By Tony Attwood
As Arsenal prepare to take on Liverpool on January 30 2013, we might do well to remember January 30th 1971.
Arsenal had just lost 2-1 to Huddersfield and went on to lost 2-0 to Liverpool. This after a 14 match unbeaten run following the 0-5 drubbing by Stoke. Even better that 14 match run included 11 wins.
But those two defeats left us five points behind Leeds and there were many who were ready to write off Arsenal as serious contenders. After all we had come 12th last season, been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round and ditto for the League Cup. OK we had just won our first European trophy, but that was against foreigners and so didn’t count. A one trophy wonder.
We hadn’t won the league for 17 years. We hadn’t even come close.
Liverpool scored in the 3rd minute of the first half and 5th minute of the second. And that, according to those in the know, was that for another year.
Except of course it wasn’t. The next 12 games gave us 11 wins and one defeat. But even then there were those ready to remove us from the reckoning when our 7th game in April was a draw with WBA and the 8th a defeat to Leeds.
But Arsenal returned to win the last two games 1-0 including a certain little match at White Hart Lane on May 3. Oh, yes and on May 8th we won the cup too.
Individual results – even runs of results – don’t determine a season. But even in those ancient days of over 40 years ago, long before the internet and when electricity and gravity had only just been invented, it was still fashionable to knock the Arsenal, and complain that they would never produce a league winning team with this manager, this coach, this chairman, this board.
Interestingly Arsenal were not a team of high scorers in those days. None of your 7-3 and 5-1 malarkey like we get now. We managed a 6-2 and three 4-0s but for the most part it was ones and twos. In the second half of the season we managed three just twice – and those were the highest scoring games.
What would fans have made of Bertie Mee if he had been managing today? I suspect that Fairs Cup triumph not withstanding he would have been out. Out for the 12th place in 1969/70, out for the cup exits, our for the defeat to Swindon Town in the 1969 League Cup final. OK we were not losing to Peterborough United any more (as Billy Wright had infamously done in 1964) but we were hardly tough opposition for the big boys in the league.
But for January 30, a defeat away to Liverpool it was.
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