With 13 league titles and 14 FA Cups tucked away in the trophy cabinet, it is no surprise that Arsenal have been able to call on some of the finest footballers who have ever played the game over the years. From Herbert Chapman’s all conquering teams of 1930s, through to Arsene Wenger’s legendary sides, the best of the best have pulled on the famous red and white shirts since the club was founded in 1886.
So, selecting an ultimate Arsenal XI is no easy task. However, GOAL has nonetheless embraced the challenge, employing a midfield diamond in our stellar selection in order to ensure the inclusion of as many legends as possible...
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GK: David Seaman
Arsenal have had a host of top keepers over the club's history, such as the great Pat Jennings and Jack Kelsey, but David Seaman gets the nod for the No.1 jersey.
The England legend had already won the old Division One title with Arsenal before the Premier League was introduced in 1992 and he remained first-choice right up until the 2003-04 season, when he left for Manchester City.
Seaman won the Premier League twice while in north London and made 325 Premier League appearances for the Gunners – only Ray Parlour made more.
RB: Lee Dixon
Arsenal’s fourth all-time appearance-maker.
Dixon signed from Stoke City in January of 1988 for around £300,000 ($370,000) and went on to play 619 times before retiring in 2002 – only David O’Leary, Tony Adams and George Armstrong featured in more games.
The right-back won four league titles during his time in North London, as well as three FA Cups, the League Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup.
Dixon was part of the famous Arsenal back four that proved the foundation for George Graham's success, but he was also one of the rocks that Arsene Wenger built his early success around.
There may have been players before and after Dixon who were far more eye-catching, but there are very few in Arsenal’s history who come close to achieving what he did during his time at the club.
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CB: Tony Adams
Mr. Arsenal! One of the first names on the team-sheet. Arsenal have had some excellent centre-backs but none have been as vital as Adams.
He made 255 appearances in the Premier League for the Gunners, adding two more league titles in 1998 and 2002 to the First Division championships he won in 1989 and 1991.
That meant Adams captained Arsenal to league titles in three different decades.
As well as four league titles, the defender also won three FA Cups with the Gunners, not to mention two League Cups and the Cup Winners' Cup.
Arguably the club’s greatest ever captain, he has to take up his usual place in the heart of the defence.
CB: Frank McLintock
McLintock was signed for Arsenal by Billy Wright in 1964 for what was then a club-record fee of £80,000 ($98,000).
Although it took him a bit of time to fully prove himself in North London, he started to flourish after Bertie Mee was appointed manager in 1968.
After losing two successive League cup finals, Arsenal eventually ended the club’s 17-year wait for a major trophy in 1970 when they beat Anderlecht to lift the Inter-Cities Fair Cup, with McLintock playing an influential role.
The centre-back would then lead Arsenal to the historic league-and-cup double in 1971 and was crowned footballer of the year.
He eventually left Arsenal in 1973, joining QPR.
LB: Eddie Hapgood
Hapgood was plucked from lowly Kettering Town by Gunners manager Herbert Chapman in 1927 for just £950 ($1,170) and went to captain Arsenal’s all-conquering side of the 1930s.
He made 440 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal and won the First Division title five times, as well as the FA Cup twice.
The left-back spent 12 years with Arsenal before the onset of the Second World War, scoring two goals.
He died in 1973, at the age of just 64, and is widely regarded as one of the club’s greatest signings.
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CM: Patrick Vieira
From the moment Patrick Vieira came off the bench to make his debut against Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury in 1996, it was clear Arsenal had signed someone special.
The Frenchman went on to win three Premier League titles while he was with the Gunners and was the captain of the 'Invincibles' of 2003-04.
A midfield colossus, Vieira provided protection to the back four while at the same time driving forward at every opportunity to link up with the attack.
One of the finest players ever to play for Arsenal, he made 279 Premier League appearances before leaving for Juventus in 2005.
CAM: Liam Brady
Brady is up there alongside Dennis Bergkamp when it comes to the most talented players to ever play for Arsenal.
In all, he made 307 appearances between 1973 and 1980 before he moved to Juventus.
Arguably his finest hour was in the 1979 FA Cup final when he ran Manchester United ragged during a famous 3-2 success, while his goal during a 5-0 drubbing of Tottenham at White Hart Lane which swerved into the top corner off the outside of his football has gone down in Arsenal folklore.
A magician with the ball at his feet, Brady lit up Highbury during the 70s before taking his talents to Italy and excelling in Serie A.
LW: Cliff Bastin
Bastin was Arsenal’s record goalscorer for more than five decades before Wright eventually edged past him in 1997.
He was signed as a 17-year-old from Exeter City in 1929. Story has it that Herbert Chapman had actually gone to watch a game between Watford and Exeter to cast his eye over a Hornets player, but left with Bastin having caught his eye.
Chapman swooped soon after for the teenage inside-forward and it proved to be an inspired signing.
Bastin went on to score 178 goals for the Gunners in 395 games, winning five league titles and two FA Cups.
Had it not been for the outbreak of World War II, it's probable that Bastin would have scored so many more times that he'd still be sitting at the top of Arsenal's goals chart today.
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RW: Freddie Ljungberg
Ljungberg was a player few had heard of when Arsene Wenger brought him over from Sweden in 1998, but the winger went on to make himself a club legend during his nine-year stay in north London.
Indeed, from the moment he scored on his debut against Manchester United, the Arsenal fans had a new hero.
Ljungberg won three FA Cups and two league titles with the Gunners and was an integral part of the legendary Invincibles side.
But his best period in an Arsenal shirt came during the crucial season run in in 2001-02 when he almost single-handedly led the Gunners to the league-and-cup double with seven goals in an amazing seven-game period at the end of the campaign.
He could operate on either flank or in central areas and his ability to run from deep and finish off passes from Dennis Bergkamp was unmatched.
CF: Dennis Bergkamp
A player many view as the greatest in Arsenal’s history.
The forward signed from Inter in 1995 and although the Gunners spent what was then a club-record £7.5m ($9.2m) to bring him to the club, it proved to be an absolute bargain.
Bergkamp would stay in north London for 10 years, winning three league titles and four FA Cups. He was also named the PFA and Football Writers' player of the season in 1998.
He scored 120 times, which makes him the 11th-highest scorer in Arsenal’s history.
But Bergkamp’s game was about far more than just goals, as the likes of Ian Wright, Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry will all tell you.
His touch, technique and vision made him a dream to play alongside, with the Dutchman providing 94 Premier League assists – 20 more than any other Arsenal player.
“Dennis is the one that all the success was built on,' Wright said when discussing his former strike partner. “He is the best signing the club has ever made. He changed the DNA of the club.”
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CF: Thierry Henry
Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer.
Few could have imagined what Thierry Henry would go on to achieve when Arsene Wenger brought him to north London after a disappointing spell with Juventus.
But having been converted to a centre-forward by Wenger, Henry turned into arguably the greatest player the Premier League has ever seen.
He scored 175 league goals in 258 games, while also providing 74 assists. Henry won two league titles, four Golden Boots and was named Premier League player of the season twice.
A living legend.