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Arsenal lose to Bradford but march on to the title

By Tony Attwood
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Tom Whittaker became Arsenal manager on 2 June 1947.
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He was on the move in the transfer market very quickly and in fact signed Dan Roper on 11 August 1947.
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The manager then gave débuts to Archie Macauley and Don Roper in his first march in charge on 23 August 1947.   I know about it, as my mum later told me that my father went to the game.
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On 10 September 1947 Arsenal beat Bolton 2-0 to complete six straight wins at the start of the season for the first time ever.  Arsenal were not beaten until game 18 on November 29 when they lost 0-1 to Derby.
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For the press and radio, 17 January 1948 was the pivotal match of the season: a 1-1 draw with Man U in front of 81,962 – the biggest crowd for an Arsenal league match.
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On 22 January 1948 Peter Goring signed from Cheltenham and on 31 January 1948, with 3 wins and a draw Arsenal complete 4th unbeaten month of the league season.
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So any doubts that Arsenal were slipping (with the old year having ended with a rare defeat: Arsenal 1 Liverpool 2) were set aside.    That had been only our second defeat of the season and the first home defeat.  But January proved that the team could readily bounce back.
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Here are the league results…
  • 1 January 1948: Bolton 0 Arsenal 1
  • 3 January 1948: Arsenal 3 Sheffield Utd 2
  • 17 January 1948: Manchester Utd 1 Arsenal 1 (81942 in the crowd!)
  • 31 January 1948: Arsenal 3 Preston 0
At the end of January the league table looked like this.

 

 

Pld

W

D

L

F

A

Pts

1

Arsenal

27

17

8

2

49

17

42

2

Burnley

27

14

9

4

40

25

37

3

Preston North End

27

14

5

8

44

42

33

4

Derby County

26

12

8

6

52

34

32

5

Manchester United

27

10

11

6

56

36

31

6

Blackpool

27

12

7

8

37

26

31

7

Wolverhampton Wndrs

26

12

6

8

56

42

30

8

Manchester City

27

10

8

9

38

30

28

9

Middlesbrough

27

11

5

11

55

42

27

10

Portsmouth

27

12

3

12

45

36

27

11

Aston Villa

26

10

7

9

40

37

27

12

Sheffield United

28

11

5

12

47

50

27

13

Charlton Athletic

27

12

2

13

40

50

26

14

Everton

26

10

5

11

31

39

25

15

Huddersfield Town

26

8

8

10

38

38

24

16

Liverpool

28

8

8

12

38

49

24

17

Sunderland

28

8

7

13

39

47

23

18

Stoke City

27

8

7

12

26

39

23

19

Chelsea

27

8

6

13

35

50

22

20

Blackburn Rovers

26

7

5

14

36

52

19

21

Bolton Wanderers

28

8

3

17

30

47

19

22

Grimsby Town

27

6

3

18

30

74

15

You might like to seek out Tottenham H.
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Anyway, in between all this excitement in the leaguethere was a cup match
  • 10 January 1948: Arsenal 0 Bradford 1
This was Bradford often known as Bradford Park Avenue, at the time a mid table  second division club.  It was the upset of the season.
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And it was not even a weakened team that Arsenal put out, of the type that Chapman had put out against Walsall in his last ever cup match.  The only player of limited appearances that season was one CG Male, at the end of his career.  But he got eight games in the all conquering league team.
The defeat to Bradford, shock though it was, probably helped Arsenal keep up the momentum and ensure that they really did win the league in 1947/8.
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