Sunday, April 2, 2023

20 years of Arsene Wenger – a trip down memory lane

It’s 20 years since Arsene Wenger was unveiled as Arsenal manager*…and what a ride it’s been since.

To celebrate we’ve picked out 20 moments that have defined his time in North London.

Feel free to share your favourite moments in the comment section below. Enjoy.

*He officially started work on 1 October 1996.

1. Vieira Signs

Wenger’s fingerprints were all over Vieira’s signing even though it was pushed through five weeks before his own arrival.

Paddy quickly became the fulcrum of the Gunners midfield making 406 appearances in nine years and winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.

2. The 97/98 Double

Arsenal were 12 points behind reigning champions Manchester United at the end of February, before a winning streak of nine matches ensured we won the championship with a 4–0 win over Everton on 3 May 1998.

“And it’s Tony Adams put through by Steve Bould…would you believe it? That sums it all up!”

Well almost. We then went and beat Newcastle 2-0 to secure a first Double since 1971.

3. The French Connection

Wenger’s unrivalled knowledge of up and coming French talent proved rather useful in the early years.

First Anelka was signed, promoted and sold for a £21.5 million profit, then the boss snaffled World Cup winner Thierry Henry, then struggling at Juventus, and forged a legend.

4. Arson Wenger? 

Out with the Mars bars, in with broccoli. That was step one. Step two was using £10 million from the sale of Anelka to create a state of the art training facility, opened in 1999, suitable for attracting and honing the skills of world class athletes. Nobody ever found out who burnt down the ramshackle buildings that the Gunners had been using on UCL’s land…

5. Double, Double, Double…

10 months after stealing Sol Campbell on a free from Sp*rs, the Arsenal secured their third Double. After a tight fight at the top we cruised to victory, scoring in every game, remaining unbeaten away, finishing the season with 13 successive wins and clinching the title at Old Trafford in our penultimate game.

Four days previously, the FA Cup had been sealed in Cardiff.

Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Wiltord, Kanu, Henry, the list goes on…

6. The Battle Of Old Trafford

A red card for Vieira, a last-gasp penalty miss by Ruud van Nistelrooy, Martin Keown’s reaction, handbags everywhere…and then fines and bans.

This 0-0 against Fergie’s United had everything…but goals. Having choked in the title race the season before, the single point galvanised the Gunners and formed the bedrock of our race to the title.

7. Fergie Mind Games

Relations thawed over the years but at the height of Arsenal’s rivalry with Manchester United the two managers went at each other like rutting stags.

“Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home,” said Wenger in response to Ferguson’s 2002 claim that United had been the best side in the Premier League after Christmas despite Arsenal being crowned champions. The best of the rest can be read here. 

It’s a mark of respect that Wenger played along at all. Whenever Jose Mourinho’s name is brought up by the press, the Frenchman’s eyes squint and he tries to change the subject.

Break his face Jose? You’re having a laugh.

8. Invincible

Very few managers have suggested that their team can go unbeaten. Fewer still have delivered on the ambition.

We don’t really need to write much here…The Gunners were simply awesome in 2003/04, winning 26 games and drawing 12 on the way to a 90-point haul. Oh…and did we mention we won the league at White Hart Lane? Again.

9. Forty-Nine, Forty-Nine, Undefeated

The unbeaten run stretched into a third season as the Gunners started the 04/05 campaign in swaggering style. The gung-ho 5-3 victory over Middlesbrough on 22 August 2004 was a particular highlight as Wenger’s men battled back from 3-1 down to equal Nottingham Forest’s all-time League record sequence.

It took Wayne Rooney’s cheating in October’s Battle of the Buffet to finally end the most remarkable undefeated stretch in English football. Worth singing about, if you ask us.

10. Shootout In Cardiff

Patrick Vieira’s parting gift – a successful spot-kick to beat United on penalties after a turgid 120 minutes in Cardiff – proved to be a real line in the sand.

