The Bruised Banana
When you think of football in the 1990s, you may think about muddy pitches, hard tackling and some incredible dramatic moments. The 1990s also saw the emergence of some striking kit designs and there are few more distinctive than Arsenal’s bruised banana.
When the iconic strip debuted in 1991, Adidas was already well into their kit deal with the North London side and had provided them with some conservative designs which had seen them through a period ripe with success, including a league title in the previous season. The Gunners were looking to replicate this success in style.
While people may be quick to associate the strip with Arsenal’s signature free flowing build up play, staunch defending and Ian Wright scoring at will, the kit was actually worn during a period of decline which saw the Gunners follow up their league winning campaign with a 4th place finish and 3rd round exits in both the League and FA Cups. They were also dumped out of Europe by Benfica in the second round. The next season, the first of the new Premier League, Arsenal slipped to a finish of 10th place.
There was hope however, the side that would go on to be a domestic powerhouse was beginning to take shape, first team regulars Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Ian Wright were joined by a returning Martin Keown and a young and an emerging Ray Parlour. These players would go on to define an era at Highbury. The time of the bruised banana finished with The Gunners adding The 1993 League Cup and FA Cup to the Highbury trophy room.
The two seasons that Arsenal donned these iconic threads can be defined as a period of decline and resurgence. Gunners fans will be hoping this seasons relaunch of the historic strip will once again be the catalyst for returning a great side back to peak of English football.