Arsenal F.C.

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Template:Football club infobox Arsenal Football Club (also known as Arsenal, The Arsenal or The Gunners) is a football club from north London, and one of the most successful clubs in English football. Founded in 1886, the team currently plays at Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, but will move in 2006 to the new Emirates Stadium nearby.



Early years

Arsenal were founded as Dial Square in 1886 by workers employed in the Dial Square area of the Woolwich Arsenal, an armaments factory in Woolwich, south east London. Dial Square played its first match on December 11, 1886 against Eastern Wanderers, winning 6-0. The club changed its name to Royal Arsenal shortly afterwards. Royal Arsenal first played on Plumstead Common, before moving to the Manor Ground, Plumstead in 1888. The club renamed itself again to Woolwich Arsenal in 1891.

In 1893 they were the first southern team admitted to the Football League, a move partly caused by the refusal of other southern teams to play them after they turned professional. The club initially entered the Second Division, playing there for eleven seasons, before being promoted to the First Division in 1904.

Woolwich Arsenal were relegated in 1913, the same year they moved from south east London to Arsenal Stadium (often referred to as "Highbury") in north London; despite the boom in football the club's geographic isolation, playing in the relatively underpopulated area of Plumstead meant attendances and thus income were low. Arsenal's move away from the area precipitated Charlton Athletic's move to professionalism.

Now known as "The Arsenal", having dropped the "Woolwich" from its name in 1914, the club rejoined the First Division in 1919 by dubious means, much to the chagrin and longstanding enmity of Tottenham Hotspur (or "Spurs" for short) and their supporters, who lost their First Division place to The Arsenal. The First Division was due to be expanded and the decision to promote The Arsenal (who came fifth in the final league season before the war) rather than Barnsley or Wolves (third and fourth place, respectively), or to not relegate Spurs (who finished bottom of the First Division), has been linked to dubious back room deals by The Arsenal's chairman, and mastermind of the move from Woolwich to Highbury, Sir Henry Norris. Arsenal have remained in the top division since then, and as a result hold the English record for the longest unbroken stretch of top-flight football.

1930s to 1960s

In 1925, Huddersfield Town manager Herbert Chapman took over at The Arsenal. Chapman reformed many of the club's practices, including modernising the training and physiotherapy regimes, and changing the team's colours. His reforms, along with new tactics and players, made Arsenal the dominant team in English football in the 1930s; they won the FA Cup in 1930 and the League in 1931 and 1933. It was also during Chapman's era that the club lost the definite article from its name, becoming just "Arsenal", and he was reportedly behind the renaming of the local tube station, Gillespie Road, to Arsenal.

Chapman died suddenly in January 1934, but his legacy was continued by his successor, George Allison, who oversaw the club's completion of a hat-trick of league titles, and another FA Cup win in 1936. Such was Arsenal's dominance that in November 1934, seven players in the England side that beat World Champions Italy 3-2 were on Arsenal's books.

At the outbreak of war in 1939, Arsenal Stadium was requisitioned as an ARP station, with a barrage balloon operating behind the Clock End. The stadium continued to operate as a football ground for the armed forces, often with two or three games on it every day. During the Blitz, a 3,000lb bomb fell on the North Bank stand, destroying that stand's roof and setting fire to the scrap that was being stored on the terrace. Arsenal played their subsequent wartime home games at White Hart Lane, courtesy of their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur. After the war, the Arsenal board presented the Spurs board with a cannon as a gesture of thanks.

The war had cut short the careers of many of the club's star players, and upon the league's resumption in 1946-47 the club finished a disappointing 13th. Allison resigned and was replaced by Tom Whittaker. Whittaker enjoyed immediate success with the club, winning the League in 1948, the FA Cup in 1950 and the League again in 1953. However, after these the club went through a barren period, not winning a trophy for another seventeen years. England legend Billy Wright managed the club between 1962 and 1966 with little success, but he was succeeded by club physiotherapist Bertie Mee, who would lead the club to success in the early 1970s.

