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Best Arsenal Comebacks
Even though they are one of England’s most successful clubs, Arsenal supporters have always had an underdog-esque chip on their shoulder (especially in the Wenger era).
Dark horses among the elite, Gunners fans relish in this role of not being expected to win major silverware. Kind of like betting big on an underdog given no chance, a big Arsenal victory always seems to come with a sly “told you so” from supporters, similar to a punter that seemingly knows all the sneaky, successful plays to make.
And any good underdog has their fair share of great comeback stories, and at least of five Arsenal’s best comebacks have made their way into club lore forever.
October 6, 1962: Tottenham 4-4 Arsenal
Early on, the first North London derby of the 1962-63 season looked like it was going to be all Spurs. Having won their previous league match 9-2, third-place Tottenham raced out to a 3-0 lead after 26 minutes, missing on even more good scoring chances.
But in just his third appearance for the club, Arsenal’s 18-year old assistant head of youth development, David Court, would score twice before halftime to make it 3-2. In the second period, Spurs would jump out to a two-goal lead again, but scrappy Arsenal would again fight back, scoring twice to make the final score at White Hart Lane 4-4.
April 28, 1970: Arsenal 3-0 Anderlecht
The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup was the precursor to the UEFA Cup, played from 1955 to 1971. Contested as a way to promote trade fairs between Europe’s largest cities, winning the Fairs Cup became a great honor. In the 1969-70 edition of the 64-team competition, Arsenal fought their way through to the final where they hoped to break their 17-year trophy drought.
Facing Brussels-based Anderlecht, the Gunners fell down 3-1 after the first leg in Belgium. Six days later on the return leg at Highbury, goals from Eddie Kelly and John Radford evened the aggregate at 3-3. Just one minute later in the 76th, a Jon Sammels score would complete the dramatic comeback and win Arsenal their first European trophy.
November 25, 2003: Arsenal 5-1 Inter
Arsenal’s 2002/03 Champions League Campaign didn’t begin as planned. Losing 3-0 at home to Inter in the opening group stage match, a loss would eliminate Arsenal’s UFC hopes in November. This looked like a distinct possibility considering Arsenal had not won an away Champions League match in 12 months and were battling a fierce injury bug.
“You’ve always got a chance when you’ve got Thierry Henry on your team!” the English announcers would exclaim, when Henry would open the scoring in the 25th, and they couldn’t be more right. The French legend would go onto to score again and provide the assist for three more Arsenal goals, securing The Invincibles a shocking 5-1 away win that would play a big part in helping them through to the knockout stage of the competition.
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March 29, 2008: Bolton 2-3 Arsenal
Arsenal was still very much in contention for the BPL title and a Champions League spot when they decided to go on a five-game winless streak in the final stretch of the 2007/08 season. If they wanted to keep their title hopes alive they would need to win at Bolton, something they hadn’t done since 2002. But down 2-0 and to ten men at halftime, it looked like “there’s always next year” was going to be the refrain yet again in North London.
Hope emerged in the second half when William Gallas scored off a corner and RVP converted a penalty to make the match 2-2. But a draw wasn’t enough, and just as normal time would expire Arsenal would get the go-ahead score they needed on an Bolton own goal. Although Arsenal would end up finishing third, the title race was more than on for the time-being thanks to this comeback that broke the Bolton Curse.
October 30, 2012: Arsenal 7-5 Reading
It was a Carling Cup fourth round match of all things that Arsene Wenger calls the most extraordinary match of his career. Even though the lineup he fielded more than reflected his malaise for the competition, seeing his young makeshift squad fall down 4-0 to recently-promoted Reading couldn’t help but wear a peeved look on his mug as he ambled on the touchline.
Finally, Arsenal was able to get something go right for them before the half with a Theo Walcott goal. But despite scores from Olivier Giroud in the 64th and Laurent Koscielny in the 89th, it looked to be too late for Arsenal, even with five minutes of stoppage time. But in that fifth and final minute, a last-second goal line scramble would somehow even the score at 4-4. In ET, the sides would trade goals again for a 5-5 scoreline, but a full-pitch counter attack goal from Theo Walcott and then an insurance goal from Chamakh would confirm the sensational comeback and leave fans of both sides at the Madejski Stadium–and around the world–absolutely stunned.