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GCR Books

Arsenal in the 70s the overview & what happened next

By Tony Attwood

So, the series on Arsenal in the 70s is ended.  But what happened in the 70s overall?

Season Posn FAC Lge C  Europe  Rnd  Manager
1969-70  12  3 R3 Fairs Cup W  Mee
1970-71  1 W R4 Fairs QF  Mee
1971-72 5 RU R4 Euro QF Mee
1972-73 2 SF QF Mee
1973–74 10th R4 R2 Mee
1974–75 16th QF R2 Mee
1975–76 17th R3 R2 Mee
1976–77 8th R5 QF Neill
1977-78 5 RU SF Neill
1978-79 7th W R2 Uefa Cup R3 Neill
1979-80 4th RU QF CWC RU Neill

In the 1970s thus Arsenal achieved one championship, two FA Cup wins and a Fairs cup win.

I stated that in my view that at the end of the decade Arsenal needed to replace Brady and find another striker to supplement the work of Sunderland and Stapleton.  In fact what happened was that Sammy Nelson who had played 35 league games was replaced by Kenny Sansom.  Sansom played 42 league games in 1980/1, and Nelson 1.

On the goal scoring front Stapleton remained top scorer but only with 14.  Second highest scorers in the league were Sunderland and Talbot each with 7.

Stapleton lasted one more season, and by 1981/2 was gone leaving Sunderland with 11 goals as the top scorer.

Arsenal ended 1980/1 season in third, seven points behind the winners, Aston Villa.  Arsenal won 19 and drew 15 games – changing some of those draws into wins could have given Villa quite a run for their money.  Either a new Brady or another centre forward could have done that.

For myself, although there was no doubt that Kenny Sansom was a wonderful footballer, that was not where our greatest need was.  Nelson was not an all time superstar, but there were still two other positions that needed sorting: in the creative midfield department, and at centre forward.  I don’t believe Nelson would have let us down.

Looking ahead to the 1980s Arsenal achieved this:

  • League: One championship, third once, fourth twice.  Lowest position 10th..
  • FA Cup: One semi-final
  • League Cup: One win, one semi-final, one runner up.
  • Europe: Uefa Cup twice (once 1st round, once 2nd).

Adding it all together across the two decades of the 70s and 80s our trophies were:

  • League: winners twice
  • FA Cup: winners twice
  • League Cup: winners once
  • Fairs Cup: winners once.

That is six trophies across two decades.

Our lowest position was 17th in the league, out of the FA Cup in the third round five times, out of the league cup in the second round three times – in succession.  The gap between the two league wins was 18 years.

The greatest victories across the whole era were (in my opinion)

  • 1970: The Fairs Cup win across two legs.
  • 1978: Tottenham 0 Arsenal 5
  • 1989: Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2

Now having completed what turned out to be a mammoth task I want to go back and add just one article – a look back at the 60s and forwards to the 70s, and then I think I’ll give doing a whole sequence of articles on an era a rest at least until I’ve revised the whole 70s sequence and turned it into a book.  It’s a bit harder than it probably looks.

We already have the 60s covered with John Sowman’s stunning volume “The Long Sleep” which is available both on Kindle and in printed form.  Here are the details…

Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace.

By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson

Arsenal: The Long Sleep is the definitive detailed account of the seventeen seasons immediately after the record seventh Football League championship win in 1953.

There are full details of this volume, which is available worldwide as a paperback, and via Amazon on Kindle on the Arsenal Books page where there is also a link to sample pages from the book, and details of the other Arsenal books that we have published.

Arsenal in the 70s.

If you have found anything in the series helpful, or at least interesting, thanks for reading.

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