Recalling Rémi: Garde joins Arsenal, 1996

Today Arsène Wenger and Rémi Garde will face each other as Premier League managerial opponents for the first time when Arsenal meet Rémi’s new club, Aston Villa. This marks a significant point in the story of the Wenger’s 19 year affair with the English game, because as we will discuss, Rémi represents Wenger’s earliest influence at Arsenal.

Rémi Garde’s entry for the 1999 Panini album (Credit: @OldSchool Panini)

Rémi famously arrived at Arsenal aged 30 from Strasbourg on the same day as Patrick Vieira, 14 August 1996. Although they are hailed as Arsène’s first signings, Wenger did not actually join the club from Nagoya Grampus Eight until over a month later, on 30 September 1996. In fact, both signings were made on his recommendation.

ArseWeb’s rumour entry for 15 August 1996 provides a fascinating insight into the sentiment prior to Wenger’s announcement: the signing of the two Frenchmen added weight to the rumours that were circulating about his impending appointment. In a strange twist of fate the rumour entry for that day then mentions that Arsenal were being linked with Tim Sherwood, the very man Rémi has replaced as manager of Aston Villa:

In addition Remi Garde said something rather revealing:
“I’m glad to be signing for a club like Arsenal and working with Arsene Wenger.”
We are also still being linked with Tim Sherwood. The Mirror claims that a £4million deal is being finalised.

Rémi recalls the initial absence of Wenger, but that they were already in regular contact:

“I spent more time on the phone than face to face because as you will remember he was still in Japan. I was at the Colney training centre. He called me every night to have news and find out about how it was going in the training sessions and everything.”

This adds weight to the idea that Garde (fluent in English and his native French) was brought in as an ‘inside man’ for Wenger, allowing him to gauge rapport within the dressing room, adding an experienced Francophone ally to a mostly traditional English Arsenal team, easing the transition and inclusion of other ‘Continental’ players he was adding to the squad.

Rémi’s arrival at Arsenal did make a big impression on the players at the time, as Martin Keown comments:

“I remember when Remi Garde first arrived…you could say it was the beginning of a French revolution at the club…We watched these arrivals with great interest…you could not fail to be impressed by him and the other French players Wenger brought in. I remember training with them at the gym and thinking: ‘These guys are serious professionals. They mean business.’”

ArseWeb documented Garde’s debut, in a match report by Derek Brownjohn for the three-nil win over Leeds United at Highbury in October 1996:

“Remi Garde made his long awaited debut with about 10 minutes left, coming on for the injured Wright (a slight groin strain apparently which should only keep him out of training for a couple of days), to complete a thoroughly satisfactory day for the Highbury faithful.”

Rémi replaced Ian Wright in the eightieth minute, and was rated half a point higher that Steve Morrow in the report for the day:

“Morrow 6.0 Probably not fair to judge him on only about 10 minutes.

Garde 6.5 Ditto, though he looked to have a good confident touch.”

Garde went on to win a league winner’s medal in 1997/98, after which he announced his retirement, only to renege. He continued for another season, until finally retiring in June 1999, having been out since that February with an injury.

In total, Rémi made 43 Arsenal appearances, including 16 as a substitute. He was always a ‘squad player’, but his arrival and departure marked important moments of transition: the start and end of Arsène’s Generation 1.0 team. It was Generation 2.0 who would go on to win the 2002 double and form the foundation for the ‘Invincibles’ team of 2004.

Garde became a pundit, and subsequently worked his way up from coach to become manager at Lyon in June 2011. He left at the end of the 2013/2014 season, and took a sabbatical before joining Aston Villa on 2 November 2015.

Wenger, and his old colleague Gérard Houllier (also once of Villa), played a part in advising Garde to take the role at Villa Park. On joining Rémi reminisced about Arsenal, and Wenger’s legacy:

“I remember the club at Arsenal 20 years ago without training facilities, without a modern stadium like they have today…All this has to be credited to Arsène…A football club is not only the results you get today but also how you will build for the future for yourself or for another manager for or another chairman or owner.”

Clearly, Garde still retains great respect for his former boss. By the close of today, we’ll find out whether mentor was able to outmatch the master.

In Contrast: Two different results, two different Fabregas performances

There was one clear contrast between the Newcastle and Wolverhampton games, which revealed the difference between a 1-0 defeat and a 2-0 win. That contrast was Cesc Fabregas.

Fabregas had one of his worst ever performances in an Arsenal shirt against a determined Newcastle side on Sunday, and that game ended in defeat. Of course there are more factors than just Cesc, but his performances are a fascinating strand of this story.

Against Newcastle Cesc misplaced almost 27% of his passes during the game, and this epitomised the way Arsenal played as a team on the day. In the end the team found little rhythm or flow, and were beaten deservedly.

Continue reading “In Contrast: Two different results, two different Fabregas performances”

The Results – Run-in predictions for Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea: Did they work?

