Arsenal FC 'All-Time' Line-up

Bevan BollandAnalyst IAugust 6, 2008

In response to the open-mic, this is my 'all-time' greatest line-up for the team I support, Arsenal.

The reason 'all-time' is in quotation marks is that I have only included players who I have seen play for Arsenal. As a result I have overlooked greats such as Brady, George, Nicholas, Bastin, Rocastle, Wilson, Jennings, McLintock, Graham, O'Leary, etc...

I think that despite their stature within Arsenal folklore, it would be a bit fickle of me to put them in my team without ever seeing them play.

The formation I have selected is a traditional 4-4-2.

Manager: Naturally, my choice is Arsene Wenger. Despite being a supporter throughout George Graham's successful reign, Wenger has taken Arsenal to a higher level. His spell in charge has been Arsenal's most successful ever.

He has not only revolutionised the club, but he has played a part in revolutionising the English professional game. His management methods have become almost gospel-like throughout the Premier League and his trophy haul is second only to Sir Alex Ferguson.


Goalkeeper: David Seaman. In my opinion, the greatest goalkeeper ever. He might have made a few high profile mistakes during his career, but these were only high profile because they were his only mistakes.

He was a calming influence, in which his defence always had full confidence. His shot-stopping ability was second to none and his ability to hold onto the ball was second to none. He also pulled off the greatest save ever against Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final during his final season at the club.


Left Back: At times, Arsenal have had an embarrassment of riches at left back. All have been able to not only defend exceptionally, but also attack with style and panache. Nigel Winterburn is my choice.

He provided the original mould for what Wenger wanted his left backs to play like. He was defensively, the strongest Arsenal have had during my time as a supporter, and he developed his attacking game under Wenger's stewardship. He was part of the famous 'Arsenal back four.'


Centre Back: In my opinion, the club's greatest ever player, Tony Adams. He was Mr. Arsenal and he put his heart and soul into every match. He is one of England's greatest ever defenders.

Under Wenger he improved from not only possessing top-class defensive ability, but matured into a composed centre back who could begin attacks from the back. His goal against Everton to seal the clubs first ever Premier League trophy, was an iconic moment, and one which aptly befitted Adams.


Centre Back: Not many players ever dare to cross the North London divide between Tottenham and Arsenal, only few have done so throughout the years, but arguably, none have done it as successfully as Sol Campbell. His presence in the Arsenal defense was an extremely important asset throughout their title triumphs of 2002 and 2004.

He was a born leader, and formed a key component of the spine of Arsenal's 'Invinicibles.' He provided a massive goal scoring threat from set-pieces, and like Adams, possessed natural top-class defensive ability, which was also groomed into Campbell becoming a more cultured centre back.


Right Back: Also part of the famous 'Arsenal Back Four,' Lee Dixon was an outstanding right back who played a major role during his several successful seasons at the club. His defensive ability was superb, but he was also a threat going forward, often seen making lung-bursting overlapping runs down the right flank. His ability to deliver the ball and shoot meant he accumulated his fair share of goals and assists whilst at the club.


Left Midfield: The left midfield position has been home to great players since Wenger took over. Robert Pires just—and I mean just—edges it from Marc Overmars. Pires' contribution to the title winning season of 2002 was epitomised by his teammates bowing down to him when he collected his medal and lifted up the trophy. His contribution that season cannot be underestimated.

He continued this contribution throughout the next few seasons. He scored more than his fair share of goals from left midfield and amassed many, many assists. He possessed deceptive pace and plenty of skill.


Centre Midfield: Born in Romford, Ray Parlour, was a local lad who never really established himself properly as a first team player until Wenger arrived. Under Wenger he flourished, first into one of the best right midfielders in the country, and then into a mature central midfielder, capable of strong leadership. He contributed largely to many successes throughout his time at the club, especially under Wenger.

Wengers faith in Parlour was emphasised when Parlour took over the captain's armband in Vieira's absence and led Arsenal to that resounding victory over Inter Milan in the San Siro.

Whilst perhaps not the most naturally gifted player, his endeavour and work rate has earnt him a place in this side. His ability was underestimated though, he could hold his own against other great players throughout Wenger's reign.


Centre Midfield: As a midfielder, Patrick Vieira had it all. Fantastic ball winning ability, a sublime touch, plenty of creativity, and strong finishing ability. He rightly took over the captaincy from Tony Adams, and led by example from the middle of the park. There has never been a midfielder in Arsenal's history who has had a more imposing presence.


Right Midfield: Arsenal have been blessed with plenty of good right midfielders throughout the last twenty years, but none as charismatic as Paul Merson. According to many, Merson's natural ability was on a par with Paul Gascoigne. Couple that with a desire and hunger to play for Arsenal, and Merson ended up being one of Arsenal's greatest.

He was a goalscoring midfielder, at times scoring the spectaculars, at other times arriving late to finish of a flowing move. Through George Graham's reign, Merson provided the 'spark' in the Arsenal team. His off-field problems were endearing rather than off-putting, and so, Merson remains a proper fan favourite.


Striker: Signed by Bruce Rioch in 1995, Dennis Bergkamp came to Arsenal with a proven pedigree. After a slow beginning to his Arsenal career, Bergkamp burst into life and thrived under the guidance of Wenger.

He was Arsenal's most cultured and classy player ever, with a majestic touch and an exquisite ability to play pin-point through-balls. He shared in every trophy success the club has achieved so far under Wenger.

Personal highlights include memorable goals against Newcastle and Sunderland, and an outstanding hat-trick away at Leicester. Bergkamp retired at the end of the 2005/2006 season.


Striker: Thierry Henry. Rated by many as the club's best ever player. Henry was pure class. The perfect striker. Wenger developed him from a hit and miss left winger into the world's best striker. He is the club's record goal-scorer, and was the star player at the club for many seasons.

His final season, 2006-07, saw him take the captaincy, a much deserved accolade given everything he has done for the club. Not only was he great goalscorer, he also provided just as many assists for his teammates.


Substitutes: Jens Lehmann (part of the 'invincibles,' not as good as Seaman though), Ashley Cole (would have made the team if he wasn't so greedy), Martin Keown (tough tackling, no nonsense centre back), Marc Overmars (pushed Pires close and was arguably as influential as the Frenchman during his time at the club, but Pires won more trophies), Freddie Ljungberg (a proper goal-scoring midfielder who scored plenty of crucial goals), Ian Wright (third in my all-time greatest players list, only on the bench because Bergkamp and Henry were so good), Nwankwo Kanu (a bit of a cult-hero, his unpredictability was at times frustrating but more often amazing, his ability to overcome heart problems is inspirational).

Future Possible Inductees: Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna.