Arsenal before Arsène: What happened the season before Wenger arrived

The season in question was 1995-6, and the man in charge was Bruce Rioch.

As the previous article showed, Arsenal had been hunting in the lower leagues to try and find a man to take over from George Graham.  They found a man who had had a few run ins with those in the clubs he worked for, and who had achieved a limited amount of lower league success.

It is worth considering the team that Mr Rioch could put out.  It was, for the opening game at home to Middlesbrough…


Dixon Keown Adams Winterburn

Bould Platt

Merson Wright Bregkamp Parlour

My view is that this is one hell of a team, the result was a 1-1 draw.  As the season developed the line up remained much the same apart from occasional forays by Jensen and Helder.

There were some injury problems as time went by – Platt, Parlour, Bould, Adams all had time out.  Some unloved or unremembered players came in – Andy Linighan and Scott Marshall for example, but by and large the youth system wasn’t making an impact with new players.  Apart from Marshall there was Paul Dickov, Adrian Clarke, Paul Shaw, Matthew Rose, Stephen Hughes, Gavin McGowan – all members of the 1994 youth cup winning squad – but none made much of an impact – as far as I can remember (although of course that might just be me not remembering correctly.)

The side were ultimately undone by a dreadful spell of just two wins in 11 league games running from November to January and the FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United which came at the end of the run seemed to sum up all the problems.  There was a recovery, but just one win in the last five league games (when every point mattered in the attempt to get into Europe) meant there was not too much hope going into the next season.

As for the games that we all remember, Tottenham beat us 2-1 at their little place, and we drew 0-0 at home in April.

Our biggest problem seemed to be in scoring goals – just 49 from 38 league games – which is extraordinary when you consider the team had Wright and Bergkamp playing up front.  Dennis got 11 and Ian 15, and the next highest scorer was Merson with 5.

So what was Rioch doing falling out with Wright to the extent that he put in a transfer request?  It is impossible to know, although if you are driving around Cornwall and you see Mr Rioch you might like to ask him.


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7 Replies to “Arsenal before Arsène: What happened the season before Wenger arrived”

  1. So what is the point as we have goalscorers like Chamakh
    and Bendtner ,with skills and technique way superior to rubbish Walcott who has to play regularly while not scoring as there aren,t enough Englishmen at the Emirates
    great logic by fans who can,t see the real problems at
    Arsenal,to many overrated,overpaid players,the likes of Arshavin,Walcott,Sagna,Clichy,Gibbs,yet we blame Denils
    on,Diaby,Rosicky,Eboue,Bendtner and Chamakh for other players shortcomings,so much for supporters associatio
    ns when these very same supporters are half blind?

  2. The season before Arsene was horrible but what’s going on now? We have the talent, money and everything but the team is not delivering.

  3. Not pleased that you choose to dismiss Andy Linighan so easily, he is written into our history helping us win a Cup Final with a broken nose. More than Squid, Koncky and possibly DJ will ever achieve

  4. I think what Samuel is saying is, “Arsene Wenger got more out of these rubbish players than Bruce Rioch got out of those great players, which means Wenger is a far better manager, but I hate him so I’ll make a fool of myself on this blog.”

  5. Steve Bould in midfield !! Class act he may be but a midfielder he aint. Ray Parlour on the left wing ??? Here’s what Arsene did. He replaced Bould with Vieira, Parlour with Overmars, Platt with Petit and brought in Anelka in case Ian Wright left. The rest, as they say, is history. How great things once were.

  6. Totally agree with David’s comment. Ridiculous dismissal of Andy Linighan…how can someone that wins Arsenal the FA cup in the last minute of extra time be considered ‘unloved’ or ‘unremembered’??!

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