#FlashbackFriday - Liverpool v Arsenal: Part Two - 1925 to 1954

(Part One covering 1893 to 1925 can be found here)

Arsenal’s first meeting with Liverpool under Herbert Chapman came four games into the 1925/26 season at Highbury.  Goals for Arsenal’s star signing Charles Buchan and Liverpool’s Jimmy Walsh meant a 1-1 draw.  Arsenal came to Anfield for the return fixture the following January sitting atop of the First Division table with a two point gap over second placed Sunderland with a game in hand, though Herbert Chapman’s old side – reigning Champs Huddersfield – were also two points behind in third with two games in hand over Arsenal.  The Gunners however crashed to a 0-3 defeat with the Anfield jinx continuing further.  The Liverpool Echo’s report on the game described a situation familiar to most modern Gunners fans, with Arsenal’s ‘unending attack’ and that ‘Arsenal didn’t know how to make the ball enter the net’.

Arsenal finished the season as runners up and five points behind Huddersfield, who secured a hat-trick of league titles (this was however Arsenal’s best League finish to date).  Liverpool in contrast finished 1925/26 in seventh place.  In 1926/27, the two sides met in six games into the season at Highbury.  In front of a crowd of 35,497, goals for Jimmy Brain and Sid Hoar gave Arsenal a 2-0 victory.  February 1927 at Anfield.  Arsenal were eighth, with Liverpool two points behind in eleventh.  The Gunners’ Anfield jinx would still not be shrugged off, as the Merseysiders ran out 3-0 winners in front of a crowd of 30,618.  As the cartoon for the Daily Sketch would explain however, this was the rehearsal for the two sides meeting in the FA Cup fifth round two weeks later at Highbury.


In the FA Cup, goals for Jimmy Brain and Charles Buchan gave Arsenal a 2-0 victory in front of a crowd of 43,000 to put them into the Quarter Finals.  Arsenal went all the way to the FA Cup Final for the first time ever, but lost to Cardiff City.  The Gunners finished 1926/27 in eleventh, while Liverpool would be above them by goal average in ninth place.  In the interim between Christmas and New Year 1927, Arsenal travelled to Anfield to face Liverpool in tenth place.  Liverpool were above them in eighth on goal average.  A crowd of 41,024 turned out for the game.  Goals for Sid Hoar and Jimmy Brain gave Arsenal a 2-0 victory – only Arsenal’s second win at Anfield and a moment which would turn the tide in Arsenal’s favour with regard to this fixture.


Liverpool came to Highbury for the return fixture in early March.  The Merseysiders were standing in eighth place, while Arsenal were just two points above the relegation zone in seventeenth place.  The match was a rearranged fixture which took place at 3.30PM on a Wednesday afternoon.  As a result, only 14,037 turned out for the game.  Those who managed to skip work for the day however were rewarded by a goal fest.  A Jimmy Brain hat-trick helped Arsenal to a thumping 6-3 victory.  Arsenal finished the 1927/28 in tenth place (though just three points off of the relegation zone).  For Liverpool, they would finish sixteenth but only avoid relegation by just one point – to make matters worse for the Reds, Everton were fired to the title by a record breaking Dixie Dean’s sixty goal season.

Liverpool returned to Highbury at the end of October for the first meeting between the two sides in 1928/29.  After eleven games, Liverpool stood eleventh while Arsenal were eighteenth.  The game would be a home debut for Arsenal’s £10,000 signing from Bolton Wanderers – David Jack – who five years prior had scored the first ever goal at Wembley during the 1923 FA Cup Final.  A first half hat-trick for Gordon Hodgson had put Liverpool 4-2 up by half time.  Two further goals from the Gunners in the second half gave the home side a 4-4 draw.  The return fixture at Anfield came in mid-March, where there would be a one point gap separating the two sides with Arsenal in eleventh, while Liverpool were thirteenth.

