By Tony Attwood
On 29 September 2007 Arsenal beat West Ham away 0-1. It was the latest in a wonderful run that had Arsenal at the top of the table, and I can remember the joy that the run brought to all of us.
And yet the season ultimately faded and we ended up in third. So remembering this match at the moment (29 September 2013) when we are top of the league is a little poignant. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate life thus far this season, but of course we should add a little caution.
Prior to this match with West Ham we had beaten Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Derby at home, and Tottenham away. We’d drawn away with Blackburn.
The discussion in the build-up to the game concerned a revelation that the late Danny Fiszman had asked Arsène Wenger what he’d do if the club gave him £100 million to spend on players.
Mr Wenger supposedly replied, “I’d hand it back,” according to comments made in the pre-WHU press conference. Arsenal.com quoted Mr Wenger as saying, “I said that because I think I would ruin the work I have done in the last five years. You develop players and, just in the last minute, you put £30 million into a player who is not necessary better than the ones you have, just to keep everybody saying ‘oh, have you seen Arsenal, they’ve bought a super player’.
“There might come a time when I need to put my hands on it and I say ‘listen we need to put the money in for one special player who could give us a plus’. But I don’t see this player at the moment anywhere.
“Take Ronaldinho, maybe one year ago he was the best player in the world. Is he today? No. What people have problems to accept in football, like tennis, you can be No 1 in March and No 10 in November.
“You have to trust your judgement knowing you will make mistakes. I always say you have to be relaxed about that and smiling knowing that you have a bomb in the right hand and a hand grenade in your left and that it can explode in your face because you were wrong.”
So, with the claim that there was no one who was available could better his team Mr Wenger put out this side..
- Sagna Senderos Toure Clichy
- Diaby Fabregas Flamini Hleb
- van Persie Adebayor
The used subs were Eboue who replaced Hleb on the half hour, Gilberto Silva and Bendtner.
So of the team in 2007 still with us in 2013 are Sagna, Diaby, Flamini and Bendtner. Freddie Ljungberg was playing for West Ham, and nearly scored. Theo Walcott was given a rest as Alex Hleb returned from an injury (for a short while), while Eduardo who had gained a groin injury in the previous game was left out.
The key to the match was the Fabregas/Flamini control of the game – and indeed six years on the same could be seen with Swansea v Arsenal where Flamini and Ramsey exercised control.
Van Perie got the winner on 13 minutes and it left Arsenal top of the league.
The unbeaten run continued until 9 December with a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough but a series of five draws, two defeats and a single win between the end of February and April ended Arsenal’s title hopes.
But perhaps a word about longevity should end this report. Of the top seven on that day two clubs are not only not in the top division but one is in the Championship and showing no signs of recovery either of its support or its credibility, and the other is in League Two. The League Two club (Portsmouth) also won the FA Cup beating Tottenham. Perhaps it shows that while winning is so very important, actually surviving is fairly important too.
- 28 September 2002. Leeds 1 Arsenal 4. Two records broken; Kanu scores on his debut.
- The awful tragedy of Paul Vaessen
- Arsenal lose 5-0 to Stoke on the way to the Double.
- Chapman did not invent the WM system. But he and Buchan did something far more effective.
- 24 September 2003. Manchester United fight Arsenal
- The Anniversary Files: January to June
- The Anniversary Files: July to September
- The Anniversary Files: October to December