In those days, between 1995 and 2005, it was often a title decider. Everything was completely different about Sunday’s game at Emirates Stadium, and it summed up where both teams are at right now.
It was a match between the teams in fifth and sixth place in the Premier League but it felt more like it was ninth versus 10th, in one of those dead rubbers you get at the end of the season.
Yes, Arsenal won, to end United’s long unbeaten run, but nobody really cared – including United manager Jose Mourinho.
It was the first time Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has beaten him in a competitive game, at the 16th attempt and after 13 years of trying.
But watching Mourinho afterwards, it was probably the first time in about six months that I have seen him relaxed and smiling.
It was a game that was clearly a nuisance for him, sandwiched between the two legs of United’s Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo that he has made it obvious is his priority.
So, for United, Sunday was just a case of survival – to get off that pitch without getting any more injuries – or at least that was how it looked.
Arsenal were clearly short of confidence, and in a different way they were looking to survive the game too.
They eventually worked out that United were not at full strength and they might be able to win, but for most of the first half they looked nervous, as if they were thinking ‘let’s not lose and have more fans protests after the game’.
The Gunners might have got the three points but the way they did it did not make any sort of statement about how strong they are.
BBC sports analyst