By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings
This Saturday we go looking for something that hasn’t exactly been a regular occurrence over the years.
‘Fortress Highbury’ and ‘Fortress Emirates’ both have genuine claims to their titles for Arsenal. Relieving the Gooners of any points on their own patch has been difficult to say the least for West Ham over the years.
It certainly won’t be any easier this time round either. The Gunners started the season well with a 3-0 victory at Fulham. We of course suffered a hugely disappointing failure to gain anything from our opening encounter against Newcastle.
It’s going to be a tough ask on Saturday night. But it’s not an impossible task, as history proves. And when it happens, victory is sweet and memorable. To give ourselves some much needed encouragement in the lead up to the game, here’s a look back at four hugely satisfying victories over our north London neighbours.
The opening day of the 2015-16 season saw new manager Slaven Bilic take the Hammers to the Emirates for his first Premier League game in charge, meanwhile Arsenal also had a debutant in Petr Cech in goal. But the big news before kick-off was the inclusion in our line-up of Reece Oxford, at the tender age of 16 years and 236 days.
Oxford played in midfield and totally dominated Arsenal’s star player, Mezut Ozil, in an outstanding performance for such a youngster. A first half goal from Cheikhou Kouyate and a second half strike from Mauro Zarate secured all the points for the happy Hammers.
When we visited Highbury on the 1st February 2006 we knew it would probably be the last time we played at that famous old ground, before the Gunners move to the Emirates. It was quite a game to say goodbye. A five goal thriller, with goals from Nigel Reo-Coker, Bobby Zamora and Matty Etherington ensuring us of all three points.
It turned out to be the last time any away side celebrated a win at Highbury. The following season, and our first visit to the brand new Emirates, came on the 7th April 2007. West Ham were sat precariously in the relegation zone, desperate for points, while the Gunners were their usual formidable self, unbeaten on their new patch.
But that changed courtesy of a Bobby Zamora chip over Jans Lehman to give us a 1-0 lead. But the real hero of the day was Rob Green in the West Ham goal who stood defiant to everything Arsenal threw at him. We came away with a victory – earning the right to claim a place in the history books as the ‘last team at Highbury – first team at Emirates’ to defeat the Gunners.
As enjoyable as those three victories were, my personal favourite was an FA Cup quarter final victory from 1975. We were struggling in the league (nothing changes) while Arsenal were doing what they usually did, winning games with great regularity.
But with new striker Alan Taylor in our ranks, and a good cup run in our sights, West Ham totally upset the form book to come away with a 2-0 victory, both goals coming from the new boy. We went on to Wembley that year, and our FA Cup Final win over Fulham.
Happy days from the past – and proof that anything is possible in football with the right application.