Evergreen Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is the latest subject of Manager Files as we look at the tactics, mannerisms, demeanour and touchline antics of the game’s top bosses.
Given that Wenger was celebrating 20 years as Arsenal boss last week it was fitting that his rig out for the Chelsea match was essentially a timeless affair.
White shirt, dark trousers and a plain red tie would not have looked out of place in any era and the 66-year-old looked positively radiant from the sidelines. The fact he was watching his side do a number on a team they had previously not managed to beat in nine attempts didn’t hurt of course.
As stated Wenger’s Arsenal had really struggled in recent times against Chelsea and before Saturday had not even managed to score against them in six attempts in the league. However they were a joy to watch at the weekend and when Wenger and Arsenal are in full flow, there are few finer sights in European football.
He went with a front four of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi and it proved decisive with Chelsea’s porous defence simply unable to cope with Arsenal’s electrifying pace. They pressed Chelsea deep in their own half and never gave them a moments’ peace.
The calm demeanour slipped a bit in a frantic first 45 minutes as Wenger watched his side put a beating on Chelsea. The Frenchman, who has been watching Arsenal from the technical area for two decades now, celebrated with his signature low double fist pump and particularly enjoyed Theo Walcott’s goal.
After a turbulent start to the 2016/17 season Arsenal are really motoring now (that was their fourth Premier League win off the belt) and Arsene looked on like a proud parent as his side ended their Chelsea hoodoo in emphatic fashion.
What they said
The gaffer was clearly elated afterwards and was all smiles with the press boys as he savoured in particular that fabulous first half performance.
“In the first half, we wanted to play this high pace, put them under pressure, and play at the very high collective connection with the speed of passing,” said Wenger, who has won three Premier League titles with Arsenal but none since 2004.
“It’s one of those moments as a manager when you think: ‘Today is a great day.’ In the first half it was near perfect. Overall, in the first half, we showed great quality. We played with style, with pace, with movement. That’s the kind of football we want to play.”
Wenger had been embroiled in mind games for years with Jose Mourinho during his two stints as Chelsea boss with the latter once famously calling the former a “specialist in failure.”
The build up to this one however was all about Wenger himself. Twenty years in charge of a Premier League club is a truly remarkable achievement and one we may never see again. It may be his final year as a Premier League manager, and although you can never rule out a contract extension, could the Frenchman mark a final season in charge with a fourth and final title triumph…..?
In the aftermath of that 4-3 home defeat against Liverpool in August there were plenty of Arsenal fans and media pundits imploring the Frenchman to fall on his sword.
However four league wins in a row and a positive 1-1 draw at PSG in their opening Champions League fixture means all is well again at the Emirates.
Wenger, who remains an incurable footballing romantic, is a 66/1 shot to be the first manager to leave his post and anyone who witnessed the Gunners blitz Chelsea at the weekend will concur that those odds look about right.
However, with his current deal running out at the end of the season, Arsenal are already casting their mind over a possible replacement with Diego Simeone our best bet to replace him in the Emirates hotseat.