The Frenchman left for Juventus, the break-up of the Invincibles started in earnest and a trophy drought began. All this at a time when Roman Abramovich was reshaping the financial landscape of the transfer market.

11. Pain in Paris

It may have ended in heartbreak, but the run to the Champions League final in 2006, including wins over Juventus and Real Madrid and THAT Lehmann penalty save against Villarreal, will live long in the memory.

On a soaking wet night in the French capital, Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona proved a hurdle too far. Down to ten men in the early stages, the Gunners put up a brave fight and even took the lead thanks to Sol Campbell’s thunderous header. Thierry Henry had a chance to double the lead (“harder Thierry, hit it harder!!!”) , before Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti broke our hearts.

Arsene’s quest for European football’s Holy Grail goes on…

Fuck you Wayne Bridge. Fuck you.

12. A New Home

Nobody enjoyed saying goodbye to Highbury, however, with no room to expand capacity the move to a new stadium was inevitable. Pushing for change was far from a one-man job, but with Wenger committing his future to the club when suitors circled he provided a level of stability and forged squads that consistently competed for a top-four finish even without the financial muscle of big-spending rivals.

13. Project Youth

The idea was brave. Sell ageing stars for big money, invest in young talent from abroad and develop a football philosophy that permeates every level of the Academy and forges a newfound club spirit.

The first two thirds of the 2007/08 campaign hinted it might just work, only for inexperience, mental fragility and injuries to cost the club dear time and time again. There was also the issue of holding onto top quality players with the modern game awash with tempting big money contracts. The exits of Fabregas, Nasri and Van Persie were particularly grating, as was the League Cup final defeat to Birmingham.

14. Beating Barca

For one glorious night in February 2011 it wasn’t about winning the Champions League, it was about beating the world’s best side on home turf.

1-0 down at half time to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona it looked an unlikely feat. Then came two goals in five beautifully frantic five minutes. First Van Persie scored at Victor Valdes’ near post to level things up. Then, with the game ticked towards 90 minutes, Wilshere, Fabregas and Nasri combined on the break for ‘Aaaaaaaaarshavin’ to net the winner. Has there ever been a bigger roar at the Emirates?

Naturally, we got spanked in the second leg.

15. Return Of The King

Arsenal’s 125th anniversary season needed a pick-me-up after the hammering at Old Trafford and it came in the form of Henry’s surprise return. Just days after having a statue unveiled, the club’s record scorer stepped off the bench against Leeds to do what he had done so many times before…find the net with a cushioned right foot effort to the far post.

The Emirates exploded. There were tears of joy, there was hysterical laughter, and there was Henry.

Listen to a mini-documentary about that goal here.

16. THAT Goal VS Norwich

If there’s one goal that sums up peak Wenger-ball, it’s Wilshere’s 18th minutes strike in the 4-1 win over Norwich in 2013.

Words don’t do it justice, so here’s the video…

17. King Of The One-Liner

Facing the press on a week-by-week basis for 20 years can’t have been easy, particularly during the nine years without a trophy, but for the most part Wenger has indulged Fleet Street with a smile on his face.

“I don’t kick dressing room doors or the cat or even football journalists,” he once said.

Quizzed on everything from Bob Marley and David Bowie to Brexit and beyond, the boss always seems to have an answer.

18. To Hull And Back

Finally, a trophy! But bloody hell, didn’t we go about it in the most Arsenal way possible. After a horribly tense shootout victory over Wigan in the semi-final, the Gunners rocked up for the final with Hull as favourites…and then promptly went two nil down inside ten minutes.

Thankfully, while the football world collectively guffawed at our ineptitude Santi Cazorla kept his cool and reduced the deficit with a fantastic free-kick. Laurent Koscielny’s equaliser set up extra-time before Aaron Ramsey wrote his name into the Arsenal annals with his late winner. The relief was palpable.

