Never the Big Boss?
Overachievement was the overriding characteristic of every team we had while I was a younger supporter. When we won trophies, few people regarded us as the best in the land. But there was a feeling about the George Graham time, that we were very close to this dream. I knew we had been the greatest back in the day, but now we had to overachieve to win something. I wanted a spell of dominance, a sniff of power, the feeling that we could look at the rest and say, we can beat them, send them home crying because we were the Arsenal.
But now we had come to Goliath, and we had left the enormous Liverpool giant lying on the ground, shattered and broken. If they wanted to come back at us now, we would be the colossus, and they would be David. We would take our space at the top, win, and keep on winning.
Our Ball was taken away.
But it wasn’t to be. 1989-90 was a leveller, a reminder that Liverpool were still the big boys, who would take your ball away and let you know that they were the boss. The Charity Shield was our first reminder of this as they won 1-0. Peter Beardsley scored the goal and both teams lined up much the same as the decider of the previous season. Then Manchester United destroyed us 4-1 at Old Trafford in the first match of the league. We never truly got going that season, with 15 defeats throughout all competitions and we finished up 4th, behind, yes, you guessed it, Tottenham in 3rd. Liverpool took back over the top spot, 17 points ahead of us and we went back to our natural position as underdogs, hoping that on our day, we could overachieve.
This was not what I wanted, not what beating Liverpool when they had all the advantages was about? Back down the table you go. Suck it up, suckers. We beat them 1-0 in the League Cup but they won and drew in the League to give them back their superiority. I am certain George Graham felt like I did. It is now our turn, I know how to beat you, I will come back. I will find a way to put us back on top where we belong.
Dining on Crumbs
So, I looked at the crumbs that we did manage that season. Some nice crumbs all the same. We beat Rangers 2-1 at Ibrox in the Zenith Challenge Cup played between the champions of England and Scotland to at least secure a trophy of sorts. We beat quite a few teams 1-0 and maybe that was when we got the chant, 1-0 to the Arsenal, seven times that season. We were beaten 6 times by the same margin, though. 1-0 against the Arsenal doesn’t have the same ring does it?
We had an early 5-0 against Sheffield Wednesday with five of our boys getting goals, Merson, Marwood, Smith, Michael Thomas and Tony Adams, who was always a threat at set-pieces. We did have goals from everywhere in those days. A nice little 6-1 against Plymouth in the League Cup with Michael Thomas getting a very rare hat-trick. Then immediately, 4-0 against Man City, with Perry Groves scoring 2, Michael Thomas again, and Paul Merson showing that we had goals, and were never boring, boring Arsenal. Soon after we had a 4-3 win over Norwich, proving we could have 7 goal thrillers, David O’Leary, Niall Quinn and believe it or not, 2 from Lee Dixon, truly showing that all our players could score goals.
A Cold Time for Siggi Jonssen
We had a 3-0 against QPR with Dixon again, Smith and Sigurder (Siggi) Jonssen came on to score from defence. It was his only goal and he never got much of a chance with us. We had Adams, Bould, O’Leary and Caesar in front of him. I think he was the only Icelander to play for us up to the current side and I doubt if Rúnarsson will play as many as he did. Jonssen probably played around 10 times for us, mostly as sub, if I remember rightly.
We had a 3-2 against Luton with Smith, Merson and Marwood scoring, another thriller. Then 4-1 against Palace with Adams, Dixon and Alan Smith scoring 2. The second half of the season wasn’t so great for good scores but we did have a 3-0 against Forest with Kevin Campbell, the wonderful Perry Groves and Tony Adams scoring again. Mr Arsenal really was a big nuisance in the opposing penalty box. Campbell was very popular among the fans for his wholehearted approach. He always found that one or two were deemed better than him by George Graham, though, and as Mr Wright was soon to appear, his chances became more limited. I always felt that Graham had a vision of who he wanted in every role and tried to put that type of player in. He was much more of a buyer than a bringer through of talent. Campbell had a good career with Everton, though, and always put in a shift.
We always liked Kevin Campbell
Could we come back or was it another blip?
We had a 3-1 away to Derby with Martin Hayes ratcheting up 2 and Kevin Campbell getting the other. Kwame Ampadu of Ireland made his debut as a sub but he never made it at Arsenal. He came on once more as a sub. He had a good career in the lower divisions but never became a full Ireland international. We had very good midfielders at the time, Houghton, Whelan, Townsend, Keane and many others were above him.
Kwame Ampadu. Another forgotten man at Arsenal
So, it was all very disappointing, those crumbs aside. We were beaten by QPR in the 4th round of the FA Cup and 3-1 by Oldham in the 4th round of the League Cup. The heroics of the last season meant nothing. Was it really the case that we whenever we won, we were overachieving? We couldn’t ever get up there and stay up there? Liverpool would always be better than us? Tune in next week and we will see what happened? And why was there a load of handbags on the pitch at Old Trafford? Me and my brothers were there on a VIP trip. I can give you a bird’s eye view.
Maybe this should have been our jersey?
Max points total 66
With seven matches to go we must beat Fulham to stand a chance of Europa league. Probably anything less than 66 will not be good enough. One game at a time is a cliché but we need to start living the cliché. Beat Slavia Prague but irrespective beat Fulham.