When Arsenal went unbeaten for a whole season much was made by the snarling sniveling gutter press who never like to give credit for anything that the club does, that this was not the first time this had happened. Preston North End had done it once before.
In fact PNE did go a season unbeaten – the first ever season of the football league, when they played 22, won 18 and drew 4.
A great achievement in season number one – and something that was deemed impossible, until Arsenal did it in the 21st century.
But these days we are used to the doom and gloom squad telling us that you can’t win the league once you have lost two, three or four games in a year.
As matters stand during the leg-breaking break we’ve lost two, the KGB in Fulham have lost two, Manchester IOU have lost 3 and the Tiny Totts four. The only club looking odd as we move down the table are Manchester Arabs who have only lost one, but have drawn five – as many as they have won.
After that it is all downhill – Liverpool for example have lost five out of 12.
So maybe this year we will have more defeats than normal in the men’s game (the women, remember usually lose nil or one as they win all the trophies in sight).
But going back in time it was not like this. After PNE’s first season exploits things fell apart a bit. They won the league the next year, but with four defeats (out of a mere 22 games). After that the league winning team regularly lost seven or so, although Sunderland did manage to lose just five in 1893.
As time went by so the number of defeats while winning the league went up and up – until 1902/3 when Sheffield Wednesday were the first team to manage to get into double figure defeats (11) and still win the league.
By this time we were seeing 8 and 9 defeats a year as the norm, and in the 1909/10 season (the season we follow here, it being 100 years ago) Villa won the league with 23 wins, 7 draws and 8 defeats – a fairly normal run for a winning team at the time.
And that was indeed how it continued until the cessation of football in 1915.
By the time Arsenal started their great run in the 1930s, losing between five and ten games a season and winning the league was normal. In the years they won the league in the 30s Arsenal lost 4, 9, 8, 7, and 11 games.
So the possible return this year to a team winning the league and yet losing maybe five games – if that is what it turns out to be – is not something dramatically different. It has all happened before.
But what is different, I suspect, is going to be the number of goals scored. In 1933/4 for example Arsenal won the league by scoring 75 goals in 42 games. Any chance of doing better than that this year?
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