Best Arsenal Forwards of All Time
Arsenal Football Club has at times been one of the most attacking side that English football has known, whether it was Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal of 1930s or Bertie Mee’s Arsenal or the most recent, the great Arsene Wenger’s teams over the years. the leading Gunners in all of these teams were the guys who did the job of scoring and helped their team achieve glory. So it’s only fitting that their names are remembered as we list the all-time best Arsenal strikers below.
As always with these kind of lists’, we have decided to include players from different eras of the club, focusing on the impact they had on the club rather than their own personal achievements. Some of these Arsenal best forwards ever were natural finishers, others pacey wingers or even playmakers but all nonetheless, helped Arsenal win numerous trophies and silverware, making the club the 3rd most decorated club in England. So let us find out who is on our list:
Best ever Arsenal forwards
It’s to be noted that as strikers can fill in several roles which may sometimes result in enabling others to score then the number of goals scored by the best ever Arsenal forwards is not of utmost important but rather the impact these players had on the field. So let’s see who made it into our list:
10. Sylvain Wiltord
The Frenchman who had just helped his country become Champions of Europe weeks before by scoring in the final, joined Arsenal in the Summer of 2000. Sylvain Wiltord soon became a utility player whom Arsene Wenger used to great extend as he would pair Wiltord with a number of different attackers, either on the wings or up front in a 4-4-2 formation. And although Wiltord did not show himself to be a prominent goal scorer, he did however show his knack for scoring vital goals.
Even though his first season at Arsenal were devoid of any trophies, despite Arsenal being in contention for a Double right up to the final weeks of the season, Wiltord’s second season was where he made his way to the hearts of Arsenal fans and became one of the all-time best Arsenal strikers as he helped Arsenal pull ahead in the club’s close race with Manchester United for the title by scoring vital winning goals against Everton and Chelsea in the closing weeks of the season before scoring the goal that sealed Arsenal’s title win, in Old Trafford no less!
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In his 4 year stay at Arsenal, Sylvain Wiltord scored 49 goals in 175 matches and won the Premier League and FA Cup, twice each. Although he played a far less significant part in Arsenal’s 2003-04 league campaign, he did become an Invincible by helping his team go the entire season undefeated and therefor made himself one of the best Arsenal forwards of all time and certainly someone that many Arsenal fans remember fondly.
9. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal’s current club captain and main man is certainly one of their all-time best Arsenal strikers despite the short amount of time that Aubameyang has spent at the club as he joined them from Dortmund only in the January of 2018 in a move that was, at the time, their record transfer fee of £56 million. A fee that arguably has been repaid twofold as the Gabonese striker has exactly been who Arsenal wanted.
With Blistering pace and excellent finishing skills, there are really no defense in the Premier League that have been safe from Aubameyang. Apart from this season, Aubameyang has scored 22 goals in both his full seasons at the club and has won the Premier League Golden Boot once and just came up 1 goal short of winning it the second time. which shows exactly why he is considered to be one of the all-time best forwards in Arsenal history.
In his second full season at Arsenal, Aubameyang proved vital to his side winning an FA Cup trophy and a Community Shield. Aubameyang has scored 74 goals in 119 appearances in all competition with an incredible 0.62 goals-per-game ratio. He is already considered to be one of the best Arsenal forwards of all time but he certainly hopes to climb higher as he has already committed another 3 years of staying at Arsenal.
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8. Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie is far from being a popular figure amongst Arsenal fans because of his transfer to Manchester United where he helped them win the Premier League. But that does not take away from the fact that he was one of the best Arsenal forwards ever. Van Persie joined Arsenal just after their Invincibles season in 2004 for the most part van Persie missed out on being part of the great Arsenal team that practically won everything. although the Dutchman won an FA Cup in his first season at the club.
Van Persie learnt the craft of being a striker from the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, which showed in his style of playing as he had great pace and technique but also could create chances for his teammates. Although at first he was not a natural finisher, after years of training and playing the center forward position, as opposed to playing on the wings, he became a ruthless finisher. His are still remembered fondly by football fans.
Primarily known for his volleys and left foot strikes, Robin van Persie was a player that had a career marred by injuries and there was rarely a season where he didn’t have a long-term injury. Although towards the end of his career at Arsenal he had a long run of games without any injury and even went on to win the Golden Boot by scoring 30 times in the league in the 2011-12 season, his last season at Arsenal. Nonetheless, with 132 goals in 278 appearances and an FA Cup medal to his name, Robin van Persie has certainly become best Arsenal forwards of all time and has earned a place on our list.
