Arsenal's start to the season is worst in the league for 46 years
Arsenal’s torrid start to the season is their worst in the league for 46 YEARS… but where did the Gunners eventually finish in that 1974-75 campaign? (When they also lost at home to Burnley 1-0!)
- Arsenal’s defeat by Burnley was their fourth consecutive league loss at home
- Mikel Arteta’s side are languishing in 15th place, with 13 points from 12 matches
- Gunners have not started a league campaign this badly since the 1974-75 season
- On that occasion, Arsenal also lost 1-0 at home to Burnley and 2-0 at Tottenham
- But where did Arsenal finish and is there a road to recovery this time round?
Six defeats from their last eight Premier League games and just five points above the relegation zone – it’s fair to say Arsenal are on the ropes.
Sunday’s shock home defeat by Burnley – their fourth on the trot at the Emirates in the Premier League – means the Gunners have endured their worst start to a league season in 46 years.
Mikel Arteta’s side are languishing in 15th place and a team short of confidence is currently letting themselves down in the discipline department too.
Arsenal’s loss to Burnley means they’ve recorded their worst start to a season in 46 years
It has been nothing short of a nightmare start to the season for Gunners manager Mikel Arteta
Granit Xhaka’s sending off cost them dear on Sunday, as his petulant grab of Ashley Westwood’s throat meant he saw red – and this came just three weeks after Nicolas Pepe’s headbutt against Leeds United.
In fact, it says a lot when you have to look as far back as the mid-1970s for the last time Arsenal plundered such domestic lows.
Back then, under the stewardship of club legend Bertie Mee in the 1974-75 season, Arsenal went on a streak of 12 games without a win in all competitions at the start of the campaign.
Ironically, that included a 1-0 defeat at home by Burnley, as well as a 2-0 defeat at home to Tottenham in carbon-copy results from this season.
Bertie Mee’s (L) Arsenal team 46 years ago struggled despite having the likes of Alan Ball (R)
A team which included Liam Brady (left) and George Armstrong (right) were bottom early on
ARSENAL STARTING XI – 1974 VS 2020
- October 5, 1974: Rimmer, Storey, Blockley, Simpson, Armstrong, Ball, Brady, Kelly, Matthews, Kidd, Radford
Lost 2-0 to Leeds
- December 13, 2020: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Elneny, Willian, Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Lost 1-0 to Burnley
The low point that year came 10 games in, when a 2-0 loss against Leeds at Elland Road meant they hit rock bottom of the old First Division.
However, things turned around from November, when a 3-1 win at table-toppers Liverpool reignited the campaign for Mee and his stars, which included forward Charlie George, as well as Alan Ball and Liam Brady.
Club legend Pat Rice, who ended his 56-year association with Arsenal in the summer, was also part of the playing squad, as was Brian Kidd, who is still working in the backroom team at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola.
But that victory at Anfield did not propel the Gunners to greater heights. From that point on results fluctuated, and although they avoided relegation it was only by four points, with Luton, Chelsea and Carlisle going down.
Famously, Arsenal have never been relegated – but the 1974-75 campaign was one of the occasions where they’ve come closest, finishing 16th in the table.
There was no cup success to make up for the disappointment in the league either, as they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup by West Ham and the second round of the League Cup by Leicester.
An Arsenal team including forward Charlie George (pictured) underperformed in 1974-75
Arsenal goalkeeper Jimmy Rimmer smothers the ball in a game against Leicester in 1975
So, did Mee face the chop at the conclusion of an under-par season? Not quite, though he did not hang about at Highbury for too much longer.
After 10 years which included winning the League title and the FA Cup, Mee resigned in 1976 as the most successful manager in the club’s history, with 241 wins – a record since surpassed by Arsene Wenger.
However, these days patience wears much thinner when it comes to managerial casualties.
Though Arteta is just one year into a three-year contract, the Spaniard needs to trigger a response in his side, pronto.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not scored from open play in three months
Things are looking dire for Arteta – the Spaniard needs results quickly just a year into his tenure
The fixture list is far from a cakewalk either – they entertain in-form Southampton on Wednesday night. What’s more, there’ll be no fans inside the Emirates, with London set to go into Tier 3 restrictions.
The Gunners then travel to face Everton at Goodison, before playing Chelsea on Boxing Day – an EFL Cup quarter-final tie against Manchester City is in between the two.
Something has to change soon, because Arteta won’t get the same time as Mee did 46 years ago. And if Arsenal aren’t careful, they may be looking behind them with anxiety before they can begin to have top-half aspirations.
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