Arsenals Top Seasons 2001-02 – Our 4th Best

2001- 02 was a very competitive season with several teams challenging for the top spot in the league. For the first 11 games an unbeaten Leeds team were the early leaders and in November they were top of the table. At the start of December Liverpool was three points clear with a game in hand, Newcastle took over as leaders at Christmas but by February Manchester United was in first place, looking to make it four titles in a row.  Arsenal was never far off the pace but they suffered their lowest point of the season during October and November taking only three points from four games. They responded to that four-game winless run in style with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United which was memorable for Freddie Ljungberg’s lob and two gift wrapped presents from Fabian Barthez which Thierry Henry happily accepted.

Notably, on the player front David Seaman, Martin Keown and Ray Parlour were still going strong, while both Tony Adams and Lee Dixons careers were winding down.

Arsene Wenger brought in Sol Campbell, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Kole Toure while John Lukic. Sylvinho and Nelson Vivas left the club.

The Arsenal 2001- 02 Squad.

Seaman (17), Dixon (13), A. Cole (29), Vieira (36), Keown ( 21), Adams (10), Pires (28),Ljungberg (25), Bergkamp ( 33), Wiltord (33), Lauren (27), Taylor (10), Henry (33), van Bronckhorst (21), Edu (14), Grimandi (16), Upson (14), Luzhny (18) Campbell (31), Wright (12), Kanu (23), Stepanvos (8).

Four games after beating Manchester United we suffered our third defeat, at home to Newcastle but it proved to be the final loss of the season. (ed: this was the game  in which Graham Poll came close to being lynched after sending off Ray Parlour for two bookables and handing the game to Newcastle late on with a disgraceful penalty decision; it still makes my blood boil thinking about it). 

In the next two games we defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield with only 10 men and followed that with a 2-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day with Sol Campbell scoring his first goal for Arsenal. The next six games saw us win 3 and draw 3 ending in a 1-1 draw with Southampton at Highbury on February 2 which left us toiling in 3rd position.

It would take a special effort to beat off the many competitors to the title and the draw against Southampton proved to be the game that spurred us on – it would be the last time we dropped points all season. In the final 13 games we went unbeaten, including a 2-0 win at title rivals Newcastle which will be forever remembered by Denis Bergkamp’s stunning goal. He made it look so simple, pirouetting within a split second of his flick to score the goal and leaving no doubt as to whether it was intended. Nobody has pulled off anything as special since, suggesting it was a more remarkable piece of skill than he made it appear. The fact that we all talk about it 17 years later is an indication of just how wonderful Bergkamp’s touch and intelligence was to create such an incredible goal.

Five games later we beat Tottenham 2-1 at Highbury with Lauren scoring the winning goal from a late penalty. With 2 games left in the season we met Manchester United at Old Trafford, to have any hopes of retaining their crown United had to beat Arsenal, but Sylvain Wiltord’s 55th minute winner sealed a second Premier League title for Arsene Wenger’s side. We ended the season seven points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who sneaked ahead of United on the final day.

We finished the season off in style with a 4-3 win over Everton on the final day that saw Tony Adams lift the title trophy in front of the home fans as he bowed out alongside Lee Dixon.

Credit: Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal Football Club.

Henry, Pires and Ljungberg  all made huge contributions to our season. Henry finished the season with 24 goals in the Premier League and the Golden Boot, Pires recorded a league-high 15 assists and won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award, Pires was so good that when he took his turn to lift the Premier League trophy on the last day, his team-mates bowed down in front of him.

Freddie Ljungberg scored 12 times in just 25 games and claimed the official Barclaycard Premier League Player of the Season honour.

We lost only three games, all at Highbury and went the full season unbeaten away from home in the league, scored in every game and finished the season with 13 consecutive wins.

Not to be forgotten is the fact that a week before the season ended we won the FA Cup Final beating Chelsea 2-0 with stunning goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Unsurprisingly Arsene Wenger was named as the Manager of the Season after winning his second double in five seasons.

