19 May 2001: who could have guessed what would happen next?

19 May 2001: not a day to remember since Arsenal lost their final league game of the season 2-1 away to Southampton.

It was not a particularly good end to the season all round since in the last three matches there had not been a single win although Arsenal finished second in the league 10 points behind Manchester United. Worse, one of those three matches – the game on 12 May 2001 was the FA Cup final, where Liverpool won 2-1.

12 May 2001Arsenal v LiverpoolL1-2FA Cup
15 May 2001Newcastle United v ArsenalD0-0Premier League
19 May 2001Southampton v ArsenalL3-2Premier League

Liverpool finished third in the league one point behind Arsenal and were tipped to take over the challenge to Manchester United next season, not least because of Arsenal’s poor away record. In the season just ended Arsenal had won five, drawn seven and lost seven of their games away from home, scoring 18 and conceding 25.

Thus while it was hard to complain about Arsenal’s home record that season – only one defeat in the entire campaign – away from home no one was very impressed. Indeed Arsenal had also just lost out in the quarter finals of the Champions League by losing away to Valencia in the second leg.

So the odds you might have got on Arsenal having a good away campaign in 2001/2 were fairly good, I suspect (although I didn’t place a bet on that myself).

And if you had gone to a bookmaker asking for odds on Arsenal going the whole of the following season unbeaten away from home you probably would have had to pick the bookie off the floor before he offered you 1000 to 1 – or even more.

And yet in 2002 that is exactly what happened. Arsenal went the whole season unbeaten away from home in the league, winning 14, drawing five.

Which just goes to show. Sometimes the rather unexpected can and does happen.