As a lot of media outlets, blogs and websites are doing them in the build-up to Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and select with my Wenger XI based on his time at the club. Also, just as something random at the end, I’ve come up with a Wenger squad based on the best players to wear each squad number in his time at Arsenal. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Arsene Wenger XI
GK: David Seaman
A brilliant goalkeeper who won two doubles playing for Wenger. Despite nearing the end of his career, he still was capable of miraculous saves, with the Sheffield United claw off the line in 2003 being one that stands out.
Very hard to choose between Dixon, Lauren and Sagna, but the Cameroonian gets the nod for being so consistent in the unbeaten season and being able to kill a winger with a stare. Scored two penalties in North London derbies as well.
CB: Tony Adams
Arsene Wenger prolonged Adams’ career and helped cement his place as the greatest captain the club has ever had. His commanding presence in the famous back four was the base on which Wenger built his first winning Gunners team.
CB: Sol Campbell
Won the double and was an Invincible. One the most unexpected of Wenger’s signings, but arguably was the most welcomed.
LB: Ashley Cole
It really pains me to pick Cole as most Gooners, me included, have a complete dislike of him now. However he was an excellent player when at Arsenal, it’s just a shame he managed to lose all the respect of the fans of his boyhood team.
RM: Freddie Ljungberg
The super Swede loved a big goal, and his run at the end of 2001/02 season was vital in sealing the double. He made the most of his ability by running himself into the ground every game.
CM: Patrick Vieira
A giant who was influential in Wenger’s run of trophies at Arsenal. The best all round central midfielder I’ve ever seen play the game.
CM: Cesc Fabregas
The only player from more recent times to make my Wenger XI. After becoming a regular at 17, Arsenal got some great years out of Fabregas, it’s just a shame we’ll never know how much better he could have been at the heart of the team when in his prime.
LM: Robert Pires
No-one else could run like a chicken and do it with so much style. Always contributed goals and assists and loved a North London derby goal.
ST: Dennis Bergkamp
My footballing hero. It was no coincidence that Arsenal won the league in Bergkamp’s best seasons under Wenger.
ST: Thierry Henry
The man that will always be the first player associated with Arsene Wenger’s management of the club. He wasn’t an obvious player to have signed, but he became the greatest player this club has ever seen.
Jens Lehmann, Kolo Toure, Martin Keown, Gilberto Silva, Ray Parlour, Marc Overmars, Sylvain Wiltord (he won the league at Old Trafford).
Arsene Wenger Squad (chosen by the best player to have worn each squad number under Wenger)
1. David Seaman
2. Lee Dixon
3. Bacary Sagna
4. Patrick Vieira
5. Martin Keown
6. Tony Adams
7. Robert Pires
8. Freddie Ljungberg
9. Jose Antonio Reyes (honourable mentions for Davor Suker and Nicolas Anelka, whose sale enabled Arsenal to build the new training ground)
10. Dennis Bergkamp
11. Marc Overmars
13. Jens Lehmann
14. Thierry Henry
15. Ray Parlour
16. Aaron Ramsey
17. Emmanuel Petit (very close decision with Edu)
18. Gilles Grimandi
19. Gilberto Silva
20. Mathieu Flamini
21. Lukasz Fabianski
22. Gael Clichy
23. Sol Campbell
24. Abou Diaby
26. Igors Stepanovs (it was either him or Frimpong!)
27. Emmanuel Eboue (Kaba Diawara a close second)
28. Kolo Toure
29. Marouane Chamakh
30. Yossi Benayoun
31. Justin Hoyte (A Sam’s Match Reports legend)
32. Theo Walcott
53. Wojciech Szczesny
57. Cesc Fabregas