The Arsenal, one of the grandest of all English football clubs. From Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners have a strong tradition of fielding some of the best players to grace the First Division and Premier League.
We take a look at the top 10 best Arsenal players to wear the famous red and white shirt down the years.
How Arsenal could do with some of these to bolster their chances for a top-four finish in this season’s Premier League.
You can see how we think the Gunners will fare in The Complete 2019/20 Premier League Season Preview, Predictions And Betting Tips.
So, without further ado…
10. Alex James
The oldest of our top 10 best Arsenal players, ‘Wee Alex’ as James was known joined Arsenal in 1929 winning the FA Cup, the club’s first major honour, in his first season.
He claimed a further five more trophies during his time at Highbury, four of which were league titles.
James was a member of the Gunners squad which was crowned champions three times in a row – the second English club to do so. With better luck, he would have won a trophy in every season at Arsenal with Herbert Champions team finishing runners-up in the league and FA Cup in 1931.
An outstanding playmaker, James was a pivotal member of the squad whose influence was recognised when both English and Scottish football inducted him into their respective Hall of Fame in 2005.
9. David Seaman
‘Safe Hands’; a sobriquet earned through consistency and hard work.
A worthy nickname for the only goalkeeper to make it into our top 10 best Arsenal players. David Seaman represented Arsenal 563 times, to add to his 75 England caps, all bar three of which were won during his time in north London.
A genial Yorkshireman, Seaman replaced the popular John Lukic in the summer of 1990. In his first season at the club, he conceded just 18 goals, four short of the national record and bettered since by Chelsea in 2004/05 and Arsenal in 1998/99.
Such was his ability, incredible saves became routine. When a striker went through one-on-one, Seaman was expected to make the save. Even so, plaudits and words almost escaped everyone during the 2003 FA Cup semi-final.
All except ‘Safe Hands’, he just wondered what all the fuss was about.
8. Tony Adams
If anyone was to captain our top 10 best Arsenal players, it would be Mr Arsenal – Tony Adams.
He understood what the club means to fans, and famously stated:
“Play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they’ll remember the name on the back.”
After making his debut in a 3 – 2 home defeat to Sunderland in 1983, Adams went onto play 670 games for Arsenal, scoring 48 goals. It is for his leadership that he is best remembered, winning four league titles in his career, three FA Cups, two League Cups, and the European Cup Winners Cup.
A combative centre-back, Adams found himself caricatured as a donkey in the national press following an own goal at Old Trafford on April 1989 as the Gunners chased the league title. He had the last laugh a month later as Arsenal were crowned champions after an unforgettable 2 – 0 win at Anfield.
His character and demands made of teammates on the pitch made him a hero to those on the terraces. It was fitting that the first Premier League title won by Arsene Wenger was crowned with a spectacular goal by Adams at home to Everton. Mr Arsenal indeed.
7. David Rocastle
Louis Armstrong wrote the words but David Rocastle gave them meaning.
“Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent,” is now ingrained into the Arsenal psyche thanks to the mercurial midfielder.
David Rocastle had everything a midfielder needs to be successful: tenacious, spikey on the pitch, skilful and blessed with vision, pace and a powerful shot, all of which is encapsulated in his memorable goal at Old Trafford.
The only thing missing was luck with injuries and that ultimately cut his Arsenal career short.
After less successful spells elsewhere, Rocastle died at the tragically young age of 33. The affection for the man is shown by the chants in his honour which still ring out at Arsenal matches to this day.
6. Anders Limpar
The original Super Swede. Limpar arrived before the internet age and was a complete unknown to most Gooners.
A £1m signing from Italian club Cremonese in 1990, he announced himself to the faithful at Wembley with an outrageous goal against Aston Villa and never looked back. A new terrace hero was born.
Pacey and gifted with devilish trickery, Limpar provided the guile to an Arsenal side renowned for its’ hard work. He was the luxury player, however. The Sweden international didn’t tackle but was capable of such genius that he was, initially, forgiven.
He was an integral member of the 1990-91 title-winning side, providing guile and an explosive turn of pace.
His dribbling meant that on his day, Limpar was unplayable.
In the final match of the season, he enjoyed what was arguably his finest hour in an Arsenal shirt, scoring a hat-trick in the 6 – 1 rout of Coventry City.
5. Charlie George
The sight of Charlie George, son of Islington, lying on the Wembley turf, arms outstretched is one of the FA Cup’s iconic images. It completed the journey from the North Bank terraces where he watched his own Arsenal heroes.