19. Le Prof In Full Flow…

It’s not often the boss gives in-depth interviews, but when he does (as he did with L’Equipe last year) you’re reminded why he’s so respected…

“I don’t want the will to educate to be opposed to the will to win. That makes the educator sound like an idiot. Any manager’s approach must be to educate. One of the beauties of our job is the power to influence the course of a man’s life in a positive way. You and me have been lucky enough to meet people who believed in us and led us forward. The streets are full of talented people but who didn’t have the luck of finding someone who placed their faith in them. I can be the one that facilitates life, that give an opportunity.”

20. Forever In Our Shadow

Did you know that Arsenal have never finished below Sp*rs in the entire time Arsene Wenger has been in charge? You did, didn’t you…

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We won the League on Merseyside, We won the League on Merseyside, we won the League on the Mersey…. You’ve got it… then we sold Michael Thomas to them….


That was George Graham’s time.

Bryce G Hauver-Reeves

Whatever you believe about him now Arsene is a club legend and l will be forever grateful for what he has done for my beloved club.

Scott P

So true. The club is surely bigger than one man, but he just exemplifies Arsenal and exudes class.

I have only been following Arsenal since my college roommate introduced me to the world of football in 2010, but I had to work hard to contain myself as I read this article and my eyes welled up. The memories that following Arsenal has given me – I will never forget.

JJ's Bender

Its been an absolute honour to have this man at our helm for so long. Some people forget too easily..

Vive Le Prof


There’s only one Arsene Wenger.



Simply brilliant. Thank you


He too deserves a statue and will get it one day, during his lifetime.

Statue maker

Depends how much it will cost . He may want a commemorative tree and hope it grows into something glorious??

Bitter Pill

That night in Paris still ranks as one of the worst days of my life. The red card. Having to remove Pires for a clearly terrified Almunia. Henry missing what would have been the clincher. The heartbreaking goals…Still haven’t built up the nerve to watch that match since that faithful day. Not even the highlights.


I also remember quite well that I couldn’t understand why he took off Pires and not Freddie because it was clear that it will be Bobbys last game for the club and that was definitely a bad end to a glorious time at the club. But Freddie was our man of the match that night. He was all over the pitch, almost alone made up for the missing man and was involved in everything good we played offensively. He’s often a bit behind Bobby, Paddy, Dennis and Titi when it comes to our all time greats but he was an… Read more »


It was the only time I was livid with Henry. His post-match comments were infuriating (‘this team is not the real Barcelona we came to see’ or words to that effect) and then promptly buggered off to them within the year. God I was cross.


For me other top, top memories are:

Sol Campbell walking into the press conference when he had signed
Arsene pushing Mourinho
the first match at the Emirates (and getting shown around it by Charlie George)
the spending on Alexis, Ozil, Xhaka, Mustafi etc changing us from being a selling club

And note that on average other PL clubs have had 11 managers in the 20 years.


you seem quite a young gooner.. not that that’s a bad thing


Beautiful article. I’ve only ever seen Wenger as an Arsenal manager. It’s going to be a strange feeling once he leaves. For now, let’s just enjoy his presence and support him. He’s not perfect, he can be frustrating, but he’s put the club above his own life.

Despite all that’s been thrown at him, he’s been a complete gentleman about how he’s proceeded with things.


The stadium move really hurt us. Highbury with the small pitch and proximity to crowd was really a fortress.

The loss in the champion league final also trigger a change in wenger style from physical to technical.

Eduardo injury was then the final nail in coffin as it resulted in us losing the league and the winning mentality.

We have never really recover from these 3 critical point till now. But we are slowly there.

