By Tony Attwood
The season 1998/9 ended with Manchester United as champions and Arsenal one place and one point behind. It was a season in which part of the new order began to be established, with Manchester City gaining promotion from the second division (ie level 3) to the first division (level 2) by coming third in their division behind Fulham and Walsall.
In the top league, although it was hardly noticed at the time, Liverpool, whose dominance had ended in 1991 when George Graham’s Arsenal beat them to the title, had slipped to 7th. But it was not just the slip that one or two people noticed. Liverpool were, in terms of points, closer to Nottingham Forest (who came bottom) than they were to second placed Arsenal. Although Liverpool made occasional recoveries up the table, it was clear that the old order of Liverpool dominance was now very much a thing of the past.
As a result of coming second Arsenal entered the Champions League, in 1999/2000, playing their home games at Wembley. But the six games ended in two wins, two draws (including a 1-1 away draw with Barcelona), and two defeats (in consecutive matches at Wembley, to Barcelona and Fiorentina), and so in November they moved into the UEFA Cup.
The first games were against Nantes and a 3-0 win at home, followed by a 3-3 away draw in December 1999 took Arsenal through.
In the next round – indeed in the game that we celebrate here – Arsenal won 5-1 and this was followed on 9 March by a 1-2 defeat away from home. After beating Weder Bremen home and away Arsenal beat Lens in the semi final before taking on Galatasaray in the final in Copenhagen, and losing on penalties 1-4.
The team for the match against Deportivo la Coruña was:
Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Luzhny, Silvinho, Ljunberg, Grimandi, Petit, Overmars, Henry and Bergkamp. Kanu, Suker and Parlour came on as subs.
The goals were scored by Bergkamp, Henry (2), Dixon and Kanu.
With defeat in the final Arsenal were left just with the FA Charity shield as a prize, having gone out in the fourth round of the FA Cup to Leicester City and the fourth round of the League Cup to Middlesbrough.
In the League Arsenal again finished second to Manchester U only this time 18 points behind. At the wrong end of the table Wimbledon (now MK Dons) were relegated, while in the first division (ie second tier) Manchester City gained their second consecutive promotion. Swansea won Division 3 (ie tier 4) to start their great march.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal – crowd behaviour at the early matches
Other sites from the same team…