Ranked! The 10 best Arsenal kits of all time
Agree with our list of standout Gunners shirts? Jon Spurling adjudicates
10. The Invincibles shirt
In the 2003/04 campaign, Arsenal players thrilled fans with the purity and class of their football as they went through the league season unbeaten. Midfielder Gilberto recalled: “It was the last season where the focus was on the football, and not the money, or Roman Abramovich, or the constraints from the new season.”
In keeping with this, Arsenal’s home shirt design is a purist’s delight, with clear lines between the red and the white, and the O2 logo in the middle of the shirt. Twelve years on, the shirt worn by the Gunners side which secured the league title at White Hart Lane looks distinctly baggy, in contrast to the pyrotechnic tops worn by modern Arsenal stars.
9. Sega power
Considering that Arsenal were enjoying a golden spell in the domestic sphere, it was entirely apt that in the 2001/02 campaign, they wore a pure golden shirt on their travels – albeit with SEGA plastered all over the front of it. From February, the Gunners eviscerated their rivals with a phenomenal set of victories, and wrapped up the title in style thanks to Sylvain Wiltord’s winner at Old Trafford.
Kanu (seen hurdling Wiltord in the clip below) commented: “For me, Arsenal’s away shirt should always be gold or yellow. It runs through the club’s blood stream.”
8. Wenger and Nike
Back in the days when Arsene Wenger’s teams really were a cut above the rest, they wore this red and white Nike classic, which saw its finest hour when the Gunners defeated Everton to clinch the first half of the 1998 Double at Highbury, with a delighted Tony Adams grabbing the final goal. It’s a reminder of more carefree times, when long term JVC sponsored the club, when Wenger was king, and when attention focused on on-pitch success, rather than off-field concerns about finances.
7. The Golden Nugget
In the 1988/89 campaign, George Graham’s Arsenal were far more potent on their travels than they were on a quagmatic Highbury pitch. So much so, in fact, that Graham once described his side as “golden nuggets” (on account of their sulphur yellow and blue change strip) as the Gunners hit teams on the counter-attack away from home.
This was never better illustrated than in the dying seconds of the decisive match at Anfield on May 27, as Michael Thomas charged forward to win the league for his team at the death. The luminescent yellow top, contrasting with the emerald green Anfield pitch, gave Thomas’s dramatic winner a cinematic quality, which later marked the climax of the film Fever Pitch.
6. Debut trophy shirt
Long sleeved and made from drill cotton, Arsenal’s 1930 FA Cup Final top (not to mention the baggy white shorts) has become a classic by virtue of the fact that the Gunners won their first trophy at Wembley sporting this beautiful red number. With its white button collar, it has the appearance of a rugby-styled shirt.
Arsenal heroes Alex James and Jack Lambert scored the goals as their team defeated Huddersfield 2-0. Rumour has long since abound that Gunners manager Herbert Chapman wanted the white added to the shirt because he believed it improved his players’ peripheral vision.
- READ THIS Shankly, Chapman, Hiddink and Ferguson are names synonymous with glory – but what of their unheralded siblings’ forays into management?
5. The Gunners in green? Almost…
Apparently, no one liked Arsenal's bizarre decision to introduce a distinctly odd short-sleeved green and blue away number for the 1982/83 campaign. Players were reputedly unimpressed by the design, and the programme editor tetchily requested that fans stop writing in to complain about it.
Fans' dislike of the strip was also partly due to the fact that Terry Neill's Arsenal's play that season was largely dire, with crowds tumbling below the 20,000 mark. Yet 33 years later it's become a bit of a cult classic, with fans sporting retro jade shirts and reminiscing about the good old bad old days of Lee Chapman and John Hawley.
4. The Double shirt
A few days after winning the league at White Hart Lane, Arsenal completed the 1971 Double at Wembley by defeating Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup Final, wearing their stunning yellow and blue away number. In sweltering temperatures, both sides laboured as the game entered extra-time, and Gunners skipper Frank McLintock complained that the 100% cotton top “was almost impossible to breathe through. They got so heavy because we were pouring out sweat.”
Deep into extra-time, Charlie George – with yellow socks rolled down and shirt outside his shorts – fired a coruscating winner past Ray Clemence. His famous Jesus Christ Superstar celebration is almost as iconic as the shirt he was wearing.
3. The iconic shirt
Arguably the most iconic Arsenal shirt ever, the 1970s long-sleeved home kit – with a rounded white neck and the iconic cannon – is classic, simple and stylish. Striker Ray Kennedy gushed about “the beautiful technicolor red” which shone brightly as television entered the colour age, and Arsenal enjoyed a golden spell at the beginning of the decade.
It was Kennedy who netted the decisive Gunners goal as his team secured the vital win at White Hart Lane to bring the title to Highbury for the first time in 18 years. And to make it extra special, the away side was sporting their classic red and white number.
2. '90s chevron class
The sight of paunchy, overweight Arsenal fans sporting their club's Acid House classic from the early '90s may now be faintly amusing, but a quarter of a century ago those 40-somethings watched Ian Wright make his Gunners debut – and score – in this chevron-tyre-styled yellow, blue and green number.
Other clubs experimented with chevron-style shirts – and there were a good number of sartorial disasters – but the sight of Limpar, Rocastle, Merson, Thomas et al marauding forward in this top will always burn brightly in Arsenal fans' memory banks.
1. The '78 Cup Final classic
Initially, Arsenal had prevaricated over the addition of butterfly collars to the yellow away top. In their run to the 1978 FA Cup Final, they introduced wing collars and a giant blue cannon in the middle of the shirt, before reverting to the classic design for the final.
But a year later, with a thinner V neck collar and the cannon tucked back in the left-hand corner, Arsenal players donned the archetypal late '70s shirt at Wembley as their side faced Manchester United at Wembley. In the 'Five Minute' final, Alan Sunderland won the game for the Gunners in the dying seconds. His expletive-filled celebration, with blue collars fluttering around, remains one of the club's most iconic images.
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Jon Spurling is a history and politics teacher in his day job, but has written articles and interviewed footballers for numerous publications at home and abroad over the last 25 years. He is a long-time contributor to FourFourTwo and has authored seven books, including the best-selling Highbury: The Story of Arsenal in N5, and Get It On: How The '70s Rocked Football was published in March 2022.