Ranked! Arsene Wenger’s 10 most defining moments at Arsenal
10. A very good Friday: Arsenal 4-2 Liverpool, Apr 2004
To say that the mood before Arsenal's 2004 Good Friday clash with Liverpool was tense would be an understatement. In a week which had seen the Gunners knocked out of both the Champions League (by Chelsea) and FA Cup (by Manchester United), Arsenal simply had to beat Liverpool to keep their season on course.
Despite trailing 2-1 at half-time to Sami Hyypia and Owen goals, an inspired Thierry Henry fired Arsenal to a rousing second-half comeback. The Frenchman's sensational slaloming second goal steered his team to a 4-2 win and kept Arsenal 'Invincible' – in the league at least. Henry later described it as his most important Arsenal goal. Wenger didn’t disagree.
9. Demolition derby: Arsenal 3-1 Spurs, Nov 1996
Two months after being appointed Arsenal manager in September 1996, the scholarly Arsene Wenger prepared for his first north London derby. Having already set about changing the players' diets, stretching habits and warm-ups, his team faced Tottenham in an almost biblical downpour at Highbury.
With the teams tied at 1-1 after 85 minutes (George Graham would surely have instructed his team to secure the point), the Gunners continued to swarm forwards and skipper Tony Adams volleyed Arsenal into the lead, before Dennis Bergkamp delivered the perfect injury-time coup de grace, curling in a sublime effort to make it 3-1. With passion and panache, Arsenal had finished off the old enemy. “We beat the Scum 3-1,” shouted Gunners fans. Now, Wenger really had arrived.
8. The cup that cheers: Arsenal 3-2 Hull, May 2014
Their title ambitions may have crumbled but in May 2014, after nine long years, Arsenal finally ended their trophy drought at Wembley by defeating Hull in the FA Cup final.
Since lifting the trophy in 2005, Mercury had orbited the sun 32 times, the iPhone was barely a speck on the horizon, and the number of 'How long since Arsenal last won a trophy?' websites had reached bandwidth-breaking point.
Typically, Arsenal made heavy weather of the final and went 2-0 down in the opening eight minutes. Santi Cazorla halved the deficit nine minutes later and Koscielny drew the Gunners level on 71 minutes, paving the way for Aaron Ramsey to prod home a late winner and send relieved Arsenal fans into ecstasy.
Wenger later admitted that he believed he might have been dismissed had his team failed to win.
7. Down and out: Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool, May 2001
"When will this team win another trophy?" ITV's Gary Newbon asked Gunners skipper Patrick Vieira after Arsenal somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the 2001 FA Cup Final against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium.
For the third successive season, the Gunners – who took the lead through Freddie Ljungberg and missed a hatful of other chances – had failed to land silverware, and their defensive fragility was painfully evident. Their torturer-in-chief was Michael Owen, whose two late goals prompted calls for Arsenal’s ageing defence to be dismantled, and Vieira – not for the last time – flirted outrageously with Real Madrid in the close season. But he, Adams, David Seaman and Lee Dixon were far from done at Highbury.
6. Money, money, money: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea, Apr 2004
Much to Arsene Wenger's disgust, this match symbolised a monumental power shift in English football
For all of Arsenal fans' chants about sticking Russian money up certain orifices, there was no hiding the significance of newly moneyed Chelsea's victory at Highbury in the 2004 Champions League quarter-finals.
Claudio Ranieri's side hadn't won in N5 since November 1998, but their 2-1 victory – courtesy of an unlikely Wayne Bridge winner – demonstrated that although Arsenal were storming through the Premiership season in sensational style, a blue tidal wave of Roman Abramovich's petrodollars would engulf them over the next few years.
Much to Wenger's disgust, this match symbolised a monumental power shift in English football and demonstrated that for all his side’s domestic excellence, Arsenal circa 2004 were a busted flush in Europe.