Have Sheffield United Defeated Arsenal in the Premier League.
It came in their final meeting at Bramall Lane in December 2006. It was a memorable night for two heroes, Since Greg Whelan has been finding out before their reunion on Monday Night Football.??
“I always fancied getting something contrary to Arsenal with Arsene,” Neil Warnock, Sheffield United’s then manager, reflects with a grin. “I always used to speak about’the southern softies’ and things like that to the group and it had been one of those nights where everything was at their faces and people were really on a top. The crowd was amazing.”
The Blades were back from the Premier League for the first time in 12 decades if Arsenal came to Bramall Lane to a wet and blustery evening a few days after Christmas at 2006 and scrapping for survival.
“The reason that most people wanted to get within that division was supposed to play against these teams,” states Phil Jagielka, a young central defender in his first spell with the team. “When we wanted to select a time old to play Arsenal in Bramall Lane this could probably have been it. It was 11 against 11 and it was to attempt to go out there and do something unique.”
Aged 35, French striker Christian Nade is scoring targets for Annan Athletic at Scotland’s League 2 – his 13th club at a career spent north of the boundary.
He arrived as a 21-year-old in 2006 in the UK, linking Sheffield United out of Troyes. The game against Arsenal would be only his third start from the Premier League.
“I was very scared, very scared,” he says. “But I understood that I had nothing to lose and that I have to just go out on the pitch and enjoy it. The manager told me:’ChristianI do not expect you to perform 90 minutes but as soon as you have got the ball attempt to make something magical’.
“We weren’t pulling up any trees at the time, and so I thought it was not a gamble really I thought let’s give him an effort,” Warnock says. “He could not play 90 minutes but you knew that he had an explosive turn. He had pace and power.”
Shortly before half-time, the Frenchman supplied a perfect illustration of what he could lead. Taking a pass by Alan Quinn, he turned before bearing down on purpose, Arsenal defender Kolo Toure.
Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was caught out of place in the race to the ball, letting Nade to slip it past him for the only aim of the game. It’s a proud and important moment in his career.
“If I was young Arsenal scouted me several times but nothing happened because they believed I wouldn’t have the ability to complete a game,” he states. “My fitness was quite low so there was no chance they’d offer me a contract. When I played against them it was revenge for me.”
Fifteen minutes into the second half pulled when shooting couldn’t continue and a goal kick. In target, Jagielka went with no substitute goalkeeper on the seat of United.
“I never bothered using a sub goalkeeper, I thought that an extra striker was important,” Warnock says. “When we used to practice Jagielka place his gloves on and he was not bad at all so I thought:’Why be worried about a sub horn?”’ .”
To get Jagielka it was not anything new. He’d had prior knowledge in a few of Championship games.
“I had been comfortable being between the rods,” he says. “But when you’re stuck between the rods in front of 30,000 against Arsenal with a 1-0 lead to safeguard it was a bit more nerve wracking than it had been on the training ground.”
Helped with a heroic rear guard action in front of him in the players , Jagielka kept a clean sheet. He had one key save to create, tipping a Robin van Persie effort on the bar.
“I’ll always have the credit since I am the one dressed in gray as opposed to red and white but the boys ahead of me really did a wonderful job,” he says. “it is a really content memory. It would have been nice if it was sufficient to keep up us that year but it did not work out the way”
The win against Arsenal was the highlight of a year which could be dogged by controversy. The recruiting of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano of west Ham had broken Premier League rules about the third party possession of players. United’s forecasts for West Ham – who were rivals in the struggle – to get points came into nothing.
“That will live with me . When I’m sat with my fishing pole I’ll still be thinking about that,” Warnock admits. “If we had stayed up and a big club like West Ham could have found out something like I think it would have been the opposite. I think it would have been points deducted.”
In the end, the success bid of Sheffield United came back to the final match of the year. A draw against Wigan at Bramall Lane would have been sufficient to keep them at the Premier League. With the game all square at 1-1, Jagielka handled the ball. In the spot, David Unsworth – who had begun this season as a Blades player – secured his former club fate.
“The two worst days in my Sheffield United profession was that day and the 2003 play-off closing,” Jagielka says. “It makes me want to return here and be sure we have not got the exact feelings in the conclusion of this year.”
Sheffield United treasure the memories of this previous time. This time they hope their season will have a happier end.
Kick-off 8pm lives on Sky Sports Premier League on Monday Night Football from 7pm;.
Sky Sports clients can observe clips from the live match site on program and the Sky Sports website. Highlights are also published on the Sky Sports digital programs along with the Sky Sports Football YouTube station shortly.
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