Blast No. 16 – Arsenal Players with the most club appearances. No. 2

May 30, 2014

On May 2nd the four players with the most club appearances for Arsenal were profiled, between them they played in an incredible 2.631 games.

David O’Leary 1973-1993 made 722 appearances.

Tony Adams 1983-2002 made 669 appearances.

George Armstrong 1961-1977 made 621 appearances.

Lee Dixon 1988-2002 made 619 appearances.

 Now we will take a look at the next four players with the highest amount of appearances, they are the only players to have played in between 500 and 599 games.

First up we have Nigel Winterburn 1987-2000 he made 584 appearances.

Nigel Winterburn
Winterburn began his Arsenal career at right-back, an emergency measure employed by Graham after he’d been unsuccessful in finding a worthwhile replacement for Viv Anderson. Though heavily left-footed, Winterburn settled into the right back role as best he could and became quickly involved in two controversial incidents of his first season. First, he was seen to openly goad Brian McClair after the Manchester United striker had missed a late penalty in an FA Cup tie at Highbury.The second incident came in the League Cup final later that same season. Despite having fallen behind in the early stages, Arsenal, the holders, dominated the match and were leading Luton Town 2–1 at Wembley with less than quarter of an hour to go when David Rocastle was felled in the penalty area. Michael Thomas had been Arsenal’s designated penalty taker all season but for reasons unexplained, it was Winterburn – who’d never taken a penalty for Arsenal before – who collected the ball up to take the kick.

He put the kick low and strong to the right hand corner as he viewed it, but Luton goalkeeper Andy Dibble guessed correctly and pushed the ball round the post. A newly-inspired Luton then scored twice in the final ten minutes and won the final 3–2. Despite the missed penalty, it was Gus Caesar (deputising for David O’Leary who missed the final due to injury) rather than Winterburn who was made to bear the brunt of the criticism, as he had made the error which gifted Luton their equaliser at 2–2.

Sansom left Arsenal in the summer and Winterburn settled into his more familiar left back role as a result, staying in it for more than a decade. He and fellow full back Lee Dixon flanked two superb central defenders in captain Tony Adams and veteran David O’Leary, joined during the 1989 season by Steve Bould. Often the manager would play all five of them as Arsenal took holders Liverpool to a last-game showdown at Anfield for the First Division title, which would have been Arsenal’s first title since the Double year of 1971. Arsenal’s situation meant they needed to win by at least two clear goals to clinch the championship. Winterburn’s free kick set up a first for Alan Smith shortly after half time, but the second looked as though it would elude them until Thomas scored in injury time. This victory was the culmination of the film Fever Pitch.

Arsenal ended 1990 trophy less, but went on to win the league title again the next year, with only one loss. Two years later, Winterburn 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, the latter in a replay.

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 (Adams was the youngest at 30 years of age; Martin Keown had also arrived to account for O’Leary’s retirement after the 1993 FA Cup success) to thrive in the latter years of their careers and prolong their football careers. Arsenal won the “double” of Premiership and FA Cup in 1998.

Secondly we have David Seaman MBE – 1990-2003 he appeared in 564 games.

david seaman

Arsenal manager George Graham signed David Seaman from Queens Park Rangers in 1990 for a fee of £1.3 million; at the time a British record for a goalkeeper. Arsenal sold goalkeeper John Lukic, who was highly popular amongst Arsenal fans, to Leeds United.

Seaman’s time at Arsenal coincided with one of the most successful periods in the club’s history. The 1990–91 season saw him concede only 18 goals when playing in every match of the 38-game season as Arsenal regained the league title.

Arsenal won both the FA Cup and the League Cup in 1993 and supplemented this a year later with the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

In 1995, George Graham was sacked, and Arsenal came close to becoming the first club to retain the Cup Winners’ Cup, with Seaman earning a reputation as a penalty-saving specialist after saving Attilio Lombardo’s shot in Arsenal’s semi-final shoot-out against U.C. Sampdoria. However, in the final Arsenal lost in extra time to Real Zaragoza, with a spectacular last-minute goal from Nayim from 45 yards out catching Seaman off his line. There were only seconds left of extra time when Seaman conceded.

In August 1996, Arsène Wenger became the new manager of Arsenal. Wenger rated Seaman highly and in 1998, Seaman helped the team to the Premier League and FA Cup double. In 1998–99, Seaman played all 38 league matches, conceding only 17 league goals as Arsenal came within one point of retaining the Premier League and lost in the FA Cup semi-finals to Manchester United. The following season Seaman managed to reach the 2000 UEFA Cup Final, which Arsenal drew 0–0 with Galatasaray, but lost on penalties.