7. John Radford
A product of Arsenal academy, John Radford started his journey at Arsenal in 1962 and slowly found his way to the Arsenal’s first team. He became part of the first team in 1965-66 season and remained so for nearly a decade. Radford initially played as a winger but showed a knack for scoring as he scored 19 goals in both 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons which helped Arsenal reach Inter Cities Fair Cup final which they eventually won. It was Arsenal’s first trophy in 17 years and their first European trophy.
The following season would be one of the best in Arsenal’s history where with help of Radford they won the Double of league and FA Cup. Radford scored 21 goals and wrote his name in Arsenal history as one of the best ever Arsenal forwards. Although after that incredible Double, Arsenal didn’t manage to win the league again with Radford as their striker.
As a player, Radford was hard-working and always ready for battle. He usually managed to free up space for his teammates and often provided them with assists. Radford, who is Arsenal’s youngest ever Hat-trick scorer at 17 years of age and still holds that record, scored 149 goals in 448 matches for Arsenal, John Radford is Arsenal’s 4th highest goal scorers of all time and is certainly one of the best Arsenal forwards of all time.
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6. Ted Drake
Ted Drake is certainly one of the greatest English forwards of all-time. he was phenomenal in front of the goal and showed it by becoming the first Arsenal player that won the Golden boot, a feat that only 6 players have achieved within the club. Drake is without a doubt one of the all-time best Arsenal strikers.
Drake’s Golden Boot winning season were in 1934-35 where he incredibly scored 42 goals in 41 games and helped Arsenal be crowned Champions at the end of the season. his 42 goals that season included three hat-tricks and four four-goal hauls, which is just mind boggling. Drake’s 42 goals that season along with 2 goals in the FA Cup and Charity Shield make his 44 goals in a single season a club record that he still holds today.
Ted Drake stayed 11 years at Arsenal and managed to score 139 goals in 184 matches. In such a short amount of time he scored so many goals and had a hand in one of the greatest Arsenal sides’ ever under the management of Herbert Chapman. Because of this he is widely considered to be one of the best Arsenal forwards of all time as is apparent by his appearance in Emirates Stadium’s mural of 32 Arsenal legends.
5. Alan Smith
Football fans today may know him as a commentator for both Skysports and various editions of the popular FIFA franchise but Alan Smith first made a name for himself playing for Leicester City and later Arsenal and became one of the best forwards of his generation during the 80s and 90s. Smith was a classic center forward, tall, deadly in front of the goal and capable of great headers. But sadly his career was hampered by injuries which ultimately made him retire sooner than expected.
Smith joined Arsenal in 1987, just when George Graham’s famous Arsenal side were shaping up and after a season of adjustments he showed what he was worth in the second season of his stay at Arsenal after he scored 23 goals, won the Golden Boot and hlped Arsenal win the league in the final match at Anfield by scoring the first goal.
Smith would go on to win another Golden Boot 2 years later as Arsenal won the league again. He retired at the end of the 1994-95 season, having won 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. He scored 115 goals in 347 appearances for the Gunners. His goals played a significant role in helping Arsenal achieve those silverwares and therefor he rightfully claims a spot among best Arsenal forwards of all time.
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4. Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin who was Arsenal’s top scorer of all time from 1939 until 1997, is also one of the greatest English players of all time and has been inducted to the English Hall of Fame of Football. Bastin, was said to be very quick, good on the ball and capable of scoring goals, joined Arsenal when he was only 17 years old in 1929 and he remained an Arsenal player until the end of his playing days in 1947.
As one of the all-time best Arsenal strikers, By the time Bastin was only 19, he had won a League title, an FA Cup trophy and an England call-up, making him the youngest player to achieve those three honors. He is perhaps the most decorated player amongst best Arsenal forwards ever as he has won 5 league titles and 2 FA Cups.
In 398 matches, Bastin scored 178 goals for Arsenal and remained the club’s top goal scorer for a long time until he was overtaken by Ian Wright in 1997. the fact that he was a left winger and not a forward makes his record even more impressive. There are a number of people who still regard Bastin as the club’s best ever player and best Arsenal forwards of all time and who can really argue with that looking at Bastin has achieved with the club!
