Monday, September 5, 2011
ESPNsoccernet: October 19, 3:37 PM UK
Arsenal 2011-12 kit: History repeats
It is fair to say that the release of a kit to commemorate the club's 125th year with the motto 'FORWARD' emblazoned upon it is going to raise a few eyebrows when the team's performances on the pitch do not match the stitching on the shirt.
This is the fate that has befallen Arsenal so far this season as many pundits and fans consider the Gunners to have gone 'BACKWARD' after the sales of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas this summer were accompanied by a record 8-2 thrashing by rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Still, the 125th anniversary of one of the finest teams in England is something to be celebrated. The kit, on first glance, is not a million miles away from the 2009-10 version, but contains a new crest that ''highlights the origins of the club'' according to the official Arsenal website.
The design features 15 laurel leaves to the left side of the Club's crest to ''reflect the detail on the reverse of the six pence pieces paid by 15 men to establish the Club'' - the laurel leaves are also said to represent strength, which is particularly ironic as the current Gunners have been criticised for their lack of physical power on the pitch.
Continuing the flora theme, the 15 oak leaves to the right of the crest ''acknowledge the founders who would meet in the local Royal Oak pub'' and, of course, FORWARD should require no explanation for a club begun by a group of workers at Woolwich armaments factory and entrenched in military history.
Everything about the shirt calls on Arsenal's history, from the classic design inspired by the 1970's strips, to the crest and motto; but there is a modern twist as Nike's ground-breaking recycled polyester plays its part as the kit is made up of up to thirteen reclaimed plastic water bottles. (Presumably not the ones destroyed by manager Arsene Wenger last season.)
With the improved Nike Dri-Fit fabric making it 13% lighter than previous editions, the modern twists to a historic foundation make the kit a must for every Arsenal fan this season. The fans can only hope that the season's results make it all worthwhile.