A review of 2002/3 – part 1
By Tony Attwood
In the summer of 2002 Arsene Wenger did a remarkable piece of business. He bought Gilberto Silva, soon to be captain of Brazil, for £2m. The only other purchase was Cygan from Lille. Tony Adams retired.
Gilberto Silva played in an extremely violent Community Shield game against Man U who were clearly not going to forgive Arsenal for the victory at Old Trafford, and he scored – but that gave us little idea of what was to come.
Arsenal started the new season with the team of
Lauren Keown Campbell Cole
Parlour Vieira Edu Wiltord
The subs were Gilberto, Toure and Aliadiere. Pires and Ljunberg were injured for much of the early part of the season. In the first nine games we won seven and drew two. But then two straight defeats to Everton and Blackburn set everyone thinking. By the end of the year we had lost four.
The first of these defeats is memorable in several ways. First, for me, I was there, and remember the match well. We were just not getting beaten away, and this had all the makings of a 1-1 that would satisfy both teams, when Everton brought on Rooney who scored from a long way out to end the famous run. The Evertonians rejoined of course but for them it meant nothing much, except that in a while they would for the first time in years have a season where they would make money, simply by selling Rooney.
And much as I dislike the man and his attitude I have to say it was a remarkable goal for a young sub. Sadly I had a perfect view. It was our first league defeat for seven months.
That time was difficult – we also lost two champs league games but we did come out of it all with a 1-0 over Fulham benefiting from an own goal. Also by November Pires was finally back after his awful injury and he made a significant difference. It meant we now had Wiltord, Pires and Henry available in one team – and that surely would make the difference. I remember thinking so.
But we had something else to remember that November. 16 November in fact. T. Henry vs Tottenham H. Henry gets the ball in his own area, runs towards the North Bank, en route beating most of the Tottenham team. Then for fun beats a lot of them again. It was Goal of the Season, Goal of the Decade, Goal of the Century, Goal of Eternity. After he scored it he ran all the way back towards the Clock End to bid hello to the Tottenham fans. You can see the sheer hatred pouring from their faces on the movie. Quite moving really.
But in the following league match we lost 3-2 to Southampton and on 7 December 0-2 to Manchester United. In fact December gave us two wins, two draws and a defeat. We needed to start the new year with something a little better if we were going to win the league again.