By our special correspondent i/c colour co-ordination.
Arsenal’s 2005/6 Season was Quite a Purple Patch
Looking back on the heady days of 05/06, Arsenal look like the team that almost won it all but kept falling just short. Runners-up in the Champions League. Fourth in the Premiership. Out of the League Cup in the semis to Wigan.
Maybe our minds were on other things, though. Aside from looking forward to seeing this new signing called Theo in action, the club was in reflective mood as we commemorated our last season at Highbury before moving south west to the Emirates. That season Arsenal wore a specially commissioned burgundy kit, a reference to the colour players wore back in the 1880s when the club was first formed.
(Except that actually, there is no valid evidence that Arsenal ever played in this colour, and there is a lot of evidence that the one single photograph that suggests they might have done, has been touched up. Full details on the Arsenal History Society web site.)
Now we’ve known that there are a lot of questions about the colour of the shirt for a long time. But nowhere’s where the story gets really strange.
It turns out that the kit wasn’t just our most successful one ever, it was also the most successful kit in the premiership era.
A T-shirt company has done the maths, taking the data from 8740 Premier League matches, to discover whether the colour teams play in confers an advantage or disadvantage. Instinctively, most people think red is the strongest colour, thanks to historical performances from Arsenal, Man United and perhaps Liverpool. Others would say blue thanks to the combined efforts of Chelsea, Man City and now Leicester.
But that ignores the fact that there are also plenty of weak teams wearing blue and red. When the results are taken on average, these poor performers drag the colour down. But one colour that doesn’t seem to have negative connotations is burgundy.
When average points per game is calculated, the winner is burgundy with 1.6 points per game.
When most goals per game is worked out, you guessed it – it’s burgundy, with 1.5 goals per game.
Fewest goals conceded? You’re getting good at this. In burgundy the average was 0.983 conceded.
But who’s responsible for this amazing feat? The Gunners. During that one season, they performed so well in burgundy that it takes the average to the top, despite some woeful performances from other clubs with burgundy away kits.
You can read the whole study here, but it’s a tantalising to think the colour might play a part in success. After all, Arsenal only wore the colour for one season when we finished fourth, so it was when we didn’t play in burgundy that the droughts and leaks must have been happening.
The study also analyses whether in 1996 Sir F Word was right to claim Man United’s grey away strip made his players invisible to each other before doing away with it forever. Well as it happens, United’s average of 0.2 points per game in grey was much worse than the overall average of 1.3 points per game in grey. So sorry, Sir F, you were wrong, mate! (OK … they won the league that season.)
So the question is … should the Gunners switch to burgundy permanently? I think we already know the answer to that one.
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page
New and recent series on the Arsenal History Society Site