During Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal we have won the Premier League Championship on 3 occasions, 1997/8, 2001/2 & 2003/4. Since our last Championship victory we have finished an average of 14 points behind the Champions the closest was 4 points in 2007/8 and last season was 9 points. This season with 8 games remaining we are 7 points behind the leader Chelsea who also have a game in hand.
Today I want to take a look at the winning squads and our records for our 3 Championship winning seasons.
Here are squads for the winning seasons plus our current side showing only those that played in 10 or more games. (This assumes that Wilshere and Walcott will both play again this season)
Continuity appears to have played a big part in our 3 Championship years, in 2 of our 3 winning seasons our goalkeepers were dominant – in 1997/8 David Seaman played in 31 games and in 2003/4 Jens Lehmann played all 38 games he was the only player to do so on any of the Championship winning teams.
Defensively Martin Keown played in all 3 of the winning teams while Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Gilles Grimandi, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Lauren each played in 2 of the sides.
Our mid-fields were dominant with Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour playing in all 3 teams with Frederick Ljungberg, Robert Pires and Edu being present in 2 of the teams.
We were blessed with some remarkable forwards, the unbelievable Denis Bergkamp was a key part of all 3 of Arsene Wengers PL winning sides – he was a truly World Class Player and an absolute magician with the ball. Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord each appeared on 2 teams.
In 1997/8 there were 7 players who appeared in 30 or more games including 5 from the mid-field in 2001/2 those playing in 30 or more shrank to 5 and in 2003/4 it increased to 9 players.
Here are the records of the winning teams plus our record to date in 2014/15
1997/8 – W23, D9, L6, GF68, GA33, Pts78
2001/2 – W26, D9, L3, GF79, GA36, Pts87
2003/4 – W26, D12, L0, GF73, GA26, Pts90
2014/15 – W18, D6, L6, GF58, GA31, Pts60
Our 2003/4 team achieved what was thought to be impossible, they went unbeaten in 49 Premier League games including the entire 2003/4 season. (It still sticks in my craw that we were denied the chance of continuing our unbeaten streak by a Rooney dive at Old Trafford to gain a penalty).
Which group of players do you think were the best in their disciplines?