Best Arsenal XI of All Time
As one of the greatest English clubs, Arsenal have had many great players in their history, so let’s pick a best Arsenal XI of all time and see who is on it.
Started by several factory workers in Royal Arsenal, Woolwich in 1886, Arsenal soon became one of the best clubs in England. The club experienced its first era of success in the 1930s, perhaps the club’s most successful era which resulted in 5 First Division titles, and after that success was never far away from the club, whether it was Bertie Mee’s team in the 70s or George Graham’s in the late 80s or the legendary Arsene Wenger’s team of his first decade in charge of the club.
Nonetheless, all throughout its history the club has been home to many great players, a lot of them homegrown and some who came at the height of their powers toArsenal
. So we have decided to take a different approach and instead of naming only the best players, name players who were best in their position in the club’s history. So here is the
best Arsenal XI of all time
Arsenal All-Time Greatest XI
The formation that we have picked for our Arsenal all-time greatest XI is the classic 4-2-3-1 formation that Arsene Wenger loved to use and since he is arguably the greatest manager in the club’s history, it’s only fitting that we choose that formation. So here are the players that line up with that formation:
Goalkeeper: David Seaman
We start our list of Arsenal greatest XI of all time with an Arsenal legend, who is also one of the longest serving Arsenal players of all time with 564 appearances, David Seaman. Seaman also represented England for years and appeared in 3 major tournaments for his country. He joined Arsenal in 1990 and remained a Gunner until 2003, after which he played year before a season at Manchester City before retiring from football.
Seaman was known for his brave style of goalkeeping as well as his quick reflexes and ability to organize the defense which made him one of the best goalkeepers in the 90s and allowed Arsenal to win as many titles as they did. He spent more than half of his career before the Premier League even began in teams likeQPR
and yet he is 4th among the goalkeepers with most clean sheets in Premier League history which speaks volumes about his quality as a goalkeeper.
David Seaman managed to win 3 league titles with Arsenal, 2 of which were Premier League titles. He also won 4 FA Cups, 1 League Cup and 1 Cup Winners’ Cup. In the Premier League, Seaman kept a clean sheet in 41% of the games he appeared in and that shows why we chose him as the goalkeeper the
Arsenal best XI of all time
. He is still a popular figure at the Emirates Stadium and he certainly gets to be in between the posts in our best Arsenal XI of all time.
Related Article:Most Clean Sheets in Premier League History
Left Back: Nigel Winterburn
George Graham’s tenure as Arsenal manager was really successful and it was in big parts because of the great backline that his teams had. Nigel Winturburn was one of those players that made up Arsenal’s famous defensive back line. Winterburn started his career at Arsenal as a right-back but soon due to injuries was moved to the left-back position where his performances earned him a spot in our
Arsenal best 11 of all time
After starting his career at Birmingham City and his subsequent rise to prominence with Wimbledon, Winturburn joined Arsenal in 1987. At Arsenal, Winterburn, alongside player like Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown, formed a strong defensive line who helped Arsenal win numerous trophies including their first league title in that famous victory at Anfield in 1988-89 season under manager George Graham. They won the league again two years later in 1991. They also managed an FA Cup victory in the 1992-93 season.
After the departure of George Graham and with a European Cup Winners’ Cup in between, Arsene Wenger as the manager of Arsenal inherited that great defensive backline which included Winturburn and won a Double of Premier League and FA Cup trophies in the 1997-98 season, which would be his last trophies as an Arsenal player. Through sheer consistency and quality over his career at Arsenal, Nigel Winterburn deservedly gets the nod as the left back in our best Arsenal XI of all time.
Related Article:Best Left Backs Ever in the World
Right Back: Lee Dixon
The next player in our selection of
Arsenal all-time greatest XI
is Winturburn’s partner in crime, Lee Dixon. With a peculiar record of playing in 91 out of the 92 Football League grounds, Lee Dixon was already an experienced player when he joined Arsenal from Stoke City in 1988, having played in every level of Football League. Soon after he found his way to Arsenal’s starting 11 and would go on to play for the Gunners until his retirement at the age of 38 in 2002.
Dixon and Steve Bould joined Arsenal from Stoke City in 1988 and helped form a great defense under manager George Graham. In Dixon’s debut season Arsenal won the League at Anfield in the closing minutes of the game and things only got better from there. Dixon and Winterburn formed a great full back partnership that served Arsenal greatly as their tirelessness as the full backs ensured that Arsenal would be as effective going forward by constantly covering up and down the pitch, marking players in defense and putting crosses and making runs in attack.
Lee Dixon soon became one of the best Arsenal defenders ever and went on to played in 616 matches for Arsenal, being only 4th in the number of appearances despite joining Arsenal when he was 24. Dixon won 4 league trophies (2 of which were Premier League titles), 3 FA Cup trophies and a European Cup Winners’ Cup medal. He achieved 2 Doubles with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, the last of which was his very last season as a player, and he is certainly our choice as the right back in best Arsenal XI of all time.
