The deduction of two points from Arsenal’s tally in 1990 because of supposed bad behaviour during the game against Manchester United was unprescedented and it was never clear why this punishment should suddenly be introduced at this point, when it had seemingly never been used before.
In fact the most likely reason for the deducation was probably the froth that the newspapers got themselves into over Arsenal. The media was very pro-Liverpool at the time, and Arsenal had taking the title in 1989 at Anfield with almost the last kick of the match. Now with Arsenal looking possible title winners again, it probably seemed a great chance to reduce Arsenal’s chances.
But as history shows Arsenal marched on and won the league once more, on this day, in 1991 – and the crowd famously let the League officials know what they thought of the two point deduction through one song sung over and over and over again throughout the game. TV commentators valiantly tried to suggest that Arsenal fans were singing “We are the champions” – but that was never heard.
Here are the anniversaries…
6 May 1910: In one of several attempts to rescue Woolwich Arsenal financially, shares went on sale at £1 each, the money payable in instalments. The aim was to sell £2000-worth but by the close of the sale two weeks later only £1200 had been applied for, and so the offer failed.
6 May 1916: Arsenal v Rest of London. Testimonial for Bob Benson. On 19 February he played in a London Combination match and although retired, made up the numbers. He collapsed on the pitch in the second half and died in the changing rooms a little later of a burst blood vessel. He was just 33.
6 May 1922: After a dismal season which included 5 consecutive defeats Arsenal rounded the league off with four wins and a draw in the last five to finish with Arsenal 1 Bradford C 0 and 17th place in the league.
6 May 1936: England lost to Austria 2-1 with the England side including six Arsenal men Male, Hapgood (captain) Crayston, Copping, Bastin and Bowden, just one short of the record seven, also held by Arsenal.
6 May 1939: Arsenal 2 Brentford 0. Last appearance for Eddie Hapgood and also Leslie Jones. The game was used in the film Arsenal Stadium Mystery. Although three matches were played for the 1939/40 season it was then abandoned and this was the last “official” league game until 31 August 1946. See also here
6 May 1953: Jackie Henderson first international cap. His international career was more or less over by the time he came to Arsenal in 1958, but he still delivered as a powerful forward.
6 May 1968: Ray Kennedy joined as an apprentice. He became an invaluable member of the 1970/1 Double side, but then moved on to Liverpool – one of a number of ludicrous transfers by manager Bertie Mee.
6 May 1972: Arsenal, the cup holders, lost the cup final to Leeds 0-1. There was a feeling that there were more triumphs to come but the club did not surface again as a challenger until the end of the decade.
6 May 1978: Arsenal lost the FA Cup final to Ipswich which they had been widely tipped to win. Ipswich approached the game claiming (falsely) they had to play injured players to make up the numbers, but it was Arsenal who performed poorly to lose 1-0.
6 May 1990: Tony Adams crashed his car and was found to have four times the legal alcohol limit within his blood. He subsequently gave up drinking and set up the Sporting Chance Clinic to help others who suffered the same addiction.
6 May 1991: Arsenal 3 Man U 1. Arsenal had won the league before kick off with just one defeat and received a guard of honour from Man U. Supporters sang one song (in reference to the 2 point deduction earlier in the season) through the entire game as Alan Smith gained the first hat trick by any Arsenal player in the season.
6 May 1993: Sheffield W 1 Arsenal 0. First game for Gavin McGowan and Scott Marshall. McGowan had won the youth cup, and played seven league games. Marshall played 23 league games before moving on to Brentford.
6 May 2000: Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1 meant Arsenal finished second, as Leeds and Liverpool failed to win their respective matches. Henry scored both to make him top league scorer for the season with 17 – exactly as Anelka had the previous season.
6 May 2018: Arsenal 5 Burnley 0. Arsene Wenger’s last home match as manager. After the game he was given a very positive send off by the crowd as he toured the ground. It was all very much in contrast to the regular “Wenger out” placards that had been waved during the season.