As we prepare for Super Sunday Stephen Browett recalls a memorable day against Arsenal for John Salako in 1994.
After draws in our two most recent Premier League away games it would be nice to record our first away league win since the game at Stoke just before Christmas. However, games don't come much tougher than Arsenal away. This is a fixture that has never given Palace fans much joy. The only time we ever played them before 1969 was an FA Cup tie at Highbury that we lost 7-0 in 1934! Our league record there makes for fairly dismal reading with 12 defeats, 2 draws and 1 win in our 15 previous seasons in the top flight. We've only played at the Emirates Stadium twice before but last season - with Keith Millen at the helm after Tony's abrupt departure - I thought that we were very unlucky to lose to a last minute goal.
This is certainly a game that we go into as underdogs, but I quite like that and it's often in adversity that Palace are often at their best. Records are there to be broken and remember that this is a season where we have already defied the odds to win away at Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs.
I'd like to focus on our solitary win at Highbury on Saturday October 1st 1994. Up against a classic Arsenal line-up that included Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Adams, Merson, Wright and Smith, Palace fielded a team that included no less than seven home grown players from our Academy in an all British eleven. It's hard to believe that we will ever see that statistic again in the Premier League. We were managed that season by Alan Smith whose assistants were Ray Lewington and David Kemp. One of those local boys was John Salako who was, of course, normally a winger but he played up front that day and scored twice in the first half and then we held on admirably to record a 2-1 win. Even though it was 21 seasons ago I can still remember the celebrations in the pub afterwards.
Another game that I remember is one that you won't find in the records books. We were the opposition for Tony Adams' Testimonial match a few months earlier at Highbury on Saturday 13th August 1994. Palace rather spoiled his day by winning 3-1.
This is the start of a busy week on the road for Palace fans with visits to The Emirates, Old Trafford and Wembley. The away end at Arsenal is sold out, Wembley looks like being a sell-out too. It's going to be an exciting week!