#Wenger1000 : What’s Your Favorite Starting XI Under Arsene Wenger?
In the history of the beautiful game, I can only think of Dario Gradi, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson that have amassed up to a 1,000 games in one football club.
Sir Alex Ferguson would be heralded as one of the greatest football managers the game has ever seen. In his first 1,000 games with Manchester United, the Scot had 564 wins, 248 draws and 188 losses. Arsene Wenger on the other hand, has managed Arsenal for an amazing 999 games and in this period, he has notched up 572 wins, 235 draws and 192 losses.
In Arsene Wenger’s 18-year stint with the club, he has made over “30,000 substitutions” as he famously quoted but he has made a lot of signings and seen another lot move elsewhere.
However, Arsene Wenger would have his best XI in mind if he’s told to provide that by some chum in the Press. The question is, what’s your favorite Arsenal XI of all time?
Here’s Gooner Daily’s pick. I’ll be using the tactical 4-2-3-1 setup.
Goalkeeper: Jens Lehmann
Many Arsenal fans would go down the David Seaman bandwagon if asked, but there was something about that mad German that endeared him to my heart. I saw him for the first time in that Community Shield clash against Manchester United and he was integral in Arsenal’s unbeaten campaign. Then there was the exceptional run of 10 consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League that still stands till today.
Right Back: Bacary Sagna
It was an honor watching Lauren Etame-Mayer strut his stuff on the right full back position but a transition arrived when his position was taken by a young Emmanuel Eboue. In a sudden twist of fate, Wenger snapped up a relatively unknown right back from AJ Auxerre that became a symbol of consistency.
Left Back: Ashley Cole
Yes, he became a despicable cuntly fellow that I and many Arsenal fans out there have come to loathe but while donning the red and white, I can’t recall many left backs in world football that were on the same level with Ashley Cole.
His pace was inhuman and his rate of recovery was top notch. He always popped up with the odd important goals and his telepathic understanding with Robert Pires was a stuff made of dreams.
All this doesn’t still change the fact that he has become a cuntly c*nt. Bleeeeeh.
Center Back: Laurent Koscielny
Signed from French obscurity in 2010, Koscielny had his fair share of problems settling into life in the Premier League. There were the rash decisions, the own goals of life and of course the bookings and suspension but after taking over from the captain in March 2013, Koscielny has become a colossus in the heart of Arsenal’s defence.
His pace makes him a thorn to opposition attackers and his ability to read the game is superb. I look forward to watching this lad for years to come.
Center Back: Sol Campbell
When you sign one of your fiercest rivals key players on a free transfer, you’re likely to expect a backlash from both ends but Sol Campbell turned out to be one of the finest center backs to ever play for the club. His partnership with Kolo Toure was wonderful and both players were vital in Arsenal’s trophy-laden years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Central Midfield: Cesc Fabregas
Poached from Barcelona at a milk age, Wenger moulded Fabregas to one of the finest cultured midfielders in his generation. The love affair between the player and the club ended abruptly in 2011 but a part of his heart still remains in the club and he has professed his desire to come back someday, probably when Lord Voldemort gets a real nose.
While playing for Arsenal, Fabregas was renowned for his creativity and in 303 games for the club, he notched up a century of assists. If there were more clinical Henry-esque strikers in the club, that count would have vastly increased as the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor preferred to miss rather than score.
Robin van Persie was a player that would have benefited from Fabregas’ creative prowess but he and the little boy inside him spent the early part of his career in Abou Diaby’s current bed space.
Central Midfield: Patrick Vieira
The talismanic lanky Frenchman was Arsenal’s version of Chuck Norris – he was so good at marking and tacking that the opponents still checked for his presence long after the game was over.
Left Flank: Robert Pires
The dreamy winger was always remembered for his flamboyance on the pitch and his lethal finishing ability. There was something about that beard though, so distinct, it probably had a world of its own.
Right Flank: Theo Walcott
It’s not a greyhound, a cheetah or that Jamaican speed demon called Usain Bolt. It’s just Theo Walcott, one of the fastest footballers the beautiful game has ever seen. His pace was so frightening when Arsenal played Wolves in the 2010/11 season that the linesman could not reach where he was to decide if he was offside or not when he supplied that assist to van Persie.
Walcott wasn’t just all about pace – his composure in front of goal has improved drastically over a couple of seasons and his goal haul of 21 last season was a personal best.
Attacking Midfield: Dennis Bergkamp
The footballing god was forged at Ajax but endured some hardship at Internazionale. At Arsenal, he gave football a new perspective and played as a creative hub behind the center forward. There were times when he took responsibility on himself to deliver the goods and boy, did he deliver.
Center Forward: Thierry Henry
I consider myself lucky to have watched Henry score 228 goals for the club I support. I must have seen a chunk live and maybe watched the highlights of others but one thing was certain – Henry’s goals were better with each passing replay.
The fact that he came from the MLS to have a second stint with the club was messiah-esque and that goal against Leeds United sent chills down my Nigerian spine.
Truly an Igwe!!
So there you have it, Gooner Daily’s favourite Arsenal XI.