The league results for Arsenal under George Graham, from mid-January 1987 to early April that year looks like just about the worst set of results one could imagine. It wasn’t just the results, but the fact that across these ten games Arsenal scored just two goals. Can you imagine the media coverage of such a run today?
|18 Jan 1987||Arsenal v Coventry City||D||0-0|
|24 Jan 1987||Manchester United v Arsenal||L||2-0|
|14 Feb 1987||Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal||D||1-1|
|25 Feb 1987||Oxford United v Arsenal||D||0-0|
|07 Mar 1987||Chelsea v Arsenal||L||1-0|
|10 Mar 1987||Arsenal v Liverpool||L||0-1|
|17 Mar 1987||Arsenal v Nottingham Forest||D||0-0|
|21 Mar 1987||Watford v Arsenal||L||2-0|
|28 Mar 1987||Arsenal v Everton||L||0-1|
|08 Apr 1987||West Ham United v Arsenal||L||3-1|
And yet it was actually a time for celebration – rather strangely – because just before that run ended Arsenal beat Liverpool in the League Cup Final, having beaten Tottenham twice in the two-legged semi-final.
Whether a league cup victory would be considered so important today is another matter. But it was the first trophy since the 1979 FA Cup victory and only the second trophy since the Double of 1971.
Here are today’s anniversaries…
25 February 1886: Wally Harding born in Greenwich. Aside from playing for Arsenal he also played over 600 first class cricket matches and was later reserve team coach at Tottenham.
25 February 1893: As their existence came to an end Royal Arsenal started to play friendly matches against league clubs such as Walsall Town Swifts – in this case in front of 4000 fans.
25 February 1897: Tottenham 2 Arsenal 2. One of a sequence of six Arsenal v Tottenham games in the United League following the end of friendlies in April 1896.
25 February 1899: First match under Arthur Kennedy. He was finance secretary of the club but filled in as manager after Elcoat resigned mid-season. Sadly he was not recognised as an Arsenal manager by Arsenal.com last time we checked (Feb 2000) but is included in the Arsenal History Society list of managers.
25 February 1905 Arsenal 3 Sheffield W 0 concluded the first ever three match winning run in 1st division, but this game marked the last win until the last day of the season on 22 April.
25 February 1911: Harry Logan played for Woolwich Arsenal 11 times but was only on the winning side once – in the game this day which ended Arsenal 3 Nottingham Forest 2.
25 February 1918: All butchers’ shops were ordered to be open only four days a week as meat rationing was introduced in the UK.
25 February 1919: West Ham lodged their anticipated application to be members of Division II for the 1919/20 season, and started canvassing clubs and the media as Tottenham had already started doing to support its application to stay in the First Division, having finished bottom of the league in the previous (1914/15) season.
25 February 1928: Leicester 3 Arsenal 2. Four defeats and two draws in six saw Arsenal tumble down the league and hope instead for cup glory. Hoar and Buchan scored.
25 February 1933: After four successive draws Arsenal signalled their intent on winning the league by beating Blackburn 8-0. (Coleman 3, Hulme 2, Bastin 2, and Stockill got the goals). Arsenal wore their new kit for the first time but only 27,576 turned up to see it. See also here.
25 February 1939: Last match for Wilf Copping. He returned to Leeds from whom Arsenal had bought him, for 12 last league games. He had made 166 league appearances, won the league twice and the FA Cup with Arsenal. Arsenal lost 2-1 to Preston.
25 February 1961 This was in effect the start of the season’s collapse – of the 12 games to April 29, Arsenal won just two. George Swindin struggled on for one more year before leaving.
25 February 1978: WHU 2 Arsenal 2 made it no wins in four league games.
25 February 1987: Oxford U 0 Arsenal 0. The first of six consecutive league games under George Graham in which Arsenal failed to score – the longest such run ever for the club.
25 February 2001: Man U 6 Arsenal 1. An Arsenal team with a makeshift defence fell apart in this match after holding the score to 1-1 on 25 minutes, but recovered enough eventually to be runners up in both the League and the FA Cup. It was reported that for once Arsène Wenger lost his temper with his players. Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira all played.
25 February 2006: Blackburn 1 Arsenal 0 making it four defeats, one win and one draw in last six, one of Arsène Wenger’s worst runs.
25 February 2007: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2, League Cup final; Walcott scored his first goal for Arsenal in a game that went on for 103 minutes.
25 February 2015: Arsenal 1 Monaco 3 in the Champions League. Much was made of Arsenal’s failure and Giroud’s poor form in this match, and many critics used this single game as evidence of the poverty of Arsenal’s team (which won three FA Cups in four years).