Shwooooz Caprooooz

Most supporters here have been following Arsenal for decades and compared to them I am just an infant.. But do you know what made me, someone who never watched football, into an instant Arsenal Fan: 2-1 against Barcelona at home.. Boy was it some game and when Arshavin scored, I said to myself, these lads aren’t half as bad. Next thing I remember, I was following Arsenal judiciously. Having begun following Arsenal recently and at their worst patch, what would i not give to watch the first decade of Wenger’s reign. Even now when I watch those clips on YouTube,… Read more »


Just love Arsene Wenger, whether the criticism is fair or not, I despair when I hear it


we all know now I think what it is to be an Arsenal player: talented, honest and straight on and off the pitch, a lover and a practitioner of the Beautiful Game as she should be played and I think Wenger has defined what it is to be an Arsenal player over the past 20 years…other coaches also know what it is to be an Arsenal player…no other coach in the Premier League has achieved that…when he enquires with a foreign coach about some player or other he is interested in, they would apparently sometimes say to him: ‘nah…he’s not… Read more »

Xhaka's Left Foot

He’s a gooner legend forever, whatever happens next. But you wish he’d leave (whenever the time comes) in a blaze of silverware glory; particularly UCL

Mein Bergkampf

My favourite moment in Wenger’s career, in football in general and in my entire life is Tony Adams smashing home to make it 4-0 against Everton. That goal just summed it all up and I think English football owes a huge debt of gratitude to Arsene for moving it out the dark ages and into a work of art.

Tom Gun

When I think of The Invincibles it makes me proud.
When I think of our style of football under Wenger I swoon.
When I think of The players he brought I smile.
When I think of Dennis I pray.
When I think of that lot forever in our shadow I laugh and laugh and laugh…..and get cravings for lasagne.
When I think of Arsene Wenger I thank.

Thank you Arsene for 20 wonderful years!

Its only Parlour.

What beautiful memories.More to come.COYG.

Avon Barksdale


Campbell's forehead

Let’s all laugh at Mourinho – the wheels are falling of so short into his Man U career.

yaya sanogo's wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube legs

Two cunts finally found each other and the world is a better place for it.

Petit's Handbag

Fuck French & Saunders


We may not have won the League in 12 years, for reasons beyond the control of our club.

However, despite financial difficulties, we never were relegated to the 2nd tier of Europe in Wenger’s years.

Also, Wenger helped maintain the club’s class. None of our titles were bought were tainted by oil money or won in Fergi time.


Chelsea owe it all to the russian money and Abramovich for making them genuine title contenders. Man City owe it all to the Arab money and Sheikh Mansour for making them genuine title contenders. But we owe it all to Le Professeure for liberating us from the ManUtd monopoly of the 90s WITHOUT the money others had. We owe it all to Le Professeure for getting us through the Emirates debt (mini-)crisis unscathed. Shame on all of us who can’t stand by his side when the team doesn’t play well. Sure, some of his decisions are questionable. But with his… Read more »


Well said Sir Bubbles!


The difference between us and United were they were consistently winning it.

We didn’t win half as much but when we won it we elevated the game to the sublime.

Simply magic.

The sort of football we could put together was just out of this world.

It’s like fine wine. It doesn’t happen all the time but it’s consistently there. BUT when it has a good year, it is just magical.

That’s Wenger.

Little Mozart

Moment #21: Arsène’s smile when he knew we had signed Mesut Özil and he was trying so hard not to spoil the surprise.


Wenger is Class. Most of us followed Arsenal because of him. He needs atleat one big trophy before he calls time on his management career. I sure hope this season will get it


I hope this isn’t his last season with us.


So glad you included the Norwich goal. It really is something special

Kampala gooner

I have purchased afew replica Arsenal jerseys before and much as I have supported Arsenal through the eras of some of its greats I have never had any of their names on my jersey apart from last year’s colar jersey that has Arsene on it. All I can say is thank you.

Lord Bendtner

I became an Arsenal fan because of their style, their philosophy. Even though I felt the club was let down by some of the youth project’s end results, what a game even our youth used to play. The way our senior and junior teams have moved the ball around, the goals they have scored. Wow absolute wow! It’s those goals and the build ups to the goals that keeps me motivated and dreaming through the tough times at Arsenal. And at the center of all the success stands only one man.

