I want to celebrate Black History Month by paying tribute to the Arsenal players who have contributed to our history.
The minority of readers don’t like when I do this kind of list.
Yet if it’s good enough for the Premier League and Arsenal it’s good enough for me.
Plus, anyone who blushes over celebrating Black History Month?
That’s their issue, correct?
The theme for all 20 topflight clubs in October is ‘Proud to Be’, acknowledging the contribution that players of African and Caribbean descent have given to the League in nearly three decades.
Arsenal’s Monday Match Day programme as well as the Premiere League’s website are chronicling players who have made an impact since the League’s inception since 1993.
Black History Month – Top 5 defenders
A 7-year servant at Arsenal.
In the 17 years since we last won the title maybe the closest was in Sagna’s first season.
Consistent in both defence and attack.
Sagna played for a young squad who lacked that experience to help them in the crucial moments of games and seasons.
After that he would watch every summer, a high-profile teammate leave. Adebayor, Clichy, Touré, Hleb, Fabregas, Nasri, etc.
Eventually he would do so himself, becoming the latest Gunner to jump ship to Man City.
Maybe because Gooners accepted where the club was at the time and saw it from the players point of view, but Sagna seemed to leave on a free with fans best wishes.
In his last game for us as a Gunner he lifted his one and only trophy for us.
It would have been an injustice if he had nothing to show for his Arsenal career.
4- One of the classic examples of what Mr Wenger could do.
Kolo Touré was on trial from our feeder club in Belgium and was offered a contract after impressing with his energy
In his first season he was our utility man, filling in various positions but …never centre back.
So, our manager would be criticised when instead of buying a defender to partner Sol Campbell, Kolo was asked to learn the position himself.
To the public it was an early example of us not being able to compete financially with our rivals due to building the Emirates.
Yet the Ivorian would be a revelation.
Not just was he part of the Invincibles he’s only only two men who can say they started every fixture.
Just say that out loud.
A player plays every single game in a campaign you don’t lose a game – and he cost you less than a million!
Another example of Mr Wenger teaching a player a new position.
After a season of settling into the physical nature of English Football, Lauren transitioned into our new right back having played in Spain mainly in midfield.
Arsene wanted his full backs to be attacking options and in that sense Lauren and Cole were ahead of their time.
What we also learnt was Lauren had a willingness to fight if needed.
The Arsenal in his era while technically very good and with so much pace, they could also battle you if they had too. You wouldn’t find a Lauren going to a Stoke away on a cold night getting bullied.
Won 2 titles and FA Cup Cups as a Gunner.
2- Ashley Cole
Whenever discussing Ashley Cole, I ask Gooners to take the emotion out of their thinking.
In reality, the reason our fanbase would be angry with the player was because we loved him so much.
One of the few British players to break through our academy at the time, Cole was supposed to be our next captain, the face of Arsenal as we moved into the Emirates era
Instead, he won every domestic honour at Chelsea after nearly ‘crashing my car’ that Arsenal would ‘only’ offer him 55,000 pound a week to extend his contract.
Football wise Cole would be proven correct about the level of ambition the two clubs had.
While he became better at defending at the Bridge, he was more exiting at Highbury.
His understanding with Pires and Henry on our left-hand side destroyed teams
Won two titles and 3 FA Cups in North London
1- Sol Campbell
Best free transfer in our history?
Sol Campbell had the choice of the world’s best clubs when he became a free agent.
Yet his criteria were to have a realistic chance of winning trophies while remaining living in London.
Before Abramovich brought Chelsea this made Arsenal the only possible destination.
While all parties knew a Spurs captain joining the Gunners would be controversial, no one could envisage (or condone) the level of abuse he received when he returned for the NLD.
The way he played on those occasions was a reflection of the man’s character.
Not just did we purchase one of the best centrebacks in Europe, we brought a talent who could walk straight into our dressing room and be one of its main leaders. All that and we didn’t even pay a fee.
He contributed to two titles and 3 FA Cups while playing and scoring the only goal in our only Champion League Final.
The most successful player Spurs ever produced!
He even lifted the title at White Hart Lane…
So, that’s my Top 5 Black Arsenal defenders. Would you change any of those?
Who makes your top midfielder list?
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