Charlie Nicholas’ Arsenal Debut On This Day, 27th August 1983

The wait was over, replaced by the weight of expectation. He kept us waiting for his first goal – that came in the next match – but goodness alone knows what would have been made now of the five month wait for his first Highbury goal. There was enough derision directed at Dennis Bergkamp for a considerably shorter wait.

Not that we cared on this summer afternoon. Nicholas was the prize, the signing that told the rest of football that Arsenal were back. It fits with the Scot’s career at the club, I suppose: flattering to deceive. But when he was minded, Nicholas was one of the players of his generation. A shame he was never able to harness that talent on a truly consistent basis in England.

(Click to enlarge)

8 thoughts on “Charlie Nicholas’ Arsenal Debut On This Day, 27th August 1983

  1. Thanks – A good read, as always.

    Totally overrated bighead. A “Jack-the-lad”. Little wonder George Graham got rid!

    Unimpressive goals tally at Arsenal:
    League – played:145 / scored 34 = 1 goal every 4.2 games (average)
    FA Cup – played:11 / scored 10
    League Cup – played:20 / scored 10

    TOTAL: 1 goal every 3.2 games (average)

  2. His goals to games is about the same as Michael Owen not bad for a overrated player in the 80s on standing on the north bank sing Charlie Charlie Charlie Charlie brings back great memory’s I love the fact that we signed this man against all the odds we could do with a bit of that NOW mr wenger

  3. @Bricey

    Michael Owen at Liverpool 1996-2004:

    played:216 / scored 118 = 1 goal every 1.8 games (average)
    or put simply, better than 1 goal per 2 games.
    That’s actually TWICE as good scoring rate as Nicholas at Arsenal.

    Why are you comparing Nicholas to Owen anyway? Practically pointless… comparing his record to other Arsenal players would be far more sensible. Simply visit for an A-Z. You’ll find many players’ scoring records superior to that of Nicholas.

    1 goal per 2 games is considered a ‘reasonable’ rate from early days up to present.
    Anything better is icing on the cake.

  4. Pretty much the same ratio as Charlie George and much better than Paul Merson. As the article said, he wasn’t consistent but on his day he was breathtaking.

    It is one of those days that is firmly etched in my memory.

  5. @Andy Kelly

    Hi Andy
    Comparing to George and Merson, why? To give more credence to Nicholas’s rather poor scoring record?… surprised to didn’t compare him to Perry Groves. You could have compared him with the players listed below…
    When all’s said and done, Nicholas’s record is what it is, regardless of ‘lesser’ mortals (goals statistics-wise that is, note!), or greater mortals also.
    His goals tally was not ‘terrible’ but neither can it be considered ‘impressive’.

    Here’s a selected few players of note re: goalscoring:

    Goals / Games / Average
    I’ve listed in order top to bottom in terms of AVERAGE

    Ted Drake 139 / 184 0.76
    Ronnie Rooke 70 / 94 0.74
    Jack Lambert 109 / 161 0.68
    Reg Lewis 118 / 176 0.67
    Ian Wright 185 / 288 0.64
    Thierry Henry 226 / 370 0.61
    Jimmy Brain 139 / 232 0.60
    David Jack 124 / 208 0.60
    David Herd 107 / 180 0.59
    Joe Baker 100 / 156 0.64
    Doug Lishman 137 / 244 0.56
    Geoff Strong 77 / 137 0.56
    Malcolm McDonald 57 / 108 0.53
    Derek Tapscott 68 / 132 0.52
    Charles Buchan 56 / 120 0.47
    Tim Coleman 84 / 196 0.43
    Cliff Bastin 178 / 395 0.45
    Cliff Holton 88 / 217 0.41
    Tony Woodcock 68 / 169 0.40
    Alan Skirton 54 / 154 0.35

    Charlie Nicholas 54 / 184 0.29

    ps, Andy – I did note the article’s ‘consistency’ viewpoint.

    • Al,

      Nicholas wasn’t the same type of player as Owen, etc. He was a mercurial moment player, the sort who could turn a game on its head. My Nicholas moment was White Hart Lane, shooting across Clemence from a sharp angle on a night that ended their title aspirations.

  6. @Yogi (et al)… apologies for delay
    I don’t deny he was a mercurial moment player for one moment. I don’t deny he didn’t entertain us. I had high hopes on his fanfare arrival, as we all did. 50 goals in a season (or 48 perhaps), regardless of club or country… (!)
    29 of those goals were scored in the Scottish League ( a two-horse division). The rest in Cups against very inferior opposition (barring the final),
    Still impressive though, especially due to his age at the time… impressive enough to alert Liverpool, Man Utd, and Arsenal.

    However, the guy, arguably, didn’t improve in the big pond, in fact it could be said his game deteriorated. The fact he went back to Scotland to play for Aberdeen, and at only 26 years old, suggests to me just that.

    The bottom line is: he was bought first and foremost to score goals.
    Check the Arsenal (League) stats below.

    1st season: 11 goals in 41 games
    2nd season: 9 goals in 35 games
    3rd season: 10 goals in 41 games
    4th season: 4 goals in 25 games
    5th season: 0 goals in 3 games

    Note: The following season Alan Smith bagged 23 goals in 36 games, and we won the League.

    How would you like a ‘mercurial moment’ striker at Arsenal in the here-and-now with a record to match that of Nicholas? Yes please, or No thanks?

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