Best Arsenal Midfielders of All Time
We’re taking a look at the club who has played some of the most beautiful football over the past 3 decades and see who are best Arsenal midfielders of all time.
are the third most decorated team in England, having won 47 trophies, and as such they've had a lot of great players over the course of the club's existence. We previously shed some light on theclub's highest goal scorers
. So we thought it would be a great idea to see who created those goals, to look at some of the generals and leaders in the middle of the park who led Arsenal to glory,
the best Arsenal midfielders of all time
The definition of a midfielder has changed a lot over the years so we have tried to include players who at their time were considered midfielders and not by today's standards, where for example the role of a right or left midfielder is seldom used. So here are the playmakers, defensive midfielders, box-to-box generals and even some pacey wingers who make up the all-time greatestArsenal
Best Arsenal Midfielders Ever
We have tried to include all types of midfielders in our list of best Arsenal midfielders ever, whether they are defensive-minded, box-to-box players, playmakers or even if they play on the flanks. So let’s take a look and see who made the list.
10. Gilberto Silva
Gilberto Silva is possibly the best defensive-midfielder in Arsenal’s history. His performances in the 2002 World Cup for Brazil caught the eye of many clubs in Europe but the World Cup champion chose Arsenal as his first club in Europe, arriving from Atletico Miniero. Gilberto made an immediate impact as he scored the winner against Liverpool in a Community Shield and lifted his first trophy with Arsenal.
Despite facing tough competition from his countryman, Edu, Gilberto slowly made his way to a starting 11 spot. Gilberto performed excellently in a holding role just in front of the defense which shielded the much attacking Arsenal side from opposition’s counter attacks. He would regularly recover or intercept balls and then distribute it to Arsenal’s many creative players, establishing himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the EPL.
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In Gilberto’s first season he won the FA Cup with Arsenal but it wasn’t until the 2003-04 season that he managed to lift the Premier League trophy with Arsenal. That season, Arsenal went through the entire campaign without losing a single match and as the defensive midfielder in that team, Gilberto played a big part in that achievement which is why he is considered by so many to be one of the greatest Arsenal midfielders of all time.
After Arsenal’s move to the Emirates stadium in 2006, his part in the club became even more important as he was appointed the vice-captain of the club which later became a full captaincy role. He surprisingly scored 11 goals in 2007-08 season, mainly because he was Arsenal’s first-choice penalty taker, but he eventually left the club for Panathinaikos the following season. For being an integral part of Arsenal’s
as well as being a Coppa America and World Cup champion, Gilberto is certainly one of the best Arsenal midfielders of all time.
9. Marc Overmars
Despite his short stay at Arsenal Overmars have become one of the all-time best Arsenal midfielders and that’s because of his exceptional performances in his 3 season stay with the Gunners. Overmars, despite being naturally right-footed, was ambidextrous and could use both his feet playing on both wings for Arsenal. His pace and dribbling ability made him a deadly opponent for defenders and Arsene Wenger was able to utilize these abilities in his team to the full extent.
Despite making a slow start to his career in 1997-98 season, Overmars soon showed his quality and by the end of the season had become a vital part of the team’s success. Arsenal ended up winning the league after a 7-year drought without a league title, with Overmars scoring 16 goals in all competition including a very important goal away to Manchester United which set them up for the title win. He then scored in the FA Cup final against Newcastle in a game that Arsenal won, therefore securing
His next 2 years at the club were not as successful in terms of winning trophies but Overmars laid the foundation and the blueprint for pacey wingers and midfielders in Arsene Wenger’s team and he paved the way for players like Ljungberg. Because of his vital part in Arsenal winning the league again and securing the Double as well as also helping Arsenal develop an expansive style of play, he will be remembered as one of the best Arsenal midfielders of all time.
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8. Santi Cazorla
In 2012 Arsenal were in decline, fans who grew up seeing their favorite team dominate the league and be a force in Europe now were seeing Arsenal struggle to win any trophy as the club was on its 8th season without a single trophy. But suddenly in comes this Little Magician who could dribble past anyone and score goals as well as create them and it wasn’t long that Arsenal fans knew they had a world-class player on their hand.