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Center Back: Tony Adams
“Mr Arsenal” is certainly one of Arsenal greatest players ever and one of those rare One-Club players who spent his entire career at Arsenal. An Arsenal academy graduate, Adams made his debut for the club in 1983 and went on to play for the club for 22 years before retiring. There simply can be no other person captaining Arsenal best 11 of all time other than the great Tony Adams as he is our first choice as center back.
5 years after his debut for the club, Adams was given the captain’s armband, being only 21 years old, a position he kept for the following 14 years. With Steve Bould as his partner in the back, Arsenal’s defense seemed impenetrable and it eventually resulted in Arsenal’s success, namely in the 1988-89 season where Arsenal won its first league title since 1971. They would go on to win the title again two years later.
Despite his troubles with alcoholism and even going as far as being incarcerated for 2 months in 1991, Adams would experience a resurgence in his later years as a player under the management of Arsene Wenger. He himself has credited Wenger for helping him in this matter which resulted in a prolonged career. After his career revival, Tony Adams then went on to help Arsenal win 2 Doubles as well as a couple of cup trophies, which brings his trophy total to four top flight division titles, three FA Cups, two Football League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and two FA Community Shields.
For his services for the club a statue of Tony Adams was unveiled outside the Emirates stadium in 2011. In fact, Adams is one of only 3 players on this list to receive such an honor. His values of playing for the badge and not for the name on the back of the shirt has made him a darling among the fandom. When it comes down to it, anyone who wants to pick the best Arsenal XI of all time will have Tony Adams as the first name on their team sheet!
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Center Back: Martin Keown
Martin Keown’s hard-tackling, in-your-face attitude made him the kind of defender that so many attackers were afraid to face as he usually didn’t let up against anybody, even the great Thierry Henry has stated as such. So it’s no surprise that we have chosen him as the center back partner of Tony Adams in our Arsenal best ever XI.
Originally an Arsenal academy player, Keown left Arsenal in 1986 because he did not fit in manager George Graham’s plans. But this would not last because after a few good seasons at Everton and Aston Villa, Arsenal opted to re-sign him in 1993 and pretty soon in his first season back at the club Keown won the Cup Winners’ Cup but the majority of his success would come under Arsene Wenger’s tenure as a manager.
After Arsene Wenger appointment as manager he decided not to change his defensive backline because they were that good and Keown was a big part of that by partnering with the likes of amazing Tony Adams and later Sol Campbell. Keown won 3 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cups at Arsenal and in his last season at Arsenal he became one of the famous Invincibles who went an entire season without losing a single match, a defensive feat that is simply not seen in modern football. The epitome of an English center back, Martin Keown has truly and deservedly earned his spot at the best Arsenal XI of all time.
Midfielder: Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira is possibly the best Premier League midfielder of all who joined the Gunners fromAC Milan
back in 1997. As a midfielder, Vieira had everything in his locker as he could just as easily defend, dribble create chances or even score goals. He was a complete midfielder in every sense. But most importantly, Vieira was a born leader who guided Arsenal through one of the most successful eras in club’s history. So as a result he more than deserves a spot on Arsenal best XI of all time.
Throughout his 9 season career at Arsenal, Vieira was part of some of the most powerful midfield partnerships in EPL history with the likes of Petit, Gilberto and Ed. As a result of his exceptional performances, he was named in the Premier League Team of the Season in 6 of those 9 seasons. Perhaps his most important achievement with Arsenal came in the 2003-04 season as he led the famous Invincibles to a league title without losing a single match.
In his time at Arsenal, Vieira won 3 Premier League titles and 4 FA Cup trophies. The way Vieira played and controlled the midfield has become something that many young players pursue but there are none who can reach his level. In fact, his departure from the club in 2005 became the start of a decade long decline for the club because Arsenal were never able to find truly his replacement which just shows how important of a figure he was both on and off the pitch for Arsenal. And that is exactly why he deserves a spot among the
best Arsenal XI of all time
, as he is simply irreplaceable.
Related Article:Best Premier League Midfielders of All Time
Midfielder: Liam Brady
One of the most favorite players in Arsenal’s history and a product of Arsenal youth academy, Liam Brady, is the player who forms the midfield pivot with Patrick Vieira in
Arsenal best ever XI
. Starting his senior career at Arsenal in 1973, Brady was a creative midfielder who was known for his ball carrying ability as well as his impeccable vision and excellent passing skills which made him instrumental in club’s resurgence to the top of English football in the 70s.
Soon after his debut for the club at the age of 18, Brady established himself as a regular starter and went on to form a great partnership with Allan Ball in Arsenal’s midfield. the two helped Arsenal reach 4 Finals, most of which came at the end of Brady’s career at Arsenal in the late 70s. Brady and Arsenal won the 1979 FA Cup final against Manchester, Brady’s only trophy at the club, and consequently he was also named Player of the Season that year.
After beating Juventus in the Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final with Arsenal in the 1979-80 season and reaching the final, Brady went on to join Juventus where he ended up winning 2 Serie A titles. And yet his time at Arsenal which involved many great performances by him and several finals has endeared him in Gooners’ hearts. He would’ve fitted perfectly with a more defensive player at his side, like Vieira, so his inclusion in our list of best Arsenal XI of all time feels only right.
