The recent nine-year hiatus finally banished by May’s FA Cup final triumph over Hull was but the blink of an eye compared to the wasteland into which the Gunners sank after 1953.

The football gods seemed to be toying with them as they lost successive League Cup finals in 1968 and 1969, cruelly taunting captain Frank McLintock, who had now played in four Wembley finals and lost the lot.

At least a fourth-placed finish in 1968-69 meant Arsenal qualified for the 1969-70 Fairs Cup, though the team seemed to have gone backwards in the league: instead of building on the previous campaign they stuttered, winning only 12 and drawing 18 of their 42 First Division matches to finish in 12th place, the epitome of mediocrity. Fortunately, Europe offered a welcome and exciting diversion.

via The greatest night Highbury ever witnessed – Arsenal 3-0 Anderlecht, 1970 –