Arsenal arrived at Old Trafford with Britain in the midst of one of the bitterest industrial disputes in its history. The Miners Strike was spreading to other parts of the country with film editors at ITV calling a halt to proceedings that blacked out coverage of England’s World Cup qualifier against Finland. There were suggestions that their counterparts at the BBC might do the same putting the live coverage of this match in doubt.
As it was both Arsenal and Manchester United had good reason to wonder if a blackout might not have been a bad idea. The Mancunians were left fuming after the attendance was 20,000 lower than it ought to have been but Friday nights are marginally better than Monday’s for football matches but not by much. Arsenal did not so much miss the X Factor but also the A,B,C & D factors as well. The basics went horribly wrong on this evening.
Yet it had begun well enough. Arriving at Old Trafford as League leaders, a place they had occupied for a month, a 2 – 1 lead was established at the interval. It went horribly wrong early in the second half with Graham Rix, the club captain, bearing the brunt of Don Howe’s ire for the equaliser. It was harsh on Rix, two days later the media was awash with stories of how he needed surgery on an Achilles Tendon problem, something the club was well aware of.
As it is, United thoroughly deserved their win which heralded the end of another false dawn for Arsenal as eventual champions Everton, took over leadership at the top the following day.