Arsene Wenger has announced he is finally ready to call time on an illustrious Arsenal career, that has seen him collect 17 major honours.
The club has been caught in regression for a while, with the Gunners certain to miss out on Champions League football for a second successive season.
Certain big money signings haven’t impressed of late, but that shouldn’t undermine the excellent job Wenger has done recruiting and nurturing talent over the past 22 years.
They haven’t all be Marouane Chamakh’s and Emmanuel Frimpong’s, here’s Arsene Wenger’s greatest XI:
1. Jens Lehmann
In Cech, Wenger probably has his best keeper since the German departed North London in 2008; there was none better than Lehmann for Arsenal though. Playing every game in the fabled ‘Invincibles’ season, Lehamnn also has the honour of holding the Champions League record for most consecutive clean sheets. Going 10 straight matches without conceding for the Gunners, en-route to their first and only Champions League final to date.
Another Invincible, Lauren was a mainstay throughout the most profitable part of Wenger’s Arsenal career. Between 2000 and 2006, Lauren helped Wenger to two league titles, three FA Cups and two FA Community Shields. Injuries played a part in Lauren’s first season at Arsenal, but it wouldn’t take the dynamic full back long to displace fellow Arsenal hero, Lee Dixon, once fit again.
3. Tony Adams
Wenger may not have signed Adams, but he would play an instrumental role in the formative years of Wenger’s side. Already a club legend, the Arsenal captain was no stranger to silverware but his career was in doubt having endured battles his drinking. Wenger opted to stand by Adams, helping improve his fitness and diet, Adams repaid his new mentor, captaining Arsenal to two League and Cup doubles. Adams remains the only player in history to captain a title-winning side, in three different decades.
4. Kolo Toure
Toure has enjoyed a storied career at some of Britain’s biggest clubs, having also represented Manchester City, Liverpool and Celtic. The highlight of his career came at Arsenal, featuring heavily in both the ‘Invincibles’ and Champions League final squads. Famed for his powerful bursts from the back line, quickly converting defence into attack, Toure was pivotal to the formation and success of Arsenal, during his time there.
5. Ashley Cole
Controversial maybe, considering the manor of his departure and the fact that he went on to play the majority of his career at bitter rivals Chelsea. Cole would prove arguably the greatest ever English full-back, a key part of both Arsenal and Chelsea’s purple patches, winning an incredible 16 honours with the two sides. He would also go on to get his hands on a trophy Wenger had long coveted but would never lift, winning the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012.
6. Patrick Viera
Captain of the ‘Invincibles’, Wenger won more in the nine years Viera was a part of his team than he did in the 13 years without him. Helping Wenger to all three of his Premier League titles to date, Viera was one of the best midfield enforcers to ever grace the Premier League. Many fans point to his departure as the beginning of the end for Arsenal, certainly Wenger has never had another as good as Viera in the middle.
7. Mesut Ozil
He may not always be a fan favourite but the stats don’t lie, Mesut Ozil has been a phenomenal addition for Arsenal. A World Cup winner, Ozil has bagged 24 goals and 50 assists for the Gunners in his five seasons at the club. He is the lynchpin in Arsenal’s current attack, everything positive often goes through him. Leading the club to a small resurgence in recent seasons and helping Wenger to his first major honour in eight years.
8. Gilberto Silva
Aftering featuring in all of Brazil’s matches during their triumphant 2002 World Cup run, Wenger was convinced to sign Silva. Often one of Arsenal’s more underrated legends, Silva also had an integral role to play in both the ‘Invincibles’ and Champions League final squads. A tough-tackling midfield anchor, Silva was also no stranger to finding the back of the net, scoring several vital goals in his time, including the first ever goal at the Emirates stadium.
9. Dennis Bergkamp
The ‘Non-Flying Dutchman’ may have had a tough time getting to some of Arsenal’s games but he always delivered for the club. A serial winner, his eleven year stay in North London, for a long time, covered the entirety of Arsene Wenger’s trophy cabinet. A total 120 goals in all competitions helped Wenger to his first eleven honours, it would take seven years following his departure for Arsene to win anything again.
10. Ian Wright
Ian Wright was already an established legend at Highbury, with the talismanic striker hitting 144 goals over five years in North London, prior to Wenger’s arrival. Wright finished as Arsenal’s top scorer in Wenger’s first season, with a tally only second to Alan Shearer, securing third place and establishing the standard of top four finishes for 19 years to follow. Wright’s eleven goals also helped Wenger to a first league and cup double the following season, before departing for West Ham.
11. Thiery Henry
Arsenal and France’s all-time top scorer, Henry hit a resounding 228 goals for Arsenal across all competitions. A firm legend at the club, Henry even returned to his old side on short-term loan in 2012 to fill in for Arsenal’s strikers who were absent at the African Cup of Nations, and added to his Arsenal tally. He is expected to still have a future at the club haven taking his coaching badges, many bookies are even offering odds on him replacing Wenger this summer.