In front of footballing royalty, Chelsea's FA Cup winners memorably got the better of Arsenal early in the 1970/71 campaign, as we recall here...
After watching the Chelsea and Arsenal match of August 1970 from the Stamford Bridge directors’ box, Brazil’s World Cup-winning coach Mario Zagallo must have been left with two distinct impressions.
The first we know, because he put it into words: ‘Pele would not survive in a match like this every week,’ he claimed. ‘It’s a wonder anyone was left alive.’ He was referring to the violence, especially perpetrated by the visitors, that marred the first half of this hotly-contested London derby watched by almost 54,000.
‘Arsenal began as if stop-’em-at-all-costs was their aim,’ reported Maurice Smith. Frank McLintock, Pat Rice, John Roberts, and Peter Storey were all guilty of affray on the likes of Alan Hudson and Ian Hutchinson, and at one stage Peter Osgood went toe-to-toe, fists-clenched, with his deadly foe McLintock (both were booked).
Yet in the midst of all these vendettas a football match occasionally broke out and the second impression Zagallo must have gleaned is that English players can score goals every bit as good as Brazil’s number 10.
Evidence for this came in John Hollins’ wonder-strike opener, which was eventually voted ITV’s Golden Goal of 1970/71. The leather-lunged midfielder latched on to a long Ron Harris pass down the left, eluded defender Sammy Nelson and shot left-footed over onrushing goalie Bob Wilson.
Frustratingly, the ball rebounded at an angle off the bar, but the alert Hollins darted sideways, reached it ahead of Roberts and Bob McNab, and steered it in with his right (video top).
Arsenal played more football in the second half and quickly equalised when Eddie Kelly’s long-range header looped in off the bar, but another fine goal settled the points in Chelsea’s favour.
With six minutes remaining right-back Paddy Mulligan was picked out by a long pass from the left, cut inside a defender and thumped an unstoppable shot past Wilson into the top right of the goal. It was the first of two league goals the Dubliner managed in his Blues career.
Both teams would taste success that season. Arsenal won the Double, while Chelsea would lift the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup for the first time.
To watch more classic Chelsea games from illustrious past, head to Retro Blues on the Fifth Stand App...