No matter who you might support in the English Premier League, the writing is on the wall. Yes, there are still a few months to play—but it’s clear that Arsenal F.C. are the team to beat in the world’s most popular soccer league.
With 20 matches left to play—including league contests against Manchester United (Jan. 22), Manchester City (Feb. 15), and Liverpool (Apr. 8), the Gunners sit in first place with 47 points on matches played. The Gunners also have a good crack at another FA Cup trophy still ahead, with a fourth-round match versus Man City, on Jan. 27.
With yesterday’s 2-0 win versus North London rival Tottenham Hotspur, the Gunners sit eight points clear of Man City.
Observers outside the club may feel like a renaissance is at hand in North London for the club who have not won a league title since the 2003-2004 season, despite winning five FA Cups since then. But for those who’ve stayed close to Emirates’ Clock End, success is all part of the plan and—and part of a long-running tradition.
It’s why Arsenal has adorned the exterior of Emirates Stadium with a new array of artwork. Last week the club unveiled artwork that pays homage to the club’s great history and, more importantly, the great players who have made Arsenal a powerhouse over the last century.
The new art depicts great Arsenal players from past squads who have set league records and represented their countries in the World Cup. The club hopes to transform the north London skyline and redefine its most recent home as a cultural landmark.
Speaking about the project last week, Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham couldn’t hold in his enthusiasm.
“We started with a blank canvas with the hope of capturing and expressing our rich history, our values of community and progress,” Venkatesham said. “This has been a fantastic project enabled by so many of the Arsenal family here in Islington and across the world. We genuinely couldn’t have brought this project to life without everyone working together and giving their passion and dedication to this work.”
The project was put in motion by the club’s ownership and management, in conjunction with a diverse group of artists who are diehard Arsenal supporters.
Among the artists involved are Turner Prize-winning conceptual, video and installation artist Jeremy Deller, plus critically acclaimed painter, poster and mural artist Reuben Dangoor, as well as graphic designer David Rudnick, who led the design process during a series of consultations that began last April.
The stated goal of the initiative is to curate insight into the club’s heritage, culture, and community while constructing “eight pieces of art that represent what Arsenal stands for in 2023 and beyond.”
“Across the eight pieces of art, we hope we’ve created something for everyone,” David Rudnick said.
Rudnick added that there was more than just Arsenal’s flagship red and white colors at work.
“The type-based designs implement typefaces from a project we’ve been undertaking with the club and the supporters’ workshops, to craft a set of voices incorporating both patterns and symbols synonymous with Arsenal, and a clean typographic system that shows how our values are present not just in the future we are building, but all the way to the club’s origins in Eighteen Eighty-Six,” Rudnick said.
Faces of legends, old and new
Along with the large red and white banners bearing slogans such as “This is North London, Home of the Arsenal” and “Always Forward, 1886,” there is artwork depicting the club’s greatest heroes, many of which consist of players from the English Premier League era (1992-present) and the Women’s Super League.
Notably, joining world-renowned Arsenal men such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams, Robert Pires, and Dennis Bergkamp are some of the women who have made Arsenal W.F.C. a powerhouse as well. Among them are Anita Asante, Katie Chapman, Rachel Yankey, Ciara Grant, Kelly Smith, Vic Akers, Emma Byrne, and Faye White.
Arsenal W.F.C. won the Women’s Super League in its inaugural year, 2011, as well as the 2018-2019 season while placing top-three each season in the last decade.
VIDEO: Fans and players celebrate Arsenal’s new art at the Emirates
Weighing in on it all during the artwork’s unveiling was Arsenal legend and longtime Eland international Ian Wright.
“I’m so pleased that the (Arsenal) women have been involved, to see them up here shown, because we’re all one club. That’s what I want from Arsenal fans, is the support the whole club.”
Wright, a striker, played for Arsenal from 1991 to 1998, scoring 128 goals in 221 appearances.
Another former Arsenal player Jack Wilshere was also on hand. The retired midfielder, who started his career with Arsenal and was a member of the first team from 2008-2018, is now a coach of the Under-18 squad.
“Arsenal has been such an important part of my life for so long from such a young age as a player and now here I am writing another chapter with the club as an Academy coach,” Wilshere said.
Wilshire is also one of the players depicted on “Future Brilliance,” a mural that features 11 players brought up as youngsters through Arsenal’s academy, such as Paul Merton, Liam Brady, and beloved captain Tony Adams.
“To be part of the artwork is really humbling and a big honor for me personally, but it also shows our commitment to developing young players and is a signal to them about seizing opportunities here,” Wilshere said. “That’s a really important message for our young players but also for young people in our community.”