So on Saturday lunchtime we are off to Anfield for what has traditionally been one of the big fixtures of the season, and one that would appear to have become a barometer of our title winning credentials in modern times. Indeed in all thirteen successful campaigns we have won at Anfield no fewer than nine times.
Surely the most famous meeting of the clubs came on 26th May, 1989 when we secured the 2-0 win we needed to lift the championship trophy with the famous “It’s up for grabs now” Michael Thomas goal in the final moments of a long season.
George Graham’s Arsenal secured the title again two years later, and again beat the defending champions in front of their own supporters with Paul Merson scoring the only goal of the game.
I should gloss over 1998 when with the title already secured a weakened side took a four goal beating. I would argue that this was the exception that proves the rule. Ten days later the Gunners sealed their second double by beating Newcastle United at Wembley.
Fast forward to our third double season, and in 2001/2 the Gunners, reduced to ten men by the first-half dismissal of Giovanni van Bronckhorst took a two goal lead through Thierry Henry (from the penalty spot) and Freddie Ljungberg. Although Litmanen pulled one back we weathered the late storm to earn a significant three points. That day remains fresh in the minds of many as a significant one for our season.
The 2004 invincibles won by the same score despite falling behind to Kewell’s opener. The equaliser arrived courtesy of Hyypia’s own goal and a Robert Pires special from fully twenty-five yards sealed another key victory.
You can probably predict now that this weekend’s ‘holic pound will be wagered on another win on the road. Once again we make the journey with the title a possibility. Once again to beat an improving Liverpool would send out a very strong message.
Let it be, as four of Liverpool’s most famous sons once sang.