1970s to mid-1980s

Mee's appointment at Arsenal heralded a brief period of glory. The youth team had won the FA Youth Cup in 1966, and players such as Charlie George, John Radford and Ray Kennedy graduated to the first team. The team's early signs of promise included reaching two successive League Cup finals in the late 1960s, although they lost both times, the second one an infamous 3-1 loss to Third Division side Swindon Town.

Arsenal finally collected some silverware in 1970, when the club won its first European trophy, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. After beating Ajax, one of the strongest teams in the world at the time, in the semi-finals, Arsenal won the final 4-3 on aggregate over Anderlecht, after being (at one point) 3-0 down in the first leg.

The highlight of this period was the club's first FA Cup and League "Double" win in 1970-71.The League title was won at White Hart Lane, home of their deadly rivals Tottenham Hotspur, on the last day of the season; five days later Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley after extra-time, the winning goal scored by Charlie George.

Arsenal failed to capitalise on this success, and spent most of the mid-1970s in mid-table obscurity, brightened only with the emergence of Irish superstar Liam Brady. However, towards the end of the decade, under Terry Neill they proved their mettle in the cup. Between 1978 and 1980 Arsenal had a record-equalling spell in which they reached three FA Cup finals in a row. They won just the one, beating Manchester United 3-2 in the 1979 final after United had come back from 2-0 down. Alan Sunderland scored late on to secure a famous victory.

Arsenal went on to lose the following season's FA Cup final to West Ham, and the Cup Winners Cup final on penalties to Valencia. After the departure of Liam Brady to Juventus, the team entered another barren period for the first half of the 1980s.

The George Graham years

At the end of the 1985-86 season, Millwall manager George Graham (a former Arsenal player) was appointed as the club's new manager and it was a beginning of a golden era of Highbury. He led the club to victory over Liverpool in the League Cup final during his first season in charge and at the end of his third season (1988-89) the club won its first league title since 1971 in dramatic fashion. Needing two goals to secure the league championship against Liverpool, an injury time goal by midfielder Michael Thomas (who, ironically, later became a Liverpool player) gave Arsenal a 2-0 win to secure the league title. Another league title came in 1991, with Arsenal losing just one out of 38 league fixtures, although they had 2 points deducted in October 1990 after ten of their players were involved in a brawl with Manchester United players in a match at Old Trafford.

By the early 1990s, Arsenal had probably the finest squad in the English league. Goalkeeper David Seaman, defender and captain Tony Adams, winger Paul Merson and striker Alan Smith were capable of competing with some of the best players in England. The 2.5million addition of Crystal Palace striker Ian Wright in October 1991 further boosted the squad. Arsenal completed a unique FA Cup/League Cup double in 1993 (beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in both finals) although they finished 10th in the inaugural Premier League and scored fewer goals (40) than any other team in the division.

1994 saw the club win its second European trophy, by beating Parma 1-0 in the Cup Winners Cup final with a goal from Alan Smith. But the following February, George Graham was sacked after nearly nine years in charge after he was discovered to have accepted an illegal 425,000 payment from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge following the 1992 acquisition of Danish midfielder John Jensen. Assistant manager Stewart Houston took charge until the end of the season, and although Arsenal finished a disappointing 12th in the Premiership they did reach the Cup Winners Cup final again - only to lose 2-1 to a last minute goal from the halfway line by Real Zaragoza midfielder Nayim.

The interregnum

Bruce Rioch, who had just guided Bolton Wanderers to a League Cup final appearance and promotion to the top division after a 15-year exile, was appointed as the club's new manager for the 1995-96 season. He (briefly) broke the English transfer record by paying Internazionale 7.5million for Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp, and the new signing formed an impressive partnership with Ian Wright.

Arsenal reached the League Cup semi final and finished fifth in the Premiership at the end of 1995-96, securing a place in the following season's UEFA Cup and giving hope for an eventual title challenge. But in August 1996, just before the start of the new season, Bruce Rioch was sacked by the club's board of directors after a dispute over transfer funds.

