After a couple of bad results the ideal opposition for the next game would be the countries top side.
That’s what happens on Boxing Day (7.45pm) when the Gunners come to town. Arsenal, who have lost only one domestic game this season, defend their unbeaten Premier League record against Pompey at Fratton Park on Wednesday night under the eyes of the nation thanks to Sky Sports.
The kick off time has greatly upset a large number of fans. There is no public transport and most fans will have had a drink or two by that time of the day. Boxing Day is about getting to the game and then home in the evening to continue the festive with family and friends.
Because of the rules requiring clubs to change times for live games, that is gone and fans have a choice on cancelling parties etc. or miss the game and watch it on TV. The latter course of action appears to being taken by quite a number of regular fans. Sorry Sky Sports but on days such as Boxing Day, kick offs should NOT be altered – something I am certain the visiting players and supporters would agree with.
This will be 31st meeting at the Park and Pompey have only won on eight occasions with Arsenal winning nine times. Goals have also been in short supply during recent clashes with the last 6 games finishing 0-0, 1-1, 0-1, 1-1, 1-1, and 0-1 stretching back to 1958. Pompey’s last win in the fixture was in March 1958 when Johnny Gordon (2), Peter Harris, Derek Dougan and Mike Barnard secured a 5-4 win.
The history of Pompey and Arsenal games starts in 1927 following Pompey’s promotion to the First Division the Gunners winning the first game 3-2. Pompey got their revenge the next season with a 2-0 win.
During the 1930’s Arsenal were almost invincible but Pompey did manage to beat their illustrious opponents in 1933/34 (1-0) and 1935/36 (2-1). During that era Pompey also went seven years without losing at Highbury.
The board of directors decreed that the visit of Arsenal on 27 November 1948 would mark the clubs Golden Jubilee. Chairman Vernon Stokes had asked the players before the season began to win the championship for the Jubilee. Pompey celebrated their 50 years by wearing red socks for the first time.
The crowds started queuing as early as 9.00 am to see the game and by kick off over 42,000 were inside the ground. After being introduced to Pompey President Lord Montgomery, Pompey proceeded to play their best football of the season according to those present. Goals from Froggatt, Phillips, Barlow and Clarke (in for Reid) secured an emphatic 4-1 victory and Pompey steamrollered on to win the title for the first time.
The two clubs have met three times in the FA Cup with all three times Pompey being drawn at Home. In 1932 Arsenal won the Fifth Round tie 2-0 but is the other two ties that will live long in the memory of Pompey fans.
First was the Fourth Round clash of 1971. A sell out crowd of nearly 40,000 crammed into the Park on a very wet January afternoon as Pompey the perennial Division Two strugglers took on the Division One Leaders and Cup favourites Arsenal. The Gunners started well and had Pompey on the back foot for a spell with Charlie George prominent but Pompey gave as good as they got and were perhaps unlucky to be 1-0 behind at the break. Peter Storey converting from the spot after George Ley handled on the line – in those days that was not even a booking offence!!
The second half saw Pompey pour down on Bob Wilson’s Fratton End goal but Arsenal held firm until with the game in injury time Fred Smith’s cross was met at the far post by Mike Trebilcock, although he was only two yards out the ball seemed to take an eternity to hit the back of the net. Pandemonium around the ground as Trebs and the other players celebrated. That meant a replay at Highbury, which was firstly postponed less than an hour before kick off and the next week Arsenal came from behind to win 3-2 in the final five minutes with another Storey penalty.
One of the great recollections I have of that day was being able to see my beloved Pompey on Match of the Day, which was a very rare event – probably every couple of years. If the cameras were seen in the vicinity of the Park the news would spread like wildfire.
The other more recent cup tie was the Quarter Final of 2003/04 when Arsenal came and put on a display for all to remember when romping to a 5-1 win cheered by Pompey’s appreciative crowd.
Pompey and Arsenal last met at Fratton Park in a Boxing Day fixture in 1951 – the score 1-1.
How will this game finish? Enter your prediction here.
Written by eastneydave.
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