When Arsenal lost on 28 August 2011 to Manchester United 8-2, a moment of modern history was written. Not a wanted moment from an Arsenal point of view, but still a moment of history. It was a most terrible defeat and one that the Anti-Arsenal movement claimed that they had “seen coming” for a long time.
So big was the event that what happened thereafter is often forgotten, yet it is an interesting footnote to the remembered match, simply because it reflects on how quickly things can change.
On 10 September 2011 Arsenal beat Swansea City 1-0 at home with a goal from Asharvin. Hardly a matter of huge celebration in the context, but nevertheless a win. But the defeat one week later to Blackburn on 17 September 2011 suggested that the letting in of large numbers of goals was the norm, and the Swansea win, the aberration. Blackburn won 4-3 with Arsenal’s goals coming from Gervinho, Arteta and Chamakh.
Thus what had been a terrible start to the season (the opening two games were a 0-0 with Newcastle away and 0-2 home defeat by Liverpool, was looking ropey indeed. After the Blackburn game we had won one, drawn one, lost three.
|9||Queens Park Rangers||5||2||1||2||4||6||-2||7|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||5||1||0||4||3||8||-5||3|
Next up a 3-0 win against Bolton and then a 2-1 away defeat to Tottenham. It looked like it was going to be a long and bumpy ride
But then something strange happened. Here are the results that followed that opening sequence.
- 16 October beat Sunderland 2-1 at home
- 23 October beat Stoke 3-1 home
- 29 October beat Chelsea 5-3 away
- 5 November beat WBA 3-0 home
- 19 November beat Norwich 2-1 away
So the revival was created from utter disaster, and Arsenal eventually finished the league in third place – something utterly unthinkable at the moment when we were 15th.
Here is the final table…
|10||West Bromwich Albion||38||13||8||17||45||52||-7||47|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||38||10||7||21||43||66||-23||37|
Looking at the two tables one might note the decline of Stoke and Aston Villa, and suggest perhaps that their positions of 5th and 7th were false in the first table and that they were bound to fall back. But I recall that the suggestion that Arsenal were bound to climb up were far from acceptable at the same time. The notion that we might even make it to the top half of the table was considerable risible in some quarters.
And who would have predicted that Wolverhampton, having been ninth after five would finish up 12 points adrift of safety? Maybe a lot of people, but then, maybe more should have had faith in Arsenal’s recovery. Why can we only see false dawns, and not false midnights?
Amazingly Arsenal even ended up with a goal difference of +25. Way below the league winners it is true, but equal third best in the league – and that after such a defeat and such a poor start.
It just goes to show.
I’m not sure what it just goes to show, but it just goes to show something.
- The Anniversary Files: January to June
- The Anniversary Files: July to September
- The Anniversary Files: October to December
- Untold Arsenal