1998 FA Charity Shield
The match programme cover.
|Date||9 August 1998|
|Venue||Wembley Stadium, London|
|Man of the Match||Marc Overmars (Arsenal)|
|Referee||Graham Poll (Hertfordshire)|
22 °C (72 °F)
The 1998 FA Charity Shield was the 76th FA Charity Shield, an annual English football match played between the winners of the previous season's Premier League and FA Cup competitions. It was contested by Arsenal, who won a league and FA Cup double the previous season, and Manchester United, who finished runners-up in the league on 9 August 1998. Watched by a crowd of 67,342 at Wembley Stadium, Arsenal won the match 3–0.
This was Arsenal's 14th Charity Shield appearance and Manchester United's 18th. The match saw United captain Roy Keane start his first competitive game, since damaging his cruciate ligaments 11 months earlier and defender Jaap Stam making his competitive debut for the club. For Arsenal, striker Dennis Bergkamp partnered Nicolas Anelka in the first team, and recently acquired defender Nelson Vivas was named on the substitutes' bench.
Manchester United began the game the better of the two, but conceded 11 minutes before half time through Marc Overmars. Arsenal extended their lead in the second half – good play from Overmars and Anelka found Christopher Wreh to put the ball into an empty net at the second time of asking. In the 72nd minute, Arsenal scored a third goal, when Anelka evaded Stam in the penalty box to shoot past goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
Arsenal's win marked the first time a southern club had won the Shield outright in 36 years. By contrast, it was Manchester United's first Shield defeat in seven matches. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger described the scoreline as "unexpected" and felt the result was a psychological boost for the coming season, whereas Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson admitted his team were beaten by the better side on the day.
The FA Charity Shield was founded in 1908, initially contested between the top professional and amateur teams of each season. In 1921, it was played between the Football League champions and FA Cup winners for the first time; the formation of a new top-tier division, the Premier League in 1992, meant it displaced the Football League spot. Wembley Stadium acted as the host of the Shield.
Arsenal qualified for the 1998 FA Charity Shield as winners of the 1997–98 FA Premier League. Although the team were 12 points behind league leaders Manchester United by the end of February 1998, a winning streak of nine matches ensured Arsenal won the title, culminating with a 4–0 win over Everton on 3 May 1998. Arsenal beat Newcastle United 2–0 in the 1998 FA Cup Final to complete the domestic double. Given they won both honours, the Charity Shield place went to league runners-up Manchester United.
The last meeting between both teams was in the Premier League; a second-half goal scored by Marc Overmars gave Arsenal a 1–0 win at Old Trafford on 14 March 1998. Arsenal were the only team in the league to have beaten United home and away in 1997–98, with the corresponding fixture, at home, ending 3–2 in their favour. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger acknowledged the Shield game was the "only opportunity to play our first-team men together against top-class opposition" before their league campaign commenced the following week. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was preoccupied with the club's UEFA Champions League two-legged tie against ŁKS Łódź, with the first game in midweek. He nevertheless relished the match, as it would get "players' sharpness up and provide plenty of benefit for the two important games to come in the next six days".
Manchester United winger Jesper Blomqvist was ruled out of the match with an ankle injury, but Roy Keane was declared fit to start his first competitive match since damaging his ligaments against Leeds United in September 1997. Defender Jaap Stam, who signed for United in May 1998 made his competitive debut for the club, partnering centre back Ronny Johnsen. For Arsenal, new signing Nelson Vivas began the match on the substitutes bench, in spite of being expected to make his full debut. Dennis Bergkamp partnered Nicolas Anelka upfront.
Manchester United began brightly in front of a crowd of 67,342, with their midfield coping well against Arsenal's pair Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit, who both took longer to get into the match, having partaked in France's successful World Cup campaign. United fashioned their first chance through David Beckham, who throughout the match was subjected to "moronic booing" – many fans blamed him for England's elimination from the 1998 World Cup.[a] His crossfield pass met Ryan Giggs, who failed to control the ball, but clipped into Paul Scholes, whose attempt forced David Seaman to clear. In spite of United's promising start, it was Arsenal who scored the opening goal. Vieira chipped the ball over the United defence, which met Bergkamp. The striker ran and backheeled the ball to Anelka, who then blocked Johnsen's attempt to clear. The ball broke to Overmars – from inside the penalty area, he flicked the ball first time past Schmeichel. A shot by Keane from "25 yards" prompted a save from Seaman, three minutes before the break.
