Tuesday, 14 April 2015

My All Time Arsenal Starting 11 (1999 - Present)

I have been an Arsenal supporter for the last 16 years of my life. Over this time I was blessed to see some of the greatest footballers play for my beloved club. So many players over the years have donned the Arsenal colours and left yet the club stood tall. Looking back at these 16 years I have came up with what I felt is my all time best starting 11 from 1999 up to today. I would go with my starting 11 followed by 7 Substitutes.

Goal Keeper
David Seamen

Arguably one of Arsenal greatest ever goalkeeper along with the likes of Perry Grooves and Bob Wilson. He was Arsenal Number 1 when I started watching them play and after him, Richard Wright, Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia, Wojiech Szczesny and David Opsina has been the number 1 but yet no one comes close to the class he brings to the team. His finest save in his Arsenal Career most likely came against Sheffield United in a Fa Cup Semi Final in 2003

Right Back
Lee Dixon
It was a close one to choose between Lee Dixon and Lauren, but I choose to side with Lee for this one. Has been an incredible servant to club from 1988 up to 2002. Took him a year before he fully established himself as a starting 11 player and from that point onwards there was no turning back for Lee Dixon. Part of the Great English Back Five for Arsenal
Center Back
Tony Adams
The automatic first choice has to none other than Mr. Arsenal himself. Tony Adams was more than just an Arsenal player. He was a captain, a leader, a super star and now a legend who's story worth to be told
around. He was born in London, started his youth career at Arsenal and played his whole professional career at Arsenal. If there is one men who would bleed Arsenal, It would be Tony. He was given the Captain's Armband at a tender age of 21 and remained until the day he retired. One of the few Arsenal Legends to have their statue erected in front of the Emirates Stadium. One his most memorable goal would be that fantastic strike against Everton in a 4-0 win at Highbury which ensured Arsene Wenger's first Premier League Crown. He broke through the Everton defense as if they were invincible and coolly collected an over the top ball by Steve Bould before slamming it home and raise his hands in the air. Its an iconic moment no Arsenal fan can ever forget

Center Back
Sol Campbell
My second choice centerback goes to Sol Campbell. Its a closely contested tie between Keown, Toure and Koscielny but ultimately I had to go with Sol for one simple obvious reason. The man was a beast in the heart of defense and of cause because he left Sp*rs for us while he was their captain. He came in a time of transition between Adams and Keown as they were aging and that is no easy boots to fill in. He showed us exactly why he was worth the steal from Sp*rs as he played a key role in The Invincibles Season.

Left Back
Ashely Cole
 As much as I hate the fact Ashley Cole for the manner he left the club and the remarks he gave after his departure, he will still remain perhaps the greatest Arsenal left back of all time. Started his career with the Arsenal youths has he step up to the first team was amazing. He became the proper replace for another Arsenal Great Nigel Winterburn. His had something extra in his game which other left back did not have. He could attack as good as he could defend. Ashely Cole became a regular threat to the opposition on the left flank. He was part of perhaps the best left attacking trio in the world that time consisting of him, Pires and Henry. As Henry once mentioned, "Every one knows we would attack from the left and yet they could not do anything to stop us". He still would remain perhaps the best left back Arsenal has ever had

Right Winger
Freddie Ljungberg
He hails from Sweden and he only cost us 3 Million. Freddie Ljungberg was a very different type of right winger we had. He was not about crosses or out and out wing play. He had certain pace with him and a keen eye for goal and the defenders could not stop him. He became the first player to score in a Fa Cup Final outside of England and became the first player to score in consecutive Fa Cup finals which he did with his red hair. He played a key role in the unbeaten season was part of the free scoring attacking four along with Pires, Henry and Bergkamp

Center Midfielder
Patrick Vieira
He will remain as Arsene Wenger's greatest ever singing for the amount of money he paid for. He was a reject at AC Milan and when Arsene brought him to Highbury, he immediately turned out to be one of the most outstanding midfield general of his time. He brought the much need stealth to the Arsenal midfield was the most important player in Arsenal counter attacking fooball style. Henry quoeted "When Patrick is having a good game, I would have 3-4 chances in the 1st half. If he was having a bad day, I would probably only get 1." Such was Patrick importance to the team. He wins the ball and releases the ball forward early to get the game going and he was doing that with ease. Until today no Arsenal player has ever been fully able to bring the same amount of quality in their attacking and defending side of the game as what Patrick brought.

