The past two decades have not been kind to Arsenal Football Club. While the Gunners have enjoyed success in the FA Cup, they have not won the Premier League or a European trophy in nearly 20 years.
Even though soccer odds rarely put Arsenal as the favorites when they take on the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool, they are still viewed as one of the biggest and most successful clubs in English football history.
Whether it was at the old Highbury ground or the team’s present home – the Emirates Stadium – Arsenal fans have enjoyed the privilege of watching some of the greatest footballers play in front of them.
Below are the best five Arsenal players of all time.
1. Thierry Henry
If there is one player synonymous with Arsenal in the minds of supporters and neutrals, it is Thierry Henry. The Frenchman donned the Arsenal shirt for nearly a decade, becoming the club’s highest scorer in the process.
Henry was not only a prolific scorer for Arsenal but also a major provider of assists for his teammates. His speed, intensity, vision, and passing ability meant he was a dual-threat to defenders in the Premier League and Europe.
When Arsenal won the double in 2001-2002, Henry managed 24 goals and 20 assists, which showed he was an all-round footballer. While other forwards focused on scoring, Henry could do it all.
2. Dennis Bergkamp
Spending nine years at Arsenal during their pomp, Dennis Bergkamp is another club legend. The scorer of a goal against Newcastle United that will always be remembered as the best ever in the Premier League, Bergkamp was the ideal combination of silky skills and intensity.
Most fans saw Bergkamp as an incredible player with passing, vision, skills, and great shooting ability. While he had all those qualities, there was also a steeliness and determination about his play. He was often part of the front line for the Gunners, pressing from high up and ensuring that opposition defenders knew they would not have an easy game.
Bergkamp was such a brilliant player for the club that Arsenal could look over his issue of not flying to matches. He often missed away games in European competitions due to his fear of flying, but he more than made up for it with his performances in and around England!
3. Patrick Vieira
Another Gunner who was at the club from the glory years of 1996 to 2005, Patrick Vieira was the quintessential Arsene Wenger signing. Not only did he add a level of creativity and passing ability that was often not seen in the Premier League in those years, but he had the tenacity to mix it with the most fearsome players in the top flight.
Vieira led the team by both example and communication, marshaling his troops and ensuring the Gunners never gave their opponents an inch. His battles with Manchester United’s Roy Keane are the stuff of legends, and Vieira will always be remembered as one of the top midfielders to grace the Premier League.
4. Tony Adams
It says something about the quality of player that Arsene Wenger brought into Arsenal that Tony Adams is fourth on their all-time list of players. Adams represented the club from 1983 to 2002 and even came back as a coach for some time.
The center-back is one of the most legendary and well-respected captains in the club’s history. Adams was part of two great teams at the club, under managers George Graham and Wenger.
He is the only player in English footballing history who was the captain of a team that won the league title in three different decades, the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.
5. Ian Wright
Arsenal fans are sometimes guilty of underrating Ian Wright, given that he was succeeded by the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. But from 1991 to 1998, Wright made Highbury his personal playground.
The Englishman was a sharp-shooter who always knew how to find the back of the net. Wright was an instant impact player, scoring a hat-trick on his debut in the league against Southampton.
Wright could head the ball, shoot with both feet, and was extremely quick. He won the Premier League with the club in 1998 and was their leading scorer with 185 goals when he departed the same year.
Can Mikel Arteta Bring Arsenal Back to the Top?
Arsenal has put a lot of faith in young manager Mikel Arteta, with the Spaniard earning the head coaching position despite having never worked in that role at another team.
Arteta, a former Arsenal player, is focused on building a young team that works hard and plays attractive football. As the team works towards a position in the top four of the Premier League, Arsenal fans are daring to dream again.
While reaching the heights of the Arsene Wenger era may be a challenge, Arteta could be the man to bring the Premier League title back to Arsenal Football Club in the next four or five years.
For those intrigued by football legacies, our exploration doesn’t stop at Arsenal. We also journey through the illustrious history of Manchester United in our article, ‘The Top Five Manchester United Players of All Time‘. Discover the iconic players who shaped the Red Devils’ rich heritage and defined generations of success.