What is Your Best Arsenal Game Ever? Here’s GN5’s

Arsenals Top Seasons 1947-48

1947 was a milestone year in the life of GunnerN5, I spent endless hour’s playing football with my mates on Avenell Road we kicked a rag football (made by my mum) about using the main gate into Highbury as our goal. We were in awe of all the supporters as they streamed in and out of Highbury on Saturday afternoon’s wishing we could be inside with them. The Oh’s and Ah’s coming from the ground always left us wondering what was happening  but we knew when the Gunners had scored as that caused the biggest roar of all.

My maternal Grandfather changed my life when he gave me the best birthday present I’d  received – for my birthday he took me to my very first Arsenal game – it was November 22nd 1947 Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town and we won 2-0. That game was the start my life long journey of supporting the Arsenal and it was capped off with us winning the League Championship.

WW11 was over but our ground in Highbury had not been spared from war damage; the North Stand had been extensively damaged by fire causing the roof to collapse plus the South Stand terracing was badly damaged and in need of repair.  The debts from the construction of the ground and the costs of repairing the war damage were a heavy financial burden, and Arsenal struggled when competitive football resumed. The war had also cut short the careers of many of the club’s star players, including Cliff Bastin and Ted Drake and sadly nine of the pre-WW11 players lost their lives during the war.

The Football League resumed for the 1946-47 season and Arsenal finished a disappointing 13th. After close to forty years with the Arsenal George Allison retired at the end of the season, and was replaced by his assistant Tom Whittaker, who had been the clubs trainer under Herbert Chapman, with Joe Shaw joining him from Chelsea.


Arsenal kicked off the1947/48 season with a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at Highbury, an ideal start for the new management team. Leslie Compton, the previous club Captain (who had been playing cricket for Middlesex Cricket Club), returned to Arsenal and they won their next six games.  Joe Mercer had been Arsenal’s Captain in Compton’s absence but Whittaker felt that now Compton was back he should, once again, lead the team but Compton felt differently and persuaded Whittaker to keep Joe on as the clubs Captain.

They remained unbeaten in the first 17 games of the season, winning 12 and drawing 5 before they lost 0-1 away to Derby County in the 18th game. Arsenal were the dominant team of the season and were ahead of the other final top teams from the 2nd game of the season onward – as shown in the following table.

The Arsenal 1948/48 team consisted on many of the era great players –

Walley Barnes – (WAL) Full back    

 Denis Compton – (ENG) Outside Left     

 Les Compton – (ENG) Centre half   

 Alf Fields – Centre half    

 Alex Forbes – (SCO) Wing half    

 Bryn Jones – (WAL) Inside forward    

 Reg Lewis – (ENG) Centre forward     

 Jimmy Logie – (SCO) Inside forward   

 Archie MacAulay – (SCO) Inside Forward/Wing half    

 George Male – (ENG) Full back    

 Ian McPherson – (SCO) Winger     

 Joe Mercer – (ENG) Wing half    

 Ronnie Rooke – (ENG) Centre forward 

 Don Roper – (ENG) Winger     

 Laurie Scott – (ENG) Full back    

 Paddy Sloan – (NIR) Wing half     

 Lionel Smith – (ENG) Full back     

 George Swindin – (ENG) Goalkeeper    

 Joe Wade – (ENG) Full back     

 Ted Platt – Goalkeeper

Two of their most well known players were the Compton brothers.

Denis Compton CBE was born in Hendon on 23 May 1918.  He played in 78 Test Matches and played for Middlesex – his home county.  He was a slow left arm bowler, and cricket reports call him one of England’s most remarkable batsmen.   He scored 123 centuries in first-class cricket.   A stand at Lord’s is named in his honour. He started his football career at Nunhead in 1934/5 before moving to Arsenal, where he made his début in 1936.  He also played for England was of 38 years and 64 days; the oldest post-war England debutante and the oldest ever outfield player to début.

