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Legendary Rivalries: Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira, the feud

22 Aug 1999: Patrick Vieira of Arsenal is tackled by Roy Keane of Manchester United during the FA Carling Premiership match against Manchester United played at Highbury in London, England. The match finished in a 2-1 win to Manchester United. Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill /Allsport
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As part of our Legendary Rivalries series, we need to talk about the one between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira in English football.

We just experienced a fresh draw between Man United and Arsenal, this low level of performance got us homesick to a time where the Legendary Rivalry between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira reigned supreme.

These two were amongst the most feared midfielders in English football, they truly gave us some of the most entertaining hours between both clubs.

Roy Keane was the typical Irish tough guy, he wasn’t part of Manchester United’s ‘Fergie Boys’ but he still earned everybody’s respect at the club.

He became so integral to the Red Devils, that Keane even won the captain’s armband due to his undisputed leadership.

During the ’90s, Roy was part of that magical squad that won most of the Premier League titles in the competition’s first decade.

He was the top dog inside a club that dominated English football at the time, but Arsenal’s owners had big plans for the Gunners at the end of the century.

With Arsene Wenger’s arrival came several French players, one of them was destined to become Roy Keane’s biggest rival.

There was even a time when they couldn’t stand each other, which was during Wenger’s first years as Arsenal’s manager.

The gaffer’s main intention was to knock the Red Devils from their perch, he wanted to do so by any means necessary.

As Ferguson’s Legendary Rivalry with Wenger grew off the pitch, so did the one between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.

There were many times in which they almost got to the point of a fistfight, but their teammates knew how much the situation could escalate between the two.

When they faced each other, neither of them could think logically and instinct took over.

There were many instances in which both players got involved in heated arguments on the pitch.

We can talk about one from 1999 when Vieira got into a heated argument with both Keane and Jaap Stam, which ended in the Irish midfielder scoring a double.

But the most famous confrontation has to be the one from 2005 at Highbury Stadium, this was effectively the one that ended Arsenal’s reign in the competition.

It all happened before the match even started, everything took place in the tunnels.

Patrick Vieira decided to play mind games by picking on a young Gary Neville, this is something that captain Roy Keane did not condone and he started recriminating the Frenchman before even getting on the pitch.

Manchester United was already the better team by that time, Vieira knew that his best approach was to distract the United players before the match.

Keane recently spoke about his specific rivalry with Vieira and you can tell he doesn’t forget about it. In fact, if they were still active today, the heat would still be alive.

“It was a big challenge for me when Patrick came onto the scene,” said Roy Keane on Sky Sports.

“He was a good player and I knew I had to be at my best when I was up against him. He was nasty, he could put his foot in and he could score a goal.”

“Patrick would’ve been my toughest opponent at the time. He would challenge you in different ways.”

“He would get around the pitch, he was good with the ball, he was strong, and he had a goal in him.”

“I knew I had to be at my very, very best to get on top of Patrick. There was a respect towards Patrick.”

“It was the same with the lads coming through. I go back to Steven Gerrard and the Frank Lampard. You had to be at your best.”

“I had huge respect for him, but I knew if I could win my battle it would give us a better chance of winning the game.”

“There was talk about Patrick [going to United], but I don’t think he would have got into the United team.”

“He would’ve had to have been a squad player and I don’t think he would’ve been satisfied with that.”

“What we would’ve done, when Veron came to the club, you see that as a challenge. The club has to improve, get better and you have to roll with it, roll your sleeves up and enjoy the challenge.”

“If you want to be a big player at a big club, you have to accept these challenges. I was never one for argy bargy or slagging people off in the tunnel, but Patrick had threatened Gary in the tunnel, and I felt he crossed the line.”

“The key for me after that is don’t be distracted by it. Focus on the match.”

“The most important thing that night was to win the game, which we did. I always think these things look worse than what they really are. It summed up the rivalry.”

How would you describe the rivalry between Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.

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