The lifecycle for a manager at a top football club is usually a very short spell of time. In most cases, you’re fortunate to get 3 or 4 years but in north London one man is celebrating two decades in charge of Arsenal; Arsene Wenger.
Arriving in 1996 to great scrutiny, given he was extremely unknown at the time and had been managing in Japan, Arsene Wenger’s rise has been dramatic. A double in his first full season in charge, leading the Gunners to the Premier League title without losing a single match and overseeing the lucrative transition from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium- he will go down in Arsenal folklore.
During his twenty years in charge, Arsene Wenger has brought through some tremendous talents and has played a part in the careers of some of the finest players in the history of world football- which made selecting his greatest ever side extremely difficult and we’re certain your opinions will vary to ours, so let us know your thoughts in the comments!
In goal, it was a very difficult decision to pick between David Seaman and Jens Lehmann. Seaman won three league titles with the Gunners and four FA Cups but Jens Lehmann’s defining claim of being between the sticks for Arsenal’s unbeaten Premier League triumph in 2004 gives him the edge- and he also boasts an FA Cup crown.
At the right-side of defence it was an equally difficult decision, with our main choices being Lauren or Lee Dixon. In the end, we went with the English defender that boasts four league titles, three FA Cups and a League Cup- but perhaps in a few years we’ll have to add Hector Bellerin to the debate.
The centre of defence pretty much picks itself, with iconic captain Tony Adams featuring alongside Sol Campbell- the man who crossed the north London divide and experienced great success, including scoring for the Gunners in the 2006 Champions League final. With six Premier League and six FA Cup titles between them, it’s a defensive partnership that would counter-act any strike-force.
A name that Arsenal fans may perhaps not like to see on the left is Ashley Cole but, as arguably Arsenal’s most famous graduate of their esteemed youth academy, the left-back simply had to feature. Before betraying the loyal supporters by abandoning his boyhood club to join Chelsea, Cole won a wealth of honours at Highbury- including two Premier League titles and three FA Cups.
Moving on to the midfield, Freddie Ljungberg is our choice on the right-side thanks to his incredible performances for the Gunners. A key-part of the unbeatable side in 2004, Ljungberg won an additional Premier League title in 2002 and lifted three FA Cups. He now coaches the U16 Arsenal side.
On the opposite flank, we’ve elected to go with Alexis Sanchez ahead of Robert Pires. Whilst the Frenchman was an integral part of the unbeatable side like Ljungberg, Alexis is a class apart for Arsenal. Having won the FA Cup at Arsenal, Alexis will be hoping to add further honours to his trophy cabinet and recently made his 100th appearance for the Gunners. He’s also won two Copa America titles with Chile.
In the centre of midfield, our partnership sees Patrick Vieira play alongside his successor Cesc Fabregas. Vieira was a vital cog in the Arsenal machine in the mid-2000’s, a dominant era for Arsene Wenger’s side, whilst Fabregas stepped-up to fill the void after Vieira’s move to Juventus. Fabregas never won an honour at Arsenal but has won the World Cup and Premier League title, establishing himself as a world-class graduate of Arsenal’s youth system.
Where other areas of the pitch were difficult to select, the two strikers in our side walked into the team. Thierry Henry, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, is immortalised in bronze outside the Emirates Stadium for good reason, whilst his old strike-partner Dennis Bergkamp played a key-part in numerous Arsenal successes- as well as assisting many of Henry’s goals.