It still hasn’t quite sunk in that Arsenal are no longer managed by Arsene Wenger.
22 years of being a manager of any team is an incredible achievement, let alone to do it at a club in the biggest football league in the world and to achieve relative success each season, but that’s what Wenger did.
A moment in time – Arsene Wenger’s first game, 1996
Although successor Unai Emery has done well since taking over at Arsenal, bringing a fresh new style of football to north London and on course to take the club back to the Champions League on his first attempt, it’s still weird to see the Spaniard sitting in the same seat Wenger sat in for over two decades.
Both managers did well in their first season at Arsenal, but if you’re to look at which coach had the better start for the Gunners, Wenger beats Emery hand over fist.
In his first game as Arsenal manager, Emery’s side were easily beaten 2-0 by reigning champions Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners’ only defeat at home this season, but what was Wenger’s first ever game as manager of Arsenal like?
Joining the club in October of 1996, Wenger was entrusted upon to do well with the squad he had at his disposal. An unknown in English football, the Frenchman was quick to win over the Arsenal fans who were sceptical of his appointment by winning his first game in charge.
An away game against Blackburn Rovers, who had won the Premier League two seasons prior but were bottom when the Arsenal rolled into town, was the stage of Wenger’s first game in charge of the Gunners, and within three minutes of his first game in English football Arsenal had the lead, with Ian Wright giving the north London making it 1-0 early on.
Patrick Vieira, who was signed by Arsenal on the advice of Wenger the previous summer, assisted Wright for his second in the 53rd minute, sealing a 2-0 win for the Gunners.
Wenger would go on to lead Arsenal to third that season, and the rest, they say, is history.