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Remembering the 90/91 season

Our defence of the dramatic title win of '89 didn't go too well, finishing 4th (and below Spurs) after suffering 12 defeats.
In the summer of 1990 George Graham made a big call, he replaced one of the Anfield '89 heroes, John Lukic, with QPR 'keeper David Seaman for a costly price of £1.3m.
Also joining was a rather unknown Swedish winger, Anders Limpar and central defender Andy Linighan. Youngsters Kevin Campbell and David Hillier were now part of the squad.
Heading out of the club were Kevin Richardson, Brian Marwood and Martin Hayes.

The season started well with wins over Wimbledon, Luton, Chelsea, Forest and Norwich, plus draws with Spurs, Everton and Leeds.
On the 20th October we went to Old Trafford to face a United side we had begun to have a bit of niggle with - most notably Nigel Winterburn and Brian McClair. Just before half-time, Limpar recieved a short corner and caught out Les Sealey at his near post. Despite the 'keepers best efforts, the ref ruled the ball had crossed the line and Arsenal led.
On the hour mark the game reached boiling point. Irwin challenged Limpar, Winterburn slid in to win the free ball, only for Irwin to swing a boot at him. Then McClair connected with two or three boots to the back of Winterburn. Limpar swung at McClair, Davis,Thomas and Rocastle arrived to defend their mates, many others joined in to try and break up the melee. David Seaman stood and watched.
Somehow the ref decided only Arsenal players deserved a booking, with Winterburn and Limpar cautioned, while McClair and Irwin walked away scot-free.
The game ended 1-0 to Arsenal, but that wasn't the end of it. United fined McClair, Irwin and Ince, Arsenal fined Graham, Limpar, Winterburn, Davis, Thomas and Rocastle. But that didn't ease the FAs minds. A 2 point deduction for Arsenal and 1 point for United followed, plus £50k fines for each.
Arsenals title hopes had been dented. Advantage Liverpool, who led the league by 8 points, and Spurs.

Arsenal maintained their unbeaten run through October and November, and on the 2nd December they hosted title rivals Liverpool in a top 2 6-pointer. With David Rocastle having an injury hit season, Arsenal went with 3 at the back, reminiscent of Anfield '89. Smith was the lone striker, with Limpar and Merson supporting him. Arsenal took the lead with another close call on the ball going over the line. This time it was Merson forcing it in, and despite Liverpool protests the ref awarded the goal. Just a minute into the second half, following a flick from Smith, Limpar found himself in the box. A desperate lunge from Gary Gillispie brought the Swede down, and Lee Dixon hammered the penalty past Grobbelaar. Despite their best efforts, Liverpool couldn't get back into the game and Smith added a late 3rd with a sweet strike from a Merson back heel. It was a great victory, one which came on the back of a 6-2 League Cup hammering by United.

2 draws followed, against Luton and Wimbledon. Captain Tony Adams scored in the latter game, but his season and life was soon to be turned upside down. After crashing his car while piissed up in May that year (4 times over the limit), Adams went to court on December 19th. The judge sentenced Adams to 4 months in prison (he served 2 months of that).

Arsenal continued without their captain, a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa then 3 wins over Christmas/New Year. Another 0-0 with Spurs and a 1-0 over Everton meant we ended January still unbeaten in the league.

After beating Sunderland in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, we were drawn against Leeds United. What followed was an long drawn out affair that meant we only played one league game between Everton on the 19th January and Crystal Palace on the 23rd February. At the fourth time of asking, following a 0-0, 1-1 and another 0-0, we finally beat Leeds 2-1.

The one league game during the epic affair with Leeds was away to Chelsea. It proved to be the only defeat of the season, losing 2-1.

On the 3rd March, after finally ending the 4th round of the cup and after beating Palace 4-0 in the league, we went to Anfield for a massive game. We had overtaken Liverpool in the league and a win would surely mean the title. Kenny Dalglish had stepped down as Liverpool boss a couple of weeks earlier, they had suffered a 3-1 defeat to Luton and had been involved in their own FA Cup marathon against local rivals Everton (including an amazing 4-4 draw at Goodison that proved to be Dalglish's last in charge).
Midway through the second half, Merson picked the ball up in his own half and drove at the Liverpool defence. He exchanged a 1-2 with Smith, and had a clear run onto Grobbelaar. Just like Michael Thomas in 1989, Merse flicked the ball over Brucie and Arsenal were 1 up. Thats how the game finished, and Arsenal had a massive advantage in the title race.

