Note: The anniversary file pages have over time been split and split again as they have grown. There is an index to the files at the foot of this page along with details of sources etc.
Last major update: 4 January 2022
1 – 5 December 1886: Extrapolating from the dates of other events we can take it that between these two dates a meeting was held to form Dial Square FC ahead of their first game on 11 December against Eastern Wanderers. 1 Dec is the date George Osborne is reported to have given in 1890 when talking about the Royal Oak meeting to form a club.
1 December 1906. First game for Archie Low. He had joined from Ashfield in Glasgow the previous June as cover for Roddy McEachrane. The game ended Arsenal 0 Sunderland 1.
1 – 5 December 1919: Curiously 33 years after the club was founded, and somewhere during exactly the same spread of five days, The Arsenal FC became Arsenal FC in terms of the way the club referred to itself. However the club’s actual legal name did not change.
1 December 1923: Arsenal started a sequence of 9 games in one month with a 2-2 home draw against Blackburn with 20,000 in the ground. Young playing at centre forward finally got his first goal of the season in his seventh match.
1 December 1926: St Ivel in the Islington Gazette suggested for the first time that the reserves were on course to win the league – a significant improvement on their 5th place the previous season. It was a time when the reserve league was taken very seriously by club and players.
1 December 1934: Arsenal 7 Wolverhampton 0. For the second match running Drake scored four as Arsenal scored five or more for fifth time in 17 league games.
1 December 1973: Arsenal played out a 2-2 draw with Coventry at Highbury in front of just 22,340. Arsenal’s scorers were unexpected: the young Hornsby, and Nelson. But the hero was Wilson, Arsenal’s pitch was unplayable, and the game started late as the players went off to change their boots after the warmup. Arsenal’s tactics were to run through the middle, as the journey was shorter.
1 December 1983: Tommy Caton joined Arsenal from Man City. In his wild, short life he played 95 times for Arsenal.
1 December 1983: Lee Chapman sold to Sunderland for £100,000. He had been brought in as the club’s new goalscorer but played just 23 league games and scored just four goals.
1 December 1985: Paul Merson signed a professional contract. Before becoming an integral part of the team he had one loan spell with Brentford who were managed by the Double winning captain of 1971, Frank McLintock.
1 December 1992: Cup Match 4 of Arsenal’s Cup Double season. Arsenal beat Derby 2-1 in a replay of the 3rd round match in the League Cup. Wright and Campbell got the goals.
1 December 2001: Ipswich 0 Arsenal 2 with goals from Ljungberg and Henry. League match 14 of the third Double season. Although part of a run of three consecutive wins it was in fact just part of a run of three wins in nine.
1 December 2007: Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2. Arsenal went five points clear and the media began to talk of another unbeaten season. Flamini and Adebayor scored. However the run lasted just one more game.
1 December 2012: Arsenal 0 Swansea 2. Arsenal had 21 points, their worst total after 15 games for 18 years. They were 10th in the league behind Stoke, Swansea and WBA, but ahead of Liverpool.
2 December 1899: Arsenal 2 New Brighton Tower 0 – NBT were one of the clubs created to fill a stadium – but never succeeded in doing so. They resigned from the league in 1901.
2 December 1907: The Professional Footballers’ Association set up. The first football union was set up in 1898 but ran into difficulties. The PFA was then set up to replace it and became the longest surviving sports person’s union in the world.
2 December 1916: Tottenham played Arsenal at Highbury, even though the game was designated a home match for Tottenham, as their ground had been taken over for the testing of Enfield rifles. A second “home” match for Tottenham against Arsenal was scheduled for 6 April 1917, was however played at Clapton Orient’s ground.
2 December 1922: Frank Bradshaw’s first game. He became a pro with Wednesday and won the FA cup with the team before moving to Northampton in 1910, and then Everton, where he played 66 league games and scored 19 goals. Arsenal lost 3-2 to Birmingham.
2 December 1922: Andrew Kennedy’s first game. He must be counted as one of Knighton’s better signings coming from 3rd Division South team Crystal Palace, and at the end of his first season for Arsenal, winning two caps for Ireland. See also here
2 December 1926: Martial law in the UK was ended having been introduced on the outbreak of the General Strike.
2 December 1933: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1 making it 8 wins and two draws in last 10. Hulme and Dunne scored
2 December 1936: Ted Drake scored three for England v Hungary. In all he played just five games for England but scored six goals in those games. Male was captain.
2 December 1936: Ray Bowden’s last game for England. In all he won six caps for England, and was one of the seven Arsenal players who played for England against Italy in the Battle of Highbury match, which England won 3–2.
2 December 1944: Arsenal 9 Luton Town 3 in the Football League South wartime league. Stan Mortensen on loan from Blackpool got three – a feat he bettered on Jan 27 when he got four in the 8-3 defeat of Fulham. In 12 games this season he scored 18 goals.
2 December 1967: Pat Rice made his debut as a sub in 1-0 loss to Burnley but had to wait until 1970/71 to become a regular in the first team.
2 December 1970: Arsenal 4 Beveren Waas 0; Fairs Cup 3rd round 1st leg. Kennedy 2, Sammels and Graham got the goals.
2 December 1972: Arsenal beat their main rivals Leeds Utd 2-1 at Highbury with 39,108 in the ground. Ball got a penalty and Radford the other.
2 December 1978: Arsenal beat Liverpool 1-0 in front of 51,902. Paisley, manager of Liverpool, then launched a tirade against the referee for having the temerity of booking Souness after he started a fight. Brady, O’Leary and Young were booked for retaliating. Newspapers questioned why TV had edited out a number of the more extreme tackles from Liverpool. Today the press never criticise TV editing and a manager criticising a ref would be punished. But not then, and certainly not with Liverpool.
2 December 1995: Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 1 – one of four draws in a row, in the mid-season collapse. Platt got the goal in a sequence of just four goals in five games.
2 December 2003: Fabregas became the youngest Arsenal player ever to score in the League Cup as Arsenal beat Wolverhampton 5-1. First and last appearance for Michal Papadopulos.
2 December 2009: Man City 3 Arsenal 0 (league cup). Five Arsenal players were booked in the match.
2 December 2017: Arsenal 1 Manchester Utd 3. Having knocked in five against Huddersfield the week before Arsenal lost at home to Man U – their first home defeat of the season. However in the next match Arsenal beat BATE Borisov in the Euoropa 6-0 to make it 12 goals in 3 games. It then took the club 8 games to score another 12.
2 December 2022: Gabriel Jesus underwent surgery to his right knee after suffering an injury during Brazil’s World Cup group stage match against Cameroon on 2 December.
3 December 1904: David Neave’s first match; Small Heath 2 Arsenal 1. He was born in Arbroath and started his football career with non-league Scottish clubs Forfar Athletic, Montrose and Arbroath, before joining Arsenal.
3 December 1915: The West London and Fulham Times, for which Henry Norris had regularly written on football matters, published its final edition, as a lack of advertising in wartime and restrictions on what could be said in the media brought about its end.
3 December 1918: Sir Henry Norris asked a soldier, Lieutenant Niss, to launch his campaign in the general election.. The Lieutenant made much of Sir Henry’s service to his country and the need to repatriate all Germans (not least so that they did not compete for jobs) and the view that Kaiser Wilhelm should be prosecuted for war crimes.
3 December 1919: George Curtis born in West Thurrock, Essex. He joined Arsenal in December 1936 and stayed with the club until 1947 making just 14 appearances either side of the war. He later went on to manage Norway.
3 December 1921: An away win over Blackburn left Arsenal still bottom of the league but with a game in hand and a better goal average than the clubs immediately above them.
3 December 1923 Sir Henry Norris obtained a writ for libel against the Fulham Chronicle which claimed that as a result of a detailed piece arguing for free trade “a torrent of wrath” had been unleashed on Sir Henry by the local Conservatives and called him “a disgruntled and embittered man” who acted from “personal malice”. The defendants apologised, expressed regret and Sir Henry was awarded costs and 100 guineas as damages. Sir Henry, as always, gave the money to charity.
3 December 1925: The question of the Irish border was finally settled with the British government acquiescing on the issue of Irish contributions to pensions, and the Irish accepting the existing border as permanent.
3 December 1932: For the fifth away match running Arsenal scored 3+ goals – a feat not repeated until 2008/9. They scored 21 goals in these five games, this final game being Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 3.
3 December 1919: George Curtis was born in West Thurrock. He started out with Anglo in Purfleet, and moved straight from there to Arsenal who placed him with Margate on loan until bringing him back for the April 1939 games.
3 December 1949: The Arsenal programme printed a rebuttal of allegations in the South Wales Football Echo and Express, claiming that the Arsenal players came out for the second half smoking cigarettes!
3 December 1962: Arsenal beat Chelsea 4-1 in final of the London Challenge Cup. It was Arsenal’s 10th win of the competition and was revenge for the 1960 final which Arsenal lost 3-1 to Chelsea.
3 December 1983: Tommy Caton’s first game, a 0-1 home defeat to WBA. It was part of a sequence in which Arsenal won just one game in nine.
3 December 2011: Wigan 0 Arsenal 4, making it six wins and a draw in the last 7, going from 15th to 5th in just two months. Arteta, Vermaelen, Gervinho and Van Persie got the goals.
3 December 2016: Arsenal beat WHU 1-5 away with goals from Özil, Alexis (3) and Oxlade-Chamberlain from 25-yards. The main focus in the subsequent media coverage was that one of the goals should not have been allowed.
4 December 1909: Arsenal beat Tottenham 1-0 in the club’s first ever league encounter. Lawrence scored in front of 18,000. It came as part of a five match undefeated run – the best run of form in the 1909/10 season which almost saw Arsenal relegated. Although it was only game 16 of the season Arsenal had already used their 6th different centre forwards.
4 December 1914: George Swindin born in Yorkshire. He played as an amateur for various clubs, including Rotherham United, before turning professional in 1934 with Bradford City. He was with Arsenal as a player from 1936 to 1954 making 297 appearances as a goalkeeper.
4 December 1920: King George V (President of the FA) attended the game between Arsenal and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and was presented to both teams. His Majesty was by all accounts a keen watcher of matches, and was regularly to be found at games. In this game Pagnam scored two goals making it seven goals in the last four games as Arsenal won 2-1.
4 December 1924: Alexander Graham sold to Brentford. Alex went to Scotland during the war and returned in 1919 to take up the number five shirt at Highbury, and was a regular player for three seasons. He won one cap for Scotland, in 1920, in a 2-0 win against Ireland. See also here.
4 December 1926: In the match day programme for this day Sir Henry Norris threw down the gauntlet to the FA in public over the way it had treated Tom Whittaker who had suffered a career ending injury while playing for England in Australia. The game was a 1-0 win over Bury, but the big interest was in what the FA would do against such a public challenge.
4 December 1933: On this day Arsenal made their second attempt to introduce numbered shirts (despite opposition from League and FA) using them in a friendly against F.C Vienna, which Arsenal won 4-2.
4 December 1952: Bill Dodgin signed from Fulham. Fulham were managed by Bill’s father (also called Bill Dodgin) and Bill junior left when Fulham were relegated to the second division.
4 December 1956: John Barnwell’s first game in the Southern Floodlight Cup. After playing as an amateur for Bishop Auckland he had moved to Arsenal in 1955, turned pro in 1956 and started playing for the first team in 1957.
4 December 1959: Terry Neill signed from Bangor City for £2500. He played 241 league games for Arsenal before playing for Hull – and later went on to manage both teams.
4 December 1961: Arsenal beat Millwall 3-1 to win the London Challenge Cup. It was Arsenal’s 13th appearance in the final.
4 December 1962: Kevin Richardson born in Newcastle. He played for Everton with whom he won the league and cup, then moved to Watford before becoming part of the 1989 league winning team – playing in the final game against Liverpool.
4 December 1968: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 1 in the second leg of the league cup semi-final having won the first leg 1-0. Once again Radford scored for Arsenal to win 2-1 overall and go on and face Swindon Town in the final.
4 December 1973: For the first time since the days of Wright, fewer than 20,000 turned up at Highbury for a first team match. The result was Arsenal 2 Wolves 2; the crowd was 13,482. The match was played at 2.15 on a Tuesday because of the government restrictions on the use of electricity. Arsenal were also fined £2000 on this day for making illegal approaches to two Phil Parkes and Gerry Francis of QPR.
4 December 1974: Alex Cropley transferred from Hibernian to Arsenal for £150,000. He had played 118 times for Hibs but broke his leg twice playing for Arsenal, and never made the impact hoped for.
4 December 1979: Arsenal played their nemesis of 1969: Swindon Town. It ended 1-1, with a very encouraging crowd of 38,024, showing how seriously the League Cup was now being taken.
4 December 1991 Cliff Bastin died in Exeter aged 79. He had been one of the very greatest Arsenal players of all time; perhaps the greatest. After retiring from playing football after the war, he ran a cafe, wrote for the Sunday Pictorial and went on to be a publican. With Arsenal, Bastin won the FA Cup twice, and the First Division title five times. Indeed by the age of nineteen Bastin had won a League title, FA Cup and been capped for England
4 December 2004: Arsenal 3 Birmingham 0; starting a month of four wins and a draw. It was also Almunia’s first Premier League game. He went on to play 109 league games for Arsenal.
4 December 2010 Arsenal beat Fulham 2-1 to go top of the league. It was the only moment the club were top of the league during the season, losing the next game to Man U and dropping to second
5 December 1885 Millwall beat Eastern Wanderers 3-1 at Glengall Road. This game has significance because it gives us a record of Eastern Wanderers, playing in this area and around this time. The first Arsenal game (as Dial Square) took place, on the Isle of Dogs (where Millwall played) against Eastern Wanderers one year later.
5 December 1886: A likely date either for the setting up of Dial Square FC or a practice match ahead of the first game.
5 December 1904: Woolwich Arsenal 26 Parisian XI 1; one of Arsenal’s biggest wins. It is reported that the French team were a man short and used an Arsenal reserve to make up the numbers.
5 December 1914: The crowd for Bury v Arsenal was just 5,000, significantly down on the previous year. By the end of the season the First Division had reported crowds overall down 38%.
