It’s Up For Grabs Now

The year was 1989, the month was May and no.1 in the charts was Gerry Mardsden and Paul McCartney with ferry across the Mersey. And I was a 13 year old Gooner from Hertfordshire. It will always be one of the most dramatic Friday nights of my life.

Arsenal had to go to Liverpool and win by 2 clear goals to win their first title in 18 years and their first under George Graham. Liverpool were flying and we had dropped points to Derby and Wimbledon. So the thought of going to Liverpool and winning at Anfield was a massive job in itself. So tactically George decided to play 3 at the back and get Winterburn and Dixon to cover off the threat of Barnes and Houghton.

This was tactically a massive decision to cut off the attack that Barnes and Houghton were well known for. So George Graham laid out the plans but for him to have the faith in the players proved what a great team togetherness we had .
Arsenal
GK 1 John Lukic
SW 5 David O’Leary
RB 2 Lee Dixon
CB 6 Tony Adams (c)
CB 10 Steve Bould  76′
LB 3 Nigel Winterburn
MF 4 Michael Thomas
MF 7 David Rocastle
MF 8 Kevin Richardson
MF 11 Paul Merson  73′
CF 9 Alan Smith
Substitutes:
MF 12 Perry Groves  76′
MF 14 Martin Hayes  73′
Manager:
George G

P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal (C) 38 22 10 6 73 36 +37 76
2 Liverpool 38 22 10 6 65 28 +37 76
3 Nottingham Forest 38 17 13 8 64 43 +21 64
4 Norwich City 38 17 11 10 48 45 +3 62
5 Derby County 38 17 7 14 40 38 +2 58
6 Tottenham Hotspur 38 15 12 11 60 46 +14 57
7 Coventry City 38 14 13 11 47 42 +5 55
8 Everton 38 14 12 12 50 45 +5 54
9 Queens Park Rangers 38 14 11 13 43 37 +6 53
10 Millwall 38 14 11 13 47 52 −5 53
11 Manchester United 38 13 12 13 45 35 +10 51
12 Wimbledon 38 14 9 15 50 46 +4 51
13 Southampton 38 10 15 13 52 66 −14 45
14 Charlton Athletic 38 10 12 16 44 58 −14 42
15 Sheffield Wednesday 38 10 12 16 34 51 −17 42
16 Luton Town 38 10 11 17 42 52 −10 41
17 Aston Villa 38 9 13 16 45 56 −11 40
18 Middlesbrough (R) 38 9 12 17 44 61 −17 39
19 West Ham United (R) 38 10 8 20 37 62 −25 38
20 Newcastle United (R) 38 7 10 21 32 63 −31 31
So the first half got under the way and was a stalemate, both teams not really wanting to press forward and get caught on the counter attack. So when we came out for the second half Graham sent them out with the sense of attacking and pressing higher. In the 52nd minute we got the breakthrough and Smudger Smith glanced a header from a free kick to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal. This then made Liverpool have to come out and try to get an equaliser.

As time ticked away we were searching for the winner and Liverpool were trying to get the equaliser. I remember watching the time tick away and constantly watch the score and time in the right hand side of the screen. 30 minutes became 20 and then the final countdown started with the final 10 minutes of the 88-89 season. I remember the excitement and the nerves in my stomachs as the realisation that maybe we have come up just short this season.

Then as the clock ticked the 90th minute and I’m waiting to hear the final whistle from the ref, I see Lukic throw in to Dixon and he passes it downfield to Alan Smith who plucks the ball out of the air brilliantly and puts a great ball through to Micheal Thomas. Then the voice of Brian Moore come ringing in my head “ Thomas charging through the middle it’s UP FOR GRABS NOW THOMAS “ and Arsenal had done the unthinkable gone to Anfield and won by two clear goals to win our first league title. The jubilation and the euphoria was overwhelming, this was to go down in history as one of the greatest games ever known.

But let’s just take a minute to remember the 96 who unfortunately died at the Hillsborough disaster. Even though we as Arsenal fans had possibly the greatest night in our clubs history, there are families who to this day still struggle with the tragedy of that unfortunate afternoon. You will always be in our hearts #RIP #JusticeForThe96

 

 

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