1993-94 The Football
May the Fourth Be with you
After all we are a football team, so I will get back to what was happening on the pitch after my attempt to figure out what the Premier league meant for Arsenal and by extension, other teams. I am guessing my audience here are well aware of the early days of the Premier league as I know quite a lot of the Arsenal supporters here in Bulgaria. But these times are also before many of you, so I hope I have given you an idea of how it felt at the time.
The big number this season is the number 4, it just seems to pop up everywhere. Southampton, Swindon, and Ipswich were beaten 4-0. The hapless Ipswich were also beaten by four goals 5-1. Tony Adams scored 4 goals and Alan Miller deputized for David Seaman 4 times. And there are plenty more times it jumped up at me. But I will get to it, don’t worry.
We Came Fourth
Our league form was a lot better as we came, you guessed it, 4th. How did we manage it? The hard way as we were beaten 3-0 by Coventry in the first match at Highbury. Another groan for us poor supporters as we feared relegation after 10th last season. But we bounced back nicely with a win at the Seven Sisters Road 1-0 to the Arsenal. Always nice to send the Spuds home crying. 1-0 to the Arsenal away again against Sheffield Wednesday, then 2-1 against Leeds. 2-0 against Everton, 4 wins in a row and now we were dreaming of the title. By week 4 we were joint top with Man Utd, but after another 4 games they beat us 1-0 at Old Trafford to put us in our place. They were relentless and never gave us another sniff at the top spot. They ran away with the league and got 92 points.
We had 4 0-0’s in a row from September 2nd starting with Liverpool and ending with Norwich. That put paid to our challenge really. 12 times we failed to score and we got a meagre 53 goals. Not good enough. Ian Wright was consistent with 23 and Kevin Campbell got 14 but the rest were not stepping up and putting the ball in the net. We needed something, that was certain.
Out in the Fourth round
The League Cup? Not for us as defending champions. We started well against Huddersfield, beating them 6-1 over 2 legs. Then scoring 4 against Norwich over 2 games to come up against Villa in the 4th round and that was the end of us, 1-0 to the Villa.
The FA cup? Our trophy and defending champions? No, although 1-0 to the Arsenal against Millwall at the Den in the 3rd round meant Bolton in the 4th round. Two 4 goal games 2-2 and 1-3 meant we were out 4th round.
A fourth trophy?
By the 9th of February then, we were out of all 3 domestic trophies as we were 14 points behind Man Utd and not doing anything to suggest we could catch them. Was there a 4th trophy we could dream of winning?
Yes, there was. We were in the Cup-Winners Cup courtesy of our FA Cup win. Could we win the second part of the glorious hat-trick of European competitions to go with our Inter Cities (UEFA Cup) win in 1970? Odense of Denmark were first up, and we beat them 2-1 away to make it easy at Highbury? With Wrighty and Merse scoring? We are Arsenal, we don’t make it easy, but we scraped through 1-1 with Kevin Campbell hitting the back of the net.
Next round was a scorcher. Standard Liege of Belgium might have given us a hard time? Uh-uh. 3-0 at Highbury with Ian Wright (2) and Paul Merson the other. But we were going to make it hard in Belgium, being Arsenal? Nope, 0-7, we destroyed them with 6 different scorers and Campbell scoring twice. 10-0 aggregate. C’mon the Arse!
The Fourth month
Then Tony Adams despatched Torino in the quarterfinals next time with the only goal of 2 matches, at Highbury in the second leg. And on to Paris St Germain in the semis. 1-1 with Ian Wright scoring a vital away goal and Kevin Campbell with a lovely header to win it at Highbury. It was the 4th month of the year, and we were in the final.
Our Alan - 4 letters and a winner
We had beaten 4 teams on our way. We faced Parma of Italy, then with Gianfranco Zola, Thomas Brolin, and Faustino Asprilla, in Copenhagen. Could George Graham rescue our season with another cup win? It was no vintage performance from Arsenal, maybe because Ian Wright was suspended, but a superb goal from Alan Smith, one of his best, gave us the lead on 20 minutes, and we defended very well from that point. We dug in for the win, but I always remember that the Arsenal fans were able to sing 1-0 to the Arsenal for the rest of the match. Our match winner, who rescued our season, had 4 letters in his first name. And the kicker? It was the 4th of May, 1994.
The Fourth was with us
Ah, Arsenal, how do you always find a way to make me happy? George Graham had done it again. In many ways a lot better season than last. Now we could take on Manchester United, surely, who were becoming the kings of the Premiership? We just needed the rest of the players to score in the league and not leaving it to the magical Ian Wright.
I always liked Parma Ham
Ah, I was optimistic, but we always do things the hard way and there were dark days coming. But that is a story for next week. A morality tale but with many sides to it and the truth difficult to discern. Anyway, we now had an Irish player again in Eddie McGoldrick, we were high up the table, we had our second European trophy, and did I mention we had our first Bulgarian? Paul Dickov, with a Bulgarian grandfather, made his debut, and hey, he had 4 letters in his first name.
4 letters and Bulgarian