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Address: Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 England
Phone: 020 7704 4000
Fax: 020 7704 4001
Official URL: http://www.arsenal.com
Chairman: Sir Chips Keswick
Club Director: Ivan Gazidis, Lord Harris of Peckham, Stan Kroenke
The Fall Of The Invincibles
Arsene Wenger's tenth anniversary at the club he has shaped so effectively and attractively around his own footballing ideals coincided with a uniquely turbulent year in Arsenal's history.
Wenger had steered the Gunners to a Premiership top two finish in each of his first eight full seasons in charge, delivering three titles, four FA Cups, two Doubles and one unbeaten League campaign along the way, and producing a team that played the most scintillating attacking football that most people had ever seen in England.
In his ninth season, with that 'Invincibles' team starting to be broken up and the Gunners bidding farewell to Highbury, they finished fourth - but reached the final of the Champions League for the first time.
Wenger's priorities for the 2006-07 campaign were clear as Arsenal settled into their impressive new 60,000 capacity Emirates Stadium home: go one better in Europe's premier club competition, while mounting a sustained challenge to Chelsea in the Premiership.
Although key players such as Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Jose Reyes had left the club in the summer, the arrivals of Tomas Rosicky, William Gallas and Julio Baptista - and the emergence of gifted young stars such as Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Eboue - meant the club still boasted one of the most talented squads in the League.
But for various reasons the season was one of unfulfilment. Talismanic captain and all-time leading scorer Thierry Henry was absent injured for most of the campaign. Van Persie was sidelined by injury from January onwards. The team repeatedly had to come from behind at the Emirates and were betrayed by a lack of experience away from their new stadium. So often they dominated matches, created countless chances but failed to convert them.
Their season was defined by an 11-day spell in late February/early March when they lost the Carling Cup final to Chelsea, an FA Cup 5th round replay to Blackburn and a Champions League tie (on aggregate) to PSV. Then in April vice-chairman David Dein, Wenger's friend and ally, quit the club after failing to convince the rest of the board that the club needed a major injection of funds from would-be foreign investors.
Every End Is A New Beginning
In the summer Henry left for Barcelona, the future ownership of the club remained uncertain and their main rivals appeared to be leaving the Gunners behind in the transfer market.
Yet all the negativity blurred the fact that Wenger had assembled a young, exciting, talented squad that was highly motivated and learning fast from its experiences. Wenger made it clear he was still committed to the club, signing a new contract, and to his new team, to which he added Bacary Sagna and Eduardo Da Silva.
The Gunners have made a very solid start to the 2007-08 campaign, and suddenly the reports of Arsenal's demise seem at best premature, at worst hopelessly wide of the mark. Wenger's post-Henry Gunners - more robust, full of pace and with Fabregas the creative fulcrum - look ready to prove a few people wrong.
They could add a new chapter to a story that began when Arsenal Football Club was formed by workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, south-east London, in 1886.
The Early Years
The club began as Dial Square (the name of one of the workshops), and included two former Nottingham Forest players, Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates. Beardsley wrote to his old club for help and Forest provided the fledgling club with a full set of red jerseys and a ball.
The club became known as the Woolwich Reds, although their official title soon after formation was Royal Arsenal (1886), then Woolwich Arsenal (1891) and finally Arsenal in 1914, by which time the club had moved to Highbury in North London. Arsenal turned professional in 1891 and became a limited company in 1893.
They became the first southern-based team to join the Football League (1893), and won promotion from the Second to the First Division in 1904. Relegation in 1913 was immediately followed by the move to north London in search of a more accessible location and a bigger, more reliable fan base.
On the resumption of football after the First World War, Arsenal succeeded in being elected to the expanded First Division at the expense of bitter local rivals Tottenham Hotspur. But if their elevation smacked of political intrigue, they have justified their status, having enjoyed continuous membership of the top flight ever since (81 consecutive seasons in the First Division or Premier League by the end of 2006-07 season, excluding wartime; next best is Everton with 53 consecutive seasons).
The arrival of Herbert Chapman as manager in 1925 really put The Gunners on the football map. They became the first southern club to win the League title, doing so in record-breaking style in 1931. Arsenal dominated the 1930s under first Chapman then George Allison, and enjoyed further success immediately after the Second World War under former player and trainer turned manager Tom Whittaker.
Success In The Modern Era
Bertie Mee led them to European success and the domestic Double in the early 1970s, and a member of Mee"s side, George Graham, took Arsenal to six major trophies in nine years (1986-87 until 1994-95).
Arsene Wenger was appointed manager in 1996 and has led the club to two domestic Doubles (1998 and 2002). In 2004 he became the first man to win three League titles for the Gunners. His side completed the 2003-04 campaign without losing a single League game - a modern record. It was the second season in three that Arsenal remained unbeaten away from home.
The Gunners have won 13 of the 18 League titles won by London clubs and are second only to Manchester United with FA Cup wins (10). But their major challenges now are to recapture the Premiership crown and, finally, to win the European Cup (Champions League). Wenger will insist that their attempts to do so are based on the fast-flowing passing game he unswervingly champions.
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