Fox sports Australia, hopefully as a forerunner to #TheInvincibles, have just shown a doco on Robert Pires.
They, as we all know, set our Bobby’s ability to turn a game on its head, the effect he had on #TheInvicibles, the fact he was one of the greatest players ever to pull on the Red/Maroon/Yellow/Blue…of The Arsenal. He was also the provider of one of the strangest moments in Arsenal football history.
But this got me thinking, just who was the best winger/wide player ever to grace Highbury/The Emirates. If you go by ‘Gunners Greatest Players’ top 50 ranking, then it was;
Bobby Pires (6)
Freddie Ljungberg (11)
Marc Overmars (12)
Paul Merson (26)
& Geordie Armstrong (40)
But this was voted for by the general public and what do they know, I mean, Eurovision, Great Britain, nil point, need I say more… So I thought I’d take another view of the best wide-men we have had over the years to see if I could come up with the definite King of the Wingers.
Pires – 189
Ljungberg – 216
Overmars – 100
Merson – 289
Armstrong – 500
Pires – 62 (1 in 3)
Ljungberg – 72 (1 in 3)
Overmars – 25 (1 in 4)
Merson – 78 (1 in 4)
Armstrong – 53 (1 in 10)
Assists? Opta Stats were a bit lacking back then.
Pires – EPL 01/02, 03/04; FA Cup 01/02, 02/03, 04/05
Ljungberg – EPL 01/02, 03/04; FA Cup 01/02, 02/03, 04/05
Overmars – EPL 97/98; FA Cup 97/98
Merson – Div 1 88/89, 90/91; FA Cup 92/93; League Cup 92/93
Armstrong – Inter Cities Fairs Cup (UEFA) Cup 69/70; Div 1 70/71; FA Cup 70/71
Arsene on Bobby Pires;“Pires was the best left attacking midfielder in the world. With us he was just flying.”
Gary Neville on Marc Overmars; “I would say Overmars was the toughest because those tussles between Arsenal and Man United in the last 90s, they were the best domestic team I ever played against. The worst thing for a defender is when you go tight and they spin in behind you, if you drop off they pick up to head and dribble past you, similar to Arjen Robben, Luis Figo or Franck Ribery.”
Liz Wellman on Freddie;
“I love Freddie. Can we have that Andy Williams song for the first dance at our wedding?”
Paul Merson on Paul Merson;
How to be a professional footballer: DO NOT adopt ‘Champagne’ Charlie Nicholas as your mentor. DO NOT share a house with Gazza. DO NOT regularly place £30,000 bets at the bookie’s. DO NOT get so drunk that you can’t remember the 90 minutes of football you just played in.
Dave Seager on Geordie Armstrong;
George ‘Geordie’ Armstrong was the antithesis of the modern day football star – and yet to those who knew him, played with him, or cheered him on from the terraces – he was exactly that… a bona fide Arsenal Superstar. (Click for more info om book.)
So from all this, I have determined my Greatest Arsenal Wingman. I was leaning towards Graham Rix, but I’ve never forgiven him for missing that penalty against Valencia. (I was 11, I cried all night)
So, TheFarSideView award goes to… Sir Freddie Ljungberg.
Reasons; He kept the legend of the number 8 going by scoring & getting booked in his first game. He’s got red hair, he’s everywhere. My wife would kill me if I didn’t pick him.
Oh yeah & in my opinion he was everything you needed in a Wingman, the best scoring record, excellent backup whenever you needed it, and looks to die for (Liz, will you bloody well get off my blog!)