5 December 1916: King George V asked the Conservative Party leader Bonar Law to form a government. However Bonar Law declined the request, feeling it would be impossible to hold any sort of administration together.
5 December 1920: In a vote that is perhaps hardly remembered now, Scotland voted against prohibition of alcohol in the country.
5 December 1921: The FA cited opinions about football’s unsuitability for females and told registered clubs “to refuse the use of their grounds for such matches”. The ban destroyed women’s football and was not lifted until 1971. Even to this day, the FA has (perhaps typically) never apologised either for the ban or the delay in lifting it.
5 December 1925: Arsenal drew 2-2 against the champions Huddersfield Town away, having lost their last two games against them 4-0 and 5-0. Neil and Buchan scored and the result meant that Arsenal had played the current top team and last season’s champions and gained three out of four points. Norseman in the local paper, was full of praise.
5 December 1931: Arsenal won 3-1 away to 4th placed Sheffield Wednesday. Jack got two meaning he had now scored 11 in the last seven games – scoring in each match having scored only scored two in the first ten games he played.
5 December 1936: Arsenal lost to Manchester City after four consecutive wins in which the team scored 16 goals. But thereafter Arsenal lost just one match in the next 14, and scored 13 in the next three.
5 December 1942: Southampton 1 Arsenal 3 in the wartime Football League south. This came in a run of six consecutive wins in which Arsenal scored a total of 26 goals. The crowd was 9000.
5 December 1959: Lee Chapman born. He started out with Stoke with whom he played 99 league games and scored 34 goals, but he was never able to rediscover that form at Arsenal.
5 December 1960: Arsenal lost 1-3 to Chelsea in the London Challenge Cup final. The competition had started out as a tournament for the first half of the season but had moved to an April or May final in the 1930s. This was the first season it returned to a winter final.
5 December 1967.Pat Rice’s first start for Arsenal in the League Cup against Burnley. Arsenal won 2-1 with goals from Radford and Neil. Rice had already been listed as the substitute a couple of times, but had not been called upon.
5 December 1970: Man City 0 Arsenal 2. Armstrong and Radford scored in League match 20 of the first Double season.
5 December 1981: Début for Stewart Robson in West Ham 1 Arsenal 2, having been a youth and reserve player since 1978. He went on to make 150 league appearances but later became a highly eccentric anti-Wenger commentator
5 December 1981: Last game for Pat Jennings, the first man to play over 1000 senior games. Arsenal beat WHU 2-1 with Hollins and Whyte scoring. It was the 5th of 6 consecutive wins, but the 6th game was not played until January 20 because of bad weather.
5 December 2006: Matthew Connolly scored for Arsenal against Nottingham Forest. He later went on to win the Championship three years running with three different clubs!
5 December 2009: After a 0-3 home defeat to Chelsea Arsenal beat Stoke 2-0 to start a month of five wins and one draw. It was Arsène Wenger’s 500th game in charge.
5 December 2015: Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1. Goals from Campbell, Ramsey and Giroud. The first of four consecutive wins in which Giroud scored in each game.
6 December 1885.Angus McKinnon was born in Paisley. He played with the junior league team Petershill in the north of Glasgow and there are suggestions Angus signed for Heart of Midlothian and then Carlisle United in the Lancashire Combination before going to Woolwich Arsenal in May 1908.
6 December 1886: Working through the events of the winter of 1886 we can conclude that the Secretary of the newly formed Dial Square FC, having seen an advert requesting fixtures in “The Referee”, wrote to Eastern Wanderers on this day to fix up the club’s first game.
6 December 1902: Sandy Main’s last league game in a 0-2 away defeat to Small Heath. He played his final game on 23 March 1903 away to Brentford in a 1-0 victory in the London League Premier Division.
6 December 1913: Arsenal 1 Leeds City 0 and Chapman’s first visit to Highbury. Before he was to become Arsenal’s manager, Leeds City would be ejected from the league and Chapman banned from football for life.
6 December 1916: The King asked Lloyd George to form a government in co-operation with Bonar Law. As a direct result the first Ministry of Labour was set up on 11 December.
6 December 1918: Following a proposal from Henry Norris, the London Combination decided to ignore the FA’s rules on not paying players, and also decided to set up the London Combination Victory Cup – which ultimately led to the first huge row between Arsenal and Fulham.
6 December 1919: 50,000 came to Highbury for the first time to see a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. It was also the day on which the programme referred to the club on its cover for the first time simply as “Arsenal”.rather than “The Arsenal”.
6 October 1921: The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed giving independence to the Irish Free State but members of the legislature (Dáil) were required to swear an oath to the king and as republicans would not do this, so they never took their seats.
6 December 1923: The Conservatives held the Fulham parliamentary seat previously held by Sir Henry Norris. But the vote for the party had declined by 25% in just four years. Indeed by 1933 Labour had taken the seat, getting nearly 60% of the vote. It shows that the electorate had been voting for Sir Henry, not the party.
6 December 1926: Responding to Sir Henry Norris’ attack on the FA for its treatment of Whittaker the Daily Express ran a piece stating the FA’s position, that Whittaker had been treated “handsomely” and claiming that it was the FA and not Arsenal who had been paying Whittaker’s wages from the date of the injury until the settlement, (ignoring the fact Arsenal had taken him on as trainer of the reserve team and thus they had been paying him, not the FA). The Express as the FA’s propaganda unit – who would believe it!
6 December 1930: Arsenal v Grimsby abandoned due to fog. It was replayed on January 28th 1931 with the result Arsenal 9 Grimsby Town 1. Matches that were played on 6 Dec included Derby County 6 Chelsea 2 and Sunderland 6 Liverpool 5.
6 December 1941: Brighton 2 Arsenal 3 in the London (wartime) League. That made it four straight wins for Arsenal in which they scored 15 goals as the club headed towards being champions of the League.
6 December 1955: Tony Woodcock born in Nottinghamshire. He started with Nottingham Forest in 1974, joining their first team in the 1976/7 season and working under Brian Clough wherein he was a major force in the drive to win the League, League Cup and European Cup.
6 December 1978: Arsenal drew with Red Star Belgrade 1-1 draw, thus forcing Arsenal out of the Uefa Cup – their first venture into Europe in eight years.
6 December 1982 George Graham became manager of Millwall, at a time when they were bottom of Division 3. They avoided relegation that season and in 1984–85 they were promoted to the Second Division.
6 December 1997: Arsenal beat Newcastle U away 1-0 in a sequence in which the club won only two out of eight but still went on to win the Double for the second time. (Game 17) The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
6 December 2003: Leicester 1 Arsenal 1. With no Henry, no Vieira, and Cole sent off for wild challenge Arsenal managed to secure a draw in the 15th league match of the unbeaten season.
6 December 2011: Olympiacos 3 Arsenal 1. Arsenal put out a much changed team and with Fabianski injured on 25 minutes, Mannone took over. Rosicky gave Arsenal the lead but Mannone had a difficult night thereafter.
6 December 2014: Stoke City scored three in the first half (including one in the fourth minute) and appeared to have scored a fourth before the ref changed his mind. Cazorla and Ramsey scored in the second half to leave it 3-2 to Stoke.
6 December 2016: Basel 1 Arsenal 4 in the Champions League. As a result of this and PSG’s results Arsenal won the group and on 12 December were drawn against Bayern Munich in the round of 16.
7 December 1886: The most likely date for Eastern Wanderers to have agreed to play Dial Square in what was to be the forerunner of Arsenal’s first match
7 December 1889: Royal Arsenal lost 1-5 to Swifts ending the club’s first FA Cup run. Swifts had reached the cup semi-finals in 1874, 1876 and 1886. In 1890 they merged with Slough Albion & Young Men’s Friendly Society, to form Slough FC which later became Slough Town.
7 December 1896, Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 3. This was a benefit match for Joe Powell’s family after he died having been injured playing for Arsenal against Kettering.
7 December 1889: Kentish Independent comments that while in the past they would never dream of covering football now “there is probably no subject so much talked about around us.”
7 December 1889: Edward Williams joined the club. He only played for the club through the rest of the 1889/90 season and made it to five games scoring three goals.
7 December 1903: Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Millwall Athletic in the final season of Arsenal in the London League Premier Division. It was Arsenal’s first defeat in the League. The crowd was given as “Moderate”.
7 December 1909: Henry Norris, acting as Mayor of Fulham, helped the Church Commissioners save face after there was public uproar over the Church’s decision to rent its land in a residential area to an oil storage company. The event undoubtedly led to a rapport with the church which Norris used in his favour when renting Highbury.
7 December 1911: Ronnie Rooke born. He started out with Crystal Palace in the Third Division South, playing 18 games and scoring four times before going to Fulham in the Second Division in 1936 scoring 57 goals in 87 league games, including all the goals in Fulham 6 Bury 0 in the FA Cup.
7 December 1912: League debut of Frederick Groves v Derby. He had played for Barnet Albion and Glossop North End before signing as an amateur player in August 1912, turning pro 14 months later.
7 December 1914: Having entered the competition for the first time in 1908/09 Arsenal reached the final of London Challenge Cup for first time, losing 1-2 to Millwall.
7 December 1918: Arsenal lost at home to Tottenham 0-1 in front of 12,000 – a small crowd due to freezing temperatures and the flu epidemic. It was most noteworthy however as George Elliot the mayor of Islington attended, marking the end of hostilities between the council and Arsenal following the launch of the residents’ “Highbury Defence Committee” in 1913.
7 December 1926: The Express published Sir Henry Norris’ letter concerning the FA’s treatment of Tom Whittaker noting that all they had offered was one year’s salary, for an injury which ended his career. Worse it had emerged that the FA had not insured its players for the tour. He also called the FA “impudent” for responding to the commentary in the programme anonymously.
7 December 1932: David Jack’s final cap for England – he played nine times for his country and scored three goals whereas with Arsenal he played 181 games and scored 113 goals.
7 December 1939: Ian Ure born in Ayr. He played for the now defunct Ayr Albion and then Dundee and as a member of their championship side which then reached the semi-final of the European Cup, and is inducted into their hall of fame. He also played for Scotland, in the team that beat Spain 6-2 at the Bernabeu.
7 December 1940: Jack Lambert (Arsenal’s reserve coach) died in car accident aged 38. He had played 143 league games for Arsenal and scored an amazing 98 league goals making him the most prolific goal scorer who played over 100 games, in Arsenal’s entire history.
7 December 1946: Second and last game for Cyril Grant. Cyril fared a little better at Fulham, his next club before moving on in March 1948 to Southend United of the Third Division South where he was twice top goal scorer. He stayed there until aged 35 and scored 64 goals in 183 matches, moving finally on to Gravesend & Northfleet.
7 December 1974: Carlisle 2 Arsenal 1. It was Alex Cropley’s first game after his transfer from Hibs, and is remembered for what the press called an “eight man brawl” which was broken up by police officers entering the field of play as the ref looked on helplessly.
7 December 2002: Man U 2 Arsenal 0. After scoring in 47 consecutive games Arsenal failed to score.
7 December 2004: Arsenal 5 Rosenburg 0. Arsenal had already qualified for the next phase of the competition, but saw no need to take it easy. The goals came from Reyes, Henry, Fabregas, Pires and Van Persie.
7 December 2017: Arsenal beat BATE Borisov 6–0 in the final Europa League group stage match with goals by Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Mohamed Elneny as well as an own goal.
8 December 1863: First rules of football published following the presentation of a set of rules by J. C. Thring, head of Uppingham School, and famous educational reformer. They allowed catching the ball and there was no rule on the maximum number of players per team!
8 December 1888: Arsenal beat Old St Paul’s in London Senior Cup. Apart from a reference to the club in the FA cup the following season, details of Old St Paul’s are hard to find.
8 December 1906: Birmingham 5 Arsenal 1, leaving Arsenal with just two wins in seven, but despite the poor run Arsenal were still fourth in the league, a position which was solidified by three wins and a draw during the rest of the month.
8 December 1914: The FA held a meeting to discuss the response of football as both a social and a commercial operation, to the war. The idea was proposed of forming a battalion of volunteer footballers and Henry Norris was elected onto the organising committee. Meanwhile the Battle of the Falklands ended in a decisive British victory.
8 December 1915: Henry Norris announced that 6210 men from the borough of Fulham where he was mayor, had volunteered under the government’s new recruitment schemes. The government had expected far more, but even this modest number was far above every other borough.
8 December 1917: With just one win in the last four Arsenal continued their losing ways, going down 0-2 to Palace at Highbury in the wartime London Combination, with the crowd now sinking to 3,500.
8 December 1923: Arsenal were away to Blackburn having gone four without a win, and the least that was hoped for was a draw against the middle of the table club. Knighton brought back Voysey and Haden, but the result was a 2-0 defeat.
8 December 1925: John (“Jack”) Butler’s only appearance for England (against Belgium), despite him being born in Ceylon. From 1935 to 1939 he managed the Belgium national team.
8 December 1926: Herbie Roberts joined Arsenal for £200 from Oswestry Town where he was a part time player at one of the oldest football clubs in the world. His “day job” was as a policeman.
8 December 1930: The premiere in London of “Black Coffee”, Agatha Christie’s first play.
8 December 1934: Derby beat 5th placed West Brom 9-3. But while high scores were the order of the day Arsenal could only secure a 1-1 draw courtesy of a Huddersfield own goal. On the same day Agatha Christie’s first play opened in London.
8 December 1945: Arsenal 4 Portsmouth 3 in the Football League South, wartime league. That made it five without defeat after six defeats in seven in which Arsenal had conceded 26. That poor run of form meant Arsenal eventually finished the league in 11th place.
8 December 1953: Rangers 1 Arsenal 2. The series of games created by Herbert Chapman continued until 1968/69.
8 December 1991: Jimmy Carter made his senior debut but he went on to make only 25 appearances. The result was Nottingham Forest 3 Arsenal 2
8 December 1979: Arsenal beat Coventry City 3-1 at Highbury, with a modest crowd of 27,563. Three goals at home for Arsenal was unusual and as 1979-80 played out in the league Arsenal never once repeated the four they got on the opening day.