While Liverpool had a mini recovery, winning the next 3 including a 7-1 hammering over Derby, Arsenal continued to avoid defeat. A win over Leeds, in our 6th meeting, was followed by draws against Norwich and Forest.

Young striker Kevin Campbell was beginning to make his mark. He had scored in the win against Palace, and got both against Leeds. He scored in the draw with Forest, then he got another 2 in a 5-0 thumping of Villa. The opener against Sheffield United and one against City meant Campbell had 8 goals in 10 games at a crucial stage of the season.

Liverpool were just about hanging in the title race, including a dramatic 5-4 win at Leeds in which they led 4-0 after half an hour. But costly defeats against QPR, Sunderland and Chelsea meant they needed Arsenal to collapse.

Bank Holiday Monday, 6th May 1991, proved to be the climax of the title race. Liverpool went to Forest in the afternoon while Arsenal hosted Man Utd in the evening. The scenario was clear, Liverpool had to beat Forest or Arsenal were champions. Future Liverpool player Nigel Clough put his dads side in the lead, but a Jan Molby penalty gave Liverpool hope. It was Ian Woan who scored the goal that meant Arsenal could go into the game with United as champions.

With Arsenal celebrating and a party United probably didn't want to be at, there was little chance of a repeat of the scenes at Old Trafford. Alan Smith helped himself to a hat-trick that sealed the golden boot, and Arsenal won 3-1.

A final day thrashing of Coventry, in which Limpar scored three, put the cherry on top of a great season for the Gunners.

Smudger was the top scorer with 22 league goals, while Merse got 13 and Limpar 11. Campbell scored 9 from just 15 starts (7 sub apps.)

At the other end, 24 clean sheets and only 18 goals conceded showed the shrewd decision to sign Seaman (although there were only 5 'one-nil to the Arsenal's).

Of course I have missed one thing out of that season, the FA Cup semi final played at Wembley.


What a season. The highs ending in the title, the lows of point deductions and the imprisonment of our captain. A truly dramatic, rollercoaster season. Only the creators of Harchester United could make it up!


posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Will always be slightly overshadowed because Anfield '89, but this was a great team, Limpar and Seaman both proving to be great signings.

Best of all though, we got to put the final nail in Liverpool's domestic dominance - following Mickey Thomas chipping the first in a couple of seasons earlier.

And they've fully never recovered from it, even 30 years later.

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

It was an amazing team. I am sure some will claim it was "boring Arsenal", but with the likes of Limpar, Merson and Rocastle in the team we put in many an exciting performance.

This goal at Anfield
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk3M_OkNg14

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

comment by D'Jeezus Mackaroni (U1137)
posted 1 minute ago
It was an amazing team. I am sure some will claim it was "boring Arsenal", but with the likes of Limpar, Merson and Rocastle in the team we put in many an exciting performance.

This goal at Anfield
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk3M_OkNg14
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Looks offside. Good job we have VAR now

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

comment by (kash) I'm the Mané - 6 Times Baby (U1108)
posted 1 minute ago
comment by D'Jeezus Mackaroni (U1137)
posted 1 minute ago
It was an amazing team. I am sure some will claim it was "boring Arsenal", but with the likes of Limpar, Merson and Rocastle in the team we put in many an exciting performance.

This goal at Anfield
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk3M_OkNg14
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Looks offside. Good job we have VAR now
----------------------------------------------------------------------


Was going to say even VAR couldn't have saved Liverpool there, but remembered the number of times that we have been facked over even with VAR.

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Good article DJ and a really nice read. I didn't realise some of the lows that Arsenal team went through.

Shame you couldn't mention the Wembley semi final in more detail

posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago

comment by Dele Boy (U22000)
posted 5 minutes ago
Good article DJ and a really nice read. I didn't realise some of the lows that Arsenal team went through.

Shame you couldn't mention the Wembley semi final in more detail
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Painful memories and salt rubbed into the wounds with my mother not letting me eat lunch in front of the TV causing me to miss the Smith reply (but seeing all Spurs goals )

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