One of the best games at Highbury and, in retrospect, one of the most poignant.
More than 63,000 fans packed into Arsenal's ground for the visit of Manchester United on Saturday, February 1, 1958. Matt Busby's 'Babes' were the biggest draw in British football at the time thanks to two successive titles and a reputation for exciting, attacking play.
"Within five days of United's win at Highbury, five of their starting line-up perished as a result of the Munich air crash."
United's famous faces did not disappoint. Duncan Edwards opened the scoring with a fierce shot from the edge of the area, Bobby Charlton beat Jack Kelsey on the half-hour and Tommy Taylor gave United a seemingly unassailable three-goal lead at half time.
Arsenal, inspired by the quality of their opponents, raised their game. Incredibly, they drew level with three goals in just three minutes. David Herd, who would go on to play for United, scored Arsenal's first. Jimmy Bloomfield slotted past Harry Gregg to make it 3-2 and, to the delight and disbelief of the home fans, the same player converted a diving header to restore parity.
But United were not champions for nothing. They regrouped and regained control, Dennis Viollet firing the visitors back in front before Taylor grabbed his second and United's fifth.
Arsenal weren't finished and Welsh international Derek Tapscott set up a grandstand finish by pulling a goal back. Vic Groves went close to an equaliser but the 'Busby Babes' held out for a famous 5-4 victory.
Sadly, it was to be their last game on British soil. Within five days of United's win at Highbury, five of their starting line-up perished as a result of the Munich air crash. Left-back and captain Roger Byrne, the entire half-back line of Eddie Colman, Mark Jones and Edwards, plus centre forward Taylor were all killed.
The 'Busby Babes' left all who had seen them with fond memories of one of the finest sides to grace the English game.
Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.