Here’s a rarity: we’re quoting Jimmy Greaves

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Victory Through Harmony


Paul Collins

Here are some games for people to think about:

September 1970 –       Stoke 5 Arsenal 0

Stoke thrashed Arsenal at home in this early season clash. Imagine what the responses would have been had we had the internet back then. Arsenal went on to win the League and FA Cup double that year.

January 1994 –            Manchester Utd 3 Liverpool 3

For those who say “Manchester United would never concede a big lead”, how about this game as evidence? Manchester United was 3-0 in the lead and still drew. Manchester United went on to complete the League and FA Cup double that year.

October 1996 –           Newcastle Utd 5 Manchester Utd 0

Southampton 6 Manchester Utd 3

What would people say if Arsenal conceded 11 goals in consecutive League matches? This happened to Manchester Utd in 1996. They won the League Championship at the end of the season.

May 2005 –                  AC Milan 3 Liverpool 3 (Liverpool won on penalties)

An AC Milan side containing Maldini, Nesta, Stam, Cafu, Pirlo, Seedorf, Gattuso, Kaka, Shevchenko and Crespo had a crazy 10 minutes and lost a 3-0 halftime lead. Milan came back two years later and won the Champions League again, beating Liverpool in the Final.

The results above are not meant to downplay the shock of losing a 4-0 lead and drawing at Newcastle. It was a terrible result. Blame the referee, blame Diaby, and blame whomever you want. It was a terrible result.

But it happens.

At the end of the day we drew away at Newcastle and Manchester United lost. We are one point closer to the top of the League. Of course there are mental scars that will have to heal after losing such a lead, but as the above examples should clearly show, things like this happen, often, and teams recover. Sometimes events such as the ones we saw on Saturday can actually act as a catalyst to lift people onto a higher level of play. Maybe that will happen to Arsenal, maybe it won’t.

Right now Bayern Munich are taking a horrible amount of abuse in Germany for their failure to hold onto leads. It happens.

In the final moments of the January transfer window Chelsea spent GBP 75m on Luiz and Torres, and followed that up with one of their most insipid displays of the season on Sunday against Liverpool. It happens.

It was Jimmy Greaves, the old Chelsea and Spurs striker and TV commentator, who became famous for saying that “football is a funny old game”. It was his catchphrase. It is a catchphrase that could be used for any professional sport. It is why we watch professional sports. Professional sports are confounding, frustrating, depressing, and sometimes downright cathartic in the emotions they bring to the surface. I can still remember so clearly the 1991/92 side losing at Wrexham, then the bottom club in entire Football League, in the FA Cup. We were the defending League Champions at the time. Now that was awful. Many others will remember such games as York and Peterborough.

It’s a funny old game.

I am not saying for a moment that Arsenal will end up winning the League Championship this season. That story still has a long way to go and many twists and turns surely in store for us. Manchester United still have to play Chelsea at home AND away, Arsenal away, a suddenly rejuvenated Liverpool away, and City at home next week. This race is far from over.

Arsène Wenger surely has a job to perk up the players after the shock of Saturday. But surely nothing will better serve as incentive than the fact that Manchester United lost and we find ourselves closer to the lead than before the weekend. It was an away draw. There is nothing disastrous about that.

There is no better way for the players to get Saturday out of their heads than by thrashing Wolves at home next weekend. It is always amazing how quickly a bad result is forgotten when the team starts winning again.

Ultimately it was just one game on a crazy weekend of Premier League football. It was just a draw.

It’s a funny old game.


Up next: more on the match fixing scandal

Untold Arsenal – the index on corruption

The History of Arsenal

Making the Arsenal – a little light relief

23 Replies to “Here’s a rarity: we’re quoting Jimmy Greaves”

  1. very nice write up. Finally something different than “fa is corrupt, refs are corrupt, blah blah”.

    Article very much highlighted the fickle nature of fans nowadays. The main culprit for that may be internet. Anybody can influence anybody through their write ups, comments etc.

    Next game against wolves is very very important. I consider it even important than brothelona.

  2. I used to be a fan of Jimmy Greaves until I heard him back in the eighties say on ITV that he wouldn’t have black players in his team because they were “too lazy”.

    Since then even mention of his name has me apoplectic.

