Friday, March 1, 2024

Lehmann: Wenger left nothing to chance with ‘Invincibles’

Paris Saint Germain’s 2-1 win against Lorient on Saturday extended their unbeaten run in Ligue 1 to 14 games and stretched their lead at the top of the table to 13 points.

Why do we care? Well, we don’t really…but it’s been suggested that Laurent Blanc’s men could go undefeated for the rest of the season thereby emulating the achievement of Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’.

It’s probably a little early for such chatter…just look at the way Chelsea were similarly touted. HAHA!

All the same, in the hope of better understanding what is needed to achieve such a feat, France Football have interviewed Jens Lehmann; everpresent of the Gunners’ glorious 2003/04 season.

We thought we’d share the insight of our heroically aggressive Teutonic glove-butler as it piqued our interest.

*cough…buy our book…only £1.99 on Kindle*

“[I have] only good memories! We had the impression that nothing could happen to us. There were several matches during which we were behind, but we knew that we had the mental resources to come back in the match and reverse the score.

“We had a group that was very together with individuals who had great experience at the top level and who could make the difference at every moment. With the French internationals, who were some of the best players in the world. Without forgetting Dennis Bergkamp. We had an international star in each position. The chemistry was right and we really enjoyed playing together. But our best quality, was speed.”

Lehmann also touched on the influence of Arsene Wenger, a coach often criticised for putting football philosophy above tactics and analysis of the opposition.

“We were perfectly prepared, Arsène Wenger was one of the first managers to use video footage to dissect our opponents and to analyse our performances with the tiniest details.

“We also had very complex statistics. For example, we knew whether or not, from the 70 minute mark, an opponent would break physically. Nothing was left to chance.”

Lehmann’s words about Wenger’s attention to detail echo those of Santi Cazorla, who earlier this year revealed that he’d been tipped off by the boss before the 2014 FA Cup final that Hull’s goalkeeper would take a step towards his wall when facing a free-kick. It was a mistake that proved fatal for the Tigers on a day when we ended our trophy drought.

Why not watch Santi’s lovely goal…go on, treat yourselves. Maybe turn the sound off though.


Translation by the excellent @GFN_France, you can read the full interview here.


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Rip Van's Winkel

One of my most prized possessions is a Jens Lehman action man figure,
with fully articulated joints, on a stand. I have him diving in mid-air
on my windowsill.
My lovely wife bought him for my birthday from a junk shop in Brighton
about six years ago for £3.
What a woman!

Rip Van's Winkel


El Doctor

She’s a keeper … *cough*

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Arsenal stuff in junk shop? Fatgooner selling as long as Wenger is with us ?

Third Plebeian

Nah. All the fair weather gloryhunters who started rooting for FC Chelsea 2003 after the Invincibles broke up.

Merlin's Panini

Speaking of which. I bet Blogs would love this for Christmas:

Might make Mrs Blogs a bit jealous though 🙂


Whenever i see us messing up the way we do, i ask myself if it’s the same Wenger that built the invincibles.
It’s just crazy. The invincibles alone is enough reason for Wenger to be classed as the greatest manager Arsenal ever had and number 2 after Ferguson, but that was over 10 years ago.


United, very rich throughout. Stadium, made us far poorer cash-wise (we got upfront payments from sponsors to reduce the stadium debt) until the new sponsorship deals recently. Chelsea, very rich. City, very very rich. That’s the big picture. Either look at Wenger as: 1) lost it after the Invincibles 2) spoilt Arsenal fans with the Invincibles and then performed against the odds (see stadium and rich clubs above, all of which he sold some of his best players to – Cole, RVP, Sagna, Nasri – to keep going) to keep us near the top in PL and Europe and has… Read more »

Third Plebeian

I’m always amazed at how many people–and not stupid people, either–completely forget about the context when assessing Wenger’s / Arsenal’s performances over the last decade. It’s as if they look at the new stadium and the new sugar daddy ownership models and assume they’ve been there all along. Baffling.


It would indeed seem baffling, and worthy of great amazement, if you put it that way.

It would become very simple however, if we risk the hypothesis that they are indeed, stupid, or as I prefer to put it: fucking thick, insufferable cuntbuckets.


Or i look at it as
1. Making costly mistakes in the transfer market that cost us BIG time in the title race(Jan 2008 and 2014 comes to mind)
2. Disbanding the Invincibles earlier than he should have.

