Arsenal F.C. History

History
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arsenal were founded as Dial Square in 1886 by workers at the Royal Arsenal 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. In 1913, soon after relegation back to the Second Division, they moved across the Thames to the new Arsenal Stadium in Highbury, North London. They dropped "Woolwich" from their name the following year, thus becoming one of only two Football League teams not named after a place, the other being Port Vale. 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 the highly successful Herbert Chapman as manager. Chapman had won the league with Huddersfield Town in 1924 and 1925, 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. Between 1930 and 1938, Arsenal won the First Division five times and the FA Cup twice, although Chapman did not live to see all of these achievements, as he died of pneumonia in 1934; George Allison succeeded him. 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.



Following the suspension of English professional football during World War II, under Tom Whittaker Arsenal won the league in 1948 and 1953, and the FA Cup in 1950. 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's second successful era began with the surprise appointment of club physiotherapist Bertie Mee as manager in 1966. After losing two League Cup finals, they won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first European trophy, in 1970. This was followed by an even greater triumph: their first League and FA Cup double in 1971. However, the following decade was characterised by a series of near misses. Arsenal finished as First Division runners-up in 1973, lost three FA Cup finals (1972, 1978 and 1980) and lost the 1980 Cup Winners' Cup final on penalties. The club's only success during this time was an FA Cup win in 1979, 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 1987, Graham's first season in charge. This was followed by a League title win in 1989, won with a last-minute goal in the final game of the season against fellow title challengers Liverpool. Graham's Arsenal won another title in 1991, losing only one match, the FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993 and a second European trophy, the Cup Winners' Cup, in 1994. 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 over transfer funds.

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 1998 and a third in 2002. In addition, the club reached the final of the 2000 UEFA Cup (losing on penalties to Galatasaray), were victorious in the 2003 and 2005 FA Cups, and won the Premier League in 2004 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 ten seasons at the club. They are one of only four teams (along with Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea) to have won the Premier League since its formation in 1993, although they have failed to retain the title each time they have been champions. Until recently, Arsenal had never progressed beyond the Champions League quarter-finals; in 2005–06 however, they reached the competition's Final (the first club from London to do so in the competition's fifty year history), but were beaten 2-1 by FC Barcelona.