Top 10 Best Arsenal Center Backs of all Time
The defensive role is such a sensitive role in football, and the intensity of the defense usually decides the turnout of many games.
Arsenal FC isn’t ignorant of the importance of great defender, hence, investing heavily in exceptional ones. This makes Arsenal one of the clubs that has produced the finest defender in British football.
However, you may ask, “Who are the best defenders to have ever played for Arsenal?” This is quite a challenging question to answer, given that Arsenal FC is more than a century old!
However, we kept all difficulties aside and dived deep into the record books to extract data about all center-backs to have featured for Arsenal.
Here in this article, we’ll be giving you a curated list of the 10 best Arsenal center-backs ever and some information about them
Tony Adams is unarguably the most respected center-back in Arsenal history and the best. He dedicated his entire career to Arsenal, playing for the North London side for 22 years. Also, he was the club captain for 16 years, much more than most others.
He is known for his leadership skills, leading Arsenal to win 10 major trophies, including four first division titles, three FA Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners Cup amongst others. Upon retirement, he had his statue erected at the Emirates stadium.
He once came third in a poll for the best Arsenal players ever, making him the best center back to play in an Arsenal jersey.
He got addicted to alcohol at some time, which negatively impacted his football career. However, he soon recovered from it and returned as Arsenal’s best player at the backline.
Popularly known as the spider, one quality of O’Leary that should sink into everyone’s mind is his loyalty. David O’Leary completed 722 appearances for the Gunners, making him the record holder for most appearances, even up to this day.
He built a foundation for Arsenal in defense, a foundation they continued to uphold after he declined in performance and was replaced by Tony Adams and others.
He didn’t start on a good note for Arsenal FC, but over the years, he came to become the most used defender in the team. By the time he completed his highly successful 18 years career, Spider had already worked enough to be given a place in the All-time Greatest Gunners, ranking 14th.
The loyalty of O’Leary isn’t anything ordinary and makes him deserve a place in this list.
Speed isn’t a quality you’ll expect to see in most defenders, and this seems to set Martin Keown apart from other defenders. He always seems to give strikers a tough time with the ball. Apart from speed, Keown is also known for his tackling abilities, which is necessary for a center-back. He always covered up for the discrepancies of Arsenal forwards.
- He was quite successful in his two stints at the Gunners, reaching an amazing 449 appearances, while making away with league titles and FA Cups.
Apart from Arsenal, he has also featured for Aston Villa and Everton, keeping up his exceptional performance through both teams.
Steve Bould was one of the four Gunners that formed an impenetrable wall in England. The famous four was completed by Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, and Nigel Winterburn, two of which couldn’t make this list because they aren’t center-backs.
Signing up for Arsenal in 1988, he grew to become one of the most feared defenders in Britain. He won the European Cup Winners Cup with Arsenal in 1994, after recovering from an injury that made him miss the preceding FA Cup and League Cup Finals.
He had to struggle with Martin Keown for his position later into his career, Steve Bould’s efforts as a determined, strong, and effective player for Arsenal can’t be easily forgotten.
He moved to Sunderland later in his career, where he later retired.
Frank McLintock was initially bought by Arsenal as a wingback, a position that contradicted the natural talents of the Gunner.
It was after 5 years before they discovered that they’ve been trying to drive a nail into wood using a screwdriver!
As a wingback, he had an insane work rate, which always amounted to almost nothing, and cost him playing time. Amidst some injury challenges in the Arsenal squad, then manager, Billy Wright was forced to play Frank McLintock in a different position: center-back.
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They got the best of McLintock. He got his deserved respect and he got more playing time than he would have wished for. At the end of his eight-year-long career for the Gunners, McLintock has already appeared 403 times, while netting 32 goals for the Gunners.
Leslie is one of the few players to have a successful shot at two different sports. He was an involved in both cricket and football, but was more successful in football, after spending an eventful 22 years career at Arsenal, making him one of the longest-serving Arsenal center-backs.
He played in numerous positions for Arsenal, once converted to a center-forward during the 2nd World War. He scored 10 times in a match that ended 15-2 against Leyton Orient, during his brief stint as a center-forward. That wasn’t official, as it was during the war.
He went on to captain the Arsenal side while leading them to victory in different competitions, including the FA Cup. He earned some post-war caps with England while setting some solid records.
Sol Campbell isn’t listed as the 15th best player on the Arsenal.com website for no reason. As a center-back, he played out his entire career in England, with the best of his career coming from his stay at Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
During his five year stint at Arsenal, Campbell massive popularity amongst Arsenal fans, while growing unpopular amongst Tottenham fans. He was part of the 2004-05 invincibles, and he ended up winning two FA Cups and two Premier League trophies.
After his career at Arsenal, he joined Portsmouth, where he played for three years, captaining them to the 2008 FA Cup Final. He became England’s youngest captain at just 23 years and 248 days, having a total of 74 caps altogether.
Kenny Sansom is another legendary Gunner who played the better part of his career at Arsenal FC. He was a no-nonsense full-back for various British teams, including Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Newcastle United, Everton, etc.
In his 314 appearances for the north London side, Kenny Sansom managed 6 goals, which isn’t bad as a full back. In addition to that, he also captained Arsenal to a victory in the League Cup final against Liverpool.
As he aged, he gradually fell out of favor with the Arsenal manager, and he was replaced by another defender, as he moved on with his career.
Peter Storey is an aggressive defender, who is comfortable playing as either a center back, or a defensive midfielder. He was offered a professional contract at Arsenal in 1962, and by 1965, he was already regular at the first team.
His stay at Arsenal was rewarded with an Inter-Cities Fairies Cup, one FA Cup Title, and a First Division Title. However, he has lost more finals than he won and his stats could have been much better.
He appeared 391 times for Arsenal, before getting a transfer to Fulham, where he later retired.
His post-football life is nothing to write home about as he has been jailed for masterminding a plot to counterfeit gold coins. He has also faced charges of owning a brothel, amongst other criminal offenses.
However, his career at Arsenal is all that matters, and it’s exceptionally good.
Laurent Koscielny is the only active player on this list, and he has done so much for Arsenal to deserve this. He didn’t start his career at Arsenal, he has been previously active in a host of other clubs, including Guingamp, where he launched his career, Tours, Lorient, before finally signing for Arsenal.
He had a lot of successes at Arsenal, as he won the FA Cup and FA Community Shield twice each. Koscielny was also influential in Arsenal’s progress at the 2018-19 Europa League, making the UEFA Europa League Squad of the Season for his excellent performances.
Compiling the best footballers in a particular position isn’t an easy task, but it’s great to know who our legends are.
We’ve saved you the pain of having to research endlessly for the best center-backs to ever play for Arsenal. In this article, we’ve done the job for you.
Although this article isn’t arranged from best to worst or from worst to best, it will give you an idea of who the Arsenal legends are, in the center-back position.
Now sit back and refresh yourself with the best of Sol Campbell
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