Arsenal: The five greatest games in Arsenal's history
Arsenal Football Club have been involved in some huge games down the years. From winning the title on the final day of the season at Anfield to thrashing Italian giants Inter in their own backyard, Gooners around the world have had a lot to celebrate in their proud history.
Today, thanks to Squarefootball’s Steve Coulter, we are going to take a trip back down memory lane and focus on five of the club’s biggest games. If you believe he has missed out an important game then please let us know.
LIVERPOOL 0 ARSENAL 2 1989
This match must rank as one of the most dramatic games in the history of the Football League. Liverpool only needed a draw to be crowned champions once more while Arsenal needed to win by two clear goals to deny Kenny Dalglish's men silverware.
The Gunners looked certain champions in early spring, but George Graham's men suffered a dip in form to put the Merseysiders in pole position. The game was played a month after the Hillsbrough disaster - the fateful day when 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives whilst attended the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest. In a mark of respect, before the game all the Arsenal players laid a bouquet of flowers in front of The Kop.
The first half was a cagey affair with few chances. On 54 minutes Graham's men got the goal they craved. Nigel Winterburn's inswinging free kick was glanced in by Alan Smith. The home side's appeals for offside were waved away and Arsenal were one up.
The Gunners began to pile on the pressure. Michael Thomas should have sealed the deal but shot straight at Grobbelaar. The miss looked costly as the game entered stoppage time before a moment of inspiration from the midfielder secured his place in Arsenal folklore.
Goalkeeper Lukic's threw the ball to Lee Dixon, who found Alan Smith just inside the Liverpool half. Smudger turned his marker and released Thomas. The Liverpool defence was nowhere to be seen as Thomas bared down on goal. Having entered the penalty area Thomas was confronted by the onrushing Grobbelaar, this time the young Gunner made no mistake as he stroked the ball into the net.
As the Londoner was about to shoot commentator Brian Moore screamed “It’s up for grabs now”, the line has since pass into football folklore.
Moments later the full time whistle blew. After 18 years of hurt Arsenal were English League champions. The match was even immortalised on the big screen. Nick Hornby's best-selling Fever Pitch was later made into a film. The book followed Arsenal fan Paul (Colin Firth) exploits during the title winning season.
INTER MILAN 1 ARSENAL 5 2003
Arsenal were drinking at the last chance saloon as they travelled to the San Siro. The Gunners looked to be heading out at the group stages when Inter won 3-0 at Highbury. Few gave Arsene Wenger’s men a prayer before this encounter.
Wenger's men made the perfect start when Thierry Henry exchanged passes with Robert Pires before he fired home from the edge of the box. Inter levelled through Christian Viera before Arsenal regained their lead as Henry turned provider for Freddie Ljunberg.
The game was done and dusted with a stunning Henry goal. Inter forced a corner as the hosts looked for a lifeline but the Arsenal defence cleared the danger and Henry picked up possession just inside their half. The striker turned and made for goal at breakneck speed before turning Zanetti inside out. Having made space Henry slotted the ball home. Further goals from Edu and Robert Pires maintained Arsenal’s involvement in the Champions League. What a night for the red half of North London.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 ARSENAL 5 2004
Any away victory is special but Arsenal will always enjoy beating the old enemy. The Gunners were enjoying their trips across town. The Invincibles had clinched the title at White Hart Lane the previous season.
Spurs were determined to erase the memory and went in front on 37 minutes. The unmarked Naybet punished sloppy Gunners’ defending. Spurs’ joy was short lived. On the stroke of half time Lauren threaded a through ball to Thierry Henry. Arsenal's record goalscorer held off two defenders before finishing with aplomb.
The visitors were ahead 10 minutes into the second half. Lauren scored from the spot after Paramot had tripped Freddie Ljunberg. It looked game over five minutes later. The Tottenham defence parted like the Red Sea as Patrick Viera made it 3-1. The two goal advantage lasted a matter of seconds. A Jermaine Defoe cracker put Spurs back in the hunt.
