What are the key issues in football? Is Arsenal on the edge of a new 1930s?


There can’t be anyone left who actually seriously can remember Arsenal’s first great period: the 1930s.  I obviously wasn’t there although my father was, and I heard much of it from him.

But for those of us who watch Arsenal today what happened in the 30s remains just an amazing set of statistics.  The 21st century club is not emulating them yet, but still there are comparisons that can be made.  

In 1924 Arsenal came 19th, the following season 20th (out of 22).   Then there was a change of manager (if you know any of your Arsenal history you’ll know who came in as the new man) and for the next three seasons, Arsenal didn’t win anything but were a decent cup side getting to a quarter-final, a semi-final and their first ever final.

No trophies, but one hell of a turnaround.  Then in 1930 the trophies started, and five league titles, two FA Cups and three managers through the decade – a run which the death of Herbert Chapman didn’t stop but the Second World War did.

Twice after that there were moments when it was thought maybe it would all happen like that again: the double of 1971 and the Graham titles of 1989 and 1991: both were times when we thought, this is the start of another era like the 30s.  But they weren’t.

Yet we did eventually get eight years in which the team never finished below second, won the league three times and the FA Cup four times: Wenger at his finest.

One could even argue there was another such era with three FA Cups in four years from 2014.   But whatever eras we count, they are in the overall scheme of things these are short spells, not matching the nine years from the first FA Cup in 1930, to the fifth title in 1938.

And the question arises, are we on the brink of another great era?  Second last season, first or second this season.  The start of something big?

You would hardly have thought so a few weeks ago when a run of three games without a win (of which only one was in the league) led to demands for Arteta to change his approach, plus statements that he was stubborn and wouldn’t rotate, and that’s why we’d never win anything under him, were pouring forth.

Certainly, if Arsenal do come second for the second season, there will be some turnip or other telling us that second is not a trophy. And maybe people looking back to the Wenger era of seven trophies in eight seasons, and suggesting that being the standard we have a “right to expect”.

Such calls, if they were to come, would of course be amplified by the media.  But there are other factors around which could affect everything.   

For example, one day the enquiry into Manchester City’s doings will have to stop.  If they are found innocent or only slightly guilty, but not worthy of punishment, it is hard to see anything ever stopping them.  Whatever money they have had, whatever they have done, they will be able to do it again, and again, and again.  It is hard to see how their run could ever be challenged, since the finances available from their owners will only end, with the end of oil.  And even then they’ll have a lot more buried in the sand (as it were).

Yet the new order has brought a certain regularity to English Premier League football which is not really noticed by the media at all.   Such as the fact that the difference between the top club in the league and the 18th club (which is of course relegated each year) is invariably between 55 and 58 points, showing merely that the distance in form between top and 18th is much the same, no matter what.

And what might Arsenal achieve this season?  To win the title we are probably going to need to win all three remaining games taking us to 89 points – five more than last season.

That would be one short of the total in the unbeaten season, but two more points than we got in winning the title in 2002 and a whacking great 11 more points than were needed to win the title in 1998.

And if we don’t win it…. well, it has been and is continuing to be a superb season.  The Kai Havertz song will stay with me for a long time, as will the demands for Arteta to be replaced (not least the last round of demands based on the wholly false notion that he doesn’t rotate).   As will the run of 21 goals in five consecutive games.

Whatever else, I’ll look forward to the next campaign with more enthusiasm than ever.  Even if we have to endure a round of “second is not a trophy”.


3 Replies to “What are the key issues in football? Is Arsenal on the edge of a new 1930s?”

  1. Agree Tony. The team and the players individually seem to have grown. Yes, not perfect but nothing ever is. Not even $ity is perfect as they also lose matches every season. The Arsenal has given me lots of great moments this season and I enjoyed it. I hope for the good outcome and that we will win the title…but even if we come second to Man$ity…. I know who the real champions will be. The ones without the financial doping. Arteta has done a great job and long may he continue to stay with us.

  2. @Walter,


    IMHO, Arsenal have had a project that overlapped each and every aspect of football, and they got a manager and a backoffice who are very close to Arsenal as they were part of it in the past.

    They then went on to revamp the team not with any starlet or established star they could buy, but by going about it position by position, with the central pillar coming in very early : Odegaard.

    Just look at the age pyramid. Youth is in abundance with a few more experienced players adding depth.

    And they took care of contracts early on.

    So what we have is a team built for at least half a decade, where each window will add squad depth rather then replacing vital cogs. And there is traffic coming from the Academy as well. All this means stability, in-house growth and ‘Family-Ohana’ as we can see it each and every game.

    This is totally at odds with what happened in the other big six clubs. The fans ought to be singing ‘We are YOUNG’ because the bad news for all other clubs is : they are not going anywhere and will just get better by the small incerements missing, not be disrupted by star changes and/or star fatigue.

  3. Fun stats

    Sp*rs won the PL twice, Arsenal won it twice at WHL

    and the new one

    On Sunday, Tottenham became the first team in the Premier League to score an own goal in three consecutive games against Arsenal, and all three have come from a Saka involvement.

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