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GCR Books

How Arsenal fell from grace in 1972

  • March 25 1972: Leeds United 3 Arsenal 0
  • Football League Division 1: Attendance: 45,055

Through March and April one year before Arsenal had gone through a winning run of nine games.  This had set them up so that even the controversial defeat by Leeds on April 26 1971 had not stopped the club winning the league at Tottenham two matches later.

One year on the club was in a very different situation for this game was Arsenal’s third consecutive league defeat.  Worse that was three consecutive defeats without scoring a goal.

Leeds presented Arsenal with a silver tankard in recognition of the club’s Double last season – and perhaps as a way of taking some of the tension out of the fixture which had been so troublesome a year ago.   Then, pleasantries done, Leeds destroyed Arsenal with three first half goals.

The scoreline could have been far higher had Leeds not eased up.  Indeed having scored seven against Southampton, the crowd were expecting far more in the second half – but thankfully for Arsenal it was not to be..

Leeds in the first half were on top of their game, and utterly unstoppable.  The final goal from Lorrimer was shot from 35 yards out – and Wilson never had a chance.

For Arsenal Ball kept trying throughout, and hit the post, while George hit the crossbar with a fierce header had another kicked off the line. But there never looked like being a way back.  As for a repeat of the anger and anguish of last season, there was not a sign.  Ball and Rice were booked, but it was far from being a dirty game.

Pld W D L F A Pts
1 Manchester City 35 20 10 5 66 36 50
2 Leeds United 34 20 8 6 61 23 48
3 Derby County 34 19 9 6 58 30 47
4 Liverpool 34 18 8 8 50 27 44
5 Wolverhampton Wndrs 34 15 11 8 57 47 41
6 Tottenham Hotspur 33 15 10 8 50 33 40
7 Manchester United 33 16 8 9 58 45 40
8 Sheffield United 34 14 10 10 54 49 38
9 Arsenal 32 16 5 11 44 34 37
10 Chelsea 32 13 10 9 43 33 36

After the game things picked up a bit, with a nine match unbeaten run, but even so it was not enough to get Arsenal anywhere near retaining the championship and the club ended up 5th.

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