Friday, April 25, 2008

Digging in the Vaults: Arsenal away kit 2002/2003

This shirt was part of an all–navy away strip Arsenal wore in the 2003/2003 season. Made by Nike, this was a very innovative shirt in many ways.
This was the season Arsenal introduced their new crest. The new crest was panned by some Gooner traditionalists, but I feel that the new design is classy enough and it brought the crest into the 21st century. Actually, now that you look at the old crest vs the new, you wonder why no one had thought of doing that any sooner. Then, there was the geometric fade pattern, another controversial design element that I actually like very much. One thing I especially like about the pattern is it makes the shirt match perfectly with my pair of hyper blue Air Max Plus. The O2 logo is simple enough and it actually works well with the pattern. The astroid in the middle of the pattern is also right in the center of the O, creating a target effect. Can you picture Thierry Henry running at you in this shirt? He must have looked like a super–hero. The shirt must have brought some degree of luck, as Arsenal won the F.A. Cup in '03, beating Man. United in this strip along the way.
Finally, this shirt was part of those dual layer "cool–motion" shirts that were so problematic during the 2002 World Cup. During the normal shirt–pulling that occurs during any soccer match, the layers would rip apart, forcing the player to have to change his shirt. Then it would take the player an eternity to remove the tangled mess of a shirt to change into a new one. This happened a few times during that world cup, it was absolutely maddening. Someone dropped the ball there big–time. Fortunately, I don't have anyone tugging at my shirt when I wear it so this is not an issue for me.
As a side note, this same template was used for Leeds United's away shirt that same season.
I happen to think the dual layer issue aside, this is one of Arsenal's best–ever away kits, and it must have been somewhat popular as it was also used as the 3rd strip in the 2003/2004 campaign. It holds a special place in my collection.

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