Did they really play for Arsenal?

October 24, 2014

This is a short starter for Rant Friday and concerns our ex-players who have become pundits.

Let’s start with a man who has a clear anti-Arsenal agenda, Stewart Robson. I have no idea why such an admired player (pre-injury) has turned into a man who cannot speak without being negative about our boys but whatever it is it must have been painful because he clearly hates his former employers.

Then there are the Sky boys. Smudger Smith was one of my heroes. Known as “The Professor” in the dressing room because he read broadsheet newspapers Smith rarely is complimentary about our boys, choosing instead to tell us how much better the opposition is and then laying into our lads, in particular JW.

Merse. Mercurial on the pitch and a buffoon off it. Is this illiterate the best Sky can come up with?

George Graham. I guess he has reason to be anti-AW but I hoped for better from a man who brought not only trophies but dishonour to the club.

O’Leary. Our appearance record holder and yet persona non grata at THOF. Why?

At least we have Ian Wright, Wright, Wright, TH14 and Lee Dixon fighting our corner.

Want to moan about them apples??

written by Big Raddy

 


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 12 …… Players with the most club appearances. No. 1

May 2, 2014

Lets have a look at the only four players who have each made over Six Hundred appearances for Arsenal.

We start off with the only player to have played in over Seven Hundred games, David O’Leary; he is also the only player to have played for Arsenal in Twenty consecutive seasons. He appeared in an amazing Seven Hundred and Twenty Two games, from 1973 to 1993, a record that will be extremely difficult to exceed.

o leary

He was born in Stoke Newington, London on 2 May 1958 and moved to live in Dublin at the age of three. David played for Shelbourne as a schoolboy and signed for Arsenal as an apprentice in 1973. He quickly progressed through the ranks at Highbury, playing in the reserves at the age of 16. He made his first team debut  against Burnley on 16 August 1975, and despite being only 17, went on to make 30 appearances that season. For the next ten years he was ever-present in the Arsenal side, playing more than 40 matches a season (except for 1980–81, where he was injured and only played 27). When the former Arsenal manager George Graham was put in charge at Leeds United in September 1996, O’Leary was installed as his assistant. He remained in this position for two years until Graham moved to Tottenham.

David was voted into 21st position in the Arsenal Arsenal all time best players list.

Honours with Arsenal

Football League First Division

Winner: 1988–89, 1990–91

FA Cup

Winner: 1979, 1993

Runner-up: 1978, 1980

Football League Cup

Winner: 1987, 1993

European Cup Winners’ Cup

Runner-up: 1980

Records with Arsenal

Most appearances: 722

Most consecutive seasons 20

Youngest player to reach 100 and 200 games

400 appearances under the age of 26

These are some of his thoughts after Arsenal won the FA Cup replay in 1993.

“We did a lap of honour with the trophy and before I got to the tunnel I thought to myself “‘this is the last time I’ll ever wear the Arsenal jersey again”. It was an amazing night, a brilliant way to end 20 years, but it was such a sad night for me as well.”

It was a night that stretched well into the early hours as the players let off steam after making history. And O’Leary went home with an extra companion when the celebrations finally died down.

“That night – I’ll always remember this – I took the FA Cup home. No one else seemed to be responsible for it so I took it with me.

“My wife drove us home and I remember sitting in the front with the FA Cup in my lap and somebody pulled up at the lights, seconds before it went green, and he looked over and then looked over again, thinking ‘is that David O’Leary with the FA Cup?!’ We pulled away and I still don’t know if that guy thought he was imagining things.

“I remember getting home that night and I thought, if my house gets robbed they are not going to take the FA Cup, so I took the cup up to my bedroom. My kids were young then and the following morning they came in and saw the FA Cup there on the side of the bed.

“That morning I took it to the club and gave it to Ken Friar. I said goodbye to Ken, I actually went to the steps of the old directors’ box at Highbury, had a look out there for the last time, and said to myself ‘hey, it’s been a fantastic 20 years, I’ve been so proud to play here, thanks for putting up with me’.

“Then I walked away, and that was that.”

(Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc.)

The player with the second most appearances at Six Hundred and Sixty Nine is Tony Adams, he played for a total of 19 seasons from 1983 to 2002.

tony-adams 1
Born in Romford, London, Tony grew up in Dagenham, signing for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980. He made his Arsenal first team debut in November 1983 just four weeks after his 17th birthday and became a regular player in the 1985–86 season, winning the Football League Cup Final, his first major trophy, in 1987.

Alongside Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, he was part of the “famous back four” that lined up in Arsenal’s defence – they became renowned for the use of their well-disciplined offside trap. On 1 January 1988, he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21 and remained as such until his retirement 14 years later.

