Competition: First Division.
Referee: N. Burtenshaw (Great
This was United’s penultimate game of a hard season and, despite having led the table for most of the season, United had dropped vital points and Arsenal had hit the front on 17th April. Now they went into the game trailing Arsenal by one point and the Gunners also had a game in hand. Therefore, if United did not win it could kiss its Championship aspirations goodbye.
One of the reasons that United now trailed Arsenal was because of a debateable offside decision which went against United in their previous home match against West Bromwich Albion. Once more there was an offside goal controversy, but this time the verdict went in favour of United.
More than 48,000 packed
The first twenty-five minutes saw defences on top, but it
was Arsenal that fired the first threat on goal, when George Graham rapped in a
twenty-five yarder which went wide. Stung by this
challenge United came smartly back, and a cross from Johnny Giles was headed
goal-wards by Mick Jones, but that, too, went wide. With just over thirty
minutes gone, Mick Bates delivered a forty yard pass straight to Allan Clarke,
and as the
With five minutes to go to half-time George Graham’s name went into the referee’s book for a foul on Bremner. Before the game was ended Charlie George and Terry Cooper had also got their names in Mr Burtenshaw’s notebook.
The first half had seen Arsenal defending with great skill and resolution. The second half also saw them holding out firmly. With every minute that ticked away, the balance of power swung slightly in Arsenal’s favour. Frank McLintock, the Footballer of the Year, was a kingpin in the Arsenal defence and United were hard put to get any threats on goal, despite all they threw at the Gunners.
Johnny Giles sprayed passes around immaculately as usual, Terry Cooper made his famous forays down the left flank and Billy Bremner was often well up-field, seeking to add scoring punch to the Leeds striking spearhead. Even Norman Hunter was moving up, pushing his forwards ever closer to the Arsenal goal, and managed to get in a header which didn’t hit the target.
Arsenal, though, were not just purely defenders, they had their moments in attack, and Gary Sprake had to make a point-blank save from John Radford. It was, however, Radford who had to turn defender, as United attacked again and again, twice clearing the ball off the Arsenal goal-line, as did Bob McNab in a period of intense Leeds pressure.
Time was fast running out for
Was it offside? Big Jack said simply “I have no doubts about
it, it was a good goal. We were caught out by a goal
Play was held up for almost five minutes, as Arsenal players
argued with the referee, and that was when Charlie George got booked.
Spectators climbed over the barriers, but were chased away from the pitch by
the police. But, as in the game with
Although Leeds won their final game 2-0 at home to Nottingham Forest, Arsenal won all their remaining fixtures and so pipped Leeds by one point to the championship, they also beat Liverpool after extra-time to claim the FA Cup and thereby the extremely rare ‘double’, while Leeds got consolation by winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Jack Charlton scores the winner
Gary Sprake to the rescue, as he saves from John Radford as Jack Charlton and Paul Madeley look on