Here Are Arsene Wenger’s 20 Greatest Players Of All Time!


[ Credit: Ronnie Macdonald / Flickr ]

To celebrate Arsene’s 20th anniversary at Arsenal, I’ve compiled my list of the 20 greatest players to ever play under Arsene Wenger – so not necessarily signed by him.

The list also outlines the number of appearances they have made under Arsene, as well as the trophies and honours they won in that time.

So here we go! After a lot of consideration and deliberation, here are the best ever players to have played under Arsene Wenger:

20. Theo Walcott
349 appearances under Wenger
2 FA Cups, 1 Community Shield

Maybe a slightly controversial choice considering the players who have played under Arsene Wenger, but Theo Walcott has been there for the second decade of his reign and racked up almost 350 appearances in that time. There’s no doubt he has struggled but he has scored some important goals and given us some memorable moments – including that run against Liverpool in the Champions League to setup Emmanuel Adebayor. During some difficult periods, he’s also managed to score some important goals, notably ones against Udinese to get us through the Champions League qualification stages.

His goal return is good considering he has mainly been a wide player in that time but lets not forget he was pivotal in the second FA Cup win with his opening goal against Aston Villa and is currently finding his form this season.

Perhaps he is here based on longevity more than anything else, but he has made an impact on numerous occasions.

19. Emmanuel Petit
116 appearances under Wenger
1 Premier League title, 1 FA Cup, 1 Community Shield

With Marc Overmars, he was only at the club 3 seasons but made quite the impression. Alongside Patrick Vieira at the heart of Arsenal’s midfield, he combined to make a formidable partnership that dominated games for those 3 years. They were a perfect match and his long ball distribution and tackling proved the perfect foil for Vieira’s box-to-box play. They won the league in 1998 and came close in 1999. The lure of Barcelona proved too much though and along with Overmars left for the Nou Camp, but along with the Dutchman he struggled to find the heights he once had with Arsenal.

18. Robin van Persie
272 appearances under Wenger
1 FA Cup, 1 Community Shield

His career coincided with our least successful time at the club and when we did win back-to-back FA Cups he had already left. But the fact remains that he is Arsenal’s 8th highest top scorer with 132 goals, which is no mean feat.

Van Persie’s early career was blighted by injuries but in his final season at the club there’s no denying he was sensational. Arsene Wenger moved him inside from a wider position and it was a masterstroke. The Dutchman scored well over 30 goals that season – some of them amazing strikes. He scored a hat trick against Chelsea, and wonderful volley’s against Everton at home and Liverpool away.

Perhaps he was a victim of the ‘Arsene-itis’ which was around at the club at the time and became disillusioned, with the perception that Arsenal were a selling club that didn’t have enough resources to push at the summit of the Premier League. Or maybe he was doing what a lot of footballers do and was chasing the money. Whatever the reason, he ended up leaving for Manchester United and won the Premier League before being shipped out to the Turkish league. There’s no doubt that he tarnished his ‘legacy’ at the club in the manner he left but he still scored a lot of memorable goals and for that one season, pretty much single-handedly dragged us into the Top Four.

17. Edu
127 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

Another player who I think is underrated; the Brazilian was an excellent player for us. He played a major part in the 2001-2004 period when we won 2 Premier League titles and 2 FA Cups. He was a bit part player in the 2004/2005 season but still managed to pick up another FA Cup trophy.

In the 2003/2004 season, he setup the goal for Robert Pires against Liverpool at Anfield and ‘scored’ the equaliser in the same game. He was also there when we beat Inter Milan 5-1 at the San Siro and actually made 30 appearances in our Invincibles season.

He never complained about being on the bench and played a bit part in our success during that time, and was firmly a fans favourite.

16. Laurent Koscielny
253 appearances under Wenger
2 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

He didn’t enjoy the best of seasons when he arrived, making that cock-up in the Carling Cup Final which we lost to Birmingham, but since then he has become of the best central defenders not just at Arsenal, but in the Premier League. He is an aggressive, quick and decisive defender who gives 110% every time he puts on an Arsenal shirt.

He reminds me of a Martin Keown type of player – no nonsense and always gives it his all. His performance against Chelsea (and Diego Costa) the other week sums up where he is at the moment.

He has won 2 FA Cups and 2 Community Shields and while his trophy haul may not be the best so far, he has been a consistent and reliable performer for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

15. Lauren
242 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

This guy was a soldier. He was a beast, and a killer on the pitch. He took no prisoners and his professionalism and performances were second-to-none. Massively underrated, Lauren was excellent defensively and was handy in attack, having previously played in midfield.

