So Long and Thanks for all the Fish – Huddersfield Ratings

So after over 1200 games in charge, we finally reached the point where M. Arsene Wenger would be Arsenal FC boss for the last time. A goalfest in the sun would be perfect but some sneaky first away points of the year, acceptable.

First Half

Huddersfield pressed like terriers in the first twenty minutes without really creating a chance, except from dead balls. One particular goalmouth scramble saw David Ospina make his first close range block.

Two planes flew banners over the beautiful arches of the Huddersfield stadium and the 22nd minute of appreciative applause was well observed.

The Beast wasn’t sharp enough to poke home a near post flick-on from a corner before the first quality piece of football in the match produced Aubameyang’s mini record-breaking goal. Laca and Mkhi exchanged passes before setting Rambo free on the left. His outside of the boot driven cross was superbly anticipated by Auba sliding in on his derriere at the far post.

Second Half

The second half saw even more huffing and puffing from Huddersfield but little quality. Twice as many ‘attempts’ on goal than us but with one fewer on target tells its own story.

Two glorious one on ones for the boys in charcoal grey and pink were both squandered by Laca and Welbz respectively. Laca chose to lob a keeper who carried on standing up and Danny really needed to stop and change the angle rather than continue on his weaker left.

Huddersfield had two last attempts at spoiling the Wenger party, one shot flicking off the top of the crossbar and Ospina keeping out a last gasp header at the second attempt.


Ospina – Probably did more than anyone else to ensure Arsene left with a victory … 7

Bellerin – Looked great in the Yorkshire sunshine  … 6

Mustafi – Some decent challenges and blocks … 7

Holding – Will be interesting to see if the next manager can bring more out of Rob … 6

Kolasinac – Rampaging Berserker … 7

Ramsey – Flitted in and out like a delicate butterfly  … 6

Xhaka – Great end of season, looking forward to him doing it all year  … 7

Iwobi – Scampered around trying to find a crack … 7

Mkhitaryan – on the beach already  … 6

Aubameyang – Became the fastest Arsenal player to reach 10 Prem goals, ultimately the match winner   … 7

Lacazette – Will a new manager have Alexandre down the middle with PEA on the left? – hmmm … 7


Monreal – presumably came on to bolster the defence? … 6

Welbeck – created his one on one with a fine challenge but couldn’t find the coup de grace – 6

Maitland-Niles – came on, passed and tackled well … 6


So Arsene got the send off he deserves with the team finally winning three points away from home at last.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending demolition of Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger. But most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs, or whistle for titbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means – shortly before the Vogons arrived. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backwards somersault through a hoop, whilst whistling the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’. But, in fact, the message was this “So long and thanks for all the fish”.



111 Responses to So Long and Thanks for all the Fish – Huddersfield Ratings

  1. Rasp says:

    Great work, thanks chas. I still haven’t been able to see highlights of the game, but I’m delighted we sent Arsene off with a positive aerial banner, great reception from both sets of fans, and a rare 3 away points. My hope is that the club finds a suitable honorary role for him and this is not goodbye.

    That last paragraph of yours is right out of the Eric Cantona book of allegory 🙂

  2. Big Raddy says:

    Thanks Chas.

    Love that quote from one of my very favourite books. I read the Anthology a couple of months ago for the umpteenth time.

    Crap game, good result, lovely weather, 3 points. Happy.

  3. mickydidit89 says:

    Done Erik for the PM’s

    Your turn Chas

    Heart felt thanks from Moi for this report, other reports, and all your input and work on the blog. Can I offer my own special gratitude for the pics and flicks and especially the young lady in the red gossamer dress who appears from time to time 🙂

  4. mickydidit89 says:

    Finally, GN5

    Beyond the contributions of Chas and Erik, your history posts are the stand out offerings that run consistently throughout a season, and must employ an awful lot of time and effort. Many thanks, they are greatly appreciated.

    Absolutely everyone else can sod off, obviously 🙂

  5. GunnerN5 says:

    A very sad but reflective GN5 this morning.

    AW showed us all how to act with both grace and dignity on what was most likely the most gut wrenching day of his life.

    I’ve never seen his likes before and very much doubt I will again.

    The final phase of my support and love for Arsenal starts off on a down note…………………..

  6. Big Raddy says:

    Bloody hell Micky, we are not dead but thank you anyway.

    I second the thanks to Chas. Without him there is no AA. I know how difficult it is to blog on a daily basis especially early morning and Chas has consistently made the start to my day better.

    GN5’s posts have been fantastic.

    Micky’s? well …. I won’t blow smoke up your passage but thank you anyway 😃👏

  7. GunnerN5 says:

    I would like to give my personal appreciation to our main blog masters – Big Raddy and Chas whose contributions to our enjoyment on AA is simply enormous.

