Arsenal and the Curse of 9
Luck, it’s a funny old thing. When things aren’t going your way you say you have bad luck. When things are going well others will say that you have good luck. The smug will respond by saying “you make your own luck”. We all know that luck plays a big part in football or at the very least there is something in football that exists that until so named differently is described as luck.
23 years ago today Arsenal had some great luck to win the title on virtue of goals scored with a 2-0 win at Anfield. Liverpool had a number of chances to equalise but squandered them. Arsenal scored with 25 seconds to go to reach the scoreline they needed to clinch the title and even managed a late interception of a through ball that could have lost them the title in cruellest of manners.
I’m probably a little too young to do Anfield ’89 justice so I’ll leave that to other bloggers but I do want to talk about luck.
Arsenal have had rotten luck in the past 7 years that has extended to cruelly losing out on three cups in unlucky circumstances and a league title after suffering mental capitulation from drawing a game due to a stupid defensive mistake (Gael) and the leg break of the first person who looked likely to break the curse of “9”. I’m not really a superstitious person but I wonder if Wenger did something to offend a Japanese spirit or something whilst he was over there to give him bad luck. The number 9 in Japan is very unlucky and pretty much every player to wear a multiple of the number 9 at Arsenal during Arsène’s tenure has been anything other than a roaring success and at best had been unspectacular in their steadiness.
We’ve not had much luck with our number 9’s, 18’s or 27’s.
Our number 9’s since Wenger joined have been
Merson– Merse in his final year had an off-on-off season. Off form, on drugs, off his trolley
Anelka– Started out great but then decided to sulk his way to a move to Madrid
Suker – an unspectacular season with Arsenal before moving to West Ham
Jeffers– The fox in the box. Francis Jeffers. No explanation required.
Reyes – The gypsy Spaniard who didn’t speak Spanish… what chance did he have in England? Wanted to leave the minute he arrived. Never lived up to the hype despite some promising games.
Baptista– The Beast! A cumbersome man and the face of KFC in Brazil. His average displays, bar the Liverpool game, showed us that we were actually lucky to miss out on him the year before.
Eduardo – A fan favourite but never really showed his true potential after getting his leg broken.
Park– Snatched from under the noses of Lille to keep the bench warm.
Our number 18’s since Wenger joined have been
Grimandi– A man who looked like the love child of Martin Keown and Vladimir Putin is fondly remembered by many Gooners but at the time he was probably one of the worst defenders to have ever played at the club. His performances improved when he started to play in midfield but his penchant for getting booked made him a liability in my mind. You could forgive Vieira for getting booked because he was so talented. It says a lot that his best work for Arsenal has been as a scout.
Cygan – A steady centre-back before and after Arsenal but rarely in between. Thought of by many Gooners as the worst centre-back ever to play for Arsenal.
Silvestre– Whilst reasonably solid for United when playing with a decent partner his time at Arsenal was torrid at best. He was at fault for dropping points against Tottenham twice. Nothing can forgive that. For a man whose head looks like it is going to burst with brains he was incredibly dense when it came to positioning and read the game like a cerebrally challenged elephant seal.
Squillaci – A defender whose CV reads like Sol Campbell’s. It’s a shame that Naomi Campbell is better at getting herself out of trouble than Sébastien.
Our number 27’s since Wenger joined have been
Shaw – Spent his best years plying his trade for Millwall and Gillingham before finishing his career across the lower leagues, Hungary and the US.
Diawara – 12 pointless appearances for The Arsenal for a player who played for 17 different clubs across an 18 year career. Says it all really.
Tavlaridis – 1 league appearance for a once highly rated player. Went on to fall out of favour with no less than 6 national team managers which makes him less popular with his national team than Joey Barton is with his.
Eboue– A promising start to his Arsenal career as part of the makeshift defence that kept 10 clean sheets on the way to the Champions League final was soon struck down by the shirt curse during that ill-fated subbed substitute appearance and he walked off the pitch to a chorus of boos from the Arsenal faithful. Not his or our best day. Very much an in-between the middle of nowhere player. Neither a full-back nor a midfielder. Labelled as a utility player but had about as much utility as a cheese sandwich. Crossed the ball and took shots like a cheese sandwich too.
Gervinho– It is early days but Gervinho isn’t looking like the player to break the shirt curse. As much shooting capability as Eboue’s left sock and a penchant for running on to shots like Bambi on ice and scuffing the shot with the inside of his calf. Although his chance conversion rate in France wasn’t great he was still a major goal threat and assist maker. Maybe a change in shirt number will help him achieve his potential.
And if the curse of the shirts wasn’t enough to contend with we also have had trouble keeping hold of our captain’s since 2005.
Luck has not favoured Arsenal. Our trophy drought has lasted 7 years, maybe Wenger broke a mirror kicking a water bottle too hard?
I’m not superstitious but if that is the case then hopefully next season will see an end to the bad luck which is why we should try to keep hold of Van Persie.
Since 2005 we’ve lost three cup finals in unlucky circumstances, two to offside goals and one to a ridiculous defensive error which would never have happened had the ref correctly given a foul for us moments earlier.
Is that karma or cosmic balance for the lucky way in which we claimed the 2005 FA cup? 2005 not only saw us win our last trophy in lucky circumstances it also saw the start of an era where we lose our captains shortly after they get the armband.
We lost Vieira to a club more willing to offer him and his dodgy knees a longer deal. We lost Henry to ambition. We lost Cesc to a discovery of a questionable genetic sequence and we lost Gallas to mental illness.
It looks like the curse has a little time left to run as Van Persie is pushing for a move away despite his emotional attachment to Arsenal and his family having put roots down in London. I hoping that this summer will lead to a turn in fortunes, that Van Persie will stay and our luck extends beyond just pipping the scum to 3rd place.
Before the good luck kicks in as well as retiring our 9, 18 & 27 shirts maybe we should temporarily give Van Persie the number 18 shirt as then no-one will want to buy him and give Squillaci the armband. That should balance a few things out.
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