Kit of the Week #2: The Gunners’ Golden Generation

In a brand new weekly series, Kieran Ahuja takes a look at a weird, wonderful, wonky or just damn nice football kit.

Mikäel Silvestre has just given away the ball to Ray Parlour on the left wing, under very little pressure. Parlour to Sylvian Wiltord. Wiltord is now running at the Manchester United defence. Wiltord to Ljungberg, noticeable mostly because of a shit red stripe that he’s sporting in his hair – 2002 is a weird time.

Ljungberg taps it through the legs of a 35 year-old Laurent Blanc. A fortunate bounce brings him one on one with Fabien Barthez. He aims low to Barthez’s right. Barthez gets down quickly and palms it away, but only into the path of Wiltord, who slots it down the middle before Barthez can recover. Wiltord stands, one arm in the air. Kanu jumps over his head, obviously.

Sir Alex Ferguson sends on a weary Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who can do nothing to knock Arsenal’s calm performance off-kilter. Yet, as a tense second half draws to a close, Arsenal fans are hesitant to celebrate, in the full knowledge of Man Utd’s reputation for late goals. In the 92nd minute, Fabian Barthez and Lee Dixon get into a bit of a scuffle. Arsenal fans are beginning to embrace each other and chant. The Theatre of Dreams is Arsenal’s for the day.

Two minutes and 57 seconds into injury time, the whistle blows. No Fergie time here. Wenger embraces his coaching staff, and the team is awash in relief. They won’t lift the trophy until the week after, but the double is secured, and they’ve secured it against their biggest rivals away from home, with both Henry and Bergkamp injured. They also won the FA cup just five days ago. Not a bad week.

It seems somewhat serendipitous that Arsenal’s breath-taking away record was garnered in a gold shirt. It may seem an ostentatious or even a little cocky to wear gold. But it seemed fitting for this Arsenal team. They didn’t lose an away game all season; scored in every game; Wenger got manager of the year; Robert Pires won player of the year, with all the players bowing to him as he lifted the trophy.

Why don’t more teams wear gold? Bayern Munich, who wore a gold away kit in the 2004-2005 season, won the double, winning the Bundesliga by an astonishing 14 points. It seems that Gold was in vogue in the first half-decade of the noughties; Man Utd had a gold third kit in the same season, but had a less remarkable year, with the surprise departure of Jaap Stam to Lazio and his frantic replacement with Laurent Blanc.

Perhaps the only reason that this Arsenal team aren’t better remembered is simply that the magnitude of the 2003-04 season eclipsed them. Because there’s something spectacular about watching a team with Arsenal’s panache and artistry play in gold. Watching a typically elegant Henry, a seasoned Bergkamp at his most precise, an explosive Ljungberg and an ethereal Pires gallop round the pitch is aesthetic enough, but then add gold.

Arsenal would play in gold again, on the road in the 2015-16 season, but they could not conjure the Midas touch of 2001-02. Often remembered as their nicest kit, this gilded shirt was one that befitted Arsenal’s level of artistry.

Kieran Ahuja is co-founder, writer and creative director for 5WFootball. Follow him on Twitter here

 

 

Representing Rohingya

Words by George Storr & Kieran Ahuja. Featured image from Rohingyafc.com

According to UN special investigator Yanghee Lee, Genocide was still being committed in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims as recently as October. More than 900,000 Rohingya people have fled Myanmar as a result of a 2017 military crackdown and now they’re attempting to enter the world of international football.

Continue reading “Representing Rohingya”

Lionesses’ She Believe’s Cup victory is a milestone but leaves Phil Neville with an even greater selection headache for the summer

The dust has settled, a week has passed, now Kathryn Batte takes a look at what the She Believe’s Cup victory means for the Lionesses and Phil Neville this summer… 

Unless you’re an avid follower of women’s football, you probably hadn’t heard of the She Believe’s Cup until England’s 3-0 victory over Japan last week gave Phil Neville his first piece of silverware as the Lionesses’ manager. 

Continue reading “Lionesses’ She Believe’s Cup victory is a milestone but leaves Phil Neville with an even greater selection headache for the summer”

FC Start and the legend of the ‘Death Match’ of 1942

By Saikat Chakrobarty 

After a cruel and bloody siege that lasted for 72 days, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic’s capital, Kyiv, was occupied by the Nazis in September 1941. In a attempt to not look like brutal tyrants in the eyes of the local population, the Nazi government tried to create the illusion of a prosperous life by organising various cultural events and incorporating sports into the daily life of the ordinary citizen.

Continue reading “FC Start and the legend of the ‘Death Match’ of 1942”

Manchester United Women: the biggest club in the world can make up for lost time

By Kathryn Batte 

Fourteen years ago Manchester United abandoned women’s football.

It’s the 21st February 2005. In three months’ time the Women’s Euros will be held in the north-west of England. The hosts will play their first group game against Finland at the City of Manchester Stadium. This is the biggest moment in the modern era for women’s football in England. So why did Manchester United, the biggest and wealthiest (at that time) club in the world, decide this was the right time to pull the plug on their women’s team?

Continue reading “Manchester United Women: the biggest club in the world can make up for lost time”

How far is player power and respect being challenged in modern football?

Respect is a requirement in every path of life, but on a professional football field, you’d expect it would be a given. Your team is locked level in the dying embers of the Carabao cup final and you pull up with an injury, holding your legs. The managers first thought is to get a player off the bench ready to come on. Clearly instructing on the sideline for a substitution, you stand on the field of play waving your arms around like a kid in a soft play area instructing to his mother that he doesn’t want to leave.

Continue reading “How far is player power and respect being challenged in modern football?”