Arsenal are one of the most successful clubs in Premier League history, and their golden years under Arsene Wenger helped them bring English football into the modern age. Players such as Tony Adams, Ian Wright, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira were at the heart of Arsenal’s greatest moments.
Pioneers of Glory – Early Icons of Arsenal
It isn’t all about the Premier League, though. There is Frank McLintock, who captained Arsenal to the 1971 FA Cup and became Player of the Year. There’s Charlie George who scored the winner in that tie against Liverpool. Another Player of the Year, Liam Brady, came a couple of years later and also won the Cup. Alongside Brady was former Tottenham ‘keeper Pat Jennings, one of the best to pull on the shirt.
Before them all was Ted Drake, who scored 42 goals in the league title campaign of 1934/35, as they lifted the trophy. The following season, he scored all of Arsenal’s goals in a 7-1 win over Aston Villa, scoring 136 goals in 182 before WW2 ended his pro career.
Highbury Heroes – Icons of the Golden Era
- Tony Adams is the man who straddles the pre-Wenger era alongside their early triumphs under the Frenchman. He won the Premier League in 1997/98 and in 2001/02, doing the double in both years. Before then he was part of the European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1993/94, and picked up two Division One titles before then. His transformation from a hard-drinking defender to a reformed and sophisticated central defender symbolises the change at Arsenal.
- Ian Wright did similar. He won the European Cup Winners’ Cup alongside Adams, as well as the League Cup the year before, and was also around for the first Premier League win. His 185 goals in 288 appearances don’t do justice to his determination, talent, and talismanic quality.
The Invincibles – Unforgettable Contributions
- Thierry Henry is, most would agree, not just the finest player of The Invincibles, but the finest Arsenal player, full stop. Brought in as a winger from Juventus, he defined the wide forward role that many modern players continue to exploit. Mo Salah, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and others owe a debt to his trailblazing, and Arsenal owe a debt for the goals and glory.
- Patrick Vieira is another player who will go down as a legend. At his peak he was Roy Keane’s toughest domestic rival. The imposing Frenchman was more than just power, he galloped forward with deceptive pace, and used his aggression to intimidate others around him – not always fairly. His steel allowed others around him to express themselves, and his eye for a pass sparked off countless counter-attacks.
Transition to Emirates – New Legends Emerge
- Robin Van Persie will divide opinion amongst fans. With his contract a year from expiry, he chose between Manchester City and Manchester United, and plumped for the latter, and promptly won the league that had escaped him at Arsenal. But before then he was a striker who grew into his responsibility as team leader, and became one of the most dangerous strikers in the Premier League. Not averse to the odd elbow, he was the heir to Dennis Bergkamp’s guile and aggression.
- Cesc Fabregas also left to win more, but returned home to Barcelona in a much less provocative decision. The Catalan later returned to the Premier League with Chelsea but given he emerged as a teenager with Arsenal and was for many seasons their most influential players, few begrudged his move back to London.
Modern Icons – Contributions to Recent Success
- Current Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard could go down in history if he leads Arsenal to their first Premier League in more than a decade under Mikel Arteta. The Dane’s career failed to properly lift off until he settled in at the Emirates after a spell in Spain’s La Liga including Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, but he has grown into his responsibility on and off the pitch in the last few years, and elevates others around him as he leads by example.
- Another potential hero is the homegrown England star, Bukayo Saka. Emerging on the left with no clear best position, he is now a thrilling winger and one of the most important players not just to Arteta but to England manager Gareth Southgate, too. Just 22, he has added goals to his game and could break his record haul of 15 this year, while making his name in the Champions League at the same time.
Off-Pitch Legends – Contributions Beyond Football
- Arsene Wenger is the man who brought Arsenal into the 21st Century. His revolutionary approach to sport science raised the bar at Highbury, won trophies, challenged in Europe, and forced the Premier League to catch up with him. His eye for talent turned Patrick Vieira into a World Cup winner, Thierry Henry into a great, and Arsenal back into a truly massive club. Wenger continues to cast his shadow, with Mikel Arteta one of his better late-era signings.
- Pat Rice joined the club at 15, made his debut at 18, and in his first season he won the 1970/71 League and Cup double. In 1977 he took over from Alan Ball as captain, and won the FA Cup again in 1979 against Man Utd. He rejoined the club as coach in 1984, and was on hand to be Wenger’s assistant in 1996 until his retirement 16 years later. Wenger described working with him as a “privilege.”
- Bob Wilson spent 11 years at Arsenal, joining from Wovles in 1963 but only ever playing club football for the Gunners. 308 appearances, one league and cup double, but off the pitch might be even more impressive. After losing his daughter to cancer when she was just 32, his charity work with the Willow Foundation earned him an OBE in 2007.
Fan Favorites – Socios.com and Arsenal Fan Tokens
Arsenal Fan Tokens are digital assets that allow supporters to turn their passion into rewards. Fan Token holders will get the chance to take in unique experiences, thrilling rewards and many other prizes as a reward for their support. Fan Tokens let supporters take part in official team polls, predict scores, check-in for matches, play games and choose their favourite players. At the same time players can earn reward points to gain Fan Rewards.
Looking Back, Looking Forward – Arsenal F.C Legends in the Present and Future
Arsenal have pre-war legends, legends from the glamour years of the 70s, and have players who brought them to the peak of English football as the Premier League matured. Their Invincible team with Thierry Henry, Sol Cambpell and many others has yet to have their feat matched.
Now, under Mikel Arteta, the players and manager can call upon these players for guidance and inspiration. Arsene Wenger is on hand to offer advice in title run-ins and cup runs. With William Saliba, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard all coming of age, another crop of legends could soon be here.