Leslie Compton was born in Woodford on 12 September 1912.  Like his brother he played cricket for Middlesex, but it was at football that he excelled. He came to Arsenal straight from Middlesex Schools, and played as an amateur in 1930 playing his first first-team game on 24 April 1932 against Aston Villa, just after turning pro. He started as a right back, but then when George Male took that place Denis went back into the reserves. His first medal came with the Charity Shield in 1938.  During the war he continued to play for Arsenal and, being converted to centre forward he apparently scored ten goals in one game against Leyton Orient. After the war however he moved into the centre of defence.  He missed a few games in 1947/8 because of his commitments to Middlesex (which must mean that Arsenal and Middlesex had a deal as to when he was available) he played for the rest of the season as Arsenal won the First Division title and both Comptons got their league winner’s medals.

The Compton’s are the only brothers ever to have won the League and County titles in football and cricket.

In the final Arsenal matchday programme of the 1947/48 League Championship winning season, ‘Marksman’ (aka Harry Homer), the programme editor of the day, wrote: “…my mind seeks an apt quotation with which to close this season which has been such a glorious one for Tom Whittaker, Joe Mercer and all connected with The Gunners. Shall we turn for once to Latin? ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’. Translation: ‘Victory grows out of harmony.’”

Two seasons later and Arsenal unveiled its new crest which incorporated Marksman’s Latin maxim. Tom Whittaker explained in the 1949/50 handbook (which also included the new crest) that the Club had been impressed by Marksman’s motto and it had now been officially adopted by the Club. The new crest also featured ‘Arsenal’ in a gothic style typeface, the westward facing cannon, the Borough of Islington’s coat of arms and ermine. (courtesy of Arsenal.com)


56 thoughts on “What is Your Best Arsenal Game Ever? Here’s GN5’s

  • that wasnt proper football back then , muddy pitches , kicking lump of sodden leather around , nah modern football is on a different planet !

  • Joe, I am fully aware of the conditions – I played for many seasons on those pitches.
    To describe it as not being proper football is simply outrageous and displays your lack of knowledge of football played by real men!!

  • Agree with TA from yesterday’s post. Any CM that comes in like Tielemans, will mean we will play very differently if Partey isn’t starting or available. People calling for traditional dm don’t get the idea yet. Arteta is playing 4 dimensional chess and breaking rules.

  • Hjorvar, Friday May 26, 1989 at Anfield is my second favourite game. The first will always remain the first time I got to see the team play inside Highbury – I’d dreamed about it for years and my grandfather made it an unforgettable reality.

  • Beautiful post, GN5. It makes me realise how little most of us know about the Arsenal. Just the top of the Red and White iceberg. Your memory and ability to write about it is just brilliant.

  • Thanks GN5, I really enjoyed that, my Dad used to call Les Compton ‘big head’ and Denis of course was the Brylcream boy.

    He also used to joke that Reg Lewis often seemed to smile for the cameras when he scored.

    It was his favourite Arsenal team.

  • Great post GN5 . If I had to pick games from a more recent past . Then it has to be winning the title at Anfield and winning the FA Cup against Man Utd 3-2 . Mickey Thomas and Alan Sunderland with goals that will not fade from my memory.

  • Thank you Total, a lot of research gives my memory a good kicking. Being inside Highbury was just a magical experience of a young street urchin. From that time forth I made every effort not to miss a game, not being able to pay to get in made that a real challenge, but I found many creative ways to achieve my goal.

    My family all stood under the clock, we numbered anywhere from 10/18 and were well known in the area around Highbury. My maternal grandfather delivered coal by horse and cart around the Highbury area. In posts on other sites I told many stories about my family and my life as a youngster.

  • Say you were going on a space holiday and were allowed to take just one game to watch on screen, as many times as you like, which one would it be?

    I probably would pick the CL home win over Barcelona. That was a veritable feast of total football with the grandest of finales. I also loved the sheer battle of the FA cup semi final v Manure in 99. I know we lost that one but I still enjoyed it tremendously. Football was the winner on these days.

