Arsenal’s socksy football recalls a 20-year-old mystery

On Thursday night, Arsenal made it through to the Europa League semi-finals as a 2-2 draw away to CSKA Moscow earned them a 6-3 aggregate victory.

In that game, Arsenal wore their third different set of socks with the home shirts and shorts, as noted by Kitman Ramsey (who wrote this piece and will have a guest blog appearing here again very soon):


The default socks, as mentioned feature red tops and red stripes which grow narrower, flowing into the white. Presumably these weren’t allowed against the red socks of CSKA while the plain red set, used away to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, were obviously out too.

As far as we can recall, it’s nearly 20 years since Arsenal last wore three different sets of socks with their home shirts and shorts – again, it involved European fixtures but it’s far harder to explain.

The normal socks, used in almost all of the games featured a white panel outlined in navy:


However, for the Gunners’ first Champions League game, away to Lens, a set of red socks with white tops – like the previous alternative set but without the ornate ‘A’ from the crest – were worn.


The normal socks returned for the next two league games, at home to Manchester United and away to Sheffield Wednesday, but in the Champions League against Panathinaikos at Wembley, another red set was used, this time featuring two white hoops.

Arsenal-1998-1999-Nike-home-kit-Panathinaikos-01The natural assumption at this stage would be to think that the first-choice socks contravened some UEFA rule, but they were worn for the next European tie, against Dynamo Kiev, and the return in Ukraine and away to Panathinaikos in the final game, with a reversed style used in the Wembley defeat to Lens, when a one-off third shirt was worn.

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