05 final that Arsenal won 5-4 on penalties.
Given Arsenal and United were the two biggest sides in the country for near on a decade, there were also some Community Shield battles, with Vieira coming out on top twice, with just the single defeat.
Later in his career, after he had left England, the Frenchman also came up against United in the colours of Inter Milan. In the last 16 of 2008-09, he missed the first leg at the San Siro, and played 45 minutes of a 2-0 defeat in the return game.
Overall, Vieira (left) was beaten 12 times and won 10 against United in his playing career
Vieira (centre) is an Arsenal legend and a three-time Premier League winner with the Gunners
Vieira the manager
Now, a decade on from his final Premier League appearance as a player with Manchester City, Vieira is back in English football, but this time on the other side of the white line.
Now Crystal Palace manager, Vieira will have put a red ring around this fixture when the calendar was released, such is his history with the Old Trafford giants.
Of course, in front of the media this is ‘just another game’ but there will always be an added edge when it comes to Vieira facing off against United.
The crowd won’t have forgotten the many flashpoints from his playing career, so the Frenchman is likely to receive some stick, and he will be desperate to improve his record against the Red Devils.
Palace are currently on a run of back-to-back defeats, and they go into the game looking to spoil new United manager Ralf Rangnick’s first match in charge.
It’s all set up to be a thriller at Old Trafford, with United looking to push back towards the European places and Palace trying to stop them – all with Vieira watching on keenly from the away dugout.
Although now a manager, Vieira clearly still has a fire within him and will be desperate to win
His Palace side are on a run of back-to-back defeats will want to arrest that slump on Sunday