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Lassana Diarra: Arsenal to Portsmouth to Real Madrid to Al Jazira to PSG!

If anyone can piece together an accurate story of Lassana Diarra’s life to date it would make fascinating reading for having signed for Arsenal from Chelsea, he played just 13 times before moving on to Portsmouth – hardly a step up!

And yet after 32 games there he moved to Real Madrid for whom he played over 100 times.  But then inexplicably he moved on to Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia then Lokomotiv Moscow then Marseille after which it was Al Jazira before suddenly out of nowhere, in January 2018, Diarra joined Paris Saint-Germain on a one-and-a-half year contract playing under Unai Emery.  One year later he announced his retirement from professional football.

We remember this today as it was on this day in 2008 that he moved to Portsmouth.  Where he is now we don’t know.

Here are the anniversaries.

17 January 1891: Football resumed for the first time since 13 December 1890, with all matches in the interim postponed because of bad weather.  It was Edward Bee’s first competitive game for Arsenal – having made 105 appearances in friendly matches prior to this date. Although he played in this FA Cup match (see below) he never played a league game for Arsenal.

17 January 1891:  Royal Arsenal’s first appearance in the FA Cup competition proper in a game against Derby.  Many histories suggest that Peter Connolly and Bob Buist were approached by Derby with contract offers, but this is not the case.  See also here.   Also the Final cup game for Humphrey Barbur who played 66 games for Royal Arsenal and scored 55 goals but did not play in the league.

17 January 1896: Adam Haywood signed.  Arsenal was his first club and he played his first game against Leicester on January 25 1896, retaining his place playing nine consecutive games and scoring four.  He was part of the 7-0 thrashing of Crewe on March 21 1896.

17 January 1897:  The Weekly Dispatch published an interview with George Lawrance in what was the first ever review of Arsenal’s historic origins.  Born in 1851 Lawrance was the first benefactor of the club, and although now largely forgotten was of huge significance in both keeping the club going and ensuring a record was made of its early activities.

17 January 1914: Arsenal beat Hull City, and won the next game to make it three wins in the league in a row.  This took them second in Division Two, equal on points with Notts County at the top.

17 January 1920:  Wally Hardinge made his first appearance for Arsenal’s first team in a 1-4 away defeat to Man C.  He was however much more famous as a cricketer scoring over 33,000 runs in first class cricket and being selected for one test match.

17 January 1922: Bob John signed from Caerphilly.  He was Knighton’s greatest signing, and came to fruition under Chapman playing more times for Arsenal than any other player up to 1939.

17 January 1923: After holding league leaders Liverpool to an away draw in the cup on 13 Jan, Arsenal lost 1-4 at home in the replay.  It was a disappointment coming after a run of three straight league wins in which Arsenal scored 13 and conceded none.

17 January 1925: Arsenal 0 Newcastle 2.  The second of six consecutive league defeats.  This was the period in which Arsenal also drew twice with West Ham in the FA Cup and then lost in in the second replay, a series around which manager Knighton spun his tale of drug taking.  It may all have been invented to conceal the dreadful results.

17 January 1931: Sandwiched between a 7-1 and 9-1 win, Arsenal managed to lose 1-3 to Sunderland.  The next defeat, as Arsenal marched on to win the league for the first time, was 1-5 to Aston Villa on March 15.  Also on this day Villa started a run of 9 wins and 2 draws including 7 games in which they scored 4 goals or more. See also here.

17 January 1932: Jackie Henderson born.  A brilliant player who had the misfortune to join clubs (including Arsenal) that were either in decline or at the top (like Wolverhampton) and who didn’t want to disturb a winning team.

17 January 1948: The pivotal match of the season: a 1-1 draw with Man U in front of 81,962 – the biggest crowd for an Arsenal league match and reported as the highest league attendance ever at that time.  The game was played at Maine Road, as Old Trafford was still being repaired after the second world war.

17 January 1968: Arsenal’s first semi-final since 1952 – Arsenal 3 Huddersfield 2 (in the League Cup). Graham, Radford and McNab scored.  After no semi-finals in 16 years Arsenal now went on to six semis in six years ending with a defeat to Sunderland in the FA Cup in 1973.

17 January 1976: Leicester City 2 Arsenal 1 and “Boring Arsenal” was a theme within the press, although some preferred “Dreary Arsenal”, while others suggested that the fans thought relegation a distinct possibility.  The away support for the Gunners was only 300 in number. The Mirror said, “you need masochistic tendencies to enjoy Arsenal these days.”

17 January 1979: Arsenal 3 Sheffield Wed 3 (at Leicester) FA Cup 3rd round 3rd replay.  There was still one more replay to go.

17 January 1993: Bill Seddon died aged 91.  He won the Combination five times, along with Arsenal’s first FA Cup and the club’s first league title.  After playing for Grimsby and  Luton Town he became a trainer with Notts County and Romford.  In 1967 Arsenal played Romford in a testimonial for him to mark his retirement.  He was the last surviving player to appear in the first FA Cup victory.

17 January 1997: Paul Read sold to Wycombe for £35,000.  In a seven year career he never played for Arsenal, but did play 100 games in the lower divisions.  His last club was Exeter City whom he left in 2002.

17 January 1998: Coventry 2 Arsenal 2David Seaman broke a finger in the 23rd match of the second Double season.  Bergkamp and Anelka scored Anelka pointedly making no celebration of his goal. Vieira was sent off on 65 minutes and David Seaman broke his finger.  The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

17 January 2008: Lassana Diarra sold to Portsmouth for £5.5m.  He was reported to be under investigation for money laundering, and was accused of having links with Islamic State – which he denied.  After Portsmouth he moved to Real Madrid and in 2016 was playing for Marseille. On 23 January 2018, he joined PSG playing under Unai Emery.  He left in February 2019 and retired as a player.

17 January 2018: Theo Walcott signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Everton in what the BBC reported as “a deal worth more than £20m”. He made his debut for the club three days later, providing the assist for Everton’s equaliser in a 1–1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion.  He scored two in his next match, a 2–1 win over Leicester.

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