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    Bainbridge NCFC

    Arsene Wenger: A tribute to the Arsenal and Premier League icon

    The footballing world was taken by storm on Friday following the announcement that Arsene Wenger would be stepping down as Arsenal manager after nearly 22 years in charge of the North London club.

    In October 1996, Wenger was announced as Gunners manager. Since taking charge, he revolutionised the English game by introducing his players to strict training regimes including a specific dieting routine.

    He has gone on to win 10 major trophies including 3 Premier League titles and 7 FA Cup titles. In his second season in charge, he won the Premier League and FA Cup double which was matched in the 2001/02 season.

    From his appointment to the early 2000s, he seemed the only manager able to prevent Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson completely dominating the English game, giving us the epic rivalry between the two clubs & managers.

    He remains to this present day the only manager in the Premier League era to go an entire season undefeated. The only other team to accomplish such a feat was Preston North End in 1889, although that was only a 22 game season.

    His Arsenal team would then go on to make it 49 domestic league games unbeaten before losing to Manchester United the following season. This set a new top tier unbeaten run eclipsing Nottingham Forest's longstanding record of 42 games without defeat from 1977-78.

    However, following the Invincible season, just one more major trophy would await Arsenal - the 2005 FA Cup - before a nine-year drought which would be ended with the 2014 FA Cup. The Gunners would claim two more of these cups, in 2015 and 2017, but the league title has eluded them since.

    During these 9 years of waiting for a trophy, there were questions being asked of Wenger whether he was still fit for the job. It's hard to disagree with the fans asking these questions considering what he achieved in his first 8 years in charge transforming Arsenal into serious title challengers.

    Up until the 2016/17 season, Arsenal under Wenger had never finished outside the top 4 and were regulars in the UEFA Champions League, making 14 consecutive appearances in the knockout phase of the competition starting from the 03/04 season most notably making the Champions League Final in 2006 which they ended up losing 2-1 to Barcelona despite having taken the lead through a Sol Campbell goal.

    The only other time under Wenger that Arsenal had failed to qualify for the Champions League was in the 1997/98 season despite finishing 3rd in his first season. In the 1999/00 season, his team was eliminated from the Champions League & relegated to the UEFA Cup in which they finished runners up to Galatasaray losing 4-1 on penalties following a 0-0 draw.

    During his 22 year spell at Arsenal, he has had a successful career but he will certainly be devasted not to win the League Cup, Champions League and UEFA Cup, competitions in which he has finished as runner-up.

    However, with this being his last season in charge could he be about to win a major European trophy in the form of the Europa League?

    Having made the semi-finals, it could be written in the stars to give this legend a great send-off.

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