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October 22, 2020

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Arsene Wenger names surprise choice for toughest team his Arsenal side ever faced

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Arsene Wenger remembers some bruising contests against Wimbledon (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger has picked out the Wimbledon side of the late 1990s as the toughest he ever faced as Arsenal manager.

Wenger encountered every kind of opponent possible in his epic stint in charge of the Gunners, which ran from 1996-2018 and saw the Frenchman win three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups.

However, it was not his closest domestic rivals of Manchester United and Chelsea, or his Champions League foes like Barcelona and Bayern Munich that Wenger remembers as his toughest adversaries.

Instead, it was the notorious Wimbledon side of the ’90s that springs to mind for the 70-year-old.

Asked who his toughest opponents were with Arsenal, Wenger told the BBC:Wimbledon when I first came to England’

Wenger struggled against the Crazy Gang in his first season in charge of Arsenal, drawing away and losing at home to his London rivals.

Vinnie Jones, who personified the intense physical nature of the Wimbledon side at the time, scored in both games as the team under Joe Kinnear finished eighth in the Premier League.

Wenger learned how to deal with the Crazy Gang, winning four, drawing one and losing one of his remaining six clashes with them in the Premier League before WImbledon were relegated in 2000.

Wimbledon could have proved to be a real thorn in the side for Wenger as Arsenal were on course for a third straight failure against them in December 1997.

The Gunners were struggling with four defeats from their last six games and floundering in sixth in the table when they were goalless with the Crazy Gang in the second half.

There was a floodlight failure, causing the game to be abandoned, and Arsenal then went 18 matches unbeaten, including Wenger’s first win over Wimbledon as they won the Premier League title.

MORE: Arsene Wenger names two toughest players his Arsenal teams ever faced

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