3. Ian Wright
One of the most beloved players in Arsenal history, Ian Wright arrived from Crystal Palace, where he was already an established goal scorer, in 1991 and he did not disappoint at Arsenal either as scored on both his debut for the club, which was in League Cup, and his league debut. In fact, in his first league game for Arsenal he scored a hat trick against Southampton, a fact that he repeated in the final league game of the same season against Southampton.
Unlike many classic center forwards Ian Wright was a quick and had a small stature but he used these to his advantage and would go on to win the Golden Boot his first season at the club and continue to be Arsenal’s top scorer for 6 season in a row. Wrighty was also known for his outrageous, and quite often beautiful, goals.
Wright played under several different managers, including George Graham and Arsene Wenger, and he managed to win 4 cup trophies (2 FA Cups, 1 League Cup and 1 Cup Winners’ Cup), including the cup double of 1992-93 season, and a Premier League title which came well into his final days as an Arsenal player in 1998, that was accompanied by an FA Cup which made them the 2nd Arsenal side to do The Double.
Wright also became Arsenal’s best goal scorer of all time by breaking Cliff Bastin’s record when he scored his 179th goal for the club against Bolton Wanderers in 1997. Ian Wright, who scored 20+ goals a season constantly, managed to score 185 goals in 288 matches for Arsenal and became Arsenal top goal scorer of all time for a time, therefore securing a place high on the list of best Arsenal forwards of all time.
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2. Dennis Bergkamp
The Non-flying Dutcman hardly needs any introduction as most football fans are familiar with his class, flair and technique as a player which allowed him to score the most beautiful of goals. Bergkamp came to Arsenal in 1995 and thus became one of the first genuine superstars that chose to play in the Premier League which improved the league’s prestige significantly. And as we will later read below, he turned himself to one of the best ever Arsenal players as well as one of the best Arsenal forwards ever.
After the appointment of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal’s new manager in 1996, Bergkamp started to hit his stride as the Frenchman’s tactics suited him perfectly which allowed him to be able to assist goals more times than he scored them. Over the years, Wenger partnered Bergkamp with many players but in the end Bergkamp was the mastermind in Arsenal’s attack.
Dennis Bergkamp’s career defining partnership was with Thierry Henry as two of the all-time best Arsenal strikers linked up together to score and assist goals, blowing every team out of water. Thierry Henry, played with a lot of great players including Zinedine Zidane, has described Bergkamp to be the best player he ever played with, apart from Lionel Messi.
In his Career at Arsenal, Bergkamp assisted 94 goals and scored 87 more in the Premier League. His elegant control of the ball, his right foot curl shots or most importantly his great vision for creating chances has made him one of the greatest footballers of all time and certainly one of the best Arsenal forwards of all time. he was just the sort of player that every Arsenal fan as well as any football fan should be grateful to have seen play.
1. Thierry Henry
No one but the great Thierry Henry could claim the 1st spot in our list of best ever Arsenal forwards as the Frenchman has won everything while being at the club and additionally became one of the best players of his generation if not ever. Henry, who was discovered by Arsene Wenger when he was AS Monaco, joined Arsenal months after winning the 1998 World Cup.
Despite being a winger, Arsene Wenger chose to play Henry as a forward, caliming to see in him the qualities of a finisher. This initially did not go as planned but once Henry got his first goal, he never stopped scoring again. After a couple of seasons with Arsenal, finally in the 01-02 season, Henry won the League with Arsenal by scoring 32 goals in all competitions and helped Arsenal win the Double for the record 3rd time.
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Henry who by now was one of the best players in the world helped Arsenal win the league without losing a single match in the 2003-04 season, a record they extended to 49 games. Henry scored 39 goals in all competition and was named the Player of the Year for the 2nd time in a row. He became the first Arsenal player to win the European Golden Boot and also he was runner-up to the World Player of the Year award, losing to Ronaldinho.
Thierry Henry’s winning mentality and genius on the field helped Arsenal reach the Champions League final in 2005-06, which they eventually sadly lost to Barcelona. A couple of years later, Henry felt that in order to win trophies he must leave Arsenal, who were rebuilding their squad, and therefore he joined Barcelona in the summer of 2007.
Thierry Henry, who scored 228 goals in 377 games for Arsenal, winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot 4 times, the only player to do so, was known for his speed, incredible dribbling ability, powerful right-footed strikes and playmaking abilities, achieved almost everything that a footballer can when he was an Arsenal player and therefore became the best Arsenal forwards of all time. for those Arsenal fans who saw him play, he will never be forgotten as no one could ever see Henry’s magic at work and forget.