Assistant manager Stewart Houston was once again put in temporary charge, remaining at the helm for a month, before resigning to take over at QPR. Youth team coach Pat Rice held the fort for several games, before making way for the 44-year-old Frenchman Arsne Wenger, who had guided AS Monaco to the French league title in 1988.

Wenger's Arsenal

With the advent of Arsne Wenger as manager, Arsenal rebuilt their squad with a crop of French players who were, in the UK, seemingly unknown to all but Wenger. These included Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira, as well as the Dutch winger Marc Overmars. Wenger melded the team with some of the "old guard", retaining Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and Steve Bould, and also keeping on Pat Rice as his assistant. The team immediately improved under Wenger's management, coming third and achieving a UEFA Cup place in 1996-97, with six minutes left in the last game of the season.

Wenger got his first silverware, and became the first foreign manager to win the English league, the following season, when he steered the club to its second double. Arsenal overcame an 11 point deficit to overtake Manchester United; a 4-0 home win over Everton on May 3 won the title with two matches to spare. On May 16, Arsenal beat Newcastle United 2-0 in the FA Cup final to complete the double.

Despite the signing of Fredrik Ljungberg in 1998 and Thierry Henry a year later, a more barren period followed for Arsenal over the next few years, though they came close several times; they blew a winning position in the 1998-99 Championship, losing it on the final day, and lost the last ever FA Cup semi-final replay to Manchester United in extra time, after a Dennis Bergkamp penalty miss in normal time. They also lost the 2000 UEFA Cup Final on penalties to Turkish side Galatasaray after a 0-0 draw, and - controversially - the 2001 FA Cup Final to Liverpool, after leading 1-0 but succumbing to two late Michael Owen goals.

Arsenal bounced back in the 2001-02 season, as they won their third double (the second under Wenger), winning all of their final 13 Premiership fixtures. They finished seven points ahead of runners-up Liverpool, the title secured in the penultimate game of the season with a 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. The previous weekend, Arsenal had wrapped up their eighth FA Cup success, beating Chelsea 2-0. Arsenal scored in all 38 league games and did not lose any of their 19 away games.

Arsenal retained the FA Cup in 2002-03 with a 1-0 win against Southampton, but their joy was soured by the fact that they had surrendered the Premiership title to Manchester United, despite having led the table by eight points at the start of March; Arsenal lost their title with a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Leeds United. This defeat was significant as it was the last Arsenal would suffer for 49 league matches. Arsenal would bounce back by completing the season with heavy victories over Southampton and Sunderland.

2003-04 was a record-breaking season, as Arsenal won the Premiership unbeaten (26 wins, 12 draws, 0 defeats), becoming only the second team to do so - the first being Preston North End in 1889. Their rivals for the title gained revenge in other competitions though, as Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea and the FA Cup by Manchester United in successive games. Faced with the potential collapse of their season, Arsenal recovered from being 1-0 and 2-1 behind to Liverpool in their next league match to win 4-2, mainly thanks to a Thierry Henry hat-trick. Arsenal won the league with a 2-2 draw away to Tottenham Hotspur.

In 2004-2005, Arsenal were unable to retain their title, finishing second, 12 points behind a record-breaking Chelsea side. The unbeaten run stretched to 49 consecutive matches, a record in English league football, before it was ended with a 2-0 away defeat by Manchester United. This defeat arguably upset the team's form and they fell away from title contention before recovering to finish second. Champions League glory eluded them again, with the club getting knocked out 3-2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich in the second round, despite a 1-0 victory over Munich in the second leg. Arsenal did however win the FA Cup, defeating Manchester United on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

While Wenger's Arsenal have enjoyed great domestic success, the team has yet to register top finishes in the UEFA Champions League, where they have still not progressed beyond the quarter-finals stage. This may have contributed to Thierry Henry's failure to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2003. So far, Henry and other key players have shown loyalty to the team and its manager by renewing their contracts rather than departing for the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, where they would almost certainly be paid higher salaries.

