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Wenger 811: The five best wins of a Premier League record-breaker

SoccerNews in English Premier League 31 Dec 2017

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Arsene Wenger will set a new record when he oversees his 811th Premier League match in Arsenal’s trip to West Brom on Sunday.

The Frenchman has established Arsenal one of the division’s elite clubs during his 21 years in north London, claiming three top-flight titles and leading them to the remarkable feat of an undefeated season in 2003-04.

While his position came under increasing scrutiny amid eight campaigns without silverware and the Gunners failing to mount consistent challenges for Premier League glory in recent years, his latest landmark provides a chance to reflect on his finer moments.

We take a look at some of Wenger’s greatest games in a record-breaking career.

 

May 2002 – Manchester United 0 Arsenal 1

United had won the title in the previous three seasons but they were powerless to prevent their fierce rivals at the time from sealing a domestic double. It was a feat made all the sweeter, as far as Arsenal were concerned, given their confirmation as champions occurred at Old Trafford.

Wenger’s side had already beaten Chelsea 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to lift the FA Cup and they added the Premier League title to their haul courtesy of a 1-0 victory in Manchester just four days later.

Despite being without key men Thierry Henry and Tony Adams, and with Dennis Bergkamp on the bench, the visitors scored what proved to be the winner through Sylvain Wiltord in the 55th minute, as an ill-tempered United side, missing David Beckham, proved incapable of halting the Gunners’ march to a second double in four seasons under Wenger. 

 

April 2004 – Arsenal 4 Liverpool 2

The Gunners were still smarting from Champions League quarter-final elimination at the hands of London rivals Chelsea when they entertained Liverpool at Highbury.

Their 31-game unbeaten record in the 2003-04 Premier League season also looked under threat when Sami Hyypia headed Liverpool ahead inside five minutes. And, although Henry equalised in the 31st minute, Michael Owen sent the visitors into half-time with a 2-1 advantage.

Robert Pires restored parity, Henry put Arsenal ahead with a phenomenal solo goal – one of the finest in the France star’s record haul for the club – and he wrapped up the victory by completing his hat-trick 12 minutes from time.

Wenger’s side consequently moved seven points clear of Chelsea at the summit, where they remained with an undefeated record at the end of the season to seal one of the greatest achievements in English football.

November 2004 – Tottenham 4 Arsenal 5

North London derbies are always highly anticipated affairs but few have delivered as pulsating a 90 minutes as this meeting in the 2004-05 season.

Martin Jol was given a fiery introduction to Premier League football in his first match after replacing Jacques Santini, with Tottenham chasing shadows after Henry cancelled out Nouredinne Naybet’s opener on the stroke of half-time.

Lauren converted a penalty before Patrick Vieira extended Arsenal’s lead, with Freddie Ljungberg getting on the scoreboard with 21 minutes remaining after Jermain Defoe reduced the arrears.

Ledley King headed Tottenham’s third but Pires’ effort meant a goal from Frederic Kanoute was only a consolation for Spurs in the highest scoring clash between the old rivals.

October 2011 – Chelsea 3 Arsenal 5

Great things were expected of Andre Villas-Boas at Stamford Bridge but his Chelsea tenure never truly recovered from this remarkable loss inflicted by Wenger’s side. The hosts led through John Terry and Frank Lampard before Juan Mata put them back on terms following fine second-half finishes from Andre Santos and Theo Walcott.

But Robin van Persie, who scored Arsenal’s initial equaliser, capitalised on Terry falling face first to round Petr Cech in the 85th minute and rifled past the wrong-footed Chelsea goalkeeper in stoppage time. 

Villas-Boas was out of the door the following February, leaving Roberto Di Matteo to lead them to unlikely Champions League glory.

October 2015 – Arsenal 3 Manchester United 0

When Wenger eventually departs Arsenal, he will leave a legacy of a slick style of football based upon quick, crisp passing.

Although the trophies may have dried up in the second half of his spell at the helm, his philosophy has endured and was particularly evident in a first-half dismantling of United.

Alexis Sanchez flicked home a low cross to the near post from Mesut Ozil with his trailing leg to cap a fine move and, with their next possession, the German guided a precise finish into the bottom-left corner at the end of a brilliant counter-attack.

A ferocious strike from Sanchez flew past David de Gea to make it 3-0 with less than 20 minutes on the clock, and there was no way back for Louis van Gaal’s eviscerated United.

The Gunners still missed a chance to end a 12-year wait for a fourth Premier League triumph under Wenger, with Leicester City the unlikely champions.

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