On 69 minutes inspired play by Cesc Fabragas led to Arsenal's fourth. The Spanish playmaker slipped a wonderful reverse pass to Ljunberg who beat Paul Robinson.
The home side refused to lie down though. Ledley King's emphatic header made it 4-3 before Arsenal made it five on 81 minutes. Henry fed Pires and the winger jabbed home. Freddie Kanoute 's 88th minute consolation goal completed the scoring.
ARSENAL 3 MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Forever known as the 'Five Minute Cup Final' Arsenal nearly contrived to throw the game away.
The Gunners were making a return visit to Wembley after losing to Sir Bobby Robson’s Ipswich 12 months earlier and were determined to win the cup. Terry Neil's boys took the lead on 12 minutes. Liam Brady exchanged passes with Frank Stapleton before slipping the ball to David Price. Price headed for the byline before cutting the ball back and the onrushing Brian Talbot managed to bundle the ball home.
The North Londoners doubled their lead before half time. Man of the Match Brady was again the creator. The Arsenal legend eluded the challenge of two United defenders before crossing to the unmarked Stapleton. The big striker made no mistake and Arsenal were two up.
United railed in the second half. Lou Marcari's header was tipped over by Pat Jennings and the big Irishman also denied Steve Coppell. United pressure was finally rewarded on 86 minutes. Macari's free kick found Joe Jordan, the Scot swivelled and turned the ball back into the box. Gordon McQueen pounced on the loose ball to pull one back.
Surely the big centre half's goal had come too late, but remarkably Dave Sexton's side were level within a minute. Coppell found Sammy McIlroy on the edge of the box. The midfielder beat two defenders before squeezing the ball under Jennings. The brilliant individual goal appeared to have turned the tide, but the unflappable Brady had the last word. The Irish schemer collected the ball from the kick off, once again the Reds defence backed off as Brady progressed down the left. Brady then passed to the overlapping Graham Rix. Rix delivered a first time cross which floated over Gary Bailey's head and found Alan Sunderland at the far post. Sunderland's outstretched leg got the final touch and Arsenal were back in front.
This time United had no time to recover. Pat Rice lifted the cup and the Gunners were back in business.
STOKE CITY 2 ARSENAL 2
1971 FA CUP SEMI FINAL
This was the pivotal game in Arsenal's double-winning season. The Gunners were top of the league when they lined up for the semi-final. They faced an excellent Stoke City side at Hillsbrough. Tony Waddington's side had already beaten the Londoners in the league at the Victoria Ground 5-0.
Stoke made all the early running and were in front on 23 minutes. Denis Smith scored after a goalmouth scramble. City looked Wembley bound when John Ritchie doubled the lead. Charlie George's weak back pass was intercepted by Richie, the big target man rounded Bob Wilson before slotting home.
Throughout their illustrious history Arsenal have displayed their never say die spirit and Bertie Mee's side were no exception. Peter Storey pulled one back shortly after half time. The England defender rifled home from the edge of the box. Then came the turning point. Stoke striker Jimmy Greenhoff was put clean through. With the goal at his mercy Greenhoff failed to hit the target.
City held on as the game entered stoppage time. With the travelling fans from the Potteries pleaded for the full time whistle Arsenal were awarded a free kick. George Armstrong floated the ball over but Gordon Banks turned the ball away for a 91st minute corner. Banks felt he had been pushed but the decision stood. The resulting corner was headed towards goal by Frank McLintock but Stoke's John Mahoney dived and fisted the ball off the line. Referee Pat Partridge spotted the blatant handball and pointed to the penalty spot. Storey held his nerve and wrong footed Banks to equalise.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Stoke. The deflated Potters were beaten 3-0 in the Villa Park replay. Arsenal never looked back. A Ray Kennedy goal sealed the title at White Hart Lane. Five days later the Gunners beat Liverpool in the FA Cup Final. Arsenal became only the second team in the 21st century to complete the League and FA Cup double.
Well there you have it. That’s the five greatest Arsenal games in Steve Coulter’s mind. Do you agree or disagree? Whatever your view we would love to hear from you.