  • Ah, GN, our first times … thanks a lot, mate – this image of post-war London kids kicking makeshift balls around by the Highbury gates will stick in my memory
    Charlie George might be the last one to have gone from doing just the very same thing in the very same street, to becoming the ” essential (rebuilt) North Stand hero” – in Tom Watt’s words
    It had been a year and a half since I saw Arsenal in Rouen, when I watched the 1971 FA cup final, by my dad’s side on the family couch
    There’s been many fabulous Arsenal moments since that day but I know no football-linked emotion will ever be as fulfilling as what my 12-y-o self felt seeing black-and-white, spread-eagled Charlie lying on the Wembley turf, seconds after scoring the winner
    (Back to 2022: “L’Equipe” has it that Pépé to Nice’s a done deal – season-long-loan without buying option)

  • Nice is a very fine city as I am sure you know, LeG. He will thrive there and in that competition. Always seems so much more space available for running attackers.

  • That’s a great note GN5 I was really enjoying it until Kev mentioned Brylcreme and I remember my Dad slopping glutinous amounts of it on my head before visiting relatives in Luton and Ongar. In the back of the family Hillman imp.. you are totally right about it being a man’s game. No specific game but the 71 season with the “king of Highbury” will always be my favourite.

  • Thanks GN5. Who can forget a first kiss.

    Southampton v Manchester United * D 1-1
    Brentford v Everton H
    Arsenal v Fulham * H (2-0)
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle A
    Nottingham Forest v Tottenham * H 1-0
    Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt H

  • Pepe to Nice, Maitland Niles to Southampton, Bellerin to Barcelona, it could all be concluded this week, well done Eduardo Gaspar.

    I bet your hair was as perfect as Arteta’s is Retsub, not a hair out of place, a proper little gentleman.

    Whatever happened? 😄

  • Thanks for the info on Les Compton’s old pub GN5, not that I’ll be popping in there for a pint anytime soon.

    The Woodbine, The Gunners, The Arsenal Tavern and occasionally The Bank of Friendship (very occasionally as the publican was a Manc back in the day) those were my watering holes, all to the east of Highbury.

    Nowadays it’s the University of North London students bar and i’ll make my seasons debut there for the NLD as I’ve got a ticket… 😀

  • GN5 that’s a fascinating read. Great post. Obviously for an oversees fan like me these are little nuggets that makes us understand Arsenal better. All i can say is that you lot are really lucky that your local football club has so much history and now a global football club. I surely cast envious glance at you lost for sure.
    Just give you all a peep in to what Arsenal means for me. My day starts with Arsenal news and ends with his. I watch all games sometime late night and early mornings and have been doing so for 20+ years now. I have my Arsenal Jersey and so does my son. My wife gifted me a Arsenal frame which says ‘You can’t buy class Arsenal forever’ when we shifted ot our new home. It occupies a prominent place on my wall. My book shelf is littered with Arsenal books and i stilll have the 2003-4 invincibles calendar hung. Life nowadays and wiht world around is a very dark and sad place. I have been suffering internally as my country is going through a transformation where entire society is being radicalised and tribalism is being entrenched. These are dark days and Arsenal keeps me sane and i can afford to smile due to Arsenal. I fear for my son’s future in my country. We recently celebrated 75 yrs of independence and on the same day 11 convicted mass murderer and rapists of a Muslim lady was pardoned by a state govt and left free. This was done due as the incident was a communal one and state sponsored program and hence the convicts were released at the first opportunity. This news has terrified me and made me realise what a dark place life is. Thank God I ahve Arsenal which gives me moments of joy in an otherwise dark world. You guys are a lucky lot indeed.

  • My favourite match of all has to be when the Arsenal ended the 2003 season undefeated and won the final game 2-1 against Leicester. What a feat and I doubt it will be rivaled anytime soon.

  • GN5, that was a brilliant write up which must have filled you with some emotion. I enjoyed reading every bit of it. Thank you for sharing a bit of yours and Arsenal’s past with us on here.

    I know the thrill I felt when my older cousin took me to our National Stadium in Lagos, Nigeria to see an international game between Nigeria and Ghana, as a 7 year old who was already in love with the game. So, attending a home game involving a neighbourhood club side would probably register as a “best ever” experience. I did have a few of such with my local club side too when the family relocated from Lagos to Rivers State, Nigeria; Sharks FC, in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. God knows it earned me a few disciplinary actions as I would “break bounds” from (Secondary) school to go see some games (kids got in free), and I was not the most daring kid you’d ever get to know. It was all about the love for the club, at the time. Great memories.