In 2002, Seaman won the Premier League and the FA Cup again to complete his second career double, although Arsenal’s other goalkeepers Stuart Taylor (10 appearances) and Richard Wright (12 appearances) also won championship medals, due mainly to Seaman’s absence through injuries. A highlight of this season was when Seaman dramatically saved a Gareth Barry penalty as Arsenal won 2-1 at Aston Villa.

Despite his international career ending so flatly and accusations his mobility had faded with age, the 2002–03 season—Seaman’s last at Arsenal—ended on a high note. In the FA Cup, he made a spectacular save against Sheffield United’s Paul Peschisolido in the semi-finals, in what former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, a pundit for the BBC on the day, dubbed “the best save I’ve ever seen”. Arsenal were defending a 1–0 lead, when with less than ten minutes to go, Peschisolido had a header towards an apparently open goal from six yards out with Seaman seemingly stranded at the near post. However, the goalkeeper leapt sideways and backwards, somehow managing to stretch his right arm behind him and scoop the ball back and away from both his goal and the opposing players ready to pounce on a rebound. The match was all the more remarkable in that it was Seaman’s 1,000th professional career game. Seaman went on to captain the team during the 2003 FA Cup Final in the absence of injured Patrick Vieira and keep another clean sheet at the Millennium Stadium as they defeated Southampton 1–0. His final act with Arsenal was to lift the FA Cup, which was his eighth major trophy with his team.

David became an MBE in 1977 – unfortunately GN5 could not find an image of the presentation.

Thirdly we have Pat Rice MBE – 1964-1980 he made 528 appearances.

pat rice

Born in Belfast, he grew up in London, and after working at a greengrocer on Gillespie Road he joined the Gunners as an apprentice in 1964. He turned professional in 1966 and worked his way up through the club’s youth and reserve teams. He made his first-team debut in the League Cup against Burnley on 5 December 1967.

Playing at right back, Rice was initially a bit-part player, making only 16 appearances in his first three seasons at Arsenal, and missed out on Arsenal’s 1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup win over RSC Anderlecht. Peter Storey was Arsenal’s first choice right back, but after he was moved into central midfield at the start of the 1970–71, Rice took his place and was a near-ever present in the side that season, as Arsenal won the League and FA Cup Double.

He remained first-choice right back for the rest of the 1970s, playing in the 1972 FA Cup Final as well; he was an ever-present for three seasons — 1971–72, 1975–76, 1976–77. Of the Double-winning side, he was the one who remained at the club the longest, and became club captain in 1977. As captain, he had the honour of lifting the FA Cup after Arsenal beat Manchester United in 1979, as well as losing two finals in 1978 and 1980. He is one of only 3 Arsenal players to have played in five FA Cup Finals (1970–71, 1971–72, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80), the other two being David Seaman and Ray Parlour. He also led Arsenal to the 1980 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final, which Arsenal lost on penalties to Valencia. He finally left Arsenal in 1980 at the age of 31, by which time he had played 528 games in total for the club.

Pat rejoined Arsenal in 1984 as youth team coach, a post he held for the next 12 years, winning the FA Youth Cup twice in 1987–88 and 1993–94. In September 1996, he was briefly caretaker manager of the club after the resignation of Stewart Houston, who himself was caretaker after the sacking of Bruce Rioch. He managed the side for three FA Premier League matches (all of which Arsenal won) and a 3–2 defeat in the UEFA Cup at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Upon the arrival of Arsène Wenger at the end of the month, Rice became his assistant, and played a key role in helping the club to their success in the 1990s and 2000s, including the Doubles of 1997–98 and 2001–02, and Arsenal’s unbeaten League season of 2003–04. He holds the distinction (along with Bob Wilson) of having taken part, as player or coach, in all three of Arsenal’s Doubles.

On 5 May 2012, it was announced that Rice would be stepping down after an accumulative 44 years with club, since joining as an apprentice, with the home game against Norwich being his final home game as Arsenal No.2. Wenger stated, ‘Pat is a true Arsenal legend and has committed almost his whole life to Arsenal Football Club, which shows huge loyalty and devotion to this club…I will always be indebted to him for his expert insight into Arsenal and football as a whole. On the training pitches and on matchdays, Pat has always been a passionate, loyal and insightful colleague, who we will all miss.’

Rice was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to sport.