    Raddy has written more posts than any of us and he never fails to brighten up my game day mornings with his well written and informative PM’s.

    Chas I’m sorry I miss out in contributing to your morning shows but with the five hour time difference you guy’s are already on lunch break while I just waking up.

  8. GunnerN5 says:

    Even though I miss out on the morning shows I read all the comments and the back and forth banter between Micky, Eddie and Chas which is also a big part of my morning.

  9. RA says:

    Another excellent Post, Chasseur, oh master of the internet hunt for dogs, cats and scantily dressed ladies!! Thank you. 😀

    I did not see the match so your ratings were really interesting, and not what I was expecting pre-match. Shows what I know.

    I was looking back over the years from pretty much when AA started, and there have been some wonderful Posts over the years, and I did not feel I could select individuals, most of them long gone, but of course GN5 has produced some consistently well written and researched Posts at a time when it was difficult to be enthusiastic, at least for some of us — so hats off for GN5 — for both the Arsenal history, and the fascinating interlocking personal history of his family and the Arsenal. Well done sir!!

  10. VP of Oz says:

    Yes, auf wiedersehen pet
    Thank you AA very much
    Brilliant reads from BR, Chas and the motley crew
    Hope to stay in touch sometime in the future

  11. chas says:

    Where are you off to?
    The blog carries on during the summer, ya na.

    Perhaps you could write summink on your boys’ chances in the World cup?

  12. VP of Oz says:

    Sorry Chas.
    The way everyone was commenting (which probably reflects the end of the AW era), I thought the AA was going on a hiatus.

    As for the aussies chances, I would have said next to nil. But we do have Bert as a coach and Bert knows how to lose a WC final so who knows what will happen.
    And I love having a coach called Bert. I think he his looking for an assistant called Ernie.

  13. chas says:

    Thanks everyone for the thanks.

    I’m not really sure why I suddenly lumbered myself with match reports.

    Catholic guilt at letting Copenhagen shoulder the whole kit and caboodle, I suppose.

    Anyway, cheers, see you in August.

  14. chas says:

    I mean tomorrow.

  15. chas says:

  16. VP of Oz says:

    Premier League 2017/18: How the table would look based on every club’s home form only
    1 Man Shity
    2 Arsenal
    3 Manure
    4 Liverpool
    5 Spuds
    6 Chels
    7 Everton
    8 Brighton
    9 Newcastle
    10 Leicester

  17. VP of Oz says:

    Arsene Wenger breaks one last Sir Alex Ferguson record in final Arsenal match

    The 1-0 victory over Hudders saw Wenger win at his 48th different Premier League ground, breaking Sir Alex Ferguson’s record of 47 in the process.

    Wenger had already claimed another major Fergie record earlier this season after he eclipsed the Scot’s milestone of 810 matches managed in the Premier League in his last away win against Crystal Palace back in December.

    Although Wenger managed more Premier League games, Sir Alex had a longer reign. In the end, Wenger ended up setting a new record of 828 matches in the Premier League.

  18. Gööner In Exile says:

    So what the hell do we do now!?!?

    I’m sure we have had much talk on the blog that I have missed it on being a seriously busy and unhappy accountant (unhappy because it’s taking up too much of my life). Anyway the coming months for me are the start of pastures new, in terms of I’m telling my clients I can’t keep working like this and I need to find a work life balance that means more time for family and Arsenal (not necessarily in that order 🙂 )

    Always try to dip in and read the reports don’t always get time to comment.

    Now today’s gripe:

    I’m sure the papers are just rumourmonging (spelling?) but we’re the Board seriously not prepared for Arsene’s eventual departure.

    Surely a club of Arsenal’s size and stature should constantly have a list of 5/6 managers updated regularly that they will approach should anything happen to the current incumbent, succession planning is key to any good business plan, and I would like to think that the club are not just sending names out to judge supporter reaction.

    My biggest fear is that it is, and that has been Gazidis method of operation for a few years now, he seems to want to quiten the loudest negative voices in the fan base.

    As for Arsene, I wish him well, and I have a nagging suspicion we haven’t seen the last of him, but unfortunately I don’t think it will be in any kind of position at the club, honarary or otherwise, he is still addicted. My money is on Everton.

  19. Rasp says:

    Hi GiE, a very wise decision to ease back on the work in favour of family/Arsenal. The kids grow up so quickly, you must savour every minute.

    Peaches and I have discussed the apparent lack of a succession plan many times. We’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t one … and how poor is that if true? I know Arsene is too classy, but I do wish he’d write a warts and all biography, I think we’d be shocked at the haphazard way some decisions are reached.

    As for AW going to Everton … never going to happen (I hope 🙂 ). He couldn’t bring himself to manage a team in the EPL and line up against the Arsenal.

