Oct 12, 1996 at 3pm UK at ​Ewood Park
BlackburnBlackburn Rovers
FT(HT: 0-1)
Wright (3', 51')

On this day: Arsene Wenger gets off to winning start at Arsenal

OTD: Wenger gets off to winning start
© Getty Images
Eighteen years ago today, Arsenal overcome Blackburn Rovers to ensure that Arsene Wenger got off to a winning start as the club's new manager.

With his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson now well into retirement, when it comes to the Premier League's long-serving managers, Arsene Wenger is flying the flag solo.

Last season, the Frenchman took charge of the Gunners for the 1,000th time and, while he has had his critics in recent years, there can be no denying that Wenger has helped to change the philosophy and understanding of football in England.

It all started back on this day in 1996 with a visit to Ewood Park - the home of Blackburn Rovers. Wenger had actually been appointed at the start of the month, but the international break had delayed his debut in the Arsenal dugout.

There are occasions when it takes a team a number of weeks, if not months, to adapt to the demands of a new manager, yet the encounter against the side that was bottom of the table was only three minutes old when Wenger's men broke the deadlock with a sweeping counter-attack.

Ian Wright found Nigel Winterburn deep inside his own half and, having started the move, Wright finished it with a curling finish from John Hartson's headed knockdown.

Rovers responded by creating two good chances to equalise before the break, both of which fell to Tim Sherwood. However, the midfielder was unable to apply the necessary finishing touch to either opening.

Those misses were then duly punished six minutes after the restart as Wright scored his and Arsenal's second goal of the contest. Patrick Vieira exchanged passes with Hartson, before threading a pass through for Wright, who lifted the ball over an advancing Tim Flowers and into the net.

It was a goal that sealed the three points for the away side, which ended a run of six visits to Ewood Park without a victory.

Speaking after the match, new boss Wenger was full of praise for his two-goal striker: "Ian is not a normal 32-year-old. He is so fit and strong and wants so much to succeed.

"When you consider that Ian did not start his career until he was 23, to have scored so many goals must make him world class. Can you imagine what he might have achieved if he had started with a good club at 16 or 17?"

Since then, Wenger has gone on to guide Arsenal to three Premier League titles, five FA Cups and, while the Champions League trophy has so far eluded the 64-year-old, his team did reach the final in 2006, when they were defeated 2-1 by Barcelona in Paris.

Blackburn: Flowers; Croft, Berg, Marker, Kenna; Sherwood, Bohinen, Wilcox (Gudmundsson), Donis (Ripley); Sutton, Beattie

Arsenal: Seaman; Dixon, Bould, Adams, Keown, Winterburn; Merson, Platt, Vieira; Hartson (Parlour), Wright

Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates scoring against Newcastle United on August 28, 2005.
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