I’m sure there are many of you who like me, love to pick your all time best Arsenal eleven. Also like me, I bet you have trouble picking one legendary player over another. I’ve decided to do something a bit different in this piece. I’m going to pick two Arsenal sides with seven substitutions for each side. One of the sides will be my best ever home grown side and they’ll be playing against the other team who are my best ever Arsenal side of players we’ve signed from other clubs.
I’ve only selected from players that I’ve seen play and also haven’t considered any of the current squad as it’s hard to fully appraise them until they’ve finished playing for Arsenal.
As you’d expect it was an extremely difficult task to choose one great player over another but I’ve given it my best shot. So without further ado let’s start with the Home-Grown side first which will play in a 4-4-2 formation.
In goal I’ve gone for Bob Wilson, who I know came to Arsenal as an amateur from Wolves so is not strictly home grown. But he played his entire first class club career with The Arsenal so I’m going to bend the rules a bit with his selection. Mainly as there isn’t many other candidates I can think of. Really only Wojciech Szczesny and Stuart Taylor, so that’s why I’m going for Bob. He was the bravest goalkeeper I’ve ever seen and wouldn’t think twice about diving at a forwards feet, putting his body on the line so many times and he had plenty of injuries and broken bones as a result.
The Right Back for the home grown team was an easy decision. Pat Rice spanned the Bertie Mee and Terry Neill eras and played in five FA Cup Finals for The Arsenal.
At Left Back I’ve plumped for Ashley Cole. Although he left the club in very acrimonious circumstances. He remains the finest full back the club has ever produced. A real winner and the best Left Back in the World at his peak.
My first selection at Centre Back was an absolute must inclusion. He’s also the captain of the side. Mr Arsenal Tony Adams Arsenal’s most successful player and captain in terms of trophies won. An inspirational leader for many years captaining a title winning side in three different decades. The bigger the game the better he played.
Partnering TA I’ve gone for David O’Leary. With the pace this defence will be up against they’re going to need a mobile Centre Back and O’Leary was deceptively quick with his long stride. A classic ball playing Centre Back and The Arsenal’s record appearance holder completes the back four.
Moving onto Centre Midfield I’m putting midfield maestro Liam Brady straight in there. The finest playmaker Arsenal have ever had and alongside Chippy I’ve gone for the enforcer Peter Storey as they’ll need a combative player in there. A tremendous ball winner who he was a much better footballer than people gave him credit for. In fact Bobby Moore once said that Storey was one of the best three players he’d ever played with. High praise indeed and the ideal player to have in your side when you are up against it.
Wide Left I cannot look any further than Geordie Armstrong. Phenomenal work rate. Immaculate pinpoint crossing and so consistent as well. Wide Right it has be Rocky Rocastle. So skilful a wonderful talent who was brave as they come and loved a tackle.
Up top I’m going for John Radford powerful, hard working and excellent in the air. He was a far better player than he was given credit for and didn’t get the recognition he deserved. Alongside Raddy I’m going for one of the most naturally gifted players to ever emerge at Arsenal Charlie George.
A well balanced side capable of beating anybody. But they’ll have to be at their very best to beat the other side I’m going to pick.
My seven subs for the home grown side are Martin Keown, Paul Davis, Paul Merson, Frank Stapleton, Ray Parlour, Michael Thomas and Ray Kennedy. Not a bad subs bench I’m sure you’d agree.
Now onto the team of players the club signed from other clubs playing a 4-3-1-2 formation. My choice of goalkeeper is between two outstanding candidates, both of whom were World class goalkeepers and had a great presence about them. I considered Pat Jennings but in the end decided on “Safe Hands” David Seaman.
My selection at Right back is slightly controversial. A lot of fans would have plumped for either Lauren or Lee Dixon and as part of that famous back four unit you couldn’t beat it. But as an individual I feel that Viv Anderson offers a bit more than Lee, particularly from set pieces where he was likely to score a goal, so I’m going for him.
At Left Back I’ve gone for the stylish Kenny Sansom. Arsenal and England’s best Left Back for the best part of a decade.
The first Centre Back I’ve gone for is Sol Campbell. Strong powerful and quick, not much got past him. The other Centre Back is the skipper and the man who led Arsenal to the Double in 1971. As big an inspiration and leader on the field as Tony Adams it’s Frank McLintock to partner Sol.
On the left of midfield I’m spoilt for choice, with three wonderful players to choose from in Anders Limpar, Marc Overmars and Robert Pires. It’s got to be Bobby Pires though who gets the nod for me.
In the centre of midfield I’ve opted for a monster of a player in Patrick Vieira an incredibly strong and powerful player, who was also so skilful and talented.
On the right of midfield one of the finest footballers of his generation Alan Ball. His quick and incisive one and two touch football would work a treat in this team.
Just behind the strikers as the perfect 10 has to be that Rolls Royce of a footballer, the genius that is Dennis Bergkamp.
The two strikers are the most prolific scorers in the history of the club that lethal predator Ian Wright and the amazing Thierry Henry.
The seven subs I’ve selected are Pat Jennings, Freddie Ljungberg, Gilberto, Cesc Fabregas, Malcolm Macdonald, Robin Van Persie and Kanu. Apologies to Charlie Nicholas, Tony Woodcock, Emmanuel Petit etc.
What a battle royal that match would be. Can you imagine Vieira locking horns with Storey in midfield! Apologies to all the great players I’ve had to leave out, but I could only choose 18 for each squad.
I’m sure you’ll have your own ideas of who should be in those sides and I dare say I’ve upset some of you with these selections. I’d be interested to know who you’d pick. Let me know in the Comments section, or click on the line-up images to comment.
Started going to Highbury in ’66. Season ticket holder since ’76. Love The Arsenal. Need I say more?