Nicknamed “Mr Arsenal”, he was honoured by Arsenal with a testimonial game against Celtic in May 2002 with many Arsenal legends playing, including Ian Wright, John Lukic and Adams’s fellow back four stalwarts, Dixon, Winterburn and Bould. The game finished 1–1 with Lee Dixon, in his final appearance for the Gunners, getting their goal.

In 2004, Tony was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game. A statue of Adams was placed outside Emirates Stadium in celebration of the club’s 125th anniversary on 9 December, 2011. He has also been honoured with the MBE for his contribution to football.

Tony placed 3rd in the Arsenal Arsenal best all time player poll.

Arsenal v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League

Honours with Arsenal

First Division/Premier League: 1988–89, 1990–91, 1997–98, 2001–02

FA Cup: 1992–93, 1997–98, 2001–02

Football League Cup: 1986–87, 1992–93

FA Community Shield: 1991 (shared), 1998, 1999

UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1993–94

Runner-up:

Premier League: 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01

FA Cup: 2000–01

Football League Cup: 1987–88

FA Community Shield: 1989, 1993

UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994–95

UEFA Cup: 1999–2000

UEFA Super Cup: 1994

Individual Honours

PFA Young Player of the Year: 1987

PFA Team of the Year: 1994, 1996, 1997

Member in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE): (1999 Birthday Honours)

Overall Team of the Decade – Premier League 10 Seasons Awards: (1992-93 – 2001-02)

Fantasy Teams of the 20 Seasons – Premier League 20 Seasons Awards: (1992-93 – 2011-12)

The player with the 3rd most appearances is George Armstrong, he played in Six Hundred and Twenty One games, in 16 seasons from 1961 to1977.

george-armstrong

Born in Hebburn, County Durham, George joined Arsenal as a youth player in August 1961. He made his debut against Blackpool in 1962 while he was still 17 and by the 1963-64 season he had become a regular in the side.

Over his long career with the Gunners, George became one of Arsenal’s most consistent players, and was noted for the quality and accuracy of his crossing and corner kicks, as well as for his tireless running up and down the wing; he primarily played on the left, but was also effective on the right. As he matured, he became one of the few players of the Billy Wright era (along with Jon Sammels and Peter Storey) to become an integral part of Wright’s successor Bertie Mee’s Arsenal side, which ended the club’s long trophy drought.

After losing two successive League Cup finals in 1967-68 and 1968-69, George helped the Gunners win the 1969-70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 1970-71 League and FA Cup double; he was a regular in the Double-winning team that season, setting up a number of goals for his team-mates, which included teeing up Ray Kennedy’s winning header against Tottenham Hotspur, in the match that won Arsenal the League title. He was also voted Arsenal’s Player of the Year in 1970.

In 1990, before the Iraqi invasion, he returned to England and joined Arsenal as reserve team coach, a post he remained at for the remainder of his life, despite the many managerial upheavals the club underwent.  On 31 October 2000, while conducting a club training session he collapsed after an unexpected brain haemorrhage; he died in Hemel Hempstead Hospital in the early hours of the following morning.

George had a pitch named after him at the Arsenal F.C. training ground, in London Colney

The player with the 4th most appearances is Lee Dixon, Lee appeared in Six Hundred and Nineteen matches in 14 seasons from 1988 to 2002 .

Lee Dixon of Arsenal

Born in Manchester, he was signed by Arsenal boss George Graham in 1988 following the departure of England right back, Viv Anderson, to Manchester United. This was the first time that he had played in the First Division and it took a while for him to be given a first team role at Highbury. Nigel Winterburn had been a guarded success in the unfamiliar role of right back, though Lee did make his debut against Luton Town in February 1988 and played six times in total before the season ended. In the new season, Winterburn moved across to left back, allowing Dixon to take over the No.2 shirt, which he duly did for well over ten years.

He and Winterburn made the full back positions their own for the next decade or so, while Captain Tony Adams and the long-serving David O’Leary operated in the middle. Later in 1988 they were joined by Steve Bould who, like Dixon before him, had been spotted by Graham playing for Stoke City. These five defenders, often playing as a back five together and were the foundation stones of much of Arsenal’s success.

His career at Arsenal saw him collect four league champion’s medals, three FA Cup winner’s medals and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup medal. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, for the seasons 1989–90 and 1990–91.

His retirement came at the end of Arsenal’s domestic double-winning 2001–02 season, their second in his time at the club.

Lee came in 18th place in the Arsenal Arsenal all time best players poll.

GunnerN5

 

 


Vote for your favourite defenders from Arsenal’s modern era

June 22, 2013

Today you get to vote for your favourite defenders from Arsenal’s modern era. The articles published on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week provided in depth profiles on our best defenders spanning from Peter Simpson who played his first game in 1960 to the present day.