Written by GunnerN5

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61 Responses to Arsenals Top Seasons 2001-02 – Our 4th Best

  1. chas says:

    Super stuff, GN5.

    My favourite season ever. Thanks for the memories.

  2. Eddie says:

    I don’t understand how some cannot see Hector’s style as anything but breathtaking. It shows his colourful persona

    Off to read the post

  3. Eddie says:

    Ant with red hair 😬😬😬

  4. Eddie says:

    Thank you GN5 for wonderful walk down the memory lane. And what a season that was? Simply amazing

    My memories are slightly blurred and I remember instances from those glorious days but didn’t realise until now it all happened in 2002! Crazy if you think about it

    I wonder what would our team be like if we had DB10, PV4, TH14′ Freddie and Pires on the pitch? And TA of course, I almost forgot him😉

    Who from the current squad remain? Ozil and Koscielny?

  5. Eddie says:

    And Stepanovs. Did you know that he was signed because teammates were winding up Keown?
    Keown was always worried about bench warming prospects, no idea why. Teammates, especially Dennis were constantly teasing him and when Stepanovs was on trial they applauded his every rubbish move. Wenger singled him trusting his players

  6. RA says:

    Super stuff, GN5 —- as usual. Those were the days! 😀

  7. LB says:

    Great read GN5, happy days indeed.

  8. mickydidit89 says:

    Wow. Superb read, thank you GN5

    In one sense, 2002 doesn’t seem that long ago, then you read that Leeds were, for a time, top of the league and that really does feel like light years ago

    What a season. Double, the away win at Old Trafford and the icing, the Adams goal v Everton on a sunny day at Highbury.

  9. Big Raddy says:

    GN5 Thank you.

    I echo Chas in saying this was my favourite season. The trip to Cardiff remains amongst my happiest AFC memories.

    TA’s goal in front of the North Bank is my finest Highbury moment (alongside beating Ajax in the Fairs Cup).

    We conceded 36 goals with, what on paper, appeared to be a superb defence and with the best DM I have seen. 🤫

    As Micky says 2002 in numbers seems recent but the season description appears to be from another age

  10. Rasp says:

    Brilliant work GN5m, thank you. Great memories indeed.

    I took my then 12 year old son to the Everton game and he witnessed TA pick the ball up, charge past TH14 who was walking back from an offside position and score the third goal. The celebrations went on outside Highbury for hours with the players waving the trophy out of the window to the revellers below.

  11. chas says:

    Wasn’t TA’S belter at the end of 1998 season in a 4 nil win, not this season which was a 4-3 squeaker?

  12. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all, thank you for the comments.

    I’m going to be quite disappointed when this series comes to an end. Reliving all of the memories really does bring back Terry’s “Ghosts of the Past” and I as I research them and then put them together in a post other recollections of the various periods come rushing back to me. Once this series is complete I’m going to have to dream up another series to keep the memories alive and bore you all – any ideas would be welcome.

    Where are you Terry – come back we miss you…………

  13. GunnerN5 says:

    The goal scorers in the 4-3 squeaker against Everton were –

    Bergkamp (3)
    Henry (32)
    Henry (71)
    The fox in the box – Francis Jeffers (82)

  14. GunnerN5 says:

    Great work again Chas – thanks.

  15. Eddie says:

    Didn’t terry go on about the thirties?

    GN5 – have you done Worst Seasons yet? You could start with 2017/18

  16. fred1266 says:

    Another great one G5

  17. Big Raddy says:

    Of course, TA’s goal was against Everton in ’98.

  18. GunnerN5 says:

    Thanks for the suggestion Eddie – but I will find no joy in reliving our many wretched seasons. Also we may yet win a European Trophy this season.

  19. GunnerN5 says:

    Eddie it may surprise you that if I were to write about out worst 30 seasons the name of Arsene Wenger would never appear.