Thanks to his success at Arsenal, Arsne Wenger is now rated by some as the best Arsenal manager ever, while most football enthusiasts rate him at least as good as Herbert Chapman, Bertie Mee and George Graham. Rumours persist that Wenger will be offered a place on the Arsenal Board of Directors once his tenure as manager is complete.


Missing image
Arsenal's crest from c.1949 until 2002
Missing image
Arsenal's crest from 2002 onwards

The Arsenal's first crest, unveiled in 1888, featured three cannons pointing vertically. In 1922, the club adopted the first single-cannon crest, which featured an eastward-pointing cannon. This crest was only used until 1925, when the cannon was reversed to point westward, its barrel was slimmed down, and the club's nickname, 'The Gunners', was inscribed to the left of the cannon. In 1949, the club unveiled a modernized crest featuring the same style of cannon, the club's name set in blackletter above the cannon, and a scroll inscribed with the club's newly adopted Latin motto Victoria Concordia Crescit ("victory comes from harmony"). For the first time, the crest was rendered in color – red, green, and gold – which varied slightly over the crest's lifespan.

Because of the crest's natural evolution, Arsenal F.C. was unable to copyright it. Thus, at the beginning of the 2001/02 season, Arsenal introduced a new crest when they changed sponsors from Sega Dreamcast to O2. The crest features more modern, curved lines, and a simplified style. The cannon once again faces east, and the club's name is written in a sans-serif typeface above the cannon. Green was replaced by dark blue. The new crest received a mixed response from fans, some claiming that it had ignored much of Arsenal's history by removing the blackletter text, motto, and coat of arms. [1] (


Arsenal wear a mostly red home kit, in recognition of a charitable donation from Nottingham Forest. 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 kit was originally all-red and a much darker, almost purple, shade than currently used, but in 1933 Herbert Chapman, wishing his players to be more distinctly dressed, updated the kit, adding white sleeves and changing the shade to a brighter pillar box red. The team has stuck with the combination since, aside from a single season in 1963-64 where they reverted to all-red.

For the 2005-06 season only, the last season that Arsenal will play at Highbury, the teams' shirts are to be changed to the original darker red to reflect the colour worn in the first season at Highbury, in 1913. The colour is similar to that used by Sparta Prague, who themselves based their shirt's colour on Arsenal's 1906 kit.

Arsenal's away colours are traditionally yellow and blue, although they wore a green and black away kit for a short while in the early 1980s. Since the 1990s and the advent of the lucrative replica kit market, the away colours have been changed every couple of seasons; as a result, as well as yellow and blue, they have also been, at different times, navy blue with light blue, and metallic gold with navy trim. The current away kit is an all-blue number and is believed by many fans to be bad luck.

New stadium

Missing image
The Emirates Stadium under construction

Limitations in Highbury's capacity (38,500) have prevented the club from maximising the revenue their impressive domestic form could have brought in in recent seasons. Although the club remains highly profitable, in order to close the gap with rivals such as Manchester United, Arsenal are currently in the process of building the Emirates Stadium, a new 60,000 seater stadium at Ashburton Grove, about 500m southwest, towards Holloway Road (map (,185750&st=4&ar=N&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf)). While this project has been delayed by red tape (including final approval of the necessary compulsary purchase orders by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott) and rising costs, construction is now well under way, and the club hopes that its new stadium will enable it to continue competing at the very highest level of English and continental football. The stadium will be known until the end of the 2020-21 season as the Emirates Stadium, after the club signed the largest sponsorship deal in English football history with airline Emirates, worth approximately 100 million over the term of the deal. Emirates will also become the club's shirt sponsor from 2006 until the end of the 2012-13 season.

Arsenal in popular culture

As one of the most successful teams in the country, Arsenal have often featured when football is depicted in British culture. The club was the backdrop to one of the earliest football-related films, the 1939 movie The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (IMDb info (, set in and around Highbury. The film is a murder mystery, centred on "The Trojans", a fictitious amateur team visiting Highbury for a friendly, one of whose players is poisoned whilst playing. Many Arsenal players appeared as themselves, although only manager George Allison was given a speaking part; players from Brentford acted as the Trojans' doubles on the pitch.

