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Wenger’s long career worthy of celebration

Depending on your point of view (and loyalties), yesterday was an anniversary either worth celebrating or lamenting.

Arsène Wenger has been at the Arsenal helm for 20 years, which for many will predate your arrival on this Earth.

Sadly, I remember that time all too well and the fuss that was made over this nerdy looking Frenchman fresh from the football mecca of ... er ... Japan.

Coming into such an insular and self-congratulatory league (has anything changed?), the reaction was sniffy at best with many overlooking his achievements at Monaco.

To put the era into context, guys like David Pleat, Frank Clark and Joe Kinnear were still respected top-flight managers. Exactly.

There are plenty of articles out there this week that detail the impact Wenger had but, in short, anyone who can inspire Tony Adams to break through a defence and smash home a perfect half-volley must have some tricks up his sleeve.

There is a danger the frustrations of his second decade at Arsenal will overshadow what has been a remarkable career in North London.

But as someone who watched Arsenal under George Graham, Wenger's determination to showcase the beautiful part of the beautiful game should never be forgotten.

All games 11am unless stated
Tomorrow
Man United v Leicester City

8.30am

José Mourinho has not waited long before stamping his feet and demanding his ball back. The latest rant involved having a go at all the football “Einsteins” out there who have dared suggest he might have got it wrong recently.

Selection issues are rife: Wayne Rooney looks shot and Paul Pogba looks lost. After three defeats, answers are needed. Leicester appear to have renewed impetus but have not won at Old Trafford since 1998.

Prediction: 2-1

Bournemouth v Everton

Bournemouth will not be the last team to get a hiding from Manchester City but it is just their luck that they now come up against the other in-form team in the league.

Lukaku, Bolasie and Barkley are all hitting their stride, while Idrissa Gueye is fast becoming one of the signings of the summer.

Prediction: 1-3

Liverpool v Hull City

There is no doubt Liverpool can get up for the big games (just ask Chelsea) but there are worries that the squad fail to find the same energy or attacking incisiveness for the so-called lesser sides.

Hull, marshalled by the impressive Curtis Davies, will set up to defend. An important test for Jürgen Klopp's side.

Prediction: 2-1

Middlesbrough v Spurs

Middlesbrough's promising start to the season has been dampened somewhat by back-to-back defeats and they are unlikely to get any gifts from Spurs.

Harry Kane is out injured so Vincent Janssen must step up to the plate leading the line.

Prediction: 0-2

Stoke v West Brom

Tony Pulis celebrates his 1,000th game in management against the club where he had the most success. Stoke look all at sea so far and questions are being asked of Mark Hughes, who has plenty of talent to call upon.

WBA racked up a surprisingly goal-hungry 4-2 win over West Ham last weekend, so the smart money is on an away win. I reckon Stoke will dig out a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

Sunderland v Crystal Palace

Palace's new signings have given them the required lift and with back-to-back victories, the mood at Selhurst Park is more optimistic again.

Sunderland manager David Moyes is still wrestling with a substandard squad that has won only three of their last 42 games in the months of August and September.

Prediction: 0-2

Swansea v Manchester City

Sergio Agüero is back after his suspension, which will spell bad news for the Welsh side. Yaya Touré, it is safe to say, will not after Pep Guardiola gave his agent a public dressing down.

Francesco Guidolin is under pressure and faces a City side who have won all nine of their competitive matches under Guardiola.

Prediction: 0-3

Arsenal v Chelsea
1.30pm

Arsenal have failed to score in their past six games against Chelsea and have also failed to win their past five home meetings with their London rivals. Grim reading for Wenger.

Chelsea were outplayed for large parts of their home defeat to Liverpool but bounced back in the League Cup. History suggests it is hard to see a home win. Also, odds on Diego Costa getting sent off?

Prediction: 2-2

Sunday
West Ham v Southampton

Noon

After shipping 11 goals in their past three league games, the knives are out for West Ham manager Slaven Bilic. The new stadium is not clicking for the East Enders, who are struggling to live up to last season.

Southampton have been solid if unspectacular, although the consensus is they have been unlucky not to pick up more points.

Prediction: 2-2

Monday
Burnley v Watford

4pm

I hold my hands up to underestimating this Watford team. Wins over West Ham and Manchester United have silenced any doubters. Riding the crest of a wave, they have a great chance to make it three wins up north.

Prediction: 1-2

Still here: Wenger has spent two decades in the English game (Photograph by Frank Augstein/AP)

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Published September 23, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated September 23, 2016 at 7:52 am)

Wenger’s long career worthy of celebration

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