To provide a broader picture of readers’ preferences, you can vote for up to 3 players in this poll.

Thanks to GunnerN5 and Gooner In Exile for this excellent series of posts providing a forensic analysis of the best players in Arsenal’s history. Today we conclude the defence …. next week we start the midfield.


Arsenal’s Greatest Defenders Day 6

June 20, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue to highlight the defenders.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite defender by voting in the poll at the end of the week

17. Nigel Winterburn: 1987-2000

Nigel played in 584 games over a 13 year period.

He was born in Arley, Warwickshire and began his career with Birmingham City gaining his first youth caps for England while with the club. He left to join Oxford United and then in 1983 he was signed on a free transfer by Wimbledon who gained promotion to the First Division in 1986, at the same time Nigel won England under-21 honours. Nigel was the Wimbledon supporters, Player of the Year, for each of the four seasons he spent at Plough Lane.

RackMultipart.5031.0_display_imageArsenal, who was looking for a long-term replacement for Captain Kenny Sansom, paid Wimbledon £350,000 in the summer of 1987 and Nigel became an Arsenal player. He began his Arsenal career at right-back even though he was heavily left-footed. When Sansom left Arsenal Nigel moved to his more familiar left back role and stayed there for more for more than a decade.

He and fellow full back Lee Dixon flanked central defenders Tony Adams and David O’Leary later being joined by Steve Bould, George Graham would often play all five of them as his defensive unit. They played together. as Arsenal beat holders Liverpool to a last-game showdown at Anfield for the First Division title, he made his England debut later that same year.

Arsenal ended 1990 trophy less, but went on to win the league title again the next year, with only one loss. Two years later he was in the Arsenal team which won both cup competitions and thus completed his domestic set of medals. Arsenal defeated Sheffield Wednesday 2–1 in both the League Cup and FA Cup finals. In 1994, Arsenal beat Italian side Parma’s 1–0, to win the European Cup Winners Cup, Arsenal’s first success continentally for a quarter of a century.

Arsène Wenger arrived at Arsenal at the end of 1996 and instilled new self-awareness and dietary habits into the Arsenal squad, allowing the ageing defence to thrive in their latter years and prolong their football careers. Arsenal won the “double” of Premiership and FA Cup in 1998 and in 2000 they reached the UEFA Cup final.

He left Arsenal and joined West Ham United in 2000 for a fee of £250,000, playing in 94 games in all competitions for West Ham and retired in 2003

He played in 429 matches for Arsenal placing him the fourth on the all time list.

18. Tony Adams: 1983-2002

Tony played in 669 games over a 19 year period.

Born in Romford, London, Tony grew up in Dagenham before signing for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980. He made his Arsenal first team debut in November 1983 just four weeks after his 17th birthday and became a regular player in the 1985–86 season, winning the Football League Cup Final, his first major trophy, in 1987.

gun__1357644158_adams_tottenham1993Alongside Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, he was part of the “famous back four” that lined up in Arsenal’s defence – they became renowned for the use of their well-disciplined offside trap. On 1 January 1988, he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21 and remained as such until his retirement 14 years later.

Their, strong and disciplined defence was  a major a factor in Arsenal winning the League Cup in 1986–87 followed by two First Division championship titles; the first in 1988–89 and the second in 1990–91 after losing only one game all season. In 1992–93 he became captain of the first English side to win the League Cup and FA Cup double, and he lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following year.

All along Tony had a ghost in his closet, namely his battle with alcoholism, which started in the mid-1980s and became increasingly worse; reportedly he was often being involved in fights in nightclubs. On 6 May 1990, he crashed his car and when  breathalysed his blood alcohol level was found to be more than four times the legal drink-drive limit, in December of that year, he was found guilty and he was imprisoned for four months. Unfortunately his alcoholism continued and he was involved in further alcohol-related incidents. In September of 1996, he went public admitting that he was an alcoholic and was receiving treatment. Since his recovery he has become one of the most high-profile recovering alcoholics in the UK and his battle with alcohol is detailed in his autobiography, “Addicted”.

The arrival of Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager in October 1996 was also played a significant part in his recovery as Wenger reformed the club’s dietary practices and the players’ lifestyles. Wenger showed his faith in Tony by sticking by him and keeping him as the club’s captain, the improvements in the regime probably helped to extend his career by several years. Arsene’s trust was rewarded with Tony captaining the club to two Premiership and FA Cup Doubles, in 1997–98 and 2001–02 – he is the only player in English football history to have captained a title-winning team in three different decades.