  20. Rasp says:

    …. still, there is plenty to get excited about. It’s likely Freddy will be joining the coaching staff to work with the younger players.

  21. Big Raddy says:

    VP etc We are going nowhere and hopefully neither are you!

    We may not be able to put up a post every day but the aim is to publish a few times a week. Any contributions are very, very welcome.

  22. Big Raddy says:

    Of course there is a plan. We are a mega-millions business run by proper businessmen, it is inconceivable that they hadn’t approached AW’s successor before having a “chat” with him.

    The timing of the announcement is the question. The BoD have said it will be pre-WC.

    AW came from Japan and no-one anticipated his arrival, I think the same may well happen but my strong preference is for PV4. He would be the first black manager of a big PL club and it would be very Arsenal if he was appointed

  23. Rasp says:

    I’m impressed by your confidence Raddy but not convinced by your argument 🙂

    I think the Board let AW down very badly. They should have protected him more. I’d bet the reason why they offered him a new 2 year contract a year ago was because they hadn’t got a clue who they should get to replace him.

    You know it was DD who brought Arsene in and was pivotal in a lot of our good signings in the early years (including PV), we don’t have a footballing mind like DDs on the Board any more.

    I’m sure the Board see Arteta as back-up. But I doubt very much that they’d reached any kind of agreement with Alegri or the other more high profile managers prior to the announcement of Arsene’s departure. Like you, I’d be happy to see PV given the chance.

  24. Shard says:

    Thanks chas.

    It wasn’t the most exciting game, and yet it flew by for me. The first managerial change in my years following Arsenal is now here. I feel equal parts sad and excited.

    It hasn’t even fully sunk in yet. Will be so strange to see someone else giving press conferences and on the sideline.

    Who that person is? I just hope it is someone I can like as a person as well as a manager. Arteta and Vieira would both fit into the former category. The latter? No idea.

  25. Shard says:

    Rasp (*He said trepidatiously*)

    I agree with you that Wenger was given a two year contract because the board didn’t know who to bring in. But they have since brought in Sanhelli and Mislintat, both of whom are men who understand football. I think they will be a key part of the change and will effectively be the ‘General Managers’ like in US sports. The new manager will be more a head coach with some input, but no real power over transfers or contracts.

  26. Rasp says:

    Hi Shard, nice to hear from you. I agree with every word you’ve written (today 🙂 )

  27. Shard says:

    Absence makes the heart grow fonder 🙂

  28. Rasp says:

    🙂 The blog has been rather like the football for a while, lacking a cutting edge. I suspect I may be the one defending the new manager next season, whilst others are more critical 🙂

  29. Rasp says:

    The two new appointments you mentioned are definitely a step in the right direction, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the calibre of players they bring in, and what positions they seek to reinforce in the squad.

  30. Big Raddy says:

    Shard. Great to see your avatar again

  31. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. We disagree. IMO the new chaps are proper football men.

    Arteta? Really? Can’t see it myself.

  32. Rasp says:

    Hi Raddy, we don’t disagree on that at all, they are clearly real football men …. I was referring to the Board and their lack of action before the new guys arrived. I suspect Gazidis (and possibly Josh Kroenke) were behind bringing the new guys in.
    Do you remember AW’s refusal to acknowledge the need for such recruits. But they were brought in and straight away started taking over some matters which were previously only controlled by AW. I believe Mavropanos was brought in by the new guys.
    So in some ways AW was suckered into this latest contract (he’d never have walked away and left us in trouble) and very soon saw the writing on the wall. I’m sure he would have preferred to leave having seen out his contract rather than being invited to go half way through …. in his own words “at a time not of my choosing”

  33. chas says:

    “at a time not of my choosing” was for when the announcement was made saying he was leaving at the end of the season.

    That was made clear or so I thought, wasn’t it?

  34. Rasp says:

    Are you denying he had said earlier that he intended to see out his contract?

  35. Rasp says:

    ….. or something along the lines of “I always honour my contracts”?

  36. Shard says:

    I think Wenger would certainly have been aware of the possibility of his tenure ending after 1 year.

    Just last season he had said that the uncertainty caused by him being out of contract had affected the team. Also he had said he will review his position with the board at the end of the season.

    Maybe he thought he would extend if the team did well, or later, if we won the Europa. But I don’t think he would have ‘honoured his contract’ into the last season because of the impact he claimed it had last time.

    Personally, I think Wenger stayed to help the club out with the transition, the club then told him they were ready to move on now that Sven and Raul had their feet under the table but would not have forced the issue if Wenger decided to stay.

    Not necessarily because they love Wenger, though I’m sure a lot of them do, but because sacking our greatest ever manager would not be a good look for the family club or the values that Arsenal claim to be and embody. (Which earns them fans, and hence money)

    Not sure it really matters though. Wenger leaves the club in much better shape than when he found it, and with structures in place that should prevent us going the way of ManU after Ferguson.

