100 Greatest Arsenal Players of All Time

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2014

100 Greatest Arsenal Players of All Time

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    Over the years, Arsenal have been blessed with some tremendous football players.

    As part of "Inside Arsenal Week" at Bleacher Report, we've decided to rank the greatest 100 players in the club's history.

    Greatness can be achieved in many ways. It can be attained in a single moment or from years of dedicated service. What's consistent is that these players are adored by the Arsenal fans for their contribution to the Gunners' cause.

    Go to the next slide to begin the countdown.

Nos. 100-96

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    100. Sylvinho

    Left-back Sylvinho was an astute defender, but his game came to life in the final third. One particularly spectacular long-range goal against Chelsea is remembered to this day. At Arsenal, Sylvinho’s star shone brightly but briefly. Despite impressing throughout his time with the Gunners, he hastily moved on to make way for the development of Ashley Cole.

    99. Andrey Arshavin

    By the time Arshavin left Arsenal, he had become a sad imitation of the player he once was. However, in his first six months with the club, he was truly brilliant. Arshavin’s arrival rescued Arsenal’s season and helped drag them into the top four. Along the way, he scored some remarkable goals, including a four-goal haul at Anfield. He’ll also always be fondly remembered for scoring the winning goal in the 2-1 victory over Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium.

    98. John Lukic

    John Lukic first played as goalkeeper for Arsenal from 1983-1990 but later rejoined in 1996, playing on until 2001. His loyalty was not his only quality: In his prime he was an adept shot-stopper.

    97. Mikel Arteta

    Mikel Arteta is not the most spectacular player but has been a superb servant at Arsenal. When he arrived in 2011, he was tasked with stabilising a midfield rocking from the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. In 2012/13 he has regularly captained the team, emerging as one of the squad’s true leaders.

    96. Mathieu Flamini

    Like Lukic, Flamini has enjoyed two separate spells at the club. In the first, his outstanding performances as a reserve left-back helped Arsenal to their first-ever Champions League Final. In the second, his sheer desire and will to win has invigorated the entire team. 

Nos. 95-91

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    95. Edu

    Cultured Brazilian midfielder Edu was a player who was probably underappreciated during his time at Arsenal. He was unfortunate in that his spell with the Gunners overlapped with the likes of Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour. Were it not for such stiff competition, Edu might have become even more of a hero at Highbury.

    94. Wojciech Szczesny

    Few goalkeepers have displayed such command of their penalty box as young as Szczesny. He is a prodigious talent, and if his progress continues at this rate he has a chance of being remembered as Arsenal’s greatest stopper.

    93. John Jensen

    John Jensen’s lack of goals made him something of an ironic cult figure. However, he was also an intelligent, disciplined midfielder. His work rate and precise passing made him a key component of the Arsenal sides of the early 1990s.

    92. Jack Wilshere

    Jack Wilshere is the youngest player to have ever represented Arsenal in a league match. Since then, his development has been hampered by a string of injuries. Despite that, his talent remains unquestionable. Wilshere has already been handed Dennis Bergkamp’s No. 10 shirt. If he can remain fit, similarly iconic status awaits.

    91. Theo Walcott

    Theo Walcott is another player who was heralded as the “next big thing” at just 16. Like Wilshere, he struggled to cope with the expectation amid a succession of injury problems. However, he has fought back to become a key player for both Arsenal and England. 

No. 90-86

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    90. Henry White

    Henry White was a prolific striker who finished his Arsenal career with a record 45 goals in 109 games. He enjoyed his best season in 1919/20, when he finished as the club's top goalscorer.

    89. Tomas Rosicky

    Tomas Rosicky is universally admired for the way he fought back from an 18-month absence to re-establish himself in the Arsenal squad. When he returned, he had added a relentless work rate and impressive slide-tackling to his game. He also has a handy habit of scoring against Spurs, which helps.

    88. David Herd

    Signed for £10,000 in 1954, Herd became a feared marksmen for Arsenal. However, he eventually left the club to chase success with Manchester United, thus making him an early predecessor for Robin van Persie.

