Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger names his most dominant side

Arsene Wenger has claimed that his Arsenal side ‘between 2002 and 2004’ was his most dominant in the league, before going onto praise the current Liverpool and Manchester City teams.

The Frenchman stepped down as boss in 2018, before Unai Emery was named as his successor, ending his reign as boss after 22 years.

Wenger oversaw an overhaul of our side which saw us bring in a huge change for English football, bringing in a number of French and international players to change the style of the division, and his impact will be talked about for years to come.

Arsene has now described his team from 2002-04 as the ‘most dominant’ in England.

“I would say the team between 2002 and 2004 was certainly the most dominant in the league,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports.

“We had very good teams, always. It’s like at the moment, you have City and Liverpool in the last five years being the dominant teams and are exceptional teams.”

You do have to wonder if we could have dominated for longer if Chelsea hadn’t been taken over at the time, and if we hadn’t then decided to begin selling players to pay off our impending stadium at the Emirates.

Do you think that team would have stayed together without the emergence of Chelsea as a power.


Tags Arsene Wenger


  1. We did indeed have a beast of a team. Wengers biggest problem at that time was his financial ideals. He was too determined to keep the club in the black and selling the team off was nothing to do with Chelsea but to do with not spending for success. We were in a position of strength and opening the purse strings for top quality players would/could have kept the team going longer. We got to the point where we were approaching real elite status and went in the wrong direction. We should have spent to keep us there and we didn’t. We had the team, we just needed to spend. Funnily enough, it cost us more in the long run because we allowed the team to break up and it cost us dearly. If we had gone into the red, like nearly every team on earth now, we maybe would be in a totally different place now.

    1. Just to back up what i was saying, at one point in the years after the invincibles, we had a well documented 125 to 150 mil in cash.

  2. One of Arsene’s biggest problems, Reggie, was his honesty and his second biggest was that he thought others would be just as honest and stick to the fair play rules.

    I don’t agree that chelsea didn’t have anything to do with what happened after 2004 however, just as I don’t believe city didn’t effect what followed in the PL… or that Newcastle won’t change the dynamics in the future.

    There is also the Emirates to consider and that could be where we went in the wrong direction, but no-one had anticipated the Russian, oil and, indeed, the American dollar influence on our game.

    That squad of players were a once in a lifetime set of players and those of us lucky enough to see them play will always compare them to what followed – unfairly to the players that followed unfortunately.

    Also, it was the cross that Arsene had to shoulder and he never quite made it back to those heady days, where The Arsenal became so admired throughout the footballing world.

    1. But ken he didn’t spend or do anything to try and counter Chelsea. Did he give in? He blatantly refused to spend money. He went in the wrong direction, instead of backing what he had, he tried to turn Arsenal into Barcelona with inferior players and he changed all the strategies and things that worked for him. He kept money in the bank instead of spending it.

      1. I think Ken and you are both right, Arsene tried to play to the rules
        Of expenditure (which is admirable) but put us back as a club and team. I think the first crack was when Cole joined a direct rival in Chelsea (sent a terrible message) to the players. But this is where I think the biggest mistakes were made at the time (not in hindsight) was buying players like Arshvin, Gervinho etc. they just did not have the right character of the Vieira, Henry’s , pires etc.
        And fans was dismayed because he simply did not understand we needed athletic combative nasty players to complement the likes of Cesc, Nasri and heleb…..just as a side note, I think our team was closer to Liverpool of late rather than City but with a bit more flair. When I think back to those days we was more vulnerable, compared to City which made us more exciting imo…..🤔

      2. @Reggie
        That was the main problem I had with AW. He had the vision and strategy, but relied on inferior players to execute them. He became stubborn, believing that those very same. players would one day come good. By the time he realised they weren’t, it was too late. He was bogged down trying to claw his way out of the hole he dug…But, for all his faults, I still admire the man. Always will.

        1. NY_Gunner, have you considered that Chelsea were buying the top players, followed by City, while we were paying for the Emirates?
          I remember we were about to buy Mata, then Chelsea offered more, both to the club and player and it was accepted.
          Also, cast your mind back to when city started spending their money – what club did they raid? The Arsenal, meaning we were continually changing the team and chasing players that those two clubs didn’t want.

      3. Thats not really true he said that before Emirates bank loan was secured he needed to extend contract and arsenal needed to be in top four a few years in 5 years.If that didnt happend Henry stays probably and even if he didnt new signings would have helped win a title beetween 2006-10
        they almost won it with Eduardo that year ffs.And maybe Van Persie stays
        club position completely changes for 2010s…
        Also Wenger said that doing that whole Emirates switch is his biggest mistake in his life and he wouldnt have done it again.

        1. The 07/08 team was one of my favourites, and we really should have won the league that season (which is crazy when you look at utds squad at the time). Had eduardo’s injury not happened, I believe we’d have walked the title. We ended up with adebayor as our only proper forward for too many matches, which wasn’t enough to get us over the line.
          After that season, flamini left (amazing player before he left for Milan and got himself injured), and then the others started leaving and we never replaced them adequately. We also changed our formation to 433, which wasn’t always the best for the players we had imo. It was from 2008 onwards that the real decline started. I don’t buy into the idea we couldn’t have – players like eduardo, Hleb, kolo, sagna and adebayor were all hidden gems wenger and his team unearthed that made us a truly competitive side. Why didn’t we continue to make those kinds of signings?