In August 2002, just before the start of the 2002–03 season, he announced his retirement from professional football after a career spanning almost 20 years in which he played 668 matches for Arsenal making him second on the all time appearance list, he is also the most successful captain in the club’s history.

He made his debut for England against Spain in 1987, and played in Euro 88, scoring one of England’s two goals. He was the first player to represent England who had been born after the 1966 World Cup win. In total he appeared 66 times for England.

Nicknamed “Mr Arsenal”, he was honoured by Arsenal with a testimonial game against Celtic in May 2002 with many Arsenal legends playing, including Ian Wright, John Lukic and Adams’s fellow back four stalwarts, Dixon, Winterburn and Bould. The game finished 1–1 with Lee Dixon, in his final appearance for the Gunners, getting their goal.

In 2004, Tony was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game. A statue of Adams was placed outside Emirates Stadium in celebration of the club’s 125th anniversary on 9 December, 2011. He has also been honoured with the MBE for his contribution to football.

19. Lee Dixon: 1988-2002

Lee played in 619 games over a 14 year period.

Born in Manchester, he was a boyhood Manchester City supporter. He began his professional playing career in the lower divisions joining Burnley as an apprentice in 1980, turning professional in 1982 after which he played for Chester City and Bury before joining Stoke City in 1986.

His performances attracted the attention of Arsenal and he was signed by Arsenal boss George Graham in 1988 following the departure of England right back, Viv Anderson, to Manchester United. This was the first time that he had played in the First Division and it took a while for him to be given a first team role at Highbury. Nigel Winterburn had been a guarded success in the unfamiliar role of right back, though Lee did make his debut against Luton Town in February 1988 and played six times in total before the season ended. In the new season, Winterburn moved across to left back, allowing Dixon to take over the No.2 shirt, which he duly did for well over ten years.

7511f332b29ae01378552e5be565a39cHe and Winterburn made the full back positions their own for the next decade or so, while Captain Tony Adams and the long-serving David O’Leary operated in the middle. Later in 1988 they were joined by Steve Bould who, like Dixon before him, had been spotted by Graham playing for Stoke City. These five defenders, often playing as a back five together and were the foundation stones of much of Arsenal’s success.

He wrote in his column in The Independent of the defence that he played in at Arsenal.

“I was fortunate to play in an Arsenal back line that earned itself a reputation as being OK. I’m not trying to be overly modest in saying that, as individuals, we weren’t the best players in the world. But certainly all my weaknesses were compensated for by Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown and Steve Bould, and vice versa. If one of us wasn’t playing well, the others picked up the slack”

His career at Arsenal saw him collect four league champion’s medals, three FA Cup winner’s medals and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup medal. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, for the seasons 1989–90 and 1990–91.

His retirement came at the end of Arsenal’s domestic double-winning 2001–02 season, their second in his time at the club.

He made his England début in April 1990 in a World Cup warm-up game against Czechoslovakia, ending up with a total of 22 caps.

His 619 appearances for Arsenal place him third on the all time list.

20. Martin Keown: 1981-2004

Martin played in 449 games over a 23 year period.

Born in Oxford, Martin first played for local sides and his local Gaelic football team, before joining Arsenal on a schoolboy contract in 1980; he made his professional debut while on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion in 1984. His debut for Arsenal came in November 1985, when Don Howe was still manager. He played 22 league games that season but when George Graham became manager in 1986, he decided that Martin was not part of his plans and sold him to Aston Villa for £200,000.

Villa was relegated after finishing bottom of the First division on 1986-87. After Graham Taylor was appointed manager Villa won promotion back to the First Division, Martin helped them secure their top flight status the following season, but was sold to Everton in 1989, following which Everton sold Martin back to Arsenal in 1993.

_39363750_keown_forlanThis move created intense competition for the central defensive positions between himself, Andy Linighan, Steve Bould and Captain Tony Adams, for places in the centre of one of the best English defences of the 1990s. He rarely missed a game in his first four full seasons back at Highbury, though he was used sparingly by Arsene Wenger in the 1997–98 double winning campaign, playing just 18 times. But Martin still claimed the first two major trophies of his career, after well over a decade of waiting. He went on to became a key player in Arsène Wenger’s double winning sides of 1998 and 2002, he remained as a first team regular until the end of the 2002–03 season, when the Gunners won their ninth FA Cup.

Martin remained at Arsenal until 2004, winning another Premier League title, before being released on a free transfer. His final season he made 10 league appearances – the minimum to qualify for a title winner’s medal. On his release he signed for Leicester City, but left after less than six months and signed for Reading in January 2005, he played until the end of the season and then he retired.

He made his England debut in 1992 against France, earning a total of 43 caps.

His 449 appearances for Arsenal place him ninth on the all time list.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile