A London football team founded in 1886, originally called Dial Square. The club later changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, since the original founders were arms makers at the Woolwich armaments factory in south London. From 1893 to 1904, Arsenal (the Woolwich was dropped sometime after 1891), played in the 2nd division professional of the Football League. It was promoted to the first division in 1904.
Arsenal were relegated in 1913, the same year it moved from its south London home to Highbury (site of the present stadium) in north London. Arsenal rejoined the first division in 1919, and has remained in the top division since that time, much to the chagrin and longstanding enmity of Tottenham Hotspurs and their supporter, who lost their first division place at Arsenal's expense.
In 1925, Huddersfield manager Herbert Chapman took over at Arsenal. Under his leadership, a successful drive to rename the local tube station, Gillespie Road station, to Arsenal took place. Chapman's Arsenal won the FA Cup in 1930 and the League in 1931. It can be said that Arsenal dominated the league during the decade of the 1930s. During the postwar era, Arsenal won several more trophies, but headed towards a decline in the late 1950s through the 1960s.
Arsenal's performance in the 1970s was characterized by a few moments of brilliance, separated by long spells of disappointment. One need only read Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch for a taste of the life of an Arsenal fan, or Gooner (after the team nickname The Gunners), during the late 1960's through the mid-1980s.
Under the brilliant leadership of George Graham, Arsenal once again rose to a regular spot at the top of the table, winning six major trophies in eight years. Arsenal's offside trap was known throughout the world (and provided a joke in The Full Monty), as was the paucity of their scoring rate and propensity for winning games by a single goal.
The rise of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson provided a constant threat to Arsenal and, in fact to any team aiming at gathering silverware. Graham left Arsenal in 1994-1995 after being embroiled in a kickbacks for transfer contracts scandal. With his departure, Arsenal foundered under the management of Bruce Rioch and Stuart Houston, although Houston did lead the Gunners to the Cup Winners' Cup final. With the advent in 1996 of Arsene Wenger as manager, Arsenal began a rebuilding program. The team has improved consistently under Wenger's management, although not withouht hiccups and transfer decisions that leave the fans wondering.