The news everyone has been waiting for finally arrived on Friday morning when Arsenal announced Arsène Wenger has signed a three-year contract extension.

Last year dedicated a whole week of content to the Frenchman to celebrate him reaching 10 years as Arsenal manager.

The below article was produced at the time but now users can read it again and reflect on why Wenger's new deal is so important to the Club.


By Chris Harris

After two title tussles with Manchester United, many expected another battle royale at the top of the Premiership. It wasn't to be, but the 1999/2000 season was still high on incident and entertainment - with a European adventure to boot.

Arsenal's prospects of wrestling the crown back from their old rivals were dealt a hefty blow when Nicolas Anelka departed for Real Madrid less than a week before the new season kicked off. The transfer was excellent business - a profit of £22.5million financed a new training ground - but left a void in attack.

Arsène Wenger still had Dennis Bergkamp and Kanu at his disposal but he lacked cover and - vitally at this level - pace. Davor Suker helped make up the numbers and a certain Thierry Henry arrived from Juventus.

Once again Arsenal got the better of United in the Charity Shield but it was scant consolation when Sir Alex Ferguson's team finished 18 points clear. Early Premiership defeats against United and Liverpool set the tone and the Merseysiders' 1-0 win at Highbury in February effectively ended Arsenal's challenge.

There were moments to savour though. Suker's dead-eye finishing was evident in a 3-1 win against Aston Villa, Kanu's astonishing 15-minute hat-trick turned a 2-0 deficit at Stamford Bridge into a last-gasp 3-2 win, and Henry began his transformation from speedy winger to star striker.

The Frenchman's shooting troubled the fans more than the keeper in the Premiership opener against Leicester but he looked every inch the consummate striker against Derby three months later. A brace that day kicked off a run of 24 goals in 30 games. Henry hasn't looked back since.

No title, so how about the Cups? Arsenal paid the penalty in both domestic competitions, failing in Fourth-Round shootouts at Leicester (FA Cup) and Middlesbrough (League Cup). In Europe, they managed creditable draws at Barcelona and Fiorentina but Wembley again proved an unhappy hunting ground. Barca won 4-2 and Gabriel Batistuta's fierce winner for Fiorentina consigned Arsenal to third place in their group.

That signalled the end of the road in the Champions League but the start of a new journey in the Uefa Cup. It was the last trophy on Wenger's mind when the season began but, if you're in it, you might as well try to win it. And Arsenal came mighty close to doing just that.

Nantes, Deportivo and Werder Bremen were brushed aside as Arsenal racked up 18 goals in six matches. A 5-1 drubbing of Depor at Highbury was the highlight, although Ray Parlour's hat-trick in Germany ran it close.

By now Arsenal - and Henry in particular - were on a roll. A red card in Bremen ruled him out of the Semi-Final first leg against Lens but Bergkamp scored the only goal at Highbury and Henry netted the first in a 2-1 win in France. A season which was in danger of petering out would end with a Cup Final.

Arsenal travelled to Copenhagen, the scene of their 1994 Cup Winners' Cup triumph, to face Galatasaray. Sadly, this Final would be more reminiscent of the 1995 defeat in Paris. On that occasion a former Tottenham favourite, Nayim, scored the winner. This time around another ex-Spur, Gica Popescu, netted the decisive penalty after a damp squib of a 0-0 draw.

So Wenger had to endure a second season without silverware, but there was a silver lining. Anelka may have gone, but Wenger's decision to convert Henry from a winger into a striker was proving to be a masterstroke. Back then, even Wenger could not imagine just how shrewd he had been.

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
Chris Harris 10 Oct 2006