Tag Archives: Martin Keown

Iconic Moments: The Battle of Old Trafford: Mark I (September 2003)

For over a decade in the Premier League, the prime fixture was between Manchester United and Arsenal. Between the two teams, they have won 16 of the 25 Premier League titles since the creation of the league in 1992. There have been some tasty battles between the sides and none more so than this encounter in September 2003.

In a hard-fought encounter, chances were few and far between. Ryan Giggs hit the post from a free-kick, whilst Ashley Cole came closest for Arsenal with a shot that whistled just wide of the post. The first flashpoint arrived 10 minutes from the end of the game. Gunners captain Patrick Vieira clashed with Ruud van Nistelrooy and appeared to kick out at the Dutchman who dived out of the way to ensure contact wasn’t made. Perhaps Van Nistelrooy had made the most of the incident but Vieira could have no defence for his action. Steve Bennett promptly sent the Frenchman off for violent conduct.

Then in stoppage-time, Martin Keown hauled down Diego Forlan to the ground in the penalty area and Bennett awarded the Red Devils a spot-kick. Arsenal players were feeling aggrieved, especially with Van Nistelrooy who would take the penalty. If he scored, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would win the match and go top of the table. However, he missed with his penalty beating Jens Lehmann but smashing the crossbar. At the full-time whistle, Keown lost complete control of his temperament, jumping all over Van Nistelrooy. Arsenal players let their emotions take over and many of their players started pushing and shoving Van Nistelrooy around like a rag doll. What followed were some unsavoury scenes with players from both sides squaring up to one another.

Arsenal were fined £175,000 and bans were handed out to Lauren, Ray Parlour, Keown and Vieira whilst Ashley Cole was fined for verbal abuse. Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo were fined from Manchester United for their part in the fracas after the final whistle.

For the record, the match did end 0-0 and was the closest Arsenal came to defeat in their historic ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-2004.

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Iconic Moments: Di Canio shoves Alcock (September 1998)

There’s no doubt that Italian Paolo di Canio was a character on the football field. He was fabulously gifted at times but also frustratingly infuriating at other occasions. He represented Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic during his Premier League playing days and had an explosive reign in charge of Sunderland during 2013. The lowest point of his career came in September 1998.

Sheffield Wednesday were playing the reigning champions Arsenal at Hillsborough and the game was goalless when the match blew up spectacularly. Patrick Vieira and Wim Jonk had a scrap in the middle of the pitch. Vieira didn’t like the challenge and over-reacted, pushing over the Dutch player. Other players started piling in, with di Canio and Martin Keown getting into a heated confrontation, whilst others were trying to play peacemaker.

Referee Paul Alcock took his time before brandishing the red card in di Canio’s direction. What happened next was inexcusable on di Canio’s part. He shoved Alcock to the ground. Whilst the referee made the absolute most of the contact, di Canio had no right to behave like he did. The FA took a dim view to the incident and handed him an 11-match ban. Sheffield Wednesday suspended him immediately after the incident and he would never play for the club again. He moved to West Ham in January 1999.

For the record, Keown was also sent off in the incident and Sheffield Wednesday ended up winning the game 1-0 with a late winner from Lee Briscoe.

It was a sour incident and whilst some do feel Paul Alcock definitely over-exaggerated his fall, showing physical contact to a referee was simply unacceptable. For all the brilliance of di Canio’s career, including that brilliant goal against Wimbledon in March 2000, these incidents are just as fondly remembered for the wrong reasons.