Arsenal


Introduction

Arsenal Football Club are a north London club based in Holloway. They are one of the most successful clubs in the history of English football, and are currently in the Premier League. Nicknamed The Gunners, the club has a strong following that spreads across the globe. The club has had a long history of rivalries with other clubs, but the most notable of these is with Tottenham Hotspur, against whom they regularly compete in the North London Derby. They are also one of the richest clubs in English football, and have an extremely successful ladies team affiliated with them, Arsenal LFC. Traditionally the colours of the Gunners have been red and white, although there have been changes during the course of their history.


History

The foundation of Arsenal Football Club dates back to 1886 when some of the members of the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory decided to form a team of football players, which played under the name of Dial Square. Soon afterwards, the name was changed to Royal Arsenal, playing in friendlies and local cup competitions for many years. However, in 1891 the club changed its name again to Woolwich Arsenal and became a professional club, joining the Football League in 1893.

They moved to the stadium in Highbury in 1913, when they were positioned in the Second Division. It was not until the 1930s that they began to see the success that would later characterise them as a club. It was not, however, until after the First World War that Arsenal moved into the First Division, and they have never fallen lower than this in the league ever since. Herbert Chapman took over the club in 1925 and it was his expert handling that moved them into this position. Between 1933 and 1935 Arsenal won a hat trick of league titles: a feat that has only been achieved by four other clubs. After the death of Chapman, the club was taken over by George Allison who continued Chapman’s success. Allison managed to get some of the greatest players that the game has ever seen, to play for the club during his time as manager, including Alex James, Eddie Hapgood and George Male.

After the Second World War, Tom Whittaker became the manger for Arsenal and continued the run of success that they had become accustomed to. During the 1950s the club were Champions, FA Cup Winners and runners-up. However, these triumphs did not continue into the next decade, with the closest they came to winning, being finalists for the championship title in the League Cup Final in 1968 and 1969. Their luck was soon to change, however, and the turn of that decade saw new silverware coming to the club with them achieving their first European trophy in the Fairs Cup final. This renewed success followed in the next season, with the club winning both the league and FA Cup “double”. Terry Neill took over the managerial position, and led The Gunners in winning three consecutive FA Cup finals at the end of the 1970s. They also reached the Cup Winners’ Cup Final in 1980, but lost this to Valencia.

In 1986 George Graham, who was a former Arsenal player, became manager and took the club to further success by winning their first ever League Cup Final in 1986/1987. In 1989 they famously won the League Championship, with Michael Thomas giving them the title by scoring the winning goal in the final minute of the match. During the 1990/1991 season the Gunners only lost one league game, and the following year they became the only club to have won both domestic cups in the same season. When Graham left, he went on to become manager for Leeds United and then, more controversially, Tottenham Hotspur.

After Graham there were two managers, Stewart Houston and Bruce Rioch, who only stayed with the club for a year each. They both kept Arsenal’s head above the water but did not lead them to any great successes. However, when Arsene Wenger joined the club as manager in the 1997/1998 season, the Gunners straight away won the League and FA Cup “double” for the second time, which was representative of things to come under this new manager. In 2000 they appeared in the UEFA Cup Final, but lost on penalties. The following season they reached the quarter-finals only to be knocked out by Valencia. However, the following season saw a turnaround in wins, with Arsenal scoring their third “double” and remaining unbeaten at home for a whole year, in a total of 49 matches, earning the club the nickname “The Invincibles”, creating a new national record and making Arsene Wenger Barclaycard Manager of the Year. He is seen by many as the greatest manager Arsenal has ever had, bringing in new tactics, a new training regime as well as some new foreign players who have added greatly to the club’s talent. Wenger has introduced some of the best international players in football to the Gunners, including Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry, and Jens Lehman. Throughout Wenger’s time at the club they have not finished below second place in the league in eight of the seasons. He is still the current manager of Arsenal, making him one of the longest-serving managers of the club. Until the 2005/06 season Arsenal had never got further than the quarter-finals of the Champions League. However, during this season they reached the final but unfortunately were beaten by FC Barcelona 2-1.

The 2005/2006 season was the last that the Gunners saw in Highbury, which ended on a high note with them winning the Champions League Final. They moved to the Emirates stadium in Holloway in 2006, overseen by Arsene Wenger. Some prefer to refer to the new stadium as Ashburton Grove or the Grove as they do not agree with calling the stadium by its sponsorship name.


The Crest

The Gunner’s crest was revealed in 1888. It was similar to the crest of the Borough of Woolwich and displayed a three cannon view, (sometime mistaken as chimneys), from above, pointing northwards. If there was any doubt, the carved lion’s head and a cascabel on either side of this should be clear indicators that they are cannons. In 1922 this crest was replaced by a single cannon, pointing eastwards which gave the club its nickname, The Gunners. In 1925 the crest was changed further when the barrel of the cannon was slimmed down and it was moved so that it pointed westwards instead. A modernised version of the crest was unveiled in 1949, with the club’s new Latin motto, Victoria Concordia Crescit, meaning “victory comes from harmony”, inscribed on it. The crest was also red in colour for the first time. This varied over the course of the club’s history, with it eventually becoming red, green and gold.


The Colours

The colours on Arsenal’s kit have famously been red shirts with white sleeves and shorts, but this has varied greatly. The colour red is recognised as a charitable gift from Nottingham Forrest FC, shortly after the club was founded, as two of Dial Square’s players had previously played for Nottingham Forrest. Initially the shirt was just a plain dark red, but when Herbert Chapman became manager he wanted to update the look and added white sleeves to it and made the colour a more distinctive pillar box red. This look has become symbolic of the Gunners and they have worn it ever since, apart from two seasons. The first of these was 1966/67 when they returned to wearing all red shirts. This proved to be unpopular with both the fans and the players, and so they returned to the white sleeves the following season. The other season was during their last one at the ground in Highbury, 2005/06, when the players adopted redcurrant shirts similar to those that were worn during their very first season in the stadium, in 1913. When they moved to the new Emirates stadium in Holloway they reverted back to their original colours.

Traditionally Arsenal’s away colours have been yellow and blue, but between 1982 and 1984 these temporarily changed to green and navy. Now, with the introduction of replica kits being made for fans, the away colours are changed every season and generally have either a two-tone blue design or a variation of the traditional yellow and blue one. However, for the 2007/08 season, the away colours have been altered slightly with white shirts, redcurrant shorts and hooped white and redcurrant socks being worn.


Fans

Arsenal has always had a loyal and large fanbase, meaning that nearly all games are sold out. In the 2006/07 season they had the second highest attendance for an English club and the fourth highest average of all time. Due to the positioning of the stadiums between areas such as Stoke Newington and Highbury, the fans have been pulled from an unusually diverse class divide. Recently, the location of fans has spread outside North London, and many can be found across the world, after games started to be played in different countries. In 2005 a report gave the fanbase of Arsenal as 27 million, which is the third largest in the world. Fans refer to themselves as “Gooners” as a take on the nickname “The Gunners”, given to the club. The club produces magazines for fans such as The Gooner, Highbury High and Gunflash.


Statistics and Records

The record for the most Arsenal appearances is held by David O’Leary who has played for Arsenal a staggering 722 times in first-team matches between 1975 and 1993. The goalkeeper who has played in the most amount of matches is David Seaman, who has defended for Arsenal 563 times. The top goal scorer of all time is Thierry Henry who has managed to get 226 goals to hit the back of the net throughout his time with the club. Henry also holds the record in the League for the most goals scored by one player. The youngest footballer to have played for Arsenal is Francesc Fabregras who was 16 years old when he played against Rotherham United in October 2003. In contrast, the oldest player was Jock Rutherford who was 41 years old when he played against Manchester City in 1926.

The most notable records held by the club is the consecutive seasons spent in the top flight, which was 80 at the time of the 2006/2007 season, and the longest run of unbeaten League matches they achieved between May 2003 and October 2004. On the other side of success, Arsenal also holds a record for being the club who went the longest without letting another team score a goal against them: ten matches during the 2005/06 season which stretches for 995 minutes, beating the previous holders, A.C. Milan. They also hold a joint record with Juventus for the greatest win in a UEFA Champions league match, which was 7-0 against Slavia Prague at the new Emirates stadium in October 2007. This record was surpassed less than a month later by fellow English club Liverpool, who beat Besiktas 8-0.

If you want to see more of Arsenal’s statistics in greater detail see The Arsenal Website which gives access to the Arsenal Stats Centre.


The Clock

The famous clock owned by the club has been moved from its home at Highbury to a new one at the Emirates Stadium. It was initially put in its location at the North Bank in 1928, but moved to the south terracing in 1935 and became the signature icon for Arsenal’s Highbury stadium. The director of the club, Ken Friar, wanted to ensure that the Emirates stadium was kept as much like home for the fans and players, and thus felt it was vitally important that the clock was moved. It took a 25-tonne lorry, 9 hours and 4 people to move the clock, where it now overlooks the Clock End Bridge.


Fixtures

For details of all future fixtures see The Arsenal Website. This will give details of all games throughout the current season, including results for games that have already been played.