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10 Best Arsenal Midfielders Of All-time

Updated: Jan 15

Arsenal are one of England's most iconic football clubs and have been home to numerous exceptional midfielders throughout their illustrious history. These players have not only shown exceptional technical skills but also an incredible understanding of the game. They possess the ability to dictate play, control the tempo of matches and create scoring opportunities.

The Gunners have witnessed the emergence of true midfield maestros over the decades that have left an ever-lasting mark on the club's legacy, but the question remains; Who are the10 best Arsenal midfielders of all time?

10. Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas joined Arsenal's youth academy, quickly rising through the ranks to establish himself as a pivotal figure in the Gunners' midfield during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He will forever be remembered for his iconic contribution to the club's history, scoring a dramatic goal in the final moments of the 1988-1989 season to help secure the First Division title.

Thomas made a total of 206 appearances for the Gunners and scored 30 goals along the way. He had an astute reading of the game and a tireless work ethic. Following his departure from Highbury in 1991, Thomas went on to play for a number of clubs including Liverpool and Benfica before eventually retiring in 2001.

9. Gilberto Silva

Gilberto Silva became a Premier League powerhouse during his time at Arsenal. Upon arriving in 2002, the Brazilian began to show his tactical awareness and a near-unrivalled drive. His ability to protect the defensive link and break up opponent’s play became vital to their "Invincibles" season of 2003-2004.

Gilberto's calmness in possession and natural positioning proved a solid foundation on which to build a flair-filled frontline. His intelligent reading of the game and exceptional passing range allowed him to initiate attacks from a much deeper starting point. His achievements include one Premier League title and three FA Cups which helped reinforce his status as one of the club's greatest midfielders.

8. Marc Overmars

Dutch winger Marc Overmars was a sensation and made an unforgettable impact during his time at Arsenal. Signed by Arsène Wenger in 1997, Overmars brought an irresistible blend of blistering pace, exceptional dribbling skills and clinical finishing to the Gunners' midfield.

Overmars played a vital role in Arsenal's historic "double" of the 1997-1998 season - scoring 16 times across 46 appearances. He had a combination of lightning-quick acceleration, deadly precision in front of goal and an ability to glide past defenders with ease. Although his time at Arsenal was relatively short, his impact was immense.

7. Alex James

From a bygone footballing age, many modern-day Gunners fans will be less familiar with Alex James, a legendary figure who stands as one of the greatest midfielders to have ever graced the club.

James' career at Arsenal spanned from 1929 to 1937. He was crucial to Arsenal's pre-second World War success, helping them win five English First Division titles and two FA Cups. James made 231 appearances, known for his impeccable ball control and exceptional passing ability.

6. Freddie Ljungberg

Swedish sensation Freddie Ljungberg arrived in London during the summer of 1998 for £3million. His energy and tenacity was infectious with his trademark red-tinted hair, his relentless work ethic endeared him to the adoring Arsenal supporters.

He was a memorable part of the "Invincibles" team of the 2003-2004 season when the Gunners went unbeaten throughout the entire Premier League campaign. Ljungberg scored an impressive 72 goals during his time in London and played 325 times for the club. The Swedish international displayed intelligent movement off the ball and superb decision-making.

5. David Rocastle

David "Rocky" Rocastle is an iconic figure in Arsenal's history, adored by fans because of his remarkable talent and unwavering dedication to the club. He emerged through Arsenal's youth system, making his debut in 1985 and quickly becoming established in the first team with a series of electrifying performances in midfield.

Rocastle's explosive bursts of pace and close ball control made him a formidable force in the attacking third. He was important to Arsenal's success during the late 1980s and most notably the club's league title triumph in 1989. In seven years for the Gunners, Rocastle played 277 games and scored 34 goals - collecting two league title medals and also winning a league cup.

4. Cesc Fabregas

Enigmatic Spanish playmaker Cesc Fàbregas arrived at Arsenal as a young prodigy from Barcelona's youth academy. In only his second season, he established himself as a regular in the Gunners midfield, beginning to mesmerise fans with his exceptional vision and ability to provide assists.

In 2005 he won the FA Cup, his only major honour with the side, appearing over 300 times for Arsenal and providing 95 assists. Fàbregas was given the captain's armband and became the youngest skipper in the team's history. His leadership qualities and commitment to the cause connected him with the Gunners fans for life.

3. Robert Pires

Robert Pires is widely regarded as one of the club's greatest midfielders. Signing for Arsenal from Marseille in 2000, the Frenchman played 189 times for the Gunners and scored an impressive 62 goals. He was a key player, elegant, skillful and lethal in front of goal from wider areas. His time at the club coincided with an era of amazing success with Arsenal winning two Premier League titles and two FA Cups. During the infamous "Invincibles" season Pires found the net 19 times and etched his name into the hearts of Arsenal fans forever.

2. Liam Brady

Signed by Arsenal at the tender age of 15, Liam Brady quickly burst through the ranks and became a legendary figure in their midfield. The Irishman could effortlessly glide past defenders and trigger attacks. He left an indelible mark on Arsenal during his time with the club in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Brady scored 43 goals in 235 appearances as one of English football's most exciting attacking midfielders of his generation. During his time at Highbury, Brady won the FA Cup in 1979 and his performances earned him widespread recognition amongst the finest players in Arsenal's history.

1. Patrick Viera

Arsenal's greatest-ever midfielder was the colossal Patrick Vieira. The Frenchman signed from AC Milan in 1996 and became central to Arsenal Wenger's irresistible midfield line-up of the late 1990s. Standing at 6 feet 4", Vieira's sheer presence was awe-inspiring. He was dominant, strong in the tackle and able to dictate play.

Named Arsenal captain in 2002, Vieira played 279 times for the Gunners and provided 29 goals across nine seasons at the club. Under his captaincy, Arsenal achieved remarkable success including three Premier League titles and four FA Cup triumphs! Viera was an undoubted legend of Highbury and one of the best midfielders the game has ever seen.

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