Arsenal Football Club is an English Premier League football club located at North London. It has won 13 First Division and Premier League titles and 10 FA Cups, which makes them one of the successful clubs. Arsenal holds the record for the longest uninterrupted period in the English top flight and is the only side to have completed a Premier League season unbeaten. Arsenal was founded in 1886 in Woolwich and in 1893 became the first club from the south of England to join the Football League.
In 1913, it moved to Arsenal Stadium in Highbury. In the 1930s the club won five League Championship titles and two FA Cups. After the post-war years it won the League and FA Cup Double, in the 1970–71 season, and in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century won two more Doubles and reached the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. Arsenal has a long-standing rivalry with neighbours Tottenham Hotspur, with whom it regularly contests the North London derby.
Arsenal is also the third most valuable Association football club in the world, valued at $1.2 billion.
Arsenal Football Club started out as Dial Square in 1886 by workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, south-east London, and was renamed Royal Arsenal shortly afterwards. The club was renamed again to Woolwich Arsenal after becoming a limited company in 1893. The club became the first southern member of the Football League in 1893, starting in the Second Division, and won promotion to the First Division in 1904. The club’s geographic isolation resulted in lower attendances than other clubs, which led to the club becoming mired in financial problems and effectively bankrupt by 1910, when they were taken over by businessmen Henry Norris and William Hall.
Norris sought to move the club elsewhere, and in 1913, Arsenal moved to the new Arsenal Stadium in Highbury, North London. They dropped “Woolwich” from their name the following year. Arsenal only finished in fifth place in 1919, but was nevertheless elected to rejoin the First Division at the expense of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, by reportedly dubious means.
Arsenal appointed Herbert Chapman as manager in 1925. Having already won the league twice with Huddersfield Town , Chapman brought Arsenal their first period of major success. His revolutionary tactics and training, along with the signings of star players such as Alex James and Cliff Bastin, laid the foundations of the club’s domination of English football in the 1930s. Under his guidance Arsenal won their first major trophies – victory in the 1930 FA Cup Final . In addition, Chapman was behind the 1932 renaming of the local London Underground station from “Gillespie Road” to “Arsenal”, making it the only Tube station to be named specifically after a football club.
Chapman died suddenly of pneumonia in early 1934, leaving Joe Shaw and George Allison to carry on his successful work. Under their guidance, Arsenal won three more titles, in the mid 1930ers and the FA Cup in 1936. As key players retired, Arsenal started to fade by the decade’s end, and then the intervention of the Second World War meant competitive professional football in England was suspended. After the war, Arsenal enjoyed a second period of success under Allison’s successor Tom Whittaker, winning the league in 1947–48 and 1952–53, and the FA Cup in 1950. Their fortunes waned thereafter; unable to attract players of the same calibre as they had in the 1930s, the club spent most of the 1950s and 1960s without any trophy.
Even former England captain Billy Wright could not bring the club any success as manager, in a stint between 1962 and 1966. Arsenal began winning silverware again with the surprise appointment of club physiotherapist Bertie Mee as manager in 1966. After losing two League Cup finals, they won their first European trophy, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. This was followed by an even greater triumph: their first League and FA Cup double in 1970–71. This marked a premature high point of the decade; the Double-winning side was soon broken up and the following decade was characterized by a series of near misses.
Arsenal finished as First Division runners-up in 1972–73, lost three FA Cup finals, in 1972, 1978 and 1980, and lost the 1980 Cup Winners’ Cup final on penalties. The club’s only success during this time was a last-minute 3–2 victory over Manchester United in the 1979 FA Cup Final, widely regarded as a classic. The return of former player George Graham as manager in 1986 brought a third period of glory. Arsenal won the League Cup in 1986–87, Graham’s first season in charge. This was followed by a League title win in 1988–89, won with a last-minute goal in the final game of the season against title challengers Liverpool.
Graham’s Arsenal won another title in 1990–91, losing only one match, won the FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993, and a second European trophy, the Cup Winners’ Cup, in 1994. The club’s success in the late 1990s and first decade of the 21st century owed a great deal to the 1996 appointment of Arsène Wenger as manager. Wenger brought new tactics, a new training regime and several foreign players who complemented the existing English talent. Arsenal won a second League and Cup double in 1997–98 and a third in 2001–02.
In addition, the club reached the final of the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup (losing on penalties to Galatasaray), were victorious in the 2003 and 2005 FA Cups, and won the Premier League in 2003–04 without losing a single match, an achievement which earned the side the nickname “The Invincibles”. The club went 49 league matches unbeaten in that season, a national record. Arsenal finished in either first or second place in the league in eight of Wenger’s first eleven seasons at the club, although on no occasion were they able to retain the title.