Pat Rice & The Queen (1)

Last but not least we have Peter Storey 1961-1977 who played in 501 games.

peter storey v2 

Storey signed as an apprentice at Arsenal after leaving school in 1961.  He signed professional forms in September 1962 and spent the 1962–63 season playing for the Arsenal third team in the Metropolitan League. He made his senior debut on 30 October 1965, taking Billy McCullough’s place at left-back in a 3–1 defeat to Leicester City at Filbert Street. He retained his first team place and went on to play all of the remaining 29 games, though the season would prove to be a poor one for the “Gunners” as manager Billy Wright was sacked after dropping top-scorer Joe Baker and disillusioning the dressing room. In 1965-66 Arsenal finished in 14th place, just four points above the relegation zone, and was knocked out of the FA Cup at the Third Round following a 3–0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers, who would end the season bottom of the First Division.

Storey quickly made a name for himself as a rough player early in the 1966–67 season as he injured Manchester City winger Mike Summerbee. He was warned by new manager Bertie Mee not to get sent off after Storey got involved in a brawl during an FA Cup win over Gillingham. The team improved under Mee’s strict leadership, and finished the season in seventh place, cutting goals conceded to 47 from the previous season’s tally of 75. Storey started 34 league games, missing eight matches due to injury and illness. He scored his first professional goal on 22 April 1967, in a 1–1 draw with Nottingham Forest at Highbury.

Bob McNab established himself at left-back in the 1967–68 season, and so Storey was moved over to right-back. Despite being a full-back he was sometimes given the job of marking a dangerous and creative opposition player closely, and though he was never ordered to use rough play he was on these occasions told “you know what to do, Peter”. He was sent off for the first time in his career, along with Frank McLintock, in a 1–0 defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor in December 1967; despite his tough tackling he was actually dismissed for bad language. Arsenal finished the season in ninth place, but advanced past Coventry City, Reading, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Huddersfield Town to face Leeds United in the final of the League Cup at Wembley. Leeds won the game through a Terry Cooper volley on 20 minute.

Their league position meant in 1968–69 that Arsenal qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in the 1969–70 season, and they advanced past Glentoran (Northern Ireland), Sporting (Portugal), Rouen (France), FCM Bacău (Romania) and Ajax (Netherlands) to reach the final against Belgian club Anderlecht. Anderlecht won 3–1 at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium after their possession football controlled the entire game until substitute Ray Kennedy scored a crucial header in the 82nd minute. Arsenal turned around the tie with a 3–0 home victory to claim the club’s first trophy in 17 years. Despite their European exploits the team still struggled in England, and finished the league in 12th spot.

Arsenal won the 1970-71 title on the final day of the season with a 1–0 win over Spurs at White Hart Lane, though Storey missed the final two league games of the season after damaging ligaments in his ankle. They secured the double after winning the FA Cup, though their progress in the competition was slow, as they beat Yeovil Town, Portsmouth (in a replay) – Storey scored a penalty in both the original tie and the replay, Manchester City, Leicester City (in a replay), and then Stoke City (in a replay). Storey gave a man-of-the-match performance in the original semi-final tie against Stoke at Hillsborough, scoring two goals to rescue a 2–0 half-time deficit; with the first goal he beat Gordon Banks with a volley on the edge of the penalty area, and with the second he sent Banks the wrong way with an injury-time penalty kick.[27] The replay at Villa Park was less dramatic, and Arsenal won the tie with a comfortable 2–0 result. In the final he was assigned to mark Liverpool’s Steve Heighway, and kept the Liverpool winger quiet until Storey was substituted for Eddie Kelly after 64 minutes. Both Heighway and Kelly scored in extra-time, but the winning goal came from “Gunners” striker Charlie George.

He played his final game for Arsenal on 29 January 1977, replacing Malcolm Macdonald as a substitute in a 3–1 victory over Coventry City in the FA Cup.

In his auto biography he wrote:

In time, I became immensely proud of what Arsenal achieved in 1970–71, constantly defying the odds and coming from behind. Only special teams do the Double. One word summed us up — remorseless. We never knew when we were beaten; our powers of recovery during 90 minutes, and sometimes beyond, were immense.”

GunnerN5


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 8 1970/71 – Arsenal’s 1st Double

April 4, 2014

Let’s start off with a picture of one of our most Famous teams.

1970 71 team photo

Arsenal’s first double in 1970/71 was a triumph for collective efficiency and steely resolution. At one point in the league they were seven points behind Leeds United and of all places to go the Gunners had to travel to White Hart Lane, for the final game of the season on Monday May 3rd, 1971. They knew that they needed either a win or to secure a scoreless draw to bring the title back to Highbury for the first time since 1953. A score draw would not do as Leeds United was waiting hoping for an Arsenal slip-up.

programme

51,192 fans managed to squeeze into White Hart Lane (The Cockerel Coop) with thousands of fans outside hoping to get in – (GN5 included, but sadly to no avail). Spurs were desperate to deny Arsenal the bragging rights in North London. It was a difficult situation to be in for the Gunners as oddly enough if they scored, they still couldn’t dare concede for as I mentioned above, a score draw would have shattered Arsenal’s dreams.