    My best Arsenal game ever has to be the one at Stamford Bridge, October 23, 1999, when Nwankwo Kanu scored a sensational hat-trick against Chelsea in the final 15 minutes of the match to grab an unlikely 3-2 win for the Gunners. I had love for Arsenal since 1997 but that game mde me a Kept man since.

  • I was at the Bridge for that game, Eris. Nwanko, along with Jay Jay Okocha are the most outrageously skilled Nigerian footballers of all time (IMHO). And I was at the Bridge two seasons before when we beat them 3-0, (a Bergkamp masterclass) when Nick Anelka came off the bench for his Arsenal debut. That ranks high for me (it was a top of the table clash), but the astonishing 7-0 demolition of Everton at Highbury in 2005 was the game that sealed for me the opinion that Dennis Bergkamp is the best player that I have ever watched live.
    His fellow Dutchman, the legendary JC had this to say about him…

    “The best player in the world does not exist; in terms of an end-state, someone who reaches the final or even beyond that. Many people exist who say “but Player X had more of this and Player Y had more of that”.
    You can say, okay, a series of great players existed, whether you take Beckenbauer, Di Stefano, Maradona or Pele and say ‘those players had so many various qualities, so they belong to an “executive elite”‘ – that is a possibility.
    There is, of course, never a ‘best’ one. Many different components and aspects have a say in the game, and a role to fulfil.
    However, if you think about the word ‘footballer’, you have to have something in mind.
    It is not the definition of a player – you do not publish a picture of Pele in the dictionary and say ‘this is the footballer’, he would just be a representation of the word. The form, the shape of the idea.
    They will accuse me of short-sightedness, but if I think about a guitarist, I see Keith Richards; if I think about a painter, Johannes Vermeer.
    But if someone were to wake me up and ask me ‘footballer’, I tend to see Dennis Bergkamp. He looks like a footballer to me.” Johan Cruyff.

    Who is the best player you have ever seen live, GN5?

  • Madhu thank you for sharing your Arsenal story and what the team means to you. I hope they keep lifting you out of your gloom but please be kind if and when they disappoint you, which will sooner or later happen. It sounds like you are going through some very tough national times. It’s not great here in the UK either, Madhu. The poor are being squeezed and juiced everywhere and a difficult winter is upon us. There is a leadership vacuum from Lands End to John
    O’ Groats, and hallmark institutions like the BBC and NHS, and many laws, are being undermined.

    But luckily Arsenal are flying high right now 😊

  • On the Tielemans topic, he is reported to demand £200.000 per week as salary (after tax).
    I have a few problems with that:
    – I’m not sure he is that good of a player
    – 200k is awfully lot for a bench player
    – even if Tielemans could usurp Partey, Thomas would still make 200-220k on the bench
    – Youri currently earns 33k at Leicester; I won’t mind players doubling or tripling their salaries at a critical point of their career, but 6 times look outrageous to me

    Arteta made a good job not only getting rid of the groundlessly overpaid and somewhat unmotivated players, but as the result he made the wage bill and the locker room morale more or less in balance. Assuming that Pepe (140k) and Bellerin (110k) leave this window – one way or another – Arsenal will have only Jesus (260k, but he is indeed a game-changer), Partey (200k, overpaid), White (120k, seriously overpaid) and Tierney (110k, but I think he deserves that) taking over 100k home. (I found no reliable source on Zinchenko’s salary.) The rest of the group makes reasonable money: Xhaka 100k, Martinelli 90k, Odegaard 80k, Ramsdale & Tomiyasu 60k, etc. Gabriel’s 50k seems a bit underpaid to me, so do Saliba’s 40k and Saka’s 30k, but they are young and their salary is under negotiations as far as I know.

    So to make the long story short, irrespective how good a footballer Tielemans is, how he could fit into Artetaball, or how cheap we could snatch him from Leicester, I think we should turn down his ridiculous demand to increase his salary by 6 times.

    Sorry GN5 for not reacting to your traditionally fine post, but that report seriously pissed me off.

  • What a brilliant quote this is, Stu – thanks a lot. It made me think of Plimpton about Ali:

    “What a playerJC was. And what a man!”

