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GCR Books

Barnet 1 Arsenal 10; continuing the success

By Tony Attwood

It is, I think appropriate to look back to this pre-season friendly from 17 July 2004, since it was (I believe) one of the biggest pre-season friendly scores in modern times.  And the display as far as I can remember it, was not so different from that which we saw in the Indonesian game last weekend.

Arsenal were at the time regular visitors to the Barnet ground in the pre-season, the game being part of the deal which allowed Arsenal to play reserve fixtures on the League’s smallest ground.  It was also typically a time for a bit of a laugh, a conga up and down the terraces, and the taking of a few bets on what health and safety hazard the old place would come up with this time around.

The scorers list from that day (17 July 2004) takes us back to old times.  Reyes got three on 19 minutes, 21 minutes and 42 minutes.  Van Persie scored on 29 minutes while  Bergkamp knocked in two on 44 and 67 minutes.  Jeffers got a second half hat-trick on 53 minutes, 55 minutes and 64 minutes.   Quincy Owusu-Abeyie got the other one on 70 minutes.

Arsenal were at the time Champions and had gone the whole of the previous season unbeaten.

On that basis I think I might have been inclined to place a bet on a thumping great win against Barnet – although I am not sure if I could have got a bet on six or more.   Probably would have been decent odds too.  Courage of conviction comes to mind.

Arsenal were unbeaten throughout the rest of the pre-season, but those other seven games only gave Arsenal eight goals.  Most disappointing was the Amsterdam Tournament.  The seats we were given made me wish we had binoculars, and quite honestly the visit to the art galleries was a lot more memorable than the two games against River Plate and Ajax – they were both 0-0 draws.  But we were sustained by the 10-1.  I kept the BBC report of the match as a print out, just in case I started to disbelieve myself.

But back in the league Arsenal resumed their stunning form of the previous season, winning eight and drawing one of the first nine games.  They scored 26 (a fraction under 3 a game!) and let in eight.

We started out away to Everton on 15 August with a certain Cesc Fàbregas in the lineup – the youngest ever Premier League player.  Bergkamp made 500th league appearance and scored the first.  Reyes got the second from a Ljunberg cross.   Ljungberg himself got the third and Robert Pirès the fourth in a 4-1 away victory.

All great stuff, but then the fall – or so it seemed.  Match 2 was Middlesbrough at home away and Henry opened the scoring.  Just before half time Job got the equaliser  and four minutes into the second half  Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, got the second.  Worse Queudrue scored and it looked like the unbeaten run was over with the score 1-3.  Until Bergkamp, Reyes and Pirès each scored and we won 5-3, and so equalled Forest’s 42 unbeaten run over two seasons.

Three days later we beat Blackburn 3-0 at home, the record was ours, and you could really feel the belief that this team simply would not be beaten.   Norwich, Fulham, Man City, Charlton and Villa all fell before the Unbeaten team, and only Bolton held us to a 2-2 draw by parking the bus.  We reached 49 unbeaten.

(As is my wont I will add a personal note about the Bolton game.  Arsenal were not really sure for the Bolton style, and the notion “well if they score two we’ll get three” wouldn’t work against a Sam the Slug team.  Yes we all booed their time wasting antics, but around me in the East Upper there were people shouting discontent at Arsenal’s performance.  OK it was a draw, but I mean…)

So, a major victory at the start of pre-season, then some average to poor results, and we hit the ground running.  In the end we came second in the league to Chelsea, and won the FA Cup on penalties in a fairly naff game in Cardiff.   We beat Tottenham 5-4 away and Everton 7-1 at home.  Arsenal went out of the Champs League to Bayern Munich.

At the end of the season, Keowm, Wiltord, Parlour and Kanu went their separate ways.  And the whole thing started with that beating of Barnet.

The books…

See also…

 

2 comments to Barnet 1 Arsenal 10; continuing the success

  • Goonerbeall

    Oh my, articles like these make me nostalgic. Mention those names like Known. Parlour. Bergkamp. Wiltord. Ljungberg and i will cry. How did we lose all those players and stayed in Premiers?

  • elkieno

    How did we stay in the prem after losing those guys you ask?
    Easy the Manager certain man called Arsene Wenger!

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