In many ways the Unbeaten Season has dimmed the memory of the almost unbeaten season which started on this day in 1990, in front of a crowd of 13,733. Arsenal were insanely docked two points that season for a bit of pushing and shoving of the type that was regularly going on in games at the time. And yet despite this we still one the league, losing only one game en route.
If ever an example is needed of the agenda against the Arsenal it was that two points being docked, for the sort of argy bargy that went on during that game, was hardly any different from that seen around the country on a regular basis. But it was felt that an example had to be made of one team, and Arsenal were there, and so two points were removed.
The anniversaries are below.
“Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” is the definitive history of Arsenal from its inception as a league club through to its first year at Highbury, and reveals dramatic elements of Arsenal’s early days that have never been revealed before.
“Making the Arsenal” is a journalist’s inside view of the events around Arsenal’s collapse in 1910 and the rescue that paved the way for the move to Highbury and the arrival of Herbert Chapman.
Both books are now available on Kindle and in print. Please see here for more details.
25 August 1899. Chairman and benefactor of Woolwich Arsenal George Leavey warned his players about drinking too much before a match. “No man with a skinful of whisky can play football,” he said.
25 August 1923: Debut of Harry Woods v Newcastle. It ended Arsenal 1 Newcastle 4 in front of 45,000. The large crowd was probably caused by the fact that Arsenal were undefeated in the final nine league matches of the previous season.
25 August 1924: J A H Catton, the most famous football journalist in the country, and active supporter of Arsenal’s election to the first Division in 1919, retired as editor of Athletic News. He was the man whose editorials had always been met with great respect.
25 August 1928. For the first match of the new season Chapman introduced numbers on the players’ shirts. The FA said subsequently said “no”, for no apparent reason other than it was new.
25 August 1934: Wilf Copping’s first game v Portsmouth away. The 3-3 draw (Bowden, Drake and Bastin) suggested Arsenal might score goals, and they did. Eight in the next match and 115 in the league, the club winning the third successive title. It was also Allison’s first match as manager.
25 August 1939: After the institution of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939 the previous day the Irish Republican Army exploded a bomb in Coventry, killing 25.
25 August 1964: Arsenal played their first ever home match on a pitch with under soil heating. It finished Arsenal 1 Sheffield W 1 in front of 35,590. Simpson scored. Arsenal went on to win only two of their first six games and finished 13th in the league.
25 August 1965: Arsenal only played Northampton twice in the league – and both games were 1-1 draws – on 25 August 1965 at Northampton and 28 August 1965 at Arsenal.
25 August 1970: After what was reported as a long stalemate Bob McNab accepted a new pay offer. He stayed until 1975 playing 278 league games.
25 August 1970: Arsenal 1 Huddersfield 0. Match 4 in the First Double season, making the tally thus far Won 2 drawn 2. Kennedy scored in front of just 34,848.
25 August 1973: The season opened with Arsenal 3 Manchester United 0, in front of a very satisfactory crowd of 51,501
25 August 1979: Arsenal 0 Man U 0 in front of 44,380 fans. The press had slipped into the habit of calling Man U the “Great Entertainers” but admitted after this game the side was “deadly dull” as one report put it. The word was out, if you want a point against Arsenal, “don’t let Arsenal play”. It was an approach that lasted for months, and months.
25 August 1984: Arsenal League debut by Viv Anderson in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. He went on to play 120 league games for Arsenal over the next three years before moving to Manchester United. The police demanded the match kick off at 11:30 but it was mostly just a rather silly flexing of muscles by the authorities; there was no significant trouble at Arsenal matches around this time.
25 August 1990: Arsenal started the season with a 3-0 away win at Wimbledon in front of 13,733, eventually were docked two points but still won the league by 7 points, losing only one match during the whole league campaign. Merson, Smith and Groves scored. See also here.
25 August 1999. Luis Boa Morte transferred to Southampton after just six league starts and 19 appearances in the league as a sub since joining Arsenal two years earlier.
25 August 2001: Arsenal 4 Leicester 0. League match 3 of the third Double season. Ljungberg, Wiltord, Henry, and Kanu scored making it 9 goals in 3, but only two wins.
25 August 2004: Arsenal 3 Blackburn 0 – the game that broke Nottingham Forest’s 42 league games unbeaten record set in 1977/8 by Brian Clough’s team. Arsenal of course went on to 49.
25 August 2005: Jérémie Aliadière loaned to West Ham but only played seven games for them – although that was better than his previous loan to Celtic where he failed to make an appearance.
25 August 2006: Nic Anelka signed a four year deal with Bolton, for their record fee of £8m. The fact that he was Bolton’s top scorer in 2006/7 with ten goals, says a lot about where his career had got to.
25 August 2007: Arsenal 1 Manchester City 0. It was part of a now largely forgotten run of 28 games unbeaten.
25 August 2009: Francis Jeffers was sent off for headbutting Tommy Fraser in a 2–0 League Cup defeat to Port Vale. He was placed on the transfer list.
25 August 2018: To the great disappointment of the media, having lost their first two games of the season, Arsenal now easily beat West Ham 3-1 after WHU went one up. Monreal, Welbeck and an own goal saw Arsenal rise up the league.