He racked up close to 250 appearances under Arsene and you don’t do that unless you’re a special player. He took the mantle from Lee Dixon and the transition was effortless, with Arsenal continuing their excellent defensive line with Lauren, Campbell, Toure and Cole. He scored some memorable goals, with the goal against Chelsea sticking out in my mind the most.

There was a time when he took penalty duties as well and I remember him being ice cool in front of goal – scoring some important ones with ease. He ended his Arsenal career with 2 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cups, which is some trophy haul. We arguably didn’t manage to replace him properly until Hector Bellerin some 10 years later (I was never convinced by Bacary Sagna) which says a lot about the standard he left behind.

14. Marc Overmars
141 appearances under Wenger
1 Premier League title, 1 FA Cup, 1 Community Shield

He was only at the club for 3 seasons but Marc Overmars was a consistent performer and enjoyed success at the club. He won the Double in his first season, and helped us push Manchester United in 1999 and 2000, before he left for Barcelona.

His career was somewhat at a crossroads in 1997 as he was suffering from major injuries but a personal recommendation from Dennis Bergkamp was enough for the pacey winger to join Arsenal – and what an impact he made.

Much is made of the Henry-Pires-Vieira axis during the early 2000’s but for a time Overmars, Bergkamp and Anelka were causing havoc. With Dennis Bergkamp’s vision and guile, combined with the speed and finishing of Overmars and Anelka, we could beat anyone on our day. His most memorable moment would have to be that goal at Old Trafford to give us an invaluable 1-0 win and the psychological edge in the title race. Was it Overmars’ most important goal at Arsenal? He scored a few important goals for us, including a goal in the FA Cup Final in the same season.

The most successful eras of Arsene Wenger’s reign have all had fantastic players out on the wing and Marc Overmars was no exception.

13. Tony Adams
132 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

Captain Fantastic was coming towards the end of his career at Arsenal when Arsene Wenger arrived in 1996 but because of the Frenchman’s new methods he managed to stay on at Arsenal until 2002 – another 6 seasons. Although most of those later campaigns only saw around 20/25 appearances, he was still the man people looked up to and set the tone for how Arsenal players should act and behave. His ethos and presence alone carried on to the Invincibles season after he left. You can the “old school” mentality had left the club from around 2006 onwards as we descended into a more barren spell at the club.

His leadership and ability was the basis that Arsene Wenger could cultivate his attacking style of play and was invaluable in Arsenal’s early success under Arsene. We all know Arsene Wenger inherited a phenomenal back four and Tony Adams was the kingpin of that defence. His aura was sometimes enough to get us clean sheets.

He was still a fantastic leader and captain until he retired and was pivotal in our successes of 1998 and 2002. And everyone will always remember THAT goal he scored against Everton at Highbury, when he was put through by Steve Bould. As the great Martin Tyler said at the time, “that sums it all up!”.

12. Gilberto Silva
237 appearances under Wenger
1 Premier League title, 2 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

I remember when the news broke just before the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea that we were going to sign a player from Brazil called Gilberto Silva. We knew he was in the Brazil squad but because they had a midfield consisting of Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka (to support the real Ronaldo) it was thought Gilberto would be a bit part player, due to the fact Emerson was the main holding midfielder (and captain) for Brazil at the time. However, a freak injury resulted in a dislocated shoulder, Gilberto played and the rest is history. Suddenly Arsenal had Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva in the center of midfield – two World Cup winners!

Edu was already at Arsenal and he was the man Gilberto was brought in to replace. Gilberto’s start to his Arsenal career was a little shaky but it didn’t take him long to cement himself into the Arsenal midfield and form a devastating partnership with Vieira. He was a big part of The Invincibles season and scored some important and memorable goals – such as the lovely volley against Middlesborough and the 11-second goal against PSV in the Champions League.

He stayed at Arsenal after most of the Invincibles had gone and ended up being captain for a short while, leading the younger players through a couple of league campaigns.

He will be fondly remembered as the smiling, cheerful Brazilian who helped us make history as well as steady the ship when Arsenal were going through the stadium move.

11. Cesc Fabregas
303 appearances under Wenger
1 FA Cup, 1 Community Shield

Although his spell at Arsenal was mainly barren in terms of trophies, he still racked up over 300 appearances under Wenger and for the vast majority was our best player.

