Nickname: The Gunners
Manager: Mikel Arteta
Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Current league position: 10th
Last season’s finish: 8th
Current EPL top scorer: Alexandre Lacazette (10 goals in all competitions)
FFV’s one for the future: Catalin Cirjan
Arsenal FC are London’s most successful football club, and the most successful in England after Manchester United and Liverpool. Formed when David Danskin, a worker at the Woolwich Arsenal, gathered together 15 of his colleagues to form Dial Square, the club outgrew its Plumstead home to become London’s first professional club, before becoming Royal Arsenal a month after founding, and Woolwich Arsenal in 1893.
Woolwich Arsenal became the first team from the South of England to join The Football League, in which they played in the Second Division until winning promotion in 1904. The club’s relegation in 1913 remains the last time the club has suffered this fate, leading to the longest continual playing of an English club in the top division. The club was promoted in 1919 after a vote by the league, and changed name for the last time to become The Arsenal.
Luring Herbert Chapman in 1925, the club won the first of their 14 FA Cups in 1930 – their first national trophy, ironically beating Chapman’s old Huddersfield Town side in the final. The following year saw Arsenal win their first top division trophy, which they won again for three successive years, starting in the 1932/33 season. In the middle of the 1933/34 season, Chapman died suddenly of pneumonia, but under Chapman’s successors, the club were successful until the outbreak of the Second World War.
Following the war, in which Arsenal suffered the heaviest losses of any top division club, the club managed to win an FA Cup (49/50) and two league titles (47/48 and 52/53), before going on a 17 year trophy drought. Ending with 1969/70’s Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the club would go on to win their first League and Cup double the following season, taking the title with a 1-0 win at arch rival Tottenham Hotspur’s own ground.
The 1979 FA Cup win was sandwiched by two defeats, and 1980 also saw a European Cup Winners Cup final defeat on penalties. The club brought in former player George Graham, who among other successes won Arsenal their 1988/89 First Division victory in dramatic circumstances – with Michael Thomas scoring a goal in the 93rd minute of the final game of the season at Anfield to take the title away from Liverpool.
In 1996, the club appointed Arsene Wenger, a relatively unknown manager at the time of appointment, but whose impact on English football was immense. He became the first manager from outside of the British Isles to win the Premier League (though, notably, no English manager has managed to do so to this day), when the club won a League and Cup double in his first full season in charge.
The 2003/04 season is widely regarded as one of the most remarkable achievements in English football, as Wenger’s side went an entire league season unbeaten – fending off a strong Manchester United side, and a nouveau-riche Chelsea. The club also confirmed their status as champions with a point at White Hart Lane – meaning Arsenal had won as many titles on their own rivals’ ground as the rivals had won in total.
A Champions League final appearance in 2006 marked the last time Arsenal would reach the final of a major trophy until an FA Cup win in 2014 – ending a 9 year highly-publicised trophy drought. Three more wins since 2014 (2015, 17 and 20) mean that Arsenal have won more than 10% of all the FA Cups to have been played, and Arsene Wenger is the manager to have won the most trohpies, having won 7.
Wenger stepped down in 2018, bringing in Spaniard Unai Emery. The club made a Europa League final (having continuously played in the Champions League for over 20 seasons) but were defeated by Chelsea in Baku. Emery was sacked the following season, bringing former player and current manager Mikel Arteta to the club – who guided the club to their 14th FA Cup in 2020 in the shadow of the Coronavirus crisis.