11 March: when Arsenal should not play in the league (but cups are ok)

By Tony Attwood

11 March 1911.  The start of an 11 match sequence without defeat which saved Arsenal from relegation.

But also the last time Arsenal won a home league game on 11 March!

It is of course a coincidence – at least I think it is a coincidence – but as far as I can tell Arsenal have not won a league game at home on 11 March since 1911 – when we beat Everton at Plumstead 1-0.   Indeed as far as I can see (and please correct me if I am wrong because there’s a lot of years to check on this) that is the only time Arsenal have won a home league match on 11 March.

Indeed there have been precious few away wins in the league on 11 March.  The first occurred in 1931 when we beat Leeds United 2-1.  We did also beat Dinamo Bacau 2-0 away in the Fairs cup 4th round in 1970.

Our first FA Cup win on this date (home or away) was not until 1978 when we beat Wrexham 3-2 away.   As for scoring a home league goal, anyone waiting for that after 11 March 1911 would have had to wait until Arsenal 1 Nottingham Forest 3  on 11 March 1989 in the league.   79 years.

The next 11 March win in the league, after that in 1931 came on 11 March 1998 when Arsenal beat Wimbledon away 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Of course 11 March is a time when the sixth round of the FA Cup is often played so that does deflect a bit from the ability to play league matches on that day in the modern era, but even so, it seems to be an extraordinary run.

But just to balance things out, here’s a report from one 11 March game in the FA Cup…

in 1978  Arsenal made easy progress in the FA Cup at first.

  • 7 January: Sheffield U 0 Arsenal 5
  • 28 January: Arsenal 2 Wolverhampton 1
  • 18 February Arsenal 4 Walsall 1

Then came the dreaded day…

  • 11 March 1978: Wrexham 2 Arsenal 3
  • FA Cup 6th round: Attendance: 25,547

So if Walsall couldn’t overturn Arsenal, could Wrexham take advantage of Arsenal’s difficult day?

Wrexham were striding away at the top of the Third division and looking sure of promotion and the papers were full of the possibility of an upset.   When Macdonald opened the scoring with a shot so easy he could have used his right foot, it seemed not, but 20 minutes into the second half Shinton centred for McNeil who scored is 28th goal (yes 28th) of the season.

Then with ex-gunner John Roberts for once making a poor clearance in the Wrexham defence Sunderland headed in.  Next up Brady passed to Young who shot as if scoring was his forte.  Wrexham got one back with 10 minutes left, but Arsenal always looked secure.


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