He captained the side at a young age and led the team to a series of near successes, notably the 2007/2008 season when we looked like we were back at the peak of the Premier League. A tragic injury to Eduardo that season stopped us in our tracks and we never really recovered.

In his later seasons at the club, how many times would he get us out of jail with a goal or assist? He seemed to do something special almost on a weekly basis and although we had a shaky team during some of his seasons, he was consistently excellent. It is perhaps a shame we couldn’t surround him with a team that could truly compete, as things might have been different.

Despite the lack of honours, it doesn’t take away the fact that he was a world class player for Arsene and Arsneal.

10. Kolo Toure
326 appearances under Wenger
1 Premier League title, 2 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

Although he didn’t win as many honours as some of the players on this list, Kolo Toure was still one of Arsene Wengers loyal lieutenants. He was a bit part player in the 2002-2003 season but my word what an impact he made a year later! He formed a formidable partnership at the back with Sol Campbell and proceeded to go a whole Premier League campaign unbeaten. He was also a major part in our excellent run in the Champions League in the 2005/2006 season, having to contend with a mix-matched back four, but held it together admirably.

He was a player who gave 110% every single time he crossed that white line and you could never accuse him of a lack of desire or commitment. Unfortunately he couldn’t add to his Premier League and FA Cup triumphs, but he did almost help us win the league in 2008.

9. David Seaman
245 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 3 Community Shields

Although David Seaman had already won a lot of honours at Arsenal, he was still at his peak in 1996 when Arsene arrived and he helped us win 2 Doubles. He also made that unbelievable save in the FA Cup against Sheffield United which led to an FA Cup win in 2003.

The man known as ‘Safe Hands’ was just that and I will always remember that penalty save against Aston Villa which allowed us to win that game with THAT goal from Robert Pires. Just magical.

8. Freddie Ljungberg
313 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 3 Community Shields

The man who made his mark with a chip over Peter Schmeichel after coming on a substitute was always going to be under the spotlight and the little Swede didn’t disappoint. He played a big part in the success we had between 2002-2004 and he was a player who always gave 110%.

The thing I remember the most about Freddie was his telepathic understanding with Dennis Bergkamp, as well as his truly ridiculous finishing ability. Every time he was put through on goal, he would score. EVERY TIME. You had top strikers in the game who would need 2 or 3 chances to score but Jesus; Freddie only needed half a chance. This unbelievable ability to find the net was a major reason we succeeded in those years and he scored a lot of important goals in that time, with the most memorable probably the goal in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea. And in the one occasion I do remember him missing a chance (that shot against Fabien Barthez at Old Trafford) it still made history as Sylvain Wiltord followed up and scored the goal which won us the Premier League at Manchester United.

7. Ashley Cole
228 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

Possibly a controversial choice in the Top 10, you cannot take away what he did at Arsenal. For some reason I never really got on board about him being a traitor and all that hyperbole, for me that was a sign of where football was heading. Don’t get me wrong, I was disappointed he left in those circumstances but don’t forget that most of these footballers struggle to think for themselves and are advised by people who have “other” interests.

Anyway, I digress. After winning 2 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cups, his achievements at the club cannot be dismissed. He was a tough tackler who developed hugely under Arsene Wenger, and a player who turned into one of the best left backs in the world – he was that good. He always played with a smile on his face and his combination play with Robert Pires and Thierry Henry was integral to our attacking play. I was disappointed he declined to be featured in Arsenal’s recent Invincibles documentary because despite what happened off the pitch, he was still a massive player for Arsene and Arsenal.

6. Sol Campbell
197 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 1 Community Shield

As Tony Adams was winding down his career we needed a big player to fill that void, which would later be compounded by Martin Keown’s retirement. But Arsene Wenger took the bold step of looking across North London and poaching Tottenham’s leader and captain, Sol Campbell. It was a deal that paid off, big time.

He was immense. He might have been good at Tottenham but my word he was a colossus at Arsenal. He was a leader and a warrior and alongside Lauren, Toure and Cole was formidable. He came to Arsenal to win things and he did just that, winning 2 Premier Leagues and 3 FA Cups which is no mean feat. He also scored a memorable goal in the Champions League Final, and made all Arsenal fans believe – just for a moment.

5. Robert Pires
189 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

One of the three musketeers, Robert Pires was a special talent. In every success Arsenal enjoyed he played a huge part. When we won the Double in 2002, you’ll remember an injured Pires collecting the Premier League trophy and the entire Arsenal squad bowing on their knees at the master. Arsenal players and fans alike knew how good this guy was.