  37. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp & Chas. Both are true.

  38. Shard says:

    Oh also Rasp. Wenger didn’t oppose a DoF per se. He only said that it is too late for him to adapt to such a model, but that there are younger coaches for whom it is fine. Plus he was reacting to an insinuation that he should no longer have control over transfers. Hence the scathing nature of his response.
    I believe Wenger rather than being opposed to new people being brought in, was opposed to Colbert, Law and Rowley being sacked. They were all kept on eventually in some capacity. We know Wenger is a loyal person and I think that explains the extent of his opposition.

    He saw it as his responsibility to move the club forward and I don’t believe he’d be opposed to structures being put in place to prepare for his departure.

  39. Big Raddy says:

    I think you should know that Morris Volz has retired.

    He is now AFC’s Chief German scout

  40. Rasp says:

    Wow Shard, I see that fountain of inside knowledge hasn’t dried up 🙂 …. or could that just be your preferred interpretation? 🙂

  41. Shard says:

    Haha. Moritz Volz! Now that’s a blast, or a whimper, from the past.

    By the way BR. You are too kind. Likewise LB from yesterday.

    It feels good to be back.

  42. Rasp says:

    Dick Laws was either not responsible for our contracts or …. he was being told what he had to do or …. he deserved to get the heave ho!

  43. Shard says:

    Of course it’s my preferred interpretation. In the absence of inside sources that’s all we have. 🙂

    For what it’s worth, I tried to explain the logic behind my preferred interpretation. Maybe I didn’t manage that too well.

  44. Rasp says:

    You don’t need to explain anything to us Shard, your logic is speculation based on preferred interpretation …

    ….. “I believe Wenger rather than being opposed to new people being brought in, was opposed to Colbert, Law and Rowley being sacked. They were all kept on eventually in some capacity. We know Wenger is a loyal person and I think that explains the extent of his opposition.

    He saw it as his responsibility to move the club forward and I don’t believe he’d be opposed to structures being put in place to prepare for his departure.”

  45. Gööner In Exile says:

    Shard and Rasp both touch on something that I think caused AW to leave, I think I maybe sit somewhere in the middle.

    I think these new people did get brought in to take some responsibility away from AW, I’d love to know which dealings were theirs and whether Arsene has any input. No one is doubting PEA is a good signing, did we really need him in January? Especially in place of Ollie?

    Did some signingsupset the balance?

    It is noticeable that Arsene turned to his youth products a lot over recent weeks than some other signings, was he sending a message to the next manager, the board, the DoFs?

    Personally I have a suspicion that AW felt his position became untenable, if the decisions on who to buy were taken away from him then he may have felt it was time to leave. Why be judged on spending and a squad you didn’t assemble?

    Arsene unfortunately will probably never tell all, but there have been enoug revelations in the past to support the view that the penny pinching attitude was not all from him.

    Now like Rasp I feel I will be in a minority next season, it will be hard not to compare whoever takes the seat to Arsene.

    The problem I have with PV4 is that it would feel very much like fan appeasement, we should not forget that Dein took a massive gamble appointing Arsene, we didn’t know him, no one knew him, but Dein has seen something.

    It’s going to take a brave board to make a similar decision to really spark interest and forge a new direction.

  46. Shard says:


    I don’t mean to get into an argument. So please understand that my explanation is not aimed at you. Just in the hope that you will see where I’m coming from.

    The first example. The first sentence is entirely speculation, and I used the word ‘believe’ there to suggest as much. That they were all kept on is fact. That Wenger is a loyal person, I guess that’s subjective but over all the years the evidence I have seen suggests that is as close to fact as we can get. Also, Wenger once said something along the lines of, we cannot remove people just to give someone else a job. I think it was in the context of Adams or Henry not getting their preferred coaching jobs at the club (or maybe for Arteta). Not quite the same thing but I think it shows Wenger’s general line of thinking.

    In the second example,this is speculation, but not entirely unsubstantiated. From many years ago, Wenger has said multiple times that he wants to leave the club in a situation where the next guy can come in and do better than he has done. That he sees that as a responsibility of a manager. And so, I believe that he would want the club to be prepared for his departure.

  47. Rasp says:

    Hi GiE, I agree.

    It’s looking like Arteta is the prime candidate. He was brilliant for us but didn’t reach the heights that Vieira achieved, so maybe he’s a compromise between fan appeasement and managerial pedigree …. true he’s never been a manager and Vieira is currently managing in a lesser league, but Arteta has spent 2 years learning from the best in the business.

    There was an unsubstantiated rumour that Vieira had left under a bit of a cloud whereas Arteta is respected wherever he goes …. maybe that will give him the edge?

