London dominates UK and English life in a number of ways but who really cares about art, culture, money and political power anyway? If we are talking about something that is far more important than life and death, to paraphrase Liverpool legend Bill Shankly, then the North West is the preeminent force.
Man United, Liverpool, Everton and Man City, not to mention various Lancastrian and Yorkshire powerhouses of yesteryear, have all enjoyed huge amounts of success in English football. If we focus only on the top-tier league title, sides from the North West outstrip the capital’s clubs by 64 championships to 21. In fact, teams from Yorkshire and the North East have won the First Division/Premier League as many times as those from London.
However, this feature is not a north vs south battle but rather focusses on which club is king of the capital. Moreover, we are not only looking at league titles, but overall trophies. That said, we are not including every cup and competition, because over the years there have been various tournaments that do not really rank highly enough in terms of either quality or prestige to deserve their place in our equation. If you are interested in which London team has won the most Premier League titles, we cover that in another article, but for now, let’s tally up those trophies.
What Trophies Are We Including?
How any question is framed goes a long way to determining the answer but what are we really trying to get at with the titular question of this piece? Ultimately, we are trying to ascertain which is the best, most successful London side and for that reason we are only counting major silverware. Additionally, we exclude the Community Shield as it is a “super cup” and not usually considered fully competitive.
- Premier League
- FA Cup
- League Cup
- Champions League (Including European Cups)
- Europa League (Including UEFA Cups)
- European Cup Winners’ Cup
Excluded (Not a Complete List)
- Community/Charity Shield
- Full Members’ Cup
- Lower league titles
- London Challenge Cup
- Inter-Cities Fairs Cup
- Intertoto Cup
- Europa Conference League
- European Super Cup
- Club World Cup
Which Clubs Are Included?
Which football teams are included as “London clubs” is also open to debate. However, as only three London sides have ever won the top-tier championship, and those three are also the most successful in the FA Cup and League Cup, not to mention Europe, it is a debate we can easily swerve. Instead, we can focus only on those three clubs that are, in terms of major silverware, well clear of the capital’s other football teams.
It will come as no major surprise to most football supporters that the three outfits in question are Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs. But which of those three London giants has won the most silverware?
London Clubs with Most Trophies
The table below shows the number of trophies won by each of our three heavyweights from the capital.
|European Cup Winners’ Cup||1||2||1|
Note that we have used the competition’s current name but, for example, “Premier League” includes the old First Division and “Europa League” includes the UEFA Cup.
Arsenal Most Successful Team in London
Much as it may pain fans of Chelsea and Spurs – and no doubt West Ham, Fulham and other London clubs too – to admit it, Arsenal have won more trophies than any side from the capital. It would take some serious weighting of European competitions for Chelsea to have a valid argument that they had been more successful, though perhaps that is an argument some diehard Blues are prepared to try and make.
We are not, however, especially as when it comes to the two most prestigious domestic competitions, the PL and the FA Cup, the Gunners are so far ahead of their rivals. Looking only at the two prizes that combine to make “the double”, Arsenal lead by 27 to 14, to 10 (against Chelsea and Spurs, respectively).
Arsenal fans may feel their club has underperformed in Europe but it is perhaps also fair to say they have been a little unlucky. They have lost five major European finals, with several of those defeats coming either on penalties or due to huge strokes of misfortune. Even so, whilst Gunners can rightly, in our opinion, claim that Arsenal are the most successful team in London, it must irk them somewhat to know that Chelsea have six European titles to their one – and even their north London rivals Spurs outgun them 3-1 in terms of continental silverware.
Arsenal’s Glory Years
Arsenal’s first great era came in the 1930s and in that decade alone they bagged five top-flight titles and two FA Cups. Put another way, in that single decade they won the league three more times than Spurs have managed in their whole history, and almost as many times as Chelsea have.
Their other great period of trophy-gathering came under Arsène Wenger. However, even before the Frenchman was appointed in 1996, they had won the league title in 1989 and 1991, the FA Cup in 1993, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994, all under George Graham.
However, under Wenger, Arsenal enjoyed perhaps their finest spell. The former Nancy, Monaco and Grampus Eight boss was in charge at Highbury and then the Emirates between 1996 and 2018. In that time he helped the Gunners win the following trophies:
- 3 Premier League Titles – 1998, 2002, 2004
- 7 FA Cups – 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014, 2015, 2017
Wenger also came very close to delivering the Champions League title to Arsenal, guiding the club to the final in 2006. Barcelona beat them 2-1 after the Gunners had taken the lead but despite the lack of a European trophy, Wenger’s part in making Arsenal London’s most trophy-happy club should not be understated.