Thursday, September 15, 2016

Arsenal Greatest All-Time Team

The "Invincibles" winning the Premiership in 2004
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.


This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Arsenal was the first club from the South of England to join The Football League, in 1893. They entered the First Division in 1904, and have since accumulated the second most points.[3] Relegated only once, in 1913, they continue the longest streak in the top division.[4] In the 1930s, Arsenal won five League Championships and two FA Cups, and another FA Cup and two Championships after the war. In 1970–71, they won their first League and FA Cup Double. Between 1989 and 2005, they won five League titles and five FA Cups, including two more Doubles. They completed the 20th century with the highest average league position.
Cup Winners' Cup 1994
Team
GK: Pat Jennings (N.Ireland)
Considered among the greatest goalkeeper of all-time.  The prime of his career was spent with both Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal.  In 1973 the Football Writers' Association named him as its footballer of the year. Three years later he won PFA's version of the award – he was the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, and to this date remains only one of two, along with Peter Shilton. He earned 119 caps for Northern Ireland and went to two WC Finals. 
Pat Jennings
GK: David Seaman (England)
The peak of Seaman's career was during his period as Arsenal and England goalkeeper in the 1990s and early 2000s. At Arsenal, he won three league championships (1991, 1998, 2002), four FA Cups (1993, 1998, 2002, 2003), the League Cup in 1993 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1994.  He also played in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, and Euro 96 and Euro 2000, and is England's second-most capped goalkeeper with 75 caps.

GK: Bob Wilson (Scotland)
As a player, Bob Wilson played as an amateur for Wolverhampton Wolves before he was signed by Arsenal in 1963.  He is most noted for his career at Arsenal between 1963 and 1974. He made over 300 appearances for Arsenal.  Born in England to Scottish parents, he was capped by Scotland twice in 1971.

RB: Pat Rice (Northern Ireland)
Rice played for Arsenal between 1967 and 1980.  He was known for being a member of the team that won the League/FA Cuo Double in 1970-1971 season.  He was one of the few Arsenal players who had played for five FA Cup Finals, winning the cup twice. He was capped 49 times for Northern Ireland. 

RB: Lee Dixon (England)
Dixon played as a right-back for Arsenal, Burnley, Bury, Chester City and Stoke City.  He was a part of Arsenal's famous back four along with Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn. Dixon is also one of the only players in English football history to have won a league title in three different decades with the same club. 

CB: Tony Adams (England)
Adams is a club legend with Arsenal who became the club captain at the age of 21.  A stature of him is erected at the Emirates Stadium. He formed the legendary backline with Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould with club.  He was a fixture for England from 1987 to 2000.  For England, he had 66 caps and served as its captain. He played the World Cup Finals in 1998 and went to three European Championship.
Tony Adams and Sol Campbel 2002 FA Cup
CB: Sol Campbell (England)
Campbell was a member of Arsenal's "Invincibles" that went undefeated in 2003-2004 season.  He spent 9 seasons for Tottenham Hotspurs and served as its captain before moving to its rival Arsenal on a free transfer that sparked a controversy.  He later played for Portsmouth. For England, he earned 73 caps in 11 years.  He went to three World Cup Finals: 1998, 2002 and 2006. 

CB: David O'Leary (Ireland)
O'Leary made a record of 722 appearance for Arsenal.  For Arsenal, he won the English League, FA Cup and the League Cup, two of each.  He also played briefly with Leeds United at the end of his career. With 68 caps, he represented Ireland at the World Cup Finals in 1990, scoring the winning penalty against Romania in the penalty shootout.

DM/CB: Frank McLintock  (Scotland)
He earned a professional contract with English First Division club Leicester City in December 1956. He played in two League Cup final defeats before he was sold to Arsenal in October 1964.  Appointed as captain he led the club to their first European trophy, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1970. The following season, 1970–71, he captained Arsenal to the Double, as they won the league and the FA Cup. He earned only 9 caps, largely because of playing at the same time with  Dave Mackay,  John Greig, Bobby Murdoch and Billy Bremner.
Frank McLintock
LB: Eddie Hapgood (England)
Hapgood captained both Arsenal and England during the 1930s. He was one of first star players in England.  His image was used for advertisement which was a pioneer at his time. He started his Arsenal career in 1927 and ended in 1944.  Internationally, he had 30 caps with 21 times as its captain.  He captained England during the famous "the Battle of Highbury" against World Cup winner Italy in 1934.