Arsenal "regained control" in the second half, with right-sided players Lee Dixon and Ray Parlour threatening to score. In the 57th minute, Arsenal increased their lead. From the left wing, Overmars used his pace to get the better of Gary Neville and passed the ball to Anelka, which drew in Stam. Anelka in turn transferred it to Wreh, whose shot was saved once by Schmeichel, but not on the rebound. In spite of the setback, United continued to pressure Arsenal; defender Martin Keown nearly turned the ball into his own net from Giggs' corner that was flicked on by Johnsen. Both clubs made mass substitutions in the final third of the game, notably Teddy Sheringham and Luís Boa Morte coming on for Andy Cole – who "hardly mustered a shot" and Petit respectively. Sheringham wasted United's best chance to score before Arsenal scored a third – Parlour's pass found Anelka, who evaded Stam and shot left-footed past Schmeichel, at the goalkeeper's near post.
9 August 1998
|Shots on target||7||2|
|Shots off target||1||3|
The result was the first time a southern club[b] had won the Shield outright since Tottenham Hotspur in 1962 and was Manchester United's first defeat in seven Shield matches. Wenger described the scoreline as "unexpected" and cited the first goal as "crucial" in the match, given the weather conditions. He was content with how his international players, who had been in the World Cup "coped physically" and believed the result gave Arsenal a psychological boost for the Champions League campaign, as the club planned to stage their home matches at Wembley Stadium. Bergkamp felt the result showed that Arsenal had what it takes to retain the Premier League title: "We've still got the same mentality and that will be the basis for this year's challenge. This is a good start. It is harder to retain the trophy."
Ferguson admitted his team were been beaten by the better side and concurred with Wenger that the first goal was important. He was pleased that captain Roy Keane "came through" the match after eleven months out of action and was confident his team would fare better in their next match, against ŁKS Łódź the following Wednesday. Schmeichel felt the upcoming qualifier was more important than the Charity Shield game, which was "looked at as part of our pre-season build-up." Ferguson anticipated another title challenge from Arsenal in the league: "I think you could make a strong case for four teams to challenge for the Premiership but I think Arsenal pose the biggest threat."
Three days after the Charity Shield match, United beat ŁKS Łódź by two goals to nil and qualified for the Champions League group stages following a goalless match a fortnight later. Both clubs later faced each other in the league, with Arsenal winning 3–0 at Highbury in September 1998, before a 1–1 draw at Old Trafford six months after. They were also paired together in the FA Cup semi-final, which was settled in a replay following a goalless affair. Manchester United won in extra time – the winning goal scored by Giggs. The two teams went into the final day of the 1998–99 FA Premier League with a chance of winning the title; United's 2–1 win against Tottenham meant they pipped Arsenal to first position by a point. Whereas Arsenal failed to progress past the group stages of the Champions League, Manchester United eventually went on to win the competition, beating Bayern Munich in the final. Ferguson's team therefore completed a treble of trophies in one season.
- 1998–99 Manchester United F.C. season
- 1998–99 Arsenal F.C. season
- 1998–99 FA Premier League
- 1998–99 FA Cup
- Beckham was sent off for kicking Diego Simeone in the second round of the 1998 World Cup against Argentina. His dismissal led to considerable abuse from certain sections of the media and England fans. The player became a scapegoat for the national team's failure to progress, as in the match England were eliminated on penalties.
- One which is located in the southern counties of England. Initially these were amateur-based clubs, as professionalism in football was not readily accepted, compared with the north. In the 1893–94 season, Arsenal (under its former name Woolwich Arsenal) turned professional and became the first southern club admitted to the northern-oriented Football League. The following year saw the creation of the Southern Football League, which was composed of amateur and professional teams. By the 1920–21 season, the top division of the Southern Football League was absorbed by the Football League, to create its third division.
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