My typical modus operandi is to spout off without information or consideration, and I have always claimed that Arsenal and Chelsea have had the ugliest change shirts in the Premier League era. In the last two decades, the two London teams have been United’s biggest rivals for hardware, so I have had a keen interest in their sporting and fashion performance. With all that said, I decided to look at each team’s away kit collection and make an informed, well-reasoned claim to their kit ugliness.
Here are my thoughts on Chelsea change kits.
As I skimmed Arsenal’s away shirts through the years, I was surprised by how much the Gunners used white as a change strip but now almost never use it. I also learned the backstory of the club’s yellow and blue kit:
In 1968 the FA banned navy shirts (they looked too similar to referees’ black kit) so the Gunners turned out in yellow shirts and blue shorts for the first time in November, an outfit that recalled that FA Cup win of almost 20 years previous.
Finally, the navy blue shirt that I like so much hearkens back to an option used in the first quarter of the 20th century.
Going through the kits, I was reminded of some really nice strips, including their third strip from 07/08 and the current 15-16 away, while the 97-99 away kit will be always locked in my brain as the moment Overmars bore down on Schmeichel and scored to give the Gunners a 1-0 victory and swung the momentum to London for that season’s Premier League. (Check out Historical Kits link for the visual.)
As for the Premier League shirts, honorable mention for the worst strip goes to. . .
This one should be so great, combining my favored navy blue with the red currant shade used for the 2005-06 home shirt. The result is blech and is made even worse with the red Arsenal badge jarring against the darker red.
Is it black? Is it blue? (According to Footy Headlines the color is anthracite.) Is it Newcastle in disguise? Why the alternating bands start below the sponsor logo is beyond me. Plus three different colors? Plus the bands are at angle? Clearly out of ideas on this one. (Although the monochromatic gold badge is quite nice.)
Plain but not. The pin stripes are less visible at greater distances but close up create a very weird look. Nike and the club have used pinstripes on different kits over the last dozen years or so but not to great effect.
This kit is the continual regression of the navy blue and turquoise kit introduced in 94-95. The next version in 95-96 wasn’t too bad, and Nike reintroduced the color combination in 11-12 with a Monaco-esque verion, but Puma just took the design and crapped all over it with more stripes and lime green accents.
Nike introduced their Purple Reign (Pain) line for the Gunners and Portuguese power Porto. Why? I have no idea? Purple belongs to Anderlecht, Real Madrid, Fiorentina and Orlando City. (Probably others that I’m forgetting.) The choice seemed to out of left field, much like the 82-83. From Historical Football Kits:
In 1982 Umbro introduced what became known as the “bluebottle strip,” a mirror image of their new home kit but in green and navy blue. The kit proved unpopular with supporters and was replaced the following season by a rather more traditional affair that substituted navy for royal blue and, for the first time, incorporated red trimmings.
The bruised banana. A yellow and blue based away strip. Check. JVC sponsor. Check. Old school adidas logo. Check. Short shorts check. Unsettling geometric pattern that captures 90’s kit design. Check. Simply doesn’t work for me although it is iconic.
As with Chelsea, maybe I hate Arsenal’s third shirts more. Their 90’s designs really weren’t that bad (considering what was going on around them) but the travashamockeries of the last 20 years overshadow everything else.
Arsenal fans, how do you defend your club? Those with anti-Gooner bias, what did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.
Special thanks to Historical Kits for the images.
If you want to learn more about Arsenal wearing variants of their change strips, check out this post from Cork City Kits.
For a detailed look at Arsenal kits from the adidas years (1986-1994), read more at Museum of Jerseys.
Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.