20 Greatest Arsenal Games of All Time
Arsenal have played some memorable matches in their 128-year history.
Whether in Europe, the English top flight, one of the cups or merely against archrivals Tottenham Hotspur in any competition, the Gunners have provided plenty of entertainment—and one or two last-gasp results—for their loyal supporters.
The following slideshow will highlight 20 of the greatest matches Arsenal have ever contested.
They’ve yielded trophies, major final appearances and, naturally, victories at home and away to Spurs.
Let’s get to it.
20. April 4, 1993: Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal had been bounced out of the FA Cup by Tottenham Hotspur as recently as 1991, so when the 1993 semi-final was held at Wembley for the first time, they were desperate to enact revenge on their local rivals.
They didn’t disappoint.
With just 10 minutes remaining and both sides yet to find the back of the net, Tony Adams got on the end of Paul Merson’s free kick and headed what proved to be the winner past goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt.
19. April 23, 1980: Juventus 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal became the first English outfit in a quarter-century to win at Juventus when Paul Vaessen secured a 1-0 win for the Gunners in Turin in April 1980.
With the two sides having played to a score draw at Highbury, a 0-0 result would have taken the Bianconeri through to the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
But after latching on to a Graham Rix pass, the 18-year-old Vaessen found the back of the net in the 88th minute to set up a showdown with Valencia.
18. December 23, 1978: Tottenham Hotspur 0-5 Arsenal
Arsenal’s biggest post-war win at Spurs came just two days before Christmas in 1978.
Alan Sunderland scored three of the Gunners’ five goals that day, and Frank Stapleton netted another. But it was Liam Brady’s superb, curling strike from the edge of the box shortly after the hour mark that stuck in the memory.
17. May 7, 2006: Arsenal 4-2 Wigan
Arsenal needed to win their last-ever match at Highbury in order to secure Champions League football for the 2006-07 season at the expense of Spurs.
The occasion also happened to be talisman Thierry Henry’s final game at the iconic ground.
It ended up being a day to remember, as Henry scored a hat-trick against Wigan and the Gunners said goodbye to Highbury in style.
16. May 4, 2002: Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea
In 2002, the FA Cup final was played before the end of the Premier League season. It was also staged at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, as the new Wembley was still under construction.
With 20 minutes remaining, Ray Parlour opened the scoring against opponents Chelsea, and exactly 10 minutes later, Freddie Ljungberg put the finishing touches on a 2-0 win that would set up a historic double.
15. May 16, 1998: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle
Arsenal had already won the league when they won their last FA Cup at the old Wembley Stadium.
Marc Overmars opened the scoring against Newcastle midway through the first half, and with 21 minutes remaining, Nicolas Anelka doubled the scoreline and put the Gunners on course for a seventh FA Cup triumph.
14. March 4, 1987: Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Arsenal
One of the 1986-87 League Cup semi-finals proved to be a three-match affair. It was also between Arsenal and Tottenham.
Spurs, hosting the first leg, took a 1-0 aggregate lead to Highbury for the rematch thanks to Clive Allen’s goal. But at Arsenal’s ground, Viv Anderson and Niall Quinn both found the back of the net to set up a third and deciding match.
A coin toss determined it would be played at White Hart Lane.
No matter, as once again the Gunners fought back from behind. Ian Allinson netted an 82nd-minute equaliser, and in extra time, David Rocastle beat Ray Clemence to put his side through.
13. April 28, 1970: Arsenal 3-0 Anderlecht
Arsenal’s first European triumph came in the spring of 1970, when they overcame RSC Anderlecht over two legs to win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
It was very much a come-from-behind thing.
With 15 minutes remaining in the first leg at Constant Vanden Stock, Anderlecht led 3-0 and looked certain to ease their way to the trophy.
But Ray Kennedy’s crucial goal with eight minutes remaining gave the Gunners something to play for at Highbury, where Eddie Kelly, John Radford and Jon Samuels would all score for the hosts.
12. April 25, 2006: Villarreal 0-0 Arsenal
Having already overcome Real Madrid and Juventus in the knockout stages of the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League, Arsenal were tied to Spanish outfit Villarreal for the semi-finals.
Kolo Toure’s goal just prior to the interval at Highbury proved to be the only goal of the first leg, which meant the Yellow Submarine were in good position for the return match at El Madrigal.
Gunners goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, however, had other ideas and made several important saves before denying Villarreal maestro Juan Roman Riquelme a last-minute penalty.
11. May 12, 1979: Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United
Arsenal’s fifth FA Cup was secured May 12, 1979, following a riveting 90 minutes against Manchester United at Wembley.
Brian Talbot had given the Gunners the lead after just 12 minutes, and when Frank Stapleton doubled the advantage shortly before the interval, it looked as though the trophy was headed to North London.
