Arsenal pre-season friendlies in the midst of the “49”.

by Tony Attwood

In the midst of the 49 this was a transfer window with limited input.  Almunia arrived from Celta Vigo, Flamini came on a free from Marseille – his contract there having ended, and Emmanuel Eboué moved in from Beveren for £1.5m.

The leavings were of a higher order.  Keown, Parlour, Kanu and Wiltord left along with Jeffers.

So pre-season started with much expectation, and certain got off to a flying start with Barnet 1 Arsenal 10.  Reyes and Jeffers each got a hattrick, Bergkamp two, and Quincy Owusu Abeyie got one.

Amazingly Barnet scored first, and it was a decent goal from a cross from the wing.  Not the brightest of moments for Almunia.

But then Reyes got his hattrick in 23 minutes, Robin van Persie hit the ball with such venom for his goal that it looked like he took the opening score from Barnet as a personal insult.

Jeffers came on for the second half, having been on loan at Everton the previous season, and scored his three in 19 minutes.


Arsenal then moved on to their Austrian training camp for three games before going to the Amsterdam Tournament, at which they totally forgot how to score at all.

Here’s the full list

  • 17 July 2004: Barnet 1 Arsenal 10 (see above)
  • 22 July 2004: NK Maribor 2 Arsenal 3 (Bergkamp, Aliadière,  Van Persie)
  • 24 July 2004: Grazer AK 1 Arsenal 2  (Bergkamp, Van Persie)
  • 28 July 2004: Sturm Graz 0 Arsenal 2  (Reyes, Jeffers)
  • 31 July 2004: River Plate 0 Arsenal 0
  • 1 August 2004: Ajax 0 Arsenal 0
  • 3 August 2004: Boreham Wood 1 Arsenal 1 (Stokes)
  • 4 August 2004: Beveren 0 Arsenal 0

I made the wrong call completely this season, opting to choose this of all years go to Amsterdam for the annual tournament and take in the museums and galleries.  In fact the museums and galleries were wonderful and I remember the visits very well.  The games were as dull as the two 0-0 results show and the crowd, especially on the first day, was a poor 20000.  Our seats, despite the empty stadium, were miserably high up, making it hard to see who was actually doing what.  But they weren’t doing much so it didn’t really matter.

This Amsterdam Tournament was the second time Arsenal had been involved – and that number rose to five occasions before Arsenal started their own pre-season affair: the Emirates Cup.

In 2000 as with this occasion in 2004 Arsenal came bottom of the four clubs (it was 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 1 for each goal, which explains Arsenal’s demise).  They then won it on each of the following three occasions they appeared: 2005, 2007, 2008.

After that disappointment we had the Community Shield against Man U on 8 August 2004.  We played Fabregas and Gilberto Silva in midfield, plus Bergkamp and Henry as the two strikers.   Gilberto, and Reyes scored, with Mikaël Silvestre kindly adding an own goal to round off a 3-1 victory.

What happened next?

The 49 continued in stunning style.  Arsenal won all their opening games as one would expect, and indeed drew just one match before the farcical game against Man U’s 12 men which ended the run.

In each of the first five games Arsenal not only won, but also scored three goals or more, knocking up a total of 18 goals in five.

The History of Arsenal

The pre-season series thus far

The books

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