Saturday, March 18 – 1939
Match: Football League, 1st Division, at Highbury, kick-off: 15:30.
Arsenal – Liverpool 2-0 (0-0).
Referee: Mr. S.E. Law.
Arsenal (2-3-5): Alex Wilson; Leslie Compton, Eddie Hapgood; Jack Crayston, Bernard Joy, Ernie Collett; Alf Kirchen, George Drury, Ted Drake, Bryn Jones, Cliff Bastin.
Liverpool (2-3-5): Arthur Riley, Tommy Cooper (C), Jim Harley; Matt Busy, Fred Rogers, Tom Bush; Berry Nieuwenhuys; Phil Taylor, Willie Fagan, Jack Balmer, Bill Kinghorn.
The goals: 1-0 Kirchen, 2-0 Drake.
Ask any Liverpool man what has gone wrong with his team and he will answer you with one word – or rather three: Van den Berg, which name, is Afrikaans, means Of the Mountains.
Well, before the South African outside left went out of the team with serious cartilage trouble, Liverpool were in the mountain tops. Now, without him, they are very definitely in the valleys.
Never a great match this, but very often a thrilling one. Arsenal looked a little more like old times with Ted Drake in the centre and Cliff Bastin on the wing, but there were at least a couple of occasions on which the old Ted would have scored when he was clear through. A little of that deadly tenacity of his appears to have gone.
The Liverpool switch had me baffled for a time. Fagan started off at centre forward, but immediately the ball had been kicked off he dropped back and became a kind of loose, foraging half back, leaving Rogers to hold the middle of the field and Balmer to do the forcing in the centre.
Kirchen, I thought, was the Arsenal star. Three times in the first half he slipped the ball into the middle between the backs just as Drake used to want it. Ted made use of only one such pass and that was in the second half. Kirchen forced his way down the right and crossed. Drake bored in in his old style, but the ball came unkindly to him and he had to hop from one foot to another to get the ball with the outside of his left foot and tap it past Riley.
The first Arsenal goal came from Bryn Jones. Bryn sent a long ball out to Bastin, who steadied and sent it back to the right. Kirchen ran in to it and beat Riley. Disappointing as a football spectacle, but tribute must be paid to Hapgood, Joy and Kirchen.
(Daily Express, 20-03-1939)
Arthur Riley in action against the Arsenal forwards.