Arsene Wenger: Looking back at his best moments with Arsenal
He was the last stand, the final one from an immense managerial era, now they’re gone and we just have “head coaches” left. The Frenchman, since 2013 has been the last stalwart of 20th-century managers. He led the Gunners into a new time, transforming the culture from a side littered with booze, into a well-oiled machine and perennial title challengers.
His reign lasting twenty-two years can be split in two halves, from title-winners to top four contestants, trophy-laden and trophy-less, at Highbury or The Emirates.
Granted, his tenure has seen some highs and lows, the focus for the last few years has certainly been the negatives; something there’s been so many of over this decade. But Wenger did deliver some of the finest moments in Arsenal’s history. Let's highlight his finest moments.
Inter Milan 1-5 Arsenal
Despite the once heralded record of progressing from the group stages for sixteen consecutive seasons, just two semi-finals doesn’t read well, especially when you consider Zinedine Zidane has been to three consecutive semi-finals in his young managerial career.
That said, Wenger did provide the Arsenal faithful with a few stellar nights, including the first English side to win at the Santiago Bernabeu. To be the only coach to defeat both Inter and AC Milan at the San Siro is pretty special, but it was the first instance that will live long in the memory.
Never before had an English side gone to the Italian cauldron and won. After the opening game of the Champions League group stage, another hiding appeared to be in the offing. Thierry Henry wasn't going to let that happen, though, starring on the night with two goals, including one still ranked one of the best in Champions League history to cap off an immense individual season where Arsenal’s record goalscorer was arguably robbed of the Ballon d'Or.
This was the point where the tide arguably shifted; the best side he had throughout his time as tenure. This campaign started with Spurs’ captain Sol Campbell moving across to the other side of North London in a move still heralded as arguably the most controversial moves in Premier League history.
What would follow is a twenty-one game unbeaten run which included a thirteen game-winning streak to close out the season. Arguably the best side in Wenger’s era, with an English-majority back five, and attacking talents like Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Freddy Ljungberg, Sylvain Wiltord, Dennis Bergkamp and Henry. This team spelt trouble for all-comers, both domestically and in Europe.
Their best moment ever was securing the double on their arch-rivals' turf, Old Trafford, through Wiltord’s strike on a night where the Mancunians just presumed that their adversaries would crumble, but it wouldn’t be so. It was Arsenal who were left celebrating.
Seldom did this happen in England, especially at the highest level. It had taken place just five times in English history, so for the Frenchman to do this in his first full campaign made everyone sit and take notice of the man whose first headline was “Arsene Who?”.
It’s fair to say that Ferguson became a better manager because of 'Le Prof'. This likely signalled the evolution for both Fergie and Wenger, while boosting the English game as a whole. This accolade didn't get the credit it deserved at the time, but when the season that proceeded results in a United side completing a historic treble and winning two further titles on the bounce, it could almost be forgotten...
Goodbye to a Premier League great
Level with Jose Mourinho, the only manager to win more league titles is Sir Alex. The embrace that took place in the cauldron that was Old Trafford this past Sunday marked the end of an era, similar to Triple H and the Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXVIII...