Five of the best Perry Groves goals for Arsenal

Perry Groves playing for Arsenal

1. Everton, League Cup - February 1988

When Arsenal unexpectedly beat the favourites - Liverpool - to win the League Cup in 1987, it was thanks in no small part to Perry Groves providing Charlie Nicholas with an excellent assist for the winning goal.

The Gunners reached the final again in 1988 and, although that would ultimately end in a disappointing defeat to Luton Town, Groves again played a key role in getting his team to the final. The first leg of the semi final, against Everton, had all the big-game ingredients: two evenly matched teams at a packed Goodison Park, in an evening match shown live on TV. After ten minutes, a long ball downfield from Kenny Sansom was flicked on by Alan Smith. Groves anticipated the flick beautifully. He controlled the ball with an immaculate first touch on the turn, then lashed a left-footed volley past Neville Southall. Groves got plenty of stick at Arsenal for a perceived lack of quality. However, this was a moment of pure class.

Everton won a dubious second half penalty, but Trevor Steven put an awful effort over the bar, meaning Groves’ strike was the only goal of the game. Groves also played an important role in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory at Highbury in the second leg, superbly setting up goals for Michael Thomas and David Rocastle. Groves said in his excellent autobiography: “perhaps this was the best game I ever played."

See also: Classic match: Arsenal 3 Everton 1 (Littlewoods Cup semi final 1988)

2. Tottenham, First Division - March 1988

Less than one month after his match winning goal against Everton, Groves struck another important winner – this time in the North London derby, in a match which was also televised.With the match finely poised at 1-1 after Alan Smith and Clive Allen had exchanged goals, a long throw-in from Nigel Winterburn bounced over Alan Smith and fell to Groves in the penalty area. A sharp turn and early left-footed shot found the far corner to make it 2-1. Arguably Groves’ standing with Arsenal fans was never higher.
The goal was particularly important as Groves had missed much easier chances to score in the first half. “Those are the goals you need to score, because if you end up winning you can laugh about the one you missed," he later reflected.

3. Luton Town, First Division - February 1989

Groves played a small but important role in George Graham’s first title winning side, largely as a substitute, making regular appearances from the bench. However after a couple of disappointing results - including a 1-0 defeat at Coventry four days earlier - Graham changed things for the visit of Luton Town. Paul Merson was dropped to the bench, and Groves came in for a rare start.That decision was soon justified. A deep corner was headed back into the six yard box by Steve Bould. Groves took the ball high on his chest, and acrobatically volleyed the ball into the top corner. Groves called it: “One of the best goals I ever scored.”

Like every single goal scored in the 1988/89 season, it eventually proved to be crucial - with Arsenal clinching the title on goals scored.

See also: Watching Arsenal win the title in 1989 with my Dad

4. Wimbledon, First Division, August - 1990

After a disappointing title defence in 1989/90, George Graham strengthened his side, bringing goalkeeper David Seaman and Swedish winger Anders Limpar to Highbury. Perry Groves was one of the players potentially under threat from Limpar’s arrival, ultimately though it did more to hasten the departure of Brian Marwood, and Groves retained his position as a useful squad member. On the first day of the season, Groves started on the bench and after an even first half, Limpar announced himself to the First Division with a perfect cross in the 57th minute, to give Paul Merson a simple headed finish. In glorious sunshine, a couple of minutes later Smith added a second.

Groves, on as substitute, completed the win in the last minute with a fine goal. He latched on to a knock down from Smith and powerfully half-volleyed past Hans Segers from the edge of the area.

See also: Five of the best Arsenal season openers

5. Coventry, First Division, May - 1991

Arsenal played Manchester United on the 6th of May in a match that should have been a tense title decider, but Liverpool losing to Nottingham Forest earlier in the day meant Arsenal had secured their second championship in three seasons. The match against Manchester United became a title party and the Gunners won 3-1 with a hat-trick from Golden Boot-chasing Alan Smith.By the time Coventry visited Highbury five days later, the party was still in full swing, and a relaxed Arsenal side put the icing on the cake with a total demolition of the Sky Blues.

The fun started with a spectacular Trevor Peake own goal to put Arsenal one nil up. After a sensational start to the season, Anders Limpar had gone a while without scoring, but helped himself to a wonderful hat-trick. Alan Smith clinched the Golden Boot with a finely taken goal of his own.

Groves, who had scored in the 90th minute of the first match of the season, scored Arsenal’s last of the match -  and the season - running on to a wonderful cross from Nigel Winterburn and volleying into the net with a joy that perfectly matched the occasion.

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