When Arsenal showed France tough love on Valentine’s Day

Michel Platini thought playing a ‘very British’ Arsenal team at Highbury would prepare France for a World Cup qualifier in Scotland, but the plan backfired. France lost both matches 2-0

By Steven Pye for That 1980s Sports Blog

It’s hard to imagine Arsenal being in the title race in February and then adding an extra fixture against a national football team to their schedule. It wouldn’t happen these days but in 1989 George Graham’s team took a break from their pursuit of the championship to do Michel Platini a favour.

The France manager needed all the help he could get after a stuttering start to their qualifying campaign for the 1990 World Cup. France beat Norway 1-0 in their first qualifier thanks to an 84th-minute penalty from Jean-Pierre Papin but only could only draw in Cyprus before losing to Yugoslavia. With a difficult trip to Scotland on the horizon, Platini came up with the plan of playing a British club side to prepare his men for the challenge ahead.

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