Center Midfielder
Cesc Fabregas
Francesc Fabregas, born in Barca raised at Arsenal. The wonder kid was already making headlines at a tender age of 16 in the reserves. His qualities was so obvious and it was only a matter of time before he makes the first team. he became the youngest Arsenal player at that time to make his debut at the age of 16 years and 177 days and scored in a game later. His break through came when Patrick Vieira picked up an injury and Cesc Fabregas was given a run of games which he was impressive justifying all the hype around him. Upon Patrick's departure to Juventus, Cesc Fabregas was handed the iconic Number 4 jersey to fill in the boots of Vieira. He took the task with his own style of football despite not possesing the same physical appearance as Vieria. But he gave Arsenal something extra in his ability to turn around the ball and spot runs from distance when others could not. Through balls became his expertise and he was soon promoted to be Arsenal's Captain. He remains one of Arsenal's best passing midfielders and continues to rank up the assist chart during his time at Arsenal and that is one of the reason why he makes into my best 11 ahead of Gilberto Silva.

Left Winger
Who else if its not Rober Pires. My favourite Arsenal hero of all time. He remains the greatest left winger ever to play the game for Arsenal. He owned the Number 7 jersey and become a regular goal scorer for the club. Let it be stunning curlers from outside the box against Liverpool or famous lob over the keeper against Aston Villa and Southampton, you name it and Pires has done it. He strike up and excellent partnership with Henry and they could be blind folded and would still be able to find each other on the pitch. He was free scoring winger at a time with was uncommon for wingers to hit double figures. More importantly he had an eye for goal against Sp*rs. He just love scoring against them. I could go on the whole day talking about Arsenal's Greatest Winger, but I would leave you with this video below which sums up why ROBERT PIRES WAS THE GREATEST ARSENAL LEFT WINGER. Thank you for the memories Robert, we will always love you

Center Forward
The classiest center forward to have ever graced Highbury. He goes by many names such as "Non Flying Dutchman", "Dennis The Menance", "Bergy", "Iceman" and of cause "GOD". He is the one and only Dennis Bergkamp. Due to his fear of flying and the beautiful football he plays, he is always referred to the phrase "Why Fly When You Can Walk On Water". Well Dennis is GOD after all. The best Number 10 Arsenal has ever had. He faced harsh criticism when he newly arrived because he was not hitting in the goals. Once he found his rhythm, there was no turning back and Wenger brought the very best of Dennis. He played the game like no other center forward has ever played the game. Dennis Bergkamp was know for beautiful goals. When asked by a journalist why does he always like to make a nice goal, he says "If the goalies is a little bit off his line, how much space do you have on his left or right? It's not alot. And how much space do you have above him? There is more. Its a question of mathematics". But that does not says everything about Dennis. He was one of the best passing forwards you will every see. He was very good at moving the ball. Henry said in an interview about Dennis passing ideology, "If you are moving and you are open than you should have the ball, its that simple" and Henry has always hailed him as the best strike partner he has ever played with because he always feeds you with ball. As good Dennis was with goals he was good with assist as well. During his Arsenal time, Dennis had scored so many amazing goals and below are the 5 of the GOD's best goals

Center Forward
The final player in my all time starting 11 definitely goes to the club's all time greatest player and record goal scorer King Thierry Henry. Words cant describe what a beast he was for Arsenal in front of goal. Although he comes from France, during his time at Arsenal he truly understood what does it meant playing for Arsenal. He understood the meaning of the club. He knows how important are those North London Derbies were. He had a little arrogance in his game and that was what made him a level higher than players of his time. He is winner and he knows how to win it. One of the best team players you will ever find. In the modern game its rare you can find a center forward who can score you 30 odd goals and 15 assist in a single season. Henry was one of them. As much as he loves scoring, he was also creating so many goals for the team. It is was not by coincidence that during that time both Ljungberg and Pires were cracking up the goal charts. He took the captain armband and became the face of the club. He has been honored with statue at the Emirates. He is the current club top scorer of all time. One day, someone is going to erase his name from the all time top scorer list for Arsenal, but no matter what happens, Thierry Henry will always be the men who scored the most number of goals at Highbury. Henry was The King and The North Bank was his play ground. And this is a special video tribute on why Henry was King

The 7 Substitutes

"Mad" Jens Lehmann
Martin Keown
Nigel Winterburn

Gilberto Silva

Marc Overmars

Mesut Ozil
Robin Van Persie