They recognised the number, but they didn’t recognise the name. Manchester United will go on to claim a historic treble by the end of the season. But here, at Highbury, in September 1998, they are a distance second best, and they are about to meet their latest tormentor.
Just five minutes after coming on to make his Arsenal debut, sporing the No.8 shirt vacated by the summer departure of club legend and record scorer Ian Wright, Karl Fredrik “Freddie” Ljungberg races clear of the static United defence and impudently loops the ball over Peter Schmeichel to cap a 3-0 rout.
It was while watching a handful of his Arsenal charges on international duty with England that Ljungberg first caught Arsène Wenger’s eye.