Cazorla was already turning heads at Spain, where he played forVillareal
, but when he joined Arsenal he brought his game to another level by recording 12 goals and 14 assists in his first season at the club. His goals against Liverpool and Tottenham relatively early on made him a fan favorite and his beautiful style of playing did the rest and cemented his place as one of the all-time best Arsenal midfielders.
His second season at Arsenal saw him in more of a playmaker role just behind Mesut Ozil and he thrived in the role, leading Arsenal to a FA Cup final where after going down 2-0 early on Arsenal made a recovery with Santi’s brilliant long-range free kick goal and went on to win the game, bringing an end to the drought of 9-years without a trophy for the club. With the help of Cazorla Arsenal won the FA Cup the following season as well, where he became the man of the match in a 4-0 win against Aston Villa in the final.
Sadly, Cazorla’s next 3 seasons at the club were marred by injury. a particular Achilles injury was so severe that doctors said he should be lucky if he ever could walk again. But he made a miraculous recovery and after his contract expired at Arsenal, he went on to play for his childhood club Villarreal from 2018 until 2020 and he even made the Spain national team again and captained them. Cazorla played 180 games for Arsenal and scored 29 goals as well as assisting more than 40 goals. his incredible technique, elegance and vision partnered with his resilient and joyous character makes him one of
the best Arsenal midfielders of all time
and a true club legend.
7. Ray Parlour
In an era of Arsenal that was filled with glamorous foreign players like Patrick Viera and Dennis Bergkamp, Ray Parlour’s hard work on the pitch was often not highlighted by the pundits and critics. Arsenal fans however saw how his hard work helped organize the midfield and prime it for the creativity that Bergkamp and Overmars provided and that is why he is one of the most beloved Arsenal players as well as being one of
the best Arsenal midfielders
Parlour was a product of Arsenal academy and made his debut for the club in 1992 at the age of 19. But it wasn’t until 1996 and under Arsene Wenger that he became a regular in Arsenal, mostly playing in the center of the midfield or the right-wing. Parlour was the perfect man for Wenger to put in the midfield as he always did what he was supposed to and in addition to that he sometimes showed moments of brilliance.
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These moments of magic often came in big matches or cup finals, which Parlour seemed to love, like the man-of-the-match performance he produced in the 1998 FA Cup final which led to Arsenal winning
or the incredible goal he scored against Chelsea in another FA Cup final in 2002 from 30-yards out which led to another
for him and Arsenal. These alongside a couple of important games that he scored a hat-trick in, have led so many to believe he is one of the most underrated Arsenal players ever.
Parlour spent 12 full seasons at Arsenal before joining Middlesborough in latter stages of his career. he won 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cup trophies, 1 League Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup with Arsenal being one of the most decorated players on our list. He will forever be one of the best Arsenal midfielders of all time as well as one of the most loved Arsenal players amongst the fans.
6. David Rocastle
David Rocastle was another Arsenal youth academy player who came through the ranks and made his first-team debut in 1985 and he went on to represent the club for 7 years after. Considered as one of
the all-time best Arsenal midfielders
, Rocastle possessed amazing technical abilities as well as being capable of great shots from the distance, most famous of which is his brilliant chipped goal at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
Rocastle played for many clubs throughout his career but in his prime he was part of a great Arsenal side that won several trophies, including his first for the club which was a League Cup win against Liverpool in 1987. His first and most important league trophy at Arsenal came in the 1988-89 season, where he was featured in every game, when they beatLiverpool
2-0 at Anfield in the dying minutes of the game and won the leagues by goal differences alone.
He won another league title with Arsenal in the 1990-91 season before leaving the club for Leeds United in 1992. David Rocastle was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2000 and despite fighting the disease he sadly passed away a year later at the age of 33. The club has honored his memory with several gestures throughout the years including naming a training ground after him.
