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2 February 2002: there’s no way Arsenal can win the league

For details our Free Video Collection, and the “Arsenal Day by Day” series please see the notes below the article

By Tony Attwood

On 2 February 2002 Arsenal drew 1-1 at home with Southampton.  It was considered a poor result since it left Arsenal 3rd in the table, whereas a win would have moved us up to second.  For Southampton it meant that they were 13th – and the table showed them as a club that should have been beaten. Southampton got their equaliser on 80 minutes.

But the result did mean that Arsenal had not only scored in every league during the season, but they also set the new record of scoring in 26 top league games.

The goal itself came from Wiltord.  Henry had crossed, Bergkamp took the cross down, and Wiltord scored from five yards.

As for why we didn’t win – the lack of Patrick Vieira who went off on 28 minutes was a major cause.  After that, the free-flowing football that we were expecting didn’t happen.  Gio van Bronckhorst came on, but the movement thereafter was not as good as before.

In the press it was the usual theme – Arsenal don’t take their chances, Wasteful Arsenal, and all that stuff. And yes it was disappointing. The team was: Wright, Luzhny, Campbell, Upson, Cole (Grimandi 52), Pires, Vieira (van Bronckhorst 27), Parlour, Wiltord, Henry, Bergkamp (Edu 71).

After the game the table looked like this (and it is interesting to see who was in second place).

Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester United 26 16 3 7 64 35 +29 51
2 Newcastle United 25 15 4 6 48 32 +16 49
3 Arsenal 25 13 9 3 50 30 +20 48
4 Liverpool 25 13 7 5 34 24 +10 46
5 Chelsea 25 11 10 4 45 25 +20 43
6 Leeds United 24 11 9 4 35 23 +12 42
7 Aston Villa 25 9 10 6 31 28 +3 37
8 Tottenham Hotspur 25 9 5 11 35 34 +1 32
9 Charlton Athletic 24 8 8 8 30 30 0 32
10 Fulham 24 7 11 6 23 23 0 32

Arsenal in third, but with a worse goal difference than Man U and thus effectively with four points to make up.

The next game (away to Everton who were having a poor season, languishing in 14th and who had already lost 5 home games) followed by the return game, were both eminently winnable.  But then there was second in the table Newcastle, away.  Not so easy.

In fact, what happened was utterly amazing.  Arsenal played 13 more games and won the lot!

  • 10 Feb 2002: Everton 0 Arsenal 1
  • 23 Feb 2002: Arsenal 4 Fulham 1
  • 2 Mar 2002: Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2
  • 5 Mar 2002: Arsenal 1 Derby C 0
  • 17 Mar 2002 Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2
  • 30 Mar 2002 Arsenal 3 Sunderland 0
  • 1 April 2002: Charlton 0 Arsenal 3
  • 6 April 2002: Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1
  • 21 April 2002: Arsenal 2 Ipswich 0
  • 24 April 2002: Arsenal 2 WHU 0
  • 29 April 2002: Bolton 0 Arsenal 2
  • 8 May 2002: Man U 0 Arsenal 1
  • 11 May 2002: Arsenal 4 Everton 3

After the 29 April match, Man U could still have won the league if they had won their two remaining  games and Arsenal had lost.   This was in fact possible given that the 8 May game was a Man U v Arsenal game.

But Arsenal won, and the final table looked liked this

Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 38 26 9 3 79 36 +43 87
2 Liverpool 38 24 8 6 67 30 +37 80
3 Manchester United 38 24 5 9 87 45 +42 77
4 Newcastle United 38 21 8 9 74 52 +22 71
5 Leeds United 38 18 12 8 53 37 +16 66
6 Chelsea 38 17 13 8 66 38 +28 64
7 West Ham United 38 15 8 15 48 57 -9 53
8 Aston Villa 38 12 14 12 46 47 -1 50
9 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 8 16 49 53 -4 50
10 Blackburn Rovers 38 12 10 16 55 51 +4 46

Arsenal had not only overtaken Man U on points, but also on goal difference, which one might not have expected.   But then, no one really expected 13 wins in a row.

 


ARSENAL HISTORY SOCIETY FREE VIDEO COLLECTION

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.

ARSENAL DAY BY DAY: THE STORIES

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.


The Arsenal History Society is part of the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association – a body which gives positive support to the club, and has regular meetings with directors and senior officials of the club to represent the views of its members to the club.  You can read more about AISA on its website.


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.

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