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9 reasons Arsene Wenger is the Premier League legend we didn’t deserve and will never forget

Whatever you have thought about him over the last two or three years, now is the time to respect a true legend of the game

1 The far-reaching ripples…

Genius

Reuters
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Genius

You’ll find Arsene Wenger’s fingerprints in every crevice of Premier League history.

His belief in the power of attractive football to conquer a league built on intensity and physicality shaped the way a whole generation of players comprehended the game.

He arrived as an admirer of the English game, and he leaves as one of its most influential figures.

2 He laughed in the face of impossible

Zero losses

AFP and licensors
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Zero losses

Going a whole season undefeated in the Premier League simply wasn’t possible.

Until it happened.

Wenger blended style with substance like we’d never seen before, and haven’t seen since.

3 Wenger the alchemist

A match made in heaven

PA:Empics Sport
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A match made in heaven

The Thierry Henry of Monaco and Juventus was a rapid left-winger who didn’t know what it was like to score ten league goals in a season.

Wenger transformed him into one of the best strikers of the modern era.

And then, to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he repeated the same trick with Robin van Persie.

4 He showed us the world

If one winger didn’t get you, the other did

AFP
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If one winger didn’t get you, the other did

Time and time again, Wenger signed relatively unknown players who proved to be world-beaters.

Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires arrived from Halmstad and Marseille respectively.

Patrick Vieira had featured in just two league games for AC Milan the season before moving to north London, a move motivated purely because of his desire to play under Wenger.

Signing foreign players was seen as risk until Arsenal won jackpot after jackpot.

5 He gave youth a chance

A teacher to some of the finest students in the game

Getty - Contributor
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A teacher to some of the finest students in the game

Wenger committed to blooding the kids in the cups long before anyone else.

From day one he placed huge importance on nurturing young talent; by bringing through academy kids and signing raw talent.

His trust in youth gave us Ashley Cole, Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere and more.

He bought Nicolas Anelka as a 17-year-old and was still in the Arsenal dugout when the French forward hung up his boots in 2015.

Longevity doesn’t even begin to cover it.

6 When winning is not enough

We couldn’t leave out Dennis

AP:Associated Press
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We couldn’t leave out Dennis

“1-0 to the Arsenal…”

That’s how the chant back in the days when Dixon, Adams, Bould and Winterburn protected an Ian Wright winner.

Wenger thought the fans deserved more than wins — they deserved to be entertained.

1-0 became 3-0, 4-0, 5-0…

7 His underrated masterpiece

Arsenal have won more FA Cups in 22 years under Wenger than they did in 110 years without him

Reuters
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Arsenal have won more FA Cups in 22 years under Wenger than they did in 110 years without him

Many believe the Invincibles of 2003/04 were Wenger’s greatest crop.

But those in the know recognise the understated greatness of the double-winning team of 2001/02.

Gary Neville, having played against both sides, reckons the 01/02 side were the best Arsenal team of the Premier League era.

Before the start of the season, Wenger swooped Sol Campbell away from the Gunners’ fiercest rivals in what remains one of the most controversial transfer ever.

Arsenal won their last 13 league games of the campaign, finishing seven points ahead of Liverpool.

8 Blurred lines

This is him during his ‘worst days’

PA:Press Association
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This is him during his ‘worst days’

Wenger set such a standard for himself and Arsenal that fans have protested against his reign in recent times.

And yet, the Gunners have won three out the last four FA Cups.

It’s a measure of the man’s achievements that a stranglehold over arguably the most prestigious domestic cup competition in the world is considered a downgrade.

9 He is Arsenal

Thank you

PA:Press Association
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Thank you

The majority of football fans believe Wenger stayed at Arsenal too long.

But in an age where managers are chopped and changed at will by almost every other club, most of the sacked gaffers content to leave in disgrace if it means a significant payoff, Wenger’s staying power must be commended.

His determination to stick by the club he fell in love with in 1996 is unique.

He’s mopped up the criticism, absorbed it, shielded his players, and maintained his dignity in the face of an often shameful backlash.

He’s occupied the dugout in north London for 22 years — a whole generation knows nothing else.

Francesco Totti is Roma.

Paolo Maldini is AC Milan.

Arsene Wenger is Arsenal.

Forever and always.


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