8 December 1999: Ömer Rıza sold to West Ham. He never played for them but was loaned to Barnet and eventually sold on to Cambridge, before moving to Turkey. However in 2009 he returned to English football with Shrewsbury and continued to play in non-league football in England until 2015.
8 December 2010: Braga 2 Arsenal 0. Having won the home leg 6-0 Arsenal went down as a direct result of some very very strange refereeing decisions.
8 December 2012. If this were a movie it would be “How the season was saved by a seemingly insignificant win”. The result was Arsenal 2 WBA 0 and Arsenal were in 10th position. It was followed by a period in which Arsenal beat Reading 2-5, Wigan 0-1 and Newcastle 7-3 and gradually climbed back up the table.
8 December 2013: Arsenal 1 Everton 1 brought to an end the run of four straight wins with no goals conceded. It was followed by three without a win including a 6-3 away defeat to Manchester City
9 December 1893: First league game for James Boyle: Northwich Victoria 2 Arsenal 2 in front of a crowd of just 2,000. The game gave Arsenal it’s first ever away point in the league.
9 December 1916: Arsenal suffered their fourth consecutive defeat, this time at home to Crystal Palace 1-2. There were just 3000 in the ground for this wartime game.
9 December 1918: Athletic News gave voice to the discussions that had been evolving around football since the initial little battle between the FA and League over the payment of players. The article made it clear that professional football was ready for reorganisation, and quoted an idea from an acquaintance of Sir Henry Norris, TA Deacock of Tottenham, who was suggesting the creation of a third division.
9 December 1922: First league game for John “Alex” Mackie – the man who (despite endless stories to the contrary) it seems did not get a pet monkey as a signing on fee (although he may later have bought a pet monkey). Arsenal beat Birmingham 1-0 to end a run of 8 without a win.
9 December 1922: Arsenal 1 Birmingham 0 was also the first game for Andy Kennedy, having transferred from Crystal Palace for whom he had played just one game. Mackie and Kennedy continued as a pair through the whole season.
9 December 1935: Arsenal beat Middlesbrough, but then only won two home games between this date and 10 April.
9 December 1937: Arthur Biggs transferred to Heart of Midlothian.
9 December 1961: Paul Davis born in Dulwich. He signed for Arsenal in 1977, and played for the first team for the first time against Tottenham on April 7 1980 at Tottenham; a game which Arsenal won 2-1.
9 December 1972: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Arsenal 2, Storey and Radford doing the honours in front of 47,505 at the Lane. A copy of the Big Match is available to watch on You Tube. I recommend it – ten minutes of glorious history and a lovely discussion at the end about off side.
9 December 1973: Probably the first ever comment about what was to become the famous Arsenal back four, was made on thisday, concerning the “highly drilled precision” looking “like guardsmen” as they “stepped up smartly” to “catch Derby off-side”. .
9 December 1975: Arsenal 2 Feyenoord 1; Peter Storey Testimonial. It is said that the follow-up celebration in Storey’s pub lasted two days and included a range of “interesting” guests.
9 December 1981: Willie Young sold to Nottingham Forest. However from this point on he began to suffer injuries and eventually retired to run a pub. Later he moved onto the less common ex-football occupation of running kennels.
9 December 1995: Southampton 0 Arsenal 0. It was the second of four consecutive draws, two of which were 0-0 and two were 1-1. It left Arsenal third, but nine points behind the leaders Newcastle Utd.
9 December 1998: Panathinaikos 1 Arsenal 3; the first Champions League run concluded with an Arsenal victory.
9 December 1999: Nantes 3 Arsenal 3 in the Uefa Cup en route to the final, but only after letting a 3-1 lead slip. Grimandi, Henry and Overmars scored.
9 December 2001: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2. League match 15 of the third Double season. After going four games without a win Arsenal had now won three in a row, leaving them three points behind the leaders, Liverpool. Wiltord scored the first and Henry got the other two.
9 December 2007: Middlesbrough 2 Arsenal 1: ending the 22 match unbeaten run. Despite the defeat Arsenal were still top of the league.
9 December 2011: Arsenal History Society’s suggestion that the club erect statues to famous Arsenal men, made to Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis in a discussion on Arsenalisation, finally came to life: the first three statues being unveiled. In the meeting it was specifically requested that the statue of Herbert Chapman should be of the great man looking at the new stadium as if saying, “I created that”.
9 December 2015: Arsenal needed to beat Olympiacos in Greece by two clear goals to qualify for the Champions League group stages having lost 2-3 in the home leg. The media felt the result was impossible but a Giroud hattrick saw Arsenal easy winners.
10 December 1892: Royal Arsenal won through the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup into the competition proper for first time with 5-0 defeat of Clapton.
10 December 1898: New Brighton Tower 1 Arsenal 3. It was one of only two games in the whole season where no record is given of the crowd, suggesting that it was very small indeed.
10 December 1906: In the Southern Professional Charity Cup Arsenal lost to the local rivals Millwall, who at this stage played north of the river on the Isle of Dogs.
10 December 1908: “Greenaway, the young Coatbridge forward, has nearly set the grass on fire at Woolwich Arsenal, where he would seem in peril of being spoiled by praise. He was one of Manager Morrell’s discoveries, and cost the Arsenal next to nothing. Greenaway, being a modest lad, wears the same-sized hat as when he went to Plumstead.” (The Courier.)
10 December 1910: Matthew Shortt played his third game for Arsenal: Arsenal 0 Middlesbrough 2. In all he played four games for the club, and all were defeats.
10 December 1911: The press were full of stories saying Leigh Roose would be joining Fulham and it seems the deal did get as far as Aston Villa sending Fulham the papers needed to register him there. But then Roose signed for Woolwich Arsenal FC on 11 December.
10 December 1921: Arsenal played Blackburn at Highbury with the same team for the third game running (only the second time this had happened so far this season) in front of 35,000. The result was a 1-1 draw, Hopkins now getting his first goal of the season. Arsenal were still bottom, two points behind three teams above them.
10 December 1923: Arsenal played in their third final of the London Challenge Cup beating Charlton 3-1, thus winning the trophy for the second time.
10 December 1926: Horace Cope purchased for £3125 from Notts County. Although he stayed for seven seasons he fell out of favour after three seasons, with the arrival of Eddie Hapgood, and only played 65 league games for the club.
10 December 1932: Arsenal 4 Chelsea 1, the West Stand (costing £45,000) opened by Prince of Wales (although it had been used by the public for several games before this). This game was part of a 20 match sequence in which Arsenal lost 2, drew 2 and won 16.
10 December 1936: The King abdicated. The following day Parliament passed the Abdication Act, to which the king gave his royal assent (I always find that funny – the king had to consent to the act allowing him to abdicate, having already abdicated the day before. But that’s the constitution for you).
10 December 1960: Arsenal 5 Bolton 1: George Eastham’s debut – he scored two goals. Strong also got two, Barnwell the other. It made up a little for a 6-0 defeat to WHU, a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea, and a 5-3 loss to Wolverhampton earlier in the season.
10 December 1963: Arsenal 6 Everton 0. (Baker 2, Eastham 2, Armstrong and Strong). It was the second 6-0 of the season, but was undermined by a 2-7 and a 0-5 defeat. The team was nothing if not erratic.
10 December 2006: Chelsea 1 Arsenal 1 – the first meeting of the clubs after Cole’s acrimonious transfer. Cole is quoted as saying, “It’s never been about money. For me it is about respect”. I wonder how many believed him.
10 December 2009: Carlos Vela signed new long term contract. After five loan periods he signed for Real Sociedad following a loan spell with them, in 2012, and by 2015 had played 120 league games with them.
10 December 2016: Arsenal 3 Stoke 1. It was the final game in a 14 match run in the League, in which four games were draws and the rest wins. However Arsenal only won 8 of the next 18, which led to the club missing out on the Champions League for the first time after 19 consecutive years – a record which was only surpassed by Real Madrid.
10 December 2020: Dundalk 2 Arsenal 4 meaning that Arsenal had won every single one of their Europa League group matches – the first time the club had achieved this in either European competition.
11 December 1881 Thomas Tindal Fitchie (the only man to be signed by Arsenal five times) was born. TT became a travelling salesman with Jacques & Co a sports goods and games manufacturer. They encouraged his football career as it allowed them access to the clubs and the players who were his team-mates.
11 December 1886: Arsenal’s first game under the name Dial Square, beating Eastern Wanderers 6-0. When Arsenal History Society was formed there was no contemporary evidence to show this game actually took place, but our research found the missing newspaper evidence including the only contemporary report of the match – something which had been lost for 100 years. After this match, membership of the club was expanded from those who worked in the Dial Square factory to everyone working for the Woolwich Arsenal.
11 December 1886: Fred Beardsley played for Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and thus did not play in the Eastern Wanderers game as suggested in some quarters.
11 December 1897 Arsenal 4 New Brompton 2, FA Cup qualifying round 5. Arsenal thus qualified for the first round proper but as happened two years earlier Arsenal lost to Burnley in the next round.
11 December 1901: “Dave” Halliday was born in Dumfries and trained initially as a motor mechanic playing for the works team of car maker Arrol-Johnston. He later moved to Sunderland where he became their all time record scorer, before finally moving to Arsenal.
11 December 1902: Dan Lewis was born in Maery, Glamorgan, and after playing for clubs in his area moved to Clapton Orient, before joining Arsenal in 1924,
11 December 1909: After 7 consecutive away defeats Arsenal’s upturn in away form continued, beating Preston 4-3 making it three wins in a row. See here for the build up to the game Arsenal’s centre forward problems revealed; and also here
11 December 1911: Having initially rejected an offer Dick Roose signed for Woolwich Arsenal. In 1927 Henry Norris admitted that he and Hall had put up half each to pay a player £200 to sign for Woolwich Arsenal. Roose himself was called upon by the League at one point to explain his expenses, and his testimony made the League a laughing stock.
11 December 1920: British forces set fire to 20,000 square metres of land in the centre of Cork, including the City Hall, in reprisal for the killing of a British auxiliary in an ambush. On the same day 50,000 watched a 1-1 draw with Chelsea, in very poor weather. It was Arsenal’s 10th game unbeaten although it did mean an end to the run of four consecutive victories.
11 December 1925: Sir Henry Norris made a payment of £125 to Charlie Buchan as compensation for the loss of revenue from the sports shop in Sunderland that bore Buchan’s name. Because the money came from Sir Henry personally and was not related to playing the payment did not break the rules of the FA or League..
11 December 1926: A goalless draw away to Birmingham hardly seems a noteworthy event but having won just two of their last six games before this match Birmingham were happy to get a draw. Arsenal having sunk down the league table were undoubtedly relieved to have gone three without defeat.
11 December 1928: The FA confirmed that they would press ahead with their hearing concerning Sir Henry Norris at Arsenal. It finally began in February 1929.
11 December 1929: H. B. Peel left Arsenal to go to Bradford City. He was the only player to leave the club during the entire season.
11 December 1937: Arsenal 2 Preston 0. Last game for John Milne who lost his place to “Boy” Bastin. He went on to play for Middlesbrough and later went to Mexico City with Tom McKillop and Jimmy Hickie to train a team there.
11 December 1943: Jack Crayston’s last game in the Football League South (wartime league). At the end of the war he joined the coaching staff at Highbury and in June 1947 was appointed assistant manager to Tom Whittaker
11 December 1960: John Lukic born. He played first for Leeds as a schoolboy and then started with the first team in 1979 before transferring to Arsenal for £75,000 as a replacement for Pat Jennings.
11 December 1963: Nigel Winterburn born. He was with Birmingham City and Oxford Utd until joining Wimbledon in 1983, from whom he was signed by George Graham as part of the most famous defensive unit in Football League history.
11 December 1972: Arsenal beat Coventry at home 2-0 in front of 28,599. Within five minutes Radford got the first, heading in an Armstrong corner. Then when Mortimer’s shirt pulling tactics for once failed to haul back McNab, he passed to Armstrong whose shot was parried to Radford who had all the time in the world to tap it in.
11 December 1979: Swindon Town 4 Arsenal 3 – for the second time Swindon knocked Arsenal out of the league cup. Arsenal’s team was… Jennings, Devine, Walford, Talbot, O’Leary, Young, Brady, Sunderland, Stapleton, Hollins, Rix.
11 December 2012: Arsenal lost in league cup to Bradford on penalties. It was 1-1 after extra time with Vermaelen scoring, but he then missed one of the penalties along with Cazorla and Chamakh in the shoot out.
12 December 1886: The report of the score of Arsenal’s first match against Eastern Wanderers appeared in The Referee magazine – the first contemporary confirmation that the game actually took place. This was discovered by Arsenal History Society researches. Prior to this there were only commentaries made many years later.
12 December 1886: According to Fred Beardsley this was the date of the meeting to set up a Royal Arsenal FC committee; just after the first game against Eastern Wanderers.
12 December 1892: Royal Arsenal 3 FG Armitage’s XI 1. We have no record of who FG Armitage was and why he had a team – but it may be that he was a referee, as referee’s teams were becoming common at the time.
12 December 1896: Arsenal 5 Leyton 2 in FA Cup. In 1905 Leyton joined Southern League II and in 2002 won a High Court action to show they were a continuation of the original team of this name, making it the second oldest existing club in Greater London, after Cray Wanderers. On the same day Arsenal lost 0-8 to Loughborough in the league. See also Patrick Boylan
12 December 1896: Billy Heath played his last game for Arsenal in the match against Leyton (see above). Heath was one of five players whose only first team match (either league or cup) of the season was the Leyton match although he was the only one of the group who never played for Arsenal again.
12 December 1899: Charlie Jones born. Jones’ early career was not a promising one. He left Cardiff City after one game, and moved into the Third Division with Stockport. When he got back to the first division with Oldham they were relegated, and after a couple of seasons he moved to Nottingham Forest also in the second division and started playing for Wales.
12 December 1908: 7 months after his move to Arsenal Angus McKinnon played his first game. It ended Arsenal 1 Newcastle 2.
12 December 1921: Reg Boreham’s first game – in a match against Bolton which was abandoned due to fog. He went on to play 51 league games before his contract was cancelled upon the departure of Leslie Knighton.
