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By 18 September 1994, Arsenal knew they were in trouble…

 

By Tony Attwood

 

The list of results for the opening of the 1994/5 season shows a sad tale indeed.

20 August 1994 Arsenal 3-0 Manchester City
23 August Leeds United 1-0 Arsenal
28 August Liverpool 3-0 Arsenal
31 August Arsenal 0-0 Blackburn
10 September Norwich 0-0 Arsenal
18 September Arsenal 2-3 Newcastle

And worse was to come, for this was the season in which George Graham was proven to have taken a bung, and was duly sacked.  But it must be remembered, at this stage there was no hint of this.   The team was Graham’s in every regard.

Two season’s before Arsenal had won both cups and come 10th in the league.  One season before they had climbed to fourth and won the Cup Winners’ Cup.  This was a team that won things.

Amazingly Arsenal’s home crowd was the second largest in the first division (the “Premiership”) that season (35,505) behind only Manchester United.  How things change.

In the end we finished 12th in the league, below QPR, Wimbledon and Tottenham.  Worse we lost Paul Merson to rehab for three months, and there were serious thoughts of relegation at one stage.

The list of players on the books however showed just what a talent we had, and as it turned out, enough talent to take us to the CWC final for the second year running, although we lost to that wretched last minute goal.

Just take a look at the highlighted names and the number of games we played to see what a team we had, and yet the final result was one of flirting with relegation.

No.

Player

Total

Starts

Goals

1

David Seaman

48

0

2

Lee Dixon

55

1

3

Nigel Winterburn

55

0

4

Paul Davis

6

1

5

Andy Linighan

27

2

6

Tony Adams

40

4

7

Kevin Campbell

33

5

8

Ian Wright

45

30

9

Alan Smith

27

4

10

Paul Merson

34

7

11

Eddie McGoldrick

18

0

12

Steve Bould

43

2

13

Vince Bartram

12

0

14

Martin Keown

43

1

15

Stefan Schwarz

47

4

16

John Hartson

20

8

17

John Jensen

33

1

18

David Hillier

17

0

19

Jimmy Carter

3

0

21

Steve Morrow

22

2

22

Ian Selley

17

1

23

Ray Parlour

45

0

24

Paul Dickov

13

3

25

Mark Flatts

4

0

28

Paul Shaw

1

0

29

Stephen Hughes

0

1

30

Adrian Clarke

1

0

31

Chris Kiwomya

17

3

32

Glenn Helder

13

0

33

Gavin McGowan

1

0

There was never a glimmer of hope of anything better than a cup run.  After these first six games here was the lower part of the league table

Pos Pld W D L F A GD Pts
9 Tottenham Hotspur 6 3 0 3 11 11 0 9
10 Norwich City 6 2 3 1 3 3 0 9
11 Manchester City 6 2 2 2 9 8 +1 8
12 Queens Park Rangers 6 1 3 2 9 11 -2 6
13 Wimbledon 6 1 3 2 4 7 -3 6
14 Southampton 6 1 3 2 6 11 -5 6
15 Arsenal 6 1 2 3 5 7 -2 5
16 Sheffield Wednesday 6 1 2 3 8 12 -4 5
17 West Ham United 6 1 2 3 2 7 -5 5
18 Coventry City 6 1 2 3 5 13 -8 5
19 Leicester City 6 1 1 4 6 11 -5 4
20 Ipswich Town 6 1 1 4 5 10 -5 4
21 Crystal Palace 6 0 4 2 4 10 -6 4
22 Everton 6 0 2 4 6 15 -9 2

We were knocked out by Millwall in the third round of the FA Cup, and by Liverpool in the 5th round of the League Cup.  Only the CWC provided temporary relief.  Perhaps if we had been signing players and building a new team it would have been better, but Graham was stagnant.  Either he had lost it, or else he was under investigation by the club from before the start of the season and ordered to do nothing.

Which is perhaps why throughout the summer before the season started, we didn’t sign anyone.  It is an interesting moment to ponder for those who consider Graham a better manager than Wenger.  Yes Graham won the league twice in dramatic style, but there was also this season.  And let’s not forget that for these six matches that left us in 15th position, Graham was in complete, unchallenged control.

Arsenal 2 Newcastle 3 – it was something of a low point.

(The Anniversary File is now split in two, because of its size.  January to June and July to December)

Other main series on the site (full list of indexes below)

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