My Top Ten Arsenal strikers in the EPL by Dan Smith
Aubameyang has become the quickest Gunner in Premiership history to hit 50 goals. In all competitions he has an incredible strike rate recording 63 goals in 101 games – and that’s not always starting up front.
Yet where does he rank among other famous names in the Premier League era?
If he were to leave this summer (and I fear he will refuse a new contract offer) are his two and half seasons enough longevity to make him considered a great? Does he need to win something for that to be considered?
I’m going to review my personal top Top Ten Arsenal strikers since the Premiership began. Where will Auba rank? Will he even make the list at all?
10 Theo Walcott- Played 397 Scored 108
Okay, Theo didn’t always technically play up front, and would have liked to have had more opportunities in the centre-forward position, but he scored enough to make my top 10. At the end of the day though he can one day tell his grandchildren he was Arsenal’s striker and scorer in an FA Cup Final. It was between him, Wiltord or Kanu. Wiltord scored more iconic goals and Kanu was skilful but never prolific. So out of the three I’m trusting Theo more as a better finisher.
A lot has been written about what he couldn’t do, with some feeling that he lacked a footballing brain, others thinking he didn’t develop like he should have. Yet that’s kind of a compliment. Someone who divides opinion so much, yet one of a few to score over 100 goals for the club. And that was with an injury record where approx. he missed over 100 games, robbing him of the pace which made him such a lethal option as a teenager. His career stagnated. He got too comfortable In North London and he needed to leave for a fresh challenge.
9 Emanuel Adebayor Played 142- Scored 62
Yes, I’m trying to be objective. The reason this man nearly didn’t make the list at all is not because of ‘that’ celebration, or some of the things he’s said about us, since but at times he lacked the mentality and any kind of leadership. When he was good, he was unplayable, but you couldn’t rely on him when it really mattered.
In that sense he was the poster boy of a young squad who looked like they could become champions, but would bottle it once the pressure was on. He is 9th purely for his 2007-2008 season when he scored 30 times for the first and only time. His form was instrumental in us having a five-point lead at the top in January 08, but when it was ‘squeaky bum time‘, he vanished.
8 Giroud Played 253- Scored 105
Some gooners will agree, others will let me know how they feel in the comments. Yet that’s what is brilliant about Giroud, he divides opinion yet maximises his career. Some of our fanbase turned on him because he wasn’t partnered with a world class striker, but it wasn’t the players fault the club lacked ambition.
The Frenchman was a great plan B as he would give you another way of playing if plan A wasn’t working. Supporters were so excited by Auba’s arrival, we kind of didn’t notice him leaving which again proves he wasn’t valued like he should have been. He would walk into our current 11 and would link up with Auba brilliantly. He scored 100 goals, won three 3 FA Cups, Another one at Chelsea as well as the Europa League, the French title, Oh and the World Cup. For someone harshly mocked he’s done alright for himself.
7 – Anelka Played 98 Scored 28
Burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old, playing a crucial role in us winning the Double. Despite winning pretty much everything at club level and becoming a rich man you could argue he underachieved, in terms of what was predicted of him as a teenager. He has since admitted regretted leaving Arsenal, where essentially after he would do a tour of Europe, joining whoever was prepared to pay his wages. He was often viewed as Mr Wenger ‘s best bit of business. Arsenal spent a million, and the asset wins you a League and Cup, then they make a 21 million profit – which paid for Henry and a new training facility.
6 – Aubameyang Played 101 Scored 63
As already mentioned, I expect Auba to either be sold this summer or forced to wait till his deal expires, either way I can’t see why he would sign a new contract. Say if he left in August, has his body of work been good enough to make him a great?
