Only one person predicted Arsenal’s unbeaten season. But you’ll not guess who!

The answer to our question comes in  the entry for 11 August 2003, and I really don’t want to spoil the fun by telling you who it was.

But I’ll give you a clue.  He later became a notorious critic of the club.

Here are the anniversaries for today.

11 August 1923.  It was common at this time to play just two warm up matches prior to the season – in Arsenal’s case the Reds against the Blues (primarily the expected first team against the reserves.)  This was the first of  these two for the 1923/4 season, with the second a week later.  It was noted by the paper that Sir Henry Norris attended both, despite his recent illness. Arthur Bourke (“Norseman” in the Gazette, and a famous ex ref) reported the pitch looked in fine condition.

11 August 1947: Don Roper signed from Southampton  (See background article here).  He had played 40 games for Southampton who did not want to let him go.  He went on to play 297 league games for Arsenal.

11 August 1953.  Danny Clapton signed by Tom Whittaker as an amateur, having previously played for Leytonstone.  His first game was on Christmas Day 1954, a 1-0 win over Chelsea.

11 August 1956: Arsenal played the reserves (Reds v Blues) in a pre-season game.  These games are not well recorded in Arsenal’s history, and it was probably soon after this that the habit of running this type of pre-season warm up (which dates back to the 19th century) was stopped.

11 August 1973: The first of a two game tour of Norway ended Brann 0 Arsenal 2 (Ball, Radford getting the goals)

11 August 1977: Jimmy Rimmer sold to Villa.  He had been displaced in goal at Arsenal by Pat Jennings and stayed at Aston Villa until 1983 playing 229 games, and winning the league in 1981 and European Cup in 1982.

11 August 1979: Arsenal lost 3-1 to Liverpool in the Charity Shield.  The crowd of 92,000 was Arsenal’s highest ever for a charity shield game.  It was also Arsenal’s first appearance in the Shield since 12 October 1953. See here for the review of the season.

11 August 1982:  A tribunal forced Arsenal to pay £500,000 for Lee Chapman after offering £100,000 for the player.  It was widely reported that Arsenal were totally shocked by the adjudication, and by the fact they were not able to appeal.

11 August 1990: The second game in two days at Wembley Stadium in the Makita Tournament.  Sampdoria 2 Arsenal 0

11 August 1993Colin Pates transferred to Brighton after a loan move, having made just 16 league starts for Arsenal.

11 August 1997: Arsenal 2 Coventry 0.  2nd league game of the 2nd Double Season, and part of the 12 match opening unbeaten run.  Wright scored the goals leaving him one short of Bastin’s goalscoring record.  The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

11 August 2001: Arsenal had started the pre-season playing Boreham Wood and seven games later on this day finished by playing Barnet.  The result was Barnet 1 Arsenal 6 (Ljungberg, Cole, Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira, Wiltord)

11 August 2002: 23 years to the day after Arsenal played Liverpool in the Charity Shield, Gilberto Silva played his first competitive match for Arsenal (after the usual pre-season tour) against  v Liverpool in Community Shield.  Gilberto scored the only goal.  For context see here.

11 August 2003: Ahead of the Unbeaten Season, Paul Merson on BBC TV said Arsenal were favourites because they had the “best players … If they all remain fit week-in week-out then they will not be beaten.”  In those days it seems he knew something about football.

11 August 2005: Alex Song came to Arsenal on loan from Bastia for whom he had played 32 games.  He played five goals during the loan spell, and then signed for the club later leaving for Barcelona in 2012.

11 August 2015: Goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez loaned to Wolverhampton Wanderers for the season.  He played 13 league games for the club in this, his fourth loan.


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