Merci Arsene

1 of 8

'We'll come together to let him leave in style'

Per Mertesacker

As club captain, many people are understandably keen to hear from Per Mertesacker on Arsene Wenger's decision to stand down at the end of the season.

The World Cup winner spoke to the media after Sunday's 4-1 win against West Ham and discussed the boss, the players' response, delivering the perfect send-off and facing Atletico Madrid.

This is what Per had to say:

on Friday's announcement…
We were surprised, first of all, and then then emotional and sad. You can feel that he has got a lot left in him in terms of the power he gave to the team. The message he gave to the team was that we want to win every single game and leave in style. We, as players, gave immediate feedback that we feel the responsibility to fight for him every time we step on the field.

on Per's rallying cry to players…
The team responded to his announcement fairly quickly. Everyone was surprised and sad. We had an atmosphere of, 'We want to do it for you to send you off in the best possible way'. It is not about a single person, this club is built on a lot of people who worked here for a long time and he was one of those. His story is unique so we want to give him the best possible send off because in one way we are responsible for the situation as well.

on whether the players feel responsible…
We sit here in one boat and we have not been that successful over the past couple of years. We won trophies, we won the FA Cup, but in terms of achieving Champions League football every season we have not done it. In terms of top-four finishes, we are not able to achieve it this season. We have been outperformed by other teams and you have to admit that. There are a lot of people responsible, not only the manager. It has not sunk in enough to say we are guilty, but we are as well responsible for the situation.

on Wenger's stamina…
He has power in himself. He is ready to step up and stand in front of the media every single time we cannot produce a performance. I am delighted we gave one answer today but there are more answers to come in the next couple of weeks.

on the people being linked with the job…
As you could see when Ferguson left Manchester United it was a difficult decision for them who was the successor. I have absolutely no advice. Ivan Gazidis said it is going to be the toughest challenge for this club going forward. It is a tough decision. There are some names out there but I do not want to comment on that. It is now the club’s decision. We have people working for the club who can see where we are heading. We have a young team who stand for something and Arsene Wenger was the best possible fit. Now we have to find another good fit to start a new era. This is what this club stands for, to find someone who can start a new era. That is really tough because in modern football normally managers do not last very long. This unique story will be unique forever. Let’s find the best for our club. The club has the power to decide who is the best person. As I am well informed, a lot of people will stay because of the values they stand for and the club will protect these values. Whoever comes in is obviously someone very respectful who will lead this club forward. But this club as well stands for continuity and they have decided on a lot of people for next season already and I think they will stick to that.

on if the coaches are going to stay…
I don't know what's going to happen. In football anything can happen. As long as that has not been decided it will then trickle down to all the departments. I'm aware of the situation. I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

on whether any present is planned for Wenger...
We do not have anything planned. The best thing for him is to win games. He made it very clear to us that is his clear target now, to win the Europa League and every match we are going to face now.

on whether Wenger will stay in management…
I have no idea. Honestly. The news surprised myself as well. Now we can come together and let him leave in style. And the fans as well, there is kind of a turnaround, and that is what we love to see. 

on winning the Europa League as the perfect send-off..
Yes. We have to respect Atletico. They have reached Champions League finals in recent years so we need to respect especially the home game on Thursday. I would love not to concede in that game to put ourselves in the best possible position. 

on whether his position as academy manager will remain in place…
Yes, I have not heard anything that is going to change.

on when he starts…
September 1.


‘Now we need to do a job just for him’

Laurent Koscielny says the players are determined to send Arsene Wenger off on a high with victory in the Europe.

The boss will be stepping down at the end of the season - his 22nd in charge - and will finish his reign with a cup final if we see off Atletico Madrid in the Europa League.
Koscielny was signed by Wenger in the summer of 2010 and, like so many of the squad, was given his chance at the top level by our manager.

“I think the boss has done a great job for this club and he’s still not finished,” Koscielny told “The book is nearly finished but we have seven finals to play and we want to give him a happy end.
“He gave the chance for other players to play for this club and believes in us so now we need to do a job just for him. What he did for many years for the club is unbelievable so all the fans, all the people who work in this club and all the players, they have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great coach and a great man.
“We didn't hit the target we wanted at the beginning of the season and we understand the fans and that they are not happy, but today we need to show our respect for one person who did not create, but helped to build the club into what it is now - one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“So now we just need to stay together and respect it.”

Wenger’s penultimate Premier League home game as our manager ended in a 4-1 win over West Ham United, with Alex Lacazette grabbing two late goals.

“When you are a new player [like Alex] you need time,” said Koscielny. “Sometimes it’s a few weeks and sometimes it’s a few months but I think he’s more confident with the squad and in our dressing room.
“He’s speaking better English and I think he has more confidence during training sessions. He scores so many goals and as a striker they just need to score! Today he played well, he scored, but his movement and passing was very good. He needs to keep the joy of what he did today for the next few games.”


‘It’s been tough… I owe the boss a lot’

Arsene Wenger and Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey has spent almost exactly a decade with Arsene Wenger, and he says the departing manager deserves all the plaudits he’s been getting since announcing that he is stepping down at the end of the season.

