“Martin, what happened?” – Arsenal legend Keown reveals Wenger’s response to Van Nistelrooy clash

Keown has explained how Wenger dealt with the Van Nistelrooy incident.

Arsenal legend Martin Keown has opened up on how former manager Arsene Wenger reacted to his on-pitch clash with former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy in that infamous game at Old Trafford in 2003.

Arsenal drew 0-0 away to United that day, with Van Nistelrooy missing a penalty in stoppage time that helped the Gunners stay unbeaten in that memorable Invincibles campaign.

Still, some will feel the actions of Keown and other players marred that result, though in truth most Gooners will love the passion on display that day as our players were understandably wound up by Van Nistelrooy’s behaviour.

It seems even Wenger couldn’t help but have sympathy for Keown, with the former Gunners defender giving an interesting insight into his response and how he dealt with the situation publicly.

Chatting about it with Gary Lineker on BBC Sport, as quoted by the Metro, Keown said: “Let’s just say there had been a few spats (with Van Nistelrooy) before.

“He cost me a little bit of money the year before. We were never quite sure or could trust him.

“When he got Patrick Vieira sent off we were enraged by that because something similar had happened before and he just got it, we just gave him what for.

“Do I regret that? I don’t know. I don’t tend to have regrets in life. I tried to tell my kids in the years afterwards that you can’t behave in that way. That was a bit of a problem!

“Two days later we met and he (Wenger) asked me, ‘Martin, what happened?’ basically, with a smile on his face, he got me to tell him what I had done wrong.

“And he said, ‘Yes, I agree with you. Maybe we go to far but, okay, everyone is human and we’ll try to sort it out’ and he stayed 100 per cent on my side publicly which was all-important. Something (Sir Alex) Ferguson did as well for his players.

“But when you look back… the amount of fines, the number of players that were suspended… and it was still the season we went unbeaten, it didn’t affect us, it actually bonded us together.

“And if he had scored that penalty we wouldn’t have gone on to achieve that unbeaten season which was quite a remarkable feat.”

Tags Arsene Wenger Martin Keown Ruud van Nistelrooy