Twenty-one years, seven months and two days after it began with a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers – the Arsène Wenger era is over.
After 1,235 matches, 716 victories, 2,298 goals, three league titles, a record seven FA Cups – and not forgetting the longest unbeaten run in English football league history – the most extraordinary, most successful and most transformative reign of any manager in Arsenal history has come to an end.
So this apparently run-of-the-mill fixture instead became a chance for the travelling fans to say a final farewell to a truly unique manager, coming to the end of a gloriously unique period of the club's history.
During his record-breaking tenure, Arsène took charge of 22 per cent of the club's all-time games, and managed more than one quarter of all players to wear the famous red and white. He lifted 40 per cent of our total trophy haul, and was in charge nine years longer than our next longest serving boss. We will surely never see anything like it again.
The Frenchman's achievements will live forever in the history books, and now the man himself is part of Arsenal's past.
But his stewardship can't be summed up by mere stats or even silverware and achievements. He brought a style of football - Wengerball as it was known - that became admired all over the world, and that was in evidence again in flashes against Huddersfield.
Though in truth the game had an end of season feel about it, and was decided by Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang's 10th goal for us since joining the club in January. He slid in at the far post in the first half to turn home Aaron Ramsey's cross. So the players were able to send off the manager with a victory, ending a run of away day defeats that stretched back to the start of 2018.
But today wasn't about the result, it was about the occasion. And in fact it was fitting that Huddersfield – former club of Arsenal's other great visionary manager, Herbert Chapman – provided the opposition. The home fans, giddy themselves after beating the drop in a magnificent debut Premier League season, illustrated the universal respect Arsène engenders by singing his name on the 22nd-minute.
Chapman's influence is still evident around Arsenal today, more than 80 years after his death. Arsène's legacy will also stand the test of time. His stamp on the club is permanent.
But the next time Arsenal play, there will be a different manager in the dugout. That's going to take some getting used to.
Au revoir, Arsène, and thanks for the memories.
WHAT IT MEANS
Arsenal finish sixth – the club's 59th ever top-six finish – and will go straight into the group stage of the Europa League again next season. The points tally of 63 was the lowest since 1995/96,
Attention turns to Arsène's successor, with the club likely to appoint our 19th full-time manager within the next month. Action resumes under the new boss in July, with friendly matches against Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in Singapore. The 2018/19 Premier League season kicks off on Saturday, August 11 – two days after the transfer window closes.
A CAREER IN NUMBERS
All the stats from Arsène's incredible reign
* The manager's final playing record is – Played: 1,235 Won: 716 Drawn: 266 Lost: 253. Overall win percentage: 58%.
* Arsenal scored 2,298 goals and conceded 1,227 (goal difference +1,071).
* This was Arsenal's 1,000th Premier League game, of which 828 came under Wenger.
* Arsène used 222 players, of which 200 made their debut under the boss.
* Patrick Vieira made the most appearances (402).
* Those players came from 53 different countries.
* 117 players scored for the boss - Thierry Henry led the way with 228.
* The most common scoreline was 2-1 and 1-1, recorded 127 times each.
* The team he played against most often was Chelsea (62) and the most wins (32) and most goals (103) came against Everton.
* He won 17 honours including Community Shields, and 15 Premier League Manager of the Month awards.
* He was in charge for a total of 7,895 days.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.