Video of the Day: Arsenal vs Chelsea, 1984/85
The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. The Premier League champions Chelsea play the FA Cup winners Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley this afternoon, two of the very biggest clubs in England playing for this pre-season trinket before the serious business. The winter of 1984 was a very different time for both clubs. Arsenal, then as now, were a decade and a half sine they won their last league title, but Arsenal teams of the early 1980s were too frequently of a mediocre nature. The glimmer of promise shown in winning the 1979 FA Cup had been comprehensively squandered. Chelsea, meanwhile, had just returned to the top flight after five years in the Second Division, staving off bankruptcy.
There has been much talk over the course of the summer about the “state of the game”. Television audiences have been falling precipitously, and these are surely a big driver behind the value of the contracts that fund the opulence of elite, modern-day football. Could the bubble be set to burst? Well yes, it is a possibility. A faint one, but it’s definitely conceivable. During the 1984/85 season, football was having something between an existential crisis and a full-blown nervous breakdown. There are hints from the television coverage of these two matches hint at the sense of decay. The Highbury match was the first match of the season, and already kick-off had been brought forward to 11.30 “in the hope that temperatures might be a bit cooler among the rival fans.” The return match was played in January 1985 on a pitch that was half-beach and half-freshly-ploughed-field. Chelsea and Arsenal finished the 1984/85 season in sixth and seventh places in the First Division respectively.
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