Five of the best Kevin Campbell goals for Arsenal

Kevin Campbell of Arsenal

1. Benfica, European Cup, 23 October 1991

After thrashing Austria Vienna 6-1, in the home leg of Arsenal’s first European match in nine years at Highbury, hopes were high that the Gunners could go far in the competition. With the tie won, a 1-0 defeat in Austria in the return leg did little to dampen the optimism.

Arsenal were drawn against Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Benfica in the second round, and faced a daunting trip to Lisbon for the first-leg. Arsenal went 1-0 down early on but fought back swiftly, and sealed a 1-1 draw with a fantastic goal.

Kevin Campbell cushioned a flicked volleyed pass to David Rocastle deep in midfield, then sprinted forward. Rocastle pirouetted, then threaded a beautiful reverse pass through to Campbell, whose finish across the goalkeeper was unerring.

Arsenal were outplayed in the return leg at Highbury and lost 3-1 in a match which caused George Graham to rethink his strategy. When his team returned to European football a couple of years later they played a far less expansive - but more successful - brand of football to win the European Cup Winners Cup in 1994.

Related article: Arsenal's return to Europe in 1991

2. Tottenham, First Division, 1 December 1991

I wanted to choose one of Campbell’s goals from the 1990/91 title run in for this list - when the young striker burst on the scene, and played a crucial role in that championship win. I also really like to feature goals against Spurs, so this one gets the nod!

Both matches against Spurs during the previous season had finished in 0-0 draws. This was another tight affair - until Arsenal started to really pile the pressure on midway through the second half. First, Ian Wright latched on to David Hillier’s cute pass to make it 1-0 with a typically clinical finish.
Ten minutes later, the substitute, Anders Limpar, dissected the Tottenham defence with a beautiful pass from deep in his own half. Campbell finished sweetly from just outside the area.

3. Sheffield Wednesday, First Division, 15 February 1992

Arsenal came into this match struggling for goals, despite boasting formidable attacking options. Campbell started on the bench for this one, taking his place behind Alan Smith, Ian Wright, Paul Merson and Anders Limpar.

With the score at 1-1 and 20 minutes left, Campbell transformed a distinctly average match with a wonderful goal, and an inspired all-round performance. Campbell controlled Nigel Winterburn’s throw-in on his chest in the penalty area, took one more touch to set himself up, then turned and hit an unstoppable shot high into the net.

His goal triggered a quite remarkable glut of goals, and the Highbury crowd witnessed the team appearing to compete with each other for goal of the season. Anders Limpar and Paul Merson added superb strikes of their own. Campbell scored another and assisted two more.

4. Crystal Palace, First Division, 11 April 1992

Arsenal’s title defence in 1991/92 was ultimately unsuccessful. Their form faltered through the winter, and they were even dumped out of the FA Cup by fourth division Wrexham. However, the Gunners then went 17 league games unbeaten at the end of the season, and at times played some devastating attacking football. 

This match was supposed to be about Ian Wright making his return against his old club, but Paul Merson stole the headlines with an excellent hat-trick, including a quite breath-taking lob. Campbell got the other goal, and it was arguably even more stunning. 

Campbell played a one-two with Ian Wright on the edge of the Palace area, and the ball sat up nicely for him to strike a thunderous, but perfectly executed, left-footed volley into the net from twenty five yards.

5. Paris St Germain, European Cup Winners Cup, 12 April 1994

Somewhat inevitably, Kevin Campbell tended to be in Ian Wright’s shadow at Arsenal after the striker arrived from Crystal Palace in September 1991. He wasn’t the only one - Alan Smith recently recalled the effect of Wright’s confident personality on his own form.

The first leg of the semi-final, in Paris, finished in a 1-1 draw. An under-the-cosh Arsenal came away with a valuable result, thanks to a header from Wright. The second leg ended up being almost all about Wright too - certainly as far as the media were concerned - as he picked up a daft booking, which ruled him out of the final.

It was Campbell though, along with a heroic defensive performance, who made sure Arsenal made that final in the first place. “British passion prevailed over Gallic flair before an ecstatic Highbury audience” was Joe Lovejoy’s verdict in the Independent.

Arsenal took the lead early on. Lee Dixon exchanged passes with Alan Smith after a throw on, then delivered a perfect near post cross. Campbell was unmarked, but it was still a difficult chance, and he headed the ball down into the corner. Bernard Lama in the Paris goal didn’t cover himself with glory. He got a hand to it but was unable to prevent what was surely Campbell’s most important goal in an Arsenal shirt.

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