Arsenal Squad Numbers: 1

Another season has gone by, not the best but at least we got some silverware, right? Anyway with new additions hopefully on their way and squad numbers hopefully being filled in the coming weeks, why not take a look back at some squad numbers which have seemed to produce quite good players for Arsenal over the years. First up, we’ll go for numero uno, currently held by Wojciech Szczesny who looks to have questions over his future at the moment there have been some more notable owners of the #1 jersey at Arsenal.
For our first player to have impressed in that shirt, we go back quite a few years, to the 1960’s in fact.  This keeper played for Arsenal for 11 years behind club legends like Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, and Charlie George. After playing mostly as an amateur for Wolverhampton Wanderers having rejected Manchester United as a youngster, Bob Wilson moved to Arsenal in 1963 but it was some time before becoming Arsenal’s first choice. Looking back, Wilson’s style was similar to that of a sweeper keeper as he was quick to meet his opponents to stop shots as well as being quick with his distribution too.
Finally, in the late 60’s, Wilson began to start regularly for Arsenal as he went on to make 308 starts before leaving the club in 1974. Wilson will mostly be remembered for being a part of that double winning side of 1971 but before that, there was a Cup final which went the wrong way. In 1969 Arsenal reached the League Cup final against Swindon Town but lost 3-1 after extra time.
This cup final defeat could be seen in a good way looking back now possibly, as with the experience already in their minds, this could’ve helped spur the team on to their League and F.A. Cup double two years later. A game that also went to extra time as Wilson kept us in the game after saving a goalbound free kick in normal time. In some sorts, the win was made even sweeter as Arsenal had to come from behind for Charlie George’s effort to win the cup that year after a shot from Liverpool’s Steve Heighway shot snuck into the goal at Wilson’s near post.
Wilson’s career was seemingly short as he would retire at 32-years-old in 1974, but this could have been due to an injury he picked up in the 1972 F.A. Cup semi-final (Arsenal went on to lose the final that year).
Despite being born in Chesterfield, England, Wilson chose to represent Scotland internationally as he was eligble through his parents, also possibly because of the presence of Gordan Banks in the England side. Wilson made 2 appearances for Scotland in 1971.
The next Arsenal number one I’ll be focusing on spent 13 years at the club, won 3 First Divisions/Premier Leagues, 4 F.A. Cups, 1 League Cup, 3 Community Shields, 1 UEFA Cup Winners Cup, played 564 games, had one ponytail and one moustache. If you haven’t guessed it by now, it’s David Seaman.
A year after failing to sign him from QPR, Arsenal finally got their man in 1990 for £1.3m (a record for a British goalkeeper at the time) and oh wasn’t he worth it. Seaman’s time at Arsenal saw him through two overlapping eras of Arsenal success overseen by George Graham and Arsene Wenger. In his first season at Arsenal under Graham, he helped us win the first division again, only conceding 18 goals despite playing in every match. The back end of Graham’s tenure at Arsenal saw Seaman lift some more silverware in 1993 with the F.A. Cup and League Cup (A competition which saw him save three penalties in a shoot-out against Millwall) before winning the Uefa Cup Winners Cup in 1994.
Seaman, who was renowned for his shot stopping ability had this on display in yet another penalty shoot-out as he saved three against Sampdoria in the 1995 Uefa Cup Winners Cup but couldn’t get us over the line in the final as he was caught off his line as we lost to Real Zaragoza.
In Arsene’s early years Seaman was one of the key men in the team’s success. He helped the club to their second double in 1998 and only conceded 17 in the league the year after. But similar to Wilson, Seaman’s career began to be cut short due to injuries, this didn’t stop him from winning another double in 2002 along with making one of the best saves in football history in the following year’s F.A. Cup semi-final against Sheffield United. Scooping a point-blank header away from goal despite it looking destined for the back of the net. Seaman then left Arsenal for Manchester City in 2003 after 13 years of service and having being named Arsenal’s 7th greatest player.
Last on my list of great Arsenal number 1’s is an Invincible. Picking up from where Seaman left off in 2003 was Jens Lehmann who came in from Borussia Dortmund. Keeping 13 clean sheets, like Seaman, his debut season was met with silverware. This time was a bit more special though. The German along with his back four helped maintain a historic record of going 49 games unbeaten, winning a league title undefeated in this time too. That alone should give any player in that squad legendary status.
Lehmann also had a great knack for penalty saving. He helped Arsenal to our 10th F.A. Cup triumph in 2005 in the penalty shoot-out against Manchester United. With the game being scoreless until penalties Lehmann did well to keep his concentration to save Paul Scholes’ penalty before Patrick Vieira brought the cup home with his last kick in an Arsenal shirt. On a great European night for Arsenal Lehmann’s penalty heroics came into play again at Highbury in the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal as he kept out Riquelme’s spot kick to get us to the final in Paris against Barcelona.
However, despite being amongst legends, Lehmann was also known to be a bit crazy behind the defence, and this probably came back to hurt us when we were in need of him most. The Champions League final 2006, Samuel Eto’o is played through on goal with only Lehmann in his way, he touches the ball past Lehmann and Lehmann brings him down. Lehmann is rightfully red carded and despite Arsenal going into the lead afterwards Barca’s extra man finally told as they went on to win the game in the dying moments of the game.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this and I’ll be back next week with another squad number to go through.

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