Arsenal History: How Arsene Wenger won his second Double in 2001/02

Arsene Wenger’s and Arsenal’s final double winning success of 2002

By the end of the 2001/02 season Arsene Wenger had guided The Gunners to the last of their three double winning years after the Premiership and FA Cup were secured once Chelsea were defeated.

Arsenal reported to Middlesbrough for their first league outing of the season where they ran riot 4-0 with strikes from Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp (2).  The triumph was followed up with a unexpected 2-1 defeat to Leeds United 2-1 at home despite Sylvain Wiltord equalising it wasn’t enough to stop the visitors with Arsenal record appearance (722) maker David O’ Leary in charge of United. However the Gunners would cap August off with a 4-0 whipping versus Leicester City thanks to Freddie Ljungberg, Wiltord, Henry and Kanu scoring.

The Gunners won two and drew two of their four matches of September. Arsenal drew 1-1 twice against London Rivals Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers.  The two victories came against Fulham and Derby County. The Cottagers were comfortably pushed aside 3-1 with Ljungberg, Henry and Bergkamp netting before Derby was dispatched 2-0 with Henry finding the back of the net on both occasions.

October proved tough for Arsenal with only one victory in four games with the remaining three matches finishing in draws. To start off with Pires and Henry grabbed both finishes in a 2-0 victory at St.Mary’s before the following 3-3 battle with Blackburn Rovers which Arsenal went 1-0 down in, and a 1-1 tedium with Sunderland after Kanu’s opener being cancelled out by Hans-Jurgen Schwarz in the second half.

Arsenal met their first defeat of the season in November when Charlton Athletic came to Highbury to heartbreakingly beat Arsenal 4-2. Despite Henry scoring after seven minutes to hand The Gunners the advantage The Robins bounced back with four goals in the space of 18 minutes. In the middle of November Tottenham grabbed a 94th minute equaliser through Gus Poyet (future Sunderland head coach) with the North London Derby finishing 1-1. Although the final 90 minutes of league action saw The Gunners top off Manchester United 3-1, retaliating after going 1-0 down to Paul Scholes early on thanks to merciless strikes from Ljunberg and Henry (2).

The Gunners travelled to Portman Road cracking open Ipswich Town 2-0 for the first day of December. Ljunberg and a penalty from Henry saved the three points that were needed in Arsenals title chase. Mid December saw Arsenal stopped in their tracks stumbling up against West Ham United away 1-1 with Ashley Cole equalising for the Gunners within three minutes of going 1-0 down inside the 36th minute via Frederic Kanoute. This was before Newcastle United fired Arsenal into great submission at Highbury 3-1, The Gunners were holding onto a 1-0 lead with half an hour left before United ran rampant with dispatches from Andrew O’ Brien, Alan Shearer and Lauren Robert. Arsenal would remain unbeaten in their final 21 matches of the league calendar up to May after being sidetracked by The Magpies.  In the following match Arsenal fought off title chasers Liverpool 2-1 thanks to Henry and Ljunberg.

In the New Year Arsenal picked up eight points out of a possible 12 for January. The first two matches finished in 1-1 draws versus Liverpool and Leeds United. The other two games watched The Gunners dismantle Leicester City 3-1 where they secured the job with strikes from Van Bronckhorst, Henry and Wiltord in the dying moments of the game. In the final game Ewood Park set up a perfect seesaw encounter against Blackburn Rovers which Arsenal just about won 3-2. Bergkamp found the opener after 14 minutes before Henry doubled the lead seven minutes later, in the final 15 minutes of the game Rovers had equalised through two thunderbolts from Matthew Jansen before Bergkamp netted the winner with 15 minutes remaining.

Two days into February Arsenal drew 1-1 versus Southampton, Wiltord put Arsenal a goal up at Highbury before in the final ten minutes of the match Jo Tessem denied victory at all costs. From this moment on The Gunners secured 13 wins in their final 13 games of the season.  With only two games left Arsenal surpassed Everton 1-0 with Wiltord grabbing the winner midway through the second half, before Fulham’s pride was diminished in a 4-1 beating seeing Lauren, Patrick Vieira and Henry scoring twice.

