Arsenal were the only club who challenged the dominance of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United team during the early part of the Premier League era. The Gunners didn’t pose much problems to Manchester United until the arrival of a certain Frenchman named Arsene Wenger in 1996.
Wenger was a relatively unknown quantity when he arrived on the shores of England despite winning the French league with AS Monaco plus managing successfully in the Japanese top flight. He was the catalyst for Arsenal who became a major threat to Ferguson and his players at Old Trafford.
Arsenal and Manchester United dominated Premier League football for the first 12 years. The two clubs won 11 from the 12 Premier League titles on offer with the only exception coming during the 1994/95 when Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish led Blackburn Rovers to the title.
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Wenger became the Arsenal manager in the opening weeks of the 5th Premier League season and didn’t have to wait for long to secure his first league title. He won the Premier League trophy in his first full season in the competition before winning two more league titles including the unprecedented unbeaten campaign during the 2003/04 season. Several players thrived under his management and were instrumental to those league titles as follows:
1. Dennis Bergkamp – He is regarded by a lot of football fans and stakeholders as the best foreign import in Premier League history. He was already an Arsenal player before the appointment of Arsene Wenger and was available for all the three league wins.
2. Patrick Vieira – The Frenchman was the first signing of the Arsene Wenger era at Arsenal and he more than lived up to expectations. Vieira took over the captain’s armband from Mr. Arsenal Tony Adams before leaving the team through the entire league season unbeaten during the 2003/04 campaign. He also has three Premier League titles alongside Dennis Bergkamp and fellow midfielder Ray Parlour.
3. Ray Parlour – Nicknamed the Romford Pele, Parlour was one of the unsung heroes in the Arsenal team. He was an important member of the Arsenal midfield through the three Premier League titles won under Arsene Wenger.