  • TA after the last season’s disappointment and to an extent the impact of All or Nothing will make me but more sympathetic to our Arsenal. Exciting times ahead though for our beloved team

  • Gee, Stu. That was a quote to remember and coming from one considered one of the true greats of the game.
    I do recall that game at the bridge; Anelka’s debut. You guys are so fortunate to be able to see these games live. While I frequent the Armoury when I visit London,
    the closest I have come to seeing a Live game were twice (once for Highbury and the other for the Ems) when, first a friend, then my Brother in-law, respectively, bought tickets for me, but I failed to make the trips on both occasions. My inlaw is a Man United fan, by the way but just wanted to do it for me and take in our beautiful playing style himself.

  • PB, good point on Tielmans, all the way. It is even more curious when you recall initial reports of our interest suggested “Personal terms done”; “personal terms” includes the salary, no? The man cannot be good value for such figures, unless he is coming on a Free transfer.

    Again, the report on Nketiah’s contract extension puts his new salary at £120,000 a week. Most of these data bandied about on blogs are, largely, guesses; it is not as if clubs are under any obligation to disclose these things.

    Do you have a reliable source of such information?

  • Madhu, reading your comment was extremely eye opening for me.

    I cannot imagine what you must be going through it sounds very tense and stressful – thank goodness that you found Arsenal to enrich your life. As you’ve read Arsenal have been an integral part of my life since I was 4/5 years old.

    We feel very fortunate to now live in Canada, a country where all different nationalities are welcomed and live peacefully together. We don’t have the type of mayhem that exists in many countries, including our southern neighbours. Recently all guns other than hunting rifles were made illegal.

    I sincerely hope that things settle down for you and that some sort of peaceful democracy will prevail.

  • Thank you Eris, it was interesting reading about your introduction to football. I remember the Chelsea game all too well, my family were all on a trip to England work had held me back. I had meetings when the game was played but recorded it for when I got home. I ordered some Chinese food and sat eating it and I had a bottle of, fast disappearing, single malt scotch as company. A miserable game was made very enjoyable by Kanu, his last goal was really special when he came from the corner through the water logged pitch and curled the winner in from an impossible angle.

  • Yes, GN5. I won’t forget the commentator’s really high pitched, apt play with his name: Kanuuuuuuu believe that! The last goal was amazing. I still don’t know why he risked a shot from goal with players arriving the box, albeit a bit late. Maybe, the element of surprise …

  • Stuart you are making me go into the archives of my memory to answer your questions – I will have to give some thought to who was the best player I watched live as there were so many.

    But the best player that I never got to see was Dixie Dean of Everton, I have a post about him in my data base, for a couple of snippets he scored 12 goals in his first 5 games for England and 350 goals in 400 games for Everton.

  • GN5 i lived in Edmonton Canada for 3 years it’s surely is an amazing country to live in except.offcourse the weather. I only hope that Canada remains like that. You would be surprised to know that the Indian diaspora that lives in such a liberal country like Canada supports a majoritarian and sectarian regime back in India. I have had numerous conversations with that diaspora during my stay in Canada and their hypocrisy is mind boggling. I was appalled at their views. Such is the world nowadays.
    I hope you ahve a wonderful time in Canada GN5. Surely is a beacon of hope in this world.

  • Madhu, what makes Canada somewhat unique is that people are free to have their opinions, after all that is what free speech is all about. However if it starts to affect society in general then it is rooted out.
    Maybe that is over simplifying things but mixed races and religions all live in harmony across the country, there are of course some sad exceptions but they are very few.

  • Hey Kev only Action Man can compete with Arteta’s hairstyle. I used to get loads of it splashed on my head and it’s got a smell all of its own.

    Not so much a great match, but a great memory was when Arsenal bought Peter Marinello from Hibernian if I remember correctly he was the 1st £100,000 player. Scotlands answer to George Best. He scored a great goal at old Trafford on his debut and did little else.

  • A great post GN5.