Rocastle was certainly one of the best ever Arsenal midfielders but he was also a great character off the pitch. His close relationship with Ian Wright, who is an icon of Arsenal, led Wright to choose Arsenal and by Wrighty’s account the words he said to him after joining was to "Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent!”. Perhaps we could all take that sentiment to heart and honor Rocastle’s memory.
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5. Cesc Fabregas
'Cesc is vision personified' or so that is what Arsene Wenger claims in his autobiography. The 2010 World Cup winner and twice Euro winner was just 16 when he joined Arsenal but he didn't need a lot of time to reach his peak powers. We previously highlighted Fabregas' excellence when we named him one ofthe best Premier League midfielders of all time
and now he also finds a way into our list of
best Arsenal midfielders of all time
Cesc Fabregas arrived at an Arsenal that were full of great players like Henry, Bergkamp and Viera but he was so talented that he immediately pushed to be included in the first team. He soon found his way to the starting 11 after the departure of Patrick Viera in 2005 and with Bergkamp being at the end of his career, Arsenal needed a genuine playmaker to fill the role, and in steps the young Cesc Fabregas, who had the maturity of a 30-year-old playmaker. Fabregas could find gaps in any defense and pass the ball to the likes of Henry or van Persie to finish off teams.
In 2008, Fabregas was made captain of the club only being 21 years old and although he was injured for the most of that season he repaid the club the following season by scoring 19 goals in all competition. But the ever present rumor of him joining his childhood club Barcelona was getting stronger and finally he joined Barcelona in the summer of 2011, having made 212 Premier League appearances for Arsenal in which he scored 35 goals and assisted 70.
Cesc Fabregas won an FA Cup with Arsenal in the 2004-05 season and he played a big part in Arsenal’s 2005-06 Champions League campaign where Arsenal reached the final but sadly lost to Barcelona. He will always be one of the first superstars of
the Emirates era
of Arsenal, despite the bitter end of his Arsenal career with him joiningBarcelona
and subsequently London rivals Chelsea. He is only second in all-time assists in the Premier League with 111 and he is certainly one of
the greatest Arsenal midfielders of all time
4. Fredrik Ljungberg
Freddie Ljungberg is one of the most important players in Arsenal history by playing a huge role in the greatest Arsenal side ever,
. The Swedish international had pace, technique and a great understanding of the game that led him to score many goals for Arsenal over the course of his 9-year stay at Arsenal. His status as one of the all-time best Arsenal midfielders is well known and his involvement with the club continued after his retirement. He even became the manager of the club for a short period last year.
But his career at Arsenal after he was scouted rigorously by Arsenal scouts and he was brought to the club in 1998 when he was 21. He soon made his way to the first team and began putting in great performances. Ljungberg loved playing in big matches as he often ended up scoring in Cup Finals and derbies or title deciding matches against teams like Manchester United and Liverpool, with his goal in 2002 FA Cup final against Chelsea being one of his finest.
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After winning a Double with Arsenal in the 2001-02 season and another FA Cup in 2002-03 season, Ljungberg became part of Arsenal folklore as he was one of
who went on an 49-games unbeaten run, winning the Premier League in the process. After that he won another FA Cup in 2004-05 season which brought his trophy tally to 2 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cup wins. He featured in 2005-06 Champions League final and put in a good performance but Arsenal ended up losing the match.
With 325 matches for Arsenal where he scored 72 goals and assisted more than 30 and with him being named Player of the Season in 2001-02, helping Arsenal win the Double as well as being part of another League winning team, Fredrik Ljungberg has become one of the best Arsenal midfielders of all time as well as one of the most beloved players amongst the fandom. His contribution to club’s success will not be forgotten anytime soon.
3. Liam Brady
Another product of Arsenal youth academy, Liam Brady was a player who played way before any other all-time best Arsenal midfielders on our list as he made his debut for the club in 1973. He was known for his ball carrying ability as well as his vision and excellent passing skills which made him a great playmaker for the Arsenal side of 1970s.