    87. Percy Sands

    Percy Sands played at the heart of the Arsenal defence for almost two decades at the start of the last century. Although he was never capped by his country he racked up a remarkable 350 appearances for the nascent Gunners.

    86. Geoff Strong

    In the 1950s, Geoff Strong built a reputation as a powerful goalscoring force at Arsenal. He bagged a remarkable 77 goals in 137 starts to cement his place in Gunners history. 

Nos. 85-81

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    85. Gael Clichy

    Gael Clichy is not seen as the best defender in Arsenal’s history, but it’s worth remembering that as a teenager he was part of the Invincibles squad, becoming the youngest-ever Premier League winner in the process. His subsequent success with Manchester City suggests he is one of many fine full-backs to have come through at Arsenal.

    84. Laurent Koscielny

    Laurent Koscielny arrived at Arsenal as a relative unknown. Now, he is widely regarded as one of the most elegant defenders in Europe. What’s most striking about Koscielny is his speed. He moves across the ground like a raptor, closing down strikers who appear to be clean on goal with ease. His partnership with Per Mertesacker looks like one of the best in Arsenal’s recent history.

    83. John Dick

    John Dick was a powerful centre-half noted for his seemingly endless stamina. When Dick played, centre-halves were deployed in the midfield, and Dick was a proponent of the "box-to-box" style more commonly associated with modern midfielders.

    82. Bob John

    Between 1922 and 1937, Bob John made an incredible 470 appearances for Arsenal's first team, more than any other pre-war player. John was known as a prodigious ball-winner and an intelligent passer from his customary left-back position.

    81. Aaron Ramsey

    Aaron Ramsey’s recent transformation into a bona fide goalscoring midfielder makes him a definite candidate for Arsenal’s top 100 players. What’s most exciting is that the best may be to come. The Welshman’s effervescent displays have made him a hero to the Emirates faithful, and his success is all the more pleasing given the horrendous leg break he suffered as a youngster. 

Nos. 80-76

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    80. Stanley Matthews

    This is a bit of a cheeky entry: Stanley Matthews, one of the greatest English players of all time, pulled on the Arsenal strip as a guest player during the World War I.

    79. Mesut Ozil

    Mesut Ozil is the most expensive player in Arsenal’s history, and with good reason: He’s one of the most talented. Although arguably the Gunners have yet to see the best of the German playmaker, his creative gifts have already been evident.

    78. Per Mertesacker

    Per Mertesacker might be the slowest player on this list. However, he’s also one of the smartest. Mertesacker’s speed of thought makes up his slowness of foot. After a shaky start, he is emerging as a centre-half in the great Arsenal tradition.

    77. Cliff Holton

    Unusually, Cliff Holton began his career as full-back before converting into a centre-forward. In 1953, his 22 goals helped Arsenal to a league title. In all, he scored 88 goals in 217 Arsenal matches.

    76. Jack Lambert

    Lambert was a burly centre-forward in the traditional "target man" mould. Signed by Herbert Chapman in 1926, he helped transform Arsenal into serial winners. In one season, he scored 38 goals in just 34 league games.

Nos. 75-71

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    75. Davor Suker

    How many strikers in Arsenal’s history can lay claim to having won the Golden Boot at a World Cup? Suker’s best football may have come elsewhere, but even in his time with Arsenal he showed he could be a devastating finisher.

    74. Viv Anderson

    Anderson was an athletic full-back and England international. After joining Arsenal from Nottingham Forest he helped the Gunners to lift the 1987 League Cup. Sadly, his Arsenal journey ended there, as he became Sir Alex Ferguson's first-ever signing at Manchester United.

    73. Reg Lewis

    Reg Lewis joined Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1935 and went on to spend his entire career with the club. His final record of 118 goals in 176 starts suggests it was time well spent.

    72. Jack Kelsey

    Jack Kelsey was a phenomenal goalkeeper for both Arsenal and Wales in the 1950s and '60s. He was unfortunate in that his Arsenal career coincided with a prolonged trophyless period, but his excellence never went unappreciated. Wales recognised his brilliance by handing him 41 international caps.

    71. Ray Kennedy

    When Ray Kennedy was rejected by Port Vale, he might have given up. Instead, he eventually turned professional with Arsenal and shortly followed up with a league-FA Cup double. Although his greatest success came later with Liverpool, his contribution to Arsenal remains significant.

