History – How Arsene Wenger won his first double with Arsenal in 1997/98

Arsene Wenger’s first double

By the end of Arsene Wenger’s second season at Arsenal he had won their second double after winning the Premier League and the 1997/98 FA Cup against Newcastle United at Wembley.

The Gunners commenced the 1997/98 season going undefeated for the first three months from their first match in August to their final game in October. Arsenal drew their first match of the campaign fighting back from one goal down to Leeds United, Ian Wright netted the equaliser before scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory over Coventry City two days later. Arsenal finished off August with two consecutive draws, Dennis Bergkamp grabbed a hat-trick against Leicester City in a 3-3 dual, and the final draw was a 0-0 against arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Arsenal picked up nine out of a possible nine point in September, sideswiping Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea and West Ham United. Wrighty was on fire again finding a hat-trick against Wanderers in a 4-1 walk in the park, and later Nigel Winterburn netted the winner in a late 3-2 victory away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before The Gunner pulled The Hammers to pieces 4-0 thanks to efforts from Bergkamp, Overmars (2) and Wright from the spot. In their last match of the month Everton stopped Arsenal from achieving the full three points at Goodison Park, despite being 2-1 up through goals from Wright and Overmars. Danny Cadamarteri stole The Toffees show to finish 2-2.

After annihilating Barnsley 5-0 at the beginning of October all thanks to strikes from Bergkamp (2), Parlour, David Platt and Wright, Arsenal dropped off for their last matches drawing 0-0 twice both to Crystal Palace away and Aston Villa at Highbury.

The opening 90 minutes of November witnessed The Gunners taste the jaws of defeat for the first time being beaten fair and square at Derby County 3-0 with all goals conceded in the second half. Arsenal returned to winning ways a game later beating Manchester United 3-2 thanks to Platt grabbing the winner in the remaining seven minutes at home. Despite this crucial win The Gunners form slipped again bv when Sheffield Wednesday ram shackled Arsenal 2-0 before Liverpool came to Highbury winning 1-0 after Steve McManaman scored ten minutes into the second half.

The Gunners travelled to St. James Park in early December desperate for the three points which they achieved in a narrow 1-0 affair versus Newcastle United thanks to a first half strike from Wright. After losing a week later 3-1 to Blackburn Rovers Arsenal remained undefeated for the rest of the season from Boxing Day till their final two matches of the season in May. Within 48 hours of The Gunners 2-1 win over Leicester City on Boxing Day a 1-1 draw was achieved at White Hart Lane in the final North London Derby of the season, Parlour secured a point with his equaliser inside the 62nd minute.

In January Arsenal hosted Leeds United eager to get revenge after the earlier draw against them on the first day of the season. Overmars found the back of the net twice despite Floyd Hasselbaink equalising between both goals to win 2-1.  The Gunners picked up four points in their final six with a hard fought 2-2 draw at Coventry City before knocking out Southampton 3-0 on the final day of the month, three goals were scored within five minutes with two of them being netted within the same minute through Nicolas Anelka and Captain Tony Adams.

February only saw two matches contested during the month which Arsenal triumphed in both. Stephen Hughes dispatched two shots in the first half as The Gunners oversaw Chelsea 2-0, before narrowly beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at Highbury.

March proved tough for Arsenal with five games being played.  Despite fighting hard in their first toss up only a 0-0 draw would be the outcome against West Ham.  It was then “1-0 to The Arsenal” for the rest of the games during the month versus Wimbledon, Manchester United away, in the most important three points of the league campaign, Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers.

In April Arsenal grabbed 15 goals in five matches sealing 15 points out of a possible 15 available.  The standout matches were a 5-0 obliteration of Wimbledon where five different Gunners found the back of the net involving Adams, Overmars, Bergkamp, Emanuel Petit and Wreh proving to be Arsenals biggest win of the league campaign, alongside the earlier 5-0 beating of Barnsley. Only two days beforehand Blackburn Rovers were whipped with crackers from Bergkamp, Parlour (2) and Anelka.

With only three games left of the season to go Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal welcomed Everton to Highbury to lift the league title in a 4-0 dismantling, through efforts from Overmars (2), Adams and future West Ham manager Slaven Bilic. In the final 180 minutes of the campaign Arsenal, let loose from their title winning pressure all season, being on the receiving end of a 4-0 humiliation at Liverpool before Aston Villa won 1-0.

Arsenal still had the chance of winning the double a feat they hadn’t won since 1971 which they would eventually achieve in the Cup in May.

In the New Year Arsenal held their FA Cup Third round tie at home to Port Vale in the second tier of English football. In one of the most shocking results of the tie Vale held up at Highbury witnessing a 0-0 draw played out between them and The Gunners.  In the replay at Vale Park almost two weeks later the match went to extra-time, Bergkamp scored the opener after 100 minutes before Simon Corden took the tie to penalties with his 1-1 equaliser. Vale made it even harder for the side on course for Premier League victory, Hughes scored from the spot in the 3-4 victory.

The Fourth Round witnessed Arsenal travel to The Riverside stadium to face Middlesborough who were a league below them in then the First Division. After Overmars and Parlour put Arsenal two goals up to the good inside 20 minutes Boro pulled one back through once Gunner Paul Merson in the second half, but The North Londoners held onto the 2-1 win.

In the fifth round Arsenal hosted Premier League side Crystal Palace who kept The Gunners at bay in a 0-0 stalemate.  At Selhurst Park in the replay the win was secured by the halftime break, Anelka and Bergkamp both netted before Bruce Dyer intimidated Arsenal with a consolation goal regardless of the eventual 2-1 win.

Arsenal found themselves unexpectedly a goal down in the quarters to West Ham after Ian Pierce put The Hammers into the lead early on. Arsenal bounced back with Bergkamp sooner than later, but The Gunners couldn’t dismiss a third replay in the Cup after the 1-1 draw.  The Hammers forced Arsenal down to the wire again after they thought they were on their way to victory with six minutes to go of the 90 minutes when West Hams John Hartson made it 1-1 taking the tie to extra-time.   The game couldn’t be sorted out in 120 minutes so it was penalties which would have to sort the two Cup battlers out; Adams grabbed the winning goal in the 4-3 shootout in favour of Arsenal.

Up at Birmingham Arsenal squeezed their way past Wolves 1-0 in the semi-finals after an early goal was slotted in from Chris Wreh on 12 minutes. The Gunners were now only 90 minutes away from the double!

At Wembley with nearly 80,000 fans watching, Arsenal walked past Newcastle United 2-0 who were fighting for their first major honour since winning the Cup in 1955. Overmars and Anelka netted the goals before Arsenal ran laps round the National stadium handsomely with the Cup just having clinched the double.

Arsene Wenger would later guide The Gunners to their third and last double four years later in 2002.

Liam Harding

Tags 1997/98 Arsene Wenger Double


  1. Extra mention for Anelka & Wreh for their efforts during the frequent absences of Bergkamp & Wright through injury & suspension.

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