          1. I would add the 2010/2011 team, which was a really good side as well but again we picked up injuries at the wrong time, Walcott and Fabregas both missed the Carling cup final and RVP got injured scoring the equiliser but we still shouldn’t have lost to Birmingham regardless. Up to that point I think we were only a point behind Man utd in the League table but after that cup final defeat we badly collapsed and proceed to get knocked out the Fa cup semi-final to Man utd and CL to Barca. However I still regard 2015-2016 season as the biggest missed opportunity.

            1. Was that the season when we had fabregas, Nasri, Walcott and RVP? They were extremely formidable when in the same lineup (and great to watch!), but we couldn’t get them on the same pitch often enough. I think that was the year fabregas had 15 goals and 15 assists in the league – fantastic, but even he had a few injuries through the season.
              Personally, I don’t believe we ever had a team that was really good enough to win the title since 2008 – some great players in attack, but never the quality from the team as a whole. We kept signing poor or unsuitable defenders and CMs

              1. Yeah that attacking quartet backed up by Wilshere and Diaby in Midfield was really good. I think central defense was the main weakness that season, Johan Djourou springs to mind and in 07/08 we did have a 5 point lead with a game in hand so I make you right 👍🏾

                1. Cheers! Diaby and wilshere were great but famously always injured! I actually really liked Song as well, but i think he was too often paired with denilson who was too often just didn’t turn up – I’m not sure if all those players were prominent at the same time though.
                  With the cbs, I was thinking more of players like vermaelen and mertesacker – undoubtedly talented, but i never thought TV was good enough defensively to take us to a league title, and mert was just too slow but far too play in our attacking system. Just my opinion – I know both are quite popular. (again-I’m not entirely sure in which years all these players joined!)

                2. Also thought wilshere would have had a great career if he’d stayed as a RM in the old 442 formation – he was kind of like roskisky or hleb, and it might have saved him, being out of the line of fire in the middle of the pitch. Rosicky used to play cm before joining arsenal – maybe that affected him as well…

  3. Here’s a list of what Arsene spent from the 03/04 season until the 12/13 season as per the bleacherreport web site :

    03/04 £20,500,000
    04/05 £04,500,000
    05/06 £36,900,000
    06/07 £06,400,000
    07/08 £17,700,000
    08/09 £36,550,000
    09/10 £10,000,000
    10/11 £14,500,000
    11/12 £54,150,000
    12/13 £48,000,000

    So, three seasons where he spent less than £10k – three seasons where he spent less than £20k and four seasons where he spent £20k plus up to £54+k.

    The immediate season after Arsene’s thoughts regarding his best squad of players, was his lowest spend, so you are correct there Reggie, but the following season was his third biggest in the ten years I have set out.

    The site also gives the names of the players bought in… interesting reading.

    I still maintain that Chelsea, City, Emirates and fair play were more of a factor than any thing else… only my personal opinion remember.

    1. Thanks for that ken. I just think his philosophy on finance was commendable but as we grew in stature our ambition should have got bigger. Having strict financial restrictions, mainly put on by us, we limited our chance of progress. It was often said the stadium needed paying off but my understanding was, it was being paid off by organised sponsorship. We accumulated a large amount of cash in the bank and that turned out to be a waste. I also think he changed his philosophy on the style we played for all the wrong reasons. A shame in hindsight.

      1. All there you mentioned was owners fault.They didnt want to spend…And Barcelona copying was just silly way to adapt and with rarely great signings it couldnt even work.

    2. Interesting breakdown but I think you got your ‘k’s and ‘m’s mixed up 😉
      Some amazing value signings were made in the earlier years you listed, but i don’t think that was the case in the later years. I think that was one of the big issues. The others spending more money became an excuse, when wenger had shown previously he could find quality players without spending to the same degree. We could have been better.

  4. Was someone paid by someone not to hire the right talent and make us uncompetitive (I meant the EPL /UCL tile and not the Emirates cup and the “Top Four Trophy” Was someone paid by someone to just give up? Did someone receive something for letting go our best players? So that the competition could be weakened?
    The only problem with Mr. Wenger was his stupidity to think he knew everything living on the false pretext of a few dudes called “Arsene Knows Best” and his inability to learn/change. Had he to change as per the situation, we would would be champs.
    Just an example, Ivan G. transformed ACM from a mid table team to the SerieA champs, why could he not do the same here? Was not allowed to do so ? By someone? Who?
    Lies, and more lies. Someone who said he would “honour his contract and resign a season early?” Thank goodness we are relieved seeing the smirk on that face every week after every loss or battering. Thank you Ivan for doing what was right. Thank you Emery for showing that we could make it to the EL finals only to be let down by a clique from the erstwhile regime to protect that stooge from being forgotten or criticized for his naivety.

  5. I wonder how many of our current squad would have a place in that team .
    Maybe saka and Martinelli on the bench
    Different breed of players back then .
    Greatest side I’ve seen in the PL

    1. Agree Dan, yes maybe Saka, Martinelli, Jesus, Tierney and Saliba make the squad or team. A great team but allowed to dispurse too easily.

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