As is traditional during the international break I have written a list. As we increasingly learn who will be going to Germany for the Euros, here is a top 10 list of Gunners with the most caps. (Need to have played for us in the League. Loan signings don’t count …. sorry Kim Kallstrom!)
This list might surprise you …….
10 Kolo Toure – Ivory Coast – 120
One of 8 players to win the Prem with two different clubs.
No African player has made more appearances in the English topflight then the ‘ Invincible.’
Was part of his nation’s Golden Generation who at the time was weighed down by expectations.
Finally got his hands on the African Cup of Nations in 2015.
Played at three World Cups.
9- Mart Poom – Estonia -120
Only played once in the League for us but Poom was one of the best third choice keepers you could have.
For over a decade had been a great goalie for Derby then Sunderland.
Earnt the right to essentially be paid for being a body in training, knowing he would never play.
Transitioned into a coaching role.
Since retirement has been GK coach for his nation
8- Thierry Henry – France – 123
As Henry loves to re tell, he was brought in as a winger who had won the World Cup at France 98. Therefore, he couldn’t understand when Mr Wenger wanted to turn him into a striker, especially when he started life at Highbury with a goal drought.
It would go down as one of the best tactical decisions in our history, a moment that would change Henry’s life.
The Frenchman changed what a forward could be. Not a natural poacher – he would start on the left and cut inside.
Not just scored lots but assisted as well.
No player has scored more times for the Gunners and for 5 years that was the case for Les Bleus.
He also lifted Euro 2000, 2 Prems, 3 FA Cups, The Champions League, La Liga and stole our hearts.
7- Cech – Czech Republic – 124
It’s largely accepted that we didn’t get the Chelsea version of Cech in North London.
Age seemed to be catching up with him as he was slow to get down to stop shots, and in his late thirties, he was too old to learn what Emery wanted to teach him.
By the time he moved across the Capital had been to a World Cup and three European Championships.
Went to Euro 2016 as a Gunner.
6- Ospina – Colombia 127
Currently the captain of Colombia.
4 years as essentially our ‘cup keeper’ gave him enough game time to remain his nation’s first choice, playing at two World Cups which included facing England in a penalty shootout.
5- Giroud – France – 128
Continues to make a living out of proving people wrong.
It’s been 5 years since he left us with little fanfare, most Gooners content that his exit facilitated room for Aubameyang.
Yet the Frenchman would get the last laugh, adding a World Cup, Champions League, Europa League and Serie A to his CV.
In Qatar he became his nation’s highest ever goal scorer.
I know the same readers who would mock the striker for winning three FA Cups with us yet will praise Eddie Nketiah.
At 37 I would still have him at the Emirates, a plan B we simply do not have.
4 – Podolski – Germany – 130
One of those rare examples of a player who was more consistent on the international stage then at club level.
By the time we bought him, he had been named best young player at the 2006 World Cup, in the Euro 2008 best 11 while scoring and assisting at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
In that time transitioned out onto the left, timing when to step into the middle.
His record shows not a great goal scorer, but scorer of great goals, with his left foot one of the most powerful in the business.
In a short stay in the Capital of England immersed himself with Arsenal’s culture and history becoming popular with Gooners as a result.
Had a personality where I think if he stayed, could have carried on helping our young dressing room if he had stayed longer.
After 2014 our squad famously contained three World Cup Winners
3 – Joel Campbell – Costa Rica – 133 caps
Unique situation of scoring in the World Cup and Champions League while still yet to make his League debut for parent club.
We loaned him out an incredible 7 times although the first few were due to a failure to obtain a work permit.
He finally seemed to have Mr Wenger’s trust in the 2015-16 season featuring 19 times in the Prem.
When he again found himself on the sidelines his patience ran out and this time it was him asking for a move.
His tour of Europe included 5 different countries with 6 different clubs.
Never prolific at any.
2-Sebastian Larsson – Sweden – 133 caps
Maybe not the name many Gooners were expecting as only played three times in the League for us as a makeshift left back.
Yet Arsenal should be proud of developing a talent who would represent his nation 133 times The Swede moved to England at the age of 16, going from boy to man in North London.
We had an unofficial working relationship with Birmingham where we would loan them our youngsters as part of a player’s development.
Larsson didn’t have the patience though to wait for first team football so a move to Saint Andrews was made permanent.
This was the era we were paying off stadium debt, which meant Mr Wenger would give youth a chance and in hindsight if Flamini and Denilson got in our squad why not Larsson.
His only medal in the UK ironically came against us, getting an assist in the League Cup Final.
He would play 363 times In the Prem earning a reputation as a set piece specialist.
Ended his career back in his homeland winning his only League title.
He’s featured at one World Cup and 4 Euros, the latest as captain of Sweden.
1- Alexis Sanchez -Chile – 159 caps
You could make an argument he’s the best Chilean of all time.
No player has scored more times for his country while captaining his country to their only two trophies, consecutive Copa Americas.
Could have made a legacy for himself in North London but refused to extend his contract.
You could argue that his career never recovered from moving to Manchester United.
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