Did you know that Ian Wright held the goalscoring record for over 5 years before Thierry Henry knocked him off the perch?
Here is a curated list of the top Arsenal footballers in history. We bet you couldn’t guess who is at number 1.
Arsenal Football Club is among the best clubs in Europe. Period. The club’s rich history coupled with its motto of ‘Victory through Harmony’ has certainly struck a chord with fans worldwide. Although the club has lost its way in recent years, there has always been a sign of excellence within the club.
A look at the history of the club would point directly to the Arsenal Invincibles and glorious title wins. However, several players do indeed deserve credit for the stature of the club today. That said, here is the list of the top 10 Arsenal FC players of all time.
10) Freddie Ljungberg
Among the recent crop of legends from Arsenal FC is Swedish winger Freddie Ljungberg. Such was his impact on the team that he was named on the Gunner’s Greatest 50 Players list. Ljungberg was recruited to Arsenal in interesting circumstances. His performance for Sweden against England was watched on television by the then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. This affirmed the fact that Ljungberg could play English players and decided to spend 3 million pounds to acquire his services.
Initially filling in for Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg impressed one and all in the Arsenal shirt in the 2000-01 season. This was only the beginning as the Swede went on to impress in the 2003-04 Premier League season. This season will fondly be remembered by Arsenal fans as the club didn’t lose a game the entire season, thus styling the players as ‘The Invincibles’.
Ljungberg was a mainstay in the right-wing with a total of 10 goals in 40 appearances that season. In his time as a player with the club, Ljungberg would claim 2 EPL titles, 3 FA Cups, and an FA Charity Shield. He would later serve as the brand ambassador to the club and assistant manager to Unai Emery.
9) Nigel Winterburn
Despite having played several decades earlier, Nigel Winterburn is among the most recognizable Arsenal legend to youngsters. Having initially arrived as an emergency right-back for the injured Viv Anderson, Winterburn slowly established himself as the mainstay left-back for the club.
Although he was constantly overlooked for the England squad, Winterburn continued to play for Arsenal as the first-choice left-back, and this paid dividends for all the managers he played under. His highly illustrious career saw him play alongside the likes of Ray Parlour, Tony Adams, and Martin Keown.
The 1999-2000 season saw first-team opportunities dry up for Winterburn. With the arrival of Sylvinho and Arsenal having a torrid UEFA Cup competition, Winterburn was reportedly forced out of the team. He would move a few miles away from Arsenal to West Ham United FC where he would finish his career in 2003. With a total of 586 appearances, he remains to be one of Arsenal’s most-capped players.
8) Liam Brady
Liam Brady comes from a long line of Arsenal youth academy products and has been moulded in the likeness of Tony Adams. Playing at a time when Arsenal was in the first division of English football, Brady was perhaps the best-attacking midfielder in the world at the time.
Brady will be best remembered for his performance in the 1979 FA Cup Final against Manchester United. Playing on the right-wing, Brady ensured that he would provide several assists and crosses for the likes of Alan Sunderland and Frank Stepleton. Sunderland would score a goal in the final minute to give Arsenal a 3-2 win over Manchester United. Brady made a total of 235 appearances and scored 43 goals for the club.
7) Lee Dixon
As a defender, Lee Dixon is as solid as they come. Having signed for Arsenal in 1988, Dixon was slotted at right full-back alongside the likes of Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, and Steve Bould. He would go on to become perhaps the best right-back in the history of Arsenal football.
Dixon was a like-for-like change for Viv Anderson who had departed to Manchester United. He would go on to make 616 appearances for Arsenal in the 14 years he played for the club and retired at the age of 38. He remains to be one of the most-capped Arsenal players and perhaps the best right-back of all time.
6) David Seaman
From 1990-2003, David Seaman was the number one goalkeeper in England. Whether it was playing for Arsenal or England, Seaman was considered the best goalkeeper in England and Wales at the time. Since Seaman left the club in 2003, Arsenal has had issues with finding players between the sticks. Such was the impact Seaman had on the club.
Seaman signed for Arsenal at the start of the 1990-91 season for 1.3 million pounds, a British record fee for a goalkeeper at the time. Having signed from QPR, David Seaman started all 38 games in the first division and made an impression almost immediately. He conceded 18 goals in the season and kept 24 clean sheets while doing so. Arsenal would claim the league title by a country mile.
He would help Arsenal claim 14 trophies at his time with the club in addition to several personal accolades. To date, David Seaman is considered the best goalkeeper to have ever been produced by Arsenal and England. At the time of his departure from Arsenal, Seaman had made a total of 564 appearances for the club.
