On the day after Arsene Wenger’s 18th anniversary as Arsenal manager, I have begun to explore into past and present of the Frenchman’s love affair with the north London giants. 1996, the premiership era still in it’s early stages. A new league system in which would ultimately transformed the English League into the most watched league on the planet. A French idealist swaggered through Highbury’s doors, full of new ideas with a clear path on what he wanted from this underachieving club.
Wenger led Arsenal to new heights. 9 Seasons of challenging for the Premier league title, domestic cup finals, and a single Champions League final appearance, all except the latter did Wenger walk away with a winners medal. This was Arsenals most successful period in there history, and of course that unforgettable season, the ‘invincible’s’ a whole 38 games unbeaten. This was astonishing feat, which no team has even come close to matching as of yet. This was Wenger’s greatest achievement. With arguably Arsenal’s greatest ever team. Equipped with Arsenal’s greatest ever player. Thierry Henry, in many peoples eyes the best striker of his generation. Extravagant, intelligent, and thrilling are only some words to describe Henry, but the Frenchman oozed utter class. Most importantly Henry scored goal after goal for Arsenal, unbelievable goals too add, 228 goals to be precise. The sheer arrogance and confidence terrified opposites, before a ball was even kicked. Additionally, he made defenders look ridiculously average. It was a stroke of genius by Wenger converting Henry from a bit-part winger at Juventus into Arsenal’s all time record goalscorer. Wenger has worked with Henry at Monaco and had first hand insight into Henry’s potential and most certainty got the best out of him. However, Arsenal achievements during this time were not all down to one man. Henry, was one of many Arsenal greats during the clubs most successful period. Club captain, Patrick Vieira was instrumental in the centre of midfield, along side international teammate Emmanuel Petit, and in later years the Brazilian Gilberto Silva. They all collectively had everything and more that a modern day midfielder needs. Yet, there was one man who defined and glued Arsenal together. Henry himself was quoted as saying he was the best player he had ever had the pleasure to play with. This of course was Dennis Bergkamp. The wonderfully gifted Dutchman who lit up Highbury for 11 years with some outrageous moments of magic. Anyone remember Filbert Street, Leicester City away in the 1997 season? Bergkamp’s extraordinary hat-trick was something special, the Arsenal fans who were lucky enough to be at that game and witness it will defiantly never forget it. A simply unforgettable moment in Premier league history. Wenger without a shadow of doubt got the best out of his incredibly talented players down the years, but like everything in football players come and go.
The next 9 years Wenger failed to deliver any silverware. Coming close on a number of occasions. Despite this Wenger also stuck his football philosophy , pass pass and pass again. Which for any football fan is great to watch but can also he there downfall, as Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona found out in previous seasons. At last the FA cup was finally won in May this year thanks to a terrific comeback against Hull City, and a fantastic goal from one of Wenger’s new crop of highly talented players, the Welshman Aaron Ramsey. This will now be seen as hopefully the first of many for this Arsenal team full of house hold international names, especially with the big money signings of Ozil, Sanchez and Welbeck. These are players who have all got things to prove. Especially Danny Welbeck, with a immensely promising start to his Gunners career can he continue this blistering start? Can Arsene mold Welbeck into the knew Thierry Henry, these are all questions left to answer which will reveal themselves as the season unfolds.
I am more than positive that in years to come, years after Wenger leaves his Arsenal manager’s desk, he will forever be remembered for making a huge contribution in revolutionizing English football. With his teams, producing some of the best football the Premiership has ever seen.
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