Time for a pleasant memory of the Arsenal, one that involves footballers who were most definitely fit to wear the shirt. Today is the 87th anniversary of an 8-goal demolition meted out to Sheffield United, a win that was the Gunners’ best at Highbury until Grimsby Town were annihilated 9-1 in January the following year. Only 24,217 spectators were lucky enough to witness this springtime thrashing – perhaps Gooners were staying away in order to save up for a Cup Final ticket? – and they saw 6 different scorers; 5 for Arsenal, 1 with a consolation for United (via 11v11).
Given the margin of victory, you might think that the two sides were at opposite ends of the table, but only a point separated them going into the match; Arsenal were 13th, the Blades 15th. Indeed, even their form was pretty similar, with the hosts having failed to win in 3 games while Sheffield United had lost both their previous 2 (via Statto). Nonetheless, the Gunners were looking forward to a Wembley showpiece, with every one of their players desperate to make the starting lineup, whereas the Yorkshiremen had relatively little to play for other than survival.
Charlie Preedy was given a rare start in goal, and the only Indian to represent the Gunners – as far as records indicate – was able to enjoy a relaxed afternoon as his teammates put the Blades to the sword. Jack Lambert bagged the match ball, William S. ‘Bill’ Johnstone nabbed a brace, and the Arsenal scoring was rounded off by Alex James, Cliff Bastin and Joe Hulme. Preedy’s season would end on an even better note, as he was picked for the FA Cup decider against Huddersfield and kept a clean sheet, becoming the first goalkeeper to win a major honour at the Gunners (via AISA).
The devastating defeat was so chastening to Sheffield United that their freefall continued afterwards; they won just 1 more league game before the end of the season. Relegation was only avoided by a fraction; just 0.14 Goal Average separated them from the doomed Burnley. The Arsenal, on the other hand, felt their morale swell from such a triumph, and took that confidence into the FA Cup Final.