Arsenal Squad Numbers: 2

Arsenal Squad Numbers: 2

It’s that time of the week again, no sadly not match day anymore, but time for me to take a look back at some lucky squad numbers Arsenal have had over the years. This time out I’m taking a look at some number 2’s. Yes, recently the squad number 2 hasn’t seemed that lucky, seeing as Abou Diaby and Mathieu Debuchy had been riddled with injury problems during their times at Arsenal and Debuchy not looking like he’ll be breaking into the side anytime soon. However, before the farewell of Highbury, the number 2 saw some great owners.
The first of those that I’ll be focusing on is a real club legend. One of only two people to be involved in all 3 of Arsenal’s double winning seasons in ’71,’98 and ’02. That famous right-back is Pat Rice, who played for Arsenal between 1967-1980, was a youth coach from 1984-1996, caretaker manager after Bruce Rioch parted ways with the club and then assistant manager to Arsene Wenger from 1996-2012. A true Arsenal man through and through.
After working at a greengrocer on the same road as Highbury, Rice found himself coming through the Arsenal youth system that won the F.A. Youth Cup in 1966. He would then make his first team debut a year later against Burnley, but it wouldn’t be until the first double winning season that Rice would become a regular in the first team. That F.A. Cup final in ’71 also saw the start of another one of Rice’s records, as he is one of 3 Arsenal players to play in 5 F.A. Cup finals (along with David Seaman and Ray Parlour). Unfortunately though, in his 5 finals, he was only on the winning side twice, in 1971 & 1979, when he captained the side against Manchester United).
Rice went on to make 528 appearances for Arsenal in total, scoring 13 times as well as captaining the side from 1977-1980, a period which saw the team reach the FA. Cup final each year. Internationally, he represented Northern Ireland 49 times. Rice moved to Watford for 4 years and then returned to Arsenal as a youth coach, climbing through the coaching ranks like how I listed before. An Arsenal career which spanned 43 years he is certainly an Arsenal great.
The next player on the list is another Highbury legend and was part of the famous back four of the 90’s. Despite being born in England unlike Pat Rice, this guy’s route to Arsenal had a lot more stops on the way. Starting his career at Burnley, he then had spells at Chester City, Bury and Stoke City before reaching Islington. It’s Lee Dixon. A player whose 15 years and 619 games with the club began and ended with trophies as he helped Arsenal to the famous First Division title win in 1989 and bowing out after winning the league and cup double in 2002.
Looking back, Dixon definitely wasn’t your typical full-back of the time. If you listen to Gary Neville, he’d be considered as “a failed winger” having played there at times for Burnley but in reality, he was just a very attacking full back. Despite being part of one of the most renowned defences in the country he still managed to tally 28 Arsenal goals, which for a right back is quite mad even by today’s standards.
Being part of that special generation of Arsenal defenders which spanned across 3 decades, (the late 80’s to the early 2000’s) he ended his career very well decorated. He won 3 First Divisions/Premier Leagues, 1 League Cup, 3 F.A. Cups and 1 UEFA Cup Winners Cup.
He also played 22 times for England over a 9 year period but unfortunately not one of these appearances was in a major tournament as he was injured for the 1992 Euros, failing to qualify for the ’94 World Cup and then Gary Neville taking his place in the mid 90’s. The only negative point in an otherwise legendary career, which also included that hilarious own goal against Coventry in 1991.
Either way, I’d like to both Pat Rice and Lee Dixon for their great service to Arsenal Football Club and hope to see yet another Arsenal legend play at right back, hopefully, Hector Bellerin if he doesn’t leave for Barcelona any time soon.

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