By Tony Attwood
According to the papers this is the crunch moment for Arsenal. There are great worries. Lose to Chelsea and we could be fourth.
And that leads to the belief that such a defeat would leave us doomed because this is the DEFINING MOMENT.
But in fact nothing is sure to be the DEFINING MOMENT because every season is different. Try any of these picked from the first half of January across Arsenal’s illustrious history.
- 1 January 1929: Sunderland 5 Arsenal 1. Managed by Herbert Chapman Arsenal let in five for the third time in the season, but that match marks the start of the recovery, as the club start the climb to glory.
- 1 January 1986: For second year running Arsenal play Tottenham on New Years Day and again fail to win. Are Tottenham about to become the dominant force in north London? No, more like the dormitory force.
- 1 January 2001 Charlton Athletic beat Arsenal for first time in 44 years. Was this the start of terminal decline? Yes but not for Arsenal.
- 3 January 1998: Arsenal 0 Port Vale 0 (FA Cup round 3). Criticism is rife. Wenger is useless. We go on to win the double.
- 7 January 1967: Arsenal 0 Tottenham 2, gives Tottenham the double over Arsenal in Bertie Mee’s first season. Little did they know what was just a few years ahead. 1971 anyone?
- 10 January 1970: Peter Marinello’s debut, he scores in his first game – but it turned out to be his only goal in 14 as Arsenal endure 10 game run without a league win and Marinello proves to be a damp squib.
- 10 January 2004: Arsenal beat Middlesboro 4-1 to go top of the league on their way to the title. So some moments can be defining.
- 11 January 1930: Of course no one knew it but Arsenal 2 Chelsea 0 was the start of the journey to the first major trophy in the club’s history as we go on to win the FA Cup for the first time. Some moments are defining but you just can’t see it at the time.
- 11 January 1969: Arsenal 2 Sheffield W 0. 6 consecutive wins, one goal conceded. First six in a row in the league since March/April 1956.
- 13 January 1962: A home defeat to Bolton starts a run of four consecutive losses and one win in 7, Arsenal scoring just 5 in the 7 games. This one was a disaster, and at the end of the season Swindin’s reign as manager was ended.
- 14 January 1933: The Walsall Experiment, last year’s cup finalists knocked out in round three by a 3rd division team. A total disaster, except… the manager was Herbert Chapman, and we went on to win the league.
- 14 January 1961: Herd scores his second consecutive hattrick as Arsenal score 5 for second consecutive game. We finished the season 11th.
- 15 January 1913: Arsenal win their first home game of the season, and were duly relegated – for the only time. The whole season was a defining moment
- 15 January 1977: Arsenal 1 Norwich 0. This turned out to be the last league win until April. In the 11 match run without a win Arsenal went 7 defeats in a row and four consecutive matches without a goal.
- 16 January 1932: Arsenal start a run of 9 wins and 1 defeat. It all looked a lot worse at the end of the previous league match, which made it three defeats in a row.
- 16 January 1954: A win against Wolverhampton ends run of five without victory for reigning league champions!
- 16 January 1960: Tottenham 3 Arsenal 0 to end a run of lost 6 drawn 1 won 1. Goals scored: 11, goals conceded: 27. Just thank your lucky stars this is not 1960. We finished the season 11th and were knocked out of the cup by Rotherham.
- 18 January 1908:Arsenal make it 16 goals conceded in four games between Dec 31 and Jan 18. Yep we were rubbish then.
- 18 January 1987. Arsenal 0 Coventry 0. The game concludes a 17 match unbeaten run including 13 wins, as part of George Graham’s first season, but we still end up 4th.
And we can see can’t we that the trouble with Arsenal is that Mr Wenger has far too much power. We need to split up the power, so that we could use the Tottenham model in which Franco Baldini buys some of the players and AVB buys some of the players, just like Tottenham.
Of course I jest. Of course I don’t know if we are going to win the league or not, nor whether the result against Chelsea is going to be the real defining moment, but I do know that every single season – even the unbeaten season – has some dodgy moments. And mostly (not always but mostly) they come in December and January.
The media talk them up, because they want people to read. But really we all know its guff.
And when it happens the top clubs find a way out of the problem – as Arsenal do by ensuring that we DON’T change how we play. Why on earth would we with a team like we have and with Theo back in form and Podolski now available again. Ok, so Mesut Özil has had a bit of an off time. That happens too. Henry and Bergkamp were poor on occasions. One defining moment from Özil and we will be off again.
The fact is that a run of one draw and one defeat in the last two games does not tell you how the rest of the season will turn out.
What we can say for sure is that to win the league Arsenal don’t have to win against Chelsea – but it would help. That’s all.
And no matter what, real supporters will still be there shouting for their team.
As for today, I was planning to go with Drew to see Corby Town v Poole Town only we have just heard that the game has been called off because of a waterlogged pitch.
So, quick consultations on the phone and we are going to see Northampton Town play Wycombe instead. That to me is what being a football fan is about. You go and see football matches. I hope you can get to one too.
The Anniversary Files
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations
- The final transfer rumours: 3 new names to make 66 players tipped for Arsenal
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 3 – referee home bias
- The real live facts that the media won’t ever touch (part 2)
- Could this be the best PL season ever for Arsenal in terms of goals?