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18 April 1998: Arsenal 5 Wimbledon 0

By Tony Attwood

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.

So, a 5-0 win over Wimbledon on this day – a win over a club now in League One.  And now over 20 years later one might think, so what?

In fact, this was Arsenal’s first win against the Dons at Highbury in six attempts!  The goals came from Adams, Overmars, Bergkamp, Petit and Wreh in the 33rd league game of the 2nd Double season.  The game was part of a winning run of 12 successive matches.

And it was a great relief because Wimbledon really had been causing us problems.  In fact in 28 league games against Wimbledon between 1987 and 2000 we only won 13.

But if ever there was a time to beat Wimbledon it was on 18 April 1998 – a time at which we could say that under Mr Wenger, Arsenal scored five goals once every 20 league games.  Not a bad record, and certainly better than any other manager in the club’s history.

For before the arrival of Arsène Wenger we scored five goals once every 86 games in the Premier League.

Our favourite opponents for the high scoring games became Middlesbrough – for in this era we have a 6-1 away win followed by a 5-1 and 5-3, and then a 7-0 at Highbury.

But this particular 5-0 win was special for we went on to win the league with two games to spare, and finished five points ahead of Manchester U who ended up in second place.  And then won the FA Cup – our second double.

The winning match of the season, by which I mean the game when we won the league, was a 4-0 home thrashing of Everton.   You will know this game, even if you were not there – because Tony Adams scored a wonder goal in front of the north bank, and just stood there, arms aloft.  It is one of the iconic pictures of Arsenal and Highbury.

But it was the FA Cup, which of course we won, that gave us particular problems that season.   We had another 0-0 at home in the fifth round with Crystal Palace, then of the Premier League, and against West Ham in the sixth we once again had to go to penalties.

In the League Cup we were at it again.  Against Birmingham in the third round we won 4-1 but not until extra time.  Against Coventry in the 4th round, there was extra time again.  We finally went out to Chelsea over two legs in the semis.

As for Europe, we lost to PAOK Salonika in the first round we played in, with a draw at home and a 1-0 defeat away.

My point therefore is that we won the double, but there were some very difficult times, and a lot of gnashing of teeth about the team’s performance on occasions.   The record book doesn’t lie – a double and five points ahead, but during the season itself it was not all plain sailing.  Although those high scoring games were something to behold.

Day by Day: the videos – An Arsenal video for (almost) every day of the year in order. 

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