Nos. 70-66

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    70. Perry Groves

    Groves' unbelievable work rate made him a cult hero among the Arsenal fans. The song "We All Live in a Perry Groves World" is still sung to this day.

    69. David Platt

    David Platt’s mid-'90s arrival played a key part in Arsenal’s transformation from unattractive efficiency to aesthetic excellence. A former England captain, Platt brought leadership and goalscoring nous to the Gunners' midfield.

    68. Emmanuel Adebayor

    Adebayor will not be a popular inclusion, but it is difficult to argue with his achievements. When Thierry Henry left Arsenal in the summer of 2007, many pundits deemed him irreplaceable. Adebayor responded by scoring 30 goals in the following season. Unfortunately, issues away from the pitch meant his relationship with both fans and manager soured, and he left with his potential unfulfilled.

    67. Alan Sunderland

    This man is remembered for one day above all others. In 1979, his last-minute winner gave Arsenal an FA Cup final victory over Manchester United. However, his contribution was greater than that one moment: In his spell with the Gunners, he formed an effective partnership with Frank Stapleton and was the club's top goalscorer in two separate seasons.

    66. Joe Hulme

    Hulme was a speedy right-winger who linked brilliantly with both Alex James and Cliff Bastin throughout the 1930s. Interestingly, he also played cricket for Middlesex before going on to manage Tottenham!

Nos. 65-61

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    65. Steve Williams

    England international Steve Williams knew how to make Arsenal tick. When he played, Arsenal played. His combination play with Viv Anderson and David Rocastle was frequently outstanding and allowed Arsenal to unlock even the meanest defences.

    64. Sylvain Wiltord

    Sylvain Wiltord was an occasionally frustrating player but an important squad member in the early part of the 21st century. He is remembered particularly fondly for scoring the goal that won Arsenal the league at Old Trafford in 2002. 

    63. Andy Ducat

    Andy Ducat was simply an incredible sportsman. Not only was he a top-class footballer, but he represented England at cricket too. Sadly, he played for Arsenal in the fallow period at the start of the 20th century. However, after leaving he went on to win the FA Cup with Aston Villa.

    62. Anders Limpar

    In the space of three years, Anders Limpar won all three of the major domestic competitions on offer with Arsenal. In 1990-91, he was a key part of the title triumph, scoring a hat-trick on the final day to cap a marvellous season.

    61. Nicolas Anelka

    Nicolas Anelka's spell at Arsenal was brief. However, he never needed much time to make an impact. He burst onto the scene during the 1997/98 season, displacing Ian Wright and helping fire Arsenal to a memorable double. Had he stayed with the Gunners rather than jumped ship to Real Madrid, it might have been Anelka rather than Thierry Henry who eventually broke Wright's goalscoring record.

Nos. 60-56

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    60. George Eastham

    Skillful forward Eastham spent six seasons with Arsenal during the 1960s, playing behind Joe Baker to great effect. He was also part of the 1966 World Cup-winning squad, although he never set foot on the pitch during the tournament.

    59. Tony Woodcock

    Tony Woodcock was unusual in that he divided his career between England and the Bundesliga. After leaving Germany to join Arsenal in 1982, he settled quickly and was the club's top goalscorer for four consecutive seasons.

    58. Santi Cazorla

    Santi Cazorla has only spent two seasons with Arsenal, but already many fans will swear they've never seen a more gifted player wear the shirt. Cazorla is truly two-footed, audaciously taking set pieces with both feet. He spins away from defenders with such ease that at times it looks as if the ball is glued to his feet. Few players have excited the Arsenal fans like the diminutive Spaniard.

    57. Frank Stapleton

    Like Robin van Persie, Frank Stapleton is one of the few players to have represented both Arsenal and Manchester United. In his time in North London, he scored more than a century of goals. Ironically, he is most commonly remembered for his headed goal in the 1979 FA Cup Final win over United.

    56. David Jack

    David Jack was part of the devastating front line of Herbert Chapman's all-conquering Arsenal side of the 1930s. In 208 games, he netted 124 goals. It is a record that bears comparison with any of the strikers in Arsenal's storied history.

