19th January 1991
Arsenal 1 – 0 Everton
Bizarrely from 1986 until 1989, the home side in this match had failed to win the fixture. Since then, the home side had been dominant. Arsenal had taken a point in what was best described as a dour affair at Goodison Park in September 1990. Since then, they had gone from strength to strength and were poised to take over the league leadership as Liverpool began to wobble.
During the build-up, George Graham sounded a warning to the rest of the First Division. Arsenal, he claimed, had a squad as good as that which had won the double twenty years before. Not as good because they hadn’t won anything but that seems a minor detail in it all. His words echo down the years into an all too familiar feeling:
Guardian chief football writer, David Lacey, wasn’t a happy man. His report below clearly relays his annoyance at ITV’s insistence that they dictate the footballing calendar. The clubs didn’t escape his wrath either. Arsenal had in the previous season to ITV and were poised to do the same this campaign.
Even at this early stage of the plans, he had spotted the fundamental flaw in the broadcaster’s desire to swap the Liverpool v Arsenal match to Wednesday, 20th March from the first weekend in that month: it clashed with other fixtures. That story would rumble on for a few more weeks before it reached its’ conclusion.
Arsenal won this match by a Paul Merson goal early in the second half. It was a welcome win given Liverpool’s 1 – 1 draw at home to Wimbledon. It meant the Merseysiders had won only one the last five league matches and Arsenal began their inexorable charge toward the title. Arsenal’s advantage at the top was but a point and Liverpool had a game in hand. Yet the pressure was shifting from Highbury northwards. Arsenal were there to be shot at but it was Anfield where the real concerns were beginning to surface.
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