500 games in charge, eh. That’s nine years of always steady and sometimes spectacular improvement in the fortunes of our club. The previous long-term incumbent also had nine years in charge and won a hatful of trophies, but with all due respect to George Graham (who won six trophies, dragged Arsenal out of the doldrums and brought through some fine players, let’s not forget), ArsÃ¨ne Wenger is the man.
The team was overhauled, the way the club was run was overhauled, London Colney was built and now Ashburton Grove â€“ there’s no doubt that Wenger can lay claim to being Arsenal’s most influential manager since Herbert Chapman in the 1930s. We’re very, very lucky and I always remind myself of that fact.
Of course, wouldn’t it be just tickety-boo if the great man’s 500th game in charge ended with a win against the current champions, the team everyone is looking to knock off their roubled pedestal. Theyâ€™ve not beaten us in the league since 1995, a 19-match winless streak, but then, nor have they lost in the league for 30 games, and they’ve not let in more than one goal in a game for 22 matches.
Stats such as those are impressive, I concede.
But Chelski v Arsenal is always a humdinger, usually played in a good spirit (unlike matches against our chums in the north), and this one, like the last three or four encounters, will be close.
Sky have been talking it up with demented fervour for about a week, but as fans we hardly need motivating for this one. Nor will the players need any extra incentives to put in a good performance.
Should be a belter.