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Premier League Hall of Fame: Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger's 22-year career at Arsenal in which he won three Premier League titles will go down as one of the most successful in recent English football history and the Frenchman's impact on the game was far-reaching off the pitch as well.

The former Gunners boss was initiated into the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2023.

NameArsene Wenger
Date of birth22nd October 1949
Place of birthStrasbourg, France
Premier League clubsArsenal
Premier League matches828
Premier League wins476
Premier League titles3
Premier League manager of the month15
LMA Manager of the Year2

Arsene Wenger was in charge at Arsenal for a 22-year spell and is the longest-serving and most successful manager in the club's history.

Yet few fans had heard of the Frenchman when he took over at Highbury following Bruce Rioch's departure, but his arrival would hail a revolution not only for the Gunners' fortunes but also in attitudes both towards and within English football.

Early days and French successes 

Like many top managers, Wenger cannot be regarded as a great footballer, having played as an amateur in the French lower divisions, but he came into his own after he gained his manager's certificate.

An early spell at Nancy was not successful but he rose to prominence after taking over at Monaco.

While in the principality, he signed England stars Glenn Hoddle and Mark Hateley and steered the team to the Ligue 1 title in 1988.

He also saw something in Hoddle, who was coming to the end of his playing career, and encouraged the future England manager to go into coaching.

Wenger also won a Coupe de France while at Monaco but left for a completely fresh challenge in 1995 when he became manager of Grampus Eight in Japan's J-League, where his team won the Emperor's Cup in his only season in charge.

Great times at Highbury

These were, however, achievements that were low profile in the non-digital age and there were many people asking ‘Arsene who?' when he was unveiled as Bruce Rioch's replacement at Highbury in 1996.

However, everyone knew about the Frenchman within months as he brought a flurry of great talent to north London with the likes of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit joining the club and young star Nicolas Anelka emerging as one of the brightest young stars in the world game.

In the 1997-98 season, Wenger became the first foreign manager to guide a team to the coveted double.

And they came close to spoiling Manchester United's treble-winning season the following year as a missed Dennis Bergkamp penalty prevented them from winning their FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park and they also took the title race to the last day when United beat Tottenham to take the trophy.

But the Gunners bounced back in style and with the signing of Thierry Henry and the controversial capture of Tottenham captain Sol Campbell in the summer of 2001, Arsenal again went on to win the Premier League and FA Cup double in 2002.

'The Invincibles' leave their mark

It seemed hard to top those achievements but the Gunners managed it in 2003-04 when they became the first team since Preston in the Football League's inaugural season of 1888-89 to win the title without losing a match.

'The Invincibles' went on to break Nottingham Forest's record of 42 games without defeat before eventually falling in their 50th fixture in a typically ill-tempered match at rivals Manchester United.

Wenger took the Gunners to their only appearance in the Champions League final in 2006 in Paris where, despite taking the lead through Campbell, they lost 2-1 to Barcelona.

The club soon relocated to nearby Ashburton Grove but life at the Emirates Stadium was initially unsuccessful as the club went nine years without winning a trophy.

That ended when they beat Hull in the 2014 FA Cup final and Wenger would win it again on two more occasions to be the competition's most successful manager with seven wins.

Arsenal struggled at times to keep up with the big spending at Chelsea and Manchester City and Wenger eventually left the club in 2018.

Personality and legacy

One of the characteristics of Wenger's time in English football was the fact he did tend to rub people up the wrong way.

His relationship with his biggest rival, Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson, was always fractious and there was no love lost between the pair.

Wenger was also embroiled in high-profile touchline rows with West Ham's Alan Pardew and Tottenham's Martin Jol in the heat of battle and they were far from the only ones, while Jose Mourinho often went out of his way to put Wenger down at every possible opportunity during his Chelsea press conferences.

But few could argue with the quality of football Wenger's team generated and the success he enjoyed when, at times, his team were the only ones who could genuinely challenge United for honours.

Matches between the two teams were unmissable occasions and the frosty relationship between the two managers only added to the spice.

Wenger, who now works for Fifa as their Chief of Football Development, definitely left his mark with many of the senior Arsenal players hailing him as the man who lengthened their careers at the top after he cracked down on the club's drinking culture and emphasised changes in diets and supplements as meals went from red meat and junk food to pasta.

It has the desired effect and great preparation and recruitment ensured he rightfully takes his place as one of the greatest managers to have worked in English football.

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