As of March 2011, they were one of only four teams, the others being Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea, to have won the Premier League since its formation in 1992. Arsenal had never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League until 2005–06; in that season they became the first club from London in the competition’s fifty-year history to reach the final, in which they were beaten by Barcelona. In July 2006, they moved into the Emirates Stadium, after 93 years at Highbury. Arsenal reached the final of the 2007 and 2011 League Cup final, losing 2-1 to Chelsea and Birmingham City respectively. The club has not gained a major trophy since the 2005 FA Cup. The only cup that Arsenal wins nowadays is the Emirates Cup.
For much of Arsenal’s history, their home colours have been bright red shirts with white sleeves and white shorts, though this has not always been the case. The choice of red is in recognition of a charitable donation from Nottingham Forest, soon after Arsenal’s foundation. Two of Dial Square’s founding members, Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates, were former Forest players who had moved to Woolwich for work. As they put together the first team in the area, no kit could be found, so Beardsley and Bates wrote home for help and received a set of kit and a ball. The shirt was redcurrant, a dark shade of red, and was worn with white shorts and blue socks.
In 1933, Herbert Chapman, wanting his players to be more distinctly dressed, updated the kit, adding white sleeves and changing the shade to a brighter pillar box red. Two possibilities have been suggested for the origin of the white sleeves. One story reports that Chapman noticed a supporter in the stands wearing a red sleeveless sweater over a white shirt; another was that he was inspired by a similar outfit worn by the cartoonist Tom Webster, with whom Chapman played golf. Regardless of which story is true, the red and white shirts have come to define Arsenal and the team have worn the combination ever since, aside from two seasons.
The first was 1966–67, when Arsenal wore all-red shirts; this proved unpopular and the white sleeves returned the following season. The second was 2005–06, the last season that Arsenal played at Highbury, when the team wore commemorative redcurrant shirts similar to those worn in 1913, their first season in the stadium; the club reverted to their normal colours at the start of the next season. In the 2008–09 season, Arsenal replaced the traditional all-white sleeves with red sleeves with a broad white stripe.
Arsenal has played in two different stadiums, in Highbury and in the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal had some awesome moments in Highbury and for some of the players Highbury was much a home than the Emirates. Leaving Highbury was not an easy decision to make but a necessary decision, due to its limited capacity.
Highbury, officially called Arsenal Stadium, was the home of Arsenal FC between 1913 and 2006. In its latest years it had a capacity of about 38,500 seats. In the early years of the 20th century Arsenal had been playing its matches at Manor Ground close to Greenwich, when then Arsenal-Chairman Henry Norris decided to move the club to North London. A plot of land was leased in the borough of Highbury, and a stadium designed by Archibald Leitch. The first match was played between Arsenal and Leicester Fosse, which the home team won 6-3. Back then the stadium consisted of one main stand and a series of terraces.
The stadium was bought by Arsenal in 1925, and seven years later a new grandstand, consisting of two tiers, was constructed. The stand could seat 4,000 people and furthermore had standing capacity for 17,000 more. Four years later, in 1936, another new stand opened: the art-deco style East Stand. In 1948 the stadium hosted a few games during the Olympics football tournament. Only incremental changes were made to the stadium in the following decades, and it took until 1989, with the renovation of the Clock End, for any new major redevelopments to take place. A few years later works began to turn Highbury into an all-seated stadium.
Part of this conversion was the demolishing of the North Bank terraces and construction of a new North Bank stand. However, due to its limited capacity and lack of expansion possibilities, being enclosed by residential housing, the club started looking into moving away from Highbury, and in 2004 the construction of the Emirates started.
The last match at Highbury was played on the 7th of May 2006, a 4-2 league match victory against Wigan, with a hat trick scored by Thierry Henry. Arsenal Stadium was consequently demolished and the site redeveloped into residential flats. Just the exterior of the art-deco East Stand and West Stand have remained and were incorporated into the new developments. The pitch has been turned into a communal garden.
Ashburton Grove (known for sponsorship reasons as the Emirates Stadium or simply The Emirates) is located in Islington, North London. It is the current home of Arsenal Football Club. At a capacity of 60,355, the Emirates is the third-largest football stadium in England after Wembley and Old Trafford and fourth-largest in the United Kingdom. Arsenal explored in 1997 the possibility of relocating to a new stadium having being denied planning permission by Islington Council to expand its then home ground of Highbury.
After considering various options the club settled on purchasing an industrial and waste disposal estate in Ashburton Grove and submitted their planning brief to the public in 2000. In spite of opposition to the move by local residents and club shareholders, Arsenal succeeded in winning the council’s approval to which manager Arsène Wenger later described as being the “biggest decision in Arsenal’s history since the board opted to bring Herbert Chapman to the club in 1925.”
Estate relocation work began in August 2002 and commenced four months later. Financing for the stadium proved difficult which resulted in the club delaying work until February 2004. Emirates Airline was later announced as the main sponsor for the stadium in October 2004 and work reached completion in July 2006 at a cost of £390m.
There have been eighteen permanent and five caretaker managers of Arsenal since the appointment of the club’s first professional manager, Thomas Mitchell in 1897. The club’s longest-serving manager as of 2009, in terms of both length of tenure and number of games overseen, is Arsène Wenger, who was appointed in 1996. Wenger is also Arsenal’s only manager from outside the United Kingdom. Two Arsenal managers have died in the job – Herbert Chapman and Tom Whittaker.
