Top 10 Players of the Emirates Era

Written by Scott Turner

April 8, 2020

There isn’t much current to talk about so let’s have a discussion. We have been lucky enough over the last fourteen years to enjoy many scintillating footballers at the carpet; that’s before they’ve been sold to a rival club to fund bank loan repayments and subsequently win the rival the league. Anyway, many of you are bound to disagree with this list, so remember that this is all subjective and up for debate. The list was accounts for factors such as number of appearances; however it mainly concerns quality of player and their Arsenal legacy. Also, I haven’t included Henry as he only spent one year at the Emirates and we all associate him with Highbury.

10. THEO WALCOTT

Theo will probably never get the credit he is due for his time at Arsenal, mainly because he never reached the ceiling that the media had established for him when he moved from Southampton at the age of sixteen. Regardless, Theo made 270 Premier League appearances for Arsenal while finding the net 65 times; making him Arsenal’s sixth top scorer in the Premier League with more domestic goals than players such as Robert Pires and Alexis Sanchez. When I think of Theo, I remember his assist at Anfield in the Champions League where he ran the length of the pitch and squared the ball to Adeb*yor for an easy tap in; not many players could replicate such a run. Although he isn’t the most talented player on this list, I believe he is worthy of making the tenth spot.

9. PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG

If Aubameyang signs a contract extension this summer and I re-write this list in five years I assure you Aubameyang will be much higher up than the ninth spot. In his short stint in England, Pierre has scored 49 goals in 75 Premier League games; a record amassed predominantly from the left wing. It is unfortunate for Auba that he plays in a misfiring Gunners side, with the club yet to make Champions League football since Auba has arrived, however, Aubameyang’s selflessness to play out of position for the team, while also popping up with crucial goals nearly every game, has made him a fan favourite. Although his time at Arsenal has been short, his explosive pace and natural finishing ability have made it impossible to leave him out of this list.

8. LAURENT KOSCIELNY

The only defender to make the list, which is probably a concrete reflection on how the Emirates’ era has gone so far. Laurent Koscielny has comfortably been the most consistent central defender for Arsenal in the Emirates era. Koscielny’s pace meant that Arsenal’s usual high line was in safer hands when he was playing, not to mention his defensive awareness would usually bail Arsenal out of being counter attacked. Considering Laurent made 51 appearances for the French national team while at Arsenal, you must appreciate the player’s qualities. He may not be in the Tony Adams or Martin Keown mould of Arsenal defenders, however his 9 consistent years at the club mean the Frenchman has earned his place on the list.

7. OLIVIER GIROUD

Some may find this controversial, however the Frenchman is our number seven on the list. Think for a second about the goals this talisman was involved in, from his scorpion kick against Crystal Palace to his link-up play in Wilshere’s team goal against Norwich – his catalogue of goals and assists is so diverse, particularly for someone who is 6”4. Most importantly, Olivier helped end the club’s trophy drought, winning 3 FA Cups in his time at Arsenal. I distinctly remember his assists in two separate finals for Aaron Ramsey’s winning goals. Olivier left the club with an Arsenal legacy and 73 Premiership goals in 180 games.

6. MESUT OZIL

I am anticipating some disagreement on Mesut’s position on this list. When I think of Mesut, I remember how iconic his transfer was; it was the first time Arsenal spent big. He is a superstar. Mesut’s vision can be deemed unparalleled in the footballing world; his assist record over his career is excellent and we have enjoyed many magical moments during his time at the Emirates. To put it bluntly, Mesut’s Arsenal legacy is a bit of an enigma. Naturally, he is one of the most gifted players over the last twenty years to play for the club, however, his inconsistent seasons, particularly after signing his £350,000 bumper contract, stains his Arsenal legacy.

5. SANTI CAZORLA

One of the most gifted footballers I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching live. When I think of Santi, the first thing I remember is his freekick that bailed us out of the FA Cup final against Hull City. Santi’s selflessness when asked to play on the wing and in deeper midfield roles to accommodate other players, reflected his character and versatile abilities. Sadly, his Arsenal career was cut short due to injury, however, I can imagine his Arsenal legacy is unanimously deemed great amongst all Arsenal fans.

4. ALEXIS SANCHEZ

I think the cliché ‘you get what you pay for’ is appropriate when thinking of Alexis Sanchez. Predominantly from the wing, Alexis left Arsenal after scoring 60 Premier League goals in 122 games. His South American roots brought a unique mentality to the Emirates. The modern Arsenal is sometimes deemed soft and lacking character. Alexis was different. He chased every cause, and sometimes even led from the front. Being 5”7 and playing as a lone striker in the Premier League truly reflected his goal scoring abilities and physical attributes. Alexis was labelled world class for several seasons, therefore comfortably making the list.

3. CESC FABREGAS

Sadly, the sour grapes don’t stop with Cesc on this list. A footballing hero of mine when growing up. In terms of his vision and final ball, you are talking borderline generational. Very few players can strike a ball and make it look as aesthetically pleasing as Cesc could. Being given the captaincy at such an early age reflected how the team admired and somewhat relied on him. We may not have won anything in the first half of our Emirates era, but we played the best quality of football by far in the country, Cesc acting as the catalyst behind this. It is hard to discuss Cesc’s legacy at Arsenal without thinking, ‘what if?’ However, Google any Arsenal kit from 2007-2010, and I’ll be shocked if he isn’t the first player that comes to mind.

2. AARON RAMSEY

In due course everyone will appreciate Aaron Ramsey’s legacy at Arsenal. Maybe not the most aesthetically pleasing footballer on this list, but a man of big moments. Scoring 2 winning goals in FA Cup finals is already more than what anyone else has done on this list, combined. Aaron spent 11 years at Arsenal, making 262 Premier League appearances and scoring 40 goals. His marquee season came in 2013/14 where he scored 10 and assisted 9 in 23 Premier League games; all from a deep-lying midfield role. To survive 11 years at a top club is an impressive feat, however Ramsey was unique, his fitness levels and ability to arrive in the box at the right time meant he was a favourite of Wenger’s.

1. ROBIN VAN PERSIE

Ah, more sour grapes. In terms of an individual season at Arsenal, RVP’s 2011/12 is the best I’ve seen since the Henry days. In 38 league games, the Dutchman managed 30 goals and 14 assists – carrying the team to third place. Looking at this list, the top four players could probably be rotated to personal preference, however I went with RVP at number one because that year he was the best ‘number 9’ in Europe. The team has relied on several players on this list, but nowhere the level it relied on RVP in 2011/12. RVP was naturally a great footballer; his left foot could strike the ball as cleanly as you’ll ever see. His roots as a winger truly reflected his footballing abilities as he could move his frame remarkably quickly for someone of 6”0. Regardless of what happened, RVP was truly world class.

Header photo: (DSanchez17), (2013)

 

 

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