Two goals for Joe Hulme gave Arsenal a second straight victory at Anfield, as the Gunners ran out 4-2 winners.  By the end of 1928/29, one point separated Arsenal and Liverpool, though Liverpool finished fifth and Arsenal came ninth.  Arsenal visited Anfield four days before Christmas 1929 in eighth place and one point behind Liverpool in seventh.  A crowd of 32,819 saw Liverpool run out 1-0 winners.  The return fixture at Highbury again was a rearranged fixture in early April on a Wednesday afternoon at 3PM, with another diminished crowd of 18,824 in attendance.  Another 1-0 win for Liverpool gave the Merseysiders their first away win over Arsenal for seventeen years and their first ever win at Highbury.


In 1929/30, two points separated Liverpool and Arsenal with the former in twelfth place and the latter fourteenth.  Arsenal however bagged their first major trophy during their forty four year history, by beating Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup Final.  In 1930/31, Arsenal visited Anfield twelve days before Christmas.  A week prior, Liverpool had lost 5-6 away to Sunderland.  Liverpool stood eighth, while Arsenal sat on top of the table with a one point gap over Sheffield Wednesday in second place and a game in hand.  Tom Morrison gave Liverpool a first minute lead, however a David Jack equaliser earned Arsenal a 1-1 draw. 

By the time Liverpool came to Highbury in mid-April, the Gunners needed just one point to secure their first ever League title.  An own goal from Herbert Roberts put the Gunners a goal behind after just three minutes. 


However goals from David Jack, Cliff Bastin and Jack Lambert gave Arsenal a 3-1 win and crowned them Champions in front of a home crowd of 39,143.  In defending their title in 1931/32, Arsenal hosted Liverpool in late November at Highbury.  After sixteen games, the Gunners stood in sixth place with Liverpool one place above them in fifth with one point more.  A crowd of 29,220 at Highbury saw Arsenal thump the Merseysiders 6-0 with goals for Joe Hulme, two for David Jack and a hat-trick for Jack Lambert.  Liverpool meanwhile finished the season in ninth place.       


By the time Arsenal came to Anfield in early April, Arsenal trailed league leaders Everton by four points and just six games left to play.  Liverpool meanwhile were five points behind in eighth.  Arsenal were suffering from the loss of their playmaker, Alex James and crashed to a 1-2 defeat as Liverpool did their neighbours across Stanley Park a favour by denting Arsenal’s title hopes, with Liverpool keeper Elisha Scott singled out for praise by the press.  Arsenal finished the season as runners up to Everton, meanwhile Liverpool finished tenth.  Arsenal returned to Anfield the following October.  Liverpool were in twelfth place, while the Gunners stood just one point behind League leaders Aston Villa.  Two goals for Cliff Bastin gave Arsenal a 3-2 win at Anfield.


Liverpool came to Highbury the following March in thirteenth, while Arsenal topped the Old First Division with a four point gap over Sheffield Wednesday in second.  The match would be noteworthy for the fact that this was the very first game in which Arsenal turned out in Pillar Box Red shirts with White sleeves.  Arsenal however crashed to a 0-1 defeat in front of a crowd of 42,868.  Arsenal however secured their second title come the end of the season with a victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, while Liverpool finished the 1932/33 season in fourteenth place.  In 1933/34, Liverpool came to Highbury in December standing ninth in the table.  After sixteen games, Arsenal topped the First Division table one point above their local rivals – newly promoted Spurs.


In front of a crowd of 38,362, goals for Joe Hulme and Jimmy Dunne gave Arsenal a 2-1 victory at Highbury.  Worse was to follow for Liverpool on New Year’s Day after they suffered a 2-9 away defeat to Newcastle United.  Six days later however, Arsenal suffered the death of their iconic manager Herbert Chapman, who succumbed to pneumonia.  The return fixture at Anfield came in mid-April 1934, with Joe Shaw and Tom Whittaker standing in as Caretaker managers until the end of the season.  Arsenal held a four point gap over second place Huddersfield Town (Herbert Chapman’s former side), with five games left to play.  Liverpool meanwhile were just three points off of the relegation zone having played one game more. 


