Arsene Wenger's 5 greatest Arsenal wins
From becoming the first side to beat Real Madrid in the Bernabeu to winning his seventh FA Cup, these are Wenger's finest victories as Arsenal manager.
Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal, 1998
Although Arsenal’s most famous win at Old Trafford was undoubtedly the double-clincher in 2002, this victory four years earlier was arguably even more meaningful.
Having trailed United by 12 points earlier in the season, Wenger’s side had started to drag themselves into the title race with 11 games remaining.
They still faced a massive task, though, having never even scored at Old Trafford in the Premier League, never mind won there, prior to this March fixture.
But with United beginning to teeter at the top of the table, the Gunners marched in and earned a 1-0 victory thanks to Marc Overmars’ winner.
While an injury-hit United looked shaky under the pressure, Arsenal played with a confidence and verve that became the hallmark of Wenger’s greatest sides.
The victory brought Arsenal to within six points of United with three games in hand and ignited their run to the first of Wenger’s two doubles.
Inter Milan 1-5 Arsenal, 2003
It’s easy to forget that Wenger’s Invincibles were nearly knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage.
After taking four points from their first four matches, Arsenal needed at least a point against Inter – who beat them 3-0 at Highbury – to avoid a humbling elimination.
Cue a special performance.
Despite missing both Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp, the Gunners scored four second-half goals and romped to a 5-1 win in the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
Thierry Henry netted a brace, including a devastating solo strike that left Javier Zanetti and Marco Materazzi fighting over who got to keep his shirt after the final whistle.
Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal, 2006
It had been just two years since Arsenal went an entire Premier League season unbeaten, but the team that arrived at the Bernabeu for this Champions League round of 16 tie were no Invincibles.
With Vieira having left the previous summer and with several key players injured, the Gunners were struggling in the Premier League and out of both domestic cups.
But a line-up that included Philippe Senderos at centre-half, Mathieu Flamini at left-back and an 18-year-old Cesc Fabregas in midfield dominated the Galaticos on their own patch.
Wenger’s side created several excellent chances and, with another majestic Henry goal, became the first English side ever to beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Arsenal managed to grind out a 0-0 draw in the second leg, launching an improbable run all the way to the final.
Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona, 2011
Arsenal weren’t a great side in 2011, but they were still capable of playing some fantastic football.
Case in point: Andrey Arshavin’s winner in this stunning comeback win over Barcelona.
The Russian finished off a passing move that included great work from Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri and Nicklas Bendtner (yes, really).
It was a phenomenal goal, but perhaps more impressive was the courage Wenger’s side had shown to fight back from 1-0 down against the best team in the world at the time.
Had Robin van Persie not been harshly sent off in the return fixture, the Gunners might have pulled off the most remarkable two-leg victory of Wenger’s tenure.
Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea, 2017 FA Cup final
‘The Mertesacker final’, as it has come to be known by Arsenal fans, was Wenger’s finest moment in a cup final.
His Gunners were huge underdogs against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, who had just won the Premier League with a record-setting 30 wins.
Considering a defensive injury crisis forced Wenger to start captain Mertesacker – who had played just 37 minutes all season – a thrashing seemed almost inevitable given how often Arsenal had folded in big matches in recent years.
Not this time.
Earlier in the season, Wenger, criticised for being too stubborn late in his Arsenal tenure, had switched to a formation with three central defenders for the first time in 20 years.
The new 3-4-2-1 system neutralised Chelsea’s threat, and Aaron Ramsey’s header with 11 minutes remaining gave Arsenal a win they – and particularly their manager – fully deserved.
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