Fans heading to the Emirates stadium from Drayton Park will come across a statue after crossing the bridge over the railway. This statue isn't of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, or any of the other modern greats. It is a statue of a legend from much earlier in Arsenal's history: Herbert Chapman.
Chapman is the reason Arsenal's shirts have white sleeves. When Arsenal were formed, they played in all red, using kits brought down to London by some former Nottingham Forest players. But Chapman wanted his players to stand out so that they could pass to their teammates more easily, so he gave the red shirts their famous white sleeves. He also changed Arsenal's socks to red and white hoops, and used floodlights for training sessions. But his biggest innovations were tactical. Following a change in the offside rule, Chapman introduced his famous 'W-M' formation, a precursor to the modern 3-4-3, where the sole central defender is in charge of the offside trap. His innovations paid off, and he led Arsenal to two league titles.
Those league titles put him in an elite group of managers, alongside Kenny Dalglish and Brian Clough, who have won the league at more than one club. The other club that Chapman won the league at was Huddersfield Town.
Last season, Huddersfield Town beat Reading in the play-offs to earn promotion to the Premier League. When they start next season, it'll be the first time in almost fifty years that the Terriers have been in the top division of English football. They've already started preparing for the Premier League, breaking their transfer record to sign striker Laurent Depoitre from FC Porto, but their promotion came as a surprise to many. Compared to some of their Championship rivals, Huddersfield couldn't offer players big money to move to West Yorkshire, but good leadership from manager David Wagner, whose only coaching experience before joining Huddersfield was with Borussia Dortmund reserves, meant that they outperformed teams with a much larger budget than them last season.
Huddersfield's presence in England's top flight will be of interest to the neutrals, but it should also interest Arsenal fans due to the Chapman connection. Herbert Chapman is undoubtedly Huddersfield's greatest ever manager, but he could also claim that crown at Arsenal, despite their more recent successes. The foundations that Chapman built at Highbury (as well as the design of parts of Highbury itself) stayed with Arsenal after his early death at the age of 55. In the years that followed, his side won a further three titles and were the dominant side in England for much of the 1930s.
Many of Chapman's footballing philosophies will resonate with Arsene Wenger and modern Arsenal supporters. He loved European football, and took Arsenal to Europe at a time when the European Cup didn't even exist. He also took innovations from Europe and applied them at Arsenal, even going as far as trying to sign European players. Modern fans can also relate to his appointment at Arsenal, where he responded to a job advert which contained the caveat 'Gentlemen whose sole ability to build up a good side depends on the payment of heavy and exorbitant transfer fees need not apply.' That advert could've been written by Arsene Wenger himself.
Nottingham Forest and Derby County commemorate the heroic manager that they shared by competing over the 'Brian Clough Trophy' whenever they play. Hopefully Arsenal and Huddersfield can do something to honour the debt they both owe to the genius that is Herbert Chapman.