Why Did Arsenal Wear Red Shorts Against Watford?

For their Premier League fixture against Watford at Vicarage Road in March 2022, Arsenal made a rather unusual kit choice. Instead of pairing their red home kit with their traditional white shorts and white socks, the Gunners were dressed in an all-red kit, which led to some fans remarking that they thought they were watching Liverpool by accident!

However, the game ended 3-2 to the north London giants, so it seemed as if the red shorts did the business, but why were they wearing them in the first place? Well, we will be answering that in this article, as well as taking a look at any other occasions where Arsenal have worn red shorts.

The Story Behind the Red Shorts

In all honesty, there doesn’t seem to be any necessary reason why the Gunners would feel the need to ditch their usual white shorts for red. After all, Watford play in yellow with black shorts, meaning that Arsenal’s red and white home kit would not have clashed in any way. Although Arsenal’s away strip is yellow, and therefore would have been a potential clash, their blue third kit would have also been a perfectly viable option, and this is what many fans expected them to turn out in. However, this was not the case.

We can therefore assume that the decision to wear the red shorts was purely for commercial reasons, as it was revealed that this call was made by the club’s kit sponsors, Adidas. Prior to the match, Arsenal are reported to have informed the Premier League of their intention to wear the club’s “alternate home shorts”, a request that was approved.

Whilst fans may have been bemused by this seemingly random change in attire, the red shorts had actually been available for purchase on the club’s online shop at the start of the season, but were quickly removed due to a lack of interest. However, whilst they are not currently available, we can assume that the choice to don the red shorts will coincide with them returning to the club’s shop in the near future. Whilst the shorts received a mixed reception from Gunners’ fans, some were definitely in favour, and if Adidas were to restock them, it would not be surprising if they sold out quickly. We can also assume that the fact that the match ended in victory will be good for business!

Other Times Arsenal Have Worn Red Shorts

When the Gunners strolled out in red shorts to play Watford, this was just the second occasion in forty years that they had done so. The only other time that these alternate shorts had been worn was in 2017 for a New Year’s Eve clash with West Brom, although this was for a different reason, which we will explain below. We will then take a look at when red shorts were worn on a more consistent basis by the club, which was back in the 70s, and even take a look at the time the club “almost” wore red shorts in a cup final!

Against West Bromwich Albion, 2017

Rather than for commercial reasons, Arsenal’s choice to wear red shorts for their Premier League fixture against West Brom at the Hawthorns was apparently due to a kit clash. Supposedly, the club’s usual white shorts would clash with the white shorts worn by the Baggies. However, rather than opting for their away or third kits, the Gunners instead bizarrely decided to wear their home kit, but to switch to red shorts, even though they hadn’t done so for four decades.

This was a very strange choice, as Arsenal had visited the Hawthorns for years and years without this ever being deemed an issue. The club had even worn white shorts in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, in which the Midlands side were also wearing white shorts! Not only this but these red shorts were not made available for purchase, meaning that the club in no way profited from this unusual kit choice. There genuinely seems to be no logic behind it at all, unless they were suddenly worried that players might be confused as to whose legs were whose?

The 1970s

Whilst almost unheard of in recent years, red shorts were actually a staple of Arsenal’s kits back in the 1970s. This was because the traditional white shorts were deemed to clash with the shorts of several other teams, and the club would therefore often wear red shorts for away fixtures when they were wearing their home kit. However, there was one unique occasion where the Gunners were forced to wear their alternate shorts for a home fixture.

This occurred in 1970 when the club were due to play Southampton at their old ground of Highbury. After a flurry of snow had settled on the pitch, it was suggested that the white shorts wouldn’t sufficiently stand out against the backdrop of the white turf, and the red shorts were therefore worn for the first (and so far only) time for an Arsenal home fixture.

2018 EFL Cup Final Vs Manchester City

Finally, we have the strange case of the disappearing red shorts, or as it is otherwise known, the 2018 League Cup final. Before the match, it had supposedly been “confirmed” on the EFL’s official website that the Gunners would be wearing red shorts for the final. This was because they believed that their white shorts would clash with City’s shorts of the same colour.

This would have been the second time in the same season that the north Londoners had swapped white for red, after the aforementioned New Year’s clash with West Brom. However, when Arsenal walked out onto Wembley’s hallowed turf, fans would have perhaps been surprised to see that they were, in fact, wearing their traditional white shorts. No reason seems to have been given for why the red shorts weren’t worn, but maybe it could have brought the Gunners some luck, considering that they lost the game 3-0! Maybe they just couldn’t tell each other’s legs apart…