Full-time for Arsene at Arsenal

Arsene Wenger holds the second-longest record of managing a professional English football club. Photo: I3o_

Arsenal F.C. have confirmed on Friday, April 20 that Arsene Wenger is to step down as manager at the end of the season.

We look back on the moments of his prolific career during his near-22 years as Gunners boss.

You have to go back to September 30, 1996 to see the Frenchman assume the role as manager, succeeding Bruce Rioch. He guided Arsenal to a third place finish in the Premier League at the end of the 1996/97 season.

The following season saw the Gunners up their game. After lying second for most of the season, Wenger’s side went on a 10-game winning run to secure their first league title in seven years, along with the FA Cup to complete Arsenal’s first league and cup double since 1970/71.

Wenger’s next piece of major silverware would not come until 2001/02 after finishing runner-up in the Premier League to Manchester United three times in a row. Four days after their FA Cup triumph, the Gunners snatched the league title from United’s hands at Old Trafford to seal another double and scoring in every away league game that campaign as well. Two years later Arsenal would secure their third Premier League crown in seven seasons, in addition to going through the entire league campaign unbeaten.

Arsenal crowned Premier League Champions in 2003/04 and ending the league campaign without losing. Photo: Mr. Alexander Ottesen

The FA Cup success in 2005 would be the last major trophy Wenger would achieve for nine years, a period which saw his side reach a Champions League Final, two League Cup finals and finishing no higher than third in the league.

Despite many Arsenal fans demanding the Frenchman to leave the club, their side would end their trophy drought by beating Hull City in the 2014 FA Cup Final. The Gunners would retain the cup the following season, and even with the lack of summer-transfer business they would finish runners-up in the Premier League in 2015/16 behind Leicester City.

Arsenal celebrating FA Cup glory in 2015.
Photo: DSanchez17

However, after a promising start to the following campaign, a woeful string of results increased the misery on Wenger and once again some fans of the club got restless with the poor run of form and wanting the club to sack the Frenchman.

Although the Gunners missed out on Champions League football for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s reign, they won the FA Cup for the third time in four years after beating Premier League champions Chelsea at Wembley. A few days after the cup triumph, Wenger would sign a new two-year deal to remain as manager of Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte during Arsenal’s 2-1 victory in the 2017 FA Cup Final. Photo: @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London

Already out of both English cup competitions this season and out of the running in the Premier League for the top four, Wenger’s last hope is to win the Europa League to guide the Gunners back to the Champions League. Should they get past semi-final opponents Atletico Madrid, they will face either Marseille or Red Bull Salzburg in the final. Success in Europe will be a special way to bring down the curtain on a long and hard journey for one of English football’s most iconic figures.

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