More recently, the book Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby is an autobiographical account of Hornby's life and relationship with football and Arsenal in particular. Published in 1992, it formed part of (and some say it played an active part in) the revival and rehabilitation of football in British society during the 1990s. The book was later made into a film starring Colin Firth, which centred on the club's 1988-89 League win.

Arsenal's perceived tendency to be defensive and "boring" through the 1970s and 1980s made the team the butt of jokes by many comedians, such as Eric Morecambe. The 1997 film The Full Monty includes a scene where the lead actors raise their hands in mimicking the club's defence in an attempt to co-ordinate their stripping.

The club is also mentioned in several Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches, and in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; a barman remarks that the impending end of the world is a "lucky escape" for Arsenal, who are playing that afternoon. Most recently, in the 2004 box office hit Ocean's Twelve the stars put on Arsenal tracksuits as part of one of their European heists.

Current first team squad

Famous players

Listed according to when then they first joined or debuted for Arsenal (year in parentheses):


  • FA Cups: 10
    • 1930 1936 1950 1971 1979 1993 1998 2002 2003 2005
  • Three "Doubles": 1971 1998 2002
  • One Domestic Cup Double: 1993

Arsenal have spent 87 consecutive seasons in the national top flight, a record, and have finished first more times than any other team, except for Liverpool and Manchester United. Arsenal are one of the strongest sides in history, having finished below 14th only 7 times, and never below 20th.

Top scorers

As of May 15, 2005:

1 Ian Wright 185 288 0.64
2*Thierry Henry 181 297 0.61
3 Cliff Bastin 178 396 0.45
4 John Radford 149 481 0.31
5 Ted Drake 139 184 0.76
= Jimmy Brain 139 232 0.60
7 Doug Lishman 137 244 0.56
8 Joe Hulme 125 374 0.33
9 David Jack 124 208 0.60
10 Reg Lewis 118 176 0.67
=*Dennis Bergkamp 118 392 0.30
12 Alan Smith 115 347 0.33
13 Jack Lambert 109 161 0.68
14 Frank Stapleton 108 300 0.36
15 David Herd 107 180 0.59
16 Joe Baker 100 156 0.64
17 Paul Merson 99 425 0.23
18 Don Roper 95 321 0.30
19 Alan Sunderland 92 281 0.33
20 Cliff Holton 88 217 0.41

* = still playing

Players with the most appearances

As of May 15, 2005.
Competitive matches only, includes appearances as substitute:

1 David O'Leary 722 14
2 Tony Adams 668 48
3 George Armstrong 621 68
4 Lee Dixon 618 25
5 Nigel Winterburn 584 12
6 David Seaman 563 0
7 Pat Rice 528 22
8 Peter Storey 501 17
9 John Radford 481 149
10 Bob John 470 13
11 Peter Simpson 468 14
12 Ray Parlour 467 32
13 Graham Rix 464 51
14 Martin Keown 449 8
15 Paul Davis 447 37
16 Eddie Hapgood 440 2
17 Paul Merson 425 99
18*Patrick Vieira 407 33
19 Frank McLintock 403 32
20 Cliff Bastin 396 178

* = still playing

External links

Template:FA Premier League teamlist
FA Premier League seasons

1992-93 | 1993-94 | 1994-95 | 1995-96 | 1996-97 | 1997-98 | 1998-99
1999-00 | 2000-01 | 2001-02 | 2002-03 | 2003-04 | 2004-05 | 2005-06 edit (

Football in England

League competitions

The FA

Cup competitions

FA Premier League FA Cup
The Football League (Champ, 1, 2) England
League Cup
Football Conference (Nat, N, S) FA Community Shield
Northern Premier League (Prem, 1) (women) Football League Trophy
Southern League (Prem, 1W, 1E) List of
FA Trophy
Isthmian League (Prem, 1, 2) FA Vase
English football league system Records FA NLS Cup

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