Choosing an all-time Arsenal starting XI is a fairly lengthy task. The north London outfit is one of the most successful English clubs in history and have had an extensive list of outstanding players feature for the team. Arsenal have collected 13 first division/Premier League titles and a dozen FA Cup trophies, more than any other club in history.
After a few tough decisions (namely leaving striker Ian Wright out), here is my all-time Arsenal XI.
GK – David Seaman
There were high hopes for Seaman when he arrived at Arsenal from Queens Park Rangers in 1990 for £1.3 million (then a record fee for a goalkeeper). The keeper did not disappoint. Three league titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup and 564 total appearances for the north London club turned Seaman into an Arsenal legend. The ponytailed player was also a significant part of the 1998-99 squad that only allowed 17 goals in 38 league matches (team record).
RB – Lee Dixon
Dixon was Arsenal’s first choice right back for 13 consecutive seasons during his 14 1/2 year stay in with the Gunners. Arsenal brought in Dixon from Stoke City in January of 1988, and he was joined by his former teammate Steve Bould six months later. The defensive duo were purchased for under £800,000 combined. Dixon won four league titles and made two appearances in the PFA First Division Team of the Year in his illustrious career.
CB – Tony Adams
Mr. Arsenal, as he is now known, Adams played his entire career, both youth and senior, with the Gunners. The center back spent 22 years with Arsenal and even captained the team to titles in three different decades. In 2011, Arsenal unveiled a statue of Adams, along with two other Arsenal legends in this list, outside of Emirates Stadium. His 669 total appearances for the Gunners is second most all-time.
CB – David O’Leary
Speaking of all-time appearances with Arsenal, no other player featured for the Gunners more than O’Leary (722 times). While O’Leary sometimes gets overlooked, the center back is certainly deserved to be called an Arsenal icon. He ended up winning two league titles, two FA Cups, and two League Cups during his 18 seasons with Arsenal. O’Leary and Adams partnered in Arsenal’s central defense for 10 years.
LB – Nigel Winterburn
Along with Adams and Dixon, Winterburn was part of the “famous four” Arsenal defense during the 1990’s. Winterburn’s game combined tough tackling alongside aiding the Gunners attack. Winterburn flew a bit under the radar during his playing career, as he only made two senior England national team appearances; however, the Three Lions did have both Stuart Pearce and Arsenal player Kenny Sansom in the left back position during Winterburn’s career.
DM – Patrick Vieira
Vieira was a complete player. The midfielder was a concoction of intelligence, power and technique that manned Arsenal’s middle of the pitch for nine seasons. In these nine years, Vieira helped guide the Gunners to seven significant trophies and was named in the PFA Team of the Year six times. Upon Adams’ retirement from professional soccer in May 2002, Vieira was named Arsenal captain.
AM – Freddie Ljungberg
Manager Arsene Wenger famously sanctioned the £3 million purchase of Ljungberg in 1998 without ever seeing him play live. It turned out to be an extremely wise move. Ljungberg, the 2001-02 Premier League Player of the Season, had a knack for scoring significant goals for the Gunners. The Sweden international scored in three different FA Cup Finals, including a cooly taken penalty during the 2005 FA Cup Final.
RM – Liam Brady
Much like O’Leary, Liam Brady can also slip the minds of some when they think of Arsenal greats. Not this time. Brady, who was the 1978-79 PFA Player of the Year, went on to score 43 times during his Arsenal career, as well as setting up many more. The midfielder only collected one trophy during his time in north London; however, his play helped Arsenal beat Juventus in the 1979-80 European Winners’ Cup semifinals. The Italian club was so impressed with Brady that they bought him at season’s end.
LW – Robert Pires
Pires only spent seven seasons in north London; however, his impact was immense. Following his arrival from Marseille in 2000, the winger/attacking midfielder won two Premier league titles and three FA Cups. Pires was also named to the PFA Team of the Year three separate times and was named the FWA Footballer of the Year for the 2001-02 campaign. The former France international scored some truly beautiful goals during his time in London.
ST – Dennis Bergkamp
Dubbed the “Non-Flying Dutchman” by Arsenal supporters due to his fear of flying, Bergkamp played 11 seasons with the Gunners, scoring 120 total goals. During the 1997-98 season, Bergkamp scored 22 times, helped Arsenal win the title and won both PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year honors. In Feb. 2014, Arsenal unveiled a statue of Bergkamp outside of the Emirates Stadium.
ST – Thierry Henry
An Arsenal all-time starting XI would not be complete without Thierry Henry. Henry is the leading scorer in Arsenal history with 228 total goals. The Frenchman won five trophies during his time with the Gunners, was the leading scorer in the Premier League four different times and was named in the PFA Team of the Year six separate times. He was also the PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice, as well as the FWA Footballer of the Year on three occasions. Arsenal also erected a statue of Henry in 2011.
Arsenal’s Best XI
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