Nos. 55-51

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    55. Paul Davis

    Paul Davis was a vastly underrated member of the Arsenal midfield in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His medal collection speaks for itself: Davis won two First Division titles, two FA Cups and two League Cups.

    54. Ronnie Rooke

    Ronnie Rooke only spent three seasons with Arsenal, but that was all the time he needed to make an enormous impact. Signed at the age of 35 in 1946, he rattled in 68 goals in 88 games before leaving to join Crystal Palace.

    53. Bacary Sagna

    Bacary Sagna may well be about to leave Arsenal, but he will do so as one of the most cherished right-backs in the club's history. After arriving from Auxerre in the summer of 2007, Sagna quickly established himself as one of the Premier League's most consistent performers. The one thing missing from his Arsenal career is a major trophy. Sagna will hope to put that right in the forthcoming FA Cup Final against Hull.

    52. Sammy Nelson

    Ulsterman Nelson arrived as a left-winger but was hastily converted in to a tough-tackling full-back. He was loved for his personality as much as his playing style: His warm character constantly lifted morale around the training ground.

    51. Peter Storey

    During his time with Arsenal, Peter Storey excelled as both a right-back and a central midfielder. He represented the club more than 500 times in a Gunners career that would span almost a decade.

Nos. 50-46

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    50. Doug Lishman

    In 1952-53, Doug Lishman's goals fired Arsenal to the First Division title. He finished as the club's top scorer that season, notching 26 times. Lishman's greatest achievement was arguably once managing the feat of scoring three hat-tricks in consecutive home games.

    49. Graham Rix

    Graham Rix initially joined Arsenal as an apprentice. After breaking into the first team, he formed an enthralling midfield partnership with Liam Brady. In tandem, the two left-footers were almost impossible for opposition defences to tame.

    48. Alan Ball

    Although Alan Ball is most commonly remembered for his international achievements, he was also a terrific player at club level. The youngest member of England's World Cup-winning side joined Arsenal in 1971 and became a fan favourite with his energetic yet skillful displays. 

    47. Michael Thomas

    Thomas is most famously associated with one magical moment in the club's history: the vital goal in the 1989 title-decider at Anfield. However, he deserves to be remembered for more than just one goal. Thomas was a rangy, elegant midfielder with a good eye for a pass.

    46. Malcolm Macdonald

    Malcolm Macdonald joined Arsenal in 1976 for the unusual price of £333,333.34. He started brightly, finishing as top scorer in his first two seasons. However, injuries sadly robbed him of his best form. By 1979, Macdonald had retired from the game aged just 29.

Nos. 45-41

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    45. Danny Clapton

    Danny Clapton was the last Arsenal player to take to the field alongside a sibling. Denis Clapton was a decent player, but Danny was far superior. From his starting position on the right wing, he could bamboozle even the most experienced defenders with his startling acceleration and neat footwork.

    44. George Graham

    Before he was a dictatorial manager, George Graham dictated matters in the Arsenal midfield. The Scotsman was tough but could play too. After hanging up his boots, he became the first man to win the league with Arsenal as both a player and a manager.

    43. Kolo Toure

    Few have played with such boundless energy and enthusiasm as Kolo Toure. However, he was no headless chicken. By 2004, he had developed into a fine centre-half, and his partnership with Sol Campbell formed the foundation for Arsenal's historic unbeaten season.

    42. Lauren

    Lauren arrived at Arsenal as an exciting winger and left as a gnarled right-back. He was an enforcer for The Invincibles, leaping to the defence of his team-mates whenever required. His absurdly calm penalties also became the stuff of legend.

    41. Kanu

    Kanu was the definition of the cliched "mercurial forward." When he joined Arsenal, he was recovering from a serious heart problem. Some doubted he would ever play again. Not only did he make a full recovery, but he also scored some truly miraculous goals along the way.

Nos. 40-36

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    40. Paul Merson

    If it weren't for his off-field demons, Paul Merson might have become an even greater player. He was something of a free spirit on the field and capable of producing moments of genuine brilliance.