  48. fred1266 says:

    Chas ants u guys going to the royal wedding

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    “your logic is speculation based on preferred interpretation”
    Ha ha ha, love it. I want more.

    Fred, Ants is camping out in Westminster to get a good view. Apparently.

  50. chas says:

    Are ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ two sides of the same coin?

    Welcome back, Shard. 🙂

  51. chas says:

    A new broom?

  52. chas says:

  53. chas says:


  54. chas says:

  55. chas says:

    News from Twitter……

    The entitled fans are planning a demonstration if Arteta is given the manager’s job at Arsenal.

    It will never end.

  56. chas says:

  57. chas says:

  58. mickydidit89 says:

    I’m OUTRAGED the royal wedding has been relegated to Windsor just because Merkel is an already have-been-bride and chancellor of Germany

    The whole thing stinks

  59. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    6.40 Is that the luck of the Irish?

    Enjoyed the discussion last night, thanks to the participants.

  60. Big Raddy says:

    I thought one had to be a virgin to marry royalty.

    Thinking of which … Where is Eddie?

  61. Big Raddy says:

    Never liked the Smiths, Sick to the back teeth of that Pink Floyd drone.

    need something lively on a quiet Tuesday morning

  62. Rasp says:

    How’s this for you Raddy …

  63. Big Raddy says:

    That’s more like it 😀

  64. Rasp says:

    … or this …

  65. Rasp says:

    80% now that Arteta will be the new manager …….

  66. LB says:

    The board must have made a decision on who is coming in. I find it hard to believe that Lewin being shown the door wasn’t made without consultation.

    What next for Steve Bold; it is difficult to imagine how he is going to survive this cull.

  67. VP of Oz says:

    Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann has emerged as a front-runner for the Arsenal job this summer, according to Sky Sports.

    Nagelsmann led Hoffenheim to a 3rd-place finish in the Bundesliga this season after a phenomenal breakthrough campaign last time out. It seems his impressive performance, at the age of just 30, has piqued Arsenal’s interest.

    However, Arteta, who is a member of Pep Guardiola’s backroom staff at City, is also seemingly a strong contender to take the reins from Wenger this summer.

  68. VP of Oz says:

    Arsenal have let a number of key backroom staff members go as they continue their biggest restructuring in two decades following Arsene Wenger’s departure.

    A club source confirmed to ESPN FC that head of medical services Colin Lewin was told on Monday that he was losing his job after 23 years at the club, joining several other long-term Wenger allies in departing.

    First-team coaches Neil Bamfield and Boro Primorac, goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton and fitness coach Tony Colbert have also been let go.

    Wenger’s assistant Steve Bould has been told he can stay, although the Telegraph reported on Tuesday that the former Arsenal defender is waiting to see who the new manager will be before making a decision.

    Arsenal are clearing the decks with the expectation that Wenger’s successor will bring in a number of new staff members, while head of performance Darren Burgess — who was hired last summer — is overseeing a restructuring of the medical department.

    Meanwhile, former midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is expected to return to the club as an academy coach this summer, possibly in charge of the under-23s, although that appointment has not been finalised yet, the source said.

    Ljungberg helped coach the U15s in 2016-17 before leaving with then-academy director Andries Jonker when he took over as Wolfsburg manager.

    Retiring captain Per Mertesacker is taking over as the new academy director this summer.

    Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent.

  69. Rasp says:

    Stevie Bould …. he’s got no hair .. but we don’t care ….. and pretty soon he’s getting his P45 …. or maybe be offered a job elsewhere at the club?

  70. Rasp says:

    I think your news is 24 hours behind ours VP … Nagelsmann is staying at Hoffenheim

  71. VP of Oz says:

    Rasp, the Nagelsmann story was still appearing in News Now feed as current (last 3hrs)

    Also remember, Aust is a day ahead of UK, so as you start your Tuesday, I’m getting ready for Wednesday…

  72. VP of Oz says:

    I just get this feeling that it will play out unexpectably.
    Arteta will be hot hot favourite and then not get the job.
    Nagelsmann will be 100% staying according to the Hoff boss but will leave anyway

    Or something like the above, most likely wrong though

  73. VP of Oz says:

    Micky, who is getting married?

  74. Big Raddy says:

    VP. Your Queen’s grandson

  75. VP of Oz says:

    BR, I didnt know Priscilla had a grandson

  76. VP of Oz says:

  77. Rasp says:

    🙂 VP .. excellent counter …..

  78. Rasp says:

    VP … if I’m right, you send me one of those hats with dangling corks …. if you’re right, I’ll forgive you for ball tampering 🙂

  79. VP of Oz says:

    Dirt In The Pocket (1994)

    Mike Atherton held onto the England captaincy and avoided suspension but he was fined $A3,700. The young skipper was using dirt, taken from the pitch, to try to keep his hands less sweaty while working on the ball during a Test against South Africa at Lord’s.