5) Patrick Viera
It is indeed difficult to find club legends as prolific as Patrick Viera. The Frenchman made a name for himself with AC Milan and the French national football team before making his 3.5 million pounds move to Arsenal. Viera came into the team alongside Nikolas Anelka and Remi Garde, both of whom would go on to have prolific careers with the club.
Viera would slot into a central midfield position alongside Paul Merson and David Platt, something that saw him grow into the role in his 9 years with the club. Viera was consistently compared with the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Steven Gerrard and is considered to be perhaps the best player of his generation.
Viera’s final season saw him garner interest from the likes of Real Madrid and several other big European clubs. He would eventually sign for Juventus. His time at Arsenal would see him be a prominent part of the ‘Invincible’ side and he would win 10 titles in his time at Arsenal, three of which would be Premier League titles.
4) Ian Wright
The story of Ian Wright has been told and retold several times and has been likened to the story of Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle. Wright began his career playing non-league football with Greenwich Borough before making the move to Crystal Palace. Having been scouted by Palace, Wright managed to impress then-manager Steve Coppell and signed a contract just before his 22nd birthday.
Having made over 200 appearances for Palace, Wright remains to be a legend at the club despite his impactful career with Arsenal. His impressive goalscoring form eventually ensured his transfer to Arsenal. At 2.5 million pounds, Wright became Arsenal’s most expensive player at the time.
Under manager George Graham, Ian Wright hit the ground running in the 4-0 win against Southampton. This would begin a phenomenal goalscoring form that would propel Arsenal to the fourth position with 26 goals in all competitions. Wright would become Arsenal’s talisman in the next few seasons and would end the season on top of the goalscoring charts until 1998. That season witnessed the emergence of Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars as Arsenal would go on to claim the Premier League title under new manager Arsene Wenger.
Nike used Ian Wright to heavily market their products. A famous slogan used by Nike through the 1990s was – ‘Behind every great goalkeeper there’s a ball from Ian Wright.’ He would bring an end to his Arsenal career with 185 goals to his name in 288 appearances including 11 hat tricks. He remains to be the second-highest goalscorer in Arsenal history after Thierry Henry broke his record in 2005.
3) Tony Adams
One name that has been synonymous with Arsenal history has been that of Tony Adams. He remains to be one of the few players in football history to have been a one-club man. Four weeks after his 17th birthday, Adams was handed his first Arsenal contract and would become a fringe player.
Tony Adams would come into his own in the 1986-87 season wherein he would play every minute and be appointed the PFA Young Player of the season. Adams would become an integral part of the Arsenal defensive unit alongside Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, and Steve Bould. Glory would follow in the 1988-89 season where Adams would make 36 appearances and help Arsenal pip Liverpool for the title.
Adams made 504 of his 672 appearances in the First Division and the Premier League, the second-highest for the club’s all-time appearances. He is behind legendary goalkeeper David O’Leary.
2) Thierry Henry
These days, Thierry Henry finds himself on the coaching staff of the Belgium football team. Whether or not his greatness as a footballer rubs off on the Belgian players remains to be seen. However, as a player, Henry was head and shoulders above the rest of the players during his peak. He was, by far, the best striker Arsenal has ever had. Period.
Apart from being named among the best players of the decade gone by, Thierry Henry has been the catalyst behind the 90s Arsenal team. He was in the thick of things during the ‘Invincibles’ season and will continue to be among those who are loved by the Arsenal faithful.
In 2005, Henry surpassed Ian Wright to become the highest goalscorer for Arsenal and to date has a total of 228 goals in 377 appearances for the club.
1) Dennis Bergkamp
Arsenal fans around the world will have Bruce Rioch to thank. The Scot’s first signing ahead of the 1995-96 Premier League season was Dennis Bergkamp for 7.5 million pounds. Despite being a record transfer fee at the time, the value that Bergkamp would bring in the decade as an Arsenal player would be invaluable.
Having been schooled with the system of Total football, Bergkamp would become a supremely versatile player. Arsene Wenger would later go on to comment that the system Bergkamp grew up in would require him to take fewer touches of the ball to score a goal. Sure enough, the Dutchman would strike up a wonderful partnership with striker Ian Wright in his first season as a Gunner. He would end the season with 11 goals.
Despite winning just 10 trophies in his time at Arsenal, Bergkamp would lay claim to several individual accolades that would see him become among the best players in the world. To date, he is considered by far the best player of his generation. Ever thought that your knowledge of football could win you a real cash and breathtaking prizes? Well, now it can…