A Spurs goal at any stage was most unwelcome. Tottenham goalkeeper Pat Jennings was in splendid form and made many fine saves throughout as Arsenal tried to break the deadlock. In the end, Arsenal was the team to break that deadlock.

In the 88th minute, Ray Kennedy headed in a George Armstrong cross via the underside of the bar.

kenedy goal

The goal only meant Tottenham increased their pressure further in hopes of preventing Arsenal winning the title. A Tottenham goal would have been enough for Leeds to win the title, but there was very limited time for them to do it in.

In the end Arsenal prevailed. Bob Wilson prevented any Spurs equaliser from happening and Arsenal sealed the first half of the Double by winning the league in front of Tottenham supporters at White Hart Lane, much to the delight of our ecstatic fans.

One of GN5’s program’s from the Double season with some very famous autographs.

gn5s programme

Next up was the FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday May 8th, 1971 – it turned out to be a classic encounter with Liverpool in front of a crowd of 100,000 raving supporters.

Arsenal had been drawn away in every round of the Cup and in the semi-final were 2-0 down to Stoke City, before equalising with a very controversial last minute penalty.

peter storey

This forced a replay at Villa Park four days later, a game Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from George Graham and Ray Kennedy.

Now to the small matter of the most important game in our history – The FA Cup Final

A victory over Liverpool would give us our 1st League and Cup double.

Due to the clash of Liverpool’s red strip with Arsenal’s red and white colours, Arsenal wore their away strip of yellow shirt and blue shorts.

Arsenal won 2–1 after extra time, with all three goals coming in the added half hour. Steve Heighway opened the scoring for Liverpool with a low drive past Bob Wilson on his near post. However, Arsenal equalised with a scrambled goal from substitute Eddie Kelly – the first time a substitute had ever scored in an FA Cup final. The goal was initially credited to George Graham, but replays showed that the decisive touch came from Kelly after Graham had struck the shot. Charlie George then scored a dramatic winner late in extra time, when his long range effort flew past Ray Clemence. This prompted George into a famous celebration – lying on his back on the Wembley turf waiting for his team mates to pick him up.

CharlieGeorge_468x301
The match was played in a great spirit of sportsmanship by the players and was responded to as such by the fans. When Liverpool’s Lawler was floored with cramp late in extra time, he was helped to recover by two Arsenal players. Arsenal’s victory – and double win after a gruelling 64-match season – was greeted with an ovation by both their own and Liverpool’s fans at the stadium, and Liverpool were also cheered by both sets of fans as they took a lap of honour after the presentation of the trophy and medals.

c g with medals
This picture is reprinted from Gunner N5’s original copy of the Evening Standard. Boy oh boy – that’s hair to make even our own Kelsey jealous.

Finally some more details of the Double winning team.

newspaper
GunnerN5


The Weekly Arsenal

November 29, 2013

First of all an apology, I’m sorry but force of circumstances prevented me finishing the week before last’s news round-up, Peaches was kind enough to do it for me, and for failing to produce last week’s at all. Various situations have now been resolved so here goes with the next edition.

Friday:

A quick shufti at the morning papers revealed the most positive piece of news…“Walcott set to return from injury”. “He has not played even a reserve team game, but I will put him in the squad on Saturday,” said boss Arsene Wenger. “He’s completely fit again.”

Now that’s what I call good news! We’ve missed Theo’s pace and his ability to get behind defenders.

Both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were back in full training after interlull injury scares.

Wenger revealed that Tomas Rosicky had been ill and would be assessed later but could be in the squad. Remarkable news about Abou Diaby, he could be ready to play as soon as March. Whether or not that’s March 2014 was not made clear.

Saturday:

First vs Third at ThoF, a big raspberry to both Sky and BT Sport for not showing the game live. “I think I have proved a lot of people wrong”.

Aaron Ramsey speaking to Julian Wilson in the Telegraph revealed his quiet satisfaction at confounding his critics, chief among them being Piers Morgan who described Ramsey as an “utter liability”. “People are quick to jump on players who are not doing particularly well, I think I proved a lot of people wrong, hopefully made them look a bit silly because they knew what I was capable of before my leg break and then were quick to criticise”.

Arsene Wenger “I’m not against buying in January. I don’t say I never made a mistake – I certainly made some”.

Thierry Henry is training with Arsenal, our record goal scorer is maintaining his fitness levels during the MLS close season. Could he get into our present first team squad? If so could Arsene sign him on a short term loan deal in January? He’s done it before.