  80. Rasp says:

    🙂 🙂 touché once again

  81. Rasp says:

    Actually the old sand in the pocket trick has been commonplace in cricket for years, players often wipe the sweat off the brow and then put their hand in the dust (supposedly to dry it) then transfer the grit to the ball … it was the trying to hide the yellow tape down the underpants that made it look so much worse …

  82. VP of Oz says:

    It was the hysterical australia media that made it worse. The cricketers were practically having a pisstake on their pathetic attempts to tamper with the ball and then hide the tape.
    If that was Pakistan, the refs wouldve been banned.
    Yes it was cheating but I think it was also a major overreaction by Aust officialdom that has ruined reputations and impacted players families.
    Footballers cheat game to game with barely a yellow card to show for it, but I wont get started on this

  83. VP of Oz says:

    OK, I’ve just got back from a night run so as to close those damn 3 apple rings. Night all, I have a 5am start

  84. LB says:


    Can you copy and paste that article. It’s subscription only!

  85. Rasp says:

    Hi LB, it’s long, but you did ask …

    Unless he breaks the habit of a lifetime, the first thing that Arsène Wenger will do when he boards the Arsenal coach for the final time, in Huddersfield tomorrow, will be to ask the driver to put Levante v Barcelona on the television. The Frenchman may indulge himself with an Italian meal at the Cocorico Italiano restaurant in Totteridge when he gets home a few hours later, but not if Arsenal have lost his 1,239th and final game of a remarkable reign.

    “He won’t go out after a defeat, and even if people come round to his house he won’t talk,” a long-serving colleague explains. “He will pore over the game finding excuses for the defeat, until two days later he finally acknowledges that the opposition were the better team.”

    Those who know Wenger best paint a fond picture of a man who has essentially lived the same day over and over again for his entire 22 years at Arsenal, a groundhog day existing with the only slight variety coming on match-day, which even then is dictated by the team’s results. “He’s a football hermit,” explains a close friend. “His car would be the best second-hand car to buy in London as it doesn’t go anywhere. It goes from his house to the training ground every day, and then once a fortnight to the stadium.”

    Wenger’s daily life has run as smoothly and efficiently as the best of his Arsenal teams over those past two decades, with his dedication to football matched only by his commitment to maintaining his own health and fitness. At 75kg the 68-year-old’s weight is exactly the same as it was when he joined Arsenal in 1996, the result of a rigorous exercise regime and strict diet, with small portions of salad enlivened by the occasional glass of red wine and a single chocolate for dessert. “When he gets up every morning the first thing he does is put on his stopwatch,” another regular visitor to the Wenger residence says. “He’s like a Swiss clock, everything is timed to perfection.”

    Wenger’s day always begins with a 45-minute workout in his home gym, which is supplemented by a swim or a bike ride in summer when the weather permits. The Frenchman’s cycling around the leafy lanes of south Hertfordshire was briefly interrupted last summer when he was knocked off his bike, although thankfully he was not seriously injured, with the driver responsible for running the Arsenal manager off the road getting more of a shock than he did when he rose to his feet to reveal his identity.

    Such is Wenger’s desire to start the day with a dose of exercise and fresh air that during his early days in London he developed the habit of sneaking into the nearby Totteridge Tennis Club before it had opened to hit some balls, although this practice had to end when he stopped being “Arsène Who?” and became more famous.

    Wenger leaves home at 8.30am on the dot, arriving at Arsenal’s training ground in London Colney just before 9am to begin work. The serious business starts with a staff meeting in which he outlines his plans and goals for that day’s training, which begins at 10am with the manager a very visible, hands-on presence. A long-serving member of Wenger’s backroom team claims that he has never missed a session in 22 years, such is his dedication to the cause.

    “The boss sets the session up, walks out with a purpose and always watches the whole session,” he says. “He doesn’t leave things to the other coaches. As the session goes on, he’s walking around and you can feel him watching players, asking questions. He’s always out on the pitch.”

    After lunch Wenger watches a recording of the entire training session and has meetings with his staff and players, who are welcome to drop in at any time. The door to his office is open most of the time with the manager conscious to make sure he is accessible, although, rather than holding formal meetings, many of his conversations with the players take place as they are walking out to train or during the session. In recent years Steve Bould, his assistant manager, has held most of the team meetings, with Wenger preferring to offer his guidance one to one.

    Wenger was responsible for lobbying the club to build the new training ground 20 years ago, as well as being instrumental in the construction of the Emirates Stadium, and his pride in the place and respect for all the staff remain obvious. His gift for diplomacy is such that he has managed to stay on good terms with all the competing factions at Arsenal, including Stan Kroenke, the majority shareholder, and Alisher Usmanov, his great rival, who sends Wenger several hampers every Christmas, the contents of which he gives to workers at the training ground.