As the final few games of the season approached in May I attempted to analyse the possible results and predict an outcome to the title race. Now in June, with the season well and truly behind us, it seems a good point to dissect the results and have a look at what actually happened in those last few games.

The original prediction was based on the last eight games Arsenal had to play, and compared the individual records against each team and the final eight games of each season. These methods both provided a result of 15.8 points from eight games, which would have put us on 80 points at the end.

In reality Arsenal achieved 75 points, and so actually fell short of the prediction by 5 points. A massive amount in real terms. Meaning we took 11/18 points or 61%.

Continue reading “The Results – Run-in predictions for Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea: Did they work?”

Premier League Run-in: The Stats for Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal’s Last 5 Games

The last 5 games of the League are going to decide the season, here we attempt to make sense of the stats from the past 4 years to understand the run-ins for Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal.

My previous statistical analysis of Arsenal’s run-in predicted that we would take something like 16 points from our last 8 games, or 65.7% of the points available.

Continue reading “Premier League Run-in: The Stats for Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal’s Last 5 Games”

Arsenal’s ‘easy run in’ may not be so easy – The real facts

The consensus in football at the moment is that Arsenal’s final eight games are going to be much softer than Man Utd or Chelsea’s. I do agree that on paper they are easier fixtures, and Man Utd and Chelsea have to play each other and Liverpool – all games where points can be won.

On the other hand the so called smaller teams are where we have struggled to pick up the points in the past. This season so far has seen Arsenal improve their consistency in results against these sort of teams – the wins against Stoke and Hull away showed the team’s ability to dig deep. Here we look at the historical data and see whether Arsenal’s run in really is as easy as it seems.

Continue reading “Arsenal’s ‘easy run in’ may not be so easy – The real facts”

Can Arsenal win the Premier League with the current squad?

Arsenal will go into next season believing they can win the Premier League. This has to be the case. They are a huge club who have won the title before, so why shouldn’t they aim for the highest prize possible in English football?

The reality though, is that no trophy has been won in four years. With this in mind, have Arsene Wenger’s current squad got a Premier League title in them? Can they overcome the power of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea and win the league?

Before we answer this ourselves, it is worth highlighting the views of Manuel Almunia. This is because the Arsenal keeper has revealed that ‘youth doesn’t give you titles’, suggesting that Arsenal’s youngsters cannot win the league this year.

The Spaniard then went on to say that in order to go ‘a step further’ and win the Premier League, the squad needs to be ‘braver in big games’ and that the club needs to ‘make extra effort’ to make the team more competitive. Basically, he thinks that youth on its own isn’t quite the answer.

To be honest, I can see what Almunia is saying here. He believes that Arsenal can’t keep using the youth tag as an excuse for failing to achieve major honours. Yes, Wenger has a young squad, but they need to stand up and be counted. They need to show that they are wise beyond their years.

Cesc Fabregas is a classic example of what young players at Arsenal should aim for. At just 22-years-old, he has become one of the main leaders of this Arsenal team and acts like one of the most experienced members of the squad.

He thrives on responsibility and he loves to lead by example. For someone of his age, this is quite extraordinary and extremely valuable to the Gunners. What Wenger needs next season though is for more players to take on this role.

Theo Walcott, Denilson, Alex Song, Nicklas Bendtner and Gael Clichy are all young players, but they need to start maturing beyond their years if Arsenal are to win the Premier League. They need to realise that they are not only at Arsenal to develop as a footballer, but to win trophies for the club.

As for the answer to the initial question – Can Arsenal win the Premier League with the current squad? – it is yes. As long as a couple of key individuals raise their game and take on that extra piece of responsibility, there is no reason why Arsenal can’t go on a good run and conquer all.

What are your thoughts on this and Almunia’s comments? Can Arsenal’s youngsters win the league next year or is it going to be another season of development?

By Thomas Rooney

Portsmouth 0 – 3 Arsenal Highlights: The second team gets a run out

Portsmouth 0 – 3 Arsenal: Bendtner 13, Bendtner 41 pen, Vela 56. Highlights from the Arsenalist

Comfortable is what you could call this result, and the 3 points have now secured 4th place in the league, and Champions League qualifiers next year. We are now unbeaten in 21 league games, and have equalled a club record scoring at least 3 goals in the last 5 away games.

Arsenal’s youngsters dominated for most of the game, although Portsmouth did have their chances to even the scores. Wenger rested most of the first team, including Almunia, opting for Djourou and Song in central defence – Vela and Ramsey also got starts, whilst Arshavin captained the side.


“We were sharp, composed and mobile with a great attitude.”

The changes were obviously made in order to give as many players as possible a rest before the crucial Champions League game on Tuesday. Walcott and Bendtner were both taken off in the second half – Sagna and Song were the only players from Wednesday’s team to play 90 minutes.

Randall, Bischoff and Merida got their chances in the second half as subs and the team looked impressive, by the end of the game we were in complete control.

Bendtner’s first goal was a header from Arshavin’s cross which David James dropped and let itno the back of the net. That will add more weight to the fans calling for Almunia to get his chance in the England squad.

