September 26 1970: Stoke 5 Arsenal 0
Arsenal entered this match third in the league, two points behind Leeds United (in the era of two points for a win).
After nine games Arsenal had won five, drawn three and lost one. Perhaps more to the point going away to Stoke City, Arsenal had just won three in a row, beating Tottenham 2-0, Burnley 3-1, and West Brom 6-2.
Arsenal were not in the habit of letting in five – indeed the last time this happened was with Blackpool 5 Arsenal 3 on 16 October 1965.
But coincidentally the win against West Brom of 6-2 was the first time Arsenal had scored six since beating Sheffield United just three weeks after that defeat to Blackpool. That victory was on 6 November also in 1965. Surely no one thought that having scored six for the first time since 1965 they would now let in five for the first time since 1965. But so it was
18,153 turned up to watch – a poor attendance given all the talk in the press about Arsenal’s new exciting style and their exciting team. Arsenal had strolled past Lazio in the second leg of their Fairs Cup game – and with Arsenal having let in only seven goals in the nine League games thus far a 2-0 win seemed more likely than anything else.
In goal there was Bob Wilson who was getting the plaudits not just for his ability to dive at the feet of oncoming forwards and get out uninjured but also because he was so interviewable.
Yet the reality was the score-line could easily have been worse, with Stoke missing a couple of simple chances. It was in short the collective bad day for the defence, who spent the game giving the ball away again whenever they did manage to get possession.
The fourth goal epitomised the problems – Wilson went for a bouncing ball, which really could have gone anywhere, but it bounced to Jimmy Greenhoff who had the simplest of chances to convert, and the fifth came from a shot that Wilson parried straight to Alan Bloor who scored.
The press felt the mighty had truly fallen and Arsenal knew that all the plaudits they had gained from beating Lazio just three days before, now counted for nothing. Winning the league was not on anyone’s mind after this display.