In It's an Honour, featured first in the official matchday programme, we're looking back at the seasons that have brought silverware to north London. We re-live the 1986/87 League Cup win.
Arsenal capped their centenary season celebrations with their first ever League Cup success.George Graham, in his first season as manager, masterminded Arsenal’s route to Wembley, and then plotted the downfall of 1986 ‘double’ winners Liverpool in the final.
It was Arsenal’s first appearance in a Wembley final since the 1980 FA Cup, but the Gunners got off to a poor start when Ian Rush put Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool ahead after 23 minutes. As everybody knew, Liverpool never lost when Rush scored. Yet this sequence, stretching back 144 matches, was shortly to end.
Charlie Nicholas equalised by stabbing the ball home on the half-hour and with seven minutes remaining, substitute Perry Groves left a trail of defenders in his wake before teeing up Nicholas for his second of the afternoon.
Kenny Sansom went up to lift the Littlewoods Cup, his only honour as Arsenal captain. It was a suitable way to mark Arsenal’s 100 years, in fact they celebrated the day of their centenary on Christmas Day 1986, proudly on top of Division One and still in both cup competitions.
But arguably the highlight of the season came in the semi-final of the League Cup. After losing the home leg 1-0 to Tottenham, David Pleat’s side looked to be heading to the final as they led 1-0, 2-0 on aggregate, at half-time in the second leg.
But with the words of the Spurs PA announcer giving ticket details for Wembley still ringing in their ears, Viv Anderson and Niall Quinn netted to take the game to a replay, also at White Hart Lane. After falling behind again, goals from Ian Allinson and David Rocastle gave the Gunners a 2-1 victory and sent them through.
In the league that season Arsenal finished fourth, their highest position for six years. However they did not qualify for Europe due to the Uefa ban on English sides at the time. Martin Hayes top scored with 24 goals in all competitions.
League Cup appearances
Adams 9, Davis 9, Lukic 9, O’Leary 9, Quinn 9, Sansom 9, Anderson 8, Rocastle 8, Hayes 7+1, Williams 7, Nicholas 6, Groves 4+2, Thomas 2+2, Allinson 1+4, Caesar 1, Rix 1+2.
League Cup goals
Hayes 3, Nicholas 3, Quinn 3, Davis 2, Rocastle 2, Allinson 1, Anderson 1, own goal 1.
Road to Wembley:
- Second round first leg Arsenal 2, Huddersfield 0
- Second round second leg Huddersfield 1, Arsenal 1
- Third round Arsenal 3, Manchester City 1
- Fourth round Arsenal 2, Charlton Athletic 0
- Fifth round Arsenal 2, Nottingham Forest 0
- Semi-final first leg Arsenal 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1
- Semi-final second leg Tottenham 1, Arsenal 2
- Semi-final replay Tottenham 1, Arsenal 2
Final at Wembley, April 5, 1987
Arsenal 2, Liverpool 1 (Nicholas 30, 83)
Arsenal team Lukic, Anderson, Sansom, Williams, O’Leary, Adams, Rocastle, Davis, Quinn (Groves), Nicholas, Hayes (Thomas).
Also that season Liverpool beat Fulham 10-0 in the first leg of the second round of the League Cup. It remains a competition record. The second leg ended 3-2 to Liverpool. Steve McMahon scored four in the first leg, and one in the second.
And... Australian soap Neighbours was first broadcast on British television in October 1986. It is now in the top 10 for longest running Australian series, with more than 7,000 episodes aired so far.
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