Blog by: Gooner Sphere
August 23rd 1986 was the opening day of the 1986/87 season with Arsenal starting their campaign at home to Manchester United.
It was to be a momentous occasion in the history of Arsenal Football Club as it marked George Graham’s first match in charge of the Gunners. Typically Arsenal won the game 1-0, a score line that became famous for Arsenal under the Scot, with Charlie Nicholas scoring the only goal.
The Gunners were to go on to finish 4th after an impressive start with the club top at Christmas. However, after the turn of the year Arsenal were unable to pick up a win from the 4th January to the 11th April, a run stretching ten games, resulting in a 4th placed finish behind Everton, Liverpool and Spurs.
Graham’s tenure in charge of Arsenal was to be a successful one, winning the League Cup in his first season thanks to a brace from Nicholas once again, picking up six trophies including two league titles, two league cups, one FA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (as well as sharing the 1991 Charity Shield).
Arsenal had been widely tipped to appoint Aberdeen’s Alex Ferguson as manager but whilst Fergie was with the Scotland national team (after the death of Jock Stein) the board approached Millwall’s Graham about the vacancy.
During the off season the former Arsenal player – now back as manager made numerous changes changing the club’s philosophy by getting rid of the old guard and focusing on promoting and buying young hungry players, hoping to get the club back to challenging for honours again with Arsenal having not won a trophy since for seven years before his arrival.
Also on this day:
1920 – Left back Lionel Smith was born. Lionel joined Arsenal in 1939, signing professional terms on the eve of the declaration of war. Lionel served in the Royal Engineers but still played for Arsenal in the wartime league. Smith went on to make over 160 appearances for Arsenal after the war and played in the championship winning side of 1948 though did not get a medal. Smith went on to pick up an FA Cup winners medal in 1950 and a league winners medal in 1953.
1947 – Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-1 at Highbury with goals from Jimmy Logie, Ian McPherson and Ronnie Rooke.
1950 – Arsenal drew goalless with Chelsea at Highbury in front of a crowd that would fill the Emirates.
1952 – Arsenal played Aston Villa at Villa Park winning 2-1 tanks to goals from Doug Lishman and Don Oakes.
1955– Arsenal beat Cardiff City 3-1 at Highbury courtesy of a Tommy Lawton hattrick.
1958 – Arsenal lost 2-1 away to Preston but came away with their wing-half Tommy Docherty. Tommy played 90 games for Arsenal before going into management winning a league cup with Chelsea and an FA Cup with Manchester United. Tommy also won a second division title with United having seen them relegated from the top flight the season before.
1960 – Mike Everitt scored to down Preston 1-0 at Highbury.
1961 – George Eastham scored to grant Arsenal a 1-0 away victory at Leicester. George scored against Leicester again 6 days later at Highbury in a 4-4 draw.
1966 – Arsenal lined up against West Ham and their World Cup winners Moore, Peters and Hurst. Arsenal were bereft of World Cup winners having sold George Eastham to Stoke a few weeks earlier yet still went on to win 2-1.
1969 – Arsenal beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 with goals from George Graham and Bob McNab.
1975 – Arsenal lost 1-0 to Stoke at Higbury.
1977 – Richie Powling scored the only goal in a 1-0 home win against Everton.
1980 – Arsenal lost 3-1 away to Coventry City. Our only goal scored by RVP Mark I Frank Stapleton.
1992 – Arsenal won their first match in the new Premier League 2-0 away at Liverpool (sound familiar) after losing their first two games.
1994 – Noel Whelan scored for Leeds United to give them a 1-0 home win against Arsenal.
1995 – David Platt and Ian Wright struck in the second half to beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park
1997 – Southampton got a taste of the Oranje with a goal from Marc Overmars to open the scoring in a 3-1 Arsenal win and a Dennis Bergkamp brace to settle the match after The Saints equalised.
2006 – Theo Walcott became Arsenal’s youngest player to feature in European competition against Dinamo Zagreb aged 17 years and 129 days. Arsenal won 5-1 on aggregate
2008 – Fulham beat Arsenal 1-0 at Craven Cottage thanks to a first half Brede Hangeland goal.