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Arsenal 10s: From Bergkamp to Fabregas via Cazorla, Özil, to Odegaard

Updated: Mar 23

Arsenal's Number 10 Continuum: Journeying from Bergkamp to Fabregas through Cazorla, Özil, to Odegaard

In Arsenal's long and colourful history, the term 'Arsenal 10s' holds a special significance and refers to the esteemed lineage of players who have embodied the attacking midfielder role, regardless of their jersey number. While traditionally associated with the number 10 shirt, these players left a lasting mark on the club's history through their creativity, flair, and skill on the pitch.

Under the guidance of visionary managers like Arsène Wenger, the legacy of Arsenal's number 10s has flourished, with each player leaving an enduring impact. From Dennis Bergkamp's graceful artistry through the mesmerizing playmaking abilities of Cesc Fabregas to the current torchbearer Martin Odegaard, the lineage of Arsenal's number 10s is a tale of footballing brilliance.

It's worth noting that there have been other number 10s not mentioned here who were also top players and made significant contributions to Arsenal's history.

Below Are The Best Arsenal No. 10s in Premier League History

Dennis Bergkamp - The Dutch Master (1995-2006)

The story begins with Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutch maestro whose arrival at Highbury in 1995 heralded a new era of attacking prowess for Arsenal under the stewardship of Arsène Wenger. Bergkamp was the epitome of elegance and intelligence on the pitch. His ability to dictate the tempo of the game, orchestrate attacks, and score sublime goals made him a legend at Arsenal. As the prototypical number 10, Bergkamp's vision and technique set the standard for those who would follow in his footsteps.

During his spell with the Gunners, the Dutch master achieved notable success, winning the Premier League titles in 1997–98, 2001–02, and famously going unbeaten in the 2003–04 season. Additionally, he clinched FA Cup victories in 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03, and 2004–05 seasons. Also, his accolades include triumphs in the FA Charity/Community Shield in 1998, 2002, and 2004.

Bergkamp's influence extended far beyond the trophies he won. He was a talismanic figure for Arsenal, revered by fans and feared by opponents. His partnership with the likes of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires formed the backbone of Wenger's attacking philosophy, captivating audiences with their fluid, mesmerising style of play.

One of Bergkamp's most memorable moments came in a match against Newcastle United in 2002. With Arsenal trailing, Bergkamp produced a moment of sheer brilliance, plucking a long ball from the sky with a deft touch before swivelling past a defender and slotting the ball into the net with precision. It was a goal that encapsulated everything that made Bergkamp special – vision, technique, and sheer audacity.

Fabregas - The Young Prodigy (2011-2013)

Bursting onto the scene as a precocious teenager, Cesc Fàbregas embodied the modern playmaker, showcasing a natural talent for controlling the pace of the game and unlocking opposition defences with his insight and passing range. Interestingly, Fàbregas had already honed his skills at the renowned La Masia academy before his move to Arsenal, showcasing his pedigree from an early age.

Operating in the number 10 role, Fàbregas became the heartbeat of Arsenal's midfield, combining creativity with an eye for goal. Under Wenger's guidance, he quickly established himself as a pivotal figure, orchestrating Arsenal's attacks and providing crucial assists in the Premier League, cementing his legacy as one of Arsenal's finest creative midfielders of all-time.

Santi Cazorla - The Magician (2012–2018)

In the wake of Fabregas' departure, Arsenal found a new midfield maestro in the form of Santi Cazorla. Signed from Malaga in 2012 under Wenger's tenure, Cazorla brought a touch of Spanish elegance to the Emirates Stadium, captivating fans with his silky skills and impeccable technique. Although not a traditional number 10, Cazorla's versatility allowed him to excel in various roles across the midfield. His close control, dribbling ability, and precise passing made him a fan favourite at the Emirates Stadium.

Cazorla's magic was never more evident than in the FA Cup final on 17 May 2014. Arsenal, trailing by a goal in the dying minutes, were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. The tension was so intense as Cazorla stepped up to take the set-piece. With the entire stadium holding its breath, Cazorla unleashed a curling, swerving effort that left the opposing goalkeeper rooted to the spot. The ball nestled into the top corner of the net, sparking wild celebrations among the Arsenal faithful.

It was a moment of brilliance from Cazorla, a testament to his incredible skill and composure under pressure. His magic free-kick drew Arsenal level and provided the momentum they needed to complete a stunning comeback and clinch the FA Cup trophy again. Cazorla's heroics that day cemented his status as a true Arsenal legend, forever etching his name into the club's history.

Mezut Özil: The Assist King

Arguably the most high-profile occupant of the number 10 role in recent years, Mesut Özil arrived at Arsenal in 2013 under Wenger's management with lofty expectations. Signed from Real Madrid for a club-record fee, Özil brought a world-class pedigree and an unparalleled ability to unlock defences with his vision and creativity.

During his time at Arsenal, Özil showcased his incredible talent in every match he played. With his foresight and precise passing, he became the epitome of a playmaker, orchestrating attacks and carving open opposition defences with ease.

In the Premier League, Özil amassed an impressive tally of 184 appearances, netting 33 goals himself. However, his astonishing assists season in and season out truly set him apart. As the second record holder for most assists, 19, in a Premier League season, Özil earned the moniker "The Assist King." He consistently provided the final pass that led to crucial goals for Arsenal, helping them end a nine-year trophy drought.

Opposing teams feared Özil's ability to pick out a killer pass, often resorting to double-marking or tactical adjustments to contain his influence on the game. Despite the attention from defenders, Özil remained a constant threat, his ability to create scoring opportunities unmatched by many in the league.

Whether through his trademark through balls, precise crosses, or delicate flicks, Özil's assists became a hallmark of Arsenal's attacking play. His awareness and creativity revitalised the Arsenal midfield, earning him admiration from fans and respect from peers in the footballing world.

Despite Mesut Özil's renowned creativity and assist-making prowess, his tenure at Arsenal was not without criticism. Özil faced scrutiny for his perceived lack of defensive contribution and occasional inconsistency in performance.

Martin Odegaard: The Next Generation

As Arsenal look to the future under the guidance of manager Mikel Arteta, Norwegian sensation Martin Odegaard—aka Martin 'Ohmygod!' as Rob Holding once called him—has assumed the mantle of the number 10 role. Initially on loan from Real Madrid, Odegaard eventually signed a permanent contract and was made captain. Arsenal's midfield has found a promising leader in Martin Odegaard.

Under Mikel Arteta's guidance, Odegaard brings youthful energy and technical finesse to the team. He has already demonstrated remarkable talent and maturity on the pitch. His viewpoint, passing accuracy, and ability to control the game draw parallels to football's great playmakers. In the 2022-23 season, Odegaard played a crucial role in Arsenal's title chase, narrowly missing out to Manchester City. His creativity and midfield prowess sparked numerous goal-scoring opportunities, showcasing his potential as a future Arsenal legend.

Continuing into the 2023-24 season, Odegaard remains a standout performer, driving Arsenal's quest for the Premier League crown. His influence in midfield ensures fluidity and creativity, keeping Arsenal in contention at the top of the table alongside rivals like Manchester City and Liverpool. With each match, Odegaard solidifies his status as a vital asset, leaving fans anticipating his next magical moment on the pitch.

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