These days winning the League Cup is not considered that much of a trophy, largely because only three clubs have won the cup in the last seven years, and of those three Manchester City have won it five times. It all seems a bit naff. Liverpool have won in nine times, Manchester City eight; it all seems a bit predictable. As well as naff.
Arsenal, you may know have only won it twice, including on this day in 1987, and two things stick in the memory of that win.
The first is that during part of the 1986/7 season Arsenal could not score. Overall we got 58 goals in 42 games, and the reason we came fourth was through having the second meanest defence in the league.
This was also the season we won our first trophy since 1979, on this day, and by that time Arsenal had signed Alan Smith to reform the goalscoring situation. But he had then immediately been loaned back to Leicester for the remainder of the season. Questions were asked about the legality of such a move which had not been seen before but the league agreed there was nothing amiss with the manoeuvre. It was just the usual anti-Arsenal rhetoric in the media.
Just how vital this signing was, had been rammed home on 28 March 1987 as Arsenal 0 Everton 1 was the sixth consecutive league match in which Arsenal failed to score – the longest run in the club’s league history.
Then came the league cup victory on 5 April 1987. Until this moment every commentator would say boringly, endlessly, constantly and without fail, “Liverpool never lose if Rush scores…” every time he scored. He scored, and out it came. Viewers on TV were pretty much encouraged to turn off, because at that moment it was all over. If you weren’t following football in the media at that time it is hard to express how stunningly boring all the coverage was.
Except this time. Two goals from Charlie Nicholas gave Arsenal the League Cup for the first time.
But despite the cup triumph, the awful league run continued. On 8 April 1987 it was West Ham United 3 Arsenal 1 and that made it 10 without a victory. Eventually, on 4 May the run ended with QPR 1 Arsenal 4. Martin Hayes scored his 19th goal in 31 starts to make him far and away the top scorer for the season. Second highest was Quinn with eight.
As the end of George Graham’s first season came, so did the transfers, but perhaps not as many as we might have expected. Or hoped for.
And on recent days (in case you missed them)…