By Richard Clarke

The Arsène Wenger era began on October 12, 1996. The announcement of the unknown Frenchman's appointment was confirmed on September 28 and his first day in the job was on October 1. So by the time Arsenal went travel to Blackburn, Wenger's influence had spanned precisely 11 days.

The team brought back a 2-0 win but, on the way home, they playfully demanded their usual supply of chocolate; something their new highly health-conscious manager had taken off the post-match menu.

It took a little time but gradually the Wenger way won through, particularly when he led the side to the Double in his first full season. That 1997/98 campaign, and Wenger's others in charge, will be assessed as part of our 'Ten Years of Wenger' coverage.

This is a special week of celebration leading up to the home game with Watford on Saturday - the nearest match to the 10th anniversary of Wenger's first 90 minutes at the helm.

We'll be putting out reflections on two seasons per day over the next five days. We'll also be looking at the manager's record, his most memorable quotes and his 10 years in pictures. There will also be a poll, allowing you to vote for his greatest game.

Arsenal TV Online subscribers had their chance to question the man himself last week in our exclusive hour-long webchat. There will be more from the boss on video this week. Also we have spoken to some of the major figures who played under Wenger at Arsenal.

We'll kick off the week with's 10 crucial days in Arsène Wenger's relationship with the Club. Some are games, some are decisions, some are incidents. We just think they are a different take on the pivotal moments in the Frenchman's time at the club.


January 2, 1988 Arsenal 0 QPR 0
Wenger, then manager of Monaco, wants to take in a game over Christmas. As usual only English teams are playing. He comes to Highbury and afterwards is invited out to dinner by Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein. Famously they end up playing charades at Dein's house. Wenger loses.

October, 1, 1996 First day of employment
Wenger's first day at the office. He becomes the first Arsenal manager to come from outside the British Isles.

December 13, 1997 Arsenal 1 Blackburn 3
A nadir in that season. Marc Overmars puts Arsenal ahead but two goals in eight second-half minutes turn the game. When Tim Sherwood adds a third in the 89th minute the alarm bells are ringing. In fact, something changed and Arsenal would not lose another game until they had won the League.

March 14, 1998 Man Utd 0 Arsenal 1
Arsenal had trailed Manchester United by 13 points at Christmas. This result put them back in control of the title race. When Marc Overmars slid home the only goal it put Arsenal six points behind with three games in hand. Winning a Double in his first full season took all the pressure off Wenger.

Opening of the training ground
This was a bricks-and-mortar reflection of the Club's faith in their manager. Wenger had been involved in the concept of the Hertfordshire training ground right through to its construction. The workman had got the tools he wanted.

September 11, 2003 Signing Cesc Fabregas
This was indicative of the way the first-team squad would move in the next few years - precocious talent brought in from all over Europe at a young age. The likes of Anelka, Clichy and Senderos pre-date Cesc while Walcott, Diaby, Bendtner and Merida have followed. They will have to do a lot to outshine the Spaniard. The World Cup star is now 19 and has agreed an eight-year contract. It is frightening to think that this probably won't even take him to the peak of his career.

November 25, 2003  Inter 1 Arsenal 5
Wenger's team had been generally improving in Europe but they had never humbled a really huge side. That changed on this night. Wonderful flowing football, a couple of great goals - it was the ultimate Wenger victory. It proved to the Club that they could thrive among Europe's elite. 

April 9, 2004 Arsenal 4 Liverpool 2
It had been a bad week. Out of the FA Cup, out of the Champions League, Arsenal were on danger of losing their grip on the Premiership when they trailed Liverpool 2-1 after 45 minutes at Highbury. A Thierry Henry cracker ushered in the comeback. Having promised so much that season to lose all three trophies would have been devastating.

May 17, 2006  Barcelona 2 Arsenal 1
Nearly, so nearly. This would have been the pinnacle of Wenger's career in football let alone Arsenal.

May 19, 2006 Thierry Henry signs a contract extension
With Vieira having left and Bergkamp retiring, Wenger really needed to keep hold of his captain. Two days after the Champions League Final defeat Henry announced he would stay. Wenger's ability to keep major stars motivated remains crucial to the way he works.

12/1 - Arsenal to win the 2006/07 Champions League

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
Richard Clarke 9 Oct 2006