    “He makes a point of walking around the training ground checking everything is immaculate,” a staff member says. “When they planted some new trees recently he was always talking to the groundsmen, asking them how they were doing. He gets on very well with the head groundsman and they have a laugh and a joke, with the boss asking him how many tractors he buys every year. He has got a real human touch. He talks to all the security staff and gets on with everyone.”

    Wenger also makes a point of making himself available to all of Arsenal’s academy coaches, who are based at a different site, at Hale End, as well as welcoming back former players such as Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg who are looking for guidance on how to develop their own coaching careers. Such is his enthusiasm for talking football that he has frequently had to be ushered away from an informal chat with a group of youth-team coaches because of his first-team duties.

    “He comes to life when us old boys come back in, you can see the spark in his eye,” one former player says. “He just loves talking about football and always tries to help people out.”

    Wenger’s evenings are similarly set in stone and revolve around watching football, with the odd documentary or political programme thrown in. With his eye always on the future, his house is not the footballing museum that one would imagine and there is no trophy room, with Wenger’s nostalgia limited to having a few photographs of old teams in his study, with one of The Invincibles most prominent.

    “He generally arrives home at 6.15pm, when he’ll make himself some salad or go to the local Waitrose,” a friend familiar with his routine explains. “At 7.45pm he’ll settle down to watch the first game, and afterwards he’ll catch up with highlights from all the others.

    “For the first ten years I went to his house I only ever saw him watching football. It’s always on. He has a massive screen in his lounge, flicking between games. He watches the games for pleasure, but will also analyse them. When the football is all over he will watch a political programme or read a biography.”

    Wenger’s appetite for football is such that once one game is over his immediate instinct is to find another one, even after Arsenal have just finished playing.

    “As soon as we get on the coach after an away game the first thing he says is, ‘Get the Spanish football on’,” a member of his team says. “It’s football, football, football. I’ve never brought up a game that he’s not watched, or a player he doesn’t know. Sometimes the staff try to test him by talking about an African game or scoreline and he says, ‘Yes, I watched that’. His knowledge is remarkable.”

    Despite what is clearly an obsessive approach to the game, Wenger is well read and knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects, particularly politics and economics.

    While he gives little away about his own personal politics, friends characterise him as a liberal whose natural home is on the centre left, and he made a point of dashing back from a game to the French embassy in London at the end of last season to ensure that he could vote against Marine Le Pen, the National Front candidate, in France’s presidential election.

    “He talks about politics a lot,” an Arsenal colleague says. “He doesn’t give a lot away, but I think he’s a socialist. He talks about animal rights, geography, finance. He must read a lot and watch a lot of documentaries. He follows the stock exchange quite closely and seems to know a lot about the financial markets.”

    Wenger is an atheist but, despite this, was profoundly moved by meeting the Pope while refereeing a so-called peace match in Rome four years ago, insisting on fulfilling his commitment to attend even though it clashed with the final day of the transfer window when Arsenal were negotiating the purchase of Danny Welbeck from Manchester United.

    He also enjoys travel and gets regular invitations to speak at events all over the world. He receives offers of non-executive directorships from global companies and is particularly fascinated by China. On one trip to Beijing he was asked to have a go at karaoke with Jackie Chan, but politely declined.

    Such is Wenger’s commitment to work that his only regular holiday is a two-week break in the south of France each summer, often with his ex-wife Annie. The pair remain extremely close with Annie attending his final match at the Emirates last Sunday with their daughter Lea, who is studying veterinary science at Cambridge University, followed by a dinner for 40 close friends. His personal circle is relatively small, with most of his closer friendships stemming from his time in Strasbourg and Monaco. Despite generally shying away from large social events, Wenger hosts a meal for his back-room staff at the team hotel during pre-season, as well as having Christmas drinks on the day the players go out for their Christmas party. Typically he does not venture far, with the festive celebrations limited to a few glasses of wine at the training ground. “Arsène has lived in London for 22 years but couldn’t drive from his home to Piccadilly Circus,” is how one friend puts it.

    A whole new world will open to Wenger from tomorrow evening, never mind just this country’s capital city, but as he attempts to re-organise his life, his first instinct will be to get back to work.

  86. Rasp says:

    Here are some interesting quotes from Arteta a couple of years ago ….

    My team-mates are always going “What are you going to do Miki? You’re going to be a manager, you should be a manager!” I know what the job means and I know how hard it is, especially when I look at the boss and see how many hours he puts in here. You need to sacrifice your family all over again, which I’ve done since I was 15. But I would love to manage a squad of players and staff – I’ve got it inside me, it’s true, and I want to do it. First of all I want to make the most of my playing career, because I’m 32 and in this game you never know whether you’ll end up carrying on until 34, 35 or 36. After that, I’m certainly going to stay involved in football because I think I’ve got something to add. I would like to prove myself, and prove my ideas about managing and encouraging people to do things in the way I believe is best.

