Arsenal Humiliated In Europe On This Day, 3rd November 1981

A fortnight earlier, Arsenal had returned from Belgium trailing by a solitary first leg goal. The return should have been a formality but Arsenal’s forward line was less than frightening: Vaessen, McDermott and Meade were not noted strikers and there was no rescue act on the bench, the substitute that day was Paul Davis. Alan Sunderland was out with a groin strain and would not recover in time whilst John Hawley had been on the pitch against Coventry the previous weekend but was so goalshy that he was not in contention for this match.

Even so, it could not get any worse could it? Winterslag were, after all, part-timers and Arsenal the professional club steeped in history. Nevertheless, the Belgians were confident of progressing as evidenced by the post-match comments of their manager below. He had quite quickly seen the limitations of this Arsenal vintage.

The problems of the era were laid bare in the third piece below although to say Arsenal were not disgraced in defeat by Winterslag is pushing the point to its limits. And probably beyond.