12 December 1925: The 1st division had had over 3 months to get used to the new offside law and yet the topsy turvy results continued on this day with Leeds United 3 Manchester City 4, and Bolton 6 Huddersfield 1. Not to mention Bury 8 Burnley 1.
12 December 1943: Arsenal 6 Millwall 0 in the Football League South. This was part of a run of six consecutive victories in the wartime league in which Arsenal scored 26 goals.
12 December 1946: Ronnie Rooke signed for Arsenal aged 35 from Fulham. Before signing for Arsenal he had never played in the top division of English football and remains the oldest player to make his Arsenal first team debut. David Nelson and Cyril Grant went to Fulham as part of the deal.
12 December 1970: Arsenal 2 Wolverhampton W 1, making it seven games in the last eight that Radford had scored in. League match 12 of the first Double season.
12 December 1977: For reasons that now escape me Arsenal went off to Kuwait to play Qadsia in a friendly that ended 1-1, Stapleton scoring.
12 December 1991: Mickey Thomas sold to Liverpool (exact date varies in reports. See 16 December). It was one of the most ironic transfers of all time, given that he had scored the last minute goal at Anfield in 1989 to win Arsenal the league.
12 December 2014: Francis Coquelin recalled from his loan at Charlton and came on as a sub in the next three games, before taking over as Arsenal’s first choice defensive midfielder.
13 December 1890 Old Westminsters 1 Arsenal 4 in London Senior Cup. Arsenal had hopes in this trophy having reached the final the previous year, but went out in the next round.
13 December 1897 Arsenal 3 Rushden 1 in United League. Only 1,000 turned up, but it was Arsenal’s fourth successive win in the United League.
13 December 1902: Arsenal were involved in one of the greatest FA Cup shocks of the era: Brentford 1 Arsenal 1. In this season Brentford came bottom of the first division of the Southern League with two wins and one draw all season
13 December 1913: Clapton Orient 1 Arsenal 0 in the north London derby, with 27,000 in the ground. It was Arsenal’s only defeat in the month – the other five league games being won.
13 December 1919: 60,000 turned up for Chelsea 3 Arsenal 1. White got another goal for Arsenal but was injured in the match missing the next three games. The Times reported the game to be the “best display of football…in London this season.”
13 December 1924: WHU lost to Everton 1-0, one of seven defeats in 12 games in the run up to Arsenal’s FA Cup tie with WHU. It was this set of results that led Arsenal manager Knighton to describe WHU as “fearsome” in his autobiography and explain why (he claims) he gave the Arsenal team drugs prior to the game (which was postponed due to fog).
13 December 1924: Arsenal suffered a 1-0 defeat to Burnley who were 18th in the league having only won one out of nine games at Turf Moor before this match. 6000 turned up – the lowest crowd Arsenal’s first team played in front of all season. The Times said that Arsenal showed “A lack of finish”.
13 December 1930: Chelsea, having lost 6-2 the previous weekend, beaten Sunderland 5-0, while Sheffield Wednesday beat Birmingham 9-1, and Huddersfield beat Blackpool 10-1, with Huddersfield having not won a single one of the last six games. Arsenal drew 1-1 with Liverpool but scores elsewhere show the 1925 offside rule change reverberated through the league for years, not weeks.
13 December 1960: Rangers 4 Arsenal 2, in the continuing series of games initiated by Herbert Chapman. This was the 12th match in a series that finally ended in 1968/9.
13 December 1975: Last game of 49 for Geoff Barnett. He then moved on to Minnesota Kicks. He later managed the Kicks, before returning to England to run a pub, and then went back to Minnesota where he worked as a “Starter” at a golf course.
13 December 1976: Alan Hudson signed from Stoke. He had been a mainstay as playmaker for Chelsea, but their financial crisis, and Hudson’s singular nature led to his transfer to Stoke in January 1974.
13 December 1976: John Radford signed for West Ham. He had played 475 league games for Arsenal and scored 149 goals, winning the League, FA Cup and Fairs Cup. He played one season for WHU, and one for Blackburn before dropping into non-league football.
13 December 1988: David Hillier’s first appearance (a testimonial v Shrewsbury). He went on to make over 100 appearances for Arsenal before playing for Portsmouth and Bristol City, retiring from football in 2003.
13 December 1997: After the 1-3 home defeat by Blackburn Ian Wright was warned by the police about his abusive behaviour towards a group of Arsenal fans. Match 18 of the 2nd Double season – it was the last defeat before the Double was achieved. The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
13 December 1998: Arsenal lost 3-2 away to table topping Aston Villa. Having taken a 2–0 lead, both scored by Bergkamp, Arsenal let in three goals in the second half. This debacle was followed by a 19 match unbeaten run, which took Arsenal to the edge of winning the championship themselves. This was the only game in which Arsenal conceded more than one goal all season.
13 December 2000: Tomas Danilevicius signed from Lausanne Sport for £1m. He played two league games and one FA Cup tie before being loaned to Dunfermline. After that he returned to Beveren in July 2001 before going on to Italian football.
13 December 2012: On Sky Sports News S Robson described Arsene Wenger as “a dictator” adding “Tactically Arsenal are all over the place at times, they’re under-prepared defensively, and if you have that you’re always going to lose several football games in a season and not win trophies.” Arsenal won the FA Cup three times in the next five years and ended in the top four in the league in this and the next three seasons.
13 December 2015: Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2 followed one win in the previous four, but still took Arsenal back to the top of the league with goals from Giroud and Ramsey.
13 December 2016. Everton 2 Arsenal 1. The result ended a run in the League, 10 wins and four draws and started a run in which Arsenal only won 8 of the next 18, leading to the club missing out on the Champions League for the first time after 19 consecutive years – a record which was only surpassed by Real Madrid.
13 December 2017: Arsenal 0 WHU 0. This meant Arsenal had not won in three League games since beating Huddersfield 5-0.
14 December 1889: Arsenal played teams in two separate cup matches in one day, following the refusal of both cup organisers to allow a postponement. The results were Gravesend 2 Arsenal 7, (Kent Senior Cup) and Arsenal 6 St Martin’s Athletic 0, (London Senior Cup)
14 December 1895: Centre half Jimmy Boyle became the 4th goalkeeper to be used thus far in the season. Arsenal remained 5th despite a 1-4 away defeat to Burton. Boyd scored the Arsenal goal.
14 December 1918: A general election was held with women age 30+ and men aged 21+ able to vote for the first time and with the election held on one single day also for the first time. On the same day Arsenal beat Chelsea 3-0. The match was followed by a meeting of professional footballers to discuss the recent pay offers by clubs following the re-start of professionalism. The meeting was chaired by Harold Hardinge of Arsenal and voted to re-form the Players’ Union.
14 December 1922 Don Roper born. He was spotted as a schoolboy by Southampton, playing for Bitterne Nomads, in the Hampshire League and turned professional with Southampton in 1939, (and not 1949 as Brian Glanville claimed in the Guardian) and started playing for the club during the second world war.
14 December 1933: Having not been registered with any club before that point Arthur Biggs became a professional on this day, and went straight into Arsenal reserves to become a regular in the side that constantly won the Combination. He made his first team debut on 29 March 1937.
14 December 1935: Ted Drake scored seven in the 7-1 away win against Aston Villa. An 8th goal by Drake was controversially disallowed by the ref. With manager Allison ill and unable to attend, Tom Whittaker had the job of phoning the result to the boss who asked who scored the goals. Whittaker reported that he simply said, ‘Drake’.” For the full story see here.
14 December 1937: John Milne sold to Middlesbrough. He had made 54 appearances for Arsenal scoring 19 goals, and retired from football following the outbreak of war.
14 December 1946: Ronnie Rooke took over from the injured Reg Lewis and scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Charlton. Rooke went on to score 21 league goals in 24 games from this point on.
14 December 1974: 20,849 saw Arsenal 0 Leicester 0 with Arsenal 18th and survival in the 1st division the aim just 3 years after the double. Charlie George sat on the subs bench but was not called on to play in a game so utterly forgettable at every level that even the journalists were hard pushed to write a match report based on what happened.
14 December 1985: Full debut for Niall Quinn in a 2-0 home win over Liverpool, in which Quinn also scored. Charlie Nicholas got the other. It was the end of a sequence of one win in five during which Arsenal had conceded 10 and scored just three.
14 December 2003: Arsenal 1 Blackburn 0. The 16th league match of the unbeaten season. Bergkamp scored the only goal in a match which was the only win in four successive league games.
14 December 2011: Under three years since his wild anti-Arsenal allegations as manager of Hull City (then of the Premier League) following on-the-pitch altercations, manager Phil Brown lost his job at Preston
14 December 2013: Man City 6 Arsenal 3. A reversal in this match and a conversion of two draws into wins, would have given Arsenal the league title.
15 December 1890, Luton offered five shillings (25p) per week payment to 3 players leading to the suggestion they pre-dated Arsenal as the first southern professional club. Arsenal however was the first club in the south to go fully professional – and the first to pay salaries that a man could live on!
15 December 1917: Sir Henry Norris and Sir William Joynson-Hicks launched the Footballers’ Battalion at Fulham Town Hall with Norris funding the scheme. Men from Fulham, Arsenal, Clapton Orient, Croydon Common, Brighton, Chelsea, Watford, Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Luton Town all signed up at this first meeting. Tragically in the course of the war the battalion lost 900 men.
15 December 1919: The hated rationing of meat ended, although it appears many butchers did not have enough supplies to meet demand on that day.
15 December 1926: Harold Peel, a stop gap signing by Chapman, arrived at Arsenal from Bradford PA. He played for the first time on 1 January 1927, and went on to play nine times that season at either number 10 or 11. See also here
15 December 1934: Arsenal 8 Leicester 0. This game included Drake’s 6th hat trick of the season. Arsenal thus far had scored eight twice and seven once in 19 league games. Hulme also got a hattrick, and Bastin the remaining two. For a review of Dec 1934 see here.
15 December 1966: Arsenal 4 Cardiff 2. A fund raising game on behalf of the Aberfan Disaster Fund. Tragically the fund was seized by the government and parents of the children killed received £500 each from the NCB and had to ‘prove’ that they were ‘close’ to their children before any payment for mental suffering were made. Most government action involved covering up the incompetence of senior NCB officials.
15 December 1973: After six unbeaten, Arsenal lost 1-2 away to Burnley with 13,200 in the ground and the match played in ludicrous conditions. Chasing a ball Radford slid off the mud pitch and hit a concrete wall, injuring himself in the process. There was no floodlighting and the light was so bad the last goal was not seen by those at the opposite end of the ground.
15 December 1976: For a game against Derby Terry Neill adopted a new approach for Arsenal: “let’s kick Derek Hales on his debut”. It gained Arsenal a point, but whether it was quite the way Arsenal should play was another matter. Luckily only Storey, Macdonald and Nelson were booked for the offences and no one was sent off.
15 December 1979: West Brom 2 Arsenal 2 in front of just 18,280. The main news was that Brady was leaving and Arsenal’s fans seriously wanted signs that this was not going to be another period of slippage. But that is very much how it felt.
15 December 1995: The European Court ruled the 19th century retain and transfer system found legal in a court case involving Woolwich Arsenal in 1893, was prohibited by Article 39(1) of the EC Treaty. “Bosman” (as it was known after the plaintiff in the case) had arrived and the football world would never be the same again – at least until the UK left the EU.
15 December 2000: Paolo Vernazza was sold to Watford for £350,000 after just four league games for Arsenal. He played 96 times for Watford before moving onto Rotherham, and then later played non-league football, before retiring in 2011.
15 December 2000: Christopher Wreh sold to Al-Hilal. Although he kept Ian Wright out of the FA Cup Final, after playing for Arsenal he is reported to have been to seven clubs, but played rarely. However the player has himself denied the many strange stories that have circulated about his life after Arsenal.
15 December 2001: West Ham 1 Arsenal 1. League match 16 of the third Double season. The result left Arsenal second, three points behind Liverpool, and having played a game more.
15 December 2021: After just one win in four matches between 8 November and 8 December, Arsenal made it two wins in two games by beating Leicester away 0-2. In fact by Boxing Day they made it four wins in four, scoring 14 and conceding one.
16 December 1893: In its first year in the FA Cup, Woolwich Arsenal won through to the first round proper beating 2nd Scots Guards on this day.
16 December 1905: William Garbutt (the man who created Italian football) joined Arsenal from Reading. He was part of the Arsenal side that reached two FA Cup semi-finals in successive seasons; but was then displaced by Jackie Mordue and played in the reserves before moving to Blackburn at the end of the 1907/08 season.
16 December 1906: George Stead who wrote as Redshirt in the Woolwich Gazette died aged 49. He served in the Royal Horse Artillery and was a shareholder in the club, and was said to be very active in meetings.
16 December 1911: Arsenal played Middlesbrough with Leigh “Dick” Roose in goal, and 11,000 turned up – far more than might have been expected without Roose in the game. He had been brought in by Norris to bring in the crowds, and it certainly worked. Arsenal won 2-1
16 December 1914: There was a German naval raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, a raid that claimed extra significance as it saw the death of the first Kitchener “your country needs you” volunteer, Theo Jones.
16 December 1921: Parliament ratified the Anglo-Irish Treaty thus formally ending the conflict in Ireland.
16 December 1922: With just three of the original XI from the first day of the season playing, bottom of the league Arsenal got a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield – and indeed Arsenal could have won the match but for having a goal disallowed for the whole ball not crossing the line. Rutherford got the goal that was allowed. Arsenal moved up to 20th out of 22.
16 December 1963: Mel Charles scored in the first of three consecutive wins including in the middle of the three a welcome 2-1 home win over Tottenham in front of a pre-Christmas crowd of 63,400.
16 December 1970: Charlie George played his first game for the first team since an injury on the opening day of the league campaign. This match was against Beveren in the Fairs Cup 3rd round.
16 December 1983 Terry Neill was dismissed. He was the 15th most successful manager at the club with a win percentage at under 45%. He did however lead the side to one FA Cup triumph: against Man U.
