Manchester United’s 2-0 win in the 185th Manchester Derby saw the Red Devils extend their unbeaten run away from home to 22 games in English top-flight football and bring down the curtains on Manchester City’s 28-game unbeaten run across all competitions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men, who led the Premier League standings in January before eventually relinquishing the top spot, came into the fixture knowing that they won't be the outright favorites to win the fixture. However, once Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty just 101 seconds into the tie, the nature of the contest quickly was directed into the Red Devils' favor.
Following the victory at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester United are now unbeaten in their last 103 Premier League games when leading at half-time (W91 D12). Their last defeat came under Louis van Gaal in September 2014 (3-5 vs Leicester City).
The result has taken United to third on the list of teams with the longest unbeaten away runs in English top-flight football. Let's look at the other teams who have achieved a feat similar or better than the Old Trafford outfit.
Arsenal: 27 games (April 2003 – September 2004)
Arsenal has been a club that has often found itself at the losing end of banter talks in the last decade, as they have failed to measure up to the success achieved by the "Invincibles" team in the 2003-04 season.
The Gunners began their record-breaking run with a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on 5th April 2003, in a 2002-03 campaign that saw them finish runners-up to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United.
Arsene Wenger's men remained unbeaten in all of their 38 league games in the 2003-04 season, with 11 wins and eight draws in their 19 away games. The attacking duo of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp set the competition on fire with their electric pace, exquisite positioning, and pin-point passing, and it led the team to a pinnacle of success that any English team won't achieve soon. But, despite enjoying sheer dominance in the campaign, there were moments where the north London club were on the verge of a breakdown.
As early as Gameweek six, a 10-man Gunners labored to a 0-0 draw against Manchester United, with Patrick Vieira sent off for a second yellow and Ruud van Nistelrooy missing a penalty. The next fixture to unsettle them was a trip to Anfield, where Arsenal were still ailing from a hard-fought 3-2 home win. Gérard Houllier's Reds were dominant in the first half, but the Gunners - without the injured trio of Freddie Ljungberg (ankle), Vieira (thigh), and Bergkamp (leg) - secured a 2-1 win to stay atop the Premier League standings after eight game weeks.
The record run continued to the 2004-05 campaign, but it was brought to a disappointing end, as Arsenal, who won their first four away games of the season, slumped to a controversial 0-2 loss at Old Trafford on 24th October 2004.
Arsenal: 23 (August 2001 – September 2002)
Before their record exploits between 2003 and 2004, Arsenal registered a Premiership record for an unbeaten record on the road for the entirety of the 2001-02 campaign and the following season's first four fixtures.
Arsene Wenger's team were going through a transition in the defence, as the Tony Adams and Lee Dixon - the last members of the Famous Back Four – were nearing the end of the careers and the likes of Sol Campbell came in as a replacement.
Arsenal's 23-game run started with a 4-0 win at Middlesborough in the season opener, with Henry, Robert Pires, and Bergkamp (two goals) on the scoresheet. An early roadblock came in the north London derby at Tottenham Hotspur, where Gus Poyet's injury-time equaliser cancelled Pires' 81st-minute goal to see the game end 1-1. However, persistence bore fruit for the Gunners as they registered a memorable 1-0 win in their final away game at Manchester United to seal their second league title at the Theatre of Dreams.
While they finished the 2001-02 campaign without an away loss, the countdown to the eventual end of their 23-game unbeaten run began with a feisty 2-2 draw at West Ham in the second game of the 2002-03 season. As many as five Arsenal players were booked as Thierry Henry, and Sylvain Wiltord covered up the 0-2 deficit with strikes in the 65th and 88th minute.
Immediately in the next away game, Arsenal and Chelsea played a heated 1-1 draw that saw seven players shown the yellow and Patrick Vieira sent off within 17 minutes of his booking. Going forward, the Gunners registered convincing victories at Charlton and Leeds before the Londoners were humbled by Everton, with a 1-2 loss that marked the beginning of Wayne Rooney's Premier League legacy.
Manchester United: 22 (February 2020 – present)
Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as permanent Manchester United manager, there has been constant talk of how the Norwegian would fall in the firing line due to his team not maintaining a set momentum. But, their current away form, which dates back to 17th February 2020, is something that has seen Solskjaer go on to create a unique record for himself.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now become the first manager in Manchester United's history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions with Manchester City, something not even the great Sir Alex Ferguson achieved in his 27-year reign. Solskjaer's United began their club-record run at Chelsea last season, with Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire finding the back of the net.
Since then, the Red Devils have registered 13 wins on the road, with the 158th Manchester Derby the recent success. The only drawback of the current United team, which is strongly powered by the attacking four of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Mason Greenwood, is their complacency at the back. For as many as three fixtures, Manchester United had to scrape through a 3-2 win, and the biggest result from this period came at Brighton on matchday 32 of the 2019-20 season. A late Bruno Fernandes penalty in the stoppage time cancelled out Solly March's equalizer and brought back smiles in the United camp.
Liverpool: 21 (January 2019 – February 2020)
The loss to Manchester City cost Liverpool their shot at winning their league title in the Premier League era, but needless to say, it was just the starting point of the Merseysiders' successful quest.
Since then, Jurgen Klopp's men went unbeaten in 21 games, starting from the 1-0 win at Brighton till 29th February 2020 when a 17th-placed Watford handed Liverpool an astonishing 3-0 defeat. During their run, the only test came at Sheffield United, where a 70th-minute goal from Georginio Wijnaldum ended the Blades' impressive defensive show at Bramall Lane.
Along the way, the club registered a 44-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, which was five games less than Arsenal's record run of 49 games in the Invincibles era. Despite that unbeaten run, Liverpool did not win any domestic trophies but managed to become the first English side to hold the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup titles simultaneously.
Sadio Mane (27), Mohamed Salah (24), and Roberto Firmino (12) anchored Liverpool's ambitious run, which saw as many as 104 goals scored along the way.
While their away run was brought to a halt, Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a top-flight league title that has constantly eluded them since the Premier League was formed in 1992.
Nottingham Forest: 21 (November 1977 - December 1978)
Long before the current Premiership teams could establish their ascendancy in English top-flight football, Nottingham Forest were the country's headline grabbers.
The Reds began their unbeaten run at West Bromwich Albion, and finally ran out of steam at Liverpool on 9th December 1978. In this spectacular run, Forest pulled off one of their greatest victories in club history when they secured a 4-0 win over Dave Sexton's Manchester United at the Theatre of Dreams. The Red Devils United were languishing in the bottom half of the table, and goals from Tony Woodcock, who scored two, and John Robertson piled on misery for the club that finished 10th at the end of the campaign.
After three matchdays, Forest were taken aback by the quality goal-fest at Norwich City, who came back from 0-3 to earn a 3-3 draw. Peter Withe, Colin Barrett, and Martin O'Neill's goals before half-time gave a sign that the game was done and dusted. However, what they didn't see coming was the Canaries striking back with three late goals and turning the fixture into one of the most memorable affairs in the team's unique rivalry.
At the end of the 1977-78 campaign, Nottingham Forest bagged their first - and only - First Division title. As a matter of fact, the Reds registered as many as seven 0-0 draws in their 21-game unbeaten run on the road.
Feature image courtesy: SportsAdda