Thank you Le Prof

Antispuds returns

I believe that Wenger can retire and arsenal to still maintain the same philosophy and still of playing. The only way to achieve that is to plan carefully a transition. They only thing I am dreading is to him managing another club. Can you imagine that? Sacrilege! If he leaves it should be either moving upstairs or go into horse racing, golf, or antique dealer whatever but not another club. Who ever will be replacing him should continue the arsenal what of things. BTW if Bournemouth gets relegated this year do you think However will come? I cannot see a… Read more »


only one wenger only one arsenal

Jose P

I might get some stick for this, but I am ok to take it. I fell in love with Arsenal after watching Dennis ‘Genius’ Bergkamp. I have followed the team for many years I could remember. Arsenal and Arsene have influenced my life in a big way. I have recently arrived at Edinburgh from India, but I find it not really football friendly. I want to watch the Arsenal at the Emirates, or any other away games. Please help me to find how I can do it. Any websites, sports pubs etc., would help as I understand that the tickets… Read more »


Mate im a red member… an Arsenal serf… but manage to get to about 10 games a season with minimal difficulty…. all on the membership tab on

José P

Thanks mate, I’ll try my chances.

Aleksander Włodarz

The fans calling for his head will only realise what they had once he’s gone … it may seem strange but i sometimes catch myself thinking that i may stop supporting the club when it happens … there’s only one Arsene Wenger and Long May He Run !

Antispuds returns

Ha Fatgooner fall in love with Wenger or what? No word from him in this thread is kinda worrying. Hope you are OK Fatgooner. Just say something so we know you are OK mate


ACE and AWesome by name and ace and awesome by nature. Arsene Charles Ernest Wenger take a bow. You are loved and respected by true football fans the world over. <3




I remember when he arrived, I was 10 years old, my friend, a fellow Gunner, had introduced me and my brothers to Arsenal the season before when Bergkamp had signed. I didn’t really understand at the time what a change of manager meant, or for that matter how it would affect the club. In the 21 years I have been an Arsenal fan, Arsene has been synonymous with the club. I barely remember Rioch, but I do remember that first double, oh how we celebrated. The highs, the unbeaten run, the ‘unknown’ players that we signed who were our Anelka,… Read more »


#21 Giving Bourinho the body swerve after winning the Charity Shield. Classy move.


Arsenal is bigger than Wenger. And he is VERY big.
That says a lot about Arsenal.


It has been said before but bears saying again. Wenger is a CLASS act.

He has brought stability and silverware to the Arsenal, whereas teams around us have struggled to achieve a smidgen of that (when you see how many managers have passed through the doors of other clubs). Arsene may not be the flashiest, but he gets things done in his unassuming but engaging manner.

I really do hope Le Prof will finish on a high and go out with a bang by winning a major title/trophy again.


My father died when I was young and in a way, Arsene is one of those who helped fill the void. A man of honour, courage and intelligence. Flawed of course, but always remaining an exceptional role model.

Don't boo Paul Davis

Nice sentiment. I know what you mean.


Because of him I became a gooner. And I always will stay a gooner. I don’t care about trophies, I care about the beautiful game, which no one understood better then Wenger. Thank you professeur for all the years of tears and joy, I personally hope there’re many more to come, but he’ll decide what’s best for the club – as always, I will put all my faith in him!

vive le professeur!


Decent article in today’s Times as well.

master floda

Not a highlight as such but this moment of pure emotion is stuck in my memory of Wenger, maybe because it was so untypical and showed that he goes through the same motions as we do.


if there is any football justice, AW wins the EPL and/or Champions League before he bows out. Sporting legend who broke the mould, not cried wolf about someone else’s face. Hopefully, he can celebrate with a big win over Chelski. COYG

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