16 December 1988: Sydney Cartright died. He signed for Arsenal on 24 April 1933 and his final game was on 15 April 1939, a 2-1 home win over Manchester United. The article highlighted here has several interesting additions from members of his family for which we are very grateful.
16 December 1991: Micky Thomas, the man who scored the winning goal to beat Liverpool 0-2 and thus win the league for Arsenal was transferred to Liverpool. Thomas played 206 games, and scored 30. But it is said that he and George Graham had a row in 1991 and so he was sold to that team from up north. Souness paid £1.5m for an icon.
16 December 1995: Arsenal drew with Chelsea during a disastrous 15 match run which gained just four wins. Dixon scored what was only Arsenal’s second goal in four consecutive games.
16 December 2006: Silva and Adebayor scored to give Arsenal a 2-2 draw with Portsmouth,in a run of just one defeat in 20 games which took them up the table and into the League Cup final by being Tottenham over two legs.
16 December 2007: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0 (Gallas). It was part of an 15 match unbeaten run in the Premier League which ultimately helped Arsenal end the season in 4th.
16 December 2017: Arsenal beat Newcastle 1-0 with Ozil scoring. It was part of a nine match mid-season unbeaten run in Wenger’s last season.
17 December 1896: John Anderson signed from Crook Town. He made his debut on 1 January 1897 and went on to play 144 league games for Arsenal over seven seasons before moving to Portsmouth in 1903.
17 December 1902: Arsenal 5 Brentford 0; FA Cup supplementary round. Arsenal went out in the next round, but only had two more years of playing in the qualifying rounds before they gained automatic continuous entry to the 1st round proper.
17 December 1904: Arsenal scored five in the 1st division for the first time in a game away to Notts C, with the local paper making a special positive mention of the vibrant Arsenal away support.
17 December 1910: Last game for Matthew Shortt. It meant he had played four games and all four had been Woolwich Arsenal defeats. He had joined Arsenal from Dalbeattie Star in Scotland. Later he moved to Scotland and played there as a centre half.
17 December 1910: News of the Houndsditch jewellers robbery which led to the in the Siege of Sidney Street emerged as Arsenal lost their fourth match in succession – 4-1 away to Preston, Alf Common scoring his first goal. It meant Arsenal had won two and lost six of the last eight.
17 December 1918: The Southern League instructed its directors to meet with the Football League, to discuss amalgamation thus creating a Third Division
17 December 1918: At the same time as above the London Combination (which had run the war time leagues in London) held a meeting with the now re-formed Players’ Union. Sir Henry Norris attended, but the meeting broke up over a debate concerning the function of the Combination.
17 December 1921: Arsenal lost to Oldham 1-2, but Reg Boreham, the new man now playing his second game scored the Arsenal goal. The result meant that in the five games since the 5-2 win over Birmingham, Arsenal had scored a single goal in four of the games, each from a different player.
17 December 1938: Arsenal beat Stoke 4-1 – their second win in eight league games. Lewis (2) Drury and Bastin got the goals. Unfortunately it was not a new beginning – Arsenal then only won one of their next five.
17 December 1944: Jimmy Robertson (the first player to score for each side in north London derbies) was born. Having failed to get into the Middlesbrough team he went to Cowdenbeath and then St Mirren before being purchased by Tottenham in 1964, for £25,000.
17 December 1955, Dennis Evans scored one of the most famous own goals in history when a whistle in the crowd resulted in Evans kicking the ball into his own goal to make the result Arsenal 4 Blackpool 1. It was only Arsenal’s 7th win in 21 games.
17 December 1960: Arsenal 2 Burnley 5. Strong and Herd got the goals. The result meant that in the last four games Arsenal had scored 13 and conceded 13. It also meant Herd had scored seven in five league games.
17 December 1969: In the third round of the Fairs Cup Arsenal drew 0-0 draw in the first match, away to Rouen in front 12,093.
17 December 1977: Coventry City 1 Arsenal 2, in front of a modest gate of 20,993, Stapleton getting both goals. With eight minutes to go a rare Coventry attack brought a penalty, and reduced the arrears but Arsenal were never in danger.
17 December 1983: Arsenal 3 Watford 1. First match as manager for Don Howe. Raphael Meade got a hat trick – his first goals of the season.
17 December 1993: Death of Len Julians. He played 18 times for Arsenal and scored 7 goals. He later played for Nottingham Forest and Millwall and coached in Africa. The article linked here is followed by a number of interesting additions from his family and those who saw him play, which are well worth reading.
17 December 2008: Following a dispute Lady Bracewell-Smith left the Arsenal board of directors without indicating what would happen to her shares.
17 December 2009: Brian McDermott became first team manager of Reading. He stayed until 2013 and then managed Leeds for one season before returning to Arsenal as chief scout. In 2015 six years to the day after he left, he returned to Reading as manager on 17 December 2015.Six months later, on 27 May 2016, McDermott was sacked.
17 December 2012: Reading 2 Arsenal 5. Santi Cazorla scored his first hat trick.
18 December 1897: On 22 September 1897 Woolwich Arsenal had been playing Loughborough in a United League game when the game was abandoned with 8½ minutes remaining – probably due to failing light. It was agreed that the remaining minutes be played on 18 Dec following the Football League fixture between the two clubs. Ten of the eleven players that played in the first fixture played in the second fixture, with Paddy Farrell playing in place of Frank McAvoy thus making Farrell, Arsenal’s first substitute!
18 December 1909: After 3 wins in a row, in which they scored seven, Woolwich Arsenal started a run of three home games in a row but lost two and drew one. This 1-2 home defeat to Notts C was the first of five without a win.
18 December 1914: Egypt became a British protectorate.
18 December 1920: Bradford City 3 Arsenal 1. In this season both Bradford clubs were in the 1st division. By 1927 both were in the Third Division North. Prior to the game Arsenal were showing in the tables as the sixth best performing team away from home while Bradford were 18th in effectiveness at home. Everything pointed to an away win – or at least a draw. But you can’t trust form. See also here
18 December 1926: Arsenal 2 Tottenham 4 – the defeat that moved Chapman to ring the changes. Arsenal lost the next game, but after that just one of the next eight as newly purchased players were slowly bedded into the team. But the result meant Arsenal had beaten Tottenham just once in the last eight meetings.
18 December 1931: Jack Humble, one of the founding fathers and the first ever chairman of Woolwich Arsenal FC, died after a lifetime of service to the club. He played for Royal Arsenal, and worked continuously to save the club in 1910, and remained a director of the club until 1927 when the Hill-Wood take over ejected him, seemingly without a word of thanks. As such he was Arsenal’s last direct connection with those who took Royal Arsenal on the journey to professionalism. He lived long enough to see Arsenal win the FA Cup, and sadly died halfway through the first title winning season. His name is now all but forgotten, yet without him there would be no Arsenal.
18 December 1931: William Harper transferred to Plymouth. He played 82 for Plymouth and was then given the honour of a testimonial match against Arsenal in 1972 and had the training ground of Argyle named after him: Harper’s Park.
18 December 1935: Samuel Hoare resigned as foreign secretary after his sell-out of Ethiopia which had been invaded by Italy. It is said that when Eden had his audience with King George V, he remarked, “No more coals to Newcastle, no more Hoares to Paris.”
18 December 1937: Final game for Joe Hulme – Liverpool 2 Arsenal 0. He won three league champions’ medals and two FA Cup winners’ medals and was the only player to play in all of the first four Arsenal Cup Finals of the 1930s.
18 December 1954: Newcastle 5 Arsenal 1. Arsenal then rebounded from this defeat by going unbeaten in the next five games.
18 December 1969: David Hillier born. He played schoolboy football for Blackheath before joining Arsenal in January 1984 as an associated schoolboy turning professional in February 1988.
18 December 1970: The death penalty was abolished in the UK
18 December 1971: Arsenal beat bottom of the league WBA 2-0 with a low crowd of 28,177. John Roberts (having been dropped for Peter Simpson the week before) spoke of the special feeling for Don Howe that everyone at Arsenal had and proved it by scoring twice – a remarkable achievement having scored the only goal of the game when the sides met in the Midlands in early September.
18 December 1976: A 3-1 win over Manchester United with a crowd of 39,572 at Highbury. Even the Sunday papers were in effusive mood and Tommy Docherty, Man U’s manager, was quoted as saying Arsenal were a “very good side” who would “make the top five for sure.”
18 December 2001: League match 17 of the third Double season. Arsenal’s final defeat of the season. Arsenal 1 Newcastle 3. All three defeats were at home – the other two being to Leeds and Charlton. Arsenal won 18 and drew three of the remaining games.
18 December 2005: Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2. Arsenal’s third consecutive defeat. In the run, Arsenal had scored nil and let in five, being beaten also by Bolton and Newcastle. 10 years on, Bolton, came bottom of the Championship while Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League.
19 December 1896: John Caldwell returned to Arsenal from Third Lanark where he had been playing. His career is somewhat mysterious, as the previous season he had played every league game save one for Arsenal, then for some reason vanished, but now returned.
19 December 1897: James Devlin was transferred from Sunderland to Arsenal for £80 having only been with Sunderland for two months. But he was struck down with pleurisy soon after arriving at Plumstead and so just played one match, on 1 Jan 1898, in which he scored. He moved to Airdrie on 7 August 1898 in exchange for John Dick.
19 December 1903: Arsenal 5 Grimsby 1. The score meant Arsenal had scored 25 goals in six games, which left Arsenal second, two points behind league leaders Preston. In fact the season finished with Preston as champions, just one point ahead of Arsenal, Arsenal also gaining promotion to division 1 for the first time.
19 December 1933: Jim Fotheringham born. He joined Arsenal as an amateur in 1949 and after Bill Dodgin was dropped as keeper Jim got 39 games in the 1953/4 season before himself being dropped in favour once more of Dodgin.
19 December 1933: George Cox turned professional with Arsenal, having previously played for Horsham. He made his Arsenal debut on 8 March 1934 against Leicester and went on to play seven league games in this and the next season.
19 December 1942: Luton 0 Arsenal 4 in the wartime Football League south. It meant Arsenal had won 14, drawn 1 and lost 2 games this season, but now went on to lose the next two games, conceding 10 goals
19 December 1959: Jimmy Magill debut. Sheffield W 5 Arsenal 1. He began his career with Portadown but moved to Arsenal in May 1959. He went on to play 116 games before moving to Brighton and Hove, his final club.
19 December 1970: Man U 1 Arsenal 3, making it five consecutive wins in League match 22 of the first Double season. But despite the victories Arsenal’s progress was matched by Leeds who still led Arsenal by two points.
19 December 1988. Alexis Sánchez born in Tocopilla, Chile. He was signed for Arsenal by Arsene Wenger, but ultimately ran down his contract before he was swapped for Mkhitaryan at Manchester United.. His subsequent career under Mourinho was disappointing and he was loaned to Inter Milan in the 2019/20 season.
19 December 1990: Tony Adams imprisoned for four months for drink driving. He gained 50% remission for good behaviour, and subsequently dedicated much time to his charity which supported sports people with addictions. In 2019 he became President of the Rugby Football League.
19 December 2009: Arsenal beat Hull City 3-0. Subsequently Hull were given a £40,000 fine for the behaviour of their manager and the team’s behaviour during and after the match which included a fracas on the pitch.
19 December 2012: Gibbs, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, and Wilshere, all signed new contracts, as Arsenal spoke about the value of having young British players in the team.
19 December 2017: Arsenal beat WHU 1-0 in the replay of the quarter final of the League Cup, before going on to beat Chelsea in the semis but losing 0-3 to Manchester City in the final.
19 December 2020: A 2-1 away defeat to Everton left Arsenal 15th in the league at Christmas having won just four of their 14 league games played so far in the season. It also meant Arsenal had just gone seven league games without a win.
20 December 1890: Arsenal’s game against Old Westminsters in London Senior Cup abandoned. Generally it was the fog that caused games at this time to be stopped rather than any concerns about the state of the pitch.
20 December 1902: Arsenal lost 1-4 to Manchester City; the crowd of 25,000 smashed the ground record set on October 11. The defeat left Arsenal in third place with Man City five points ahead at the top of the table.
20 December 1902: William Linward joined Arsenal from WHU. An outside left he made his début on Boxing Day and then on the following day he played again against Burnley – a match which marked a major upturn in Arsenal’s fortunes.
20 December 1913: Arsenal began the traditional mad dash through Christmas, with four matches in eight days. All four games were won: on this day it was Arsenal 2 Glossop North End 0 with 14,500 at Highbury.
20 December 1916: As a reminder of the many generally unreported consequences of the war, Fulham council under Henry Norris was at loggerheads with its residents on this day over the collapse of the refuse collection and disposal service in the Borough with many refuse collectors now in the army.
20 December 1919: Arsenal beat bottom of the league Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 The reports mention the large number of offside decisions, (a regular comment in newspaper columns) and ultimately the notion of making off sides a central tactic for clubs led to the change in the offside rule in 1925. It was also announced that George Peachey was to be made a director of the club to handle the club’s finances.
20 December 1924: Leeds were beaten 6-1. The result left Arsenal 10th, but a terrible second half to the season saw them end up 20th, escaping relegation by one place.
20 December 1924: WHU 4 Sunderland 1. In his autobiography Arsenal manager Knighton painted WHU as the strongest of clubs at this time. But this win, simultaneous to Arsenal’s win (above) was one of only four wins in 12 matches around this time. However he used WHU’s alleged strength as a way to justify giving the Arsenal team drugs the following month. Whether he did or not, is a matter for debate.
20 December 1930: 32,212 saw Arsenal lose to 17th placed Newcastle after Newcastle had lost 8 out of 10 games of late. The result knocked Arsenal off the top of the league and into second place – but only on a goal average of 0.01 of a goal.
20 December 1969: Start of a run of 10 league games without a win. Indeed we only won two of our first eight games, starting the season ignominiously with a 0-1 home defeat to Everton. Top scorer the season was Radford with 12.
20 December 1970. Birth of Patrick Kwame Ampadu. He made his debut as a sub in March 1990, but after just two appearances moved to West Brom in 1991.
