ARSENE Wenger admits he can still “hear the shouts” of the Manchester United team that knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup in 1999.
In one of the most famous semi-finals of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men ran out 2-1 winners at Villa Park, with Ryan Giggs netting a sublime winner after a mazy run from the halfway line in extra-time.
Arsenal, though, had a superb chance to win the match in the last minute of normal time, but Peter Schmeichel produced a brilliant save to deny Dennis Bergkamp from the penalty spot after Phil Neville had fouled Ray Parlour.
Wenger, whose Arsenal side take on Louis van Gaal’s United side on Monday evening, says he is still tormented by the result at Villa Park – which served as the catalyst for United winning an unprecedented domestic and European treble.
“When Giggs retired I saw a replay of the goal and I think that goal won them the treble – because, if Bergkamp scores, the game is over,” he said.
“I can still hear the shouts of that team, having won. They couldn’t believe it because they were down to 10 men after Roy Keane had been sent off. It was a trauma for us and a positive for them.”
Wenger says the result discouraged Bergkamp from ever taking penalties again – such was the disappointment he suffered – and he claims United enjoyed a “miracle year” in 1999.
“Bergkamp never wanted to take a -penalty again and the result put them on the road, it put them on a crest of euphoria.
“And in the same way they won the title – just. They played at Blackburn on May 12, the night after we had lost at Leeds in the last minute, when Nigel Winterburn was kicked off the pitch and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored at the far post.
“Kaba Diawara had hit the bar twice for us in that game and after that, they won the Champions League final in the last minutes.
“Ryan Giggs was at the peak of his career and that goal was certainly what -decided their season.”