Arsenal Trivia: 6 Bizarre Facts You Didn't Know About the Gunners
Arsenal are currently celebrating the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the club. During that long and illustrious time Arsenal have won 27 major honours which includes 13 league titles and 10 FA Cups. They have a history of playing consecutively in the top tier of English football for 93 consecutive years which no other club can match.
During all of that time some strange and bizarre events have occurred at the club, and I will try my best to detail some of them in this article.
Arsenal's Promotion to the Top Tier of English Football in 1918
Arsenal were founded in 1886 and in the next 33 years they were a run of the mill club with no major honours to their name. They had suffered relegation from the top tier of English football in 1913 after financial problems had forced them to sell some of their best players. The first World War arrived soon afterwards, and when it ended English football was reorganised in 1918.
Arsenal's league position had not merited promotion to the top tier, but after a vote among league chairmen they found themselves dining at the top table again. The team who suffered relegation as a result of Arsenal's promotion were Tottenham Hotspur, and it still rankles with their supporters to this day. There were claims of bribery and corruption at the time, but Arsenal have never looked back and have never suffered relegation since then.
When Arsenal were first founded it was as Dial Square, which was the name of a factory workshop at the government munitions factory in Woolwich, southeast London. They were effectively a works team formed by four friends at Royal Arsenal, but from those humble beginnings the present day club was born. The name of Dial Square didn't last very long, as it was soon changed to Royal Arsenal.
Royal Arsenal didn't last too long either, as the club changed it's name to Woolwich Arsenal in 1891. The final name change came when the club moved to Highbury in north London in 1913, and since then they have just been called Arsenal. They moved across the road to the Emirates stadium in 2006, but thankfully no name change accompanied the move this time.
A New Manager in 1925
In 1925 Arsenal manager Leslie Knighton was sacked by club chairman Sir Henry Norris. He advertised the post for a new manager in "Athletic News" and the advert was strikingly similar to what many people consider to be current policy at the club. It went something like "Gentlemen whose sole ability to build up a good side depends on the payment of heavy and exorbitant transfer fees need not apply".
Thankfully the chairman decided it was worth paying the price for a new manager, and Herbert Chapman arrived fresh from back to back league titles with Huddersfield Town. He went on to become a legendary manager at Arsenal, as he led them to their first senior trophies. Sadly his time at Arsenal was cut short when he died of pneumonia in January 1934, but his legacy is still felt at the club to this day.
The Battle of Highbury
Italy won the World Cup in 1934, but England didn't take part in the tournament until 1950. On November 14th, 1934, Italy came to London to play England in an international friendly at Highbury. It was the Italian team's first match since winning the trophy, and the English press dubbed it "the real World Cup Final".
The England team on the night contained seven Arsenal players in it, as they had won two successive league titles and another was on its way to them. No England team before that night or since it has ever fielded seven players from the same club. The England team went on to win 3-2 in a vicious game which saw tackles and injuries which would not be tolerated in the modern game.
Italy had to play almost the entire game with 10 players after Arsenal's Ted Drake broke a defender's foot early on, but it wasn't the only break on the night. There was a broken nose and a fractured arm among the English team before the game was over too. The Arsenal team of the day could certainly have been considered to be the best club team in Europe, but sadly it was another 20 years before the European Cup came into existence.
Arsenal's Love of Italy
Arsenal have had some bad nights on their travels in Europe, but they are the only English team to have won away from home against the three great clubs of Italian football. The first victory was in the second leg of the 1980 Cup Winners Cup semifinal when a last-minute Paul Vassen goal saw them beat Juventus 1-0 to reach the final. Sadly the final ended in disappointment when they lost on penalties to Spanish club Valencia.
In November 2003 Arsenal traveled to Inter Milan for their away group game in the Champions League against Inter Milan. Arsenal had already lost 3-0 at home to the same opposition in an earlier group game, and they needed a win to keep their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages alive. It was 1-1 at halftime, but Arsenal had the upper hand and took the lead early in the second half.
In the final five minutes of the game Arsenal tore Inter apart and added another three goals for one of their greatest European nights ever. It was a night to remember for all Arsenal fans.
In March 2008 Arsenal traveled to AC Milan for the away leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. They had drawn the home leg 0-0 a couple of weeks earlier, and the stage looked set for the Italian club to progress. They were the reigning European champions and they were playing at home to a relatively inexperienced Arsenal team.
Arsenal turned in a magnificent performance on the night, and late goals from Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor gave them a 2-0 victory. It meant Arsenal had the full set of top Italian scalps on their travels, but unfortunately they didn't progress past the next round.
League Titles Won at Rivals' Grounds
Arsenal have made a bit of a habit of winning the league title at the grounds of some of their greatest rivals. Of their 13 league titles so far they have won two of them away from home against their nearest rivals of the season in which they won it, and another two away to their local rivals Spurs. It's the sort of habit Arsenal fans are very proud of, as it increases bragging rights by such a degree.
The first time it happened was in 1971 when they won 1-0 away to Spurs on the last day of the season to clinch their first domestic double. In 1989 Arsenal pulled off what was probably the most dramatic league title victory of all when they won 2-0 away to Liverpool to beat them on goals scored to the league title. Both teams finished level on goal difference, but Arsenal were crowned champions because they had scored 73 goals to Liverpool's 65.
In 2002 Arsenal won their third double and they claimed the league crown away to Manchester United. United were not only the current champions, but also the only team that could prevent Arsenal from winning the title. A Sylvan Wiltord goal on the night was enough to bring the title and the glory back to north London.
The invincible Arsenal team of 2004 won the title with four games to spare, and they had the pleasure of doing it at Spurs yet again. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, but it was all that Arsenal needed to claim their 13th league title. They went on to become the first English team in over 100 years to complete a season unbeaten in the top tier.
With the transfer window about to close in just over 24 hours, Arsene Wenger looks set to make his most bizarre move of all as Arsenal manager. It actually appears that he is going to spend a fair deal of the huge transfer kitty he has at his disposal, and Arsenal are set to see a host of new players arrive. After Sunday's drubbing against Manchester United, Arsenal needed to invest in their squad and the fans' wishes appear to be answered.
For a manager with such a cautious approach to transfers Wenger suddenly appears to have entered the market for almost any player that is available. Arsenal have lost so many players to transfers and loans this summer that major surgery on their squad was needed, but most fans believed it was too late. It will make for a very interesting few days, as Arsenal rush to register players and apply for work permits for some of them as well.
That's it for today.
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