The match took place on the same day as the annual England v Scotland fixture.  Because of this, Arsenal had three players selected for the game (Cliff Bastin, Eddie Hapgood and Frank Moss) who were unable to turn out for the Gunners.  Arsenal made a request for the match to be postponed, however both Liverpool and the Football League refused to agree to this.  At Wembley, Arsenal’s Cliff Bastin opened England’s scoring a superb long range shot, as England beat Scotland 3-0. Meanwhile at Anfield, a crowd of 43,027 turned out for the occasion.  Two goals for Joe Hulme aided Arsenal in pulling off a 3-2 victory.  The result left Arsenal one step closer to retaining their title, while Liverpool were mired in a relegation battle.  Arsenal finished the season as League Champions with a four point gap over second place Aston Villa.  Liverpool avoided relegation with a six point cushion, finishing fourteenth. 


In 1934/35, the two sides met three games into the season on the first day of September.  The Gunners now had George Allison in charge as boss and were hoping for a hat-trick of League titles.  In the opening fixture of the season, Arsenal played out a 3-3 draw away at Portsmouth.  Liverpool were the first home game of the season for the Gunners and a home debut for new signing Ted Drake.  A crowd of 54,062 turned out at Highbury, swelled by the presence of the new art deco West Stand, with a replica on the East Side complete with its iconic entrance in its planning stage.  The Highbury crowd were rewarded with a goal fest.

Hat-tricks for Ray Bowden and new boy Ted Drake, as well as Jack Crayston and Cliff Bastin meant that  Arsenal hammered Liverpool 8-1


Within three weeks, Arsenal had scored a total of twenty goals in just five games.  The return fixture at Anfield would be the first fixture during the calendar year of 1935 in early January.  The preceding month of December had seen the Gunners bag a total of twenty four goals in seven games, which included a 7-0 win over Wolves, an 8-0 victory over Leicester and a Christmas Day 5-3 win over Preston North End, all at Highbury.  Arsenal stood third in the table, two points behind leaders Sunderland, while Liverpool were two points behind in seventh.

A crowd of 55,794 turned out at Anfield for the game.  Arsenal had a penalty saved from Eddie Hapgood on the half hour.  The Gunners had another penalty awarded after Tom Bradshaw fouled Ted Drake inside the box. Liverpool’s South Afircan keeper Arthur Riley saved, but Hapgood headed in the rebound.  Ted Drake later added a second, as Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners – a result which pushed them up to second.  Arsenal went on to bag a third straight league title, which was secured with a thumping 8-0 win over Middlesbrough at Highbury.  The Gunners finished the season with a total of 115 goals.  Liverpool meanwhile finished seventh.


In 1935/36, both league meetings between the two sides took place over the Christmas period.  At the time, Arsenal stood in fourth place and six points behind leaders Sunderland but with a game in hand.  Liverpool were two points behind the Gunners in sixth place.  The first game took place on Christmas Day at Anfield.  The match kicked off at 11.30AM and attracted a crowd of 45,899.  A goal for Joe Hulme gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory.  Twenty four hours later at Highbury came the Boxing Day reverse fixture. 57,035 turned out for the game and witnessed another goal for Joe Hulme.  Two goals for Fred Howe however gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory. 


The sides would meet again one month on in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Anfield.  The Gunners picked up their second victory at Anfield in one month, with Joe Hulme scoring against Liverpool for a third game in a row.  Another from Ray Bowden sealed a 2-0 victory for the Gunners.  Arsenal finished the season in sixth place and nine points behind Champions Sunderland, however won the FA Cup.  Liverpool on the other hand only avoided relegation by a three point margin in nineteenth place.  In 1936/37, Arsenal returned to Anfield on the last day of October.  Liverpool went into the game on the back of a 2-5 away defeat to Brentford and languishing in twelfth place with three wins from twelve.  Arsenal meanwhile were fearing little better with just one point more in fourteenth place.

