I have been an Arsenal fan for a lot longer than I care to remember at this stage. During that time, I have seen some glorious moments and some moments of utter despair too. There have been times when Arsenal has been the dominant team in English football, and other times when they have flirted with relegation.
One thing has never changed through all of those years though, and that's my undying love for the team I support. Supporting a football team is not something that can be changed in my opinion, and I am just lucky that I chose a team that has achieved so much success. I have to admire fans who support teams with no chance of glory, and their utter dedication to the cause.
In this article I will try to evaluate the reasons why it's good to support Arsenal from my perspective. They may not be the reasons other people support Arsenal, and fans of other clubs may not agree with them but they are my reasons.
It's only my opinion but it's the one that is most important to me, and in my opinion Arsenal are the best football club in the world. What other club uses the word "the" in front of their name other than " The Arsenal".
When things are going wrong or there are problems the club rarely make them public, as they deal with them in a quiet and dignified manner. It's very rare to see Arsenal have any part in the underhand transfer dealings that other clubs get involved in because it just isn't the Arsenal way.
I'm not saying Arsenal are a shining beacon for all other clubs to aspire to, but they try their best to do their business in the best possible way.
I have been privileged in my lifetime to see some fantastic achievements by Arsenal, but none of them can compare to the achievement of the 2003/04 season. In that Premier League campaign Arsenal went through the whole season without losing a single one of their 38 games. Of course they won the league title as well, and they were glorious days to be an Arsenal fan.
The links with that invincible team are all but gone now on the playing field, but the memories will live on in the hearts and minds of every single Arsenal fan that experienced it. I don't know if such a feat will be achieved in my lifetime or indeed ever again, but it will take an exceptional team to do it. That Arsenal team included such greats as Denis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira, and the current squad have a lot to live up to if they are to attempt to emulate such magnificent players.
Love him or loathe him there is no denying that Arsene Wenger has changed the face of Arsenal and probably English football since he took charge of the club just over 15 years ago. He has delivered three league title and four FA Cups for Arsenal during those years, as well as an appearance in the 2006 Champions League final. In every single season he has been in charge at Arsenal they have finished in the top four in the Premier League, as other teams have come and gone.
Arsenal had a relatively successful period not long before Wenger took charge under the management of George Graham, but their style of play was heavily criticised by all neutral observers. Wenger changed the way Arsenal played and before long they were drawing plaudits from one and all. When Arsenal have been at their best under Wenger they have been a joy to behold.
Wenger also changed the diet of his Arsenal players, and his techniques quickly spread through English football. He helped to prolong the careers of the legendary defence he inherited with his new techniques, and they were the backbone Arsenal built their success on.
Things may not be going exactly according to plan for Wenger or Arsenal at the moment, but it's a sobering thought to think where they might be now if he hadn't taken the reins 15 years ago.
Arsenal's greatest rivals are Tottenham Hotspur, and once upon a time they had the distinction of being the only English team to win the double in the 20th century. Arsenal changed that statistic in 1971 by matching their achievement, and then they went on to win it again in 1998 and 2002.
It's a great feeling for the supporter of any English team to see them pick up the two major domestic trophies in one season, and Arsenal have managed that feat three times now. Manchester United have also won three doubles and Chelsea became the only club besides Arsenal to manage the feat in the 21st century. However Arsenal are still the only club to have managed the double in two different centuries.
As an Arsenal fan I have the pleasure of waking up every single morning to read what is undeniably the best football blog in the world. There are more blogs about Arsenal than any other club in England, and there is no doubt that Arseblog is the inspiration behind an awful lot of them. His unique style of writing and sense of humour makes it an absolute pleasure to read what he has to say about the club.
Some days there is virtually nothing to report, but he manages to make his blog even more entertaining on those days. He writes about Arsenal every single day of the year, and he has being doing so for 10 years now. There is simply no better blog than Arseblog, and it gives me immense pride to say it's an Arsenal blog.