    39. George Armstrong

    Capable of playing on either wing, George Armstrong was an industrious midfielder whose total appearances for the club is bettered only by Tony Adams and David O'Leary.

    38. Ashley Cole

    These days, Ashley Cole is unpopular among the Arsenal fans. However, once upon a time he was heralded as one of the best left-backs in the club's history. His marauding runs upfield were matched by his defensive tenacity.

    37. Jens Lehmann

    Jens Lehmann was an erratic and unpredictable character, but Arsenal fans didn't care; he was such a good goalkeeper that it didn't matter. The highlight of his time with Arsenal was undoubtedly going through an entire Premier League season unbeaten. Unfortunately, he also suffered the disappointment of being sent off in the 2006 Champions League Final.

    36. Ray Parlour

    Ray Parlour, affectionately known as "The Romford Pele," embodied the transformation Arsenal underwent under Arsene Wenger. Parlour had been expected to be one of the first names out the door under the Frenchman but instead stayed on to vastly improve as a player.

Nos. 35-31

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    35. Alan Smith

    Alan Smith was the prototype for the modern target man. Although he had a respectable goalscoring record, his main attribute was his ability to bring others into play. Smith worked tirelessly for the Arsenal cause, sacrificing his body to provide a platform for more technically gifted players to cause damage. Such selflessness endeared him to the Arsenal fans forever.

    34. Nigel Winterburn

    When Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal, Nigel Winterburn could have been forgiven for thinking his Arsenal career was over. Winterburn was part of the club's "old guard," and the expectation was that Wenger would want to bring in a new defence. Instead, Winterburn became one of Wenger's most trusted lieutenants, playing late into his 30s thanks to the Frenchman's progressive fitness programme.

    33. Charlie Nicholas

    Scottish forward Charlie Nicholas brought flair and artistry to the Arsenal teams of the mid-1980s. Despite his obvious talent, he never quite fulfilled his potential. Off-field issues were cited as a key factor in Nicholas' stunted development. Nevertheless, Arsenal fans still remember his flashes of brilliance fondly.

    32. Kenny Sansom

    In his day, Kenny Samson was the best full-back in Britain. There was seemingly no flaw to his game. He was quick enough to provide an attacking overlap but smart enough to recover his position when required. Modern full-backs like Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and Kieran Gibbs play in a style originated and perfected by Sansom.

    31. Jimmy Brain

    Welshman Brain was Arsenal's top goalscorer for four seasons in a row between 1924 and 1929. Unfortunately, his time with the club did not yield a trophy. Despite reaching the FA Cup Final in 1927, he left the Gunners without winning a major medal.

Nos. 30-26

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    30. Brian Talbot

    Brian Talbot played for Arsenal between 1979 and 1985. He is remembered for scoring in the FA Cup Final victory over Manchester United in his first season. That made him the first man to win the FA Cup with two different teams in consecutive seasons.

    29. Steve Bould

    Steve Bould did not need to be fast to be a superb defender. He read the game brilliantly and was subsequently able to beat far quicker strikers to the ball. Since retiring, he's used that nous to become a top coach and currently operates as Arsenal's assistant manager.

    28. John Radford

    Aged just 17, Radford became Arsenal's youngest ever hat-trick scorer in 1965. That record stands to this day. He later developed into an instrumental part of an Arsenal side that landed a domestic cup double in 1970-71.

    27. Frank McLintock

    When Frank McLintock joined Arsenal in 1964, he became the club's record signing. It was money well spent: The Scotsman went on to skipper the side during their successful spell under Bertie Mee. By the time he left for Queens Park Rangers in 1973, he had cemented his place in Arsenal history.

    26. Lee Dixon

    Lee Dixon's medal collection makes for impressive reading. He has four league titles, three FA Cups and a League Cup to his name. That's a suitable reward for a right-back who always served Arsenal with the utmost distinction.

Nos. 25-21

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    25. David Rocastle

    David Rocastle broke Arsenal hearts when he left the club in the summer of 1992. However, that sadness paled into insignificance when Rocastle tragically passed away less than a decade later. In his prime, he was a thrilling player, darting down the flank and injecting flair into George Graham's side.

