In the 1990s, Ian Wright was Arsenal’s leading marksman whilst Peter Schmeichel was the best Premier League goalkeeper. It was a personal battle and incredibly, Wright would never score a Premier League goal past the Dane, despite his best efforts.
There was clearly tension between the pair and it all spilled over during the 1996-1997 season. In the first match at Old Trafford in November, Wright missed two great chances and had words with Schmeichel in which he claimed the goalkeeper had hurled a racial slur in his direction, something Schmeichel has always denied.
Three months later, the feud exploded very publicly at Highbury. Manchester United won the game 2-1 to end Arsenal’s 13-month unbeaten home record. The match though was dominated by a tackle on Schmeichel by the Arsenal attacker. Flagged offside, Wright didn’t stop and jumped down on Schmeichel in a two-footed lunge that certainly had some ill-feel about it. No action was taken by referee Martin Bodenham.
At the final whistle, more words were exchanged and Wright had to be physically restrained on-the-pitch by Arsenal physio Gary Lewin from a physical attack. An uneasy truce was eventually called after the FA chief executive Graham Kelly insisted he didn’t want to take disciplinary action for the sake of the game.
It was this incident that was the trigger point for a decade of serious rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United and their respective managers, Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson.