According to the Daily Express this week Arsenal have this season suffered their worst start to a season for over 30 years.
Interestingly on this day in 2014 when Arsenal suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United the press also made much of Arsenal’s “poor start” to the season of four wins, three defeats and five draws thus far as Arsenal’s position of 8th in the league was (quite wrongly) called the club’s worst start for 30 years.
In fact worst starts are commonplace, and are usually stressed to be the worst for 30 or 35 years. And the way to tell if the story is real or not is to look for the data. If a league table for a season after the same number of games is produced then there is just a chance that the story might be real.
Otherwise, it is best to ignore it.
Here are the anniversaries.
22 November 1895: Charles Ambler joined Arsenal from Tottenham. It was his second stint with Arsenal (having also played for Royal Arsenal), but he only managed one league game in his second spell.
22 November 1899: Alexander “Sandy” Main signed from Hibs. The move to Arsenal was his fifth transfer during 1899 but he then stayed til 1902/3, playing 63 league games including the 12-0 win over Loughboro, in which he scored twice.
22 November 1913: Last senior game for Roddy McEachrane. He ended his career with a 1-0 home win (at Highbury) against Birmingham in front of 25,000. Both his first and last games were Division II games, but in between he played in the promotion season that took Arsenal to Division I for the first time, and the two cup semi-finals.
22 November 1913: Last senior game for Joseph Fidler. His final appearance in football was the 1914/15 season when he played for Port Vale. In the war he fought with the Middlesex Regiment which had integrated the battalions raised and paid for by Henry Norris, the voluntary work for which he was given a knighthood. It was also the last game for Roddy McEachrane.
22 November 1916: Henry Norris presented a Royal Humane Society award to a local child who had pulled a girl out of the Thames when she was drowning.
22 November 1918: The Football League held its first post-war meeting, and countered the FA ruling by giving clubs permission to start paying players immediately, now the war was over.
22 November 1919: The programme for Arsenal versus Notts County used the club name as “The Arsenal”, for the last time. The Arsenal won 3-1; it was their first home win since 20 September, in front of 25,000. Pagnam got two more goals, making it four goals in three games. It seemed Arsenal had a centre forward worthy of the name. See also here.
22 November 1920: Sir Henry Norris MP asked a question about cheap railway fares for groups travelling to sports fixtures. These had been a regular feature pre-war but had been stopped by the rail companies post-war and they refused to re-introduce them.
22 November 1924: Sidney Hoar was purchased by Arsenal from Luton for £3000 in the era (according to manager Knighton) of “no transfer over “£1000″, thus revealing another misleading assertions in the Knighton autobiography. On this day Arsenal drew 0-0 with league leaders Sunderland.
22 November 1924: WHU 1 Tottenham 1. In this autobiography Arsenal manager Leslie Knighton wrote a lot about how worried he was facing a very powerful WHU in the cup, and yet this was the only point the club got in five matches in November. And December was little better!
22 November 1947: Arsenal 2 Huddersfield Town 0. The 17th match unbeaten at the start of Tom Whittaker’s reign. The win meant Arsenal had won 12 and drawn five of the games so far. Rooke and Logie scored the goals.
22 November 1962: Raphael Meade born. He started his career at Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1977, turning professional in 1980. He was the leading scorer for Arsenal’s London Combination side for two seasons and made his league debut in 1981.
22 November 1963: James Furnell signed by Billy Wright from second division Liverpool for around £15,000 or £16,000. Wright spoke about getting up a 5am to secure the deal, and needing Furnell to help Arsenal win the league
22 November 1975: 40,102 turned up to be amazed by a score of Arsenal 3 Manchester United 1. Man U were third in the league with the best goal scoring record in the division. O’Leary, Brady and Stapleton (all Irish) were the heroes and so the main focus in the press was that there were too many “foreigners” were playing in “our league”.
22 November 1978: Red Star Belgrade 1 Arsenal 0, in front of 51,000. Brady was missing, following a sending off in the previous game. Ironically Petrovic floated in a Brady-like centre that confused everyone allowing Blagojevic to squeeze the ball in from close range.
22 November 1986: League debut of Paul Merson. Arsenal 3 Man City 0. City were relegated at the end of the season, the last season before Wenger when Tottenham finished above Arsenal (4th to 3rd by one point).
22 November 1997: Sheffield Wednesday 2 Arsenal 0. Game 15 of the 2nd Double Season. The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3. It meant Arsenal had won just one game in five – and they lost the next game as well.
22 November 1989: Arsenal lost 1-3 away to Oldham in league cup, having just won three consecutive league games. Niall Quinn scored the goal.
22 November 2000: Spartak Moscow 4 Arsenal 1; but despite the defeat Arsenal still eventually went through to the knockout stage.
22 November 2003: Birmingham 0 Arsenal 3. The 13th league match of the unbeaten season – a new Premier League unbeaten record. Ljunberg, Bergkamp and Pires scored. Arsenal had won ten and drawn three.
22 November 2005: Arsenal beat Thun 0-1 in Bern to win the Champions League group stages with a game spare.
22 November 2010: Henri Lansbury went on loan to Norwich City. He played 23 games for the club and scored four, and followed on with one final loan, to West Ham, before settling permanently at Nottingham Forest.
22 November 2010: Following irate comments after a defeat to Tottenham, the History Society looked back at other “disasters” – showing that a number of poor results can precede spectacular success.
22 November 2011: Chuks Aneke loan to Stevenage for whom he played six games. He never played for Arsenal but played 82 loan games for three different clubs before his final transfer away to Zulte Waregem in 2014.
22 November 2014. Arsenal 1 Man U 2. The press made much of Arsenal’s “poor start” to the season of four wins, three defeats and five draws thus far as Arsenal’s position of 8th in the league was (quite wrongly) called the club’s worst start for 30 years.