For this classic match we go back 30 years to a season that saw Arsenal play some scintillating football early doors but lost their way in November. Once again, we have the whole programme for you to read. This has been reproduced with the kind permission of Leicester City FC. There’s also a quiz question at the end of the article to test your knowledge.

Matchday programme Click to read the whole programme

Matchday programme
Click to read the whole programme

Date: Saturday 13 October 1984

Competition: Football League Division One

Location: Filbert Street

Attendance: 19,944

Referee: Peter Tyldesley

Match Report:

Leicester City 1      Arsenal 4

Anderson (own goal) 33 seconds            Talbot 12 (penalty), 80, Rix 24, Anderson 73

Don Howe confounded his critics by leading Arsenal to the top of the First Division for the first time in 11 years with an attacking style that had produced some of the most scintillating football that the club’s fans had seen in a long time.

Arsenal had not won at Filbert Street for ten years and they got off to the worst start possible as Viv Anderson beat everyone to a Steve Lynex cross after just 33 seconds and managed to loop the ball over Pat Jennings into his own net.

The Arsenal from a year ago might have struggled to recover from this early setback but not now. The Gunners grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and set about the Leicester goal. They were back on level terms eleven minutes later when a Kenny Sansom cross was deflected, and Mark Wallington could only tip the ball onto the bar. Charlie Nicholas put the ball back across the face of the goal and the rejuvenated Brian Talbot stabbed it home.

Talbot and Nicholas were also in the thick of the action when, after 24 minutes, they combined to split open the Leicester defence, allowing Graham Rix to score with a precision shot into the far corner.

The tireless Talbot was easily the man of the match, constantly leaving his man marker, Kevin MacDonald, behind and running the Leicester defence ragged. Anderson made up for his earlier transgression when he scored Arsenal’s third in the 73rd minute, with Talbot once again providing the through ball.

It looked like it was going to turn into a rout when Ian Allinson was brought down by Andy Feeley in the penalty area. However, Nicholas’ excellent spot kick was equally matched by Wallington. Feeley must have felt sorry for Nicholas, as he gave away yet another penalty in the 80th minute, punching an Allinson shot off the line. However, Talbot took the penalty this time and placed it to Wallington’s left, just outside of the reach of the Leicester custodian, to seal the three points.

Four minutes from time Arsenal fans appeared to invade the pitch, a somewhat strange action as their team was certain of the three points. However, it transpired that some Leicester fans had left early and had decided to throw missiles into the away section of the crowd. Order was soon restored, and Arsenal sat three points clear at the top of the table.


Leicester City: M Wallington, P Ramsey, A Feeley, K MacDonald (sub: M Bright 80 mins), B Hazell, J O’Neill, S Lynex, G Lineker, A Smith,  I Wilson, A Peake .

Arsenal: J Lukic, V Anderson, K Sansom, B Talbot, D O’Leary, T Caton, S Robson, G Rix, I Allinson, T Woodcock, C Nicholas. Unused substitute: P Davis.

Post-match comments:

After the game, Arsenal manager Don Howe explained his team’s run of five wins in six games: “We have a very positive attitude in the side. Everyone wants to make things happen. Even if we do fall a goal behind, I’m always thinking: we can pull that round.”

He also wanted to reiterate the team’s attacking tactics: “I’m delighted we’re top of the League. And I’m delighted we’ve done it in exciting fashion. I like to think our matches this season have provided full value for our fans and our opponents’ supporters.”

This season had also seen the Arsenal fans in fine form, following the club in huge numbers to away games. Of these, Howe said: “Our away support has played a great part in lifting the lads. Once again, our fans were fantastic at Leicester.”

Viv Anderson also explained why he had scored three goals in nine games: “The boss has given me licence to get forward whenever it’s on. I scored six goals for Forest last season, and I want to beat that if I can.”

Leicester defender, Bob Hazell, said after Saturday’s 4-1 thrashing: “They are so adventurous now – fast, sharp and game. They are better than anything we’ve seen this season and that includes Spurs.”

“We scored four goals,” said captain Graham Rix “and not one of them came from a front player. That shows our attitude.”

Talbot, who grafts just as hard off the pitch as chairman of the Players’ Union, admitted: “I’ve been written off quite a few times. It doesn’t worry me, because I’ve always believed I have something to offer. I’ll keep on running and running while the old legs hold out, but there is a lot more to my game than sheer effort. I’m getting the opportunity this season to show people what I can really do. Don Howe allows me to go forward whenever possible.”

Facts about linked to the match or players:

Arsenal won eleven penalties this season with each of the  five players who took them – Tony Woodcock, Charlie Nicholas, Brian Talbot, Ian Allinson and Paul Davis – all missing at least one each.

The rest of the season:

Arsenal’s good form continued until “black November” when they lost to Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday in the League and at Oxford in the League Cup. They never recovered in the League, eventually finishing seventh, whilst any hope of a cup win was ended in the snow at York.

Despite the striking talents of Gary Lineker and Alan Smith, Leicester had to wait until mid-May before their play in the top flight was assured for the following season, and they finished in 15th place.

Facts relating to the Season:

Arsenal fans were able to watch highlights of this game on the newly installed “Jumbotron” screen at Highbury. It had taken more than a year to be approved by Islington Council and was first used before the game against Sunderland the week after the Leicester game.

This was the season that Arsenal finally lost a record that they never wanted. Stoke City finished bottom of the First Division table with just 17 points, one fewer than Arsenal had gained in the 1912-13 season.

Quiz question:

In the centre pages of the programme at the start of this report is a double page spread of Leicester players celebrating the club’s centenary. Seven of those players played for Arsenal (either before or after this game). Can you name them?

Background to the article

This season we’ve been asked to write a regular page in the official Arsenal programme based on a classic match featuring the opponents for each game we play in. Programme editor Andy Exley has kindly given us permission to reproduce the match reports on our blog. We will also be including additional material that didn’t make the final edit of the programme. If you can’t get to The Emirates, the programme is available on iPad and iPod for a bargain 69 pence per issue.


Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog (top right). You know it makes sense.


The books…

 Woolwich A and Crowd

2 thoughts on “Classic Match Report: Leicester v Arsenal 13 October 1984

  1. Grumpy on 11 February 2015 at 6:12 pm said:

    I think Eddie Kelly, Jon Sammels, George Armstrong, Frank McLintock and Alan Smith gets me 5/7 and I’m at a loss for the other 2, but no doubt I’ll kick myself when they’re revealed!

    • I’ll put you out of your misery.

      As well as the five you correctly recognised there is also Jeff Blockley (although you probably didn’t want to remember him) and the one that I doubt anyone would have got: Tom Sweeney who played in a pre-season friendly for the reserves against Ware in 1968!

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