This weekend sees our tough period of fixtures continue as we travel to Stamford Bridge to face an inform Chelsea side. Jose Mourinho is unbeaten in the League at the Bridge so it’ll be an incredibly difficult game. If we win then we’ll really put the pressure on the hosts who currently sit at the top of the table.
It certainly is a big occasion and with it comes Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal. It would be silly to not comment on a simply incredible manager so for this post I’ll be focusing on Wenger himself more than the game on Saturday. Saying that, I really hope the players don’t get bogged down by the whole event and forgot that a job must be done.
I thought the best way of leading into the Chelsea game would be to do a tribute to Wenger himself. On Saturday, he’ll become one of only four men to reach the milestone of 1000 games in the modern era of English football. A quite incredible feat!
LMA Chairman, Howard Wilkinson said these words; “I congratulate him and Arsenal Football Club for proving that doing things the ‘right way’ can be rewarded by sustained achievement at the highest level both on and off the field of play.” A quote that epitomises Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. Despite all the trials and tribulations we’ve been through, if it hadn’t have been for Wenger then we would probably be in a very different place, and a bad place at that. Many see the Boss as more of an economist than a football manager in the way he’s carefully managed our funds though.
Mourinho previously has slated Wenger for being a ‘specialist in failure’. However, Wenger has been incredibly successful. Not just on the pitch but whilst our trophy drought has gone on, him and the board have managed the money at the club incredibly well off the pitch. We’ve managed to sustain ourselves in the top four for numerous years in a row without spending big. Now that the stadium debt seems to have been paid off, he’s going about finally splashing the cash. The acquisition of Mesut Ozil in the summer proved that, and we’ve done very well so far this season. Wilkinson also picked up on the fact that David Dein appointed a completely unknown manager. It was a true spot of genius. Who in their right mind would appoint the manager of Nagoya Grampus to a world renowned football club? The club as a whole are all the better for it though, and on that day in 1996, it seemed as though it was destiny that Arsene Wenger would manage Arsenal.
As my years as an Arsenal fan have gone by I’ve began to appreciate Wenger a lot more. When I was younger I would make silly remarks about our long wait for a trophy. I started to doubt him but just looking at what he’s achieved with us, you realise just how crucial he has been to Arsenal as a modern and developing football club. Arsene Wenger’s tenure has been quite incredible. During his time at Arsenal we’ve won 572 games, drawn 235 and lost just 192 matches – a win percentage of 56.26%. Since Herbert Chapman’s reign at Arsenal 89 years ago, we’ve only had 12 managers since. If you compare that to other clubs around the world it’s an incredible record.
I’ve read many interviews leading up to the game against Chelsea and the past and present players have all emphasised the same things. There is a recurring theme of trust and faith that he puts in the players. They all pick up on the huge impact he has had on the respective player’s careers, and his huge passion for football.
The players that Wenger will trust for the eagerly anticipated clash against Chelsea is an interesting one. With many players still out injured the defence pretty much picks itself again. Tomas Rosicky however is a doubt but should he be fit then I’d definitely start him. Either Flamini or the Ox will play in centre midfield but that will all depend on whether Lukas Podolski starts or not. It’ll be game that neither side will want to lose and it could be very much like the game at the Emirates and fizzle out into a draw.
So here’s to Wenger and the future, and let’s hope there are many trophies on their way!
By Matt Dawson