1925 – 1934
Sheffield-born Herbert Chapman not only established Arsenal as English football’s dominant force, but his football concepts and ideas served as a template for teams and managers the globe over. He managed Leeds City and Huddersfield Town before taking over at Highbury where he introduced the 3-3-4 winning the FA Cup in 1930 and the First Division title, scoring a club record 127 goals, in 1930/31. He won a second League title two years later before his tragic, sudden death in 1934, aged 55. A bronze bust of Chapman stands inside Highbury as a tribute to his achievements at the club.
1986 – 1995
A former Arsenal player, George Graham rejoined the Club as manager in 1986 after three years in charge of Millwall. He won two League Championships, two League Cups, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup in eight years, making Arsenal one of the dominant teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was renowned for building his team on the meanest of rearguards, perfecting the offside trap along the way. He also bought Ian Wright, until recently Arsenal’s all-time leading goalscorer, from Crystal Palace. After leaving the Club in 1995, Graham went on to manage Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur.
1996 – Present
Arsène Wenger joined Arsenal in September 1996 following spells as manager with Nancy and Monaco in his native France and Grampus Eight in Japan. He guided the Club to their second League and FA Cup double, in his first full season at Highbury in 1998 and won further League titles in 2002 and 2004. He has won four FA Cups to date. He also guided Arsenal to the UEFA Cup final in 2000, losing to Galatasaray on penalties and through an entire unbeaten league campaign on the way to the title in 2004. In 2006 he took Arsenal to the UEFA Champions League Final, where the team was narrowly defeated by Barcelona. He is still in charge of the Gunners and has overseen the move from Highbury to the new Emirates Stadium.
During the 125years existence of Arsenal, they have managed to bring many outstanding players to the World of football. There are players with the like of Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Cole and lots of other players who had won many trophies and other titles.
Remember the kid in the playground who was better than everyone else with a football at his feet? That’s what Thierry Henry was like in his pomp. No one thought that Henry could ever replace Anelka when he arrived in 1999 at Highbury. But with 377 apperances and 229 goals, he managed to be the best goalscorer for Arsenal and became a Legend. At the 125years anniversary of Arsenal, the club made a bronze statue which shows Henry doing his classic goal celebration. He is player of many who won the European and World cup.
Cesc came a long way after joining the Club as a 16-year-old in September 2003. He was tipped for greatness back then and lived up to expectations: Cesc was eventually captain and talisman of the Arsenal side and a World and European Cup winner with Spain. Blessed with wonderful technique from an early age, Cesc added steel and goals to his game.
Ashley Cole is a Londoner who rose through the ranks at Highbury to make the Arsenal and England No 3 shirts his own. In an age of cosmopolitan Premier League line-ups, he was a reminder that local boys could still make their mark at the capital’s biggest club. Cole joined the club and made his debut against Middleborough at the age of 18. After Arsenal lost the Champions League final, he left the club for Arsenal’s rival, Chelsea.
The Arsenal Academy is now in its 11th season, having been one of the first tiers of English clubs to gain academy status in 1998. During its existence the Academy has consistently produced footballers ready for first-team action with both Arsenal and other professional football clubs. The Academy Director is legendary midfielder Liam Brady, who is ably assisted by David Court, also a former Gunners star. Both are responsible for the development of all the boys registered with the Academy between the ages of nine and 21. At the end of season 2003/04, the Under-17s and Under-19s were disbanded by the FA to form one competitive level for Club Academies, the Under-18s.
The Arsenal Under-18s are based at the Training Centre with the first-team squad and are coached by former Arsenal centre-half Steve Bould. The junior levels of the Academy set-up – from Under-16s down to Under-nines – are based at Hale End Training Centre, another state-of-the-art Arsenal facility, under the guidance of Roy Massey. The Under-18s finished in the top half of the table last season, a worthy achievement when you consider that Bould regularly fields very young teams in order to rest those older, eligible players who may have been playing reserve or first-team football. Results are certainly not the ‘be all and end all’ for the Under-18s with the Club’s primary concern at this age being player development.
The most prominent example of a player progressing through the current system is Ashley Cole, who established himself as first choice left-back for both club and country before his move to Chelsea. A number of former Academy youngsters have made their mark in the Carling Cup, taking Arsenal to three successive Semi-Finals and a Final appearance in 2007.
Goalkeeper Stuart Taylor, midfielders Jermaine Pennant, David Bentley, Steven Sidwell and defender Justin Hoyte are all Academy graduates who have earned England Under-21 caps, while Academy product Jeremie Aliadiere represented France Under- 21s. Taylor and Aliadiere also won League Championship medals, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. With Academy players regularly dominating the Arsenal reserve team line-ups and a steady progression of players being blooded in the senior side, the Academy production line looks set to continue and produce players to grace Emirates Stadium for many years to come.