Arsenal’s Greatest XI of the Premier League Era

Whether you’re an Arsenal fan or not, it’s difficult to go against the fact that the Gunners have had some incredible players over the years. 

Looking back at the 1998 and 2002 double-winning teams, the 2003/04 Invincibles and the side that reached the 2006 Champions League final, there are certainly more than eleven players who are worthy of being in the Arsenal greatest Premier League XI. 

However, here are the best of the bunch from the Gunners players who have graced England’s top-flight…

1. GK: David Seaman

Not many goalkeepers can boast a similar career to that of Gunners legend David Seaman.

The shot stopper arrived at Highbury from QPR for £1.3m in 1990 – a record fee for a British goalkeeper at the time – and went on to play 405 times in 13 seasons in north London. During this time, Seaman won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup, three Charity Shields and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. 

He did a lot more than make the pony-tail look fashionable…

2. RB: Lee Dixon

Lee Dixon may not be a very good TV pundit, but boy was he a good right-back.

The Manchester-born defender had all the attributes needed to be a good right-sided full-back. He was excellent in defence, and helped the Gunners keep 114 clean sheets in his 305 appearances for the club. He was also key going forward as well, scoring nine Premier League goals and registering 19 assists during those matches. 

Dixon was part of both of Arsenal’s double-winning sides and shared the same honours record as his teammate Seaman. 

3. CB: Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell became an Arsenal hero before he even kicked a ball at Highbury, as the former Tottenham captain made the short move across north London in one of the most surprising and shocking transfers in Premier League history.

Campbell was strong, physical and also a threat from set-pieces. Making 197 appearances in his first spell at the club, the centre-back won two Premier League titles, two FA Cup and is the only Arsenal player to have ever scored in a Champions League final. 

And Campbell returned for six-month second spell at the club in 2010, where he made another 14 appearances as the Gunners finished third in the Premier League table and reached the Champions League quarter-finals. 

4. CB: Tony Adams

You don’t get given the term Mr. Arsenal for nothing. 

Tony Adams spent his entire career at Arsenal, making 674 appearances (the second highest appearance maker in the club’s history behind David O’Leary), while he is also the most successful captain in the club’s history.

As well as winning thirteen major honours at Highbury, the centre-back was named in the Premier League team of the year three times between 1994 and 1997, while was also named in the competition’s team of the decade between 1997 and 2007. 

Forging an immense partnership with Steve Bould, Adams led Arsenal to two league and cup doubles in 1998 and 2002. Legend. 

5. LB: Ashley Cole

He may have fallen out with the Gunners faithful after moving across London to Chelsea in 2006, but Ashley Cole was one of the great left-sided defenders that Arsenal have ever had.

Cole broke through from the Arsenal academy into the first-team in 1999 and went onto make 156 Premier League appearances for the club. He won two Premier League titles – including the unbeaten season of 2004 – alongside three FA Cups, two Community Shields and also represented the Gunners in a Champions League final.

Cole was astute defensively but also a danger going forward, scoring eight Premier League goals in his Arsenal career. He was also named the Premier League’s best left-back for three years running between 2003 and 2005. 

6. RM: Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil might be the most controversial player to wear the Arsenal shirt in recent years but he has produced some truly excellent moments for Arsenal in just five years at the club so far.

The German has directly contributed to 81 goals in just 142 Premier League appearances, including a staggering 54 assists. In fact, he almost broke Thierry Henry’s assist record of 20 set-ups by registering 19 in the 2015/16 when the Gunners finished second in the table. 

Ozil has also created a winning feeling at the club, as his arrival in 2013 was a catalyst for Arsenal ending their nine-year trophy drought in emphatic style with three FA Cup victories in four seasons between 2014 and 2017. The German played in each of the final victories, and he is one of Arsenal’s highest performing players in the past five years.

7. CM: Cesc Fabregas

Like Ashley Cole, Cesc Fabregas might be playing for another team in London nowadays, but boy was he a good player at Arsenal.

The Spaniard left Barcelona’s La Masia academy in 2003 to join Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal team, and went on to make 303 appearances for the Gunners. He scored 57 goals for the club and made an incredible 85 assists despite playing for Arsenal in his late teens and early twenties. 

While Fabregas only won a single FA Cup during his time in north London, he was appointed Arsenal’s youngest ever club captain at the age of 21 years old and was a true leader of the Gunners.

8. CM: Patrick Vieira

The fact that many Arsenal fans say that the club still hasn’t replaced Patrick Vieira demonstrates just how good a player he was.

Tall, strong, quick, dedicated and passionate, there were no bad attributes to the Frenchman’s game and all midfielders who played Arsenal in the late 90s and early 2000s found it a tough 90-minute battle against Vieira. 

Despite being a holding midfielder, Vieira scored in each of his nine Premier League seasons with the Gunners, accumulating a total of 29 goals in 279 appearances. The midfielder was part of both Arsenal teams which won the double in 1998 and 2002, while he also captained the Gunners in the Invincibles season and scored the winning penalty in the 2005 FA Cup final – his final match for the club.

9. LM: Robert Pires

Perhaps Robert Pires is one of the most underrated Arsenal players of all time. 

The Frenchman scored 62 goals in 189 Premier League appearances in one of the Gunners’ most successful periods in their history. During this time, he won two leagues titles in 2002 and 2004, alongside two FA Cups in 2003 and 2005. 

Pires was not only adored by the Arsenal fans, but also by football supporters in general, winning the 2002 Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year Award after topping the top-flight assist charts. He was also named in the Premier League team of the year for three seasons running between 2002 and 2004. 

10. ST: Thierry Henry

I mean it’s impossible to leave this guy out of any Arsenal all-star team. 

When Thierry Henry arrived as Nicolas Anelka’s replacement in 1999, nobody knew that he would go on to become Arsenal’s record goalscorer. The Frenchman displayed an awful lot of va-va-voom to score 226 goals in 369 matches in his first spell at the club.

Henry then returned for a brief hero’s loan spell in 2012 where he added two more goals to his tally in seven additional matches, including a last minute winner on his final Premier League appearance against Sunderland. 

The Frenchman was not only clinical, but also quick, sharp and intelligent throughout his time in north London. It wasn’t just about the goals, as he notched 74 assists for Arsene Wenger’s side, meaning he was the perfect striker.

He was named in the Premier League team of the season for six years running between 2001 and 2006, won four Golden Boot trophies in five years and was named FWA Player of the Season for three years straight. Oh and he also won two Premier League trophies and two FA Cups. The stats just don’t lie. 

11. ST: Dennis Bergkamp

Alongside Thierry Henry was Dennis Bergkamp, who spent the final ten years of his career wowing Premier League audiences in north London.

Not only did he score 120 Arsenal goals in 423 games, but he also made 94 Premier League assists during his Arsenal career. These records won him two Premier League and FA Cup Doubles, the Invincibles Premier League trophy and another Cup triumph in 2005. 

Perhaps his finest moment in an Arsenal shirt was his hat-trick against Leicester City in August 1997, where all three goals finished first, second and third in Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month award. He won all of the player of the ear awards that season, but his whole Arsenal career was truly majestic.

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