Sunday:

“Giroud double sends Arsenal four clear” The BBC’s headline says it all for me. Artur Boruc’s laughable attempt to dribble the ball around Giroud presented our striker with his first of the afternoon and a tug on Mert’s shirt was enough to bring a penalty which Olly put clinically past Saint’s Pole in goal.

There’s not much doubt that the doubters are being put firmly in their place and being served up large portions of Humble Pie. I’m lovin it!!!

Monday:

A quiet day on the Arsenal News front, no dramas, no contentious decisions to discuss, no pundits writing off our chances of trophies, no calls for the Owner, board of directors and manager to quit.

Speaking on http://www.arsenal.com Arsene Wenger said of Saturday’s victory “This win shows we are ready for a fight when it didn’t go as fluently as we wanted,” said Wenger. “That is the most pleasing thing. We were tested by being challenged for every single ball and we responded quite well.

“We always had the focus and I could never feel that we eased off. They made it very difficult for us.

“We could see a good togetherness to help each other out,” Wenger added. “We knew that we were sometimes in trouble and you felt that they were ready to fight for each other.

“That is the solidarity level that was needed. It’s very important.”

You just can’t argue with that.

Santi Cazorla issued a timely warning against complacency before Tuesday’s game with Marseille, speaking to the London Evening Standard he said:- “The main problem I see is everyone thinks it’s going to be an easy game for us to win, There is nothing at stake for Marseille because they have zero points but they are going to make things difficult for us. It may be tough and if we’re not careful we might slip up and then we might not be able to get through to the next round.

“We need to understand it’s a vital match, If we obtained a bad result then it would make things very complicated for us to go to Napoli and win there.”

One other tit-bit of news, not strictly Arsenal related, but I couldn’t resist it. Skinny chicken plucked, stuffed, trussed up and roasted after Hugo Lloris has an Artur Boruc moment.

Tuesday:

Team news ahead of the Marseille game was pretty positive, Arsene Wenger announced that :- “Everybody from Saturday is available and of course Flamini is available as well because he’s back from suspension”.

Naturally there was some speculation concerning how Marseille would approach the game, their record in the group, standing at played 4 lost 4, suggested they only had their pride to play for. As far as Arsenal were concerned it was vital that they should go all out for a win in order to avoid any Napoli Nerves in the final group match.

Ladbrokes were offering odds of 4 to 1 on for the home win, 5 to 1 against a draw and 9 to 1 against an away win. Meanwhile Borrussia Dortmund were 7 to 4 on to beat Napoli.

Wednesday:

The day dawned grey and damp but that was only the weather, Arsenal fans were rejoicing after another satisfying win in The Champions League, 2 – 0 against Marseille, a brace of goals by “Cracker” Jack Wilshere, the first after only thirty seconds, meant that even Ozil’s poor attempt from the penalty spot could be safely overlooked. Mersut later made up for his transgression by laying on the sweetest of passes for Jack to score his second.

It emerged that the Dozy Dane had been at it again, Bendtner was arrested in the early hours of Sunday, he was later charged with criminal damage after the door to the swimming pool, in the apartment block where he lives, was damaged. Bendtner was issued with a Police caution and released. Arsenal have “reminded” the 25 year old of his responsibilities.

Thursday:

Our former player and Assistant Manager Pat Rice has been admitted to hospital suffering from cancer. I’m sure all members of the Arsenal family will join me in wishing Pat a full and speedy recovery.

It was reported that the BFG was in talks with Arsenal over a contract extension. 27 year old Per Mertesacker who was close to an agreement on a contract that will keep him at the club until 2017 said. “I’m very delighted here with the club, especially after the first year was tough for me, a very tough challenge”. Sign da ting Merts.

It’s sad but true that some tabloids exist just to make trouble, when there is nothing detrimental to say about Arsenal they will pick on the slightest thing. According to that paragon of journalistic rectitude, The Mirror, Arsenal fans are outraged at Mathieu Flamini for cutting of the long sleeves of his shirt prior to the Marseille game. Shock! Horror! On the day when match fixing in the English (lower) Leagues rears it’s ugly head, this sorry excuse for a newspaper can only find a story about shirt sleeves to report.

That’s it for another week AAers thank you for your patience.

Norfolk Gooner


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 4

June 18, 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.

11. Peter Simpson: 1960-1978

Peter played in 477 games over a 15 year period.

Born in Gorleston, Norfolk, he worked at Arsenal as a member of the club’s ground staff before signing as an apprentice in 1961, turning professional in 1962. Initially he played in the youth and reserve teams and made his first team debut in 1964.

gun__1255678355_simpson_peterHe only made 22 appearances in his first three seasons but gained a regular first team spot under the management of Bertie Mee becoming an integral member of the team for the next ten seasons. He started out as an all purpose player, playing in every outfield position, but soon settled into the centre half position, usually alongside Frank McLintock.

