The club was founded in 1886, when the group of workers at the Royal Arsenal munitions factory in Kent formed it under the name Dial Square. They were led by the duo David Danskin and Jack Humble. Danskin was a mechanical engineer from Scotland, who was appointed as team’s first captain. Jack Humble was named as club’s director. His greatest contribution was the fact he helped a lot in bringing the club to professional waters. At that time there where no online casinos, but there where lots of bookies at the game even thought it was illegal.
Dial Square didn’t have to wait long for their first official match. They played it in December of 1886, against Eastern Wanderers and managed to win with 6-0 score.
Only several days after that match, the club changed their name from Dial Square to Royal Arsenal. They initial base was Plumstead Common. After shifting between couple of other alternatives, they finally settled at the Manor Ground.
During the course of the next couple of years, Arsenal won several local trophies, before entering the FA Cup for the first time in season 1889/1890. At the same time, they faced another type of problem. Few professional clubs offered deals to several Arsenal players, and tried to poach them with lucrative contracts. That is the main reason why Arsenal moved to professionalism in 1891. As a result, London Football Association banned them from competing in local competitions. Prior to their invite to the Second Division of the Football League in 1893, the club changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal. They played in the Second Division for eleven years, without any significant results worth mentioning for most of the time. However, it all changed for the better when Harry Bradshaw took the manager’s place in 1899. Although never being a professional player himself, Bradshaw was one of the most influential managers of that era. He secured club’s promotion to the First Division in season 1903/1904, but never got a chance to play there with them. He moved to Fulham in May 1904, prior to the start of the season.
Playing in the First Division appeared to be too much of a challenge for Arsenal. The main reason for that were their financial problems. The club’s revenues were constantly low, due to many reasons – relative geographic isolation, low attendance on the games etc. Despite the fact they had to sell the star players of the team in attempt to overcome the crisis, they came very close to bankruptcy in 1910. A group of businessmen led by Sir Henry Norris, bought the club.
One of Sir Norris’ first steps as the chairman of the club was an idea to merge Woolwich Arsenal with his other club, Fulham. After that plan failed due to Football League officials’ disagreement, Henry Norris tried with another approach. He wanted to relocate the club. He found a new location in Highbury, where he invested a lot of money in building the new stadium. It turned out to be a very good business move, because the attendance on the stadium doubled. In terms of team’s name, they first replaced word Woolwich with the word ‘The’, before becoming just Arsenal in 1919.
During the next couple of seasons, Arsenal struggled a lot in the league. They were near relegation to the Second Division couple of times. But then, Henry Norris brought Herbert Chapman to the club.
Herbert Chapman brought numerous changes to the club. Modernization of training tactics, adding numbers to players’ jerseys and changing the club colours are just some of them. In addition, Sir Henry Norris provided him with enormously high budget for that time, so he was able to buy some of the most quality players in the league. Despite finishing second in Chapman’s premier season in the club, next couple of seasons was not that successful. But Chapman continued to implement his philosophy. He altered Arsenal’s formation, strengthened the defensive line, gave more playing space for the wingers and signed players such as David Jack, Cliff Bastin and Alex James. Soon after, his endeavors paid off. In season 1929/1930, Arsenal reached FA Cup final against Huddersfield Town. The match was played at Wembley Stadium. Arsenal won 2-0 and that trophy was the beginning of their domination in English football throughout the next decade.
They won their first League title in season 1930/1931. In the season after that, they played another FA Cup final, but lost to Newcastle. They didn’t need much time to recover. In season 1932/1933, Arsenal won their second League trophy.
In 1934, a large tragedy occurred in the club, when Herbert Chapman suddenly died. Regardless of that, Arsenal continued dominating in the League and won the titles in the next two consecutive seasons. It was the time when Arsenal recorded some of the highest attendances ever,
After World War II started, most of sport activities in Great Britain were suspended. Although some matches were played during that time, they were not calculated in the official statistics. Besides that, a large number of footballers joined the military, and served as trainers, different kind of instructors etc.
After the war ended and league competitions resumed in 1946, another tragedy for the club appeared. Nine of Arsenal’s first team players lost their lives. Also, Highbury was significantly damaged during the war, and the costs of the repairs were huge. The club surpassed all the difficulties and won another League title in season 1947/1948.
Their title in season 1952/1953 proved to be their last in the next 17 years. Club’s fortune rapidly declined. As a consequence of that, they were not able to hire high profile footballers to their ranks. Also, due to financial reasons, some of the star players left the club and moved to some of Arsenal’s rivals. The crisis lasted until 1966, when Bertie Mee was appointed as manager. He led the club towards their first European trophy. They won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in season 1969/1970 against Belgian Anderlecht and their first League and FA Cup double in season 1970/1971.
With the exception of winning the FA Cup in season 1978/1979 against Manchester United, the following years had almost no success for the club.
In 1986, former player of the club, George Graham, was named as club’s new head coach. He ended the draught period and won the League Cup in season 1986/1987, two League titles in 1989 and 1991 and a League Cup and FA Cup double in season 1992/1993. It needs to be said that season 1992/1993 was the inaugural season of the Premiership as we know it today. Graham concluded his winning series with Arsenal’s second European trophy. He won the Cup Winners’ Cup in season 1993/1994, after defeating the defending champions Parma. During Graham’s reign, Arsenal signed some of their best players in history, including goalkeeper David Seaman and strikers Alan Smith and Ian Wright, who became one of team’s top scorers of all times. Wright was brought from Crystal Palace and paid £2.5million.
Unfortunately, the public found out that Graham took £425,000 of bribe from one Norwegian agent in order to sign John Jensen to the club. Because of that, he was fired in 1995 and Arsene Wenger succeeded him.
