Arsene Wenger is the Premier League's greatest ever import

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's near 18-year tenure at the Emirates is firmly under the microscope this week, with a quite remarkable haul of 1000 matches in the Gunners hotseat clocked up at the first whistle of tomorrow's crunch Premier League clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger stands alone as the last bastion of a Premier League era which consistently featured only two teams fighting for the title for half a decade, with Sir Alex Ferguson calling time on perhaps the modern era's greatest managerial rivalry last summer.

A trophy drought approaching nine seasons is of course a glaring flaw of Wenger's time in charge at the Emirates, but when you consider the loyalty Arsenal's professor has shown under financial constraints and growing pressure from all corners he surely deserves to be considered the Premier League's greatest ever import.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has of course proved his drive and winning mentality across the continent on three separate occasions, but cannot even come close to sticking by a project through good times and bad in the same way as Wenger.

The Gunners chief arrived at Highbury in 1997 a relative unknown, despite being a success at Monaco boss, but soon proved doubters wrong with then-revolutionary training methods that without questions extended the lifespan of a whole host of veteran first-team regulars.

Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Lee Dixon and a long list of team-mates owe their extended stay at the top level to Wenger's attention to detail, which is also matched by a proven track record of procuring talented youngsters and turning them into quality players at a young age.

Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri have all moved onto pastures new but owe their careers to Wenger, something which a manager with a sole focus on winning every competition he enters every season in Mourinho cannot boast.

Ferguson trumps the Gunners chief in terms of trophies and total control of his domain at Old Trafford, which arguably remains to this day, but his win percentage over 1000 matches is marginally put in the shade by Wenger.

Wenger has emerged successful in 57.3% of his 999 games in charge of the Gunners, with Fergie marginally behind on 56.4%.

Of course Fergie has a legacy of dismantling top sides and creating new successful ones that Arsenal fans must envy, but Wenger has kept Arsenal competitive on a vastly-inferior budget over the last seven years, with consistent Champions League qualification a fact often derided rather than lauded.

Team loyalties will often trump a debate over the Premier League's greatest manager or foreign import, but even if Wenger fails to lift the FA Cup this year it should not diminish a legacy of sticking to his guns above all costs to enforce a responsible, attractive ideology on the Emirates, the benefits of which should reverberate for a generation. 

Premier League

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