In front of a crowd of 39,251, Liverpool pulled off a 2-1 victory.  Making his debut for Liverpool that day would be Harry Eastham, whose nephew George went on to play for Arsenal and successfully challenged the ‘retain and transfer’ system which had restricted footballer’s freedom of movement since the nineteenth century and partly opened the door to footballers earning huge sums in wages.  A ten minute ‘eye witness account’ of the game would feature on the BBC’s Regional Programme at 6.50 PM later that evening.  The return fixture at Highbury occurred in early March 1937.  Arsenal stood in second place, two points behind league leaders Charlton with eleven games left to play.  Liverpool on the other hand were seventeenth and four points off of the relegation zone.

The game was a rearranged fixture and took place on a Wednesday afternoon at 3.30PM. Consequently a crowd of just 16,145 turned out for the game.  A goal for Alf Kirchen gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory which took them to the top of the old First Division table.  Arsenal finished the season in third place, five points off of Champions Man City in what was a rare trophy-less season for the Gunners during the 1930s.  Liverpool on the other hand finished eighteenth and avoided relegation by a three point margin, as rivals Man United slipped into the second tier for the second time in under a decade.


In 1937/38, Arsenal headed to Anfield exactly one week before Christmas, standing second in the table behind league leaders Brentford with a game in hand.  Liverpool meanwhile were twentieth with a three point cushion from the relegation zone.  Arsenal’s title hopes were dented by two first half goals from John Shafto and South African Berry Nieuwenhuys, as Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners.  A five minute ‘eye witness account’ of the game would feature at 10.30PM later than evening on the BBC’s Regional Programme.  The return fixture back at Highbury came on the last day of April 1938.  Arsenal topped the table over second place Wolves on goal average with two games left to play, but had played one game more than Wolves.  There were also as many as six clubs within four points of the Gunners who mathematically had a chance of catching them.  Arsenal therefore had no room for error.  Liverpool meanwhile stood in tenth.


In front of a crowd of 34,703 at Highbury, a goal for Eddie Carr secured a 1-0 win for Arsenal.  Eddie Carr was also on the scoresheet a week later, scoring twice as Arsenal ran out 5-0 winners over Bolton.  Wolves, who started the day with a one point lead over Arsenal, lost away to Sunderland and in the process handed the title to the Gunners.  Arsenal won the title despite losing eleven games, failing to win half of their games and scoring three goals less than reigning Champions Man City, who found themselves relegated despite being the Division’s top scorers (only a sixteen point margin separated top from bottom, under a two points for a win system!).  Liverpool meanwhile finished five points from the bottom of the table in eleventh place.

In 1938/39, Arsenal came to Anfield in early November languishing in twelfth place after thirteen games, with just four wins.  Liverpool meanwhile stood third, four points behind neighbours Everton in second and six behind table topping Derby County.  A crowd of 42,540 saw the two sides played out a 2-2 draw.  The return fixture at Highbury occurred the following March and would be the final time in which the two sides would meet before the outbreak of the Second World War.  The two sides were level on points, with Arsenal in ninth place, above Liverpool in tenth by way of goal average.


One newspaper report described this match as: ‘never a great match this, but very often a thrilling one’.  A crowd of 31,495 saw Arsenal run out 2-0 winners with two second half goals for Alf Kirchen and Ted Drake.  The season finished with Arsenal in fifth place and Liverpool eleventh.  The last champions before the outbreak of the Second World War were Everton (as they were before the outbreak of the First World War).  After a handful of games, the 1939/40 season was declared null and void after War with Germany was declared on September 3rd 1939.  Victory over Nazi Germany was declared in 1945.  After a six and a half year break in fixtures, the two sides would meet again in late November 1946 at Anfield.

After fifteen games, Liverpool topped the old First Division table with a one point lead over second place Wolves.  Arsenal in contrast stood in nineteenth place with just four wins to their name. In front of a crowd of 51,435, Liverpool ran out 4-2 winners with a hat-trick for Jack Balmer – his third hat-trick in three successive games!  Also on the scoresheet for Liverpool was Albert Stubbins (a picture of whom actually appears on the famed cover of The Beatles' ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band’ album).  The league season had been delayed due to a particularly cold winter and the non-permitting of floodlit games and the return fixture at Highbury came about at the end of May.