  20. mickydidit89 says:

    Ooops, wrong Adams goal. Good work Chas

    City Pool tonight anyone? Me, defo.

    Would enjoy seeing more blubbing Citeh wets. Crikey, did you see the pic the other day with the city dad comforting his poor darling just because they didn’t win the title that day? Massive 🙄

  21. Big Raddy says:

    GN5. Strangely, those mid 70’s seasons when we struggled in the league and just the ’79 FAC for silverware were great fun.

    We didn’t have the expectation, there wasn’t the media focus. it was just going to a game with your mates.

  22. mickydidit89 says:

    Erik

    From which Kingdom do you honour us from?

  23. mickydidit89 says:

    Erik

    The North Bank was way better back then for young bucks

    If I was young today, there’s no chance I’d go I don’t think

  24. Eddie says:

    GN5 @3:05 – I am surprised 😬😬

  25. GunnerN5 says:

    Raddy, I agree completely with your 3:22 comment, I watched some of our worst seasons (results wise) as I grew up but nothing ever kept me from attending, including a ticket. To me it was, and still is, about watching the team I was born to support – typically my expectations were low but my life is now high on memories. To this day I look forward to each and every game – the only thing I get upset with is the negative crap we are subjected to on social media.

  26. RA says:

    Put down my quill — well – stopped typing and laid my work aside for an hour or so, and enjoyed the luxury of re-reading your really rather splendid essay, GN5.

    It was, as expected very well written, and the content brought back very many memories of not just the Arsenal of old, but the chats I had with my father when we analysed every aspect of all matters Arsenal (he really knew his stuff, unlike me) shortly before he passed away.

    Thank you for that.

  27. RA says:

    GN5,

    You have always had a steadfast empathy with AW, as reflected in your 3:05 p.m. and it is a credit to you.

    I too have always had a great respect, and even affection, for Arsène, but I have to say it is not unknown for me to express the opinion that as the years have gone by AW’s star has gone into decline.

    There is no disrespect meant by that – it happens to the best of men, and it is also a matter of perspective, as AW’s declining moments, in my opinion, are far greater than many managers have or will ever achieve at their peak.

    Social media, including football blogs, is a wonderful tool in principle, but it allows some callow, intemperate fellows to shout obscene, ridiculous and frankly stupid things at someone who, by comparison, has been a colossus of the game in general and of Arsenal in particular. I wonder if any of his detractors can claim that? Answers on a full stop!

    Sadly, the world is turning to sh*t, so nothing surprises me anymore.

  28. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. Her Majesty Margrethe 2 of Denmark

    GN5. I agree, but of late I must admit to getting a surfeit of football which reduces my overall enjoyment.

  29. GunnerN5 says:

    RA, my Dad was an avid Arsenal supporter and he and our family always stood at the clock end. After I moved to Canada we would chat on the phone before or after many of our games.

    He made me my first rattle – boy they made a real racket and were somewhat dangerous when the ground was packed.

  30. GunnerN5 says:

    Enough football is never enough for me Raddy but frankly I’m a sports nut – to give you an example this past Sunday I watched football,F1 , Curling and Golf. We get most PL, FA Cup, CL and Euro games televised live, and on a typical weekend we could have as many as 8 PL games to choose from.

  31. RA says:

    I have never had a rattle — and have only ever seen/heard them given a twirl and emitted an ear shattering ‘clack’ on old black and white memory lane movies before an FA Cup Final.

    To be candid – that was maybe only once — and from what I remember, half the crowd seemed to have them, and the other half seemed to be comatose! 😀

  32. RA says:

    GN5,

    I have to agree with Raddy in that there are so many TV channels covering football games from most leagues in Europe, many of which are not too interesting, as well as the stonkingly poor games from certain teams in the EPL that I find myself nodding off at some of them, because they are boring.