He’s a great goal scorer obviously and under Arteta he is learning how to join in attack from the left. I also think he’s become a better captain under the new regime, and we see less of the poor body language we would see under Emery if a teammate did something wrong. To get in the top 5 though he needs to have won something. If I pointed out the League Cup and Europa League Final’s, what did he do in those games to lead the team? Those are the moments which separate the good from the best
5 – Sanchez Played 166 Scored 80
I wonder if he regrets leaving? Maybe not when he checks his bank balance, but if Arsenal gave Ozil 350,000 a week, they would have looked after their best player at the time. Sanchez’s failure to become a Premier League great might make some forget how good he was in his first three years in England. He was so good that eventually he was given a free role up front. What separates him from an Auba is you could trust Sanchez in a big game no matter the form of his team. Look how many times he scored for us at Wembley! I can’t rank him higher though as he wasn’t the leader he should have been when a young dressing room lost its confidence. Once we were out of title races for example, he wouldn’t hide his frustration. Yes, he probably was better than those around him, but you win and lose together. His attitude would lead to training ground bust ups and being benched. Can you imagine if Ozil was caught laughing and joking while we were 5-1 down to Bayern Munich?
4 – Van Persie Played 278 Scored 132
I’m not going to rank him lower just because he joined Man United. If we are honest, he’s been proven a million times over that he was right to doubt the ambition of Stan Kroenke.
When he was still at Old Trafford, we were offering 40 million and a pound for Suarez.
Gooners will point to his injury record, meaning he only had one truly world class season for us but what a season that was. In 2011-12 we were being humiliated 8-2. He carried that squad into the top 4. Never before have we owed so much to one player, scoring 37 goals in all competitions which hasn’t been bettered since. I also think it’s harsh to judge him purely on goals (not that his ratio is bad). Like a certain other Dutchman in our history, Van Persie was never your old-fashioned prolific penalty box poacher. He was involved in so much more.
3 – Ian Wright Played 288 Scored 185
Out of everyone on this list, this man was a proper goal scorer. While other names can cut in from the left, hold the ball up and like to assist, Ian Wright came alive in the penalty box. Bearing in mind that the majority of his time he played for a defensive Arsenal, not one that was making chance after chance. Such a legend, it’s often forgotten he didn’t join us till he was 28, meaning he had no time to wait. You can only imagine if we had signed him when he was younger.
Many players kiss the badge and say what we want to hear but you can tell Ian Wright properly loves ‘the Arsenal’. I miss the days where players were so proud and humble to wear our shirt. Not turning pro until the age of 21, Wright never took the life of a footballer for granted or forgot his roots. That’s why gooners can relate to him so much.
2 – Bergkamp Played 423 Scored 120
Probably the worse goal – game ratio in the top 10. Yet if you’re only looking at that stat you either don’t remember, or need someone older to tell you, that Bergkamp was never a great goal scorer but a scorer of great goals. In many ways there’s almost no point talking about his ability as a finisher (which sounds strange) but there was so much more to him than that.
He has claimed that he got more enjoyment making goals for others than for himself.
As football evolved in England, 4-4-2 didn’t no longer mean everyone stayed standing in one position. Bergkamp would instead drop deep which then allowed midfielders to run off him.
Suddenly Arsenal became a hard team to man mark due to his movement off the ball. Think of the success of Henry, Pires and Ljungberg. All were fed by the vision and passing of Bergkamp.
1 – Henry played Played 376 Scored 228
Our best striker, purely because our best ever player period. Wasn’t even a natural goalscorer, which might sound weird for someone who scored more goals than any gunner in history. What I mean is that he wasn’t a Shearer or an Andy Cole, who can be quiet for a whole match but then take their one chance in the box.
In many ways Henry changed the perception of a striker. Having won the World Cup as a winger, he didn’t understand why Arsene Wenger wanted him to learn a new position. When he struggled in front of goal, he was even more certain he shouldn’t be a striker. No exaggeration, if AFTV was around in 1999, some would have verbally abused, sworn and forced him out when his goal drought went up to 8 games. The compromise was that he could play on the left, but was coached that it was also possible to cut inside and score. It’s one of Mr Wenger’s best tactical decisions ever.
He reached a point in 03-04 where you could argue he truly was the best in the world, our left side with him, Pires and Cole were instrumental to a golden period in our history. I don’t know if it was the French Connection or Arsenal’s insistence at the time to do things the ‘Arsenal Way’, but Henry is unique in terms of a foreign player who had no reason to, but fell in love with Arsenal. The likes of Adams, Dixon and Keown taught him the values and ethos of the club and he bought into it. In a decade where we are used to our best players leaving, it’s funny to think there was a never a time where I once feared losing Henry to a rival.
How would you rank your Top Ten Arsenal strikers in the EPL?