In March Arsenal got two past Newcastle United in the first week of the month all thanks to Bergkamp and Sol Campbell scoring both in the first half in the 2-0 walk in the park.  Pires then grabbed the only goal in the next game which The Gunners narrowly won 1-0 over Derby County. At the end of the month Sunderland were taken care of 3-0 through efforts from Vieira, Bergkamp and Wiltord all within the first half an hour of the match.

Arsenal got revenge away at Charlton Athletic after having been thrashed at home months earlier. Henry with two and Ljunberg jumping in with the third broke down the Robins defence inside 21 minutes of kickoff to victor 3-0 by the fulltime whistle. Towards the end of April Arsenal left it late against Ipswich Town and West Ham United at Highbury to claim the three points in both tussles. Ljunberg was relied upon again against The Tractor Boys as he clinched both goals in Arsenals 2-0 win. He also helped out against The Hammers scoring in the 77th minute before Kanu netted minutes later to ensure another 2-0 home run.

On the eighth May Arsenal won their second Premier League title at Old Trafford after Wiltord fired his shot into the net in the second half as Arsenal ran around Manchester United 1-0. The last game of the campaign saw Arsenal narrowly edge their way past Everton 4-3 in an ever changing 90 minutes.  Bergkamp made it “1-0 to The Arsenal” after four minutes before the Toffees grabbed the lead in the 31st minute through Tomasz Radzinski making it 2-1 to the Merseysiders. Henry was having none of that and within moments it was 2-2 at Highbury. In the final third of the game Henry and Francis Jeffers overturned the deficit to see Arsenal 4-2 up but in the final minutes Everton piled the pressure on the Premier League Champions with Steve Watson firing in the oppositions third as Arsenal won 4-3 eventually.

The Gunners had only one match left of the entire season to clinch the double with Chelsea awaiting them in the FA Cup final in May.

Their FA Cup campaign got off to a start in January with Arsenal knocking out Watford cold 4-2 Henry and Ljungberg put their side 2-0 up in ten minutes before the Hornets scared The Gunners with a goal through Noel-Williams three minutes later. In the final ten minutes of the game three strikes were ordered between both sides Kanu gave Arsenal a safety net of 3-1 in the 83rd minute before Bergkamp netted two minutes later, in the dying moments Watford grabbed a second in the third round.

In the fourth round The Gunners faced Liverpool at Highbury, a solo strike from Bergkamp handed Arsenal the 1-0 victory to narrowly push through to the fifth round.

Arsenal was up against second tier Gillingham in an easier match up. The Gunners slapped the Gills 5-2 in the face through finishes from Wiltord (2), Kanu, Tony Adams and Ray Parlour.

The Gunners travelled away to Newcastle United in the quarter-final. Within the first quarter of the tie Edu fired Arsenal into a 1-0 lead but The Magpies retaliated with a goal from Pierre Roberts seven minutes into the second half, forcing a replay to be held in North London. A relentless Arsenal sideswiped Newcastle United 3-0, Pires and Bergkamp netted both within seven minutes of each other before Campbell arrived with the third and final goal.

In the semi-final Arsenal played a stubborn Steve McLaren’s Middlesbrough who made life tough for the ongoing title chasers at the time. With the game approaching half time Gianluca Festa put the goal into the back of his own in a sorrowing manner; The Gunners remained in charge of the game where by the 90th minute Arsenal had beaten Boro 1-0.

It was all or nothing at the Millenium Stadium with nearly 74,000 people watching in attendance Arsenal kicked off against London Rivals Chelsea. At the break The Blues had prevented The Gunners from scoring with the score standing at 0-0, however with the game pushing towards a possible extra-time Ray Parlour ensured Arsenal were 1-0 up before Ljungberg added his name to the score sheet with ten minutes left to achieve the 2-0 victory over Chelsea.  It was official – Arsene Wenger had confirmed The Gunners their third and final double after reaching the feat only four years earlier in 1998.

Liam Harding

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