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Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie and the 7 Arsenal Players of the 21st Century

Brandon BoyerContributor IIIDecember 31, 2016

Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie and the 7 Arsenal Players of the 21st Century

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    Arsenal have been endowed with some of the best players to have played the English game this side of the year 2000. 

    Whether they were thumping defenders, slick and stylish midfielders or prolific goal-scoring forwards, the Gunners always had someone who seemed to inspire the squad to press on to bigger and better. 

    Throughout their successes in the early 2000s to their latter flowing style of play, Arsenal had someone who really stepped up for the squad and helped mold the Arsenal name and style that we know and adore today. 

    These are those players. 

7. Sol Campbell

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    Years at Arsenal: 2001-2006, 2010

    Position: CB

    Appearances: 146 

    Personal Honors: FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament in 2002, UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament in 2004, Professional Footballers' Association Team of the Year in 1999, 2003 and 2004.

    Sol Campbell was the heart of the Arsenal defense that hit their stride in 2003 and 2004, as they went unbeaten in the Barclaycard English Premier League for the entirety of the season.

    As one of the defenders to come in to replace the Old Guard when the majority of them retired, Campbell had a huge amount of responsibility thrust upon him, but he shouldered this load with relative ease.

    It probably helped that he was an absolutely massive player on the defensive line and struck fear into the hearts and minds of the Gunners' opponents with his aggressive mentality. 

6. Robert Pires

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    Years at Arsenal: 2000-2006

    Position(s): LMF, RMF

    Appearances: 189

    Personal Honors: Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year in 2001-2002; PFA Team of the Year in 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004; FA Premier League Player of the Month in February 2003; 2001 FIFA Confederations' Cup: Player of the Tournament and Top Scorer; FIFA 100

    Robert Pires was one of the many cogs that drove the Arsenal engine in the early 2000s.

    His technical ability and eye for goal was one of the integral parts of the unrelenting and flowing play that became Arsenal's and Arsene Wenger's signature style. 

5. Robin Van Persie

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    Years at Arsenal: 2004-Present

    Position: ST

    Appearances: 164-plus

    Personal Honors: FA Premier League Player of the Month in November 2005, October 2009; Rotterdam Sportsman of the Year in 2006; Euro 2008 Bronze Boot; Arsenal Top Goalscorer 2006-2007, 2008-2009 and 2010-2011; Arsenal Player of the Season in 2008-2009.

    Robin van Persie has been an excellent addition to the squad from Dutch side Feyenoord.

    By excellent, I mean amazing. He is Arsenal's main goalscorer, captain, and aside from the occasional injury, one of the anchor's of the current Gunners squad.

    With his excellence on the field, Arsenal have been able to rebuild a squad shrouded in doubt and looks to bring a brighter and more fruitful future for the Arsenal players and fans alike.

4. Cesc Fabregas

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    Years at Arsenal: 2003-2011

    Position: MF

    Appearances: 212 

    Personal Honors: FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Ball in 2003; FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Shoe in 2003; UEFA European U-17 Football Championship Golden Player in 2004; Bravo Award in 2006; UEFA Team of the Year in 2006 and 2008; Premier League Player of the Month in January 2007 and September 2007; PFA Young Player of the Year in 2007-2008; PFA Team of the Year in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010; UEFA Team of the Tournament in 2008; Golden Boy in 2006; Prince of Asturias Award in 2010.

    Having moved on in the summer of 2011, back to his home team and country in Barcelona, Spain, Cesc Fabregas left behind a great legacy at Arsenal. 

    When he was introduced as the youngest ever first-team player in 2003, at just 16 years and 177 days old, a lot of people pointed to him as the future superstar of Arsenal. At the ripe old age of 24, he had more than fulfilled that role and was the key playmaker in last year's squad. 

3. Patrick Vieira

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    Years at Arsenal: 1996-2005

    Position: CMF

    Appearances: 279 

    Personal Honors: UEFA Football Championship Team of the Tournament in 2000; FIFA Confederations' Cup Top Scorer in 2001; FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 2006; PFA Team of the Year in 1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2003-2004; UEFA Team of the Year in 2001; French Player of the Year in 2001; FIFA 100. 

    Patrick Vieira is one of the three players on this list who joined Arsenal before the turn of the century but didn't start to make a name for himself until the 2000's. 

    As a towering and delightfully skilled center midfielder, Vieira had a keen eye for the pass, could control the middle of the field and could impose his will at any beck and call. 

2. Dennis Bergkamp

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    Years at Arsenal: 1995-2006

    Position: ST

    Appearances: 411 

    Personal Honors: PFA Team of the Year in 1998; FWA Footballer of the Year in 1998; PFA Players' Player of the Year in 1998; BBC Goal of the Season in 1998 and 2002; FIFA World Cup 1998 Team of the Tournament in 1998; Premier League Player of the Month in August 1997, September 1997, March 2002, February 2004; English Football Hall of Fame; FIFA 100.

    Dennis Bergkamp burst on to the soccer scene in 1986 with Ajax in his home country of Holland, but where his true mark was made was with the red and white side of North London. 

    While he may not have had the 20-goal seasons he had while playing in Holland, his impact was quite significant for Arsenal and their success following his move to North London in 1995. 

    He is listed as the second-greatest Arsenal player in history, according to a poll held in 2008 on Arsenal.com.  

1. Thierry Henry

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    Years at Arsenal: 1999-2007

    Position: ST, LWF

    Appearances: 254

    Personal Honors: UEFA Football Championship Team of the Tournament in 2000; Confederations Cup Top Goalscorer in 2003; FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 2006; PFA Players' Player of the Year in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004; European Golden in 2004 and 2005; Premier League in 2001-2002, 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2005-2006; Onze d'Or in 2003 and 2006; PFA Team of the Year in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006; FWA Footballer of the Year in 2002-2003, 2003-2004 and 2005-2006; World XI Striker in 2006; UEFA Team of the Year in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006; French Player of the Year in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006; Inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2008; Goal of the Season in 2003; Barclay's Player of the Month in April 2000, September 2002, January 2004 and April 2004; FIFA 100; Time 100 in 2007; Overseas Team of the Decade: Premier League 10 Seasons Awards (1992-1993 to 2001-2002)

    Thierry Henry, the legend, the all-encompassing Gunner of the 21st Century. 

    As you can see from his massive awards list he accumulated while at Arsenal, there are so many things that could be said about the Frenchman, what else could there be left to say? 

    After a rather unsuccessful stint at Juventus as a wide midfielder, Arsene Wenger transferred him to Arsenal and molded him into the most successful and most deadly forward and goalscorer at Arsenal. 

    Ever. 

    For a taste of just how great of a talent he was, take a look at this little-less-famous goal he scored for the Arsenal Reserves in 2006, while recovering from injury. 

    There are many that will try to emulate his play style, but few will be able to come close to what he brought to Highbury and the Emirates for the Gunners. 

    Oh yeah! Remember that poll I mentioned just last slide? He was voted No. 1. 

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