LB: Ashley Cole (England)
Ashley Cole was considered one of the finest leftbacks of his generation.  He was voted the England Player of the Year in 2010. He played in 3 World Cup Finals.  He is also England's most-capped full-back in history.  He played with Arsenal, but moved to its rival Chelsea in 2006.  In 2014, he moved to Roma.  He won the Champions' League in 2012 with Chelsea. 

CM: David Rocastle (England)
David Rocastle's best club career was spent with Arsenal where he won two league titles between 1984 and 1992.  He was sold to Leeds United for a club record in 1992, but he never settled with the club due to injuries and other reasons. He later played for Manchester City and Chelsea. He was capped 14 times for England. Surpisingly, he was left out of all major tournaments.
David Rocastle

CM: Ray Parlour (England)
He spent his career playing for Arsenal, Middlesbrough and Hull City. He was a legend with Arsenal between 1992 and 2004. During his Arsenal career, he was nicknamed "The Romford Pelé"; although the nickname was given with an ironic sense of humour, on account of his solid performance but unglamorous image. He has been described as an "unsung hero".  Capped 10 times.

CM: Patrick Vieira (France)
Vieira was an all-time great with Arsenal.  He won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.  In England. he was famous for his rivalry with Roy Keane.  He spent a season at Juventus, helping the team to the Serie A championship. Following Juventus' relegation for their part in a match-fixing scandal, Vieira played for Inter Milan and then, Manchester City for two seasons. With "Les Bleus", he won the WC in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.  He earned 107 caps.
Patrick Vieira vs Keane
RW/LW:  Robert Pires (France)
Pires played for Metz, Marseilles, Villarreal and Aston Villa, but was better remembered as a part of the "French Connection" at Arsenal.  With Arsenal, he won three FA Cups and two Premier League titles including the club's unbeaten season of 2003–04.  He played there from 2000 to 2006.  For France, he was a part of the generation that won the World Cup in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.  He was capped 79 times.

RW/LW: Fredrik Ljungberg (Sweden)
He began his career at Halmstads BK and went on to spend most of his career at Arsenal, where he won honours including two Premier League titles and three FA Cups, scoring in two finals including the victory in 2002.  He also had short spells at a number of clubs in England, Scotland, the United States and Japan. Ljungberg earned 75 caps and was captain of the Swedish national team until he announced his international retirement after UEFA Euro 2008.

LW: Cliff Bastin (England)
Cliff Bastin was one of the best player on the Arsenal team that dominated football in the 1930's.  He played for them between 1929 and 1947. Arsenal won 5 league titles in the decade. He was the Arsenal all-time leading scorer from 1939 to 1997. He also played for Exeter City, where he started his career in 1928. He played 21 times for England between 1931 and 1938. In 2009, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

AM: Alex James (Scotland)
Alex James was one of the greatest player ever for Arsenal.  He is most noted as the play making lynch pin with Arsenal with whom he won six senior trophies in the first seven seasons of the 1930s. he also played for Preston Northend. For Scotland, he was known with his partnership with Hughie Gallacher. He was a member of "Wembley Wizards" that England 5-1 in 1928. However, he was only capped 8 times. 
Alex James

LW/AM: Liam Brady (Ireland)
Liam Brady played over 200 times for Arsenal in the 1980's.  He was the PWA Player of the Year in 1979.  He was one of the few successful Irish players playing outside the UK.  In 1980, he moved to Juventus, where he won two Series A titles in two seasons.  He went on to play for Inter Milan and Ascoli before joining West Ham in 1987. He made 72 caps for Republic of Ireland, but he never went to a major tournament.
Liam Brady

ST/FW/RW: John Radford (England)
Radford spent most of his career at Arsenal. He became Arsenal's youngest ever hat-trick scorer, against Wolves on 2 January 1965, at the age of 17 years and 315 days, a record that remains to this day. In 1969-70 he again scored nineteen goals, and helped Arsenal win the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first trophy in seventeen years.  Capped twice by England.

