Book Review: Arsenal Head to Head

Last updated : 25 August 2004 By Brian Dawes

Essentially the book lists all of Arsenal's English opponents and determines just how well we have done against each and every one of them. But it also includes a wealth of other data and facts. This is one in a series of such titles produced by Breedon, which for 2004 include Aston Villa, Birmingham, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday and Mr Waring's own Club.

All the League, Cup and League Cup results are listed against each team followed by a summary of home and away league matches plus cup ties. It's illustrated throughout with some fine black and white pictures ranging from a team photo of 1895 to a couple featuring Ian Wright. Against each opponent there is a ‘Fact file' which varies in length depending on the team. For example there is one fact quoted for Tranmere, namely that they are the only one of Arsenal's 116 opponents against whom we have never scored. Tranmere, not surprisingly, are only allotted one page in the book. Whereas our head to head against Tottenham runs to five pages, which include three photographs. The Tottenham ‘Fact file' features twelve facts which includes a couple which relate to famous events at the Lane in 1971 and 2004; we know a song about that don't we? Another of the facts mentioned about the Scum is that they've managed to win just one of their last eighteen matches in all competitions against the mighty Arsenal, but you knew that didn't you?

Here are a few other facts taken at random. Arsenal have played Liverpool more than any other team, a massive 187 matches, the total being due in no small measure to the 27 cup ties the clubs have contested. Arsenal's biggest league win and biggest league defeat were both against Loughborough Town. Manchester City's last win at Highbury was in October 1975, whereas Barnsley haven't won away to Arsenal for 103 years. The only match in which three Arsenal players scored a hatrick was our 10-1 against City Ramblers… and there's a whole load more where these came from…perfect ammunition for winning outlandish bets against fellow fans after a few pints.

Also included are all the players who have played for both Clubs although this is compiled by using the start and end dates of seasons, which at first viewing makes the dates just a tad confusing. For example George Graham it says played for Arsenal from 1966-73 and Manchester United from 1972-75. It took a while for it to sink in with me that GG obviously played for both Clubs during the 1972-73 season.

Top goalscorers against each Club rate a section, this particular feature elevated my opinion of Alan Sunderland who tops the goals against the Scum with eight. Robert Pires incidentally needs just three to top Alan, so a hatrick in November would do it. Speaking of hatricks there is another section which shows every hatrick scored against each particular club. It seems that only Ted Drake and Alan Sunderland have ever scored hat tricks against the Scum. Whereas we've rattled in ten hatricks against both Grimsby and Leicester, including of course a rather spectacular one by Dennis Bergkamp in August 1997. Finally a section on Arsenal in Europe which lists all our opponents by country, but this is nowhere near as comprehensive as the bulk of the book.

This publication has been well put together and so far as I can tell, without checking every fact and figure, it has also been accurately researched. A must for any Gooner who enjoys his facts, figures and statistics but like any other book written by a football statistician it obviously won't be everybody's cup of tea. Now if only Breedon Books would update a previous publication which sits on my shelf ‘Arsenal a Complete Record'. My edition takes me no further than 1988 and still proves to be very useful but it's an absolute crime that the book hasn't been revised since.

Arsenal Head to head by Peter Waring
Published by Breedon Books. August 2004. Price £14.99

This title has not been endorsed by the Club so it's unlikely to be sold in the Arsenal Club shops but it can be ordered from any decent bookshop if you quote the following reference ISBN 1 85983 413 2. Better yet it can also be obtained directly from the publishers at a 20% discount with free post and packing.