Manchester United remind Arsenal

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Arsenal have only three away games left in the Premier League this season but happily there is still time for Arsène Wenger to return to Manchester United, the scene of many of the highs and lows in his extraordinary career.

One suspects the image that will surface most often this weekend is the iconic one of Wenger banished to the stands in 2009, arms outstretched at the pettiness of it all after being told by match officials that kicking a water bottle in frustration was far too grievous an offence to be allowed to remain on the sidelines.
There are other, happier memories. A win at Old Trafford put Wenger on the way Authentic Brandon Williams Jersey to his first Double, a single Marc Overmars goal in March 1998 cutting Manchester United’s lead at the top of the table to six points – some Manchester bookmakers had already paid out on bets on Alex Ferguson’s team retaining the title – as Arsenal entered a 10-game winning sequence that would see them crowned champions by a single point.
Slender as that margin appeared at the time, Arsenal’s tremendous run-in gave an early indication of the consistency of which they would prove capable under Wenger, as well as usefully preventing United winning six titles in a row to draw unflattering comparisons with the Scottish league.
Later there would be the Battle of Old Trafford and then the Battle of the Buffet as Arsenal grew into their role as United’s chief challengers in the early noughties, even if another few years brought the infamous 8-2 defeat that confirmed by 2011 they had rather lost their way.
More than anything, though, more than the prospect even of a last touchline grimace with José Mourinho or a cheery hello from Alexis Sánchez, Arsenal are visiting a stadium that stands as an enormous monument to what is at stake when the time comes to replace the sort of transformative manager who has given years of service to the task of successfully reinventing a club.
No one could dispute that Wenger is up there with the very best in that regard. While some might quibble about the lack of a European Cup, all the deserved testimonials have stressed the fact that this is a man who altered English football, not only the club of which he was in charge.
There is no need to run through Wenger’s achievements and innovations here when they have been all over the news for the past few days. Only the very best managers make themselves unsackable, and in the years of gradual Arsenal decline, that became part of a unique problem.
Ferguson before him had assumed such a position of strength and control at his club that he was able to choose his own retirement date, yet crucially United kept winning. Even with comparatively ordinary sides in unremarkable seasons, even with the emergence of Chelsea and Manchester City as rivals with deep pockets, Ferguson averaged a title every other season or better right until the end. That is what big clubs want and need. Wenger was unable to produce it for Arsenal after the dizzy heights of the first decade and, as he himself admitted, around the time that Mourinho was labelling him a specialist in failure: “You cannot pretend you are a big club.”
That, nevertheless, is what Arsenal seem to have been doing these last dozen or so years. There were mitigating circumstances, the Womens Dion Waiters Jersey move to Womens Jimmy Graham Jersey a new ground being one of them and the arrival of petro-dollars in the English game another, though it is hard to sell yourself as the biggest of clubs when you make do with Champions League qualification income and the occasional FA Cup.,107979


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