Arsenal’s 10 Greatest Players of All Time

Healthy debate is the lifeblood of football, and grandiose topics such as Arsenal’s best ever players always stimulate good-natured discussion (*looks at ‘Football Twitter’, puts head under pillow*). Let’s dive in with your suggestions…

Sure, Pascal Cygan would have walked into that Milan side for the early nineties but did he play at Highbury long enough?

Yes, absolutely, Nelson Vivas reimagined what right-back play in Premier League was but isn’t greatness linked to longevity?

Nicolas Bendtner was/is a global icon but did he do it on a wet and windy night in Stoke?

Luckily enough, this list isn’t up to you. It’s up to the objective folk here at 90min.

Even better, there’s plenty of choices. Arsenal Football Club have had quite a few good players and they’ve won quite a lot to boot.

So without further ado, let’s crack on.


Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry

It’s always good to start with the king. Simply put – the greatest player the Premier League has ever seen. A prolific goalscorer with lightning pace, outrageous flair and brilliant interplay. 228 goals, 90 assists.

If God were designing a football player, after what the North Bank witnessed, Arsenal fans would probably say that Henry was the finished article. 


Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp

A polymath-level of footballing intelligence and a touch to make Dimitar Berbatov weep, Dennis Bergkamp revolutionised the Premier League. Along with Cantona, Juninho and the first brigade of quality foreign players, Bergkamp brought a level of technical ability and professionalism not seen before in this country.

A relentless perfectionist, Bergkamp propelled Arsenal to their first Premier League title in 97/98. He won PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year as Arsenal won their second League and Cup double. An 11-year career at the club, an Invincible and a statue outside the ground. Pure poetry in motion.


Liam Brady

Arsenal

Liam Brady or ‘Chippy’ was a player that could have played in any era. Brady dribbled the football like a slaloming Olympic skier and was quite possibly the man for whom the term ‘wand of a left peg’ was coined.

A perfect technique that led to many brilliant strikes, his peach against Spurs gets played before every home game. His only trophy was the 1979 FA final cup against Manchester United, but his seven years in the famous red were not alongside other iconic names.

Such was Brady’s talent, he left London in 1980 and took the famous Juventus number ten shirt in an era when foreign players in Serie A didn’t exist. Oh, and he won two Serie As in his two years there.


Tony Adams

Tony Adams

During Big Tone’s 669 appearances for the club, Adams established himself as the greatest leader that the Gunners have ever had. His back four of the 90s were so exceptional that they became a British institution in themselves (see The Full Monty).

Not only a club captain but a captain of England too, Adams became the torchbearer for English ‘heart’, figuratively ripping off Terry Butcher’s bloody headband and using it as his own armband. His thumping finish against Everton, sumptuously played through by Steve Bould of all people, is a moment all Arsenal fans won’t forget.

Mr Arsenal.


Patrick Vieira

(FILES) Picture taken 21 May 2005 at the

Arsène Wenger’s first signing? A £3m languid and combative French midfielder from AC Milan.

Vieira was the bridge between the old Arsenal and the new Arsenal; ferocious in the tackle but a two-footed technical beast. If Henry and Bergkamp were too godly to comprehend, Vieira was more ‘the meat and two veg’. or ‘truffle and caviar’ if you will. He added a rudimental and necessary element to the side, but one of the highest order.

Don’t listen to me, listen to Roy Keane: “Without doubt I’d put him alongside Zidane, Scholes, Gerrard, and Lampard as one of the very best I’ve ever played with or against, he was that good.”


Robert Pires

Arsenal's Robert Pires (L) runs away fro

Robert Pires was so much more than a pencil goatee. His va-va-vooming created the most terrifying left flank in the history of English Football. With a rampaging Ashley Cole constantly overlapping and a drifting Thierry Henry, their interplay was frightening.

The 2001/02 season was his peak, winning the FWA Player of the Year while suffering a season-ending injury in March. His standout moment was against Aston Villa with a breathtaking lob.

Chasing a long ball from Freddie Ljungberg, Pires knocks the ball past Jlloyd Samuel with the outside of the boot. As the ball is still bouncing, Pires executes a perfectly judged half-volley lob over Peter Schmeichel. Don’t take my word for it, go and watch it.


Ian Wright

Ian Wright,Lee Dixon

Ian Wright joined Arsenal at 28. Let that sink in. 28! In just seven years, Ian Wright became Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer. 185 strikes in 288 appearances.

Boasting cat-like movement and a telepathic understanding of where the goal was, Wright brought goalscoring to a whole new meaning in north London. Imagine if he’d joined the club at 21 – how many he could have got?!

Wright’s charismatic smile, likeable personality, and passion for the club make him an Arsenal treasure that fans must protect at all costs.


Charlie George

Charlie George

A local lad and an Arsenal fan, Charlie George became an Arsenal great with his exploits during the double-winning 1970/71 season. Back when the FA Cup was watched by the nation, George had his iconic moment in the final.

Drawing 1-1 in extra time, George received the ball from John Radford and smashed in a 20-yarder. While the goal was spectacular, it was the celebration that made it seminal, George lying flat on his back with his arms aloft.

Charlie George is so Arsenal through and through, he currently hosts the stadium tours at the Emirates.


Cliff Bastin

Cliff Bastin

Cliff Bastin was the original prolific goalscorer, a crucial cog in the Arsenal side that dominated in the 1930s.

Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal won five League titles and two FA cups during an unprecedented spell of dominance. Bastin was a prodigy, by 19 he’d won a league title, FA Cup and been capped for England, making him the youngest player ever to achieve all three.

Bastin notched 178 goals for Arsenal, a record that would stand for 60 years. The Second World War curtailed his career as he was conscripted at 27 and sadly suffered leg injuries in battle.


Alex James

Alex James

If Cliff Bastin was the pre-war Ian Wright, Alex James was the pre-war Dennis Bergkamp.

Another crucial member of Chapman’s team, James blurred the lines between attack and defence, transitioning the ball to the lethal Bastin, Ted Drake, and David Jack.

The Scot was an assist machine and was vital in the record-setting season of 1933, where the Gooners managed 118 league goals. 


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