Arsenal FC Profile

Major Honours First Division/Premier League (13), FA Cup (14), League Cup (2), UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1)
Year Founded 1886

Through years of success on the domestic and international stage, the Gunners have become an icon of English soccer. Planet Sport takes an in-depth look at the 13-time English champions.

Arsenal are a soccer club from north London who compete in the Premier League - England's top professional tier. They were the first club in English top-flight history to go an entire season without losing a single league match, in 2003/04. Arsenal went on to win the league that season with 90 points.

Arsenal are nicknamed 'The Gunners' and famous former managers include Arsene Wenger, George Graham and Herbert Chapman.

Formation and early history

Arsenal were founded in 1886 as Dial Square. The club were named after the workplace of David Danskin and his 15 fellow munitions workers who formed it. They later took the name Royal Arsenal FC, named after the Royal Arsenal complex.

Based in south-east London at the time, Arsenal's first trophies came courtesy of the Kent Senior Cup and London Charity Cup in 1889/90 and the London Senior Cup in 1890/91. In 1891, they became professional - making them the first London club to do so.

In 1893, Royal Arsenal became Woolwich Arsenal in another renaming of the club. In 1893, they rose to the Football League, becoming the first southern club to do so. In 1904, they were promoted to the First Division, the top tier of English soccer.

However, difficult years were to follow. In 1910, businessmen Henry Norris and William Hall intervened with Arsenal close to bankruptcy. The pair attempted to relocate the Gunners elsewhere and ultimately got their wish under less than ideal circumstances. The club moved into Highbury in 1913 following relegation back to the Second Division.

Herbert Chapman era

Herbert Chapman, legendary former Arsenal manager pictured in 1932

Herbert Chapman became Arsenal manager in 1925 and revolutionised the club. Arsenal had been on an upward trajectory leading up to his arrival, fuelled largely by revenue increases as a result of their move to Highbury. Chapman turned them into regular title winners.

Arsenal won the FA Cup under Chapman in 1930, their first national silverware, and then added league titles in 1930/31 and 1932/33.

The Gunners were again sitting pretty at the top of the table as they looked to defend their Division One title heading into 1934. Their last game of 1933 was a 0-0 draw with Birmingham City. He did not know it then, but it would be Chapman's last match in charge.

During the first week of 1934, Chapman's health deteriorated rapidly after he picked up pneumonia. He died on January 6.

Arsenal went on to win the league title in 1933/34 and continued to enjoy success throughout the 1930s, with Chapman's legacy living on at the club.

Tom Whittaker and the post-war period

Chapman was succeeded by George Allison, while Tom Whittaker, a former Arsenal player, continued to serve as a trainer for both the Gunners and the England national and FA Representative teams.

During the Second World War, Whittaker served as an ARP warden, before becoming a Royal Air Force pilot. He then became a squadron leader. For his service on missions on D-Day, he was awarded an MBE.

Whittaker rose up the ranks within Arsenal, too. After the war, he resumed work under Allison and then became Arsenal manager in 1947.

In charge of his beloved Gunners, he won the league in 1947/48 and 1952/53 and the FA Cup in 1949/50.

Whittaker died of a heart attack while still in charge of Arsenal in 1956. His autobiography, The Arsenal Story, was posthumously released the next year.

Following Whittaker's tragic passing, Arsenal did not win the top-flight title again until 1970/71.

Bertie Mee and George Graham years

Bertie Mee took over as manager in 1966 following a barren spell in which Arsenal had not won a trophy since 1953. He kickstarted an era of success which was later built upon by George Graham.

After League Cup final defeats to Leeds United and Swindon, respectively, in 1968 and 1969, Arsenal won their first European trophy in 1970. Mee's side beat Anderlecht 4-3 on aggregate to claim the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

The following year, Arsenal won the league and cup double, famously securing the former at White Hart Lane, which was then the home ground of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Arsenal struggled to maintain that success in the following years. After the double-winning team was broken up and Ray Kennedy, Charlie George and captain Frank McLintock departed the club, Mee subsequently announced his resignation in 1976.

George Graham starred as a player for Arsenal under Mee and, in 1986, he took over as manager with the Gunners once again enduring a dry spell. Arsenal had not won the league since the double success in 1970/71.

Graham led Arsenal to the title in 1988/89 and again in 1990/91. The 1988/89 success was the inspiration for Nick Hornby's best-selling autobiographical book, Fever Pitch, which became a successful film.

Graham was sacked in 1995 after it emerged he had taken an illegal £425,000 payment from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge in relation to Arsenal's 1992 signings of John Jensen and Pal Lydersen.

Arsene Wenger era

Arsene Wenger is unveiled as Arsenal manager in 1996

Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal in 1996 to the infamous Evening Standard headline "Arsene Who?" Wenger would go on to become part of the furniture of English soccer in an astonishing 22-year reign with the Gunners, revolutionising the country's approach to lifestyle and conditioning within the game.

Wenger led Arsenal to Premier League titles in 1997/98 and 2001/02 before the famous Invincibles triumph of 2003/04. Patrick Vieira captained the team which picked up 26 wins and 12 draws from 38 top-flight matches.

Arsenal did, however, lose to Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. This proved to be a sign of what was to come. Jose Mourinho arrived in west London the following season and his Chelsea side replaced Arsenal as the main challengers to Manchester United's dominance under Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Gunners moved out of Highbury and into the Emirates Stadium in 2006 but struggled to adapt to their new home. The same year they also lost the UEFA Champions League final 2-1 to Barcelona. Six years later, Chelsea would become the first London club to win the trophy.

After a decade of gradual decline, Wenger departed Arsenal in 2018 and was replaced by Unai Emery.

Post-Wenger years

Unai Emery endured a disappointing year-and-a-half in charge of Arsenal after replacing Wenger. He was unable to lead them to UEFA Champions League qualification and the Gunners lost the UEFA Europa League final 4-1 to Chelsea. Emery was sacked after a disappointing start to the 2019/20 season.

Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to the FA Cup less than eight months after his appointment.

Freddie Ljungberg took interim charge of Arsenal before Mikel Arteta became the next head coach. Arteta led the Gunners to FA Cup final success in 2020 but endured a slow start to the 2020/21 Premier League campaign.

This lacklustre start continued as the Gunners failed to reach the Europa League final, losing 2-1 to Unai Emery's Villarreal in the semi-final. Arteta's season went from bad to worse as Arsenal missed out on European football for the first time in 25 years, finishing in a disappointing eighth place.

Arsenal's biggest rivals

Arsenal have heated rivalries within London with Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. The rivalry with Spurs is linked mostly to proximity, with just four miles separating north London's top two clubs.

The rivalry with Chelsea has become particularly heated since the turn of the century, as the Blues have usurped the Gunners as London's dominant force.

While Arsenal reigned supreme in London in the late 90s and early 2000s, Manchester United were winning trophies galore under Sir Alex Ferguson. Wenger and Ferguson shared a bitter rivalry but not quite as bitter as the one between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, the Manchester United and Arsenal captains at the time, respectively.

The fanbase

Arsenal are widely supported across the globe. In September 2011, their support base was estimated to be approximately 100 million worldwide. However, during their time at the Emirates, they have struggled somewhat to fill the stadium amid steep ticket prices.

Arsenal's finances

Arsenal FC are owned by Arsenal Holdings plc. The holding company has few shares, which are traded only occasionally.

In August 2018, Stan Kroenke became the sole shareholder after buying out Alisher Usmanov's shares for £550million.

Arsenal earned £394.7million in soccer revenue in 2018/19 but suffered an overall operating loss of £27.1million.

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