After making his debut for the club Brady soon became a regular at the age of 18 where he alongside Allan Ball made a great partnership that would last for years. Brady helped Arsenal reach 4 Finals in his carer at Arsenal, most of which came by the end of his tenure at Arsenal in the late 70s. he helped Arsenal win the 1979 FA Cup final againstManchester United
, his only trophy at the club, and he was named Player of the Season that year.
After beating Juventus in the Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final in the 1979-80 season and reaching the final, only to lose to Valencia on penalties, he impressed the Italian side’s hierarchy who eventually brought him to Juventus where he ended up winning 2 Serie A titles. Liam Brady is one of the most fan-favorite players in Arsenal history, mainly because of his performances that led Arsenal to many finals and he is our 3rd best Arsenal midfielders of all time.
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2. Robert Pires
The 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euro Winner joined Arsenal when he was 27 and in his prime and he went on to feature for
for 6 seasons. Pires who usually played on the left hand side of a midfield 4 for Arsenal, was arguably the best winger that Premier League had ever seen by the end of his time with Arsenal.
Pires arrived fromMarseille
after France won the Euro 2000 to replace Marc Overmars who had joined Barcelona and despite a bit of a slow start he ended the season with 10 goals and several assists in all competitions for Arsenal. He then went on to feature heavily for the Gunners in the following season scoring 14 and helping them claim the Double. He was one of the first Premier League midfielders who scored more than 10 goals a season regularly.
Pires went on to score 14 goals in the Premier League in 3 consecutive season from 2002 to 2005, with his best season being the famous 2003-04 Invincibles season. His partnership with Thierry Henry was just unstoppable which led to many goals and assists for both players and they served as a one-two punch. if defenders marked one then the other would arrive out of nowhere and score. Pires was masterful with the ball at his feet and he was capable of easily moving past defenders. He had a tendency to cut in from the left and produce incredible shots, like the goals he scored against Liverpool at Anfield.
Pires scored 87 goals for Arsenal and assisted more than 50. He won 2 Premier Leagues and 3 FA Cup, he even scored a winner in 2003 FA Cup win, and he became one of
the all-time best midfielders at Arsenal
. his last appearance for Arsenal came in a Champions League final where he was subbed off after 12 minutes because of Arsenal going down to 10 men. Despite the bitter end, he is adored by both the club and supporters and holds a coaching position in the club at the moment.
1. Patrick Vieira
We previously named Patrick Vieira asthe best Premier League midfielder of all time
and here he comes first again as
the best Arsenal midfielder of all time
. The Frenchman was the perfect midfielder as he had everything in his locker, whether it was defending, dribbling, passing the ball, creating chances or even scoring. But above all he was a great leader that shepherded Arsenal through one of the most successful eras in club’s history.
After arriving fromMilan
aged only 20, Vieira went on to represent Arsenal for 9 seasons, creating powerful partnership in the midfield with the likes of Petit, Gilberto and Edu. He was named in Premier League Team of the Season in 6 of those 9 seasons which shows his consistency in being one of the best midfielders of his time. he was at the heart of everything that happened on the pitch for Arsenal and he led his team to numerous trophies.
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Like the other
, Vieira’s most important achievement with the Arsenal was winning the 2003-04 Premier League title without losing a single match. He left the club in 2005 after lifting the FA Cup trophy in his last ever game for Arsenal. His departure from the club was the start of a decade long decline for the club as Arsenal were never able to find his replacement and seemed leaderless on the pitch, which arguably is still going on today.
won 3 Premier League titles and 4 FA Cup trophies with Arsenal and for his sheer amount of skill, power and ability as well as excellent leadership qualities Patrick Vieira has become one of the all-time best Arsenal midfielders as well as being one of the greatest midfielders in the history of football. He has also been a role model for many players that followed after him but in the end there is one Patrick Vieira, who rounds up our list of greatest Arsenal midfielders of all time.
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