What Can We Learn From Arsenal FC? 

Some of you know that I have supported Arsenal Football Club for over 50 years. This statement alone can alienate a vast majority of readers. 

But bear with me. There are some nuggets in this story. 

There are a number of accomplishments that this football club has accomplished over the years… 

They set a new record in the English Premier League (EPL) when they beat Everton. They became the first side in any English division, to reach 100 league wins against the same team. 

Arsenal hold the record for the longest uninterrupted period in the top flight.. 

They hold the record for the most F.A. Cup wins, with 14. 

And their most notable accomplishment was recording an unbeaten top-flight season – immortalised as the “Invincibles”. The trouble is that was in 2003 – 2004. 

It has been 19 long years and our lack of success in the league has left a number of us diehard fans wondering if we would ever return to those heady heights of league success.  

Sometimes we have to be patient. Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” 

While it’s not a foregone conclusion that we will win the league this year, we sit 8 points clear at the top of the table, with only 9 games to go. 

After 19 years, what has changed? Why do we watch each game with a renewed expectation? Here are the top 5 levers that I believe the current manager, Mikel Arteta, has pulled which are contributing to our successes: 


Arsenal had a bloated squad. Some of the players were nearing the end of their careers and were drawing significant weekly wages. Reportedly, one of their highest paid players, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Received £350,000 per week to play there! 

A number of other key players were on the books, collecting huge weekly salaries, but either not delivering on the pitch, or not being selected from week to week. 

When Mikel Arteta replaced Unai Emery in Dec 2019, he inherited a squad that he wasn’t afraid to sell. 

In total he released at least 15 first-team players from his squad. Given how big some of these names were, it was seen as a bold move by many. 

God has given us specific instruction when it comes to throwing things away. In Ecclesiastes 3:6, we are reminded that there is, “a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away..” Use this time to declutter and remove unwanted things from your life. 


Arsenal’s current squad includes a number of Hale End graduates. 

Hale End is a sports ground used by Arsenal FC’s youth academy and this facility has produced a number of footballers that now appear regularly in the first-team line up. 

In the 2022 – 2023 season, Arsenal have comfortably the youngest average age in the EPL. At 24.7 years, they are at least one year younger than the next squad and up to 3.2 years than the oldest squad. 

From a business perspective, what are you doing to invest in your emerging talent? Are you acting as a coach to your team? Have you decided to ride the investment of your existing workforce, giving them a career pathway, or are you simply hiring in experienced (and expensive) talent? 

Proverbs 22:6 tells us of the power of bringing up young people in the ways of God. “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” It is never too late to invest in young people who will be brought up through the ranks to replace you. 


Hiring talent has its benefits. But it can also bring fishhooks that can damage your brand. 

While it is all well and good to introduce exceptional players to your team, if they don’t live within your culture, you can end up paying for this. 

What is the culture that you want? Is it well documented and articulated? Do you embody the culture and live it out on a daily basis? 

Your culture may include multi facets. It could be as simple as punctuality. Or it can cover values as diverse as honesty, respect, freedom on speech or work-life balance! 

How do your staff find out about your culture and what do you do to re-enforce this on a daily basis? 

Matthew 6:33 helps to give us a framework to develop the culture in your organisation. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 


High performing team players occasionally bring larger than life egos. This can require careful management. 

In the case of Arsenal, they included players like Ozil, Guendouzi and Aubameyang, all of which were side-lined for a period of their time with the club. This included excluding some of these players from even training with the rest of the squad. 

Handling people with ego requires a combination of resolve and tact. You need to have courageous conversations, make some hard calls and the strong resolve to stand your ground. 

For Arteta, he resolved these issues by having the backing of his board and lawyers. Some players had their contracts terminated early and by mutual consent. 

Ask yourself, are there egos in the midst of your team that is causing disruption? Maybe it’s time to terminate some of your staff to help you progress… 

From a scriptural perspective, we are warned about the devastating effect of an unchecked ego. Proverbs 16:18 states: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” 


Do you have a vision for your organisation? How far out into the future does it point to? Is it merely a 3 to 5 year vision or are you bold enough to look at a 100 year timeframe? 

Within the Arsenal Academy, they talk about the pillar of being a lifelong learner. Their view is that players and management are committed to development in ALL areas of their lives. The more you develop yourself, the better you will be as a footballer. 

The emphasis on supporting the player, especially in their formative years, on both the on-field as well as off-field aspects, helps to protect their assets. 

Helping a player cope with the onslaught of social media attacks – often orchestrated by keyboard warriors – helps to build resilience. Empowering a player to leave the comfort of home and adapt to alien environments, can help develop mental fortitude. But all of this must be facilitated by a vision that is lived out at all levels of the organisation. 

Proverbs 29:18 gives us sound wisdom when it comes to the power of having a vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” 

Will Arsenal with the championship this season? We won’t know until the last ball is kicked in the 9 games that remain. I hope that they are able to do that, but only time will tell. Can you create a championship winning team in your organisation? Maybe you can if you apply these 5 levers today… 




Elias Kanaris helps leaders lead. He is a thought leader in the area of resilience, leadership and building trust. Elias is an author and speaker. He has written three books on leadership, resilience and finances, and has spoken in 13 countries, on four continents.

Elias is the CEO of the Insight and Strategy Group and has served as President of the Global Speakers Federation (2018-2019) and was the President of the National Speakers Association of New Zealand (2015-2017). He is also a Founding Partner of Maxwell Leadership® – the largest and fastest-growing leadership training organisation in the world – where he is a certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker in the Maxwell Methodology®.


In a time of need there is no better feeling than to know that someone, even a person you had never met before, truly cares about you. This was basically the approach of the citizens of Gander and the surrounding towns for the days that followed September 11, 2001. The needs, worries and care of others became ours. Through it all strangers became friends and then became family to us.


Elias has written a short Whitepaper on Building T.R.U.S.T. to help you, as a Christian Business Owner to build trust in your organisation, Get your FREE copy delivered straight to your inbox.


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