The Wenger era is officially over. Arsenal’s longest-serving and most successful manager, Arsène Wenger, won his final match away to Huddersfield.
This victory was emblematic of the Wenger era for a few reasons. First, it is fitting that the club’s greatest-ever manager closes out his tenure against the club from which Herbert Chapman come to us from. Second, the goal typified Wengerball. Third, it breaks the league away drought. Finally, the entire day was a real celebration from both teams.
Wenger Era Over as Arsenal Beat Huddersfield
Merci, Arsène. Thank You, Herbert
As you already know, the club’s first great manager was Herbert Chapman. He first won the league title with Huddersfield before taking charge of Arsenal FC. So, what better venue for a farewell to the latest great Gunners manager than with the Terriers?
Here is what Wenger had to say,
“Herbert Chapman, who was maybe our greatest manager, came from here. For me to come here on the last day had a special meaning. When you know the history of our club, for me it has a special meaning. In fact there was a photo just in front of the dressing room where Chapman smiled at me, because he was on the photo.”
The finale of Wenger’s regime as Arsenal boss was his 1,235th match as manager. The result means he officially won 707 games at the helm, drawing 280 and losing 248.
Chapman was Arsenal’s first great manager. Wenger is the latest. Who will come next?
Wengerball’s Final Strike
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the final goal of the Wenger era. It also just happened to typify so-called Wengerball. As the old IT Crowd joke goes, they always try to walk it in, and against Huddersfield, it was no different.
The move began at the back, meandering through the midfield. The home side stepped up to put pressure on the ball, as they often do, trying to emulate Klopp’s gegenpress. They nearly forced a turnover, but Mkhitaryan managed to find Lacazette.
The striker played a one-two pass with his Armenian playmaker, then sent Aaron Ramsey through with a one-touch ball. The Welshman didn’t hesitate as he whipped a low cross with the outside of his right boot, another first-time effort.
The on-rushing Aubameyang made no mistakes as he too took it first-time, depositing the ball in the back of the opposition net.
It’s too bad that football doesn’t count secondary assists because the build-up between Micki and Laca was spectacular. While at first it looked like a relatively toothless attack, just three quick passes sent Auba through on goal with a gaping net.
Surely the boss will relive that final goal time and again in the months to come.
“We’re Winning Away…”
The end of the Wenger era also sees the end of a very ignominious streak. Since the beginning of the 2018 calendar year, the club had not earned a single point away from home in the league.
With just 13 points away from the Emirates all season, this is one of the main reasons there was no title challenge this year. However, our man Arsène finally put things right and made it 16 points on the road this campaign.
While the streak realistically shouldn’t matter entering the final match of the season, this is an important mental hurdle overcome. It will give players a boost in confidence for the new season and new manager.
As the club are to begin another Europa League campaign, they will need all the confidence they can get in order to put together a legitimate title challenge. After all, they have not even been the best club in north London for two whole years.
The win may also aid in player recruitment. Top-quality athletes do not wish to move clubs if the prospective team is in turmoil, which perfectly describes Arsenal’s season. With an upturn in performances, any new recruits will gain confidence in this project, hopefully convincing them to join.
The Feel-Good Factor
Overall, with Huddersfield officially safe and Arsenal officially finishing sixth, this match had the feeling of a friendly or even a testimonial from the start. That is exactly how Wenger deserves to go; with a match full of praise and thanks for all his hard work and achievements at the club.
From the handsome jersey portrait presented to Wenger by opposition manager David Wagner, to the cameo appearance from Dean Whitehead to the full minute of applause for our man Arsène (in the 22nd minute to commemorate 22 years at the helm), this match was a celebration of service to football.
If there is one man still in the game who has changed it, that would certainly be Arsène Wenger. As such, this wonderfully supportive send-off is just what he deserves.
Overall, the end of the Wenger era has been emotional. It has been a bit trying, at least until the announcement. But, in the end, his final match as Arsenal boss was just perfect for our man.
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