With his long hair draped across his neckline, George was the capital’s answer to George Best. A creative wayward genius, George made is debut in 1969, becoming a regular fixture in the side. He played a pivotal role in the club’s first European success that season, scoring four goals in eight Fairs Cup appearances.
The following year, he was a key member of the double-winning squad despite breaking his ankle early in the campaign.
His prickly nature brought him into conflict with Bertie Mee, the Gunners boss. While he delivered on the pitch, his run-ins became more frequent with the authoritarian, culminating in George being sold to Derby County in 1975.
As if to embed himself in Arsenal folklore, the striker was due to sign for Tottenham. The club was set to announce the coup and called a press conference. George left them in the lurch, opting to move to the East Midlands instead, cementing his place in our top 10 best Arsenal players.
4. Liam Brady
To those of a certain age, Brady is God.
A cultured left foot and a brain brimming with footballing intelligence. The Irishman strolled imperiously through the muddy midfield of the 1970s, giving a generation of success-starved fans hope.
Crafted passes, mazy dribbles, spectacular goals, all capped off with a cool head from the penalty spot. He drove the club forward, providing ammunition for Frank Stapleton and Alan Sunderland.
His pinnacle came in 1979, on a balmy May afternoon when a pivotal involvement in the first two goals counted for nought. Manchester United fought back to 2 – 2 with just a minute remaining.
Brady, by his own admission, was absolutely shattered, drove Arsenal forward. He passed to Rix, whose cross created a moment of Wembley folklore as Alan Sunderland pounced. 3 – 2; the five-minute Final was over.
A year later, following two crushing cup final defeats in a week, he left for a hugely successful career in Italy with Juventus, Sampdoria, Internazionale and Ascoli.
3. Thierry Henry
From humble beginnings, Thierry Henry finished with a statue at the Emirates.
Few during his early days at the club would have predicted that outcome. To many, he is the best of the top 10 best Arsenal players but he loses out for once!
Signed with money left over from the sale of Nicolas Anelka, Henry arrived twelve months later than intended. Arsene Wenger wanted him when Monaco decided to sell but Juventus won that battle. Henry endured his spell in Serie A but from the moment he scored his first Arsenal goal at the Dell, he never looked back.
226 goals in 369 appearances set the club record, with Ian Wright’s previous tally of 185 goals surpassed on an autumnal night in Prague. Fittingly, he scored in the final match at Highbury in May 2006. A day of celebration and being Henry, he grabbed a hat-trick.
After a final year at the club, he left for Barcelona and New York Red Bulls. There was to be a fairy tale ending. Seven more appearances in Arsenal’s colours on loan in 2012 added to the legend. The only goal in his first game back and a final goal in his last appearance.
It’s the stuff of dreams.
2. Ian Wright
So good, they named him three times. Ian Wright! Wright! Wright! as the Highbury screens regularly belted out arrived as a man on a mission.
Joining in September 1991, he terrorised top-flight defences from the outset. A goal on his debut at Leicester, followed by a hat-trick at Southampton the following Saturday; Wright meant business.
In seven seasons at the club, he topped thirty goals four times. Yet he seemed destined for a low-key career in terms of honours. An FA Cup and League Cup but no European glory a year later when he was suspended for the win over Parma in the Cup Winners Cup.
Justice was served in his final season. Not only did he break the club’s long-standing goalscoring record, but he was a member of the squad which won the double.
1. Dennis Bergkamp
Derided as ‘Carlos Kickaball’ by the then-Tottenham chairman, Alan Sugar, Dennis Bergkamp arrived from Inter Milan in a shock £7.5m deal, which briefly made him the most expensive signing by an English club.
A prodigious talent at Ajax, Italy stifled him; Arsenal liberated, allowing his thinking and vision to become pivotal to the success which followed. Such was the admiration for him, that he was honoured with a testimonial when he announced his retirement. It was the first played in the newly-opened Emirates Stadium.
One hundred and twenty goals in 423 appearances barely does justice to him. Bergkamp registered as many assists, if not more. It was fitting that his last Arsenal goal came on a day nominated by the club in his honour, against West Bromwich Albion at Highbury on ‘Dennis Bergkamp Day’.
If there was a footballing god, he made Dennis Bergkamp in his image.
Dennis Bergkamp: the best of the top 10 best Arsenal players of all time.