Five of the best goals from Arsenal full-backs

Kenny Sansom

Nigel Winterburn v Wimbledon 17 May 1989

Arsenal’s defeat at home to Derby four days before gave the penultimate match of the season - against Wimbledon - a must-win feel. After all, assuming Liverpool were to win their matches, anything but a win meant Arsenal would need to go to Anfield and win on the last day of the season to win the title. Arsenal had thrashed Wimbledon 5-1 on the first day of the season, and expected to win easily, but The Dons played an equal part in a pulsating 2-2 draw.

The game started well for Arsenal, with ex-Wimbledon player Winterburn scoring the goal of his life - a thunderous drive into the top corner in front of an ecstatic Clock End. The fact that the shot was hit with his weak right foot must surely have convinced the players that fate and destiny were on their side.

But Alan Cork equalised for Wimbledon with a header from a Dennis Wise cross, before Paul Merson once more put Arsenal ahead. Wimbledon were determined spoilers and conjured an equaliser from Paul McGee, who was making his league debut for the Dons.

Winterburn didn’t score many for Arsenal - though when he did they were usually spectacular - this effort against Chelsea is worth another look. While the players and fans left Highbury deflated that night, the goal and this match was of course vital in setting the stage for one of the greatest nights in Arsenal’s history.

Sylvinho v Chelsea, 6 September 2000

Sylvinho was a class act for Arsenal and perhaps would have stayed at the club longer were it not for the emergence of Ashley Cole. Sylvinho’s best game for the Gunners came early in the 2000/01 season at Stamford Bridge, when he inspired Arsenal to a 2-2 draw. This had looked unlikely when Chelsea were 2-0 up after goals from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Gianfranco Zola..

Chelsea had appeared to be coasting to a straightforward victory at this point - though perhaps they were mindful of the fact that they’d been 2-0 up against Arsenal in the same fixture the previous season, before succumbing to Kanu’s famous hat-trick.

This time, Sylvinho set up a goal for Henry with a nice pass - after a one-two with Dennis Bergkamp - to give Arsenal hope. Then, in the 86th minute, the Brazillian picked up a loose ball after Kanu was tackled and - 25 yards out - smashed the ball into the top corner, past Cudicini.

Lee Dixon v Chelsea, 16 December 1995.

While not a regular scorer for Arsenal, Dixon chipped in with some important goals and for a time was the club’s regular penalty taker. He scored a couple of great headers against Newcastle and Deportivo La Coruna, though, unfortunately for him, his spectacular own goal against Coventry in 1991 is probably his most famous strike.

Dixon’s best goal for the Gunners came against Chelsea in 1995 - an 88th minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw. Arsenal were trailing to a John Spencer goal and were down to ten men after Steve Bould was sent off, when a corner was cleared to Dixon on the edge of the area and he arrowed a fine shot into the top corner.

Lauren v Tottenham, 6 April 2002

When Arsenal signed Lauren from Mallorca in the summer of 2000, he was an established midfielder for both his club and Cameroon. Arsene Wenger later said: “I signed him as a full-back, but he didn’t know it.”

Lauren wasn’t a prolific scorer but did score eight minutes into his full Arsenal debut, against Liverpool, in a 2-0 win - most notable for its three sendings off - Patrick Vieira for Arsenal and Didi Hamann and Gary McAllister for Liverpool.

Lauren was to become not only an extremely reliable right-back, but an occasional trusted penalty taker. When Tottenham visited Highbury on the 6 April, Arsenal were on a run of seven straight wins and busy fighting off a determined title challenge from Manchester United. Freddie Ljungberg’s first half goal had been cancelled out by Teddy Sheringham’s 81st minute penalty, before Thierry Henry was fouled in the box. Henry was Arsenal’s regular penalty taker, but was still off the field receiving treatment, so Lauren took responsibility and cooly sent Kasey Keller the wrong way. This sealed Arsenal’s eighth straight win in a run of thirteen, which would see them beat United to the Premier League title.

Kenny Sansom v West Ham 26 September 1987

Kenny Sansom played 394 times for Arsenal and for much of the 1980s was the undisputed best left-back in England. As captain, Sansom led Arsenal to their surprise 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the 1987 League Cup Final, but the following season would be his last for the Gunners. His place as left-back came under pressure from new signing Nigel Winterburn - and his place as captain would eventually be taken by a young Tony Adams.

Sansom’s goal against West Ham, in a 1-0 victory in September 1987, was the last of his six goals for Arsenal. Graham Rix played a first time pass though the Hammers’ defence and Sansom finished coolly - then celebrated like a man who only scored every 65 appearances or so!

Perhaps he also knew this might be his last season with Arsenal. George Graham was in the early stages of rebuilding the team and gradually moving some of the old guard on. Sansom - along with Rix, Charlie Nicholas and Steve Williams – would soon be shipped out and replaced with the young and hungry players who would go on to win the First Division title two years later.

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