herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Emotional Wenger gets a special send-off

Arsenal 5 Burnley 0

PRESENTATION: Wenger. Photo: AP
PRESENTATION: Wenger. Photo: AP

Arsene Wenger was awarded Arsenal's golden 'Invincibles' Premier League trophy as he bowed out of the Emirates Stadium.

The 68-year-old will step down as manager at the end of the season, ending a tenure of almost 22 years.

In his final home game, the Frenchman saw his side thrash Burnley 5-0 before tributes to his lengthy tenure culminated in a speech where he called on fans to back the team in his absence.

The likes of Robert Pires, Sol Campbell, Freddie Ljungberg, Emmanuel Petit, William Gallas and Jens Lehmann were some of the former Arsenal players on hand to pay tribute.

But it was Wenger's former assistant Pat Rice and the club's former goalkeeper Bob Wilson who made a speech and awarded him with a commemorative gold Premier League trophy - which was awarded to the club after the unbeaten 'Invincible' title-winning campaign back in 2003-04.

"He changed the face of football in this country," Wilson said of Wenger.

"This is Arsene Wenger, the greatest manager we have ever had."

Adversary

Wenger offered his best wishes to former adversary Alex Ferguson, with the ex-Manchester United boss in intensive care after undergoing emergency surgery following a brain haemorrhage.

"Thank you for having me for such a long time, I know that is not easy but above all I am like you - I am an Arsenal fan," he said.

On the topic of his successor, Wenger added: "I think it is better I don't speak publicly about the next manager because I'm not involved in the story," he said.

"I do not want to put any pressure on the club to choose this guy or this guy.

"I just think he inherits a team that is much better than people think it is. With the right additions this team will challenge next year."

"I'd like to finish with one simple word - I will miss you. I hope to see you soon, well done, goodbye."

Wenger's final season will end with no silverware and a sixth-place finish.

Chants of "There's only one Arsene Wenger" and "Arsene give us a wave" could be heard from the stands at regular intervals, while the majority of the 59,549 in attendance donned red t-shirts handed out by the club with the message 'Merci Arsene'.

Wenger's players also delivered on the pitch, marking his final home game in style as a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace and strikes from Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi secured an impressive victory.

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