20 December 1975: 16,459 saw Arsenal beat Burnley 1-0 at Highbury. Burnley accused the ref of making “disgraceful decisions” and Keith Newton was quoted as saying, “The ref was a blatant homer…People like them should go around in peaked caps – they are more suited as traffic wardens. We are supposed to have the best refs in the world – I have seen better refereeing in the central league.” The League did nothing about the accusations of bias and incompetence.
20 December 1998: Arsenal 3 Leeds 1 (Vieira, Bergkamp, Petit). From this game to the end of the season Arsenal lost only one game, going the next 19 unbeaten in the league losing finally to Leeds on 11 May.
20 December 2003: Bolton 1 Arsenal 1. The 17th league match of the Unbeaten Season. After the game Mr Wenger said, “Provided Bolton keep playing like that, we will look back at this result and feel very happy. They are as good as a team as we have played.” I think he was being sarcastic.
20 December 2014: Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2. Debuchy and Giroud scored. The game came in a run of five unbeaten in which Arsenal scored 14 goals via eight different players
21 December 1889: Arsenal beat Cray Wanderers 2-0 on their way to the club’s first ever trophy, the Kent Junior cup.
21 December 1903: Arsenal beat Bristol Rovers in cup 2nd replay at Tottenham in the Final Supplementary Round – effectively the fifth round of the cup before the first division teams joined the competition in January.
21 December 1907: Death of Bob Buchanan aged just 40 at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. He had played for two seasons for Woolwich Arsenal, and twice been a Southern League title winner with Southampton St Mary’s.
21 December 1910: The nation learned of the Pretoria Pit disaster in which an underground explosion in Lancashire killed 344, making it the second worst mining accident in England of all time.
21 December 1929: Alf Haynes’ first league match – a 1-0 away defeat to Liverpool. He went on to play 13 games that season – but it turned out to be his most prolific period with Arsenal.
21 December 1956: Jack Crayston became full time manager after 2 months as caretaker. He had just managed five games undefeated, and went on to a further five without loss, winning his first match as permanent manager the following day 4-0 against Birmingham.
21 December 1963: Death of Andrew Kennedy. He was sold to Everton in January 1928 but despite over 100 games for Arsenal, Everton played him only once, and he moved to Tranmere, where he stayed for two seasons, retiring in 1930.
21 December 1974: It may be hard to believe now but Stoke City 0 Arsenal 2 was a total shock, since Stoke were top of the league and Arsenal facing relegation! The gossip was that having spent £200,000 on Cropley, Arsenal were going to get their money back by selling George, Blockley and Ball. For this game Radford and Kidd played on the wings.
21 December 1985. Gus Caesar played his first League match, a 1-0 away win of Man U. He joined Arsenal in August 1982 becoming a pro in February 1984 playing in the heart of the defence or full back.
21 December 1991: Arsenal 4 Everton 2. All four goals by Ian Wright who also scored two hat tricks in the season as he went on to score 24 goals in 30 league games.
21 December 1996: Andy Linighan’s final game away to Nottingham Forest. He had played 118 league games and scored 5 goals.
21 December 2002: The Arsenal programme had Robert Pires on front cover in Emperor mode and he duly scored the second as Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 2-0 to stay top of the league, two ahead of Chelsea, four ahead of Man U and seven ahead of Newcastle in fourth.
21 December 2015: Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1, Giroud and Walcott getting the goals. This was the last of six matches unbeaten and was followed by a 0-4 away defeat to Southampton.
22 December 1900. Arsenal 2 New Brighton Tower 1 – a game against one of the artificial clubs of football created to make use of a large stadium.
22 December 1910: A funeral procession moved from from Liverpool St Station to a service in St Paul’s Cathedral for the policemen shot dead in the Houndsditch jewel robbery. All the mayors of London including of course Henry Norris were specifically invited.
22 December 1917: Arsenal beat QPR 3-0 at home – the start of a fair set of Christmas games, with two draws against Fulham on Christmas and Boxing Day and 2-1 against Clapton Orient away on 29 December.
22 December 1923: Arsenal, away to Huddersfield, were 1-0 down at half time, but then Kennedy and Butler both just back from injury got injured again, and Town ran out winners 6-1. That made it three defeats in a row and no wins in the last seven games. Arsenal were 17th and back in the relegation dogfight just two points clear of Middlesbrough at the foot of the table.
22 December 1937: Ex-Arsenal player David Halliday was made manager of Aberdeen. In 1945–46 he won the Scottish League Cup and also won Aberdeen their first ever title.
22 December 1971 Arsenal paid £220,000 (a record) for Alan Ball. Arsenal were 8th at the time, eight points behind the leaders. They ended the season 5th, six points behind Derby, the new champions.
22 December 1973: Arsenal had 1-0 home win over Everton, in front of 19,886. The Guardian likened the Arsenal side to a draught-horse. Everton had one shot which hit the emblem on the top of the North Bank stand, as a result of which the ball got a puncture; it was a major incident in the game. Ball scored after the one exciting move of the game.
22 December 1984: Arsenal 1 Watford 1. Last league game for Colin Hill. He was replaced by Viv Anderson and moved on to C.S. Marítimo in Portugal.
22 December 2007: Bendtner scored six seconds after coming on for the match against Tottenham to give Arsenal a 2-1 victory.
22 December 2017: Arsenal v Liverpool. Liverpool went two up, Arsenal responded with three goals in five minutes from Alexis, Xhaka and Özil but Liverpool scored an equaliser. It was called the game of the season.
23 December 1893: Arsenal 7 Crusaders 0. By modern standards it was a strange time to set up a friendly, with forthcoming games on Christmas and Boxing Day, but the club wanted every penny it could get and games were the only way to bring in money.
23 December 1905: Debut for William Garbutt v Preston – the man who later took football to Italy (and who is still honoured in that country for so doing). He was part of the Arsenal side that reached two FA Cup semi-finals in successive seasons.
23 December 1906 – David Neave returned to Arsenal, having moved to Leyton FC (the non-league club, not the same as the Orient) earlier in the year.
23 December 1915: The Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act 1915 came into effect maintaining rents at pre-war levels much to landlords’ dismay.
23 December 1916: Starting on this day Arsenal won 11, drew 3 and lost 3 in the wartime league, which was a total transformation in the team from the early part of the season.
23 December 1919: The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act removed all legal restrictions on women entering the secular professions. This didn’t mean that it was illegal to discriminate on grounds of sex when an employer was offering a job, but that the restrictions in law from women doing certain jobs were removed.
23 December 1920: The Government of Ireland Act was finally granted the Royal Assent, partitioning the island into two segments each with its own Parliament, and each with a measure of home rule.
23 December 1921: The split between Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris and his local Conservative Party broadened as the Fulham Chronicle reported that part of the local party wanted to deselect Sir Henry as its MP.
23 December 1922: Huddersfield 4 Arsenal 0. Stephen Dunn lost his place as a result of this match after 44 games, before leaving football and moving into a career in business. He remains one of Arsenal’s mystery players of whom little is known beyond his period at Arsenal.
23 December 1933: With Arsenal top of the league but closely followed by Tottenham Huddersfield and Derby, everyone was watching the saturday afternoon results. They ended Sheffield United 1 Arsenal 3 (Beasley (2) and Bowden), Sunderland 0 Derby 0, Tottenham 4 Blackburn 1, Huddersfield 0 Birmingham 0. Only Tottenham seemed to be keeping up the chase.
23 December 1960: Terry Neill scored on his debut as a player – it ended Sheffield W 1 Arsenal 1. He went on to score 8 goals in 241 league games. Articles on Terry Neill as a manager are here.
23 December 1976: Alan Ball sold to Southampton for £60,000, having played 177 league games and scored 45 goals. In all he played 833 games, including spells in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia.
23 December 1978. Tottenham H 0 Arsenal 5. The Brady goal from this game has regularly been used as part of the pre-match entertainment at Arsenal Stadium. John Motson’s commentary has also become famous as he said, “Look at that, oh look at that. What a goal by Brady!” Sunderland got a hattrick, Stapleton the other. The result left Arsenal in 4th and Tottenham 11th.
23 December 1988: Kenny Sansom sold to Newcastle for £300,000. He played 314 league games for Arsenal out of a career total of 636. He also played 86 times for England between 1979 and 1988 – a record for a full back at the time.
23 December 1995: Liverpool 3 Arsenal 1 made it five games without a win. Arsenal’s goal came from a penalty by Wright. Arsenal returned to winning ways on Boxing Day against QPR before suffering two more defeats.
23 December 2000: Liverpool 4 Arsenal 0. Arsène Wenger commented that the lack of goals for Arsenal was problematic. “It has been our problem all season. We so very rarely score two in a match…” Arsenal’s team included Parlour, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry, with Pires, Wiltord and Kanu on the bench.
23 December 2001: 10 man Arsenal finally beat the Anfield jinx – Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2 in a month of five wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat. League match 18 of the third Double season.
23 December 2006: Arsenal 6 Blackburn 2. Arsenal made it 3 wins and 2 draws in December with two more games to go. The goals came from Gilberto, Hleb, Adebayor, Van Persie (2) and Flamini.
23 December 2008: Fabregas ruled out for four months after injury in 1-1 draw with Liverpool. He still managed to make 45 appearances in the season and score 13 goals.
23 December 2013: After a 1-1 draw with Everton, a 0-2 defeat to Napoli, a 6-3 disaster against Manchester City, Arsenal played out a goalless draw with Chelsea.
But this result was followed by seven consecutive wins.
24 December 1894: New Brompton 5 Arsenal 0. Despite playing 30 league games in the season, Arsenal also played 31 friendly games. New Brompton played in Gillingham, and with the grounds just 28 miles apart this was something of a local derby between two Kent teams. The crowd was 5,000, similar to many league game crowds at the time.
24 December 1904. A 1-0 win over Sheffield U gave Arsenal three wins in a row in the first division for the first time, with the club playing five games in seven days. The result left Arsenal in a very satisfactory 9th position in the league.
24 December 1927: Cliff Bastin’s first ever game, Exeter Reserves v Bath City in the Southern League. He went on to play 17 times for Exeter’s first team in 1928/9 before moving on to Arsenal.
24 December 1932: Arsenal 9 Sheffield Wed 2. This meant that thus far in the season Arsenal had in different games scored 6, 7, 8 and 9 goals. (Lambert scored 5 – which turned out to be his final hatrick (plus 2!) It was his 12th hat trick – more than any other player in the club’s history).
24 December 1938: John Barnwell born. After playing as an amateur for Bishop Auckland he moved to Arsenal in 1955 turned pro in 1956 and started playing for the first team in the match against Sunderland on 13 April 1957.
24 December 1949: Arsenal 5 Sunderland 0. Amazingly it was Arsenal’s only league win in a run of nine games. Despite this poor run Arsenal ended the year in fourth position, but more importantly went on to win the FA Cup.
24 December 1955: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 0. This was the last league game Arsenal played on Christmas eve. 43,022 turned up.
24 December 1958: Stan Charlton sold back to Leyton O from whence he had come, this being Arsenal’s only ever transfer on Xmas Eve! He became the captain and was still with Orient when they made their one and only appearance in the first division. Orient’s first match that season was at home to Arsenal and the editor of the Anniversary files was there to see it with his dad.
24 December 1995: Reg Stockill died. Although now forgotten at Arsenal he achieved fame twice. First as an England Schoolboy international aged 15 years 281 days he scored York City’s first-ever goal in the Football League. Second on 27 August 1932 he scored the goal in Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1. This was the first match in the run in which Arsenal were champions three times running – under three different managers.
25 December 1886: It is suggested in Soar and Tyler that a meeting was held at the Royal Oak to change the name of the club to Royal Arsenal. However on 2 January 1887 an advert appeared in “The Referee” from Dial Square F.C. seeking matches – seeming proof that the club did not become Royal Arsenal on this day. There is no evidence at all to support 25 Dec as the date: it looks like they made it up!
25 December 1889: First recorded Arsenal game on Christmas Day – in a friendly match Royal Arsenal beat Preston Hornets 5-0
25 December 1893: Arsenal played the first Christmas Day league game. It ended Woolwich Arsenal 4 Burslem Port Vale 0, in front of 10,000 fans equalling the previous highest crowd achieved at the club’s very first league game.
25 December 1894. Playing Burslem Port Vale on Christmas Day for the second year running Arsenal scored 7 for first time in a league game. The 7-0 victory turned out to be the highest ever Christmas Day score.
25 December 1896: Woolwich Arsenal 6 Lincoln City 2. Although not beating the Arsenal score of 1894, this was the highest goal aggregate ever achieved on Christmas Day in a league game.
25 December 1897: The first game against Tottenham on Christmas Day (in the United League) finished Arsenal 2 Tottenham 3. The crowd was 5,000
25 December 1899: Arsenal’s worst ever Christmas Day defeat – Lincoln 5 Arsenal 0 in division 2. However Woolwich Arsenal recovered enough to be unbeaten in the next four games.
25 December 1902: Arsenal lost to Burton United to make it three defeats in a row, with two goals scored and eight conceded. Arsenal won the next game 5-1, and were undefeated in the nine games thereafter.
25 December 1906: Despite having league games on 22 and 26 December Arsenal played Celtic in a friendly at the Manor Ground. Although Arsenal lost 0-2 the idea worked as 15,000 turned up to watch.
25 December 1911: The only ever Christmas Day league game against Tottenham saw 47000 attend at White Hart Lane to witness a 5-0 Tottenham victory.
25 December 1912: Alex Graham first game against Notts County. Alex had a trial with Woolwich Arsenal in December 1911 and signed for the club in January 1912, playing most of that year in the reserves before getting this Christmas Day game. Henry Norris subsequently revealed the gate takings of £235 for the game.
25 December 1913: Bradford PA 2 Arsenal 3 with 22,000 in the crowd. It was one of four consecutive wins in the latter part of December which left Arsenal third in the league and equal on points with the league leaders. It was the first hatrick of the Highbury years and was scored by Stephen Stonley.
25 December 1915: Arsenal’s first London Combination (ie wartime league) Christmas Day game was played ending West Ham United 8 Arsenal 2.