Peter was a member of the losing teams in both the 1968 and 1969 League Cup Final’s but was a leading figure in Arsenal’s success in the early 1970s including winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969-70, and making a total of 57 appearances in all competitions that season. He then went on to be part of the side that won the League Championship and FA Cup Double in 1970-71. After missing the first three months of that season with a cartilage problem, he returned in time for the FA Cup run, and appeared in the final, beating Liverpool 2-1 after extra time.

Despite his long career at the top, he was never capped for England, although he was called into a few squads by Sir Alf Ramsey during 1969-70. He continued to play for the club in the trophy less years following the Double, playing more than 35 games a season for four seasons. By 1975 age was starting to get the better of him, and he only played nine times in 1975-76. Despite a recall in 1976-77, earning 25 appearances, he was dropped again the following season.

He left the club in 1978, having played 477 times for the club, and is seventh on the Arsenal all-time appearances list.

He had brief stints with the New England Tea Men of the NASL in the United States, and then returned to England to play for non-league Hendon, before retiring.

12. Pat Rice: 1964-1980

Pat played in 528 games over a 16 year period.

Born in Belfast, Pat grew up in London, working for greengrocers on Gillespie Road. He joined the Gunners as an apprentice in 1964, turning professional in 1966 and made his first-team debut in the League Cup in December 1967.

Initially a bit-part player Pat played at right back and made only 16 appearances in his first three seasons, missing out on Arsenal’s 1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup win.  However, during this time he won his first cap for Northern Ireland in 1968, while still largely a reserve player for Arsenal. Peter Storey was Arsenal’s first choice right back, but after he was moved into central midfield at the start of the 1970–71, Pat took his place and was a near-ever present in the side that season, as Arsenal won the League and FA Cup Double.

imagesHe remained first-choice right back for the rest of the 1970s, playing in the 1972 FA Cup Final as well; he was an ever-present for three seasons, 1971–72, 1975–76 & 1976–77. Of the Double-winning side, he was the one who remained at the club the longest, and became club captain in 1977. As captain, he had the honour of lifting the FA Cup after Arsenal beat Manchester United in 1979, as well as playing in two losing finals in 1978 and 1980. He is one of only 3 Arsenal players to have played in five FA Cup Finals (1970–71, 1971–72, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80), the other two being David Seaman and Ray Parlour. He also led Arsenal to the 1980 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final, which Arsenal lost on penalties to Valencia.

Pat continued to play for Northern Ireland in this time, amassing 49 caps in an eleven-year career, which ended with his final international game against England on October 17, 1979, which ended in a 5–1 defeat.

He finally left Arsenal in 1980 at the age of 31, by which time he had played 528 games in total for the club. He moved to Graham Taylor’s Watford and played 137 times for the Hornets, helping the club gain promotion to the First Division in 1981–82. He scored in Watford’s first game in the top flight in 1982–83 against Everton before retiring from playing in 1984.

He rejoined Arsenal in 1984 as youth team coach, a post he held for the next 12 years, winning the FA Youth Cup twice in 1987–88 and 1993–94. In September 1996, Rice was briefly caretaker manager of the club, after the resignation of Stewart Houston, and managed the side for three winning FA Premier League matches.

With the arrival of Arsène Wenger, Pat became his assistant, and played a key role in helping the club to their success in the 1990s and 2000s, including the Doubles of 1997–98 and 2001–02, and Arsenal’s unbeaten League season of 2003–04. He holds the distinction (along with Bob Wilson) of having taken part, as player or coach, in all three of Arsenal’s Doubles.

On 5 May 2012, it was announced that he would be stepping down after an accumulative 44 years with club, since joining as an apprentice.

Arsene Wenger stated ”Pat is a true Arsenal legend and has committed almost his life to Arsenal Football Club, which shows huge loyalty and devotion to this club…I will always be indebted to him for his expert insight into Arsenal and football as a whole. On the training pitches and on match days, Pat has always been a passionate, loyal and insightful colleague, who we will all miss”.

His 528 games place him fifth on the all time list of player appearances.

Pat was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to sport.

13. Sammy Nelson: 1966-1981

Sammy played in 339 games over a 15 year period.

Sammy was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and joined Arsenal on his 17th birthday in 1966. He originally played on the left-wing and was later moved into defence as a left back. He was a regular in Arsenal’s reserve side for several seasons, before making his first-team debut October 25, 1969. He was used primarily as an understudy to Bob McNab, and it wasn’t until McNab was injured in the 1971–72 season that he became a regular, but when McNab returned from injury, Sammy stepped back down to the reserve team.

Sammy made his debut for Northern Ireland, as a sub against England on April 21, 1970 going on to win 51 international caps, including two of Northern Ireland’s matches in the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

He finally became Arsenal’s first choice when left back when McNab left Arsenal in 1975 and for the next five seasons he was a constant member of the Arsenal side, playing in all three of the Gunners’ successive FA Cup finals (1978, 1979 and 1980 – but only winning against Manchester United in 1979, he also played in the Gunners’ 1980 Cup Winners’ Cup loss on penalties to Valencia.

Sammy was known as a character, one particular moment that he is remembered for was when he dropped his shorts in celebration in front of the North Bank – the FA didn’t share his sense of humour and suspended him for two weeks.sammy-nelson

With the arrival of England international Kenny Sansom at the club in 1980, Sammy once again found himself in the reserves. He left Arsenal in 1981 to join Brighton & Hove Albion. He spent two seasons at Brighton, although unable to save the side from relegation in 1982–83, he did reach another Cup final (his fourth) that season, with Brighton losing 4-0 to Manchester United in a replay, after a 2–2 draw in the final.

Sammy retired from football that summer, and after spending a season as a coach at Brighton, he left the game completely and went into the insurance industry.

He played 339 first-class matches for the Gunners in total, and scored 12 goals.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Pat ‘MR ARSENAL’ Rice

May 4, 2012

Whatever the result at tomorrows crucial game against Norwich, no doubt there will be a lap of appreciation from the players to their supporters after the game has ended. One man deserves to have his name sung loud and proud as he walks around the Emirates pitch for the last time. It is expected that Pat Rice, Arsene’s right hand man, will be hanging up his track suit following many years as an excellent servant to the club.

The bare facts of his career do not do justice to a wonderfully loyal and gentle man, who served Arsenal so well both as player and Assistant Coach.

Patrick James “Pat” Rice (born 17 March 1949).
Pat was born in Belfast, which explains his unique London/Irish accent, because he then grew up in London.

He played more than 400 times for Arsenal, including winning the first Double, before moving on to play for Watford.

As an International player he won 49 caps for his home country Northern Ireland. He has been the strong right hand of Arsene Wenger ever since Wenger became the Arsenal coach, and reinforced his reputation by being an intrinsic part of the management of two wonderful Double winning teams.

Born in Belfast, Rice grew up in London.

But what of the man? Pat has become indelibly linked with Arsenal and has clearly become assistant, friend, confidant and advisor to the greatest manager Arsenal has ever had.

If Pat gave a soliloquy about his time at the club, it would be full of self deprecating modesty and good humour. For all Arsenal fans he is far more than that. We all will have our own thoughts and memories, both involving his playing career and his time in administrative management.

Nothing will honour Pat more than for all of us to exchange these wonderful memories of a great man among ourselves today on the penultimate day of his final Arsenal home game.

Written by Red Arse


Work in progress – Arsenal go marching on

September 29, 2011

We won. Chelsea didn’t. Man City didn’t. Man United didn’t. We did, and that’s the important bit, especially bearing in mind that we had nine injured players and (with the North London Derby coming up) only five genuine first choice players were in the starting XI.

The performance wasn’t the best, but neither was it the worst.  In ignorance, many of us assumed that the champions of Greece would be cannon fodder but by half-time it was clear that our opponents were no mugs. Olympiacos were a well organised, fit and energetic side, with a few dangerous players. They were often the better team in the first half, but the difference between the two sides was the quality of our finishing in the first half and the development of solidity at the back and better ball retention for Arsenal by the second half. The game was very open in the first half, worryingly so at times, since Olympiacos were able to drive into space on the break. We gave plenty of openings to our opponents, whose energy was best exemplified by Mirallas, who made Sagna’s evening a very uncomfortable one.

Both our goals came against the run of play, but came when we transitioned the ball quickly to the front third. The genesis of the first was a bit strange: Oxlade-Chamberlain had possession over on the wing, and decided to sweep a long pass back to Song, who was on the halfway line. Song then looked for the options, and saw Oxlade-Chamberlain had cut inside the Olympiacos right-back and was on a run toward the penalty area. Song pinged the ball back to the Ox with a long aerial pass, the youngster took the ball in his stride confidently, worked it across the penalty area, and efficiently shot back across the goal and through Mellberg’s legs.

The second goal came shortly after, when Santos was put through by efficient combination play from Rosicky and Arshavin; Santos then tried to cross it to Chamakh, but the ball was intercepted. Had it been Clichy, he would have panicked on receiving the ball in that situation and the chance would have been frittered away. But Santos is no fool, he just cut in and took an early right-foot shot that caught the keeper out at the near post.

