Arsenal's fans needed cheering up as the mid-1980s approached. The signing of Charlie Nicholas put a smile back on their faces.
The Scottish international arrived at Highbury in June 1983 to a huge fanfare. Nicholas had hit 50 goals for Celtic the previous season, scooping the Footballer and Young Footballer of the Year awards north of the border. Now the 21-year-old was expected to lift the gloom which was starting to descend on Arsenal after four seasons without silverware.
|Arsenal Career||1983 - 1988|
|Appearances||184 (176 starts, 8 as a sub)|
Liam Brady's departure in 1980 had hit the Highbury faithful hard but Nicholas' arrival reignited them. He had artistry and personality, and was soon the new darling of the North Bank. Turning down Manchester United and Liverpool to join Arsenal certainly helped in that regard.
Nicholas could not bring the trophies that his new fans craved but 'Champagne Charlie' served up enough flair and flamboyance to keep them entertained.
Two goals against Wolves in his second appearance represented a decent start but Nicholas did not net again until Boxing Day. Fortunately, his drought ended with a stunning brace against local rivals Tottenham. If any Arsenal fans had wavered in their support for Nicholas, they were right behind him after that.
Nicholas could mesmerise opponents with his extravagant skills but a lack of consistency restricted his influence. His goals tally reflects that; Nicholas only just broke double figures in each of his first three seasons at Highbury. Playing just off the main striker did not help his scoring record either.
George Graham's appointment as manager in the summer of 1986 marked the beginning of the end for Nicholas but, before his departure in January 1988, the popular Scot had one more trick up his sleeve - a Wembley brace to beat Liverpool and secure Arsenal's first trophy in eight years.
Nicholas rose to the occasion at that Littlewoods Cup Final in April 1987, poking in a close-range equaliser after Ian Rush's opener and firing a deflected shot past Bruce Grobbelaar to bring the good times back to Highbury. For that, 'Champagne Charlie' will never be forgotten.