A season later he scored the decisive goal in the FA Cup Final against Southampton, and then a year after that put in his best season at Arsenal, helping them win the Premier League unbeaten.

Probably the most unselfish player Arsenal have ever had, he was such an elegant player yet he had that ruthless winning mentality which was integral to our success during that period.

4. Ray Parlour
321 appearances under Wenger
3 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

Possibly a surprise inclusion in the Top 5? Not for me. When Arsene Wenger arrived in last 1996, Ray Parlour was one of the old guard who you thought might have moved on, like Paul Merson for example. But the Romford Pele impressed and was an integral part of the 1998 Double success, with his powerful runs and determination to make a tackle. A real team player who is super dependable, Ray Parlour is a player who doesn’t get enough credit in my eyes.

Even when Arsene signed players like Pires, Ljungberg and Wiltord, Ray Parlour still managed to contribute to the team, sometimes alongside Patrick Vieira in the middle of the park. He scored that wonder goal in the FA Cup Final in 2002 and people forget he was the captain that lead Arsenal out at the San Siro when we thrashed them 5-1, in a game many consider one of our greatest ever European performances.

With 3 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups and 2 Community Shields during the Arsene Wenger years, Ray Parlour was really one of his greatest players.

3. Thierry Henry
369 appearances under Wenger
2 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields

The man, the myth, the legend. Voted Arsenal’s greatest ever player and it would be hard to argue against it. He smashed Ian Wright’s goalscoring record, won Premier League titles, FA Cups and a shed load of personal accolades to boot. And for me, between 2002-2005, he was the best player in the world and should have won the Balon d’Or at least twice.

As well as a phenomenal scoring record, his assist rate was impressive and he was a real team player. The way he expressed himself on the pitch was beautiful to watch and some of the goals were bordering on the ridiculous. Strong, powerful, quick and intelligent, he had it all and it was a privilege to have him at Arsenal during his peak.

Out of all the players Arsene Wenger has nurtured and mentored over the years, you feel that Thierry Henry was his greatest achievement. From a down and out winger at Juventus, Arsene Wenger turned him into one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen. If he managed to lead Arsenal to Champions League glory in 2006, Henry would have topped this list.

2. Patrick Vieira
406 appearances under Wenger
3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 4 Community Shields

Although Patrick Vieira was only Arsenal captain for 3 seasons between 2002 and 2005, way before then he was a leader on the pitch. He played a massive part in the clubs most successful period, from the 1998 Double to the Double Double in 2002 and then the unforgettable Invincibles season of 2004. As well as being a huge presence on the pitch, he lead by example with his hunger, desire and determination to win at all costs. He formed formidable partnerships with Emmanuel Petit, Edu and Gilberto and had success with all three. He was the man that pushed the team forward, combining with Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and Freddie during the golden years and was simply unbelievable.

Vieira was at the club for almost a decade and contributed so much to the club. He could have left before he did for Juventus in 2005 but managed to stay which coincided with some of the best football we’ve ever seen.


[ Credit: Tim Snell / Flickr ]

1. Dennis Bergkamp
377 appearances under Wenger
3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 Community Shields

For me, this guy is number one. Under Arsene, he won the most honours, only rivaled by captain Patrick Vieira. What sets the Dutchman apart for me was his attitude and the way he changed the club when he arrived in 1995 – his professionalism and determination to succeed was infectious. Former players such as Ian Wright and Lee Dixon would joke that “the messiah has come to save us!” and that some of the stuff he did in training was out of this world.

Arsene Wenger undoubtedly changed the club, but the vessel that his beautiful attacking football went through was the genius that was Dennis Bergkamp. The Iceman was there for the first success, The Double in 1998, as well as the ‘Double Double’ in 2002. He also played a major part in The Invincibles season and was there when we almost made history in the Champions League in 2006.

When Thierry Henry, a man who has played alongside Messi, Ronaldinho and Zidane, says the best player he has every played alongside is Dennis Bergkamp, then you know he must be special.

So what do you think of the Top 20 list? Do you agree? Leave your thoughts below and who you think Arsene Wenger’s best players have been over the last 20 years!


2 thoughts on “Here Are Arsene Wenger’s 20 Greatest Players Of All Time!

  1. Pingback: The 20 Greatest EVER Players Arsene Wenger Has Managed! | Arsenal 4 Life Blog | Arsenal News, Match Reports, Previews, Opinions, Fans Forum

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