When Manchester City faces Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday, the Premier League champion will be looking to end a 37-year jinx and perhaps remove the last symbolic reminder of a period of tumultuous decline and fall.
The last time the blue half of Manchester’s current Premier League duopoly tasted league victory in the red half of north London was on October 4, 1975.
It would have been unforeseeable at the time that City, then one of the top-flight’s leading clubs, would come close to financial annihilation as the first European trophy winner to be relegated to English football’s third tier.
That victory at Arsenal, with City stalwart Tony Book at the managerial helm, was no great surprise at the time. League champion in 1968, City won the FA Cup in 1969 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970.
After its 1975 Highbury win it went on to finish eighth in the old first division, to Arsenal’s 17th, and also won the League Cup that season, the final trophy of the club’s most successful period.
It finished runner-up the following season but the following three decades were spent licking wounds as Sunday’s opponent Arsenal went on to add weight to an already heavily-laden trophy cabinet.
Twice relegated from the top flight in the 1980s and once in each of the proceeding two decades, 20 different men, with seven in the eighties alone, occupied the City’s hot seat after Book’s first stint came to an end in 1979.
Its darkest hour came in 1998 when the club was relegated to the second division, or third tier of English football, the same year Arsenal won the double in the second season under manager Arsene Wenger.
Its subsequent rise from the ashes and a real threat of financial ruin to become the world football’s richest club under Abu Dhabi-stewardship that culminated in its first Premier League title last season, has not improved its fortunes against Sunday’s opponent.
In the four years since Sheikh Mansour completed his takeover, City has lost two and drawn two of its Premier League visits to Arsenal’s modern Emirates stadium, in itself a reminder of how much water has passed under the bridge since the teams met at Arsenal’s Art Deco Highbury in 1975. — Reuters