    My philosophy will be clear. I will have everyone 120 per cent committed, that’s the first thing. If not, you don’t play for me. When it’s time to work it’s time to work, and when it’s time to have fun then I’m the first one to do it, but that commitment is vital. Then I want the football to be expressive, entertaining. I cannot have a concept of football where everything is based on the opposition. We have to dictate the game, we have to be the ones taking the initiative, and we have to entertain the people coming to watch us. I’m 100 per cent convinced of those things, and I think I could do it.

    I think you need to adapt. You can have an idea of a system, but you need to be able to transform it depending on the players you have – how much pace you have up front, how technical your team is, what types of risk you can take and whether your players are ready to take those risks. It’s important to analyse your players because you can’t always play the same way. There have to be different details and changes in how you approach things, and you have to look at how you can hurt whoever you are playing against. Is there something they don’t like to do? If so, we’re going to make them do plenty of it. Then the most important thing for the manager is that, the Friday before the game, you imagine what’s going to happen on the Saturday. And if what happens on Saturday is not what I had planned, then it’s not been good enough from me.

  87. fred1266 says:

    What this about arteta being the new manager?

  88. Big Raddy says:

    Thanks Rasp.

    If Arteta can convert his philosophy into effective football management, he will be a big success wherever he works

  89. Rasp says:

    Hi Raddy, you can see why he is being seriously considered.

  90. LB says:

    Thanks Rasp

    Two very good reads.

    The thing about Arteta and moving on is that as far as I can see no one moves from City unless they say so.

  91. LB says:

    Infantile question, something akin to asking a celebrity what is your favourite colour but hey ho…….

    If one of Ozil or Ramsey had to be sold this summer which would you let go and why?

  92. VP of Oz says:

    In Arteta quote above at 4:27 –
    “My philosophy will be clear. I will have everyone 120 per cent committed, that’s the first thing.
    I’m 100 per cent convinced of those things, and I think I could do it.”

    So Arteta wants everyone 120% committed but he himself only 100%. Thats 20% less effort then he expects from others.

    He is too lazy for me.

  93. Rasp says:

    That’s one interpretation VP. Alternatively, it could be clever. He knows 120% is unachievable but he wants his players to constantly strive to give more, whilst giving everything himself 🙂 🙂

  94. Gööner In Exile says:

    Surely David Wagner should be in the frame…..ex Huddersfield boss has worked well for us before, also has a lot of experience under Klopp in Dortmund?

  95. mickydidit89 says:

    Arteta? Vieira?
    Oh behave 🙄

  96. mickydidit89 says:

    Trying to do some sensible research into the Vieira managerial track record, starting with the obvious, how many goals per game do his sides average

  97. Gööner In Exile says:

    LB, didn’t notice your little teaser post about Rambo or Ozil. That is a really difficult question.

    I love watching them both, Ramsey for his energy, constant running towards goal and commitment. Ozil for the sheer brilliance of his football brain, ability to find space, and passing ability. That’s not to say Ramsey hasn’t got a good football head and Ozil doesn’t work hard. They just both show the other traits more clearly.

    I think when I’ve watched Ozil in the second half of the season the gap between him and the rest is a bit too big. We didn’t get the best out of him as not enough seem to be on his wavelength.

    On the other hand Ramsey can try very hard and some days it just doesn’t come off, other days everything he does works.

    If Ozil was 4/5 years older than Ramsey it’s a no brainer, keep Ramsey let Ozil go.

    Replaceable? well it would be far easier to replace Ramsey, there are other players who can do what he does, some in our own ranks some outside of the club, Ozil is a unique talent, you won’t find another one waiting to be signed.

    With the right players around him I’d keep Ozil, if we can’t give him the orchestra to conduct then i’d keep Ramsey.

  98. Gööner In Exile says:

    In truth I don’t want to make that decision, and you’re a b******d for asking 🙂

  99. mickydidit89 says:


    I saw the LB question and immediately thought….that is the way forwards for summer posts.

    Post page title: The Summer Titillators

  100. mickydidit89 says:

    Anyway, back to the royal wedding 🙂


  101. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    LB. Great question. After much mulling – 5 seconds – it has to be RAmsey.

    As a collective others can do his job, none can do Ozil’s.

    AR is one of my very favourite players yet I can see him leaving in summer.

  102. Big Raddy says:

    What is clear from chas’ video at 6.58 is what an absolute genius DB10 was.

  103. Big Raddy says:

    There is a New Post

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