Liverpool stood fourth and one point behind league leaders Wolves with two games left to play.  Arsenal on the other hand stood in fifteenth place.  A crowd of 44,265 turned out at Highbury, where after a goalless first half, Ian McPherson put the Gunners ahead.  However goals for Jack Balmer and an own goal from Walley Barnes meant a 2-1 victory for Liverpool.  Those not at the game would have to make do with a report on ‘Saturday Sports Review’ on the BBC’s Home Service at 7.15PM.  A week later, George Allison resigned as Gunners boss after the club’s final home game of the season, to be replaced by Tom Whittaker.  Arsenal finished the season in thirteenth place.  Liverpool’s final game of the season took place that same day with a 2-1 victory over fellow title challengers Wolves to steal the top spot.

Liverpool’s fixtures ended, however they were left to wait another two weeks for the only side left who could catch them – Stoke City – to finish their fixtures against Sheffield United away.  Arsenal also completed their fixtures with a trip to Sheffield United a week prior.  The Blades met Stoke City on 14th June 1947 (the latest league fixture ever played in the English league) and ran out 2-1 winners which crowned Liverpool league Champions for the first time since 1923.  News of the result broke while Liverpool were playing Everton in the final of the Liverpool Senior Cup at Anfield in front of a 40,000 crowd.  Liverpool also won that game, making it a rare double won simultaneously on the same afternoon (the Lancashire Senior Cup was also won by Liverpool one week prior).

In 1947/48, the two sides met over the Christmas period.  The first game came on Christmas Day at Anfield.  Arsenal topped the old First Division table with a three point gap over second place Burnley, having lost just one game all season.  Liverpool on the other hand were not making a great defence of their title, languishing twelfth having won just seven of their twenty two games played.  A crowd of 53,604 turned out at Anfield for an 11AM kick off.  Goals for Don Roper and two for Ronnie Rooke gave Arsenal a 3-1 victory.  Arsenal boss Tom Whittaker informs in his autobiography that he then went to Bradford to have Christmas dinner with his goalkeeper George Swindin and his family.  On Boxing Day he then went to watch Bradford Park Avenue - who Arsenal were to play in the third round of the FA Cup (and surprisingly, lose to at Highbury).  On the 27th December, back at Highbury 56,650 turned out for the return fixture.  Reg Lewis was on target for the Gunners, but goals for Billy Liddell and Albert Stubbins inflicted a 1-2 defeat on Arsenal – only their second of the season.


Arsenal however finished the season as Champions with a seven point cushion over Matt Busby’s Man United in second place.  Liverpool meanwhile finished the season in eleventh place.  Liverpool returned to Highbury six games into the 1948/49 season in early September. 41,571 people turned out for a 5.45PM kick off.  Goals for Arsenal’s Ronnie Rooke and Liverpool’s Billy Liddell meant that the two sides played out a 1-1 draw.  The return fixture at Anfield occurred just seven days later, which was once again an early evening kick off.  In front of a crowd of 46,714, a goal for Reg Lewis gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory.  Arsenal ended 1948/49 in fifth place and nine points behind League Champions Portsmouth.  Liverpool meanwhile finished the season in twelfth place.  Nearly a whole year past before the two sides met each other again, five games into the 1949/50 season at Highbury. 

In front of a crowd of 51,866, two goals for Albert Stubbins gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory.  The return fixture occurred on New Year’s Eve 1949 at Anfield.  Liverpool topped the League table by two points over second place Man United, while Arsenal were four points behind Liverpool in fifth.  Liverpool ended the 1940s on a high, as a first half goal for Billy Liddell and an own goal from Arsenal keeper George Swindin meant a 2-0 victory in front of a crowd of 55,020.  Arsenal finished the season in sixth place, four points behind Portsmouth who retained their title.  Liverpool meanwhile were a point behind the Gunners in eighth.


The two sides however would meet in the 1950 FA Cup Final at Wembley, after two local derbies in the Semi Finals – Arsenal seeing off Chelsea at White Hart Lane after a replay, while Liverpool beat Everton.  For the Merseysiders, this would be their first ever appearance at Wembley Stadium.  Ahead of the final would be a ‘Meet the Finalists’ feature from British Movietone Newsreel.

