All this season in the matchday programme, to commemorate our first season at Emirates Stadium we are featuring 'Arsenal Firsts'. As we are celebrating Arsène Wenger's ten years at the Club today, we take a look at some of his personal 'firsts' from his time in charge.

His contract with the Club started on October 1, 1996, and his first official game in charge of Arsenal was the Premiership away game at Blackburn Rovers on October 12, 1996.

The Gunners won 2-0, with both goals coming from Ian Wright, after three and 51 minutes. The team that day was: Seaman, Keown, Adams, Bould, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Platt, Merson, Hartson (Parlour 86), Wright. Subs not used: Linighan, Morrow, Lukic, Shaw.
Attendance: 24,303
Referee: S Dunn
Booked: Hartson, Keown.

Home Game
Arsène's first home game came the following Saturday, when Coventry visited Highbury in the league on October 19, 1996.

It was a goalless draw, but the point was enough to lift Arsenal to the top of the table for the first time that season.

The team was: Seaman, Keown, Adams, Bould, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Platt, Merson, Hartson (Bergkamp 67), Wright. Subs not used: Parlour, Morrow, Garde, Lukic.
Attendance: 38,140
Referee: P Jones
Booked: Hartson, Wright, Keown.

The first goal of Arsène's Wenger's reign came just three minutes into the first game.

Ian Wright fired Arsenal ahead at Ewood Park. Nigel Winterburn found John Hartson at the far post with a long diagonal cross, and he headed the ball back across goal to Wright. He controlled, beat his man, then arrowed the ball into the far corner. Arsenal have scored a further 1,021 since then.

The first defeat came in the seventh game, which was away to Manchester United in the Premier League.

Nigel Winterburn scored an unfortunate own goal that day, the only goal of the game, when he diverted Eric Cantona's shot past David Seaman. The Gunners were probably worthy of a point though, with Peter Schmeichel performing well in the hosts' goal on November 16, 1996. Manchester United also inflicted Arsène Wenger's first home defeat - a 2-1 reverse on February 19, 1997.

Remi Garde and Patrick Vieira were Arsène's first Arsenal signings, yet they actually arrived at the Club before the boss did. They both joined on August 14, 1996, Patrick from AC Milan, Remi from Strasbourg.

Patrick was 20 at the time, and uncapped by France. He went on, of course, to become club captain and Arsenal's most-capped international of all time. Remi, ten years older than Patrick, was actually the Club's first 'Bosman' signing, and was already a full French international, having previously been with Lyon. He made 43 appearances for the Gunners in two years, mainly in midfield.

Dennis Bergkamp scored the first hat-trick of the Wenger era - his famous treble against Leicester City at Filbert Street which included the Goal of the Season winner.

His hat-trick was not enough to secure the win though, as the Foxes hit back late on to grab a dramatic draw on August 27, 1997.

Arsène Wenger lifted his first trophy as manager of Arsenal at the end of his first full season. On May 3, 1998 Arsenal beat Everton 4-0 to wrap up the league title with two games to spare.

An own goal, two from Marc Overmars and one from skipper Tony Adams gave the Gunners the win and their first league title since 1991.
The manager's second trophy - the FA Cup - followed just two weeks later.

In all Arsène has lifted 11 trophies with the Club - three league titles, four FA Cups and four Community Shields.

North London Derby
The manager didn't have to wait long to take on Tottenham Hotspur - his first North London derby was his fourth home game in charge, on November 24, 1996 at Highbury.

Arsenal won 3-1 with goals from Ian Wright, Tony Adams and a memorable late Dennis Bergkamp strike.

Since taking over, Arsène has lost just one of his 21 North London derbies.

European game
Although on the bench alongside Pat Rice in Germany for the second leg of the UEFA Cup First Round match against Borussia Monchengladbach in 1996, Arsène Wenger did not officially lead Arsenal into a European fixture until the following season. The Gunners lost 1-0 away to PAOK Salonika in the first leg of the UEFA Cup First Round on September 16, 1997.

The team was: Seaman, Dixon, Bould, Adams, Winterburn, Parlour (Platt 70), Vieira, Petit, Overmars (Boa Morte 70), Wright, Anelka (Wreh 80). Subs not used: Garde, Upson, Marshall, Manninger.
HIGHBURYReferee: M Diaz Vega.
Attendance: 33,117
Arsenal drew the return leg 1-1 to exit the competition.

The first player Arsène released from the first team squad was midfielder Eddie McGoldrick. He was sold to Manchester City in autumn 1996, and never actually played under the Frenchman.

The versatile Irishman, who joined from Crystal Palace in 1993, made 56 appearances for Arsenal, scoring once.

Red card
The first player to receive his marching orders under Arsène Wenger was Steve Bould. The defender was dismissed for a second bookable offence against Liverpool in the Fourth Round of the Coca-Cola Cup at Anfield on November 27, 1996. Arsenal lost 4-2.

Arsène Wenger has been named Premiership Manager of the Month on eight occasions, the first was in March 1998, the month in which Arsenal recorded that famous 1-0 at Old Trafford. He retained the award in April, and added the Manager of the Season award in May.

The first team squad Arsène Wenger inherited when he took over was as follows:
David Seaman, John Lukic, Vince Bartram, Lee Dixon, Gavin McGowan, Stephen Morrow, Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown, Andy Linighan, Scott Marshall, Matthew Rose, David Hillier, Ian Selley, David Platt, Ray Parlour, Eddie McGoldrick, Paul Shaw, Stephen Hughes, Patrick Vieira, Remi Garde, Adrian Clarke, Glenn Helder, Paul Merson, Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright, John Hartson, Chris Kiwomya, Paul Dickov.


In this debut season for our new stadium, we'd like to read about the first time you ever watched Arsenal. Send us your brief account - no more than 200 words - and if we feature your account, we will also send you a professional A3 print of Emirates Stadium.

Either post your 'my first match' to: First Match, The Publications Department, Arsenal Football Club, 75 Drayton Park, London N5 1BU or e-mail:

Today's first comes from Roy Stevenson who writes to us from Hadleigh in Essex.

I saw my first match when I was six years old and I watched Arsenal beat Leicester 2-0 on October 21, 1933. My father, who was an Arsenal supporter, took me to the match, directed me to the children's enclosure and arranged to meet me outside after the game had finished - how times have changed! I was in the Merchant Navy in 1944, aged 16, and when I left in 1948 I was a regular supporter and to get a seat in the front row of the East Stand I had to get to Highbury at 10am on a Saturday morning.

I went with my father regularly and always the same crowd were there. One young lady was a Jean Latty - I hope she is well and still a supporter. I remember Cliff Holton scoring a blinder from about 40 yards in one match in the same way Van Persie's goal will be remembered. Having had two knee replacements and a stroke, I now leave it to my son and grandson, Martin, to make sure the family is still represented. They are members and go to all the home matches and some of those played away.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
12 Oct 2006