    Can’t we attribute the quote to someone else on principle?

  3. It is ‘A game of two halves’ as well, to quote another famous footy cliche though I cannot remember who said it. Never was that more true!! Paul is absolutely right of course. We have to suffer these lows in order to appreciate the highs, and we as a club should not expect to have a monopoly of the highs, it is childish to think otherwise. All teams are entitled to their moments of football bliss, so well done and good luck to Newcastle, it could be our turn next week, who knows. Imagine how ecstatic we would have been if it had been us who had recovered from a 4 nil half time deficit to salvage a draw, and yet the final result would have been the same as it was last Saturday, 4 all. We would have been so happy at cutting the lead at the top of the table to 4 points. So please lets keep things in perspective and remain optimistic, there is a lot to play for in the remainder of the season and we are in with a shout in all four competitions.

  4. Agree with all that, but we really need JD and Verm back alongside Kos and soon… for such good things to come to fruition. Song can cover but in doing so, he will leave a huge hole in CM
    At the moment, we hit problems when Squill and Kos play – all teams will know this,especially the predators at Barca.
    Would hate to have to face them again with a second choice CD pairing

  5. Mandy, maybe just maybe Squillaci will be better suited to play against Barca than against a EPL team? He has played there a few years in Spain and was considered to be a good CB over there.

  6. Couldn’t agree more with you.But I wonder if the players and the manager himself are as optimistic as you are.Lets hope they are. And another thing surely the above results were surprising but Arsenal are so pathetic in defense that they let in 4 goals against an average team,they were not Liverpool or Man Utd were they? Our defense must improve if we are to become a top side. The best sides have the best defences.

  7. Could be right on Squill on Spain – maybe he just needs a bit more time to settle – he is older any maybe more set in his ways than the likes of Kos and Vermaelen. Really hope JD back soon, he is starting to look a very impressive defender.

  8. This comment was completely lifted from Online Gooner using the name of the original writer. I would like to apologise fully to Simon Jailler who wrote the original piece, and to Online Gooner for this comment finding its way onto Untold Arsenal and assure everyone that as always we do take plagiarism and identity theft very seriously.

    Tony Attwood

  9. I think it might be A WAKE UP CALL the players needed,in all honesty we have looked pretty comfortable when in the lead and may be players will stop taking their foot off the gas, it is strange that no one is mentioning the invincible pretenders collapse.

    I think it really will do us a favor imagine if we was just two points behind man u already they would put all the pressure on us to win the title the way I heard one journalist talk you would think we was out of the title race, arsenal are better off being written off we are much more dangerous it is more than possible for us to do it

  10. Simon Jailer, good name for a troll. Now please join your friends up North and leave us alone.

  11. @Simon Jailler

    I dont know why you are listening to those guys my advice just watch the highlights turn the tv off or mute it. Thesame people complain about how england fail to win the world cup but praise thugs who end careers, they want the good old days of proper english players which I think is fine but dont wonder why england win nothing I dont listen to pundits they are morons on the whole,

    if arsenal win the carling cup and come second in the league that is progress, yes there is issues that need sorting out but who doesnt have problems name me one team in england, yeah we lost two points and it was very frustrating but man u lost 3 and I believe we have a better team than them, chelsea are quite far back and I think we have the edge over man city and if EVERYTHING in england is equal we have a great chance

  12. @simon – It’s not just the Newcastle capitulation that has prompted calls for Wenger to go. Where have you been the past six seasons? Surely you’ve seen many posters on here calling for a new manager and a fresh approach from our penny-pinching board. It’s also not a case of quantity but quality. We have a huge playing staff but how many of them are ready to step in and do a job should our first XI (whoever that may be) get injured? We have a few injuries each season and invariably it’s game over. We need strength in depth – not a bunch of kiddies and cheap journeymen rolling over and dying each term.

