"So what's new eh? If Gilesy had been there, he'd have blamed it all on Anders Limpar. Remember "I think Limpar could go here, George" as Dinny Irwin and Brian McClair kicked the bejaysus out of Nigel Winterburn and the Super Swede as they lay on the floor. Funnily enough, back then, it was United who had the hump with a "diving, cheating, kicking" foreigner. Mind you, that's the only way the tables have turned. Then, as now, it was Arsenal that took the brunt of the blame. And it was Arsenal the FA punished more severly at the media's behest. I tell a lie. 1990 was a real fight. Solid citizens like Micky Thomas, Tony Adams and, Lord rest him, Rocky Rocastle were quick to wade in to their mates' rescue - guess that's what happens when you respect your team mates, and why Ruud was left soldier alone when the push and shove kicked off. The reaction of Roy Keane to yesterday's storm in a teacup was telling. Plenty of sympathy during the first fracas for Vieira, a fellow pro he recognises as an honest competitor, and no attempt to justify van Nistelrooy's conduct in the aftermath. Genuine pros tend to get sick of that kind of thing. Ask Edgar Davids. Actually, I think the media have overlooked - no surprise here - the real spark for the few quiet words thrown in van Nistelrooy's direction at the end. Sure the comical reaction to Vieira's prod would have irked them. The pointed laughter afterwards even more so. And certainly Steve Bennett's rediculous penalty award stirred emotions further. But watch carefully, the last act of the game. After the penalty is missed, the ball is punted back into the Arsenal box and breaks towards Edu. The Brazilian collects cleanly and turns clear. Beside him, Horseface tumbles once more as if riven with the fiercest colic. He hadn't picked the wisest place to plot his latest suberfuge. As Bennett gives up the ghost and realises he can do no more for Fergie this time round, Ruud finds he's collapsed in a ring of irate Gunners. Ok, so Keown might have overegged the cake a tad, but when Ray Parlour gets involved - normally reluctant to transgress outside the confines of a Pizzeria and who enjoys good relationships with several United players - you know it's not without good reason. Anyhow, in a way it was nothing - no punches thrown, nobody hurt - and in a way it was something. Maybe an important something. Back in 1987, George Graham's young guns had surged to the top of the table after a flying pre-Christmas run. They arriving at Old Trafford in January in high spirits and looking good. Everything changed in ninety minutes. That day, good old Norman Whiteside kicked with impunity everything that still moved after Bryan Robson was finished with it. Eventually, Rocky lashed out in frustration. Arsenal were mugged 2-0 and the season never really recovered. The headlines afterwards were of Gunner shame. Even Dave O'Leary was fingered. A news-reporting pattern had emerged. Those young lads - Quinny, Martin Hayes, Adams - weren't ready yet to go to places like Old Trafford and Anfield and show the resolve and bottle needed to earn results. By God, though, those lads summoned that bottle over the following years. By the time, Old Trafford '90 came round, they'd beaten everyone everywhere, and when it kicked off they could stand toe to toe with anyone. Important that. Over the last few seasons, it was becoming evident that United fancied Arsenal as a little bit of a soft touch in the physical stakes. Inspired by the sight of Bob Pires' latest alice band, maybe they had a point. Not that officials or United's media shareholders seemed wise to this. Old Trafford 2002, they kicked everything. Ruud punched Freddy in the guts on camera. It wasn't enough and Arsenal took the title. Maybe Sky thought they'd suffered enough. The FA didn't want to know. Old Trafford late 2002 and they've warmed to the task. Phil Neville commits at least 8 bookable offences in the game. The FA? Nothing. Old Trafford 2003 FA Cup, they think they've got it sussed. Tackles fly everywhere. van Nistelrooy commits successive assualts - real assaults these, not shoves and curses - on Keown and Lauren. The FA? Nothing. The Community Shield was the first sign that Arsenal had had enough. Every provocation was met - perhaps stupidly - with retaliation. Bennett took action. Unsurpisingly, the FA's disinterest in this fixture evaporated. They wanted their own pound of flesh. And so Sunday came round. Add in the Sol Campbell affair from last season and you can see it didn't exist in a vacuum. Everything that happened at the final whistle happened for a reason. And yet no Arsenal player punched. No Arsenal player attempted to seriously injure. Will the subsequent kangaroo court justice reflect that? What do you think? I'm really just wondering what kind of charge they'll dream up. There was no punching or kicking. The ref saw everything and didn't show any red cards. There's plenty of precedent - The Robbie Savage factor, if you will - where groups of players have picked on and jostled a single opponent without censure. No doubt they'll come up with something, though. Whatever it is, United and their allies would be wise to remember 1991."