    I suspect I am repeating myself, but I also support teams in Rugby Union, Rugby League, cricket, F1, and of course all the American sports, in season. [And as an Anglophile, I support the England teams in those sports too.]

    Probably not as much as you, to be honest, but I have nasty people always asking me to pull my finger out and finish my work programmes. 😀

  33. GunnerN5 says:

    RA,

    How dare they ask you to interrupt your sports fetish to work ?

    Unlike many of you I have way too much time on my hands – which is something I will never get used to. So these days, I cook, read, write, blog, and watch sports or good TV – especially English shows.

    I used to walk about 8 kms a day but these days my knees are both bone on bone (football related) and in need of being replaced – which will happen one of these fine days.

  34. GunnerN5 says:

    RA,

    I enjoy the NFL but have never taken to the NBA.

    One game I left out was Darts and like Ant I watch darts competitions on the PDC circuit. I was a semi pro for about 20 years and played in Tournaments in Ontario and the North Eastern US. it supplemented my income quite nicely.

  35. RA says:

    You were a much better sportsman than I have been — I know that I only got games where a big lump was needed. 😢

    Thank goodness you have been around GN5 — otherwise I would be talking to myself yet again.

    Anyway, I need another couple of hours to finish today’s work — so I will see you tomorrow, or talk to myself again. 🙂

  36. Big Raddy says:

    Looking forward to the game tonight. Could be fun if MC score a couple in the first half.

    Should be a feast of attacking football.

  37. mickydidit89 says:

    I am on the sofa

  38. mickydidit89 says:

    A feast eh?

    Would be good. Big on banquets me

  39. mickydidit89 says:

    Oooer, some fine football. City have some outstanding players, but…

  40. Big Raddy says:

    Why was Sane offside when the ball came off Milner?

    I don’t understand offside anymore.

    Need chocolate

  41. LB says:

    Eddie is the only person on here who understands the off side rule.

  42. mickydidit89 says:

    yea, no idea Erik

    Probably something to do with either a defender or a goal keeper, so of very little interest to me 🙂

  43. mickydidit89 says:

    Hey Erik, thinking of chocolate, I got more of those poofy violet and rose ones for easter. Nice

  44. mickydidit89 says:

    LB ha ha

  45. mickydidit89 says:

    shit a brick, have you seen the whiteness of the Firmino gnashers. Wow

  46. chas says:

    I suppose that’s the best result for us as the dippers have less chance of progressing than the title-buying camel shaggers.
    Unless they spawn it like the chavs in 2012, I suppose.

  47. chas says:

    Holy fuck, didn’t realise barca were going out- the dippers could have can easy semi.

  48. mickydidit89 says:

    Wow, yes Roma. Is Gerv the Swerve still there?

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    No, he plays for Hebei China Fortune!!!

  50. mickydidit89 says:

    Any other complicated questions for me then Didit?

  51. GoonerB says:

    GN5, another marvelous post from one of my favourite seasons. So well written and I can’t wait for the top 3. I am now trying to guess what the top 3 are. I need to look back and see which ones you have already done. Is there an easy way to do this without trawling back through everything? Are they in a convenient section of their own?

  52. chas says:

  53. chas says:

    Roma lost 4-1 away from home and still got through.
    Why is that ringing alarm bells?

  54. chas says:

    Debenhams seem to be selling a lamp whose base is a gorilla calling you a wanker

  55. mickydidit89 says:

    6:57 he he he 🙂

  56. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Micky. I nearly bought some of those chockies in London but was frightened off by the price 🙁

    Ahead 4-1 from the first leg, rest some players, pay the penalty. Hopefully AW will not be playing Reiss Nelson tomorrow

  57. Big Raddy says:

    There is a New Post

  58. GunnerN5 says:

    GB here are the seasons that have been covered so far –

    1937 1938
    1952 1953
    1988 1989
    1997 1998
    1932 1933
    1934 1935
    1947 1948
    1933 1934
    1990 1991
    2001 2002

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