By Tony Attwood
To read about the free Arsenal video collection and about the new Arsenal Day by Day series, please see the note at the foot of this article.
The league table on 5 January 2002 looked promising
Not just sitting third, but third with a game in hand.
Arsenal had won the double in 1998 but since then had had to accept second place in the league three years running. Worse, each time they were second to Manchester United.
Worse still in 1999 Manchester United had themselves done the double for the third time in six years. Arsenal on the other hand had won the FA cup three times in the past decade, and there was thought that maybe this would be their best shot at silverware.
So thoughts were positive but realistic for the FA Cup third round match on this day in 2002 and indeed it ended Watford 2 Arsenal 4. And yes, it was the start of the cup side of the 3rd double season. Henry, Ljungberg, Kanu and Bergkamp scored, but it was Henry who was the star, scoring the first, setting up the second.
In the end Arsenal won the league by a staggering ten points, ending 13 points above Manchester United.
But there was something else. The victory at Watford was Arsenal’s fourth successive victory, having just beaten Liverpool, Chelsea, and Middlesbrough in the League.
After that things seemed to cool down somewhat with draws against Liverpool and Leeds. But then we were off on another run of three victories, followed by a draw (at home to Southampton) followed by a couple of victories, a draw… so it went on. Mostly wins, the occasional draw, and no defeats.
Actually, there were some defeats, for in game 19 after the Liverpool game we played Deportivo La Coruña and lost. A week later we also lost to Juventus, and that was it we were out of the Champions League.
But gradually it dawned. These were the only defeats. Arsenal were simply plodding along winning (or drawing occasionally) each FA Cup and Premier League game. One after the other after the other.
In fact the club went 28 games in FA Cup and Premier League without defeat, including straight wins in each of the last 12 games of the season.
Arsenal won the FA Cup on 4 May by beating Chelsea 2-0. Then on 8 May Manchester United knew that they had to beat Arsenal at Old Trafford, and hope that Arsenal lost their last match of the season (while hoping that Man U would win theirs) in order to stop another Arsenal double.
But it didn’t work out for them. Arsenal just kept on winning each and every game to get that third double.
For details of the videos sorted by club, and videos in the order we published them, plus our 21 golden great videos please see here.
Just as the videos have been put in date order so we are now doing a day-by-day series of Arsenal events, looking to find one good story a day throughout the year. This project started on 1 December, and we are adding to it each day. The index is here.
100 Years in the First Division: the absolute complete story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919.
Henry Norris at the Arsenal: There is a full index to the series here.
Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever
Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.