Mourinho arrival was ‘the beginning of the end’ for Wenger, claims Keown
Chelsea’s appointment of the now Manchester United boss in 2004 is considered to have been a turning point in the career of Arsenal’s outgoing manager
Arsene Wenger has one more Premier League meeting with Jose Mourinho to come, with the Manchester United boss considered by Martin Keown to have started “the beginning of the end” for Arsenal’s outgoing boss.
Back in 2004, the Portuguese arrived on British shores at Chelsea as a UEFA Cup and Champions League winner at Porto.
He quickly set about investing Roman Abramovich’s millions at Stamford Bridge and was able to construct a side which wrestled the Premier League crown away from the clutches of Manchester United and Arsenal.
The Gunners have been unable to get back on top of the domestic pile since, with Wenger’s running battles with Mourinho down the years often seeing him come off second best.
Former Arsenal defender Keown told the Daily Mail on that rivalry ahead of a final reunion at Old Trafford on Sunday: “Jose Mourinho became Arsene Wenger’s next big adversary and Wenger came off worse in that head-to-head.
“Mourinho coming in and winning those two Premier Leagues in 2005 and 2006 ultimately brought about the beginning of the end of Wenger’s supremacy in English football.
“His timing was perfect. He arrived at Chelsea with plenty of resources at his disposal and built a brilliant team. Arsenal finished second in 2005 and without the rise of Chelsea, Wenger probably would have won another Premier League title.
“I am sure both men will be eager to get one last victory over the other this weekend.”
Wenger has announced that his 22-year tenure at Arsenal will be brought to a close this summer, with the Frenchman preparing to walk away from a club that he has given so much to.
Filling his shoes will be no easy task, with Keown warning those in the running that they are going to have a tough challenge on their hands at Emirates Stadium.
He added: “The new manager will have to do the opposite of what Wenger did when he arrived in 1996.
“When Wenger arrived, he found a club where the emphasis was on limiting the opposition. The training sessions were very defensive and it was a case of ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’. It was all repetitive work on the training ground to the extent that you became bored with it.
“Wenger came in and made us much more creative. It was like a breath of fresh air. It felt like we had all become complete footballers. While Wenger’s emphasis is to play football, it feels as if some of the basics are no longer there in the defenders.
“When I returned to Arsenal in 1993, it was all about the defensive line. If you were involved in a situation to clear a ball, you had to recover and get back in that line.
“Laurent Koscielny has been at the club for a long time and Arsenal’s defenders should be taking their line off him. He should know where he needs to be and where the line needs to be but at times I do not think he does.
“While there are still negotiations to be done with certain players, the new manager will inherit good attacking players in Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette.
“What he needs to do is work with the defence and the protection it gets.”