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October 2016
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Why changing Arsenal’s shirt in 2005/6 was not such a terrible idea. Maybe.

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

19 comments to Why changing Arsenal’s shirt in 2005/6 was not such a terrible idea. Maybe.

  • colario

    Well I have an Arsenal tie which is burgundy with silver cannons on it.

    When I wear a tie and we have won our last match that is the tie I wear.

    Unfortunately I am rubbish at football whether or not I wear the tie!

  • Gord

    It should be just like manually writing HTML Usama. I will use parentheses instead of angle brackets.

    Here is your first (a href=””)link(/a).

  • Gord

    Now with the proper angle brackets.

    Here is your first link.

  • Matt Clarke

    I did really like the burgundy strip but feel that it should be reserved for such special occasions.

    @Usama: “…can anyone tell me how to add links in a hyperlink manner…”
    Beneath the ‘Leave a Reply’ box is a link:
    You can use < these HTML tags that details some HTML tages that can be used. You need the first one. Follow this link for more guidance: Visit w3 schools’ HTML tutorial

  • Josif

    2005-06 was also a season of our lowest point tally under Mr Wenger – 67.

  • Usama Zaka

    Thanks Matt and Gord. Matt, HTML guide link is very helpful. Thanks 🙂

  • Goonerwin

    Just watched xhaka talking openly about playing for Arsenal! Looks like this transfer is for real! What a brilliant statement from the boss within a few days of the season finishing! Now get that striker and new defender and we will take back our crown

  • Pete

    Josif – you mean that Arsenal haven’t been in terminal decline under Wenger since the Invincibles..? Surely not…

  • Goonerwin

    I can’t help but feel excited about this transfer window, Wengers tone has changed, he was disappointed at not winning the league and criticised the lack of goals and I feel he will now pay what it takes to sign a great striker

  • Gord


    Why are you talking “buy, buy, buy”? If anything, I would say Giroud had a less than expected year. If Giroud had an “expected” year next year, that would add a few goals. Alexis had an injury time. If he doesn’t get injured like that next season, that adds a few goals. Cazorla had an injury period, which could have provided those few goals. Iwobi is just coming in to the team, and has shown he can score goals. We have 2-4 young players who could come in to the team, who can score goals.

    Defenders. Chambers has had a solid year of practice, and has looked good at the end of the season shoring up the U21. You can bet he has been given lots of attention. He has probably spent considerable time in the weight room. We have two U21 central defenders (counting Bielik as one) who are coming of age.

    What is sounds to me, is that you are expecting Arsenal to win the league, win the league cup, win the FA Cup and win the Champions League all in one year. And when it starts to look like Wenger won’t succeed at all that, you will start to whinge about how poor Wenger is.

  • nicky

    It’s about time this ridiculously frequent issue of newly designed football shirts by Arsenal FC and others came to an end.
    No consideration is given to families with teenagers desperate to keep up with the latest trend, because the shirts are not cheap.
    The whole unsavoury business is nothing short of a con trick aimed at the most loyal of supporters.
    Arsenal should set an example by stopping this disgraceful practice and restricting the official issue of new kits to (say) every 5 years.

  • goonerwin

    Gord are you being serious? Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky possibly Debuchy all leaving, and Welbeck injured for a full season and you say why buy buy buy? so Walcott gets his annual injury, Wilshere is made out of glass (i hope he stays injury free) plus the fact we could play well over 50 games next season and you think we don’t need to strenthen?????? I really like Giroud and think he is an excellent striker! but he cant do it upfront all season alone! and what if he gets injured? shall we play Malen or Mavididi up front against Barcelona or Bayern?? what I am is a fan of my club who really wants us to win everything because thats what this great club deserves1and dont you question my support for Wenger I have never wavered in my support for this brilliant man! its people like you who give Untold such a bad name

  • goonerwin

    And another thing, I didnt say buy buy buy !! I said we need three new players to replace the minimum 5 that will be leaving! we have some brilliant young players coming through, Nelson, Willock, Rowe , Dragomir, Beilik, Crowley, nwakali, Adeliade Nkietah and Malen but they are not ready yet and Wenger will not rush them. so yes we need to buy! and Wenger agrees.

  • Gord

    You are saying buy, buy, buy. Arteta, Rosicky, Flamini and Debuchy were hardly getting any time, in large part due to injuries. Or in Debuchy situation, because Berllerin was good enough. If they weren’t playing, and they leave, there is no reason to replace them with purchases. It just means there are 4 slots open. Now if you were to look at the first team plus the U21 plus the loan situation and say what might fill out where, and then conclude there are spots available, that would be fine. But you completely disregard the youth system and had to the shopping market. Buy, buy, buy.

    Sort of like Tora, Tora, Tora.

  • Gord


    Cech, Ospina, Szczzesny, Martinez, Macey

    Outside back

    Bellerin, Carl
    Monreal, Gibbs

    Centre back

    Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gabriel, Chambers
    Pluezguelo (sp?)?
    Other youths?

  • Goonerwin

    You are being extremely naive if you think we don’t need new players! Even Wenger has said we need three new players for next season and I for one would rather agree with his experience! Youth players and under 21s need to be integrated slowly. And teams need to constantly evolve with a balance of both youth and new blood. We will sign the three players we need and sanity will prevail

  • Menace

    Gord – your logic is correct in that the departing players were not active but were part of the squad. We do however, need some new blood including the youngsters. In fact I think Wenger will get a couple more youngsters as well as one or two seniors.

    The key to our success is a slight tweak to our playing style. We need quicker transition & more effective shooting from distance including some kicking technique. Passing the ball into the net is great when fouls are called without having to go to ground.

  • Gord

    One medja story requires us to get a goalkeeper. We have 5.

    The previous article talks about 51 million. I seen another medja fabrication which was up in the 70 million range.

    Unrelated. A friend of mine in the past, had a daughter who was quiet short (he was quite a bit shorter than his wife, so you can tell who this daughter took after). Anyway, when she was 13, she went to a soccer (Canada can’t pronounce football) tournament in Kelowna, BC where she ran into the 13 year old boy who won 100 yard dash in provincials. She was quite fast, and she beat him in a footrace.

    Danielle Carter (Ladies team) is quite fast. Where would she sit in the Mens team in terms of speed? Anywhere near Walcott and Bellerin?