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2 December 1933: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1. Success and the prelude to tragedy

2 December 1933: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1 making it 8 wins and two draws in last 10. 

As a result Arsenal sat proud at the top of the league after this game.  Crowd; 38,362.   Goals by Hulme and Dunne. 

The club was already champions having won the league in 1932/3, and although the free scoring of the previous seasons which saw Arsenal score nine against Sheffield Utd, eight against Blackburn and Leicester, and seven against Wolverhampton, Arsenal had managed one six in the game against Middlesbrough on August 30.

After the Liverpool game the league table stood like this (with two points for a win).

P W D L F A G Av Pts
1 Arsenal 17 10 5 2 33 15 2.20 25
2 Tottenham Hotspur 17 9 4 4 29 15 1.93 22
3 Derby County 16 8 5 3 30 19 1.58 21
4 Huddersfield Town 17 8 5 4 42 30 1.40 21
5 Manchester City 17 7 6 4 24 18 1.33 20
6 Blackburn Rovers 17 9 2 6 38 35 1.09 20
7 Sunderland 17 8 3 6 41 24 1.71 19
8 Portsmouth 17 7 4 6 22 18 1.22 18
9 West Bromwich Albion 17 7 4 6 28 23 1.22 18
10 Leeds United 16 7 3 6 29 28 1.04 17
11 Liverpool 17 7 3 7 34 34 1.00 17
12 Birmingham City 17 4 8 5 18 15 1.20 16
13 Aston Villa 17 7 2 8 32 29 1.10 16
14 Middlesbrough 16 8 0 8 33 38 0.87 16
15 Wolverhampton W 17 6 4 7 27 38 0.71 16
16 Everton 16 5 5 6 28 25 1.12 15
17 Leicester City 17 5 5 7 26 28 0.93 15
18 Newcastle United 17 4 7 6 25 33 0.76 15
19 Sheffield W’day 17 5 2 10 25 34 0.73 12
20 Stoke City 17 3 6 8 16 36 0.44 12
21 Sheffield United 17 4 3 10 20 44 0.46 11
22 Chelsea 17 3 2 12 21 42 0.50 8

Although the next game was an unexpected upset with Arsenal suffering a 3-0 home defeat to Sunderland the club then finished off the year with four wins and a draw.

In the new year however everything changed.  On 1st January 1934 Herbert Chapman went on a scouting trip to watch Notts County play Bury and on 2 January he saw Sheffield Wednesday play Birmingham City in preparation for the game on 6 January against Wednesday.

After the game he felt unwell, but continued his duties watching the Arsenal A team play on 3 January.  On 4 January he was forced to bed, feeling more unwell, was diagnosed as suffering from pneumonia and died on 6 January. 

The game on 6 January against Wednesday went ahead and Arsenal drew 1-1.  Joe Shaw took over as manager and Arsenal (not surprisingly given the utter shock that surrounded the club) lost the next three games – including a home defeat by Tottenham. 

But then the team rallied and from February 10 onwards returned to the form that was reminiscent of Chapman’s era, winning 11, drawing 2 and losing 2, becoming champions for the second year running, the first club to do so since Huddersfield Town.

At the end of the season Joe Shaw, who had himself played for Arsenal, and was indeed a player in the first game at Highbury, stepped down and George Allison took over.

There is an index on the site to our articles on Joe Shaw, including the details of his playing days and his period as a manager.

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The books…

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