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December 2019
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Even Thierry Henry struggled to adjust to the Premier League at the start.

I think many people who were not there at the time now assume that Thierry Henry was a success for Arsenal from the moment he came on the pitch for the first time, but this was far from being the case.  Henry had to get used to his fellow Arsenal players, the tactics of defences in the league, and of course the approach of the referees.

He did eventually score 17 goals from 26 league starts and five appearances as a sub, in his first season, but it was tough going at the start, and he was heavily criticised by some fans for spending all his time on the wing, when he was supposed to be a centre forward.

After four league starts he was dropped for seven games, and it was not until December that he started to get a run of games in the team.   Perhaps today we forget that even brilliant players may need a while to settle into the “English game”.

Here are today’s anniversaries…

18 September 1915: Arsenal played their second wartime game at Highbury this against QPR, and as with the first against Tottenham in the first match, won by 2-1.  Sands, Wallace, Hardinge and King all returned for Arsenal but the crowd was just 4,000 – over 10,000 down on that first wartime game two weeks before.  Hopes that the crowds would take to the London Combination were dashed.

18 September 1926:  After a run of six games in seven, in which Arsenal did not win a single match, Jack Lee was dropped on this date for the match against Liverpool.  Arsenal won 2-0 and Jack Lee only played one more game for the club.

18 September 1930: William Harper returned for a second spell with Arsenal having previously left Arsenal to play in the American Soccer League.  He replaced Keyser in goal, and played 19 games in the season, to win himself a league winners’ medal. See also here.

18 September 1953: Tommy Lawton signed from Brentford.  He played 38 games and scored 15 times before retiring but Tom Whittaker admitted in his autobiography that the signing was one of desperation on his part, and not a success.

18 September 1971: Arsenal lost 2-1 away to Everton; Kennedy scored, but it meant we had now lost four games in the course of the first eight league matches in the season.  Arsenal were not showing the form of last season’s double champions.

18 September 1974: For the second year running, Arsenal were knocked out of the league cup in the second round, the replay on this day ending Leicester City 2 Arsenal 1, in front of a mere 17,303.  See also here

18 September 1976: Stephen Hughes born. He started his football career at Arsenal, where he played in 76 league games, 40 of them as a sub , scoring 7 goals.  He was a member of the 1997-98 league winning side.

18 September 1976: Arsenal 3 Everton 1 with Macdonald restored to the team and 34,076 in the crowd.    Everton took the lead and then played the “what we have we hold” game, until the fouling and niggling approach got so bad that when Brady was kicked to the ground once too often, virtually every player was involved in a melee.  The referee let them get on with it until they all looked around wondering where he was. He then suggested the game might restart and it did. An interesting approach!

18 September 1994:  Arsenal’s fifth game in a row without a win ended Arsenal 2 Newcastle 3.  But after four games without scoring Arsenal did at least get one from Adams and one from Wright.

18 September 1999: Thierry Henry who came on as a sub scored his first goal for Arsenal to beat Southampton 1-0. He received the ball from Adams, with his back to goal, 20 yards out, turned and shot.  Henry said, “My goal today was very important for me. I have missed at least 14 or 15 chances for Arsenal and my confidence was low.” It was Arsenal’s last appearance at the Dell. However Henry didn’t score again until 28 November when he got both goals in a 2-1 defeat of Derby.

18 September 2013: Arsenal beat Marseille 2-1 to make it 10 away wins in a row in all competitions – a club record.  Ramsey and Walcott scored in the Champions League campaign in which 3 teams ended up with 12 points.

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