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EFL Archive: Graham's Gunners seal 1989 title in dramatic fashion

21 March 2020

It has been said over the years that the 1988/89 campaign brought about one of the best finishes to a league season in football history.

A fiercely-contested title race between Arsenal and Liverpool went right to the wire and, coincidentally, they were set to face each other on the final day at Anfield.

Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool had been crowned FA Cup winners for the fourth time in their history after a 3-2 extra-time victory over rivals Everton at Wembley. It was a positive end to a cup run which was overshadowed by the tragic events at Hillsborough in their Semi-Final game against Nottingham Forest. 

After crashing out of the League Cup and FA Cup in Round Three of both competitions, Arsenal’s eyes were firmly fixed on securing their first league title in 18 years.

Heading into that final day, the Gunners needed to win by at least two clear goals to beat leaders Liverpool to the title.

A goalless first half ensued and, with the hosts 45 minutes away from their 18th league title, a change in formation was put into play by Arsenal manager George Graham, and to devastating effect too.

Striker Alan Smith notched his 23rd goal of the season with a well-timed header to give the visitors the lead, but it would be an injury-time winner from Michael Thomas that broke Liverpool hearts.

In the dying seconds of the game, a final counter-attack from the Gunners saw the ball fall to Thomas, and he slid it past the on-rushing Bruce Grobbelaar.

Liverpool: Grobbelaar, Ablett, Nicol, Hansen, Staunton, Houghton, Whelan (c), McMahon, Barnes, Aldridge, Rush (Beardsley 32’).

Arsenal: Lukic, O’Leary, Dixon, Adams (c), Bould (Groves 76’), Winterburn, Thomas, Rocastle, Richardson, Merson (Hayes 73’), Smith. 

Attendance: 41,783

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