Arsene Wenger: “I will miss you”

Wenger bids The Emirates
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says goodbye to the Arsenal fans after 22 years at the helm at the end of the Premier League match between Arsenal and Burnley at Emirates Stadium on May 6, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Arsenal brushed Burnley aside with a 5-0 thrashing in a football exhibition that saw a fitting end to the iconic Arsene Wenger Era.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice with Sead Kolasinac, Alexandre Lacazette and Alex Iwobi also finding the net in an electric and emotional Emirates atmosphere.

Lacazette had found space to shoot thanks to an incisive through ball from Iwobi, one of many squad players who will need to impress their new manager. He would likely have done that today had he not faced a Burnley defence decidedly off their game.

A Fitting Farewell to Arsene Wenger

Better But Not Invincible

The current Arsenal side may not have hit the dizzy heights of Wenger’s ’Invincibles’ and the best of the rest. However, there were flashes of excellence, showing his successor there’s still quality to build upon. That is whilst they attempt to fill those glory encrusted boots.

Defender Konstantinos Mavropanos played well again, earning further praise following his impressive debut at Old Trafford last week. Just before the interval, Lacazette doubled the Gunners’ advantage. Iwobi started the move, putting Hector Bellerin through.

Sead Kolasinac’s early goal in the second half secured the three points. Iwobi followed with a well-deserved goal, finding space in the box before thumping his shot into the net.

Aubameyang got his second to make it five, an impressive lead, thus Per Mertesacker could be brought on for his final game at the Emirates.

Has the ’Burnley Bus’ Broken Down?

Burnley, who have had arguably their best ever Premiership run, failed to show up. Sean Dyche’s men were overawed by the intense atmosphere at the Emirates. They were simply outplayed by the trigger-happy Gunners. Few could argue it was a befitting end to a landmark game.

Wenger had stressed he wanted to avoid any sentimentality associated with this clash. Defeat could see his side facing a battle to avoid seventh place, a hindrance for their Europa League campaign next time out. None of that mattered though as the reality of the occasion sank in.

Wenger’s last of his 840 games since October 1996 against Blackburn, his first whilst holding the reins, was over. Three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and six Community Shields under his belt. The Wenger Era is over.

A Fond and Fitting Farewell

Arsenal were unwilling to give Wenger a quiet farewell. Rightly so. A guard of honour had welcomed him to the pitch at kick-off. The electric atmosphere was filled with the roar of ”There’s only one Arsene Wenger”

Today was about celebrating the man who got them to where they are now, in the stadium that will stand as a permanent reminder of his legacy.

Even the most hardened ’Wenger Out’ campaigner, or indeed Spurs fans, could not deny the sadness of the sight before them, or the enormity of his achievements.

Echoes of past commentary could almost be heard praising the individuals Wenger nurtured and led to glory. Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Viera and Robin Van Persie are but a few.

Careful What You Wished For?

One couldn’t help but wonder what the ’Wenger Out’ brigade and the perpetrators of Arsenal Fan TV were feeling at that moment. There’s no denying it helped to widen the existing cracks in the club.

It was difficult not to be moved. Fans hanging on to the last words they will hear from a man who has moulded the club both in the stadium, and the millions more watching worldwide.

Wenger has arguably upgraded English football, changing diet and training methods now mimicked my many. He set a bar with his ’Invincibles’ that’s been continually reset. Perhaps not of late by Arsenal, but the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City had to match and better that level. Even Guardiola’s rampant side didn’t remain unbeaten.

Wenger: “Above all, like you, I am an Arsenal fan.”

Thank you very much. Before I start, I just would like to wish my fellow manager, Ferguson, to get better very quickly. Thank you all very well, for having me such a long time. I know that’s not easy, but above all, like you I am an Arsenal fan. This is more than just watching football, it is a way of life. It is caring about the beautiful game, and the values that we cherish. And I would like to thank everybody at the club who make it so special. And I would to push you to really support these players. For me this group of players have a special quality. Not only on the pitch but off the pitch. Please follow this team, and support really for next season. Because they deserve it. ”

He finished off poignantly, and very emotionally; ”Finally I would like to finish by one simple word. I will miss you. Thank you all for being such an important part of my life. Hope to see you soon.”

Some are arguing that the club is moving in the right direction now. However, replacing Wenger will be a mammoth task. Not in terms of football if today’s performance was a flash of the future. But replacing the history and presence of one of the worlds best ever managers, will surely take no less than two decades.

 

 

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