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How the 2012/13 season was saved by a seemingly insignificant win

 

Arsenal 2 WBA 0; 8 December 2012

The score in relation to this match looks bland.   So why bother with it?

To me this game is the symbol of all the turmoil of the 2012/13 season and the start of our way out of it. 

On 17 November 2012 Arsenal beat Tottenham 5-2, after only one win in the previous four games (a 1-0 defeat of QPR).  Suddenly there was some light at the end of the tunnel.

But then we had a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa on 24 November, and a 1-1 away draw with Everton on 28 November.  And “false dawn” was exactly what the Tottenham result seemed to be when we then lost at home to Swansea.

This was getting awful – and it was the moment when the Anti-Wengerians must have felt their time had come.

The league table looked like this after the Swansea game…

Pd W D L F A G.D Pts
1 Manchester United 15 12 0 3 37 21 +16 36
2 Manchester City 15 9 6 0 28 11 +17 33
3 Chelsea 15 7 5 3 25 16 +9 26
4 Tottenham Hotspur 15 8 2 5 28 23 +5 26
5 West Bromwich Albion 15 8 2 5 24 19 +5 26
6 Everton 15 5 8 2 25 19 +6 23
7 Swansea City 15 6 5 4 23 17 +6 23
8 West Ham United 15 6 4 5 19 17 +2 22
9 Stoke City 15 5 7 3 14 12 +2 22
10 Arsenal 15 5 6 4 24 16 +8 21

Passable for quite a bit of the Graham reign, and a lot better than Mee’s latter years, but still not what the Emirates crowd had got used to.   Beating Tottenham 5-2 seemed centuries away and irrelevant when the team was behind Stoke City and West Ham.  Tottenham must have thought they stood a real chance of fourth.

The gap was five points – which in one sense doesn’t seem much – except that although one might expect Stoke to lose a couple and Arsenal to win a couple – we needed to do better than all six teams above us.  It seemed unlikely.

But then something happened and it started by beating West Brom – and the report from Gf60 is below.  After that we beat Reading 2-5, Wigan 0-1 and Newcastle 7-3.  The defeats were not over – we still had a defeat to Chelsea and Tottenham to come, but the amazing momentum that took Arsenal through the rest of that season, ending up with Arsenal in fourth, started with the West Brom game.

After 15 games, and just before the WBA game, we were 10th and this looked to be the season when we would finally drop out of the Champions League.  After that we played 23 more league games, won 16, drew 3 and lost 4 – ending up in fourth position, claimed on the last day of the season.

Here’s the WBA review from Gf60.

——————–

Good riddance Telly-tubbies, albeit that Tomas’s absence from the start was a bit of a surprise. This felt much more like it. Aggressive, wanting the ball, and using it. We may have only scored from two penalties, both of which might have seemed unreasonable to WBA fans, but even the most biased of them would admit that Albion were lucky to get 0 on the day.

Overall, it was a very solid performance but for our finishing. We had more misses than a Nuns’ convention and these left a great deal to be desired.

And, whilst Michael Jones’ refereeing left a great deal to be desired, we can’t blame him for our mistakes. Too many times we hide behind ref errors if we lose when, had we taken chances set up and missed, anti gooner referees would have no chance.

Young Jack, Mikel and Santi provided us with a far more adventurous and hard working mid-field than that seen recently and our passing speeded up considerably. Maybe AW did get busy with a hair dryer? But still our crossing (a few Ox contributions excepted) was not at its best. The thought struck me that our really effective sides always had a left winger with speed and the eye for a gap. Just think Bastin, Armstrong, Limpar, Overmars, and Pires. (Would that Ribery becomes available though we missed out on him 3 years back.) By how many additional goals would we have benefited with a true left winger that knew what he was doing?

All in all, a performance that was vastly improved, showed effort and desire to win and want the ball. How on earth are WBA still ahead of us? Hopefully this can continue for several more months but, knowing Arsenal these days, I’m not going to mortgage the house just yet.

The books…

Arsenal books for Christmas at discount prices

———————————————————

Arsenal anniversaries on 8 December…

  • 8 December 1863: First rules of football published
  • 8 December 1886: One source gives this as McKinnon’s date of birth not 6 December
  • 8 December 1888:Arsenal beat Old St Paul’s in London Senior Cup
  • 8 December 1906: Birmingham 5 Arsenal 1
  • 8 December 1925: John Butler’s only appearance for England
  • 8 December 1926: Herbie Roberts joins Arsenal for £200
  • 8 December 1953: Rangers 1 Arsenal 2
  • 8 December 1991: Jimmy Carter senior debut
  • 8 December 2010: Braga 2 Arsenal 0
  • 8 December 2012. Arsenal 2 WBA 0. Two penalties give Arsenal first win in four and they rise to 7th

 

The books…

Arsenal books for Christmas at discount prices

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