Arsene Wenger’s All-TIme Best XI
When Arsene Wenger was appointed as Arsenal manager 18 years ago, Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” was number one and Raheem Sterling was a one-year-old.
Since his appointment, he’s seen over 200 other Premier League managers, celebrated 1884 goals and not seen countless “incidents”. But what’s his best ever XI?
It’s fair to say that the goalkeeping position has been one of Wenger’s blind spots at Arsenal. He’s struggled to replace David Seaman, and while Jens Lehmann was part of the “Invincibles” team, the former England star was a more reliable keeper.
While Cole may not exactly be revered by the Gunners faithful following his acrimonious departure to Chelsea, he’s almost an automatic selection at left-back. He was a crucial cog in the “Invincibles” side and won five trophies at Arsenal.
Adams was initially dubious about Wenger’s appointment, which came just a month after the England defender admitted he was battling alcoholism. However, the new boss’s methods helped transform Adams on and off the pitch. He went on to captain the club to titles in three different decades.
A shock, and controversial, signing from bitter rivals Tottenham, Campbell won the double in his first season at the club. He became a stalwart in their “Invincibles” side and went on to score in the club’s Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.
Dixon beats off stiff competition from the likes of Lauren and Bacary Sagna to secure the right-back berth. He was a survivor from George Graham’s 1989 title-winning side and was 34 when Wenger won his first piece of silverware at Arsenal. However, his partnership with Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould was crucial to Wenger’s early success.
Pires wins the battle for the right-wing spot over Marc Overmars, whom he replaced at the club in 2000. The French winger won PFA Player of the Year two years later and his goals and assists were vital in Arsenal’s success in the early to mid-Noughties. Arsenal fans later voted him their sixth best player of all time.
Possibly the first name on the teamsheet, Vieira – like his arch-rival Roy Keane at Manchester United – has arguably never been replaced properly. The French midfielder was vital to Arsenal’s success for several seasons and his battles with Keane remain possibly the most iconic of Premier League rivalries.
Petit or Fabregas? It’s a close one, and down to personal opinion, but the French World Cup-winner contributed greatly to Arsenal’s first double in his debut season, and he forged a formidable partnership with Vieira.
The Swedish winger endeared himself to Gunners fans with a goal on his debut against Manchester United. He went on to establish a knack for scoring and creating goals in crucial matches and his scoring streak in the 01/02 season helped Arsenal to a second double.
The forward postions pick themselves, despite the likes of Ian Wright and Nicolas Anelka’s scoring prowess. Henry is one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever players and remains Arsenal’s top goalscorer ever with 228 goals. He was top scorer in the Premier League for a record four seasons and was voted by fans as Arsenal’s greatest every player.
Although signed by Wenger’s predecessor Bruce Rioch, Bergkamp was an archetypal Wenger player. The non-flying Dutchman was the constant in Wenger’s three title-winning sides, in 1998, 2002 and 2004, and proved the perfect foil for the likes of Henry, Anelka and Ian Wright.