Arsene Wenger is remembered for turning Arsenal around in his first season, despite one of the most appalling campaigns of all time by the media which tried to accuse him of child moelstation while in Japan, without any evidence to back up their disgraceful claims. And indeed he did give Arsenal new impetus, with the revitalisation of Bergkamp and the signing of Vieira.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing as the results on this day showed… 23 February 1997: Arsenal 0 Wimbledon 1 – the 4th game in a row without a win and with just one goal scored.
Here is the full list of anniversaries.
23 February 1895: Arsenal played Burton at New Brompton’s ground following the forced closure of Manor Ground because of crowd trouble. Arsenal won 3-0 in front of 5000 fans and it has been noted that no other club was ever treated so harshly for similar offences.
23 February 1901: Arsenal’s first ever match in the 2nd round of the FA Cup, and only their second appearance in front of 20,000 spectators. It ended Woolwich Arsenal 0 WBA 1.
23 February 1903: John “Alex” Mackie born in Co Antrim. He and started out at Monkstown and Forth River in Belfast, before being spotted (along with Andy Kennedy and Joe Toner) in 1922. Alex is the man who has become best known for the notion that upon signing for Arsenal he demanded a signing on fee of a monkey. He didn’t but may have used his signing-on money to buy a monkey. He played 108 league games for Arsenal but never scored a goal.
23 February 1907: Arsenal 1 Bristol Rovers 0 in front of a crowd of 22,000 on the way to the semi-final, for the second year running.
23 February 1913: Tottenham supported by Clapton Orient called for a meeting of the League Management Committee to prohibit Arsenal’s ground move. However the League reiterated their statement of 1910 that nothing in the rule book controlled where a club played its home games. Tottenham were in effect demanding the League change their rules, to suit Tottenham. The league said no.
23 February 1918: Arsenal got their biggest war time league win – 7-1 at home to Clapton Orient. 4000 people saw the game.
23 February 1920: The Islington Daily Gazette criticised Arsenal’s recent performances, suggesting that with the large crowds the club had, they could afford to buy better players, particularly levelling criticism at the forward line.
23 February 1920: Winston Churchill as War Secretary, signed off the work of Sir Henry Norris as chairman of the committee overseeing the return of conscripts to civilian life, bringing to an Norris’ enrollment in the army. He left with the rank Lt Colonel.
23 February 1935: Arsenal away to Manchester City (who were third, three points behind Arsenal with a game in hand and an impressive home form of 10 wins, three draws and one defeat in 14) drew 80,000 fans – over double City’s average for the season. It ended 1-1.
23 February 1952: Arsenal 3 Leyton Orient O (FA Cup fifth round), heading towards another FA Cup final. Lishman got two and Lewis the other.
23 February 1957 Left back Dennis Evans missed the 2-0 home win over Everton and ended a remarkable run of 103 consecutive league and FA Cup appearances.
23 February 1965: Joe Baker scored Arsenal’s 100th league goal against Tottenham in this 3-1 victory in front of 48,367. Baker also got a second goal and Radford the other.
23 February 1974: With a team of Wilson, Rice, Nelson, Storey, Simpson, Kelly, George, Ball, Radford, Kennedy, Brady the result was Birmingham 3 Arsenal 1 with 29,822 present. Arsenal had sunk to 16th, with just two league wins in 14 league games, and with the club already out of both domestic cups (including the defeat to Tranmere in the league cup). See also here: 23 February 1974:
23 February 1980: Arsenal played Bolton Wanderers for the third match in a row, and won 2-0, with only 24,383 in the crowd and Vaessen making a rare appearance, coming on as a sub for Rice. The pitch was an unplayable mud heap.
23 February 1983: Man U 2 Arsenal 1: Milk cup semi-final 2nd leg. Man U had won the match at Highbury 2-4, and so Arsenal’s progress was always very unlikely. Raphael Meade got the goal.
23 February 1989: Rhys Wilmot signed for Plymouth for £100,000. He had played just eight games in nine seasons for Arsenal, but had played 71 league games while out on loan.
23 February 1997: Arsenal 0 Wimbledon 1 – the 4th game in a row without a win and with just one goal scored.
23 February 1999: Replay of the Sheffield Utd match following the controversial goal – the result was once again 2-1 but this time tickets were half price. Overmars scored (as he did in the first game) and Bergkamp got the second.
23 February 2000: Death of Dennis Evans. He played 189 times for Arsenal – his only football club. Dennis stayed on at Arsenal after his playing days as a youth and reserve coach, and then moved to Luton Town in a similar position, before leaving football to become a chauffeur.
23 February 2002: Arsenal 4 Fulham 1. Second game in the 13 match winning streak and 10th in the unbeaten run from 23 December to end of season. League match 27 of the 3rd Double season. The goals came from Lauren, Vieira and then two from Henry
23 February 2008: Birmingham 2 Arsenal 2. The day that robbed Arsenal of the title as Eduardo’s leg was broken. He never recovered his amazing potential and Arsenal won just one of the next seven. Walcott scored both goals.
23 February 2008: The Aliadière scandal in which the player was sent off wrongly and had his sentence increased on appeal. It revealed just how corrupt (or erratic depending on your point of view) the English refereeing system had become.
23 February 2010: Benik Afobe signed professional contract amidst reports that Barcelona wanted him. He eventually moved to Wolverhampton and then Bournemouth.
23 February 2013: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 1 made it three league wins out of three and left Arsenal four points behind Tottenham. Cazorla got both goals, Diaby got a yellow card.
23 February 2013: The loyalty code: Mancini (then manager of Man C) criticised Nasri for “resting on his laurels”. Nasri then verbally attacked his manager but on 16 May said he was sad to see him go.