Chelsea v Arsenal: Ahead of 1,000th match Arsene Wenger claims biggest achievement is keeping club in Champions League

The Gunners have gone eight seasons without winning silverware

Arsene Wenger rejected the criticism of his eight seasons without a trophy and said today that his greatest achievement over 1,000 games in charge of Arsenal was keeping the club in the Champions League in the lean financial years when they funded the building of the Emirates Stadium.

The club’s chairman Sir Chips Keswick made a presentation to Wenger at the training ground, giving him a miniature cannon designed 125 years ago by the workers in the Woolwich Arsenal, the origins of the club in south-east London. In a short speech, Keswick said “long may you continue to lead us”, although there is no update on Wenger’s new contract.

Facing Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea tomorrow at Stamford Bridge, his 1,000th game in charge, Wenger said that he expected to be in charge beyond the end of the season when he is currently out of contract. It is more than half those 1,000 games since Wenger last claimed a trophy, the 2005 FA Cup, but the Arsenal manager said that his record was not subjected to the right scrutiny.

Wenger said: “If winning a trophy is winning the League Cup and finish 12th in the league, I think the most important thing for the quality of the club, of the management of the club, is the consistency of the achievement. After the trophies come and go, but I believe you see the quality of the management in the consistency of their achievement.

“If you finish in first place one year and then 12th, I don't believe that. The real quality of management is linked with consistency. Of course we want to win trophies, but I think if you look well at the consistency that we have shown in the last 15 or 17 years, and you compare with all other clubs, that is the most difficult thing to achieve. In individual finals it's great players who win you the games, and we have great players, so I'm confident we can win trophies.”

Wenger said that he was grateful for the club’s support over more than 17 years in charge but added that it had been reciprocated. “What I have done is with full commitment and with full loyalty to this club. This club has given me a chance but I think as well at an important period of the lifespan of this club, I have shown loyalty and have turned many things down, and accepted to work with restricted potential, knowing that I had to stay at the top of the game.

 

“I would just say I did that with full commitment. We are all only human beings, that means I certainly made mistakes, but I still think the consistency of our achievement shows that we have not made too many.”

Tomas Rosicky could miss tomorrow’s game with an “ankle problem”. Ryo Miyaichi is out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. Wenger said that none of the top four teams could deny that they were in the race to win the title.

“You cannot say they [Chelsea] are favourites or not, but they are amongst the teams who are fighting to win the Premier League, nobody can deny that.

“If you look at the table, what is very interesting is you have Manchester City, you have Chelsea, you have Liverpool and you have Arsenal. That has not happened for years to fight for the Premier League. That makes it really interesting. None of these four teams can say they are not going for it, that would be stupid.”

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<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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