1925 was the year that Henry Norris decided Arsenal were in need of a new manager. He would have never envisaged the impact that his chosen man had. Herbert Chapman joined Arsenal that very summer (1925) despite having managed Huddersfield Town to two Division One league titles and an FA Cup in the years prior.
Arsenal were lucky to avoid relegation in the previous season and this was Norris’ prompt for a new man at the helm. Chapman planned to take Arsenal to the top of English football. And his introduction came with an immediate effect. His first season and he’d managed to gain Arsenal their highest ever league placing, 2nd, along with an FA Cup Quarter Final. This was remarkable.
Arsenal reached their first FA Cup Final on April 23, 1927. Although we lost that game 1-0 to Cardiff City, it was significant in the fact it was the first and only time the FA Cup left England.
Chapman only had to wait three years further before bringing the FA Cup to Highbury, where we ironically overcame Huddersfield Town at Wembley in 1930. This triumph was to signal the start of Arsenal’s lengthy dominance of English football, as well as making us the envy of the football world.
The next season saw the Club reach a real milestone, winning its first ever league title, with a record-breaking 66 points achievement proving Arsenal’s dominance in the process. 1931/32 saw only the Charity Shield to our name, although we were narrowly missed out on the League, finishing just two points behind Everton, as well as the FA Cup in which we lost the final 1-0 to Newcastle.
Winning ways returned the following year, we lifted the the League trophy in 1933 again, this time, and for the first time, in our red shirt with white sleeves; a tradition that has remained consistent since.
In January 1934 the Club would be stunned by tragic news. After watching an Arsenal Third Team match against Guildford City nursing a cold, Chapman’s condition quickly worsened. Soon afterwards, pneumonia set in. During the early hours of January 6, 1934, Herbert Chapman passed away at his home in Hendon aged 55.
Herbert Chapman’s philosophy was summarised when he once famously, and very accurately (even to this day), said
It is laid down by law that the team who scores the most goals wins. To accomplish this you must make sure that the defence is sound.
The tragedy did not put an end to Arsenal’s success fortunately, and the foundations that Chapman set down were built upon for the years to come. A second successive title was delivered in the following May. This was to swiftly became three in a row under the management of ex-director George Allison in 1934/35.
No league titles were to follow in the next two years although Arsenal did lift the FA Cup for the second time in their history after a 1-0 win for the Gunners over Sheffield United on April, 25 1936.
In the penultimate season before the outbreak of World War Two, Arsenal were champions of England once again; their fifth league title in eight seasons.