25 December 1918: Bertie Mee born. He had a short career with Derby County and Mansfield as well as appearing for Southampton in the war time league. He trained as a physiotherapist in the Royal Army Medical Corps and worked as a remedial gymnast with disabled servicemen for 12 years before joining the staff of Arsenal in 1960,
25 December 1922: Last league game for Stephen Dunn. He had replaced EC Williamson in goal but after this 4-1 defeat to Bolton he was replaced by McKenzie who remained in goal for the rest of the season.
25 December 1925: Arsenal 3 Notts C 0. First Christmas Day game at Highbury, following the purchase (rather than leasing) of the ground. The lease had prohibited games on 25 December.
25 December 1930: Man C 1 Arsenal 4 – the start of a 14 goal onslaught in 3 league games played on consecutive days. The others were Arsenal 3 Man City 1 and Arsenal 7 Blackpool 1. Across these 3 days Bastin and Brain got three goals each and Jack got four.
25 December 1934: Arsenal 5 Preston 3. The 7th occasion of scoring 5+ in the first Allison season; the most Christmas Day Arsenal goals in a first division game at Highbury. It meant Arsenal had scored 20 goals across three consecutive home matches.
25 December 1936: First game for Frank Boulton – a 4-1 win over Preston. Frank played for the club for two seasons before moving on to Derby County. He played 36 times for Arsenal and won a league winners’ medal.
25 December 1936: The win on this day (see above) meant Arsenal were one point behind Sunderland – who lost 2-0 to Birmingham. In the win over Preston, Drake got another two, Kirchen and Milne the other goals. Arsenal had scored 13 goals in the last three games, while Drake had got 11 in his run of consecutive goalscoring games and were now top of the league.
25 December 1952: Bolton 4 Arsenal 6 – Arsenal’s highest league aggregate on Christmas Day. Holton scored 2, Milton, Logie, Ropier and Daniel got the others. Arsenal scored 33 goals in nine games
25 December 1954: Danny Clapton’s first game. Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0. This turned out to be Arsenal’s last Christmas Day game at Highbury. Tapscott scored. The crowd was 47,178.
25 December 1956: Christmas day league games ended in 1956 with Arsenal away to Chelsea, the result being a 1-1 draw. Boxing Day games continued however, meaning players still had to train on Christmas Day. went on to become Woolwich Arsenal’s first captain. He died after being injured on the pitch and getting tetanus.
26 December 1893: Arsenal (in the shape of Buist) scored their first ever league penalty, in 1-3 defeat to Grimsby. This was also (rather obviously since it was the first league season) the first Arsenal league game on Boxing Day
26 December 1895: Arsenal 10 Cliftonville Athletic 1
26 December 1892: First game for Joseph Powell, who– Arsenal’s highest ever Boxing Day score
26 December 1899: Arsenal v Loughborough abandoned. The replay on 12 March 1900 created our biggest ever win.
26 December 1902: Bill Linward played his first game for Arsenal, (a friendly) and then immediately went on to play his second match on the following day (his first league game).
26 December 1903: Arsenal drew away to Leicester Fosse 0-0. Frank Ransom is shown in the records as wearing the number 6 shirt for this game, in what was Arsenal’s promotion season from the second division. It was his one and only game for the club.
26 December 1909: Charlie Buchan signed as an amateur. He left the club over a contractual dispute, and signed for Sunderland without playing a league game for Arsenal, but returned under Chapman in 1925 to lead a rejuvenated side to the club’s highest ever league position.
26 December 1910: First game for Thomas Winship who played in the first match at Highbury, and who (much later) was credited with the pass that resulted in the first ever goal in the Third Division (North).
26 December 1911: Having lost to Tottenham 5-0 at WHL on Christmas day Arsenal now beat Tottenham at the Manor Ground 3-1.
26 December 1913: Having beaten Bradford 3-2 away on Christmas day Arsenal repeated the feat at Highbury on Boxing Day in front of 30,000, the score being 2-0. This was part of a four match winning run through the month which took Arsenal up to third.
26 December 1914: Some seven weeks after scoring six at Highbury for the first time Arsenal did it again beating Leicester Fosse 6-0. But with the war news very bleak indeed and the recruiting officers stepping up their work at League matches, only 6000 turned up – the second lowest crowd at Highbury.
26 December 1920: As Boxing Day fell on a Sunday, there were no league games but Dick Kerr’s Ladies F.C. drew the largest-ever crowd to attend a women’s match in the era before the FA and League effectively banned the sport: 53,000 spectators at Goodison Park for a game against St. Helen’s Ladies. Indeed it was this attendance that so worried the FA that they started the moves to ban women’s football – to their eternal shame. As far as I know neither the League nor the FA has ever apologised.
26 December 1922: Arsenal 5 Bolton 0. First game for John Robson, at 5’ 8” Arsenal’s smallest ever goalkeeper in the league. He went on to play 97 league games for the club over four seasons before moving on to Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic.
26 December 1929: Last game for John (“Jack”) Butler, one of the claimants to be our first foreign player, (being born in Ceylon) and also Woolwich Arsenal’s first centre half. After 267 league games he moved on to Torquay Utd.
26 December 1929: Tom Parker played his 172nd consecutive game for Arsenal – an all time record in the club. It ended Arsenal 1 Portsmouth 2. Tom captained Arsenal to the club’s first league and cup honours.
26 December 1929: The start of a league run that went on to 8 March 1930 during which Arsenal won just one league match out of the nine played. Three were draws
26 December 1931: Last game for Bill Seddon, one of the players to win Arsenal’s first FA Cup and first league title. The result was Arsenal 0 Sheffield Utd 2 in a run of three consecutive defeats.
26 December 1931: Also the last game for Joey Williams as Arsenal lost 0-2 at home to Sheffield United.
26 December 1950: Stoke City 1 Arsenal 0. The first game for Cliff Holton: he scored an amazing 293 league and cup goals through his career and won the league with Arsenal in 1953.
26 December 1958: Last game for Jim Fotheringham, a centre half for Arsenal in the Whittaker era. The result was Luton 6 Arsenal 3; Julians, Evans and Bloomfield scored Arsenal’s goals. After 72 league games Jim moved to Heart of Midlothian.
26 December 1970: Arsenal 0 Southampton 0. League match 23 of the first Double season after which Arsenal won every home game through the rest of the season. The story is told that after the match George Armstrong said to his team mates, “I bet we win the Double”.
26 December 1975: Last game for Eddie Kelly, a Double winner who played 168 games for Arsenal despite upsetting Bertie Mee upon his arrival with his “welcome gift” requests. He moved on to QPR in September 1976.
26 December 1992: Jack Crayston, the Arsenal player who also managed the club, from 1956 to 1958, died. As a player he gained two league winner’s medals, a cup winner’s medal, and eight England caps playing 168 times for the club.
26 December 1994: Stephen Hughes played his first game. It ended Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 0. He made 22 starts for the club before being transferred to Everton in March 2000.
26 December 1995: Arsenal 3 QPR 0. Goals from Merson (2) and Wright gave Arsenal their first win in six games in a run of one win in eight.
26 December 1997: Arsenal 2 Leicester 1. Game 20 of the second double season. The first of 18 unbeaten games which took us to the league title. Platt scored – the other was an own goal.
26 December 2000: Thierry Henry’s first hattrick in a 6-1 win against Leicester. Vieira, Ljunberg and Adams got the other three. The score meant that Arsenal had scored 16 goals in four consecutive league games, conceding just two.
26 December 2001: Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1. League match 19 of the third Double season. Campbell and Wiltord scored and the win kept Arsenal in second place in the table.
26 December 2003: Arsenal 3 Wolverhampton W 0 The 18th league match of the Unbeaten season. Henry, Aliadière and Vieira scored as Wolverhampton accumulated five yellow cards. The result was a relief after three draws and a 1-0 win in the previous four games.
26 December 2008: Phil Brown of Hull (later to accuse Fabregas of spitting and wearing inappropriate clothes while not in the team) showed an early version of his eccentricity by holding his half time team talk on the pitch. It was widely condemned in the media.
26 December 2016: Arsenal 1 WBA 0. This result came after two consecutive league defeats, and started a seven match unbeaten run which revitalised hope that Arsenal might once again make the top 4, but it wasn’t to be as Arsenal ended the season in 5th – the first time in the Wenger era that the top four was not reached.
26 December 2020: Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1 was Arsenal’s first win in the league in seven games. Prior to the match Arsenal were 15th, but now went seven matches undefeated. The win over Chelsea was largely acclaimed as “spectacular” and saw the development of the careers of Martinelli and Smith Rowe.
26 December 2022: In the first match after the in-season world cup Arsenal beat West Ham 3-1 with Arsene Wenger making his first appearance in the ground since leaving the club in May 2018
27 December 1897: Clement Ross Voysey, the man whose transfer to Arsenal was investigated twice by the FA, and whose career was terribly disrupted by injury, was born in New Cross.
27 December 1902: Arsenal started their record breaking 10 match unbeaten run with a 5-1 home defeat of Burnley. Coleman (3), Briercliffe and Anderson scored in a match which ended a run of three consecutive defeats in which the club scored 2 and conceded 8.
27 December 1901: Walter Anderson signed from Sheffield Utd. He went on to play 28 league games over two seasons before moving to Plymouth Argyle in 1903.
27 December 1904, Nottingham Forest 0 Woolwich Arsenal 3. This was one of five games played in eight days, of which the club won two. In the next three games Arsenal scored nil but conceded nine.
27 December 1909: Woolwich Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1. This was the only point won in a run of five games which saw Arsenal sink perilously close to relegation.
27 December 1913: Arsenal beat Leicester Fosse 2-1 away to make it four wins in a row and lift the club to third place in the second division.
27 December 1915: The FA’s hearing into match fixing by Man U and Liverpool found there had been a conspiracy by the players, but not by club officials. As a result it was felt unreasonable to fine or deduct points from either club and there was no suggestion that the officials had a duty to be aware of what was happening. The players were banned for life from playing League football in England. Enoch West protested his innocence, and subsequently sued the FA for libel. The case went on for many years but West eventually proved his innocence.
27 December 1920: Arsenal drew 1-1 with Everton having beaten them away 4-2 on Christmas Day. Arsenal stayed in 9th position in the league.
27 December 1921: Cardiff 4 Arsenal 3. Debuts for Billy Milne (who got the DCM in the first war, and then as an ARP warden in the second put out the fire when Highbury was hit by an incendiary device) and Robert Turnbull (the man who saved the club from relegation in 1922/3 by scoring 20 goals). The result made it six games without a win with Arsenal now bottom of the league. See also here
27 December 1924: Preston 3 WHU 2 – meaning West Ham had lost three of their last five in the build up to their FA Cup tie with Arsenal. The game is of interest as Knighton in his autobiography described WHU as virtually unbeatable, thus “explaining” why he felt the need to resort to drugging the Arsenal team before the game.
27 December 1926: Cardiff City 2 Arsenal 0. League debut for Horace Cope and Harold Peel – two Chapman signings who made only modest impacts. It was also the last match for James Ramsay who moved to Kilmarnock on 30 December. Arsenal had now won two of their last nine league games. Chapman’s influence seemed to be waning.
27 December 1930: Arsenal 7 Blackpool 1 With hatricks for Jack and Bain, and a goal from Bastin it was the fourth game of the season where Arsenal scored five or more goals. It was also George Male’s first game for the first team. Arsenal went on to score 5+ five more times. On the same day Aston Villa beat Man U 7-0.
27 December 1932: Leeds 0 Arsenal 0. It was one of only two games all season in which Arsenal did not score. Also Norman Sidey’s debut. He signed as an amateur from Nunhead of the Isthmian League in 1929 and turned pro in 1931.
27 December 1959: Arsenal beat Luton 1-0. Four consecutive wins and an unbeaten streak of eight matches from this point on changed the whole outlook of the club in the league.
27 December 1969: Arsenal 0 Newcastle 0. Jimmy Robertson’s final Arsenal game. After 45 league starts for Arsenal he moved on to Ipswich in March 1970.
27 December 1971: Nottingham Forest 1 Arsenal 1. Alan Ball’s debut for Arsenal, having been brought in from Everton to bolster Arsenal’s attempt to retain the FA Cup and League title won the previous year.
27 December 1972: George Graham sold to Man U for £120,000. Having had the temerity to protest to Bertie Mee about being dropped to the bench he was one of the players to suffer Mee’s policy of brooking no interference in his policy making.
27 December 1976: Tottenham 2 Arsenal 2. Macdonald got both goals while for Tottenham, Willie Young (already serving a life ban from playing for Scotland, and who would move to Arsenal in 1977) was sent off for persistent fouling. Brady passed to Macdonald to score from the free kick awarded as Young was dismissed and a fight broke out on the pitch. The press, desperately looking to knock Arsenal some way or other suddenly reported that Macdonald had not scored many of the goals that he claimed to have scored- but the records show he scored one goal in every two games for Arsenal – slightly above the average for his whole career.
27 December 1977: Dr James Marshall, the man signed from Rangers for a near record fee to be the successor to David Jack, died aged 69. Despite his high fee and high profile he only ever played four games for Arsenal.
27 December 1977: West Bromwich Albion 1 Arsenal 3. For Arsenal, the team that the previous season had had their all time worst sequence of defeats, this was now their sixth away victory in succession. Robertson of WBA was sent off for one lunge too many but by then half their team should have gone. Macdonald having to have six stitches from a leg wound as Arsenal knew the victory had come at a price.
27 December 1993: Swindon Town 0 Arsenal 4. Campbell’s second hatrick of the season signalled the start of a three match run of goalscoring for Arsenal which saw them score 10 conceding 0. In this game Wright got the fourth goal.
27 December 2010: Freddie Ljungberg joined Celtic. After leaving Arsenal he had moved to West Ham and then north America, before playing seven times for Celtic. In his career he played 391 games and scored 88 league goals.
28 December 1904: Arsenal lost 0-4 away to Sheffield United; the 4th of five games in eight days. Arsenal won two and lost three of the games, scoring five and letting in nine.
