Clive Allen Makes His Arsenal Debut On This Day, 1st August 1980

Within a fortnight he would be gone, three games no goals and frankly not worth two-bob. Subsequent events in his career cloud judgements but Allen is one that you look at his playing days and wonder if he was one who got away. His overall career statistics were 221 goals in 434 games which was better than any other striker Arsenal had on their books at the time. Would he have made a difference to the club at that time?

Arguably not. Arsenal had lost their talismanic midfielder Liam Brady, to Juventus and with that, a lot – if not all – the creative drive went from the team. Would Allen have thrived in that environment, in a team readjusting to their heartbeats departure? It is impossible to say.

Leaving the club for Crystal Palace was not the best move. Scoring freely at QPR was no guarantee of success as the denizens of Selhurst Park found out, his goal return substantially reduced to the extent that three years later he returned to Loftus Road for 1/3rd of his original £1.25m fee. That Palace were a struggling side for two seasons may account for that diminished scoring record but that raises questions about how he would have coped at Highbury.

Countering this, Arsenal obtained the services of Kenny Sansom as he came to his peak for club and country. In hindsight, selling Allen on quickly was not the worst transfer deal Terry Neill made.

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