19 December 2022: Arsenal were 15th in the league. What happened next?


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By Tony Attwood

On 19 December 2020 Arsenal were defeated 2-1 away by Everton, and were left 15th in the league, sitting below the likes of West Ham (9th), Wolverhampton (10th) and Leeds (14th).  

Worst, we had played a game more than most of the clubs below us in the league…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
15 Arsenal 14 4 2 8 12 18 -6 14
16 Brighton and Hove Albion 13 2 5 6 15 21 -6 11
17 Fulham 14 2 4 8 13 23 -10 10
18 Burnley 12 2 4 6 6 18 -12 10
19 West Bromwich Albion 13 1 4 8 10 26 -16 7
20 Sheffield United 13 0 1 12 7 24 -17 1

But then Arsenal started to win.  Here is a league table built on the rest of the season…

The media made much of that – far more in fact than they commented upon what happened in the remaining 24 games of the season.  .  For ease of reading I’ve just included the top eight clubs

P Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 24 20 0 4 62 20 42 60
2 Arsenal 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47
3 Manchester United 24 13 8 3 43 21 22 47
4 West Ham United 24 13 5 6 41 28 13 44
5 Chelsea 24 12 6 6 29 22 7 42
6 Leicester City 24 11 6 7 42 33 9 39
7 Liverpool 24 11 5 8 32 23 38
8 Tottenham Hots 24 11 4 9 43 31 12 37

To this day the media remain ignorant of just what happened to Arsenal in that last two thirds of the season, and how it prepared the foundations for the first third of the 2022/23 season.

Here are the anniversaries.

19 December 1896: John Caldwell returned to Arsenal from Third Lanark where he had been playing.  His career is somewhat mysterious, as the previous season he had played every league game save one for Arsenal, then for some reason vanished, but now returned.

19 December 1897: James Devlin was transferred from Sunderland to Arsenal for £80 having only been with Sunderland for two months.   But he was struck down with pleurisy soon after arriving at Plumstead and so just played one match, on 1 Jan 1898, in which he scored.   He moved to Airdrie on 7 August 1898 in exchange for John Dick.

19 December 1903: Arsenal 5 Grimsby 1.  The score meant Arsenal had scored 25 goals in six games, which left Arsenal second, two points behind league leaders Preston.  In fact the season finished with Preston as champions, just one point ahead of Arsenal, Arsenal also gaining promotion to division 1 for the first time.

19 December 1933: Jim Fotheringham born.  He joined Arsenal as an amateur in 1949 and after Bill Dodgin was dropped as keeper Jim got 39 games in the 1953/4 season before himself being dropped in favour once more of Dodgin.

19 December 1933: George Cox turned professional with Arsenal, having previously played for Horsham. He made his Arsenal debut on 8 March 1934 against Leicester and went on to play seven league games in this and the next season.

19 December 1942: Luton 0 Arsenal 4 in the wartime Football League south.  It meant Arsenal had won 14, drawn 1 and lost 2 games this season, but now went on to lose the next two games, conceding 10 goals

19 December 1959: Jimmy Magill debut.  Sheffield W 5 Arsenal 1. He began his career with Portadown but moved to Arsenal in May 1959.  He went on to play 116 games before moving to Brighton and Hove, his final club.

19 December 1970: Man U 1 Arsenal 3, making it five consecutive wins in League match 22 of the first Double season.  But despite the victories Arsenal’s progress was matched by Leeds who still led Arsenal by two points.

19 December 1988.  Alexis Sánchez born in Tocopilla, Chile.  He was signed for Arsenal by Arsene Wenger, but ultimately ran down his contract before he was swapped for Mkhitaryan at Manchester United..  His subsequent career under Mourinho was disappointing and he was loaned to Inter Milan in the 2019/20 season.

19 December 1989: Rangers 1 Arsenal 2, Zenith Data Systems Challenge Cup between the champions of Scotland and England.  Arsenal won 2-1. There is a video on You Tube.

19 December 1990: Tony Adams imprisoned for four months for drink driving.  He gained 50% remission for good behaviour, and subsequently dedicated much time to his charity which supported sports people with addictions.  In 2019 he became President of the Rugby Football League.

19 December 2009: Arsenal beat Hull City 3-0.  Subsequently Hull were given a £40,000 fine for the behaviour of their manager and the team’s behaviour during and after the match which included a fracas on the pitch.

19 December 2012: Gibbs, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, and Wilshere, all signed new contracts, as Arsenal spoke about the value of having young British players in the team.

19 December 2017: Arsenal beat WHU 1-0 in the replay of the quarter final of the League Cup, before going on to beat Chelsea in the semis but losing 0-3 to Manchester City in the final.

19 December 2020: A 2-1 away defeat to Everton left Arsenal 15th in the league at Christmas having won just four of their 14 league games played so far in the season.  It also meant Arsenal had just gone seven league games without a win.

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  Arsenal’s saviour whose reputation was deliberately destroyed by those who grabbed control of the club.

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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