After 22 years in the job Arsene Wenger will be stepping down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season. He has created a fantastic legacy at the London club that will live forever, despite the last 10 years not being as successful as the first. To celebrate his tenure let’s look at five of his greatest victories as the Arsenal boss.
Arsenal 3-2 Hull City, FA Cup, 2014
The most recent win on this list came back in 2014 as Arsenal won the FA Cup to end a nine-year trophy drought. During that period, getting into the top four became their biggest success and Arsene Wenger famously compared it to winning a trophy, which garnered a lot of criticism from fans and pundits alike.
They didn’t do it easily though, as Hull went two goals ahead and it looked like yet another disappointing day for the Gunners. A Santi Cazorla rocket of a free kick in the 17th minute brought Arsenal back into the game, but they had to wait until the 71st minute to get an equaliser through Laurent Koscielny to send the game into extra time. Aaron Ramsey then finished what had been a superb season by getting the winner in the 109th minute.
This victory finally gave the Arsenal fan base something to celebrate again and two more FA Cups in the next few years showcased the momentum that they gained from this victory.
Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal, Premier League, 1998
During any title winning season there will be multiple big victories that contribute to that success. This is one from Arsenal’s 1997/98 Premier League winning campaign.
The Red Devils were second best for most of the game being unable to break down Arsenal’s strong defence (which isn’t something you hear often these days). At the other end, the Gunners were causing plenty of problems for Peter Schmeichel and his defence. In the 79th minute Marc Overmars broke the deadlock by firing the ball under the Great Dane.
Manchester United were nine points ahead of Arsenal heading into this game, however the Gunners had three games in hand. So, this victory gave Wenger’s men a great foothold in the title race. It also proved that Arsene Wenger and his team were the real deal in only his second season in England.
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Arsenal 4-0 Everton, Premier League, 1998
From the game that put them in the title race to the game that won them the title. Arsenal’s victory against Everton mathematically confirmed that Arsene Wenger’s side were champions.
The performance was a dominating one from the Gunners as they got an early goal after Slaven Billic headed the ball into his own net. Two trademark Overmars runs and finishes either side of the half gave them a three goal lead. Finally, the most famous goal of the match came in the 89th minute as Tony Adams of all people received the ball behind the Everton defence to fire the ball into the bottom corner.
This was Arsene Wenger’s first Premier League title and his team would go on to also pick up the FA Cup that season to complete the double – proving that his philosophy and style could work in English football.
Arsenal 4-2 Liverpool, Premier League, 2004
The invincibles season included a lot of incredible victories for Arsenal and this one might be the most significant. The London club came into the game on the back of a difficult week after getting knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup.
Liverpool put themselves into the lead with a Sami Hyypia header. 26 minutes later Arsenal legend Thierry Henry equalised before Michael Owen put the reds back into the lead just before half time. The Gunners came out firing in the second half with Robert Pires stabbing home an equaliser early after the restart. Then Henry grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck by scoring two more to give his team the victory.
The Gunner’s Premier League undefeated streak was in serious jeopardy. Coming through it proved the resilience and mental strength of this team. It was also key in regaining momentum after their Champions League and FA Cup exits. If they had lost this game they probably still would’ve won the title, but the most incredible achievement of Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal reign – the invicibles – would not have been possible.
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Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal, Premier League, 2002
Another 1-0 victory against Manchester United makes this list, but this time Arsenal managed to beat a major title rival and win the Premier League in the same match.
It was a very physical game between the two title challengers. Manchester United seemed intent on knocking Arsenal off their game with the likes of Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Roy Keane specifically getting stuck in. It didn’t work though, as Sylvain Wiltord was the first to react after a Fabien Barthez save, to slide the ball into the net to win the game and seal the title.
Obviously winning the Premier League at any time is fantastic, but winning it on the home ground of one of your greatest rivals is really special. Add in the fact that this was another double for the Gunners, this was truly one of the most magnificent moments of Arsene Wenger’s storied Arsenal career.