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19 November 1932: why on earth celebrate a 3-5 Arsenal home defeat?

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100 Years in the First Division: the absolute complete story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919.


Today’s feature: 19 November 1932

I’m sure many such times could be put forward as the best time to be an Arsenal fan – the run up to the Unbeaten Season would be a fairly good moment to choose – although I seem to remember the sheer nervousness of those draws near the end. Or being 1-0 down at half time in the final match to relegated Leicester.

So how about also considering the first half of the 1932/3 season?

Interestingly it did not look like it might be one of the all time great seasons at first as Arsenal won the first game 1-0 and lost the second game at home 1-2.

And one might think that losing Male and Roberts from the team after two games through injury might spell even greater disaster.   But that is what happened.  Male finally returned on October 22 as a right back while Roberts missed just four games before resuming.  Also after two games Coleman took over at number nine and ended the season as second top scorer with 24 goals in 27 games.  (Top scorer was Bastin playing at outside left with 33 goals in 42 games).

So here’s what happened.

3 September 1932.  Arsenal start an amazing 18 match run in which they won 15, drew 2 and suffered one defeat, scoring 66 goals in the process (3.66 a game!)

15 October 1932: George Male’s first appearance as a right back v Blackburn.

29 October 1932: Arsenal 8 Leicester 2, continuing a run of 9 wins, drawn 2 and lost 1 in the league.

31 October 1932: A detour away from the race to the first division, to play in the Armistice match:  Racing club de Paris 2 Arsenal 5.  Four goals from Cliff Bastin.

5 November 1932: Following the 8-2 win one week before Arsenal beat Wolverhampton 7-1 away.

12 November 1932: Arsenal make it 11 wins, 2 draws and 1 defeat in the opening of the season, with a 1-0 win over Newcastle.

19 November 1932: Arsenal let in five in 5-3 away defeat to Villa! Now you are going to think this column has been taken over by Tottenham supporters – including this match which we lost as our celebration of today… but stay with me for a moment…

3 December 1932: Arsenal score 3+ goals for the fifth match running – not repeated under 2008/9.

24 December 1932: Arsenal 9 Sheffield Wednesday 2.  It meant thus far in the season Arsenal had in different games scored 6, 7, 8 and 9 goals.

27 December 1930: George Male first game for the first team.  Arsenal beat Blackpool 7-1. The fourth game of the season with five or more goals by Arsenal.

My point here is that even in amazing winning runs things can go wrong – there was after all only one unbeaten season! At this time Arsenal were second in the league, but had suffered two defeats already and so there were commentators saying that “liked all London teams” (yes they used to talk like that, can you believe it?) Arsenal were soft and there for the taking.

Herbert Chapman was known to comment that no matter what Arsenal did, it would never be enough either for the journalists or for the fans.

Perhaps we should aim to remember days like now when things are not going so well, and store those memories for times when we are having fun. In football, it comes it goes.

Here is the league table on this day

Team P W D L F A Pts
1 Aston Villa 15 10 4 1 40 18 24
2 Arsenal 15 11 2 2 47 25 24
3 Derby County 15 9 3 3 35 22 21
4 Huddersfield Town 15 9 3 3 27 17 21
5 Sheffield Wednesday 15 8 3 4 32 21 19
6 Leeds United 15 6 7 2 20 15 19

OK not top, but that home defeat on this day in 1932 is at least put in perspective.

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