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.

Manchester UnitedLiverpoolArsenal,
ChelseaTottenhamManchester CityEverton, Ipswich
Aston VillaNewcastle UnitedNottingham Forest
Leeds UnitedLeicester CityWest Ham
Arsenal All-Time Team Under Arsene Wenger
Arsenal All-Time Team for Foreign Players
Arsenal All-Time Team from the British Isles(Excluding England)
Arsenal All-Time Team for English Players

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. Relegated only once, in 1913, they continue the longest streak in the top division. 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
GK: Pat Jennings (N.Ireland)
Pat Jennings is 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)
Pat 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)
Lee 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)
Tony Adams is a club legend and one club man 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 at one point. He played in the World Cup Finals in 1998 and went to three European Championship.
Tony Adams and Sol Campbel 2002 FA Cup
CB: Sol Campbell (England)
Sol Campbell was one of the greatest English defenders. He was a member of Arsenal's "Invincibles" that went undefeated in 2003-2004 season.  At the club level, 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)
David 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)
McLintock  earned a professional contract with English First Division club Leicester City in 1956. He played in two League Cup final defeats before he was sold to Arsenal in 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 played 107 caps between 2001 and 2014.  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 AS Roma.  He won the Champions' League in 2012 with Chelsea.  He is playing in the MLS since 2016.

AM/CM: David Rocastle (England)
David Roscastle's best club career was spent with Arsenal where he won two league titles.  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 was capped 14 times for England. England never lost a single match in any of the games he played. Despite for being a good footballer, surpisingly, he was left out of all major tournaments during his international career. He died at the age of 33 from a form of cancer.

David Rocastle

CM: Ray Parlour (England)
Ray Parlour 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)
Patrick 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)
Robert 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)
Fredrik Ljungberg 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)
Thierry 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.  He won the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000.
Theirry Henry
FW: Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands)
Dennis Bergkamp was the best-known Dutch player of the mid-1990's.  He had 92 caps. He helped Netherlands 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 World Cup 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 very successful career with Arsenal, winning 7 major titles.
Dennis Bergkamp
FW/ST: Charlie George (England)
Charlie George began his career with Arsenal in 1968.  He was the hero of the 1971 FA Cup Final.  He scored 111th minute winner against Liverpool.  That season, Arsenal also won the league, making it a "League/FA Cup Double".  The goal gave Arsenal their first ever Double in history. He later played with Derby County between 1975 and 1978.  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)
Alan 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)
Ian 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 (Scotland), Ted Drake (England), Cesc Fabgregas (Spain), Alan Ball (England), Robin van Persie (Netherlands), Nigel Winterburn (England), Martin Keown (England), George Armstrong (England), Peter Storey (England), Brian Talbot (England), Paul Merson (England), David Jack (England), Michael Thomas (England), Jens Lehmann (Germany), George Graham (Scotland), Gilberto Silva (Brazil), Marc Overmars (Netherlands), Kenny Sansom (England), Peter Simpson (England), Steve Bould (England), Alexis Sanchez (Chile), Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria), Jack Kelsey (Wales), Steve Williams (England), George Eastham (England), Malcolm Macdonald (England), Danny Clapton (England), Joe Hulme (England), Sammy Nelson (N.Ireland).

Squad Explanation
-- Pat Jennings, Tony Adams, Alex James, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira are automatic selections.  I do not need to explain my reasons for my selections. Cliff Basten and David Season probably can enjoy the same status.
-- A large number of players are from the Premiership era and many played for Arsene Wenger.  In fact, I created a blog team for that. Please see this Arsenal All-Time Team Under Arsene Wenger.
-- Arsenal went undefeated in the Preimership in the 2003-2004 season.  The team was known as "Invincibles". Jens Lehmann, Dennis Bergkamp, Sol Campbell, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour, Martin Keown, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg made my All-Time Team. 
-- Arsenal won the League/FA Cup Double in 1971. Pat Rice, Charlie George, Bob Wilson, Frank McLintock and John Radford made this all-time team.
1970-1071 League/FA Cup Double winning team
-- Pat Jennings and David Seaman were the two best keepers ever for Arsenal.  Jens Lehmann seldom got mentioned in an Arsenal all-time list, but he actually played with the "Invincibles".  So he received an honorable mention. Bob Wilson got the third spot.  Jack Kelsey also deserved a spot.
-- The central defender positions were difficult to choose.  In my opinion, Tony Adams and Sol Campbell were a lock on the team. Frank McLintock were a close third best back.  He was FWA Player of the year in 1971 as Arsenal won the Double. I had decided between David O'Leary and Martin Keown. O'Leary is the appearance record holder.  He got the edge.  Steve Bound also made the honorable mention.
-- Eddie Hapgood and Ashley Cole supposed to be undisputed on the leftback, but Cole deflected to rival Chelsea under a controversial situation. So I did study Sammy Nelson, Kenny Sansom and Nigel Winterburn, but I decided to keep Cole.
-- George Graham's Arsenal had the famous back four of Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon. I only have space for Adams and Dixon. 
--  Patrick Vieira needed no introduction.  I took Ray Parlour over Emmanuel Petit and Alan Ball since Parlour spent more years here. Alan Ball played his prime here, but the two midfielders selected meant more for the club. Ball also played in a period when Arsenal was struggling.
-- Cesc Fabregas missed the boat because of David Rocastle, Alex James, Dennis Bergkamp and Liam Brady.  The trio was among the greatest ever for the club.  Arsenal only ranked James 46th as their greatest player.  I disagreed. Roastle was well-loved in Highbury.
-- Arsenal had some great wingers.  Cliff Bastian is a lock on one of the winger spots.  He held Arsenal's scoring record for many decades until Ian Wright broke it in 1997.  I have to choose two out of this group: Robert Pires, Paul Merson, George Armstrong, Fredrick Ljungberg and Marc Overmars. Armstrong had appeared in over 500 matches for Arensal, but in the end, I took Pires and Ljungberg. They were often listed among the top 20 ever players for Arsenal.  
Cliff Bastin
-- Ian Wright did not receive much chance with England, but he is probably Arsenal's greatest English player. I do not need to explain too much of his achievements here.
-- 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 criteria, but I used different standard for different players and teams.   For example, Luis Figo could not get into my Barcelona All-Time team, but I accepted other players if I saw a need for the position.  Van Persie is listed on the Honorable Mention. Charlie George got ahead of him, largely based upon nostalgia.  Charlie George scored an important goal that gave Arsenal their first ever Double.  He is forever in an important part of of the club's history.  He is often listed as Arsenal's most important player. Their official website ranked him as number 9 in their greatest players.
-- 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. After his departure to Manchester United, he would not have any more chance to build his career at Arsenal.



  1. Santi Carzola with his magic helped team to win the first cup in "Emirates's era" and Kolo Toure,L.Kosciely, A.Ramsey, they would be on honoralbe list too with their serving. Ozil when he retired.

  2. scraps and leftovers (because Bastin and Henry aren't synergistic)

    Lauren McLintock O'Leary Cole
    Aaron-Ramsey Cesc-Fàbregas Brady
    Bukayo-Saka Ted-Drake Alexis