  13. heartbreaking manner of the draw aside, and now that i’ve kinda regained some perspective, we’ve been through worse remember?

    remember Theo scoring in the last minute of extra time in the Champions league at Anfield to put us on course for a champions league semi final, only for us to concede a penalty from the restart and go out on the away goals rule?

    that was a far far worse day, cos a semi final slot would’ve put us on the verge of achieving something. that was an absolute shocking 180 degree rollercoaster heartbreak, instead of saturday’s slow, inevitble slump…

    some perspective is in order:

    now we’re still second, only 4 points away, 13 matches to go (13 x 3 = 39 points(!) to play for), Man U (who have so obviously OVERACHIEVED in their unbeaten run) face a much bigger psychological setback than us and still have to face Chelsea twice.

    if such a draw had to happen, good thing this happened before an international break too, since we’ve always seem to have to restart our momentum after such breaks anyway.

    as far as i’m concerned, a personal seasonal milestone for this season has been achieved – every team (other than Arsenal of course!) having at least 1 loss =p

  14. Here’s another example at the beginning of this season…

    MU was 2 up and into extra time when the other team scored 2 goals to force a draw. Can’t remember which team that was but I was grinning then…

  15. About that 5-0 loss to Stoke in the 1970-71 season: In know Stoke had Gordon Banks in goal, and George Eastham and Harry Burrows in attack, but 5 goals? Did Arsenal have injury issues for that game, especially on defence?

  16. Paul, this was exactly what we needed after that match.

    I watched the first ten minutes of the match again yesterday, and that was an absolute joy. Sure, things came apart in the second half and we all ground our teeth a little bit, but the team plays some absolutely inspired football on the regular.

  17. One of the things people have to remember is that to give up a 4 goal lead, you have to be able to score 4 goals in a game. I grew up watching the Don Howe sides of the 80’s and they would not have been able to score 4 goals in the first place, so giving up a 4 goal lead would have been IMPOSSIBLE for that team. Ditto for many of the sides in the PL right now.

    In the space of 2 minutes we lost Djourou to injury and Diaby to a red card. I think we can all be fairly certain that we would not have conceded 4 goals had either of those things NOT occured.

    Saturday was a perfect storm of events. The day was a crazy one and our game was the craziest of the lot. As Walter said in his ref review, the seeds were sowed in the first half when Dowd began to give some wierd decisions in Newcastle’s favor, culminating in the Barton assault on Arshavin that went completely unpunished (not even a free-kick!!!!). You just knew that Dowd would send one of our players off if given even the slightest opportunity. Diaby, the stupid boy, gave him that chance. Dowd took it with both hands. After that, and the Newcastle penalties, and Nolan getting away unpunished with putting Chesney in a headlock and throwing him to the ground, I knew we were doomed. It was one of those days.

    That is all it was. One of those days. You have to just forget about those days, but the internet these days doesnt allow you to forget them. It keeps repeating the same old stories over and over and over and over. We have lost the ability to look at things calmly and rationally.

    Imagine what the blogs would have said if we had conceded 11 goals in consecutive games as Utd did in the games highlighted above (and their next game they lost 2-1 as well, 3 consecutive losses). We can all see it cant we:

    Players not fit to wear the shirt
    Our defense cannot win the Championship
    The manager must buy
    The manager has lost it
    The manager got rid of Hughes, Kanchelskis, and Ince too soon
    The kids cannot hack it (that was the first year of Beckham, Scholes, Butt, Neville, Neville)

    Etc, etc.


    Utd won the title that year. They won 5 of the next 6 championships.

    We are all idiots. People like Simon Jailler above are the biggest idiots of all because they do not even realise they are idiots. They actually think they know what they are talking about.

    We dont have a clue what running a top club is like. We dont have a clue how to build a Championship side.

    We dont have a clue.

    As soon as you admit that it makes everything else so much easier.

  18. @Andrew Chua – I believe the match you mentioned was Everton v. Man (IO)U that ended 3-3 with two Everton goals scored in added time.

  19. “I grew up watching the Don Howe sides of the 80′s and they would not have been able to score 4 goals in the first place.” Is that the source of the line “Boring, Boring Arsenal”?

  20. @walter
    hey, i raised that point about squillaci. Only his confidence could be his downfall otherwise he is tailor made for barca clash. A good performance against the best team(huh!) may instill new belief in him.

  21. @critic,
    just how do you manage to always circumvent the really insightful answer and give us the shit? were you born at the dark end of an eclipse?
    please let me know where you went to school so i can eschew that particular catchment area?

  22. ps. that last comment did make sense, i was judging you on ‘previous’. apologies.

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