28 December 1907: Charles Lewis – a rare example of a local lad (he was born in Plumstead) playing for Woolwich Arsenal – played his first game on this day and went on to play 206 games for the club before moving on to Margate in 1921
28 December 1908: Sheffield W 6 Arsenal 2. Part of a run of just two wins in 11. The run continued through the winter but was ended with a 5-0 thrashing of Liverpool on 20 February.
28 December 1935: Sunderland 5 Arsenal 4. It was the first time Arsenal let in five goals since 19 November 1932. Bowden, Drake, Bastin and an own goal gave Arsenal their four against the eventual champions who were virtually unbeatable on their own pitch.
28 December 1936: David Nelson’s first game, a 3-1 win over Preston. Kirchen, Nelson and Milne scored, making it the fourth game in succession in which Kirchen had scored. When he left Arsenal he was part of the deal that brought Ronnie Rooke to the club.
28 December 1939: Frank McLintock, Arsenal’s first Double winning captain, was born. In a curious twist he played in two league cup final defeats with Leicester before joining Arsenal in 1964 and then featuring in two more league cup final defeats.
28 December 1940: Arsenal 8 Luton Town 1, in the wartime Southern Regional League.
28 December 1963: McLeod (2), Baker and Armstrong scored as Laurie Brown played his last senior game: Arsenal 4 Birmingham 1. After a spell in the reserves Tottenham bought him and played him their next game – against Arsenal.
28 December 1965: Arsenal 5 Sheffield W 2. After this game Arsenal only won one of the next fourteen, and ended the season in 14th place. Eastham got two, Skirton, Sammels and Baker the others.
28 December 1990: Paul Dickov moved from trainee to professional. He went on to play 22 league games for Arsenal, and had two loan spells (Luton and Brighton) before being sold to Man City in 2006.
28 December 1991: Man City 1 Arsenal 0. It was one of seven consecutive games without a win which ensured Arsenal did not continue as Champions. During these seven games Arsenal scored just two goals and conceded six.
28 December 1997: Tottenham (at this moment bottom of the League) 1 Arsenal 1. Arsenal were in 6th position. Game 21 of the 2nd Double Season. Ray Parlour scored. The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
28 December 1999: Vieira made his return from suspension for the 2-0 win over league leaders Leeds United, who were eight points in front of Arsenal at the time. Ljungberg and Henry got Arsenal’s goals.
28 December 2001: Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 1. League match 20 of the third Double season. Middlesbrough took the lead but Pires and Cole turned the game around in the second half to make it three consecutive wins.
28 December 2008: Arsenal 1 Portsmouth 0. A poor game but the unbeaten run went on, and on (until May). This was also the first of 8 consecutive home games without conceding a goal. Gallas scored to start Arsenal’s run of three consecutive wins.
28 December 2014: Francis Coquelin started his first match for Arsenal in 23 months. It ended West Ham 1 Arsenal 2 and Coquelin kept his place thereafter, with negotiations being opened to give him a long-term contract at Arsenal. Cazorla and Welbeck scored.
28 December 2015: Arsenal beat Bournemouth 2-0 recovering from a previous 4-0 defeat against Southampton with goals by Gabriel and Ozil. Arsenal were again top of the league, and stayed there for four games, until a run of three draws and a defeat in late January put paid to hopes of winning the league.
29 December 1888. Iona 1 Royal Arsenal 5 in the Kent Senior Cup on the way to winning the trophy.
29 December 1894: Arsenal 1 Dresden United 0. Dresden were based in Stoke on Trent, and played in The Combination and the Midland League until being wound up in 1897.
29 December 1917: Just 2000 turned up to see Arsenal beat Clapton Orient 2-1 away in the London wartime league.
29 December 1930: An article by futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was published in the Gazzetta del Popolo, in which he called for the abolition of pasta as it made Italians, “sceptical, slow, pessimistic.” He advocated rice, which he said would create “lithe, agile peoples who will be victorious” in future wars. He also called for the abolition of the knife and fork.
29 December 1934: The start of a run of 19 games ending on 27 April 1935, in which Arsenal lost just one match. In the same period, Tottenham won just two.
29 December 1945: Arsenal 3 Wolverhampton W 2 in the war time Football League South which continued until the summer of 1946. It was one of six straight wins but subsequently Arsenal lost their way and finished the season in 11th.
29 December 1973: Arsenal lost 0-2 to Leicester in front of 25,860. Afterwards Bertie Mee said that having cut one of the club’s academy teams to save costs he was now going to cut the second and reduce Arsenal to two teams, with a maximum of 19 professionals between them. Mee blamed this on new player contracts, an “inevitable” European superleague and a first division of 16 or 18 clubs. As with so much post 1971, he was utterly and totally wrong on every account and as a direct result Arsenal won just one trophy in the next 12 years.
29 December 1979: Manchester United 3 Arsenal 0, with 54,295 in Old Trafford on a pitch that was totally unplayable and unsafe. O’Leary left on a stretcher. Arsenal ended the year fourth, eight points behind the leaders, and with a massively inferior goal difference. Third had to be the target, and that meant scoring a few more goals.
29 December 1982: Vladimir Petrovic joined from Red Star Belgrade for £45,000. He played 13 league games for Arsenal before moving on to Royal Antwerp. After finishing playing in 1988 he gradually moved into management, and has managed both national and league teams including Red Star Belgrade.
29 December 1990: Andy Cole made his only appearance for Arsenal in a 4-1 win over Sheffield Utd. In 1991 he went on loan to Fulham, before being transferred to Bristol City in 1992.
29 December 2003: Seb Svard loaned to Stoke. He never played for Arsenal in the league but played 13 times for Stoke. Two further loans ensued before he signed for Borussia Mönchengladbach.
29 December 2003: Southampton 0 Arsenal 1. 3 wins and 2 draws in December left Arsenal in 2nd one point behind Man U. The 19th league match of the Unbeaten Season; Pires scored the goal.
29 December 2007: Everton 1 Arsenal 4 – Arsenal moved to the top of the league. Eduardo (2), Adebayor and Rosicky scored.
29 December 2012: Arsenal 7 Newcastle 3. A Walcott hat trick helped Arsenal to four straight wins after the Swansea defeat. The Ox, Podolski and Giroud got the other goals.
29 December 2013: One year on from the 7-3 win over Newcastle the fixture was played again but this time away, and Arsenal won again but this time only by 1-0 with Giroud scoring. It was the second in a run of seven straight victories.
30 December 1893: Arsenal’s first ever away win in the league: Ardwick 0 Woolwich Arsenal 1. Henderson got the goal in front of a crowd of 4,000. Arsenal went on to win away twice more in the season, including a 3-6 win at Middlesbrough Ironopolis.
30 December 1911: After beating Tottenham 3-1 on Boxing Day hopes were high but the footballing year ended with a 4-1 away defeat to Liverpool.
30 December 1916: Arsenal ended the year with a 1-0 away win over Southampton making it three wins and a draw in the last four games in the wartime London Combination.
30 December 1918: Athletic News, the lead football journal of the day, raised the Liverpool and Man U match fixing affair again arguing vigorously on Chelsea’s behalf since they were the team that had been relegated as a result of the match fixing, but still no one argued that the clubs should be punished!
30 December 1921: The Fulham Chronicle stated definitively that Sir Henry Norris would be standing in Fulham East as an Independent Unionist against any official Conservative Party candidate.
30 December 1922: Arsenal beat Stoke 3-0. But it was a false dawn as there was only one more win in the next six games. The correspondent of the Times noted that Arsenal could only play on heavy pitches.
30 December 1926: James Ramsey left Arsenal and moved to Kilmarnock.
30 December 1933: Arsenal played their fourth game in eight days, and after three wins over Sheffield Utd and Leeds (twice) hopes were high but Arsenal then drew on this day with Birmingham 0-0.
30 December 1961: Charlie Nicholas born. He played 84 times for Celtic scoring 48 goals. He brought great hope of a renaissance when Terry Neill signed him in 1983 but ultimately did not live up to his high promise.
30 December 1972: As the league finished for the year Arsenal were in second place three points behind Liverpool while Manchester United were bottom of the table.
30 December 1978: Arsenal beat Birmingham City 3-1 at home, with an attendance of 27,877. The game included Rice’s first goal of the season, from 30 yards out. Arsenal were not only fourth, but only four points behind Liverpool.
30 December 1995: Arsenal 1 Wimbledon 3. One of the low points of the Rioch year, coming during a spell of one win in eight games. Ian Wright scored in front of 37,640.
30 December 2006. Sheffield Utd 1 Arsenal 0. Arsenal 7th league game of the month, and their only defeat. The result left Arsenal in 5th place, 17 points behind the leaders.
30 December 2009: Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 4. The match came in a run of nine unbeaten, which included 10 goals in three successive games. Ramsey, Song, Nasri and an own goal gave Arsenal their four.
30 December 2010: Harvard Nordtveit sold to Borussia Monchengladbach for £800,000. He became a regular fixture for the club playing over 150 league games for them before going to West Ham.
31 December 1898: Haywood and Hunt each got a hatrick in a game that ended Arsenal 6 Luton 2. It was also the start of a run of six goals in four consecutive matches for Haywood and concluded a run of five goals in three for Hunt.
31 December 1904: Arsenal 0 Newcastle Utd 2. The last of the five games in seven days which resulted in one victory and four defeats. The decline was all the more concerning in that it had come in the wake of Notts C 1 Arsenal 5 – the first time Arsenal had scored five in the first division.
31 December 1909: A miserable end to the year with Arsenal having lost their last three league games of the year (all at home) and with (truthful) stories circulating that Arsenal were in dire financial trouble. Arsenal were in 18th, just one point above the relegation positions..
31 December 1917: Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited produced its annual accounts showing that Henry Norris and William Hall were owed £15838 between them; and Humphreys Ltd, who had built the grandstand at Highbury, were owed £19943 – a sum also guaranteed by Henry Norris.
31 December 1921: Arsenal played their eighth game of the month beating Chelsea 2-0 away to make it 2 wins, 3 draws, 3 defeats in the month. 40,000 turned up. The result left Arsenal one from bottom with only Manchester Utd below them.
31 December 1960: Nottingham Forest 3 Arsenal 5. Herd got three, Eastham and Henderson the others. It was the 10th match in the 25 league games thus far in the season in which five or more goals had been scored and the sequence continued in the first five league matches of 1961..
31 December 1977, Everton 2 Arsenal 0, before a crowd of 47,039. With Nottingham Forest opening up a gap at the top, Chelsea beating Birmingham 5-4 away, and Tottenham knocking four past Blackburn, Arsenal needed to win in style to show they were still in contention but the result left Arsenal 4th, seven points off the top.
31 December 1980: Death of Leslie Jones – the man fundamental to the league title win of 1938. He was released on a free transfer in 1946, and went to Swansea as a player coach signing on 22 May 1946. Shortly after he moved on again to be player manager at Barry Town. He then played for Brighton and later managed Scunthorpe.
31 December 1984: Brian McDermott sold to Oxford for £40,000. He had played 61 times for Arsenal in the league and scored 12 goals, as well as having two loan spells with Fulham and IFK Norrköping.
31 December 1984: Steve Williams, the most committed of players, signed from Southampton for £550,000. During his time at Southampton he played in a league cup final, became captain of the club, played in the FA cup semi-final and took the club to runners’ up in the first division in 1984 – their best ever performance.
31 December 1994: John Jensen scored his first ever goal for Arsenal – Arsenal 1 QPR 3. His failure to score before that point became a matter that was widely discussed and resulted in a number of fans thereafter proclaiming “I was there when Jensen scored”.
31 December 2008: Jay Simpson went on loan to WBA where he played 13 games. After a further loan spell with QPR he was sold to Hull City for whom he played 78 games. After a period in Thailand he returned to play for Leyton Orient.
31 December 2009: Abou Diaby signed a new contract to keep him at the club until 2015. Sadly continuing injuries precluded him playing very much and the contract was allowed to expire.
31 December 2017: Mike Dean as referee made one of his classic “mistakes” to give WBA a goal and a point that they in no way deserved in a game at the Hawthornes.
31 December 2020: Sead Kolašinac loaned to Schalke until the end of the season.
31 December 2022: Arsenal beat Brighton & Hove Albion 4-2 to go seven poinits clear at the top of the league, only the fifth team in English top-flight history to pick up 43 points from the first 16 games in a season. Arteta got his second Premier League Manager of the Month award of the season. Ødegaard won the Premier League Player of the Month award, the first Arsenal player to do so since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in September 2019.
The Anniversary files now have over 7000 entries, and are now divided into monthly sections.
- And for contemporary events: Untold Arsenal
The anniversaries file aims is the biggest database of Arsenal events ever produced. However in trying to build it I always openly acknowledge that some of the details recorded here will be wrong, and facts will be inaccurate and will need correcting, not least because information may be taken from inaccurate sources, or (in my specialist way) I may have made copying and typing errors. So far over 250 people have contributed to the articles that make up the anniversary files, and if you can help us improve the data, please do either comment on an article (and I’ll correct the file itself), or write a new article for us. A correction and a citation of sources would be good however, rather than just saying “you’re wrong”. A special mention as always must go to Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews, who helped with the early development of this site. But whether you can add original research or corrections with the right data, or articles on people we have not yet covered, that will be very welcome indeed.
The dates in this file are being added to all the time, and come from a whole variety of sources including the internet and a variety of printed volumes. If you notice an error please write to Tony@schools.co.uk – ideally with a correction and a note of your source.
I would particularly like to mention Richard Lerman and David Brown, and their wonderful (but now tragically out of print) volume “The Gunners: Day to Day Life at Highbury”, which is a mine of information. Also to “Arsenal On This Day” by Paul Donnelley (Pitch Publishing). Also where would any of us be without “Arsenal a complete record” by Fred Ollier (Breedon Books), and “Arsenal the football facts” by Dean Hayes (John Blake). If I have missed another sourcebook, please do let me know and I will correct this at once.
If you know of any anniversary dates not yet listed, please do write in and add them. Not only are new dates being added at the rate of about half a dozen a day, but so are links being added to articles on this site. It is intended to produce a book based on this site in due course – but the date gets put back as I find more and more info.