Arsene Wenger’s first ever line-up 25 years ago today (And a Wrighty double)

Who remembers Wenger’s first ever game as Arsenal coach – 25 years ago today

Arsene Wenger took charge of his first ever game as Arsenal manager 25 years ago today. The game was played at Ewood Park and it was a comfortable introduction to England for Le Prof against a Blackburn side who had not won any of their first 8 games that season (1996/97), and were rock bottom of the Carling Premier League with just 3 points.

Arsenal’s back line that day of Dixon, Keown, Bould, Adams and Winterburn would go on to become one of our most iconic defences of all time. Of course David Seaman was between the sticks.

It was Patrick Vieira’s second game for the Gunners after making his debut against Watford the week before (with Pat Rice in charge), and he was the only “foreigner” in the team, unless you class John Hartson as one, being Scottish!

Vieira’s partners in midfield were Paul Merson and David Platt, and the two forwards were Hartson and the prolific Ian Wright.

Wrighty settled our nerves as early as the third minute, and doubled our lead six minutes into the second half to make it an easy game for Wenger to start his career in England as Arsenal’s first ever foreign manager (Unai Emery was the second of course).

We went on to finish in Third place that season, and the rest, as they say, is history!

So here was the starting line-up 25 years ago day…


Dixon, Keown, Bould, Adams, Winterburn,

Platt, Vieira, Merson,

Wright, Hartson

Subs: Parlour (replaced Hartson 85), Shaw, Linighan, Rose, Lukic

If you fancy watching Ian Wright’s two brilliant goals, click this link…

Tags first game Wenger


  1. John Hartson was Welsh I do believe.
    Great start for Patrick Vieira and Wrighty was his cheeky self, as he scored the two goals.
    Arsene Who??? 😂😂😂

    1. Ken- I will leave you to look this up. I was at Blackburn that day, but I’m sure Viera came off the bench at home to Sheffield Wednesday in a 4-1 home win when making his debut.

      1. Yeah I think you are right, I thought he came on as a sub. but straight away you could see he was so much bigger than the other midfielders and moved along the pitch effortlessly with those massive legs..why we never stuck to that formula of having a tall athletic midfielder I will never know…

      2. 14th May as a sub…. you are quite correct Phil and he was just as GoalDan describes him.
        What a player – he should be the next person honoured with a statue at the Emirates, once we have honoured the manager that made him such a magnificent club legend… Arsene Wenger.

  2. The great Arsene Wenger will return as a manager to face PSG in January!

    He’ll manage a much weaker team though, so the match will be very unbalanced. I hope I can see him manage a top team for several seasons, before he retires

  3. I was ten years old then and I would be sitted with my Dad listening to BBC news and only started watching epl games in the 2000s having started following Arsenal proper after the 98 world cup. Wrighty was quite famous , maybe because of his scoring I kept hearing his name mentioned all the time. I am lucky enough to have started supporting Arsenal in properly the most successful decade., And what a joy it was!

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