Arsenal found the right occasion to honor three of its legends when the club unveiled the statues of pioneering former manager Herbert Chapman, iconic former captain Tony Adams, and Thierry Henry, the highest goal scorer in its history, outside the Emirates Stadium on 10 December 2011 as the North London side celebrated its 125th anniversary.
No question can be raised against the greatness of the three legends, though you may have your own different choices. One thing, however, I strongly believe is that by the time Arsenal will be celebrating their 150th anniversary, there will, at least, be another statue. That is of Arsene Wenger, the charismatic manager currently at the helm of the club. In fact, a statue of Wenger is already missing.
If Herbert Chapman was the man who laid the foundation of the club’s early glory years, then Arsenal Wenger has built the pillar of success upon it. Chapman introduced Arsenal with the taste of glory, while Wenger presented success with entertaining football. Attacking, free-flowing football woven by small passes can best describe Wenger’s Arsenal.
Chapman presented a lot of new techniques in football which not only helped Arsenal become a dominant force in English football, but contributed to the overall development of football, to a large extent. Wenger, similarly, has set upon himself with his innovative ‘self-sustaining model’ in Arsenal, which has so far been highly successful. The Frenchman’s vision, tactics, youth policy, economic policy, shrewd signings have all been the characteristics of his time at Arsenal.
In his first 9 years at Arsenal, Wenger won 3 Premier League and 4 FA Cup titles. Since then Arsenal could not win anything so far (until 2011) and Wenger is often criticized for that. However, this six-year period did not go without achievements for Arsenal and Wenger. During this so-called ‘barren period,’ Arsenal got a new, bigger stadium, ensuring a larger profit through tickets selling, never dropped their ‘top four’ status in Premier League, and thus, playing in Champions League every year, and most importantly, recorded their best ever success in Europe when they reached the Champions League final in 2005-06 season.
Moreover, all these achievements came during a period which was badly hit by an economic recession across the world. Arsenal, however, sustained the slump pretty much successfully, without losing their class, style and winning mentality.
So, I believe, Arsene Wenger really deserves a statue of himself being unveiled at the Emirates Stadium.