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Arsenal acclaim Wenger's 1,000th game

Published: Friday 21 March 2014, 13.21CET
As Arsène Wenger reaches his 1,000th game as Arsenal FC manager, looks back at some of the highs and lows of more than 17 years in charge at the club.

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Published: Friday 21 March 2014, 13.21CET

Arsenal acclaim Wenger's 1,000th game

As Arsène Wenger reaches his 1,000th game as Arsenal FC manager, looks back at some of the highs and lows of more than 17 years in charge at the club.

First match: Blackburn Rovers FC 0-2 Arsenal FC (12/10/96)
When Bruce Rioch left Highbury in August 1996, Johan Cruyff and Terry Venables – both former FC Barcelona coaches – were thought to be the frontrunners for the job. Instead, Arsenal appointed a 46-year-old Frenchman who had won Ligue 1 and the French Cup with AS Monaco FC but was currently coaching Japanese club Nagoya Grampus. The London Evening Standard famously greeted his arrival with the headline "Arsène Who?"; victory at Ewood Park, with a pair of Ian Wright goals, began to answer that question.

Arsenal FC 4-0 Everton FC (03/05/98)
Doubts still remained, however, club captain Tony Adams saying: "At first, I thought, what does this Frenchman know about football? He wears glasses and looks more like a schoolteacher. He's not going to be as good as George Graham. Does he even speak English properly?" By Wenger's first full season in charge, a run of ten successive Premier League wins enabled Arsenal to cut a 12-point gap to Manchester United FC and a rampant victory over Everton made Wenger the first non-British manager to lift the English title – a now fully appreciative Adams scoring the crowning fourth goal.

Arsenal FC 2-0 Newcastle United FC (16/05/98)
Two weeks later, Arsenal clinched the north Londoners' second double as strikes from Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka saw off Newcastle in the FA Cup final at Wembley – sealing a triumph Wenger described as "just unbelievable". A second domestic double would follow in 2001/02, Arsenal securing the championship with victory at Manchester United.

FC Internazionale Milano 1-5 Arsenal FC (25/11/03)
One of Wenger's key decisions at Arsenal was converting Thierry Henry from winger to striker and the Frenchman was already established as one of Europe's deadliest forwards by the time of this trip to San Siro. His hat-trick helped Arsenal to a UEFA Champions League group win that "sent shockwaves around Europe", according to the BBC. "Not in my wildest dreams could we have predicted that sort of result," said Wenger, whose side had lost heavily at home to the same opponents. "I could not have dreamed either of the 3-0 home defeat to Inter so it just shows you how fragile team sports are and how things can change so quickly. Who'd have predicted we'd come here and win 5-1?"

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Arsène Wenger lifts the Premier League trophy after his team went through 2003/04 unbeaten

Arsenal FC 2-1 Leicester City FC (15/05/04)
In 2002/03, Wenger was widely mocked for suggesting Arsenal could go through a campaign unbeaten, a feat last accomplished by Preston North End FC's 'Invincibles' in 1888/89. With Wenger's third Premier League title already wrapped up, this victory against Leicester ensured Arsenal finished the 38-game 2003/04 season without defeat, an unbeaten run that would eventually stretch to an English record 49 matches. "I was a season too early," Wenger reflected wryly. "At the beginning of this season I never felt we were capable of doing it. To remain unbeaten is really unbelievable. It is something amazing, something special. How can you do it?"

Arsenal FC 0-0 Manchester United FC, 5-4 pens (21/05/2005)
Between 2001 and 2005, Wenger's team reached four FA Cup finals in five seasons, triumphing in 2002, 2003 and again here. Under Wenger, Arsenal have usually played free-flowing attacking football but with Henry injured, they opted to field Dennis Bergkamp in an unfamiliar lone striker role and ground out a victory on penalties. Captain Patrick Vieira converted the decisive kick – his last for the club as Wenger sought to remodel his side.

Arsenal FC 1-2 FC Barcelona (17/05/06)
Cesc Fàbregas was Vieira's replacement as Arsenal's squad became steadily more youthful, and Wenger was rewarded as the Gunners kept ten successive clean sheets – not conceding a goal in a competition record 995 minutes – en route to their first UEFA Champions League final in Paris. The early dismissal of goalkeeper Jens Lehmann proved pivotal, though, despite Sol Campbell subsequently heading the Gunners in front; late goals from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti ending their hopes of an unlikely success. "You never forget completely about the game," Wenger said four years later. "I did an interview recently about my time at Arsenal and I was surprised how much I remembered from every single little disappointment. I thought I had forgotten but every single little detail came out in my head."


Arsenal moved into their new home in 2006

Arsenal FC 1-1 Aston Villa FC (19/08/06)
Solace of a sort came three months later as the capital club moved into their new home after 93 years at Highbury. Wenger was instrumental in the design of the new Arsenal Stadium, calling the decision to up sticks "the biggest in Arsenal's history". "It's a great achievement," Wenger said of the move. "It's a fantastic stadium and it needs a fantastic team."

Arsenal FC 1-2 Birmingham City FC (27/02/11)
Wenger, however, has been unable to bring silverware to the Arsenal Stadium, that 2005 FA Cup triumph remaining the side's last trophy. His wait seemed certain to end in 2011 when Arsenal got to the English League Cup final against a Birmingham team who would be relegated from the Premier League come the end of term. Robin van Persie cancelled out Nikola Zigić's opener, but two minutes from time Obafemi Martins capitalised on a mix-up between Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczęsny to take the cup to Birmingham.

Tottenham Hotspur FC 0-1 Arsenal FC (16/03/14)
Wenger has enjoyed a fine record against Tottenham over the years, losing only six of his 43 north London derbies – with 21 wins – and last Sunday's victory, achieved through Tomáš Rosický's second-minute thunderbolt, left his charges within sight of a 16th consecutive UEFA Champions League campaign after his 999th match at the helm.

Last updated: 26/09/14 12.39CET

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