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Winger: Robert Pires
When he joined Arsenal in 2001, Robert Pires was already a World Cup and Euro Winner and he certainly did not disappoint in the following seasons that he spent with the Gunners. Pires is certainly one of the best wingers in Premier League history and he was a big part of why Arsenal dominated the league back in the early 2000s.he was brought to the club in order to replace Marc Overmars who had joined Barcelona and he would soon taste success as Arsenal was able to help clinch the Double in Pires’ second season at the club.
Elegant on the ball, Pires was capable of easily moving past defenders as well as being a constant goal threat, who scored more than 15 goals a season. He experienced his best season with the Gunners in the 2003-04 season, where his unstoppable partnership with Thierry Henry led to many goals and assists for both players, serving as a one-two punch.
Robert Pires scored 87 goals for Arsenal and assisted more than 50. Having won 2 Premier Leagues and 3 FA Cup, he certainly is the best choice for the left wing position in our
best Arsenal XI of all time
. Pires would go on to leave Arsenal after their loss in the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2006, but despite the bitter end, he is adored by both the club and supporters and holds a coaching position in the club at the moment.
Winger: Cliff Bastin
A legend of the Arsenal Football Club, Cliff Bastin was Arsenal’s top scorer of all time from 1939 until 1997 and served as one of the pioneers of Arsenal’s success in the 1930s. Quick and skillful on the ball, Bastin’s goal scoring abilities soon turned him into one of the best ever Arsenal player and someone worthy of being on the Arsenal best 11 of all time. He joined Arsenal in 1929, while only being 17, and he remained there until the end of his playing days in 1947.
By the time Bastin was only 19, he had already won a League title, an FA Cup trophy and an England call-up, making him the youngest player to achieve those three honors, a record which he still holds to this day. He is also one of the most decorated player on our list as he has won 5 league titles and 2 FA Cups.
Bastin scored 178 goals in 398 matches for Arsenal becoming their top goal scorer ever until his record was broken in 1997 by Ian Wright. A record that becomes even more impressive when you learn that he was a winger and not a forward and as such there can be no other player who joins Robert Pires in the wings of the best Arsenal XI of all time.
Support Striker: Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp who was a Wizard on the ball needs no introduction as he is our playmaker and support striker in
all-time greatest XI of Arsenal
. His tendency to create moments of magic and beauty on the pitch has led to some calling him an artist instead of an athlete. His transfer to Arsenal in 1995, as he was one of the first genuine superstars to choose the Premier League, has been called by many an important turning point in EPL’s history.
As a student of Total Football, Bergkamp fitted perfectly into Arsene Wenger’s plans and philosophy and Wenger took the opportunity to build his style around him with Bergkamp playing a deeper more creative role which resulted in him being able to assist more times than he scored goals. Over the years, Wenger partnered Bergkamp with many players, with Bergkamp always being the mastermind in Arsenal’s attack. His partnership with Thierry Henry was something else though as two of Arsenal greatest linked up together to score and assist goals.
Bergkamp assisted 94 goals in the Premier League alone and he scored 120 goals in all competitions for Arsenal over the course of 11 seasons leading Arsenal to 3 Premier League and 3 FA Cup titles. His elegant control of the ball, his right foot curl shots and most importantly his great vision for creating chances has made him one of the greatest footballers of all time and certainly a member of the
best Arsenal XI of all time
Striker: Thierry Henry
Who could spearhead
Arsenal greatest XI of all time
other than the King of Highbury himself, Thierry Henry. A player who was already a World Cup winner by the time he was 20 and joined Arsenal a year later after an unsuccessful time with Juventus in Serie A. there, Arsene Wenger chose to put him up front instead of on the flanks, believing he had the qualities of a great forward. and soon Henry adapted to his new role and then the goals just kept coming.
Henry would soon lead Arsenal to glory as he scored 32 goals in all competitions in the 01-02 season and helped Arsenal win the League and FA Cup Double. Henry who by now had become one of the best players in the world played a huge part in Arsenal winning the league without losing a single match in the 2003-04 season, a record they extended to 49 games. he scored 39 goals in all competition and was named the Player of the Year for the 2nd time in a row.
Henry became the first Arsenal player to win the European Golden Boot (twice) and was also runner-up to the World Player of the Year award twice in 2003 and 2004. He would help Arsenal immensely as they reached the Champions League final 2 years later, which they ended up losing, and he ultimately left the club in 2007.
Thierry Henry scored 228 goals in 377 games for Arsenal, winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot 4 times, being the only player to do so, and became Arsenal’s top scorer of all time. his speed, incredible dribbling ability, powerful right-footed strikes and great vision, helped him achieve almost everything that a footballer can. Like Bergkamp and Adams, Henry also has a statue outside Arsenal’s home stadium, but his actions on the pitch truly immortalize him and make him the best Arsenal player of all time and the perfect man to lead the line for the best Arsenal XI of all time.
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