Olympiacos’s goal came just a little bit later, and was outrageously simple; for two opponents to be able to bring the ball from a corner into the penalty area with barely a challenge made really is unforgivable. And then for Fuster to be able head the ball unchallenged from the penalty spot is very, very poor.  The decision has been taken to switch to zonal marking – fair enough, many pros say it is the better way to defend, and any change in system needs to bed down. But it needs to, and quickly.

In the second half, we exerted our control over proceedings far more effectively. The game became tighter and we became more efficient with and without the ball. We didn’t play with verve but the threat from Olympiacos ebbed away, and we were deserved victors by the end. The only exception to that was when Torosides had a great looping shot that beat Szczesny but clattered against the cross-bar. But that was Olympiacos’s only real chance in the second half, with the Arsenal defence finding itself during the course of the game.  By the end, it was clear that Mertesacker and Song were enjoying their partnership, and Santos showed a wizened way about him.  He knows how to use his body to best effect when contesting possession, and he understands how to anticipate what his opponent is going to do. There are no guarantees Santos will be a success story but those who wrote him off after his first game or two for us should hang their heads in shame.

My marks for the evening:

Szczesny: 7 Did nothing wrong, and made a lovely finger tip save in the first half.  He couldn’t do anything for the goal, when he was criminally exposed by his defence.

Sagna: 4 Constantly bullied, especially by Mirallas, and made several bad decisions while in possession.  Even accounting for the poor cover he got from Arshavin, Sagna’s performance was very disappointing. Perhaps my mark is a bit harsh, but I rate Sagna highly and expect much better from him than this.

Mertesacker: 7 Reads the game so well, he can intercept the ball or break up the play higher up the pitch than one might expect, and with someone like Song to mop up if anything does get through, it does work. The BFG is growing into his role with us, a pleasure to see that.

Song: 7 By the end, an excellent performance from Song, who showed he hasn’t forgotten how to play at CB. He also got an assist for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal.

Santos: 7 Lovely to see him score on his home debut, and it was a very mature goal, the result of a steady head. His defending was similarly mature, and the only time we were threatened on his flank was when Torosides swung a leg from distance and almost struck gold.

Frimpong: 5 Had his moments but was often caught out positionally, and for all his huff and puff, he had insufficient impact on Olympiacos.

Arteta: 5 Tried to keep the ball moving and he made some good passes, but Arteta was unable to impose himself on the game. He does offer better set piece delivery than we’ve become used to from Fabregas and van Persie. He also made a crucial goal-line clearance in the first half.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7 Slightly lucky for goal as it ricocheted off a defender back to him after a heavy touch, but he did brilliantly well to create the opening and finish it off. The boy has oodles of talent, and more than that, he plays without fear. He’s not intimidated by being crowded by opponents and he’s willing to take them on. The Ox was paid the ultimate compliment when Holebas took him out and was booked, and Holebas should have had a second yellow later on, when Ox killed him for pace, but the referee somehow managed not to see an obvious foul.

Rosicky: 4 Worked hard but to little effect. Had a chance of a shot when laid on by Arshavin but declined, and the opportunity was lost. He did however play a crucial part in the second goal.

Arshavin: 5 Not an athlete, never has been, but that deficiency is showing more now, and it’s not off-set by as many moments of brilliance. But Arshavin was wrongly called offside in first half when would have been through one-on-one. And he brilliantly carved open Olympiacos’s defence with a chipped through ball to Chamakh, who then dragged his shot wide. He also hit the bar with a cross that was wrongly adjudged to have gone out. But he still failed to offer anything consistent, and truth be told, we need more from him.

Chamakh: 5 He had a couple of good chances, and he should have done better with both. But he worked harder than usual (according to the Sky TV caption as he was subbed, Chamakh ran 8.7km as against the team average at 70 minutes of 7.8km). He also created a great chance for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the second half with a defence-splitting pass but AOC shot at the keeper. Chalamkh is rock-bottom in terms of confidence and he’s not streetwise, missing the chance to earn free-kicks when defenders are too tight to him. Crucially, he just doesn’t hunt down the chances to attack the ball in the box. That is his main job, for all of his running.

Subs:

Ramsey: Didn’t impress during his time on the pitch, and with Wilshere now out for so long, we will need Ramsey to step up.

van Persie: Didn’t get a lot of service but also didn’t do much when he did get it.

Gibbs: Did pretty well during his short time on the pitch.

So, all in all, it was ok, but we remain a work in progress. Much of the midfield was huff and puff without end-product tonight, but they can and will do better. We’re on course in the Champions’ League, despite having been drawn in a tough group. Like all competitions this season, the CL is going to be a hard slog, but the second half defensive performance and Oxlade-Chamberlain made this a night that was net positive.

Written by 26may1989