Ahead of the final, Liverpool had a dilemma in that Arsenal’s skipper – the former Everton star Joe Mercer - was still based on Merseyside and running a grocery store and regularly trained with the Liverpool side, meaning that he would be over familiar with his opposition on Cup Final Day.  Future Liverpool boss Bob Paisley would receive the news that he was to be dropped for the final.  His team mate Albert Stubbins explained that: ‘Bob was shattered to be left out. He was very low and contemplating leaving the club, but I told him not to make any hasty decisions’.  The Liverpool side were staying in Weybridge in Surrey ahead of the final and were order to have an early night after a cinema visit on the evening ahead of their Wembley visit.  Arsenal players however spent the evening of the final at home, as Arsenal boss Tom Whittaker explained in his autobiography: 'we consider this in the same light as any normal 'home' match'.


The final would feature live on BBC Television to an audience then estimated at around one million and to even bigger audience over the wireless on the BBC’s Light Programme and other parts of the world.  Arsenal would also turn out in a gold third kit for the first time ever, as both their home kit of red and away kit of white would clash with Liverpool’s (that afternoon Liverpool would be wearing white).  Whitaker states that: 'instead of the blue shirts Arsenal were expected to wear, I thought we might as well be different and had finally decided on this kit; old gold shirts, with white collars and the Arsenal badge in black, white shorts, black and old gold hooped stockings'.  The usually Wembley sunshine had deserted the game this year, which took place amid heavy rain.  Two goals for Reg Lewis gave Arsenal a 2-0 victory and their fourth FA Cup triumph, followed by a post-Cup Final reception at a west end hotel, as well as a follow up civic reception. 

According to the News Chronical’s report on the game ‘Twelve inches of Turf Made all the Difference’ For scouse comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, the hurt would still be felt twenty one years later.  The 8,000 Liverpool fans present however still gave a sporting cheer for Joe Mercer after the final whistle.  London’s Evening Standard Newspaper hailed two goal Reg Lewis and that Arsenal were a ‘team without nerves’.  


The match was also a final appearance for Denis Compton in an Arsenal shirt, as explained here in his Daily Telegraph obituary, by now he was: 'already into his thirties, inclined to run out of puff, and troubled by a notorious knee injury'.  Denis had a quiet first half, which he himself described as a stinker.  In the Arsenal dressing room at half time was Arsenal legend from the thirties, Alex James.  He advised Compton to take a mammoth gulp of whisky to calm his nerves.  Tom Whittaker also described in his autobiography that: 'I put my arm round his shoulder and said, as we walked together up the tunnel: 'Denis, you've probably got only forty five minutes left in top class Football. Go out there and show them. Finish on a top note, even if it means falling on your face at the end'. And Denis went out to make his swansong amid the April showers'.  


Many have observed that in the second half, Compton put in a dazzling performance to end his footballing career.  In a post-match interview with captain Joe Mercer he explains that he asked Dennis why he was last but one to collect his medal from the King.  He explained that: ‘because Les (his brother and Arsenal team mate) was behind pushing me, as he always has been all my life’.

In 1950/51, the two sides would meet again in late November at Anfield.  After seventeen games, Arsenal topped the old First Division table with a two point lead over second place Newcastle United.  Liverpool meanwhile were twelfth.  The second half of this game would be covered live on the wireless on the BBC’s Light Programme, though a crowd of 44,193 turned out at Anfield to watch the game in the flesh.  Goals for Jimmy Logie, Doug Lishman and Don Roper gave Arsenal a 3-1 lead, with Liverpool’s only reply coming from a Leslie Compton own goal.  The result stretched Arsenal’s lead at the top to three points.  The return fixture at Highbury came in early April 1951.