And no he didn’t “spoil us with the invincibles”. Dortmund and Atletico in recent years have won titles of teams WAAAAY richer than there are like Madrid, Barca, Bayern and Wolfsburg.
Yes i do appreciate what he did through paying for the stadium and what not, but that still doesn’t excuse him from the mistakes he’s made.
He’s human you know…


49 unbeaten matches including a full season unbeaten? Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires etc. You don’t feel spoilt by that? Not a little bit?

That’s one of the funniest and most bizarre things I’ve ever heard.


The very fact that you are holding Wenger’s transfer dealings wholly responsible for the capitulation of the team after the Eduardo incident is incredibly ignorant. We were flying at the time and everyone assumed that we would be wrapping up our first title since the invincibles. A month later and one of the most horrific injuries to ever happen in the EPL happened and Eduardo was crocked, it shell shocked the team as it became clear that all teams were doing against us, was kicking us up and down the pitch and that the referees had no intention of protecting… Read more »


The 2007-08 season is eerily similar to the season we’re currently experiencing because that squad lacked strength in depth. Even before Eduardo got injured, it was obvious we needed a striker to help Adebayor because RVP was crocked as always. We were grinding out wins and covering up the cracks we had which was going to get exploited in a matter of time. As for eduardo, well he only started playing well towards the end of the year and if i’m not mistaken, he scored like 4-5 in the league. It was obvious we needed a striker, but wenger didn’t… Read more »


I wonder what backs your claim about Wolfsburg’s financial resources, as compared to Dortmund’s.


They have the TGSTEl, they must be rolling in it.


Can’t be true, Wenger never does tactics or analyses the opponents.

I’ve been told that multiple times on here, by people that must know more that Jens (and Arsene for that matter).

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

To be honest, there were also players who used to boast that Wenger wanted them to impose their game and disregard opponents. If I am exact, Fabregas said something like they do not analyse opponents.


Well we all know how that turned out for Fabregas…


Not only Fabregas, but Thierry Henry as well.


Henry wasn’t in the Invincibles with Lehmann?


So?? He said the same thing Cesc said…why would he lie about that??


Tactics aside, we did kind of leave things to chance by going into a season with 2 CBs last year, and one DM this year.


Flamini was due to move on, Arteta – well no point beating a dead horse (in this a broken hourse). There were opportunities to add to but unusually for Wenger he decided to stick to couple of elder statesmen (in football terms, more so with Wenger’s own policy about players older than 30 yrs) rather than replacing atleast one of them with someone younger. We would have to have our heads buried to not recognise the lack of cover in the DM position. The concern over Coq’s injury layoff is not only a testimony to his importance to the team… Read more »

the only sam is nelson

the club captain, and a reliable footballer who cares about Arsenal and knows the systems, players and methods better than any expensive star buy who wouldn’t want to pick splinters out of their arse whilst sitting on the bench, you mean?

yes, why would AW stick with them? Clearly he’s insane

remember, Flamini has never lost in 51 outings at the Grove. FACT


Again, I understand why the worry is about sitting on the bench? When was the last time a player left us sighting lack of playing time, when we actually wanted to hold on to? We are usually done to bare bones for past few seasons due to injuries.

I find it weird when people say ‘FACT’ – why isn’t Flamini a starter if that stat is so important?

If you think there is nothing to worry about in terms of DM that’s your opinion. I’ve mine.

Mark Hughes

Players on lack of game time: Debuchy (recently), J. Campbell (recently) and I’m pretty sure Rosicky talked about moving to get more playing time before his injury.


They are still with us. Rosicky is out long term injured, so playing doesn’t even come into the discussion. Campbell often publicly has stated he is happy. Seems to Wenger doesn’t trust him rather than opportunity – West Brom being the most recent example. Over the season plenty of times prior to the injury crisis our bench was full of defensive players, with Campbell not even on it. Debuchy / Jenkinson swap at the end of the season might well be the equivalent of Monreal/Gibbs RB solution. I’m saying the current situation with DM could have been better prepared for.… Read more »


I think “when we actually wanted to hold on to” is of great importance here.


This is 2015, not 2012. It was clear to anyone with half a brain that Arteta couldn’t handle the pace of the league from last season.
I love Arteta for all he did for us when cesc and nasri left, But wenger was simply wrong in offering him a contract and that has shown so far this season.
So no, he isn’t a reliable option(sad i know) to replace Coq.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Here is your thumb up. After a good game, people will always vote you down for a comment that makes sense like this one. I love sergeant Flamini and captain Arteta though.

Third Plebeian

Very true. A similar comment after a loss would be very well received. Football fans are a fickle bunch.

The truth is very simple, and SB has articulated it very well. Both Arteta and Flamini are nearing retirement, with the former a permanent injury concern and the latter long past his best. I think it’s entirely fair to ask why Wenger thought these players presented adequate cover for a position that has become hugely important to how we play.


