13 August 1988: Arsenal 4 Tottenham 0, and what came after

by Tony Attwood

If you want a nice buzzy way to start the season, a 4-0 win over Tottenham in a pre-season friendly will surely do it.  Merson, Marwood (2) and Smith scored and Tottenham were shocking.

The Makita tournament was a summer mini-series in London, which Arsenal organized initially as the Wembley International Tournament in August 1988.  In a sense it was the precursor of the Emirates Cup until that was abolished under instruction from the Olympik Committee Diktat Division when the Olympics came to London.

Tottenham went on to lose to Milan 2-1 while Arsenal also beat Bayern Munich 3-0 with Smith getting two and Dixon the other so we won the cup.

So Arsenal fans were happy, and the jollity continued.  True, the first five games of the season had a bit of up and down in them – with an away win of 5-1 against Wimbledon on the opening day (this was in the days when Arsenal fans were allocated three sides of the Wimbledon ground),  but then Arsenal ludicrously lost to Villa at home.

Next we beat Tottenham again, away, 3-2 and then drew with Southampton at home.  And then we lost to Sheffield Wednesday away 2-1.

Some supporters were miserable to the point of rebellion but those who were hopeful, noting the way the team was developing, were proved to be right.

Six wins and a draw in the next seven, followed by another five wins in a row a little later.  On Boxing Day we beat Charlton away to go top, and we ended the season with, oh what was it, I can’t quite recall, some sort of game at, err, Liverpool.  We won 2-0.  A 1-0 victory would have left us second.

The story of that year is of course told endlessly, but rarely with that little preliminary included at Wembley.   Over those couple of days we knew we were good.  Later we discovered just how good.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 38 22 10 6 73 36 37 76
2 Liverpool 38 22 10 6 65 28 37 76
3 Nottingham Forest 38 17 13 8 64 43 21 64
4 Norwich City 38 17 11 10 48 45 3 62

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