    My predictions for this week:

    Southampton v Manchester United * 2-2
    Brentford v Everton H
    Arsenal v Fulham * 3-0
    Wolverhampton v Newcastle A
    Nottingham Forest v Tottenham * 0-2
    Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt D

  • I think my favourite game has to be from 2006, 21st February to be precise. We were having a poor run of form in the league and we had 8 players out injured. So I travelled to Madrid full of hope in my heart but not many thought we could scrape a draw at the Bernabau let alone a win. No English team had previously won there. We were so short of defenders, we had Flamini at left-back alongside Senderos and Eboue. Real’s team included Ronaldo, Zidane, Robinho and Beckham. On the night we were brilliant, 1-0 to the Arsenal through a brilliantly taken goal by Thierry Henry flattered the opposition as we should have scored a few more.

  • GN5, Canada and Canadians are fiercely proud of their multi-culturalism and have an Act of Law to back it; country celebrates its diversity on June 27 each year, as Canada multicultural day. The country is a melting pot of several cultures which is such a beautiful thing.

    Hopefully, certain countries of the world can learn a thing or two for peace to reign.

  • Retsub, that’s right, I remember seeing Martinelli playing in the Combination at Highbury and hearing George Graham giving him dogs abuse, yeah advertising for the Milk Marketing Board and being a guest compare on Top of Pops is what I remember of him besides the goal he scored at OldTrafford and the sitter he missed at Highbury vs Ajax in the European Cup.

    As for Pepe well he’s had the opportunities but has he made the most of them?
    Not suited to England I think, it happens…

  • Well said, Eris.
    A salary of 200k a week can only be justified (unless being absolute world class), if we pay the implicit sing-on fee as part of the salary – like we did with Willian and Kolasinac. Those didn’t turn out to be fine deals, so I wouldn’t recommend following that path, but it worked with Lewandowski to Bayern or Pirlo to Juventus, so there is a slight chance that it could lead to a mutually fruitful transaction at some point. (However the counter-examples are endless: Ramsey, Rabiot, Wijnaldum, Valdez, Depay, Özil, etc.)

    Regarding the salary amounts, there are plenty of sources on the internet, but indeed it is difficult to assess if their figures are reliable. However if many of them indicate the same number, I consider it accurate as a rule of thumb – albeit no guarantees.
    I list only one as Bergkampesqe’s engine is suspicious with comments of multiple links
    but if you go to sportsbrief or classicalfinance you will find salary figures 90% overlapping. And the most frequent discrepancies are wage data not having been updated reflecting the a contract renewal, which is more of an honest mistake than a misinformation to me. So it seems Nketiah makes around 100k a week (and Zinchenko 75k, Mari 85k).

  • Maybe he wasn’t, Kev, but there might be more to his drop in form
    I was listening to the daily program “L’Équipe du Soir” the other night.The subject of Pépé’s move to Nice came up at some point. One of the journalists present that night, Grégory Schneider – who is not what we might call a “serial gossiper” – said the move would be successful, only if the player decided to train as seriously as he should again, which he was adamant he hadn’t been doing for quite some time (he wasn’t putting the blame for it on Arsenal, he blamed it all on Nick himself).
    Whipping a player into training properly you can’t do, obviously (it is well-known in France that Laca hates the physical part of training, and it sure did show, eventually), but when I heard this I thought of what Stu wrote about the athleticism of our current squad: doing all the sacrifices it takes to be an athlete is obviously one of MA’s “non-negotiable” – even though it’ll never stop to amaze me that young men gifted and lucky enough to pe paid huge sums of money to be part of the Arsenal Football Club squad, might choose at some points to just put their tools down, just because they’re not first-choice any longer (I loved what Eddie said to Sambi about it in AoN)

  • Thanks LG, interesting points there and not surprising regarding Pepe, maybe he needs to be loved more to get the best out of him, I’m sure that Arteta would have tried but then decided to channel his efforts into those that responded.

    Yes the Nketiah Lokonga exchange was revealing, I guess that Albert is struggling from being the main man in Belgium to being a squad man in England, his face when he’s on the bench often looks like a smacked arse. Nketiah certainly went up in my estimation after that, I hope he gets rewarded.

  • “smacked arse” 🤣
    how’s that for the perfect image?
    he’s a talented kid, but feeling sorry for oneself has never taken anyone very far; I hope he’ll get himself together soon – eddie’s straightforwardness might have helped him, actually

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