Stories

Where Are They Now? Arsenal’s 1997/98 Double winners

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Nicolas Anelka

The mercurial Frenchman – signed for just £500,000 – took time to adapt in the first team, but after netting his first goal in a thrilling 3-2 win against Manchester United in November, he saved his best form for the spring.

After that, his quicksilver sprints and sharp finishing were the focal point of Arsenal’s long winning run throughout March and April, and his second goal in the 1998 FA Cup Final against Newcastle confirmed Arsenal as Double winners.

Anelka scored (and sulked) his way through the 1998/99 season, claimed to be “bored in London” and joined Real Madrid for a whopping £23 million. The Frenchman subsequently played for a string of clubs, attracting controversy (including the infamous Quenelle gesture and international ban during the 2010 World Cup) and plaudits in equal measure for the rest of his career.

Alex Manninger

Presented with his big chance in the new year following Seaman’s injury, the Austrian keeper kept six consecutive clean sheets in March and April, including a superb display at Old Trafford which kept United at bay in March.

Meanwhile, in the FA Cup quarter-final replay shootout at West Ham he saved Eyal Berkovic’s spot-kick which sent Arsenal through.

Manninger played understudy to Seaman for a couple more seasons, then kept goal in various countries, clocking up just 186 appearances in 16 years. Now third-choice keeper at Liverpool, Manninger is the only member of the 1997/98 Arsenal team who is still playing (if only technically).

Arsene Wenger

After leading the Gunners to the domestic Double in his second season at the helm, Wenger was lauded for transforming Arsenal from an uncompromising, blue-collar side into a skilful, cosmopolitan and devastatingly quick one.  

In the next seven years, the Frenchman led Arsenal to another Double in 2002, and two more FA Cups (in 2003 and 2005).

Still at the helm 18 years after 1998’s success, Wenger’s Arsenal haven’t looked genuine title contenders for over 12 years. His teams have always been easy on the eye, but, despite a move to the Emirates Stadium in 2006 and the two FA Cups they finally won in 2014 and 2015, the Premier League crown remains elusive.

More Where Are They Now?New features you'd love on FourFourTwo.com