    24. Marc Overmars

    Dennis Bergkamp was famous for his disinclination to board an aircraft. However, watching fellow Dutchman Marc Overmars tear down the wing, "flying" seems like the only appropriate verb to use. His sheer pace terrorised defenders and brought Arsenal trophies. Overmars scored the crucial goal in the 1997/98 title race before notching in the same season's FA Cup Final.

    23. Martin Keown

    Martin Keown was a true warrior. He did not know what it meant to surrender. However, he was also an outstanding man-marker. Had he not been so loyal to Arsenal, his intelligent defensive game would doubtless have thrived on the continent.

    22. Gilberto Silva

    Gilberto Silva was a World Cup winner with Brazil. That alone makes him a strong inclusion in this list. On top of that, he anchored the midfield of the Invincibles team of 2003/04. Although his contribution was occasionally hard to spot, "The Invisible Wall" was an invaluable foil for his team-mates.

    21. Emmanuel Petit

    Ponytailed Frenchman Emmanuel Petit was the perfect partner for Patrick Vieira. In tandem, the twosome were all but unstoppable. Petit was tall, strong and skillful: a bouncer with imagination.

Nos. 20-16

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    20. Sol Campbell

    Sol Campbell was brave enough to leave Tottenham for Arsenal in search of success. That bravery was reflected on the pitch, where his no-nonsense displays made him a hero for the Highbury faithful. In his first season in the red half of North London, Campbell won a domestic double. He never looked back.

    19. Robin van Persie

    Robin van Persie's defection to Manchester United was particularly painful because he seemed on course to emulate fellow Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp and become a legend at the club. After overcoming a variety of injury problems, his talent exploded in style and he became one of the world's most feared strikers. Sadly for Arsenal fans, he chose to depart at his peak. He'll never be forgiven.

    18. Bob Wilson

    This genial goalkeeper might just be the most universally popular player in Arsenal's history. Nobody has a bad word to say about Wilson, who made over 300 appearances between the sticks for Arsenal. However, he wasn't just a nice guy: Wilson was also a fierce competitor and a superb shot-stopper.

    17. Cesc Fabregas

    When a 15-year-old Cesc Fabregas moved from Barcelona to Arsenal, Gunners fans adopted him as one of their own. He went on to become club captain and one of the most majestic players in the club's storied history. His status as a World Cup and European Cup champion speaks for itself.

    16. Pat Rice

    Pat Rice isn't the most gifted player in this list. However, few exhibited more commitment than the plucky Irish right-back. His dedication to the club extended beyond his playing days and into a prolonged coaching career.

Nos. 15-11

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    15. Freddie Ljungberg

    Arsenal fans loved Freddie Ljungberg. If you listen to the song they sang about him, you might believe it was because of his dyed red hair. In reality, it was because he scored the goals to lead them to the double in 2001/02 and was a crucial part of the Invincibles team of 2004.

    14. Ted Drake

    Ted Drake was a master goalscorer. His strike partner Cliff Bastin was known for his speed and elegance; by contrast, Drake was all about power. In the 1934/35 season, Drake scored an incredible 42 goals. He was an intelligent too, and he actually became the first man to win the First Division as both a player and a manager after coaching Chelsea to the title in 1955.

    13. Charlie George

    Charlie George was a local boy who came good. He lived the dream of transferring from the terraces to the pitch. The high point of his Arsenal career came when his scorching strike against Liverpool in the FA Cup Final helped seal the 1971 double.

    12. David O'Leary

    David O'Leary's talent is more than enough to earn him a place in this list. However, he's also one of the most loyal servants in the club's history. No player has made more appearances for Arsenal than O'Leary, who turned out an incredible 722 times for the Gunners. 

    11. Pat Jennings

    It speaks volumes for his ability that Pat Jennings is loved by Arsenal and Tottenham fans alike. After moving across North London to play in red and white, he built a reputation for consistently immaculate goalkeeping. Spurs had apparently considered him over the hill, but instead he went from strength to strength.

10. David Seaman

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    David Seaman is the highest-ranked goalkeeper in Arsenal’s history.

