Ray Parlour reveals big fines Arsenal players received for Ruud Van Nistelrooy incident

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Arsenal's 'Invicibles' were the north London club's last memories of winning the Premier League, way back in 2004.

In fact, Arsene Wenger has gone so long without bringing the title back to north London that the long since retired Gunners midfielder Ray Parlour was a part of the side that went the whole season unbeaten in the league.

Manchester United will host Arsenal on Saturday lunch time and, speaking to Sky Sports, Parlour recalled some of the greatest, and most forgettable, memories of his playing career coming against the Red Devils at Old Trafford.


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The 43-year-old is expecting the Gunners' return to league action against United, following the international break, to provide fans with a clear insight of whether Wenger can, finally, bring the Premier League title back to the Emirates.

A 1-0 win at the Theatre of Dreams back in May 2002 sought justice for Parlour's team, helping to ensure a Premier League and FA Cup double for Arsenal, following a humiliating 6-1 thrashing by Sir Alex Ferguson's men barely a year earlier.

And less a year and half later, Parlour was again dealt another blow following events at Old Trafford, although the former Arsenal man has admitted that an incident involving himself, Martin Keown, Lauren and Ashley Cole was a problem of their own making.

It was a game that would define the Gunners' history-making season of 2004, when United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a crucial late penalty to earn Arsenal a goalless draw. And a small group of players, including Parlour, decided to taunt the Dutchman.

FA heavily fined Arsenal troublemakers

What resulted was a £10,000 fine from the FA, and Parlour has recalled the day in which several Gunners stars had close run-ins with Van Nistelrooy.

"We were out of order, really. There's loads of things you do in football you regret, but we all got fined by the FA." Parlour admitted.

"I remember the letters coming in a couple of weeks later and we said to Martin Keown 'open yours up first, because you started it'. He got fined £20,000, I got done £10,000, Lauren £5,000 and Ashley Cole £5,000 - bit of a nightmare, really."

It was a mistake that Parlour duly learned from the error of his, and his teammates', ways. But the former midfielder is hoping that there will not be such mistakes for Arsenal this weekend, when Wenger's men look to close the gap on league leaders Liverpool.

Parlour convinced by Gunners signings

One man whose poor discipline could cost the Gunners, though, is Granit Xhaka - who has already been sent off twice this campaign, for both club and country - but Parlour believes the club are stronger for having brought in the Switzerland international, alongside Shkodran Mustafi.

"I look at Arsenal now and think they're a lot stronger." said Parlour.

"People were always waiting for that big centre forward, but the key signings for me were Mustafi and Xhaka. Those two down the spine have been very strong, especially Mustafi who's come in next to Koscielny at the back.

"No disrespect to Per Mertesacker, who's getting that little bit older, but sometimes Arsenal have to sit off with him in the team. With Mustafi, you can push up that little bit higher and condense the space in midfield."

Arsenal will head to Old Trafford in good spirits, with Wenger's men just two points shy of top spot, and Parlour believes that his former club will have to take advantage of Manchester United's hit and miss start to the campaign, if they are to win their first league title in 13 years.

"It's worked so far, but it's such a competitive league and this will be a big test." Parlour added. "If they're going to win the title, they have to go to places like Old Trafford and try to get a result."

Did Arsene Wenger do enough business in the summer transfer window in order for Arsenal to win the Premier League this season? Have your say in the comment box below.

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Thierry Henry
Premier League
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Arsene Wenger
Ashley Cole

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