On This Day: Arsenal’s First Premier League Title (3 May 1998)
What happened on this day in football history? Today, we look back at Arsène Wenger’s first Premier League title at Arsenal on 3 May 1998.
On this day in 1998, Arsène Wenger led Arsenal to their first Premier League title in his first full season at the club.
Having joined in October 1996 following a spell in charge of Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight, Wenger’s arrival was sneered upon by many, with his new-age methods (to English football, anyway) mocked and held in disdain… until he began to achieve success.
Manchester United and their manager Alex Ferguson had largely hogged the success in the Premier League seasons before then, winning four of the five league titles from 1992 onwards, as well as two FA Cup trophies. But Wenger was to change the landscape and rattle Ferguson’s cage.
Manchester United may have won the 1996-97 title after Wenger joined in October of that season, but across his tenure in that campaign, he led Arsenal to 51 points in 30 games – just eight fewer than United’s 59. They were catching United up, before going on to win the title race in the Frenchman’s first full season.
The seven seasons between 1997-98 and 2003-04 would see Man Utd and Arsenal hog the Premier League titles, with Ferguson leading United to four and Wenger winning three with the Gunners.
With Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Everton at Highbury on 3 May 1998, Arsenal won the title with two games to spare. In doing so, Wenger became the first ever non-British manager to win an English top-flight league title since the inaugural campaign in 1888-89.
Wenger’s methods and success opened the door for other foreign coaches to head to the Premier League. Not only was Wenger the first French manager to be appointed in the Premier League, but he was also just the third non-British or Irish manager to take charge of a match in the competition within the opening five seasons – the others being Osvaldo Ardiles at Spurs between June 1993 and November 1994 and Ruud Gullit at Chelsea in May 1995 to February 1998.
Since this title win 25 years ago, 16 of the teams to win the Premier League title have been coached by a non-British manager. The other nine have been Scotsman Ferguson and Man Utd.
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