    He had everything you’d want in a No. 1: athleticism, positional intelligence and an unerring calmness. Along with Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn, Seaman formed part of the most parsimonious defence in Europe.

    The affable Yorkshireman even ended his time with Arsenal by captaining them to victory in the 2003 FA Cup Final.

9. Cliff Bastin

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    Cliff Bastin may have been a star of the 1930s, but it took until 1997 for Ian Wright to break his Arsenal goalscoring record.

    Until that point, Bastin's tally of 178 goals was the highest in Arsenal's history. He was a remarkable finisher and feared by defences across the land.

    In the latter part of his career, Bastin's loss of pace forced him to adapt from predatory goalscorer to creator. However, he had the technique and intelligence required to thrive in the role.

8. Robert Pires

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    Robert Pires brought Gallic flair to the Arsenal midfield. He played with style and swagger, a dapper musketeer with a penchant for a crucial goal.

    Cutting in from the left flank, his link-up play with Thierry Henry and Ashley Cole was a joy to behold. Every right-back in world football feared facing that electric trio.

    The fact Pires was decorated as a Footballer of the Year shows just how special his talent was. 

7. Alex James

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    Alex James was widely known for his baggy shorts. However, he wasn't just a figure of fun: James was one of the greatest talents of his or any generation.

    James played as an inside forward under Herbert Chapman. He was creator-in-chief for an Arsenal team featuring the likes of Cliff Bastin, Ted Drake and David Jack.

    The most apt comparison with a player from the modern era might be with Dennis Bergkamp. Like the Dutchman, James was not a prolific goalscorer. However, both players shared an instinctive understanding of the game and a preternatural technical ability.

6. Liam Brady

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    Liam Brady’s elegant style would have made him a star in any generation. As it was, he stood heads above his Arsenal team-mates throughout his time at the club.

    Brady’s left foot was a wand. He could see passes other team-mates wouldn’t dream of and execute them to perfection.

    The Irishman was a unique talent, and his departure was a painful day in the club’s history. 

5. Ian Wright

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    Ian Wright simply loved goals. He wasn’t fussy. He’d score them all: headers, tap-ins, chips, outrageous volleys. As long as the ball hit the net, he didn’t mind.

    That single-mindedness briefly made him the highest goalscorer in Arsenal’s history. The fact it took a talent as remarkable as Thierry Henry to displace Wright tells you everything you need to know about this predatory poacher. 

4. Tony Adams

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    Tony Adams was “Mr. Arsenal”: a one-club man who for nearly two decades was the living embodiment of the club’s spirit.

    He was an awesome defender, but it was his leadership qualities that made him stand out. He was one of the youngest captains in Arsenal’s history and did not relinquish the armband until his retirement.

    Although he was a trusted lieutenant of George Graham, Adams helped manage the transition to Arsene Wenger’s reign, adapting his game to suit the Frenchman’s style. That ability to reinvent himself was a testament to his undoubted ability. 

3. Patrick Vieira

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    Patrick Vieira was the complete midfielder. His telescopic legs made him an adept ball-winner but also allowed him to stride away from markers with relative ease.

    He was also a winner and a leader. Vieira inherited the armband from Tony Adams and captained the 2003/04 side to an unbeaten season.

    Vieira has since embarked on a coaching career with Manchester City. Perhaps one day he will return to Arsenal to manage them to yet more triumphs. 

2. Dennis Bergkamp

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    Dennis Bergkamp is not just a player. He is an icon.

    Along with Arsene Wenger, Bergkamp is the man most commonly credited with transforming the perception of Arsenal. Under his imaginative leadership, “boring boring Arsenal” became the home of the most attractive football in the Premier League.

    Bergkamp may have been unwilling to fly, but he helped Arsenal soar to new heights. 

1. Thierry Henry

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    Thierry Henry might be the greatest goalscorer in Arsenal’s history, but his game was about so much more than goals. It was about grace, guile and invention. Henry was an athlete but also an artist.

    His combination of physical and technical gifts made him a living nightmare for defenders. For the Arsenal fans, watching Henry was like a beautiful dream. He even returned to the club for a glorious second spell to enhance his legend.


    Who would make your top 100? Did we miss anyone? Comment below and let us know.


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