Arsene Wenger is the only manager (except for George Ramsay in the late 1800s) to win six FA Cups with his club.
Wenger won the trophy two years after joining Arsenal in 1998 when the Gunners beat Newcastle 2-0 at Wembley. The goals came from Marc Overmars (23) and Nicolas Anelka (69). The boss also helped Arsenal win to a Premier League title, marking the start of a prosperous career in north London.
It was the first year Wenger, who had join Arsenal two years prior, won trophies and provided the fans and media with proof that he was the right man for the job.
Wenger didn’t win the Premier League or FA Cup until 2002, where Arsenal won both.
The 2002 FA Cup final was against Chelsea and took place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Again, Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.
The Blues’ manager at the time was none other than current Leicester boss, Claudio Ranieri, who was half way through his tenure at Chelsea. Although they weren’t quite the ‘force’ they’re considered now, they finished sixth in the Premier League that season.
The following year was the year of the Invincibles (2003/04). Having strolled through the Premiership unbeaten, we only managed to beat Southampton by 1-0 via Robert Pires in the 38th minute.
We didn’t care though. We’d done the double and won the season unbeaten.
Although Wenger had started to be taken seriously, the Invincibles were a team that he put together that would put his name onto the footballing wall of fame forever. The only other team to do so was, oddly enough since we’re playing them this weekend, Preston North End in the 1880s managed by William Sudell.
Arsenal’s last trophy for nine years would come during the 2004/05 season against Manchester United. We won the FA Cup 5-4 on penalties after Paul Scholes failed to score his, while our boys did.
United have been and always will be one of our biggest rivals so beating them, even though we didn’t play particularly well, was massive. Well, it was supposed to be.
Wenger’s next FA Cup win didn’t come until 2014 when Arsenal beat Hull 3-2 at Wembley after going 2-0 down within eight minutes. Goals from Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and, finally, Aaron Ramsey in extra time sealed Arsenal – and Wenger’s – first trophy in almost a decade.
After that third goal, no one cared about Wenger’s team selection or the fact we’d gone 2-0 down in the first place. We had the words of ‘She Wore’ ringing in our ears. The questions could wait.
Wenger won his sixth FA Cup the following year when Arsenal demolished Aston Villa at Wembley. Goals from Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud made sure it was a comfortable afternoon for Gooners watching and probably Wenger.
And so Arsene Wenger had six FA Cup while Arsenal Football Club had 12.
The boss often gets accused of not taking cups seriously and while I could agree to a certain extent that we don’t really take the EFL Cup that seriously, the FA Cup is different. It’s almost as if it’s Wenger’s trophy; it’s Arsenal’s.
Speaking ahead of our clash against Preston North End, the Frenchman even said, “It is a big priority for us,” he said.
“We have shown historically that we care about it, and it is a massive competition for everybody. To win the FA Cup is always a target each year.”
If Wenger didn’t take it seriously, how has he won it more than any other manager of our era?