5 February 1931

Leicester City 2 Arsenal 7

On 27 December 1930 Arsenal beat Blackpool 7-1 in Division One.  Following two FA Cup matches in which Arsenal beat Aston Villa in a replay, Arsenal then lost to Sunderland in the League and Chelsea in the Cup.  The bubble, the newspapers proclaimed, had burst.  It was impossible for a London club ever to think of winning the League because there were just too many distractions for the players.

True Arsenal had finished January in second place with games in hand but no, a London team at the top was unthinkable.

So instead attention turned on 5 February to Malcolm Campbell and his setting of a new land speed record of almost 246mph.  There were also rumours that the miners’ strike might not only end but that a new settlement would include a revolutionary agreement of three years with no further strikes.  Everyone now looked to the cotton mill owners who had locked out the cotton weavers for daring to ask for more pay.

Arsenal approached the game on 5 February thus having won just one of their last three matches.  Leicester were currently in 15th at the time of the game, but eight of their 11 victories in the league had come at Filbert Street, and so the nerves among supporters (if not the players) continued.  Jones dropped out at number 4 and Seddon came back, Preedy retaining his place in goal.

The result was a spectacular 7-2 away win for Arsenal, which took the club back to the top of the league.  Lambert got three, Bastin two, and Jack and Hulme one each.   It meant Lambert had scored seven in three matches, and Arsenal had scored seven twice and nine once in three of the last five games.  The decision to stay with Lambert as the centre forward – established through the cup run last season – was now fully vindicated, despite anything the press and some of the crowd might say.

Of course the fact that the other two games (the ones in which Arsenal had not scored seven and nine) had resulted in a draw and a defeat gave those who liked to take pot-shots at Arsenal plenty of ammunition, but the crowd of 17,416 knew they had been treated to a spectacular display.

But then, just to show that consistency was not what they were about, Arsenal, now back at the top of the league proceeded to draw their next match against ninth placed Sheffield Utd, something that must have pleased second placed Sheffield Wednesday, who were also only able to draw 2-2 away to Bolton.

In fact Sheffield Wednesday were about to embark on one of those collapses that often separates out the challengers at this time of year, as for them the Bolton game was followed by three consecutive defeats.  Aston Villa, who themselves had only won three games in eight through December and January, were now putting their own positive run together of eight straight wins, which included some extraordinary results such as an 8-1 against Middlesbrough on 31 January and 6-1 against Huddersfield away on 7 February.

The main cause of Arsenal’s failure to win against Sheffield Utd however was another injury to Lambert which had been sustained in the Leicester win and which kept him out of the side for five games.  Jack took over again at number 9 and Brain did his usual deputy job at inside right.  Parker, who had also been injured against Leicester, missed his first game allowing Cope to get his one and only game of the season against Sheffield Utd.

Of course, if you know your Arsenal history you’ll have realised what was about to happen.  Having won their first ever trophy (the FA Cup) the previous April, Arsenal won the League for the first time in 1931 with a record number of points, while scoring 127 goals in 42 league games.

It was the start of the 1930s triumph, which contained five League titles, and two FA Cups.  It must have been quite a moment. And one in the eye for all those who said a London team could never win the League.