“It’s been really tough,” said Ramsey. “It’s tough to take for the group of lads. He’s believed in us and backed us and has given us all these opportunities over the years, especially for me - he brought me here as a 17 year old. I owe him a lot.

“But he deserves everything he gets, all the plaudits and all the recognition for the great work that he’s done here over the years. Hopefully we can finish off the season on a high for him.”

Ramsey certainly played his part in that, stepping up a gear in the second half as we ran out 4-1 winners against West Ham United.

The Wales midfielder is now one of the top 10 scorers of the Wenger era after his attempted cross eluded Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and found the net.

“To be honest, no [I didn’t think it was going in]! It was for Auba, but I’m glad he left it. I’m delighted on a personal note but more importantly we got the points today.”


Arsene Wenger: his complete record

Arsene Wenger announced that he will stand down as manager at the end of the season.

Check out all the key facts and figures from his near 22-year reign in our interactive graphic below.


'We need to give boss the send off he deserves'

For as long as Jack Wilshere has known Arsenal, he’s associated the club with Arsène Wenger.

During his 21-year spell as our manager, the boss has won three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven Community Shields, and has given a number of academy graduates their first-team debuts. 

Wilshere was the 136th star to play under Wenger, and we caught up with him after Friday morning’s announcement. 

on his reaction to the news…
First of all, I was shocked. I didn’t see it coming. I know he had another year left on his contract and I thought that he would do it, but unfortunately he’s not. I’m sad. Ever since I’ve known about Arsenal, Arsène has been there. I’m sad, I’m a little bit disappointed that we couldn’t give him the season he wanted, but we’ve still got a chance to win something so he can leave on a high. He’s been great for me throughout my career, gave me my chance from a young age, stuck with me, showed his faith in me and helped me to develop as a player. I owe him a lot in his career and I want to give him the send-off he deserves. I’m sure the fans do. I know the rest of the players do and we want to win something for him now.
on it taking a while to sink in…
It is and that’s why… We’ve literally just found out an hour ago and I’m sure when the dust settles and we have a few days to think about it, we’ll start to reflect on it. At the moment it’s a bit raw, it’s a bit sensitive. We want to send him off the right way because he’s given so much to us, has shown faith in every single one of us as players and we need to send him off in the right way now.
on it being extra motivation to win the Europa League…
Exactly, and that’s what we have to do now as players. We have to put everything to one side and put all our focus into winning this competition to give him the send off he deserves. We spoke to him this morning and he was a bit like that. He wants us to win it for us, and that just shows you the type of man that he is. We need to win it for him really and get behind him in these last few games to give him the send off he deserves.
on the players’ reaction…
We haven’t really had much time to sit down and talk about it. I think everyone was just a little bit shocked. It’s the first we heard about it, we didn’t see it coming because as I said, he had another year left on his contract. It’s not really something that you talk about as players. You just focus on the next game, you don’t worry about who’s the manager and what’s going to happen with the manager. Of course, you read stuff online and in the media but you don’t really pay attention to that, so it was a bit of a shock. Now, all we can do is put our focus into winning something.


“It’s emotional… he’s been the major figure here’

Arsene Wenger with Per Mertesacker

On Friday morning, Arsène Wenger announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the 2017/18 season.

We caught up with club captain Per Mertesacker for his reaction to the news. Scroll down to read what he said:
on Wenger’s announcement…
We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I’m here is because of him. It’s been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now.
on what it’s been like to work with him…
He’s been the major figure for this club for over 20 years. He’s been so impressive for me and he’s trusted me so much throughout my career, in bringing me here, giving me the opportunity to play here and making me captain even when I was injured. He also gave me a future role here at the club, so I’m very grateful and humbled for the opportunity he gave to me. It is a sad day for me but we’re also moving forward for the future. It’s in Arsène’s interest as well that this club will give positive memories to the fans and the people.
on what he’s learnt from him…
A lot on the pitch but also his quality of being calm in the right moments, giving people trust and empowering people to explore themselves. There have been a lot of challenges, a lot of highs and lows, but how he went through tough times has taught me a lot about his character and about how to trust people and get the people in the right places to be successful. He gave us the opportunity to explore ourselves in order to be successful, and he’s always managed to get the team around himself to be successful. The memories of winning titles with him and bringing joy to so many people - something he has done for years - is a heck of an achievement.

Media Watch

Media Watch: Reaction to Wenger’s announcement

On Friday morning, Arsène Wenger announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the season - and there’s been plenty of reaction to the news in today’s Media Watch.

Legendary goalkeeper Bob Wilson pays an emotional tribute to the boss on the MailOnline.

Former England defender Gary Neville says that Wenger’s success at Arsenal ‘changed Manchester United’.

And former Gunner Paul Merson has called for fans to pay tribute to Wenger in our final games of the season.


Pictures: The very best of Arsène Wenger

Arsène Wenger

At the end of the 2017/18 season, we will bid an emotional farewell to Arsène Wenger.

The boss has revolutionised our club ever since he arrived in north London back in October 1996, lifting three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven Community Shields during his time with us. 

Here, we look back at some of our favourite pictures of Arsène through the years.