FW:  Theirry Henry (France)
Henry is the all-time leading scorer for both Arsenal and France.  He was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Footballer of the Year three times. He started with AS Monaco in 1994. The, he spent 8 seasons with Arsenal, where he enjoyed the peak of his career. He also played for Juventus, Barcelona and NY Red Bulls. He earned 123 caps and was a part of France's Golden Team form 1998 to 2002.
Theirry Henry
FW: Dennis Bergkamp
Bergkamp was the best-known Dutch player of the mid-1990's.  He had 92 caps. He helped Holland to reach the semi-final of the 1998 WC Finals in France.  His goal vs Argentina at was considered among the best ever scored in WC history.  He also played in the World Cup Finals of 1994 and three European Championship. He started with Ajax and played for Inter Milan.  He also had a successful career with Arsenal.
Dennis Bergkamp
FW/ST: Charlie George (England)
George  began his career with Arsenal in 1968.  He was the hero of the 1971 FA Cup Final.  He scored 111th minute winner that gave Arsenal their first Double in history.  That season, Arsenal also won the league, making it a Double.  He later played with Derby County.  After Derby, his career took me to clubs in Australia, the USA, Hong Kong and Scotland.  He also played for Southampton.
Charlie George
ST: Alan Smith (England)
Smith spent five seasons at Leicester, scoring 84 goals in 217 appearances before transferring to Arsenal in 1987.  He was Arsenal's top scorer for four consecutive seasons, and the top scorer in the First Division in the 1988–89 season with 23 goals.  In 1989, he scored the first goal in the historical league title clinching game against Liverpool.  In 1994, he scored the only and the winning goal at the Cup Winners' Cup Final.

ST: Ian Wright (England)
Wright was a legendary striker with Arsenal.  Before joining Arsenal, he was a hero with Crystal Palace.  At the time of writing, he was their highest goal scorer since the War.  In 1991, he joined Arsenal.  He spent 7 seasons with them, winning all three domestic trophies and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1994.  Despite being a top scorer in the domestic league(he scored over 20 goals every season from 1991 to 1998), he only played 33 times for England and was never selected for any of the major tournaments.
Ian Wright
Honorable Mention
Joe Baker, Ted Drake, Cesc Fabgregas, Alan Ball, Robin van Persie, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown, George Armstrong, Peter Storey, Brian Talbot, Paul Merson, David Jack, Michael Thomas, Jens Lehmann, George Graham, Gilberto Silva, Marc Overmars, Kenny Sansom, Peter Simpson, Steve Bould, Alexis Sanchez, Nwankwo Kanu.

Squad Explanation
-- Jennings and Seaman were the two best keepers ever.  Lehmann seldom got mentioned in an Arsenal all-time list, but he actually played with the "Invincibles".  So he received an honorable mention, but Bob Wilson got the third position.
-- The centerback positions are difficult to choose.  In my opinion, Adams and Campbell were a lock on the team.  McLintock were a close third best back.  I have decided between O'Leary and Keown. O'Leary is the appearance record holder.  He got the edge.  Bound made the honorable mention.
-- Hapgood and Cole suposed to be undisputed, but Cole went to Chelsea.  I did study Sansom and Winterburn, but I decided to keep Cole.
-- Cesc missed the boat because of Alex James, Dennis Bergkamp and Liam Brady.  
-- Arsenal had some great wingers.  Bastian is a lock on one of the spots.  I have to choose two out of this group: Pires, Merson, Armstrong, Ljungberg and Overmars.  Armstrong had appeared in over 500 matches for Arensal.  In the end, I took Pires and Ljungberg.  
-- Alan Smith scored two of Arsenal's most important goals in history.
-- Robin Van Persie had many strikers ahead of him.  Besides, his deflection to Manchester United put him down the order.  I do consider loyalty as a part of the team.  He, however, is listed on the Honorable Mention. Charlie George got ahead of him, largely based upon nostalgia.
-- Michael Thomas scored the winning goal in 1989 that helped the club to win the league title. He is listed on the Honorable Mention.
-- Alexis Sanchez is one of the most underrated players of his generation.  At the time of writing, he played three seasons here, but won two FA Cups. He is now on the Honorable Mention.  Previously, I considered re-examining his case after his retirement from playing.    I did not punish Alexis for his transfer to Manchester United.  Ashley Cole is on my all-time for Chelsea.  I tried not to look into controversial transfers.  After his departure to Manchester United, he would not have any more chance to build his career at Arsenal.

Formation

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