After WBA, people were ready to release Arteta from his contract. After Zagreb, Arteta is again a top class player full of experience. Even if he didn’t play a second. Fan logic.


I’m curious. Which of our DMs do you relate to as our only DM? Coquelin or Flamini?


guys what if we play flamini at the holding postion until coquelin returns. he’s not that bad you know. he was class against spurs(both matches this season) i brought this up because people are saying ramsey is more preferable. is he really?

Third Plebeian

I don’t think Flamini in the long term (because that’s what we’re looking at here…AT LEAST three months) is the answer. He’s fine when you throw him on once in a while, but he lacks composure. This is thing people forget about Coquelin. He wasn’t just a destroyer. He was very tidy in possession, and could get past players as well. I trust Ramsey to do that better than Flamini, though neither are ideal in that position (Ramsey will always try to join attack…it’s in his blood, and I’m not sure he’ll sit back like we want him to).


Wow, the music on that Santi clip is terrible. Damn near disrespectful to the moment.

Oh yeah, Lehman awesome….ugh such terrible music

Me So Hornsey

It made my ears bleed.


Yeah, I remember those hundreds or thousands of knobs saying Wenger does no prep for games.

People really do say some ridiculous shit when nobody knows what goes on behind the Emirates pearly gates. I am sure an absolute TON OF STUFF! Data, stats, videos, the lot.


just read Santi’s twitter comment, “…I’d trust in the Boss…”

If Santi ‘smiles all the time’ Cazorla can do it, we all can.

In Arsene I (and Santi) trust.


Honestly, if PSG goes unbeaten, it’s no glory: they have a budget nobody can match in France and the quality of the French championship can’t be compared with the PL!!

Me So Hornsey

“But our best quality was speed”. Interesting.

I wonder what made Wenger abandon his early reliance on pacey players from front to back? He still likes a pacey player but not obsessively like back in “‘the good old days”.

Our back four of Cashley, Toure, Sol and Lauren were arguably the quickest back four in premiership history, all had amazing recovery pace, they could push up as far as they wanted and still be secure, I suppose that’s what Lehman had in front of him and saw as our greatest strength.

Andy Mack

It was coincidence that all the back 4 where fast. Kozzer, HB and KG are all very quick (for their position) and Gabby & Nacho aren’t slow. He hasn’t abandoned speed but TW, DW, and Ox being injured does make us look a bit slow (and reliant on HB and AS for speed).


Why not LK, GP, NM and AOC?


Jens definitely knows what he is talking. If he said thats the way it was (with Arsene pre-match preparations & post-match review)….well that must be the way it was. Give the men (both Jens & Arsene) some respect!! The invicibles…11 years on & record still going strong. Utmost respect to that bunch.


Why then did Arsene abandon his shrewdness?


I don’t get it. Why would we turn r sound off?


The rubbish I’ve seen by some people how Wenger is ruining the club. The list of players he has brought in, relative unknowns he has crafted into top world class players – Henry, Viera, Anelka, RVP, Fabregas, Viera, Pires, Overmars, Petit, Gilberto, SAGNA, Lauren, Kolo, Sol, Per, Koscielny, Monreal, Rosicky! He paid relatively little money for them. When you look at a list of the fails (and there have been a number) one has to realise that Wenger never paid high prices so he limited the damage to the club and enabled our finances to grow. Plus he has now… Read more »


Wenger didn’t “craft” Pires, Rosicky and Campbell into world class players. Madrid were interested in signing Pires before Wenger convinced him to join us(i’ve always respected his ability to convince and lure players to join us). Rosicky was BVB record signing at 16m. You need to make up your mind as well. I remember you saying that Wenger wouldn’t and didn’t need to sign Cech because we had SCZ and Ospina and all of a sudden you’re now praising him and calling it a masterstroke. Who knows, you’ll probably say the same when we finally(hopefully) buy a world class striker… Read more »

Sanchez' Toe

How good was Flamini against Zagreb?I think he stepped up last night and proved that he’s still got it and so does Wenger for his faith in his squad.


I’m 100% pro wenger and I think only in years to come will people truly recognise what he has achieved both post-Highbury and during the glory years. Here comes the but… But, After the CB issues last year it does seem very strange we didn’t go for a DM in the summer, it’s surely not because there isn’t the quality out there? The strangest thing for me is that if we let two of flamini/arteta/rosicky go in the summer, we could of signed a DM without any increase to our wage bill at all. We just would of needed to… Read more »

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