By Tony Attwood
These days, it seems that if the team doesn’t win every single match everyone moans. The opening of the 2012/13 season with two draws and a win (and no goals against) has brought out a vast variety of moaning (if you can have a variety of moaning), mostly based on the fact that Arsenal had money but chose not to buy players. Had we spent the money we wouldn’t have had those draws.
But do starting sequences mean anything? Last season it seemed not as we climbed from near the foot of the table to third. But what about other occasions.
I have just done this in an article on Untold Arsenal in which I looked back to the previous two occasions in which Arsenal have not let in any goals in the opening three games. In one of them we got promotion from the second division, in the other we just avoided relegation.
Opening matches are not therefore always an indicator of just how a season will go. And as an example consider today’s anniversary. 5 September 1970. Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0.
Of course all Arsenal fans were happy to beat the locals, but what about the start of the season?
Here are the opening league results of that year. The final column shows our position in the league at that moment, and as you can see we had twice been down to 7th, but had crept up to third.
|2||17.08.1970||West Ham United||away||D0-0||7|
At this point Leeds were top, Man City second. We had 9 points from seven games, and Leeds had 13, and with only two points for a win that was quite a gap.
Three wins three draws and one defeat in seven games was not bad, but clearly not good enough to be top, although we were rather pleased to see Tottenham were 10th and Man U 13th.
Of course you know where I am going with this. In the 18 game run from this point onwards we lost once – although that was quite horrific. A 5-0 defeat to Stoke away. But 13 of the games were victories and we went top of the league.
It was of course the Double season – we won the League at White Hart Lane for the first time, and then went on to beat Liverpool in the Cup.
It really emphasises the point made in the earlier article on starting seasons without letting in a goal. One time we did it we almost got relegated. The other time, we got promotion.
To answer my own question in the headline: what happened next? The answer is we beat Burnley 2-1 and then West Brom 6-2. By that moment Kennedy and Graham were joint top scorers with four goals each.
But the crowd were not yet convinced. Only 33,336 turned up for the WBA game, and even the Tottenham match was not sold out – 48,713 attended. It was all rather different by the time the season ended.
- 2nd September 1912: Looking back to the AGM and the opening fixture
- 2nd September 1893: Woolwich Arsenal’s first ever league game
- How the boo-boys of the 1930s almost destroyed a wonderful player
- Remember transfer deadline day in 2011. 5 signings in one day
- Bill Seddon: the signings of Chapman
- Jo Hulme: Chapman’s brilliance with wingers
- Bill Harper, an Arsenal player who went to the USA
- Tom Parker: 172 consecutive matches and the first Arsenal man to lift the FA Cup.
- When shirt numbering started – and what happened
- When Arsenal should have participated in the world cup
5 September 1970. Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0.