Arsenal and the Curse of 9

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
May 26th, 2012
11 Comments

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.

Thomas scoring the title winner

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.

Japanese #9. Looks like a guy bending over…. bracing.

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

“Le Sulk” sharing a rare light moment with “Le Money-Grabbing-Git”

Suker – an unspectacular season with Arsenal before moving to West Ham

Jeffers– The fox in the box. Francis Jeffers. No explanation required.

Francis “Fox in the Box” Jeffers

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.

During his time at Arsenal “The Beast” was more “Family Feast”

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.

“His posterior gives off a surprising amount of heat. That is the quality that made me buy him” – Wenger on Ju Young Park

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.

This is what you get when you cross the ugliest man in Oxford with the all singing, all whale shooting Russian “democratic” leader…. sorry got all political then.

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.

The only man alive to literally have a bigger head than “The Special One”

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.

He shoots… He…Excuse me mister, can we have our ball back?

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.

Only one of these lucky gits is still at the club but for how long?

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.

If I sit here long enough they’ll give us some extra points.

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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About "" - 475 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

11 Responses to “Arsenal and the Curse of 9”

  1. Bucarai says:

    Nice post and a good read. I think number swapping should be a great trick for us to pull. We should give the three unlucky numbers to our best inform players mid-season. This way, we could achieve one of these things or perhaps not. 1. The players being in a “top quality” (Wenger) of form breaks the curse on the shirt, get us to win trophy and resign with the club ( forget Drogba, his in Chelsea). 2. Players get a reversal in his form, get so sulky and stay put with us. 3. The dead woods that received the inform shirts has a turn of performance, like Squillaci getting Rvp shirt and contending for top scorer. You never know what a turn of luck could do to a forgotten man.

  2. Dan says:

    Amusing article mate – I don’t mean that in a patronising or sarcastic manor btw! I’m not superstitious either but I do feel we’ve been through a patch where we could’ve really done with some of the good luck rather than the shite we’ve had. Other than luck though I feel we’re victims of modern day football & the fact that Arsenal are strongly resisiting jumping on the bandwagon and spending ridiculous amounts on “Big-Name” players that DO boost the morale of the team (Even if it is short lived once they start playing!- Torres). We also suffer because every time our players hit peak form some money bags club comes in and turns their head with offers of astronomical wages. I’m not having the whole “I’m leaving to win trophies” Bullshit – Not one bit, If Nasri had stayed for this season I think we would’ve won something – Not because of his amazing talent *cough* more because arseholes like him leaving to “win trophies” Sends a message to our players that Arsenal are a club that has no chance in hell of winning a trophy ever and is basically saying “I’m better than my team mates & this club so I’m off to play with far superior players” and that is obviously damaging to the morale of the team – See the start of this season for an example of the effects of this damage that Wenger did an amazing job of repairing in my opinion. The point I’ve just beaten right round the bush to get to is basically: Our main problem is the GREED of footballers these days and until we can find a way to somehow match the rich clubs’ wage offers the cycle of players leaving and damaging the clubs morale and reputation may well continue.

  3. Kolo says:

    Hadn’t thought about that pattern but you’ve sure got a point. Good post great illustrations very amusing!

  4. Madge says:

    I have never thought of how much luck plays a
    Part in our game. We all know that luck does play a part,
    You only have to go back to the CL fibal to realise that, Chelski
    Had an abundance of it. When it comes to offside goals, or a mispkaced
    Pass, well what goes around, comes around. Every team could recall games
    Where nothing went the right way for them. I do agree though we are
    Due some of our own. Hopefully, RVP will stay, Jack will play for the while season.
    Then we may have a good run & earn some of our own luck.

  5. Dom says:

    Daniel Le Clown……….a rather amusing tongue in cheek review but I assume you aren`t too serious about some things you wrote? I detect a little AAA, anti-Wengerism in your comments but lets ignore that for the minute.
    Those who whine about our “bad luck” since 2005 must also account for our endless injuries to key players who end up taking off a decade to recover, or in the case of Diaby, never do. While there is an element of misfortune in our injuries, we all know the real culprits are the cloggers (Barton,Shawcross)playing for Stoke,QPR and similar rugby Clubs and the inherent frailty of our transfers.
    Then there is the $$$ avalanche that swept away Anelka,Clichy,Na$ri, Adebayor, Flamoney, and Hleb to infamy. This has nothing to do with luck but rather ambition and avarice…most of these players (if they were honest) would return if they could but they burnt their bridges long ago.
    I think you believe too much of the gutter media hyperbole and anti-Arsenal offal those media bums excrete in the guise of journalistic reporting!
    Our relatively successful season is largely due to the desire of our best 11 to win under very trying circumstances and to the mastery of man and club management Le{Prof has always and continues to show, despite the vocal minority of plastic fanboys berating him at every turn.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Sorry what is this AAA stuff you keep mentioning?

      Also what hyperbole do you think I’m buying in to? You should know by now from my blogs & tweets that I don’t believe anything that is in the papers.

      You know it’s possible to disagree with things Wenger does without being anti-Wenger don’t you? Chill out a bit Dom, there’s no need to defend Wenger so vehemently all the time.

      This isn’t a serious post… It is a lighthearted look at an odd coincidence that has seen all players during Arsène’s tenure wearing a multiple of 9 flop to some degree.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Just looked up AAA & I’m a little offended that you’d even consider tarring me with the same brush.

      As a regular reader of my blog I’m astounded that you can glean anything of the sort from a jokey post. Maybe you’re a little too AAAA anti-anti-arsenal arsenal 😉

      Most of us are in the middle somewhere 🙂

  6. Anslem Adedusan says:

    Nice amusing and fact founded article. Loved it and you can bet I ll be your next Follower !

  7. Matt says:

    I’d like to pull you up on something here….

    But I can’t. Amusing and interesting blog and can’t complain about anything.

    Dammit.

  8. iwan widjaya says:

    Nice article indeed. Well I am originally chinesse whom supposed to believe all things with numbers, but I am not really into it.I believed all the numbers are same, they related each others to make it things perfect. Well, about arsenal bads luck,I do really understand when sometimes I am as a fan feel like when we lost out of trophy for 7 years and we don’t know who will be blame then the best things comes up for us to blame as blackgoat something beyond of our believe which is like this thing we talk about with numbers. I never seen again in arsenal the best teams since UNTOUCHABLE 2004. So literally,we had all bad lucks because all from our poor performances.cheers.

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