The identities of the statues being unveiled for Arsenal’s 125th Anniversary celebrations have been revealed.
The Daily Telegraph are reporting that the club icons to be immortalised will be Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry.
There is a fourth statue missing though, a statue of the person who made it all possible.
Not necessarily the one who put the ball in the net or made the last ditch tackle, or even stood on the pitch at all.
If it weren’t for this man, there would be no statues outside the Emirates – there wouldn’t even be an Emirates Stadium.
You have probably guessed who this person is by now. It is the man who has guided the club to the most successful period of its history. It is Arsene Wenger.
Wenger has transformed this once mid-sized north London club into one of the biggest and most successful clubs in the world.
When he was given the post on 30th September 1996, he was greeted by an Evening Standard headline of ‘Arsene who?’.
The London paper was set to eat its words as Wenger took a demoralised and disorganised side under Bruce Rioch to third place in the Premier League – only missing out on second by goal difference.
In his first full season in charge Le Proffessuer, as he became known, took Arsenal to their second double-winning season. He was the first non-British manager to do so.
Another double in 2002 was followed by what is thought to be his greatest achievement – The Invincibles.
A team that contained Thierry Henry went an entire league season without being beaten and became the first side to do so since Preston North End in 1888-89.
Arsenal have not won a trophy since their FA Cup victory in 2005 and there has been much criticism over this.
However, much of this criticism is thrown while sitting in a state-of-the-art football stadium and often at a team that is playing in the Champions League, again.
Wenger has done this while competing with the juggernaut that is Manchester United, Roman Abramovitch’s Chelsea and now with Sheikh Mansour’s Manchester City.
This has been done without spending vast sums of money and mortgaging the entire football club.
It has been achieved by nurturing a squad of talented youngsters and adding an occasional experienced signing.
This was done by overseeing a move from Highbury to the Emirates and will, hopefully, end with the club debt free and self-sustaining. A rare sight in today’s football environment.
While the three choices of statue are, of course, warranted by the service they have given the club, there is surely a space being left for a fourth and final one.
Chapman revolutionised football in the top flight and brought the club’s first real success.
Tony Adams was ‘Mr Arsenal’ and captained the side to four league titles, amongst other honours.
Thierry Henry is the club’s record top scorer with 226 goals and was the talisman of the side that won the double in 2002 and The Invincibles of 2004, eventually captaining the club.
There will be a shadow over the three bronze figures when they are revealed before the Premier League match with Everton, but it won’t be that of Emirates Stadium.
It will be the shadow of a man who has made the club what it is today and, when he does finally leave, will be what the club was all about.