Arsenal Football Club, simply called Arsenal, is located in the London Borough of Highbury (Islington). Founded in 1886, the club has been playing in the Premier League since 1919, making it the longest-running team in the top division.
Arsenal are the third most successful English team nationally after Manchester United and Liverpool, with 13 English Championships, 14 FA Cup (record), 2 League Cup and 16 Community Shield. Internationally they have won the Cup Winners’ Cup and a Fairs Cup. It is also one of fifteen teams to have reached the finals of the main UEFA competitions until 2021: Champions League (2005-2006), UEFA-Europa League (1999-2000 and 2018-2019) and Cup Winners’ Cup (1979- 1980 and 1994-1995).
Arsenal’s colors are red for the shirt and white for the shirtsleeves and shorts. The club’s match venue has changed several times: initially the team played in Woolwich; in 1913 they moved to Arsenal Stadium in Highbury; since 2006, the team has played their home games at the Emirates Stadium, located in Ashburton Grove. The club crest has changed repeatedly, but at least one cannon has always appeared inside; for this reason, players and fans are often referred to as ‘Gunners’.
Arsenal are one of the richest clubs in the world, with an estimated net worth of around £1.75 billion in 2019 according to Forbes magazine; this made them the seventh most profitable club in the world and third in England after Manchester United and Manchester City.
Founded as Dial Square by a group of workers from the Royal Arsenal workshop of the same name, Arsenal was soon renamed Royal Arsenal and then Woolwich Arsenal in 1891 with the transition to professionalism. The club joined the Football League in 1893 and made their debut in the Second Division, where it remained for eleven years before being promoted to the First Division. The club’s geographical isolation did not favor a large attendance like that of the other clubs and led to financial difficulties and near bankruptcy in 1910 when it was bought by Henry Norris. In 1913, shortly after relegation to the Second Division, Norris moved the club’s headquarters to Arsenal Stadium in Highbury, north London; in the following years the name “Woolwich” disappeared. In 1919, despite finishing only fifth, Arsenal were promoted to the First Division at the expense of rivals Tottenham Hotspur due to a rule error.
In 1925, Arsenal appointed Herbert Chapman, who had already won the championship with Huddersfield Town in the previous two seasons, as their manager. Chapman’s technical-tactical revolution brought Arsenal into its most successful period. The acquisition of acclaimed players such as Alex James and Cliff Bastin marked the beginning of the club’s dominance in English football in the 1930s. Under his leadership, Arsenal won their first major trophies – an FA Cup in 1929/30 and two championships in 1930/31 and 1932/33. In addition, Chapman was responsible for renaming the local London Underground station from “Gillespie Road Station” to “Arsenal Tube Station”, making it the only tube station to be renamed in honor of a football team.
Arsenal fans celebrate their championship win in 2004.
After Chapman’s untimely death in 1934 from fulminant pneumonia, he was succeeded first by Joe Shaw and later by George Allison. Under their presidency, Arsenal won many titles (1933-1934, 1934/35 and 1937-1938) and an FA Cup (1935/36). However, the club started to weaken towards the end of the decade when all professional competitions in England were suspended due to the Second World War.
After the war, Arsenal, led by Tom Whittaker, Allison’s successor, achieved a second run of success by winning the Championship in 1947–48 and 1952–53, and the FA Cup in 1949–50. Subsequently, the team suffered a setback, partly due to a misguided transfer campaign. For example, he did not win prestigious trophies between the fifties and sixties. Even former England captain Billy Wright in the role of coach between 1962 and 1966 failed to do so.
Arsenal began to triumph again with the surprising appointment of physiotherapist Bertie Mee as manager in 1966. After losing two League Cup finals, the team won the Fairs Cup, their first European trophy, in 1969/70. Another positive event followed: the first double of the Championship and the FA Cup, in 1970/71. But after this favorable period, a moment of rupture followed, and in the following decade the team touched several titles without reaching them. Arsenal finished second in the Premier League in 1972–73, losing three FA Cup finals (1971–72, 1977–78 and 1979–80) and the 1979–80 Cup Winners’ Cup final on penalties. The only success achieved in a match that is still considered a classic was the 1978-1979 FA Cup, won thanks to a last minute goal against Manchester United, beating 3-2.
In 1986, the return of former footballer George Graham as manager brought a third period of glory. Arsenal won the League Cup in 1986-87, in the first season of Graham’s management. This victory was followed by that in the league in 1988-89: this success was also achieved thanks to a last minute goal scored in the end of the season game against Liverpool, also fighting for the title. Graham’s Arsenal won another championship in 1990-91 (losing only one game), the double FA Cup-League Cup in 1992-93 and its second European trophy, the Cup Winners’ Cup, in 1993-94. However, Graham’s reputation was tarnished when it was revealed that he had accepted an illegal payment from Agent Rune Hauge, and he was acquitted in 1995.
His replacement, Bruce Rioch, only lasted one season and left the team after an argument with the board. That season, after a daring semi-final with Sampdoria (3-2 at home to the Gunners and the same score in Marassi for the Sampdoria), he decided on penalties with David Seaman saving three, the fourth European final arrived, the third in Cup Winners’ Cup on three appearances, against Real Zaragoza. The game was decided in favor of the Spaniards in the last minute of extra time by a shot from close range into Nayim’s midfield, which mocked the England goalkeeper, who stumbled trying to deflect the ball.