Then Arshavin was brought down just before half time in the box, and a penalty was given although Arsh himself thought it was a clean tackle. Bendtner slotted home, and then in the second half Vela added another.

The only other event of note was Portsmouth’s red card – Arshavin was through on goal and Pamarot the last defender took him down. The resulting free kick came to nothing, but Pompey were down to 10 men with little chance of getting anything from this game.

The visiting Arsenal support was in high spirits, there is a little hope that we can beat Man Utd on Tuesday, and now that the league position is secured, the Champions League is what will make or break this season. It’s going to take a more composed performance than the first leg to go through, but we still have an outside chance of making it.

Arsenal Injuries ahead of Portsmouth and Man Utd

The Arsenal squad has been living under a plague of injuries this season and this week has been no exception.

Eduardo is out for the next three weeks with a groin problem, which means his season is basically over.

Silvestre, who I thought performed ok against Man Utd also has a groin injury as does Van Persie. Gael Clichy is still ruled out with a back problem too.

Central defence is now down to the bare bones – Toure and Djourou will have to start in central defence against Portsmouth, with Alex Song the next choice.

In midifled we are ok, but Wenger will rest some players ahead of the Man Utd game on Wednesday.

Fourth place is almost ours, and the Champions League is the biggest competition for us by far this season.

It is a huge challenge to go into this second leg 1-0 down. The strikeforce is also looking thin, although Arshavin can obviously play in the league.

Diaby can play against Portsmouth, but he shouldn’t play on Wednesday – he doesn’t contribute a great deal to the team, and until his attitude changes he will always be a liability in my eyes.

Expect changes this weekend, but I hope we have the quality to see off the Portsmouth team this weekend.

Arsenal – Middlesbrough. Champions League prelude

It’s a gorgeous day in London, great day for football.

I’m making my way to the Grove for an old fashioned breakfast before the game. It looks like we may rest a few players ahead of the Champions League game against Man U. They are looking like they will win the Prem after yesterday’s 5-2 win.

Meanwhile we have nothing to play for except the CL, so Wenger should focus on that. We only need 5 points to secure CL qualification, and it looks a little late to make up the ground to 3rd place.

The team should be up for it to day, we still need to retain focus, after all we have conceded sloppy goals to weaker teams at home this season. Middlesbrough are fighting for survival, so those who are picked need to give their all this afternoon!

Liverpool 4 – 4 Arsenal Highlights from a mental night at Anfield

Liverpool 4 – 4 Arsenal: Arshavin 35, Torres 48, Benayoun 55, Arshavin 66, Arshavin 69, Torres 71, Arshavin 89, Benayoun 92. Highlights thanks to the Arsenalist.

Image courtesy of wonker

A scorcher of a game at Anfield produced eight goals, and four came from none other than Andrey Arshavin.The game was nearly ours when Arshavin scored his 4th in the 89th minute. Anfield must have been thinking it was 1989 all over again, but Benayoun grabbed a point for Liverpool in injury time.

Arsenal defended abysmally, and because of that we conceded easily – the left side got mauled – Liverpool were pounding away at us and we found it hard to pass the ball. Gibbs and Silvestre looked weak at times and that is to be expected, and Sagna was at fault for Liverpool’s first equaliser.

On the other hand we were clinical in attack – 4 shots on target and 4 goals.

Arshavin took his first goal, slotting in a Fabregas cross in the first half, after Nasri played him through. Benayoun then equalised early in the second half after Sagna cleared the ball across his own penalty area to Kuyt.

Torres made it 2 – 1 and it seemed that the game was lost! However, Arshavin then capitalised on slack Liverpool defending to make it 2-2, and then made it 3-2!

Torres made it three all after fooling Silvestre to gain more space. But in the 89th minute Walcott countered from a corner as Liverpool committed men forward. He took the ball forward and played Arshavin through on goal and he coolly took his 4th, making it 4-3.

When Arshavin made it 4-3 on the 89th minute I thought the game was ours, 1989 style. Up for Grabs now moment, Kenny Dalglish vacant stare moment. It wasn’t to be. I don’t know how the 4th assistant found 5 minutes added time, but it was inevitable the way Liverpool were pressing our shaky defence that they would get another goal.

Benayoun headed home after shambolic clearing from Arsenal allowed Liverpool to get a cross in injury time.

In any case it was a great game, highly entertaining, although I was disappointed that we never really got going. Arshavin more than made up for it with his performance – he really is a very, very special player.

This keeps the unbeaten run going. Wenger said that 3 points would have been better than one but in all fairness we were very lucky to come away with a point. It was the induvidual brilliance of Arshavin that got us the point.

The first time that 4 goals have been scored at Anfield in the league since the 1940s and who else could do it? What a rollercoaster of a game! How I’m wishing that Arshavin could play in the Champions League.

Get the Arshavin Wallpaper here

Watch all of Arshavin’s goals at Zenit here.