Playing Reds holds happy memories for Dixon

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 December, 2008, 12:00am

It's almost 20 years since former England and Arsenal star Lee Dixon enjoyed the finest moment of his career, winning the then-English First Division title with the Gunners from Liverpool in a heart-stopping season climax.

Whenever Arsenal play Liverpool, Dixon cannot but help remember that day when Michael Thomas popped up to score with the last kick of the match - and the season - and give Arsenal the league title with a 2-0 win.

Liverpool went into the final game of the 1988-89 season as league leaders and needed only to avoid a two-goal defeat at Anfield to clinch a third title in four years, but Alan Smith put Arsenal ahead and Thomas scored in the final minute to give their team a first championship since 1971.

'Throughout the years, you always asked which is your favourite moment and what was your best game. I have had a huge amount of success and memories playing for England and Arsenal. But that game [Arsenal v Liverpool in 1989] always comes to the fore,' Dixon said.

'Quite frankly it couldn't get any better than that. It was the pinnacle of my achievement and it will never ever be done that way again. I just can't see that happening again. The odds were stacked against us and it was a truly memorable match. That's why the fixture has so much drama attached to it.'

Dixon hopes Arsenal will show the same commitment against the Reds today at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal are eight points behind leaders Liverpool and another defeat would almost certainly end their title hopes. The former defender, who is now a BBC pundit, said his old club were not out of the league picture yet, although he admitted they had 'an awful lot of work to do'.

'Because of who I am and because I have played for the club for so long, it's very difficult for me to write them [Arsenal] off. My head is saying 'you've lost five games and you are eight points behind Liverpool now'. But my heart says, 'I still believe it's never over till it's over'. If we win [today], we go five points behind Liverpool who have to play United and Chelsea again.'

Dixon was analysing today's big match with former Liverpool great, Kenny Dalglish, for Premier League sponsors Barclays. Interestingly, Dalglish was the Reds manager when they lost the league title to Arsenal all those years ago. He preferred not to dwell on the past and rather was looking forward to a 'fantastic' match between the two rivals.

'Arsenal played very well to beat United and they also beat Chelsea away. While Liverpool have beaten United and Chelsea, too. But Arsenal have dropped a few points against teams they were expected to beat,' Dalglish said.

The Scot said Liverpool need to start winning big games like this one if they are to claim their first league title since 1990.

'If you go head-to-head with your rivals, that's the best chance to take points off them. We haven't done that in past seasons,' he said.

Losing ground

The points gap between Arsenal and league leaders Liverpool: 8