But two goals between the 86th and 88th minutes for United set up a tense finish that ended with a minute to play in normal time when Alan Sunderland struck a memorable winner.
10. February 21, 2006: Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal opened up the knockout phase of their 2005-06 Champions League campaign with a difficult assignment away to Real Madrid.
But thanks to Thierry Henry’s heroics, they became the first-ever English side to win at the Bernabeu and progressed to the next round after a scoreless draw at Highbury.
9. November 25, 2003: Inter Milan 1-5 Arsenal
One of Arsenal’s most famous wins in Europe came on the penultimate matchday of the 2003-04 Champions League group stage schedule when they thumped Inter Milan at the San Siro.
Having lost 3-0 to the Nerazzurri at Highbury back in September, the Gunners were in desperate need of a win in order to secure a place in the last 16 of the competition. And when Christian Vieri cancelled out Thierry Henry’s opener just after the half-hour mark, it looked as though they might come up short.
But Freddie Ljungberg restored Arsenal’s lead shortly after the restart, and from there it was one-way traffic, as Henry, Edu and Robert Pires would all find the back of the net in a historic 5-1 win.
8. May 21, 2005: Arsenal 0 (5-4) 0 Manchester United
It’s been nearly nine years since Arsenal last won a trophy, with their 2005 FA Cup triumph coming on May 21, 2005.
Manchester United outplayed the Gunners that day in Cardiff, but Paul Scholes’ missed penalty proved to be the deciding factor in an unlikely Arsenal win.
All five of manager Arsene Wenger’s players scored from the spot, with Patrick Vieira’s conversion sealing the victory.
7. May 3, 1971: Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal regained the title after 18 years on May 3, 1971, after beating Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
Trailing Leeds by a point in what was the final match of the season, the Gunners required a win in order to kick off the trophy celebrations, and in the 87th minute, they got the goal they needed thanks to Ray Kennedy’s header.
Spurs would pressure the Arsenal goal in the dying moments, but Bob Wilson’s goalkeeping ensured the trophy would return to Highbury after an absence of nearly two decades.
6. May 4, 1994: Arsenal 1-0 Parma
In 1994, Serie A giants Parma were a force to be reckoned with. The squad included the likes of Tomas Brolin, Gabriele Pin, Gianfranco Zola and Faustino Asprilla.
It was with this powerhouse that Arsenal collided in the final of that year’s Cup Winners’ Cup, and impressively, they managed to keep a clean sheet at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium.
The only goal of the night was nicked by Alan Smith, and the Gunners collected the second European trophy in their history.
5. May 3, 1998: Arsenal 4-0 Everton
In the spring of 1998, Arsenal required just a single win from their last three matches in order to secure their first title of the Premier League era—and manager Arsene Wenger’s first.
They got the victory they needed at home to Everton May 3.
Toffees defender Slaven Bilic accidentally opened the scoring with an own goal, and Marc Overmars struck a brace before Tony Adams put the finishing touches on a memorable day with a wicked left-footed drive.
4. May 8, 2002: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal had already won the FA Cup when they traveled to Old Trafford in search of a historic double.
Unbeaten away from home in 2001-02, the Gunners scored the only goal of their showdown with Manchester United when Sylvain Wiltord turned Freddie Ljunberg’s rebound past Fabien Barthez.
Incredibly, Arsenel had won the match despite the absences of Tony Adams, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry.
3. May 8, 1971: Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
Their first title in 18 years secure after beating Tottenham 1-0 at White Hart Lane, Arsenal went in search of their first-ever double when they faced Liverpool in the 1971 FA Cup final.
With the two sides having played to a 0-0 draw through 90 minutes, Steve Heighway opened the scoring for Liverpool early in extra time, although Eddie Kelly restored level terms in the 101st minute.
The stage was set for some late dramatics, which Arsenal’s Charlie George provided in the 111th minute when he beat Reds goalkeeper Ray Clemence.
2. April 25, 2004: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal
Arsenal went the entire 2003-04 Premier League season without losing a single match, and they celebrated their title victory following a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane.
Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires provided the goals that day, and after subsequent wins away to Fulham and at home to Leicester City, The Invincibles became one of the proudest institutions in Arsenal history.
1. May 28, 1989: Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal
Eighteen years had passed since Arsenal’s title win in 1971 when they next had a chance to finish atop the old First Division.
But coming into the final day of the 1988-89 season, the Gunners needed to score two more clear goals than title rivals Liverpool, and their last mach just happened to come against the Reds—at Anfield.
Shortly after the restart, with both sides having yet to score, Alan Smith beat Bruce Grobbelaar to put the guests in front. And then, late on, a delightful move that involved John Lukic, Lee Dixon, Smith and Michael Thomas resulted in the latter notching the title-winning goal.