Arsene Wenger has endured a miserable season, with calls growing for the long-serving Arsenal manager to step down at the end of the current campaign.
His relationship with the Gunners fans may have turned sour in recent years but his longevity in the role – he was appointed in 1996 – means he continues to break records.
The latest was brought up on Sunday as his side saw off Watford at the Emirates to record Wenger’s 700th win in all competitions at the Arsenal helm.
Here, we look at each of his landmark wins on the way to 700, assessing how he built Arsenal to the top of the Premier League – and took them back down.
Win 1 – 12/10/1996 – Premier League v Blackburn Rovers
Wenger took over early in the 1996-97 Premier League campaign after his contract at Japanese club Grampus Eight was mutually terminated.
The Frenchman’s arrival was initially viewed with some suspicion – foreign managers were a rarity in English football at the time – but he got up and running with a win. Ian Wright scored both goals in a 2-0 victory at Blackburn Rovers, who had won the title 16 months earlier.
Arsenal went on to finish third in the league in Wenger’s debut year, missing out on Champions League qualification to Newcastle United on goal difference. The cups were a disappointment, though, Wenger’s side exiting each of the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup early.
Off the pitch, Wenger’s approach was proving revolutionary, with his enforced adoption of a healthy diet paving the way for footballers to start treating their bodies like professional athletes, the Gunners having previously been famed for the club’s drinking culture. But others would soon catch up.
Win 100 – 16/03/2000 – UEFA Cup v Werder Bremen
It took three-and-a-half years for Wenger to reach 100 Arsenal wins, although he had already collected his first double, with a 2-0 success at home to Werder Bremen bringing up three figures.
Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg were on target as the Gunners marched on in a run that took them to the UEFA Cup final, where they faced Galatasaray in Copenhagen. Arsenal lost on penalties and European success continues to elude Wenger – could this season’s Europa League break their continental drought under the Frenchman?
Arsenal won nothing in the 1999-2000 season, finishing a massive 18 points behind Premier League champions Manchester United, led by Wenger’s great rival Alex Ferguson.
Win 200 – 26/12/2002 – Premier League v West Brom
Arsenal were runners-up again in the 2002-03 season, but Wenger reached 200 wins in charge with a 2-1 triumph at West Brom – Henry hitting a late winner to snatch the points at The Hawthorns. They were closer to Ferguson’s United this time, finishing just five points behind the champions.
FA Cup glory – the third time Arsenal had won the trophy under Wenger – ended the campaign on a high as the Gunners beat Southampton 1-0 in Cardiff thanks to Robert Pires’ first-half goal.
But there was disappointment in Europe, which was becoming a regular occurrence, as Arsenal were knocked out in the second group stage of the Champions League.
Win 300 – 19/11/2005 – Premier League v Wigan Athletic
Henry assumed the club captaincy for the 2005-06 season and the France international hit a brace in a 3-2 win at Wigan to bring up 300 Arsenal wins for Wenger in what was Arsenal’s final season at Highbury.
Arsenal finished fourth in the Premier League, narrowly pipping Tottenham for Champions League qualification, the club ending the season without a trophy.
The stadium move was a useful mark to split Wenger’s reign into two distinct eras: one where they were on the rise – peaking with the Invincibles and the incredible 49-game unbeaten run – and then the subsequent slow, painful decline.
Win 400 – 25/11/2008 – Champions League v Dynamo Kiev
A touch over three years later came win number 400 – a 1-0 home triumph against Dynamo Kiev in the group stages of the Champions League, earned thanks to Nicklas Bendtner’s late strike.
Having lost in the 2005-2006 final to Barcelona, Arsenal were perilously close to European glory again, but the Gunners lost an all-English semi-final to that man Ferguson, the Scot’s United side triumphing 4-1 on aggregate.
Arsenal finished fourth – again – 18 points behind champions United – again – and without a trophy… again.
Win 500 – 21/12/2011 – Premier League v Aston Villa
It was a late goal that brought up win number 500 for Wenger too, Yossi Benayoun earning a 2-1 away victory against Aston Villa a little over three years later.
Wenger was deep in his nine-year trophy drought at this stage, the Gunners finishing third in the Premier League, 19 points behind champions Manchester City and they were never in contention in a cup competition either.
With hindsight, it is arguable Arsenal should have made a change of manager around this stage. Although they were securing Champions League qualification to keep the money pouring in, trophies were eluding the club.
Win 600 – 15/02/2015 – FA Cup v Middlesbrough
The FA Cup has kept Wenger afloat in recent years and the Gunners won the tournament again in 2015, bringing up his 600th win in the fifth round against Middlesbrough – Olivier Giroud scoring a brace in a 2-0 home success.
A 4-0 drubbing of Aston Villa in the final gave Wenger his sixth FA Cup and ended a long drought without a trophy – he is the most successful manager in the history of the competition.
Elsewhere, though, it was a familiar story as Arsenal stumbled out against Monaco in the first knockout round in the Champions League and finished fourth in the league, 12 points behind winners Chelsea.
6 – Arsene Wenger is only the second manager to win six FA Cups, joining Aston Villa’s George Ramsay. Professor.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 30, 2015
Win 700 – 11/03/2018 – Premier League v Watford
The 2017-18 season has been a tough watch for Gunners fans, but a 3-0 defeat of Watford ended a run of three consecutive defeats in the Premier League.
Wenger’s men look set to miss out on Champions League qualification for the second season in a row, but with January arrivals Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netting in a much-improved performance against the Hornets, perhaps a corner has been turned.
Whether Wenger gets the opportunity to lead Arsenal into yet another season – although his contract has another year to run – remains to be seen.
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