Sir Alex Ferguson had almost nothing but sympathy for Arsene Wenger

It was a measure of the disparity between two formerly fierce rivals that by the end, Sir Alex Ferguson had almost nothing but sympathy for Arsene Wenger.

Whereas Manchester United and Arsenal once contested a duopoly at the top of the Premier League in a rivalry that came to define the period either side of the Millennium, it got to a point where Ferguson saw his team put eight past the Gunners and then proceeded to defend his counterpart from accusations his best days were behind him.

United may have floundered in the five years since Ferguson departed, but their superiority over Arsenal has largely remained intact, at least in the Premier League at Old Trafford, where the Gunners have not won since 2006. It is, perhaps, the venue which raised more questions about the team’s mental strength than any other.

Invariably, no matter the recent form of the two teams or the line-ups, the Gunners would underperform. The 8-2 thrashing of 2011 almost resembled an open wound that reinforced feelings of self-doubt.