Here it is. Burnley away. What a place to celebrate your 20th season.
Quite astonishing to put 20 years into perspective. I was 12 years old when Wenger dropped. No one had a clue who he was, it took me a while to remember his name. It took me even longer to remember the names of the players he started to sign.
Wenger was like a real life Championship Manager. He wasn’t messing around in the British Isles, he was powering at names I’d seen on computer games. The excitement he brought to the league was spectacular. There were some names you had no clue about who came good… kick-starting the ‘Arsene knows’ mantra I’m so fond of. Then there were the names you knew that he revived.
Some my favourite signings came from the latter batch. Nwankwo Kanu was a pure party of a football player. I’d never seen a man so unorthodox, languid and incrediblskillfulll ply his trade in England. Marc Overmars still is one of my favourites was brought over by Arsene. A bit of a crock at Ajax, Wenger managed to get him fit and firing. Overmars cutting in from outwide and bobbling the ball low and hard… great memories.
Then there’s the ultimate revival story, Theirry Henry. What a powerhouse. Charisma, good looks, lightning pace and finishing to die for. That man gave us all so much joy over his 8 or so years of incredible service.
You also had the characters. Giles Grimandi. Always good for a yellow card after 68 seconds on the pitch. Pascal Cygan, what a hopeless signing… I’ve no idea how he attained a weird cult status, but he did. Alex Manninger, played an integral role in the close of one of our seasons. I think it was West Ham in the league cup where he bossed some seriously stunning saves. Freddie Ljungberg and that red hair… so many good times singing that song at Cardiff!
I think outside the trophies, the greatest part of Wenger’s tenure has to be our utter dominance of Spurs. No one has been worse for the scum than him. Total brutality. They even tried to copy us with Christian Gross who was utterly diabolical. Wenger made going to school much easier for me. I didn’t really have to tolerate that horrible feeling of failure you’d get after losing to Spurs. I’ll forever be thankful for that. Genuinely, that last minute toppling of Spurs last year was one of the best things that’s happned to us in the last ten years. It’s Wenger’s thing.
The main memory I’ll thank him for is the joy he created by allowing me to connect with my family. My youth, growing up with my dad was basically a whole bunch of good times at the Arsenal. When he’s gone, in like, 60 years, I’ll always remember the life lessons I learnt from him around Arsenal… swearing, beering, escapism and total commitment to game. Even in the bad times, Wenger still dominates conversation, which means there’s never a dull conversation.
Under Arsene, we even connected with a different part of the family, in totality down to the fact that Arsenal was the common grounding. That still bonds us to this day. I’m forever thankful that my upbringing wasn’t built around misery, like it was for West Ham or Spurs fans.
There’s gotta be some weird life lessons in there that I’m not aware of… Arsene in his early days was about getting shit done to the highest quality, on a budget, with class.
… nope, that’s not impacted my life, but damn… I’d love to be able to say that.
I guess as well, Wenger was the reason this blog started… so there, I stole a career off the back of it. Cheers Arsene!
The second 10 years, well, the stadium, sure… but I think the decline was disguised partly by the financial issues. But look, it is what it is… if he can finish off on a league win this season, it’ll be a fairytale like no other.
… and that has to start today. No pussying around eating birthday cake. We need to dish out a spanking to Burnley and we need to continue to build pressure on City. Who look incredible at the moment.
Also worth noting that a lot of teams look good at the moment. Spurs are playing well. Liverpool keep winning, which I hope will fall to pieces. Chelsea picked up 3 points (against Hull, so whatever). It’s imperative we don’t fall asleep today. We’re pretty good with promoted teams, so three points and no injuries would be lovely. It’s also important we head into the international break with confidence.
After that, our next 7 matches culminate in a game against Spurs… we have a pretty sweet run heading into that game. If we come out of that with 10 points, we’ll go into the Christmas period in positive shape.
… and boy, that period looks mighty tricky!
Enjoy the celebrations today, happy anniversary to Wenger, let’s make it a season to remember!