The Arsenal History
Arsenal were founded as Dial Square in 1886 by workers at the Royal Arsenal munitions works in Woolwich, but were renamed Royal Arsenal shortly afterwards. They renamed themselves again to Woolwich Arsenal after turning professional in 1891. The club joined the Football League in 1893, starting out in the Second Division, and won promotion to the First Division in 1904. However, the club’s geographic isolation resulted in lower attendances than those of other clubs, which led to the club becoming mired in financial problems and effectively bankrupt by 1910, when they were taken over by Henry Norris. Norris sought to move the club elsewhere, and in 1913, soon after relegation back to the Second Division, 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 nevertheless were elected to rejoin the First Division at the expense of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, by reportedly dubious means.
In 1925, Arsenal appointed Herbert Chapman as manager. Chapman had already won the league twice with Huddersfield Town in 1923–24 and 1924–25, and he 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 – an FA Cup in 1929–30 and two League Championships, in 1930–31 and 1932–33. In addition, Chapman was reportedly 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, but Joe Shaw and George Allison carried on his successful work. Under their guidance, Arsenal won three more titles (1933–34, 1934–35 and 1937–38 ) and an FA Cup (1935–36). However Arsenal had started to fade by the decade’s end, when the intervention of World War II meant competitive professional football in England was suspended.
After the war, under Allison’s successor Tom Whittaker, Arsenal enjoyed a second period of success, winning the league in 1947–48 and 1952–53, and the FA Cup in 1949–50. However, after that their fortunes waned; unable to attract players of the same calibre as they had in the 1930s, the club spent most of the 1950s and 1960s in trophyless mediocrity. 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 Bertie Mee as manager in 1966. After losing two League Cup finals, they won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first European trophy, in 1969–70, beating Anderlecht 3-2.. This was followed by an even greater triumph: their first League and FA Cup double in 1970–71. However, the Double-winning side was soon broken up and the following decade was characterised by a series of near misses. Arsenal finished as First Division runners-up in 1972–73, lost three FA Cup finals (1971–72, 1977–78 and 1979–80) and lost the 1979–80 European Cup Winners’ Cup. The club’s only success during this time was an FA Cup win in 1978–79, with a last-minute 3–2 victory over Manchester United that is 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 by Michael Thomas in the final game of the season against fellow title challengers Liverpool. Graham’s Arsenal won another title in 1990-91, a feat only to be bettered by another Arsenal championship winning team, losing only one match, the FA Cup and League Cup double in 1992–93 and a second European trophy, the Cup Winners’ Cup, in 1993–94. However, Graham’s reputation was tarnished when it was revealed that he had taken kickbacks from agent Rune Hauge for signing certain players, and he was sacked in 1995. His replacement, Bruce Rioch, lasted for only one season, leaving the club after a dispute with the board of directors.
The club’s success in the late 1990s and 2000s owes a great deal to the appointment of manager Arsène Wenger in 1996. 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 1999–00 UEFA Cup (losing on penalties to Galatasaray), were victorious in the 2002–03 and 2004–05 FA Cups, and won the Premier League in 2003–04 without losing a single match, which earned the side the nickname “The Invincibles”; in all, the club went 49 league matches unbeaten, a national record.
Arsenal have finished in either first or second place in the league in eight of Wenger’s eleven seasons at the club.[Until 2005–06, Arsenal had never progressed beyond the Champions League quarter-finals; in that competition, however, they reached the final, the first club from London to do so in the competition’s fifty-year history, but were beaten 2–1 by FC Barcelona. In July 2006, they moved into their current stadium, the Emirates Stadium, after 93 years at Highbury