Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Arsenal Greatest All-Time Team Under Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
Arsenal All-Time Team

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

Arsene Wenger has been the manager of Arsenal since 1996.  In the season 2013-2014 season, his team won the Premiership without losing a single game.  The team is nicknamed "Invincibles". 

The "Invincibles" winning the Premiership in 2004

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: Jens Lehmann  (Germany)
He was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for the 1996–97 and 2005–06 seasons, and was selected for three World Cup squads. He was a member of Arsenal's Invincibles, playing every match of their famous unbeaten title winning season. He also holds the UEFA Champions League record for the most consecutive clean sheets, having not conceded a goal in 10 matches whilst at Arsenal.

GK: Petr Cech  (the Czech Republic)
He is best remembered for being Chelsea's undisputred starting keeper from 2004 to 2014.  He won almost everything in club football, including the Champions'League in 2012.  He is considered among the greatest of his era. He also played for Sparta Prague, Rennes and Arsenal. For Czech Republic, he is the most capped player in the history of the Czech team, with 124 caps.

RB:  Lauren Etame Mayer (Cameroon)
He was a part of Arsenal's "Invincibles", a title given to Arsenal's team that went undefeated team in the Premiership.  He was named PFA Team of the Year that season.  He won two African Cup of Nations. He also won an Olympic Gold Medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Cameroon.

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. 
Lee Dixon

CB: Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast)
He is Yaya Toure's brother.  He was a member of Arsenal's undefeated team in 2003-2004.  He later joined Manchester City andLiverpool. Touré is the second-most capped player for the Ivory Coast, with 118 appearances from 2000 to 2015. He represented the team at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cup Finals. Touré also represented the Ivory Coast at seven Africa Cup of Nations tournaments between 2002 and 2015, helping them finish runner-up in 2006 and 2012, while winning in 2015.

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.
Sol Campbell

CB: Martin Keown (England)
Keown's career lasted from 1984 to 2005, notably in the Premier League for Arsenal, where he made over 400 appearances for the club and won 10 honours. He also played for Brighton & Hove Albion, Aston Villa, Everton, Leicester City and Reading. He won 43 caps for England, gradually forming a respected defensive partnership with Arsenal teammate Tony Adams at both club and international level. Keown represented England at four major international football finals including the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

CB: Laurent Koscielny (France)
He started his career in the lower division in France before moving to Lorient in 2009.  He moved to Arsenal in 2010.  Less than a season later, he was called up to the French national team.  He had also considered playing for Poland.  The French centerback had played on the rightback for Arsenal.

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

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 WC Finals.  He is also England's most-capped full-back in history.  He played with Arsenal, but moved to its rival Chelsea.  He won the Champions' League in 2012 with Chelsea. 

LB: Nigel Winterburn (England)
Known for his role alongside the likes of Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown and Lee Dixon playing for Arsenal's backline in the 1990's.  He also played for West Ham.  Capped twice for England.

DM: Gilberto Silva (Brazil)
Gilberto Silva started his career with Atlético Mineiro.  He was best remembered for his 6 seasons with Arsenal, where he joined after the 2002 World Cup Finals.  He played 93 times for Brazil.  He was a key player at the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan/Korea after Emerson was injured before the tournament.  He also went to the WC Finals in 2006 and 2010.
Gilberto Silva 
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.
Fredrik Ljungberg 
LW/RW: Marc Overmars (Holland)
Known for his speed, Overmars was a member of the youthful Ajax team that won the European cup in 1995. He moved to Arsenal in 1997, where he starred playing under Arsene Wenger.  He won the Double in 1997-1998.  He later moved to Barcelona and Go Ahead Eagles. His career with Oranja lasted from 1993 to 2004, and was an important player.  He won the Best Young Player Award at USA 1994. 

AM/SS: Cesc Fabregas (Spain)
Cesc was lured to play for Arsenal's academy in 2003.  He made his first time debut as a teenager. he helped Arsenal to reach the Champions' league Final in 2005.  He retuned to Spain in 2011 with Barcelona, but returned to England in 2014.  He was a part of Spain that won the WC in 2010 and two European Championships.

AM: Mesut Özil (Germany)
A third generation German of Turkish decent.  He played for Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen before making a dream move to Real Madrid after South Africa 2010.  He moved to Arsenal in 2013.  He was a part of Germany's World Cup winning team in 2014.
Mesut Özil
FW/RW: Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
After his debut season of first-team football with Cobreloa, Sánchez was signed by Italy's Udinese in 2006. Following successful loans at Colo-Colo and River Plate, he began playing in Serie A. In 2011, he was signed by Barcelona for £25 million, becoming the most expensive transfer in Chilean football history. In 2014, he moved rot Arsenal.  At the time of writing, he earned 108 caps.  He has played in the WC Finals of 2010 and 2014. He helped Chile to win the 2015 Copa America.  A year later, he led Chile to win Copa América Centenario in the US.

FW:  Theirry Henry (France)
He 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 spent 8 seasons with Arsenal. He also played for Monaco, Barcelona and NY Red Bulls. He earned over 120 caps, winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

FW: Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)
Kanu was voted as Nigeria's greatest player.  He captained Nigeria's Gold Medal team at Atlanta 1996.  He was African Player of the Year in 1996 and 1999.  He was a member of Ajax that won the 1995 Champions' League and considered one of the greatest club sides in history.  Because of a heart condition, his career in Italy was interrupted and joined Arsenal in 1999, where he enjoyed 6 great seasons.

FW: Dennis Bergkamp (Holland)
Bergkamp was the best-known Dutch player of the mid-1990's.  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.  Bergkamp surpassed Faas Wilkes's record to become the country's top goalscorer of all time in 1998. He started with Ajax and played for Inter Milan.  He also had a successful career with Arsenal.
Dennis Bergkamp

ST: Robin Van Persie (Holland)

Van Persie started with Feyenoord, but was known for his career playing in England. He spent 8 seasons with Arsenal, winning both PFA and FWA Player of the Year in 2011-2012.  Immediately after winning the two awards, he made a controversial transfer to rival Manchester United. At the time of writing, he has earned 102 caps, helping Holland to finish second in South Africa 2010.
Robin Van Persie

Honorable Mention 
Santi Cazorla, Bacary Sagna, Emmanuel Eboue, Edu, Theo Walcott, Sylvain Wiltord, William Gallas, Emmanuel Petit, Tomáš Rosický, Gaël Clichy, Mesut Özil, Emmanuel Adebayor, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Squad Explanation
-- At the time of writing, Wenger had used 16 keepers.  Only three stood up.  Most of them did not last long enough.
-- I brought 5 centerbacks because I could not decide which one to drop.
-- The "Dixon/Adams/Bould/Winterburn/Bould" line served Arsenal well, but "Lauren/Campbell/Toure/Cole" line was more for Wenger's team. 
-- I was undecided about the rightback position. Bacary Sagna deserved to be on the team, but I kept Lauren who was on the "Invincibles".  Dixon probably played his best football before Wenger's time, but I took him over Sagna.
-- Steve Bould did not play much under Wenger.
--Petit is the last player cut.


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