Arsene Wenger: Ranking the Arsenal legend’s greatest touchline battles

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho

Arsene Wenger. Where do we start?

The former Arsenal manager is one of the most fascinating personalities we’ve ever seen in football.

From changing the way the game was played to bringing in brand new ways of thinking from a dietary perspective, English football is certainly better off for his stint in the Premier League. 

The Frenchman is one of the greatest head coaches we’ve seen and as well as taking his side through an entire season unbeaten, won the Premier League on three occasions, as well as lifting the FA Cup a record seven times. 

But for all the expansive football and deep philosophical opinion, he also had a habit of winding up his opponents.

From his repeated arguments with Sir Alex Ferguson to shoving Jose Mourinho, witnessing Wenger on the side of the pitch was always a pleasure.

He had moments when he couldn’t zip up his coat, kicked water bottles and was even sent to the stands at Old Trafford. When it came to the ex-Arsenal boss, there was always something happening when he was involved. 

Arsene Wenger sent to the stands

But what was the very best of his touchline bust-ups?

We crawled through the archives on his 71st birthday to put together a list of the greatest dugout incidents involving other managers. 

9. Wenger v Hughes – 2005

This was absolutely priceless and it just about typified the hatred Mark Hughes and Wenger had for each other. They first clashed when the former Manchester United player was in charge of Blackburn. At full-time, the Arsenal boss just completely ignored Hughes and walked down the tunnel. As a result, the Welshman sarcastically waved at him as he marched away, something which clearly left a bitter taste in both of their mouths. 

8. Wenger v Hughes – 2009

This was an ongoing battle for a continuous period of time and it was a rather comical one if truth be told. On this occasion, it involved an argument and yep, you guessed it, yet another moment where the two didn’t shake hands. At this point in time, Hughes was manager of Manchester City as they swept aside a youthful Gunners team 3-0 in the League Cup. 

Arsene Wenger and Mark Hughes

The duo were at each other’s throats during the match after Wenger accused Hughes of leaving his technical area and then they refused to shake hands at full-time. “Maybe he’s used to winning games and when he does lose sometimes he doesn’t know how to behave,” Hughes said after the game.

7. Ignoring Mourinho – 2017 

The Arsenal manager refusing another handshake? Of course. Mourinho v Wenger has always been a bitter rivalry and the Frenchman showed his disgust for the Chelsea boss at the time after the Gunners won the Community Shield.

As the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Laurent Koscielny pottered down the Wembley steps and shook hands with Mourinho, Wenger walked behind him, completely ignoring the Portuguese who actually looked quite gracious in defeat. Bizarre.

6. Dalglish left fuming – 2011

This is a moment that doesn’t get half as much love as it should do. It’s Arsenal vs Liverpool and after Robin van Persie tucks away a 98th-minute penalty, it looks as though the Gunners have won it. Step forward Emmanuel Eboue. Lucas Leiva is running away from goal but the Ivorian brings him down and Liverpool tuck away the resulting penalty. Wenger is left fuming over the decision before Kenny Dalglish turns around and politely tells him to “p**s off”. Excellent drama.

5. Tony Pulis and Stoke rivalry – 2012-2016

There have been a whole host of moments surrounding Arsenal and Stoke when Pulis was in charge. Dave Kitson once claimed that Pulis’ hatred of Wenger is what led to Aaron Ramsey’s broken leg, while a moment in 2012 summed it all up.

The Gunners manager was left fuming after a tackle from Koscielny was flagged for a foul and then all of the Stoke fans decided to comically copy what Wenger was doing. In terms of fan rivalry, it doesn’t get much better than this. 

As it happens, a match in 2016 against Stoke also angered Wenger as he walked up to fourth official Paul Tierney and gently shoved him. The Potters never was never a happy hunting ground for Arsenal and their former manager.

4. Martin Jol – 2006 

This fight may only make it to number four on our list, but it will go down as one of the best arguments in Premier League history. North London derbies are usually absolute thrillers and this one was not short of drama either.

Wenger was left livid after Robbie Keane scored for Spurs while Gilberto Silva was down injured. Jol clearly had a difference in opinion as the two managers were left screaming at each other from just a matter of centimetres apart.

3. Antics with Alan Pardew – 2006 

Clearly, 2006 was a year that left Wenger pretty angry as not only did he go head to head with Jol, but he also enjoyed a bust-up with Pardew. West Ham scored a late goal which sent their manager at the time into utter delirium.

Wenger thought he was over celebrating before fisticuffs very nearly occurred. Some unpleasantries were exchanged as the two bosses started shoving each other around in pretty robust fashion. 

2. Fergie fumes – 2003

Has there ever been a better rivalry in Premier League history than Sir Alex Ferguson and Wenger? The two were never afraid to take digs at each other as Arsenal and Manchester United went toe-to-toe on a regular basis in pursuit of the title. However, a story from Jens Lehmann in 2003 after the infamous moment between Martin Keown and Ruud van Nistelrooy is undoubtedly one of our favourites. 

“I remember after that game I wasn’t looking into the eyes of my teammates I was looking into the eyes of Arsene,” the former goalkeeper said.

“He was having Alex Ferguson at a short distance like that [clenches fist]. He grabbed him and each of them were very angry with each other and almost started to fight with each other.”

It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Wenger and Ferguson

1. Jose Mourinho – 2014

Ranking top of our list is the iconic moment between Wenger and Mourinho in 2014. They were always scrapping with each other and in a clash at Stamford Bridge, the Frenchman really lost his rag. A tackle from Gary Cahill had just gone in on Alexis Sanchez which left Arsene unhappy as he walked up to Mourinho, argued with him and then pushed him fairly hard.

Nothing went Wenger’s day during that game as Arsenal received a red card and lost 6-0 during his 1000th game in management. 

It’s fair to say the Frenchman has had some quite brilliant moments on the side of the pitch.

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