The club’s successes in the 1990s and 2000s are in part due to French manager Arsene Wenger, who was hired in 1996 and remained on the team’s bench for nearly 22 years. Wenger adopted new tactics and a new training regime and acquired a number of foreign players to complement the English talent already in the squad. Arsenal won a second double of the cups in 1997-98 and a third in 2001-2002. In addition, the club reached the UEFA Cup final in 1999-2000 (lost on penalties to Galatasaray), won the FA Cup in 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 and won the Premier League in 2003-2004 without losing a single match. earn the nickname “Invincibles”; in the whole club, he achieved 49 consecutive useful results between May 7, 2003 and October 16, 2004 (the last two games of the 2002-2003 season, all thirty-eight of the 2003-2004 season and the first nine of the 2004-2005 season), achieving the Premier League’s undefeated record. The series ended on October 24, 2004, when the Gunners were defeated 2-0 by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
In 2005-2006 Arsenal reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time and reached the final of the tournament for the first and to date only (losing 1-2 to Barcelona), making them the first club from London to to reach the last act of the biggest continental competition.
In July 2006, the club moved to its new venue, Emirates Stadium, turning the stadium into Highbury after 93 years.
After seasons marked by third and fourth place finishes, the Gunners returned to take home a trophy in the 2013-2014 season, nine years after the last, thanks to the FA Cup victory; in the competition, Wenger’s team finished in fourth place, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the seventeenth consecutive time. The 2014-15 vintage started with the Community Shield capture, the first since 2004, and ended with the FA Cup victory for the second consecutive time. The following year, the Gunners won the English Super Cup and finished second in the league, while Arsenal won the FA Cup for their 13th time in 2016-2017, becoming the most titled team in the league, even if they were in the league. only took fifth place, failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 19 years. The following season, which started with the victory of the English Super Cup, ended with the semi-finals of the Europa League and sixth place in the Premier League. Wenger left Arsenal at the end of the season. His successor, Unai Emery, made his debut, taking his team to fifth place in the league and to the Europa League final in 2018-2019, losing in the all-English final against Chelsea. Another Spaniard, former club footballer Mikel Arteta, then led The Gunners to victories in the 2019-2020 FA Cup, beating Chelsea in the final (2-1), and the subsequent English Super Cup (on penalties against Liverpool). In the 2020-2021 season, he achieved a disappointing 8th place in the league, one point from the Conference League. The best performances come in the Europa League 2020-2021. In the competition, he reached the semi-finals, losing in 12 games, but lost to Villarreal in the first leg and equalized in the return leg.
For most of its history, Arsenal has been headquartered in South East London. He played his first games at the Manor Ground in Plumstead, with the exception of a three-year spell at the nearby Invicta Ground between 1890 and 1893. The Manor Ground was initially just a pitch, but the club erected scaffolding and stands just in time for its first game took place in September 1893. The stadium was used for the next twenty years until the club moved to North London in 1913. Arsenal’s next stadium, Arsenal Stadium, better known as Highbury, hosted the Gunners’ home games from September 1913 to May 2006.
Its construction was entrusted to the architect Archibald Leitch. It had a design common to many British football pitches of the time, with only one covered stand. In the 1930s, the entire facility was extensively renovated, with the construction of the new Art Deco eastern and western sectors and the addition of canopies on the North Bank and Clock End. Initially, Highbury could hold over 60,000 spectators and had a capacity of 57,000 until the early 1990s, when the Taylor Report and Premier League rules forced the club to rebuild Highbury in time for the 1993-94 season. to fully seated seating. The club therefore reduced the capacity to 38,419 spectators, which was further reduced for UEFA Champions League matches to add additional billboards. Therefore, during the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons, Arsenal played their Champions League home games at Wembley, which could accommodate more than 70,000 people.
Exterior view of the Emirates Stadium in 2006
After considering several options, Arsenal decided in 1999 to build a new 60,000-seat stadium, the Emirates Stadium, in Ashburton Grove, about 500 meters south-west of Highbury, which was partially demolished and converted into a residential area. The project was initially hampered by high costs, but construction was completed in July 2006, in time for the start of the 2006-07 season. The stadium takes its name from its sponsor, Emirates airline, with whom the club signed the longest sponsorship deal in English football history; the value of the operation is approximately 100 million pounds. However, some fans, who do not accept the sponsor’s name as the name of the stadium, refer to it as Ashburton Grove Stadium or the Grove. The original agreement provided for the maintenance of the Emirates Stadium’s naming convention until 2012 and the affixing of the airline’s logo to the team’s jerseys until the end of the 2013-2014 season; both terms were subsequently extended significantly.
Arsenal’s training ground is located in Shenley, Hertfordshire, in a facility that opened in 2000. Before sharing this kind of facility with University College London, the club trained in Higbury until 1961. The Arsenal Reserves also play in Shenley, while the Primavera play their home games at Underhill Stadium, which is owned by Barnet.