Arsenal have a long and glorious history, and it's one that is steeped in tradition and trophies too. Ever since Herbert Chapman took over the club and changed the way things were done Arsenal have been a team that have operated with dignity and won trophies too. They moved to Highbury before Chapman became their manager, and he realised the potential of the club and the stadium too.
He was an innovator and he was the man responsible for changing the name of Gillespie Road tube station to "Arsenal". To this day Arsenal are still the only team with a station named after them, and it's an ideal photo opportunity for all Arsenal fans traveling from afar. Chapman was also an advocate of flood lighting, artificial pitches and numbers on players backs, and Arsenal continued to dominate English football after his untimely death in 1934.
The legacy he left is still there for all to see, and every Arsenal manager since has tried to live up to the standards he set.
When Arsenal decided to move from Highbury to the Emirates stadium I was wary of what the consequences might be. The cost involved was enormous, and other clubs had suffered severely after attempting similar, but smaller, projects. It also meant that Arsenal's traditional home at Highbury was to become houses, apartments and gardens, and the thought didn't appeal to me at all.
I've been to both grounds and I absolutely loved Highbury, but the Emirates has delivered the ability for Arsenal to attempt to compete financially with the biggest clubs in Europe. The club still have some way to go before the debts for the new stadium are repaid, but they have managed to keep the team competitive while they are working hard to assure the future.
The stadium itself is magnificent, and it's so easy to access all the facilities inside it. It means Arsenal's match day income is right up there with the highest match day incomes in the Premier League, and the fans have a much more comfortable experience watching the team. In the long term I have no doubt that the move to the Emirates will be seen as a masterstroke by the manager and the club.
A huge part of Arsenal's tradition was embodied in where they played their football until 2006. Highbury was a magnificent old stadium which was first built in 1913. When all stadiums in England became all seated Arsenal had to reduce the capacity of Highbury to 38,000, and it meant they were losing valuable income in every single home game. The club decided the best thing to do was to move to a new stadium, but thankfully it was built just across the road from Highbury.
When Arsenal fans visit the Emirates stadium they can now pass the old stadium which has been transformed into houses and apartments. Parts of both the Art Deco east and west stands still remain as part of the new structures, as they were listed buildings from the 1930s. The old playing surface became a communal garden for the apartments which had been built.
The bust of Herbert Chapman can still be seen in the entrance to the apartments, and I have been lucky enough to have my picture taken with it.
Since Arsene Wenger took over at Arsenal he has transformed not only the club, but it's style of play as well. Arsenal have gone from being a boring team which played almost a long ball game under George Graham to a team that play an open and expansive style of football under Arsene Wenger. The emphasis is on attacking football, and at times Arsenal play football that can be matched by very few other teams.
When Arsenal have been at their best under Wenger the speed of movement and thought of the players has been quite astounding. It has been a joy to watch players like Thierry Henry, Denis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Cesc Fabregas over the years as they tore opposing defences apart. In recent years the defending may not have been quite as good as it was with the invincibles, but the attacking play is still beautiful at times.
When all else fails and Arsenal are going through a bad time there is always the consolation that at least they are not Spurs. It can't be easy being a Spurs fan knowing that their team has finished behind Arsenal in every single season that Arsene Wenger has managed Arsenal. Their sole ambition seems to be to finish above Arsenal, and who knows what they will do if it ever happens.
It has got to the stage where Spurs release DVDs of any victory over Arsenal the day after the event, and they even released them when they have managed a draw. Their club and their fans are desperate to finish above Arsenal, but it seems to be the limit of their ambition.
They have only won two league titles ever, and the last one of them was 50 years ago when television coverage was in black and white. Since then Arsenal have won six league titles, and three doubles to outdo the one Spurs managed in 1961. It can't be an easy lot looking at all the success of their near neighbours, and wishing they could become a big club too.
That's it for today.
Here's the highlights from yesterday's game.
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