Arsenal Fall To Spartak Again On This Day, 9th November 1954

Interestingly, the referee was Russian. Was it certain that the return match would won by the visitors, an attempt to thaw the Cold War or just plain old mistrust of Western officials?

Anyhow, this performance was a lot better than the first match in Moscow in October when Arsenal had been humbled. In this match, they fared better under the floodlights at Highbury in front of 66,000 of their own fans. Still lost, mind you but 1 Р2 is rather more closer than 0 Р5!

Arsenal Humiliated By Spartak Moscow On This Day, 29th September 1982

There is no other way to describe the match. Outplayed, out-thought, out-fought, outclassed. Arsenal had thrown away a two-goal lead in the first leg and had been confident of retrieving the slender single goal deficit, especially with two away goals in the bag. This remains at the point of writing, the finest performance I have seen by an away team at Arsenal in European club competition, possibly in all competitions.

It was a bleak night for English clubs, only Aston Villa progressed in their defence of the European Champions Cup. They and Liverpool (who played the following night) had short-lived reprieves, exiting in the next round at the hands of Juventus and Widzew Lodz respectively.

Manchester United went out 1 – 2 on aggregate to Valencia, who¬†eliminated Spartak in the third round before losing in the quarter-finals to the competitions eventual winners, Anderlecht. Ipswich and Southampton lost on this night to AS Roma and Norrkoepping in the UEFA Cup. Tottenham’s gloating lasted for a month in the Cup Winners Cup before they were thrashed 5 – 2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich.

Back In The USSR, Arsenal Head For UEFA Cup Exit On This Day, 14th September 1982

Arsenal travelled to the Soviet Union for a tie against Spartak Moscow which would, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, be their last European away trip for nine years. A fallow period in the League and domestic cups, combined with the ban on English teams competing in Europe following the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985, saw Arsenal miss out.

Whilst English clubs were banned from Uefa competitions, Arsenal would have qualified in four of the six seasons between 1985-6 and 1990-91, with 1989-90 bringing an appearance in the European Champions Cup for the first time since 1971-72.

That was all unknown at the time and with half an hour played, Arsenal had put themselves almost into dreamland, taking a two-goal lead. It could not last and from that point on in the tie, Spartak scored eight times to Arsenal’s two. The second leg fourteen days on from this match, saw the Soviet club hand out a footballing lesson to a relatively poor Arsenal side. Despite the relative paucity of the Arsenal team, it remains to this day as the most impressive away performance I have seen in a European tie involving the club.