With the Frenchman’s arrival to the club, one entirely new era begun for the club.
Arsenal’s performances rapidly improved under Wenger’s influence. He started bringing several French players to the club, who were completely unknown to the English public. Those players were Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka and Emmanuel Petit. He also added Marc Overmars in 1997 but kept some of the club’s earlier stars such as Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown.
Arsene Wenger didn’t take long before delivering some results. After neutralizing twelve-point deficit behind Manchester United, he became the first non-English manager to win the Premiership. And after defeating Newcastle United in the FA Cup final, he managed to take the double crown.
Wenger continued with clever recruiting and brought Fredrik Ljungberg from Halmstads and Thierry Henry from Juventus. His scouts have watched Ljungberg for nearly a year, before Arsenal finally signed him in 1998 for the sum of £3 million. Henry’s transfer was worth around £11 million and his arrival to London meant him being reunited with his former Monaco manager Wenger. He eventually spent 8 years in the club and became club’s top goal scorer of all times, with 174 goals in 254 Premiership appearances. Furthermore, he scored a total number of 228 goals in all competitions for the club.
In season 1998/1999, Manchester United ‘returned the favor’ and overtook Arsenal from the throne. The Red Devils also eliminated the Gunners from the FA Cup in their semi-final match. Dennis Bergkamp missed the penalty in the regular 90 minutes, before Ryan Giggs run through Arsenal’s entire defence and scored a winning goal. In terms of the Champions League performances, Arsenal qualified for the group stage of the competition first time in seven years, but failed to qualify to the knock out stage.
In season 1999/2000, Arsenal finished second in the Premiership. Despite being the runner-ups, they never actually got the chance to really fight for the title, because Manchester United won the league with 18 points ahead. In the same year, after finishing third in the group stage of the Champions League, they continued competing in the UEFA Cup. They made it all the way to the final, but lost to Galatasaray, after Turkish team kept their focus during the penalty shootout.
In the following 2000/2001 season, Arsene Wenger decided to put more focus on the Cup competitions. They reached the FA Cup final against Liverpool and had the 1-0 lead, but then Michael Owen scored twice for the Reds and Arsenal stayed short once again.
It was a signal for Wenger to do some cleaning up in the team. He continued with practice of signing French players. Robert Pires, Sylvain Wiltord were his new acquisitions.
In season 2001/2002, Arsenal recorded their new Double. They had an excellent season in the Premiership and won the title after becoming the only team which scored at least one goal in each game of the season. And after beating Chelsea with 2-0, they won another FA Cup trophy, eighth in the club’s history.
The season after that will remain remembered because of the fact Arsenal managed to defend their FA Cup title. Robert Pires scored against Southampton and that was enough for the Gunners to claim the title.
In season 2003/2004, Arsenal achieved an outstanding record. They won the Premiership title without losing a single game in 38 rounds. They won 26 times and drawn in another 12. By doing so, they become only the second team in entire league history. Preston North End did it first, more than century earlier, in season 1888/1889. Despite that sort of domination, they failed to defend the Premiership title in season 2004/2005. Chelsea won the trophy that year, but Arsenal remained unbeaten in 49 consecutive matches.
Season 2005/2006 gave them the first Champions League final in club’s history. After finishing first in their group, they eliminated Real Madrid, Juventus and Villareal in the knock out stage, before reaching the final against Barcelona. That game didn’t start quite well for the Gunners, because goalkeeper Jens Lehman got his marching orders in the early stages of the match. Nevertheless, Arsenal took the lead after Sol Campbell scored a header. But with 10 men in the field, they were unable to maintain the positive result. Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti scored two goals for the Catalonians and Barcelona lifted the cup.
At the start of 2006/2007 season, Arsenal moved from their longtime home Highbury to the new Emirates Stadium. With the capacity of 60,000 places, it is the third largest stadium in England, after Wembley and Old Trafford.
Ever since they moved to a new stadium, Arsenal didn’t quite manage to find a constant winning form. They sold some of their key players from the previous seasons, including their top star Thierry Henry, who went to Barcelona for €24 million. At the same time, players such as Cesc Fabregas and Gale Clichy established in the first squad. The common characteristic for few consecutive years in the Premiership is the fact that Arsenal always started strong in the initial months of the competition, but then lost their good form in the following months.
In 2011, Thierry Henry, now player of New York Red Bulls, returned to Arsenal, on a two months loan. The fans were delighted and he even managed to score a goal in his second debut for the club, in the Cup game against Leeds United.
In the seasons 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, they claimed two FA Cup titles, after defeating Hully City and Aston Villa, respectively.
Someone would say that Arsene Wenger paid the price of building a new stadium. He was in constant need of selling his best players to other clubs, and that could be one of the main reasons why we weren’t able to witness Arsenal’s top class performances lately. Regardless of what the reason is, fans are getting louder and louder in their demands for Arsene Wenger’s departure. It remains to be seen what will eventually happen.
Arsenal fans are very loyal to the team and it is almost impossible to find a ticket available for any of the matches played at the Emirates. They often call themselves Gooners.
According to the Forbes magazine, Arsenal is listed as second most valuable club in England, with the estimate worth of $2.0 billion.
With their yearly revenues, Arsenal are ranked as the seventh wealthiest club in the world.
Thierry Henry won the European Golden Shoe award in seasons 2003/2004 and 2004/2005, for scoring 30 and 25 goals respectively.
When it comes to kit colours, home garniture is traditionally in red and white combination, while the away sets are changing on a yearly basis. Since 2014, Puma is the main manufacturer of team’s equipment.
The club is involved in many humanitarian projects all over the world. Through the Arsenal Foundation, they are making their contribution to numerous educational and charitable projects.