The Wenger era: Strikers

Welcome to WTTGT’s new blog: The Wenger era.

Over the course of these posts, we’ll take a look at the best players to have graced the red and white of Arsenal since the Professor arrived at Highbury back in September 1996.

By the end of the blog, we’ll have formed the best Wenger XI as voted for by YOU.

Today we take a look at strikers, and you have six of the best from Wenger’s time at the club to choose from.

Happy voting!

Ian Wright

Wright arrived at Arsenal in 1991 for a then-club record fee of £2.5m after spending six years at Crystal Palace and few would have predicted the success that he would go on to be.

He scored on his debut in a League Cup tie before netting a hattrick in his first game in the league as a Gunner and ended the campaign at the top scorer.

Wright was Arsenal top scorer for six seasons in a row and won the FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993.

Arsene Wenger arrived at the club in 1996 with Wright coming towards the end of his career at the age of 33, but continued to play and score regularly for the Gunners.

The finest moment of his career came in September 1997 as he became Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer, having broken Cliff Bastin’s record with a hattrick against Bolton Wanderers.

He was an integral part of Arsenal’s 1997-98 Premier League and FA Cup double and ended his time at Highbury with a total of 185 goals in 288 games.

Dennis Bergkamp

Arguably the greatest foreign footballer to ever grace the Premier League: The Iceman.

Also known as Dennis Bergkamp, the man who doesn’t like flying moved to Arsenal from Inter Milan in 1995 for £7.5m, a then-new club record signing and struggled to adapt to English football in his first year at the club.

The arrival of Arsene Wenger marked a major turning point in the Dutchman’s career, as Bergkamp won the double in his third season at Arsenal in the 1997-98 campaign, with his most memorable moment being a superb hattrick against Leicester City before winning the PFA Players of the Year.

He had to wait four years for his next silverware but was a key component of his second double with club in 2001-02 and was the season where Bergkamp scored that unbelievable goal against Newcastle United at St James Park.

The season after saw Bergkamp join the 100 club, as he scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Oxford United in the FA Cup, a competition which they went on to win.

The next year, Bergkamp set up Patrick Vieira’s winning goal with a phenomenal through ball on the final day of the season against Leicester, as Arsenal ended the campaign unbeaten and as Premier League champions.

He also played in the club’s 2005 FA Cup final win over Manchester United and was honoured with his own ‘Bergkamp day’ which replaced ‘Fans day’ in the last season at Highbury in 2006.

He retired at the end of the season and received a testimonial against former club Ajax, pitting the legends of both club’s against each other which was the first game at the Emirates Stadium.

Thierry Henry

What more can you say that hasn’t already been said about Thierry Henry.

Mr. Va Va Voom cruised into Highbury from Juventus in 1999 and joined up with former boss Arsene Wenger for £11m as the manager moved him from a winger to a striker which is where Henry showed his world-class ability.

After a slow start to his Gunners career, Henry finished the campaign with 26 goals to his name and as a runner-up in the UEFA Cup final.

After a successful second season, Henry was a pivotal part of Arsenal’s triumphs in 2002 as they claimed a Premier League and FA Cup double as the striker netted 32 goals in all competitions.

He scored the same amount of goal in his next campaign, as well as providing 23 assists, as Arsenal won the 2003 FA Cup. Individually, he claimed the PFA Player of the Year, Football Writers’ Player of the Year, and he was the runner-up in the FIFA World Player of the Year.

He won the same individual awards the following campaign, but scored 39 goals as Arsenal clinched an unbeaten Premier League title.

Henry was made the club captain at the start of the final season at Highbury and scored a hattrick in the final game at the stadium as Arsenal pipped Tottenham Hotspur to fourth spot in a dramatic final game of the Premier League season, and also played in the 2006 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.

Earlier in the campaign, Henry became Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer after a double against Sparta Prague in the Champions League and stayed at with the Gunners until 2007 and left on a tally of 228 goals.

He then returned for a brief spell last season on loan, scoring the winner in the FA Cup on his second debut against Leeds. He did the same in League away at Sunderland after adding a seventh in Arsenal’s win over Blackburn Rovers.

He now has a statue outside the ground, and is sure to return to North London again one day.

Robin Van Persie

This poll may have come at the wrong time for Robin Van Persie, who after a number of injury-plagued years has taken the Premier League by storm over the past few seasons.

The Dutchman was brought to Highbury by Arsene Wenger from Feyernoord in 2004 as a 21-year-old left winger who, with time, was duly converted into a centre forward.

He appeared mainly as a substitute in his first season at Arsenal but came off the bench in the FA Cup semi-final with Blackburn Rovers to score a brace, before successfully dispatching his penalty in the final as he earned a winners medal in 2005.

The next campaign again saw him appear mainly from the subs bench, although he became known for scoring some outrageous goals from tight angles. However he had scored eight goals in eight games before injury once again struck.

The following season was more of the same on the injury front, although he did manage to score that volley away at Charlton.

After Thierry Henry left in 2007, Van Persie became Arsenal’s main striker and had scored seven goals in 10 games before he was plighted by fitness issues once more.

The2008-09 season however, saw the Dutchman enjoy a longer spell in the team and managed to contribute to every single Arsenal goal in January 2009, which earned him the player of the month.

He finished the season as Arsenal’s top scorer for the second time in his career and went on to be named the club’s Player of the Season.

The 2009-10 campaign was yet again dominated by injury, as Van Persie missed five months of action. He remained quiet for what was left of 2010 before making his mark in 2011.

He finished 2011 with 35 goals after ripping apart defences at both ends of Premier League seasons which included a hattrick in the club’s 5-3 win over Chelsea.

He continued to carry the side through towards the end of the campaign, and netted at crucial times against the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton.

Van Persie is now the club’s 8th all time top scorer after this campaign with 132 goals, and will hopefully continue smashing them in for the Gunners for many years to come.

Matt Cotton

@FindingCotton

Who has been the best STRIKER during Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

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One Response to The Wenger era: Strikers

  1. Tugboat Hercules June 29, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    What? No Chamakh? 😉

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