At the time, Arsenal had dropped to fifth place and languishing nine points behind newly promoted neighbours Spurs at the top of the table, with just four games left to play.  Liverpool meanwhile were tenth.  A crowd of 34,664 at Highbury saw the final nail in the coffin of Arsenal’s title hopes as the Gunners crashed to a 1-2 defeat.  Arsenal finished the season fifth and thirteen points behind Arthur Rowe’s ‘push and run’ Spurs side who finished the season as Champions.  Liverpool meanwhile were ninth and their Merseyside rivals Everton found themselves relegated to the Second tier.  Liverpool came to Highbury again six games into the 1951/52 season.  Arsenal were second with three wins out of five, ahead of Liverpool on goal average.


A crowd of 47,483 turned out for a 6.00PM kick off.  The two sides however played out a goalless draw.  The return fixture came exactly one week on at Anfield.  The match was once again an early evening kick off and a crowd of 39,853 once again saw a goalless draw.  Liverpool finished the season eleventh, while Arsenal held hopes of the Double going into the final Saturday, however a 1-6 defeat at Old Trafford saw the title go to Man United (finishing third) while the Cup was lost a week later with a 0-1 defeat to Newcastle United with ten men after Wally Barnes was taken off injured.  A disappointed Arsenal therefore were desperate to make amends in 1952/53.

The two sides met in mid-November at Anfield.  After sixteen games, Liverpool stood fifth while Arsenal were one point behind in seventh.  A crowd of 45,010 saw Arsenal run out 5-1 winners, with two goals for Ben Marden and a hat-trick for Cliff Holton.  The return fixture came on Easter Saturday at Highbury.  Liverpool stood fourteenth, while Arsenal were sixth and three points behind league leaders Preston North End with a game in hand.  A crowd of 40,564 saw Arsenal take the lead on five minutes with a goal from Don Roper.  The Gunners doubled their lead a minute later with an own goal from Laurie Hughes.  In the first twenty minutes of the second half, Arsenal’s lead extended to four goal with Doug Lishman and Peter Goring on target.

With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Alan A’Court pulled one back for Liverpool, but Don Roper restored the four goal deficit for the Gunners.  With three minutes to go, Billy Liddell pulled one back for Liverpool, however with no further scoring Arsenal ran out 5-3 winners.  The result moved Arsenal to within three points of the top of the table with three games in hand.  The Gunners sealed their record eighth league title in the final game of the season with a 3-2 victory over Burnley.  Arsenal took the title on goal average – no doubt aided by ten put past Liverpool in both fixtures.  It would however be Arsenal’s last trophy win for the next seventeen years, but though Arsenal faced a decline, it would only be relative to which Liverpool would suffer for the latter part of the 1950s.

Arsenal came to Anfield in November 1953 sitting in ninth place with just seven wins from eighteen games.  Liverpool however were languishing in eighteenth place with just four wins to their name and one point above the relegation zone.  A crowd of 47,814 saw Arsenal run out 2-1 winners with goals for Jimmy Logie and Doug Lishman (unbeknown to the Gunners at the time, it would be their last visit to Anfield for the next nine years).  The return fixture at Highbury came in early April 1954.  The Merseysiders were rock bottom of the league table and languishing six points from safety with just five games left to play.  Arsenal however were making a disappointing attempt at defending their title, sitting twelfth in the table.


Goals for Don Roper and two from Derek Tapscott gave Arsenal a comprehensive 3-0 victory in front of 33,178 spectators, putting Liverpool on the precipice of demotion going into the Easter Weekend.  The afternoon however would also bring disappointment for Arsenal.  Joe Mercer in a collision with his own player - Arsenal left back Joe Wade - broke his leg. The injury ended his career in his fortieth year.  Mercer on being stretchered off the field however reassured Wade: 'Don't worry son, you couldn't help it. Think how lucky I am it wasn't at the start of my career'.  The following week, Liverpool hung on with a 1-0 win over second from bottom side Middlesbrough on Good Friday.  Defeat however was sealed twenty four hours later however, as Liverpool crashed to a 0-1 defeat to Cardiff on Easter Saturday.  Everton came back up into the top flight that same season, however for Liverpool there would be eight long years languishing in the second tier of English football.


As will be seen in Part Three, when the two sides meet again in December, Liverpool would return to the top flight prominence in the 1960s, which would mean further noteworthy meetings with Arsenal going into the Television era.

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*Published 25th August 2017