20 Years of Arsene (Part 2): Revisiting Wenger’s first match 20 years ago


Arsene Wenger has completed 20 years at Arsenal a couple of weeks ago. He was appointed as the successor of George Graham and raised a lot of eyebrows, but time has defined what a story it has been. On this day, 12th October, Arsene managed his Arsenal for the first time.

For the man just coming from Japan, it was a tough test to start off with. Wenger had to travel to Ewood Park to face Blackburn Rovers. Today we shall recap and have a look what happened in that match.

Story Of the Match:

Arsenal Squad:

Starting 11 : David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, David Platt, Patrick Vieira, Paul Merson, Ian Wright, John Hartson

Subs: Ray Parlour, Paul Shaw, Matthew Rose, Andy Linighan, John Lukic

As it happened:

It promised a tough away night for the Gunners, though Blackburn were without a league win so far but it could have been a tough outing for the Gunners as the home supporters were behind the hosts.

But Arsenal took an early lead as their talisman Ian Wright wrongfooted his marker and scored calmly to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal. that would have settled the early butterflies in the newly appointed Frenchman’s stomach.

Blackburn replied, taking advantage of some of slack moments in the Arsenal defense to create a couple of decent chances. Vieira was caught in possession in midfield but Seaman came into Arsenal’s rescue. The away side themselves were dangerous also and had few opportunities. Hartson and Platt had their shots saved by Rovers keeper. Wright had his moment again but this time he slipped and couldn’t convert. At the latter stages, the North London side went into the shell a bit and saw out the half. After the first 45 minutes in England, Wenger was leading by the narrowest of margins.

In the second half Wright extended Arsenal’s advantage, he chipped the ball over the onrushing keeper and made it 2-0 to The Arsenal. Arsenal dominated possession and were getting chances, on the other hand their custodian saved them when needed with a superb save. Arsenal saw out the game as the final time showed a comprehensive away victory for Arsenal.

That’s how it all started for Arsene Wenger. The resonating wind in Lancashire that day witnessed the emergence of a football masterclass. Le Professeur, by nickname, has reached many heights in his last 20 years, has witnessed lot of glory and suffered many heartbreaks and low points. But that night at Blackburn started a new era in Arsenal’s illustrious history.

You can read the first part of our ’20 Years of Arsene’ series here, which discusses whether Wenger’s Christian name had anything to do with his job appointment. 

Photo by Ronnie Macdonald