After focusing on defenders for the last couple of weeks I think it might be time to shine some light on more attacking players and what a number 7 is to do that with. There was no shortage of candidates for this week’s edition so I’m going to fit in as many as I can in, and the ones I won’t be able to touch on will be named at the end of the piece.
First up is Liam Brady. They say left footers are usually quite special and this was definitely the case with Brady. Coming through the youth ranks at Arsenal, the Irishman broke into the first-team in the mid 70’s and his pure skill and passing ability helped us through to three F.A. Cup finals at the close of the decade, winning one. In his 7 senior years at the club, he played 235 league games, scoring 43 times. A couple of his most memorable contributions in an Arsenal shirt were his performance which led to the 1979 F.A. Cup triumph against Manchester United along with his timeless goal in the 5-0 win over Tottenham earlier that season, a shot from just outside the box that arrowed into the top corner.
Brady may only have won one major honour with Arsenal but his impact on the team wasn’t overlooked during his time in North London. In that three-year stint which saw Arsenal reach three consecutive F.A. Cup finals (1977-80), Brady won PFA Player of the Year, Arsenal Player of the year twice and was named in the PFA Team of the Year three times. Since retiring he had stints in management but returned to Arsenal in 1996 as Head of Youth Development, a role in which he oversaw the youth squads win eight trophies. Last season also saw the youngsters win the inaugural Liam Brady Cup.
Next up is David Rocastle. A special one for me being from around the same area as him. Like Brady he came through Arsenal’s academy, breaking into the first team in the mid 80’s Rocastle was also a figurehead of Arsenal’s success at the turn of the next decade. Being a midfielder, he didn’t have a scoring record that set the league alight but 23 goals in 228 is respectable, and a lot of those goals were very special in the way they were taken, including a League Cup semi-final winner vs Tottenham to make him a fan favourite. Rocky was very much the complete midfielder who could defend and attack to a very high ability, whether that was putting in a crunching tackle or drifting past numerous players.
In his 8 senior years at Arsenal, he experienced great success as he helped the club win two First Divisions, a League Cup, a Charity Shield and the Football League Centenary Trophy in 1988. Of course the most memorable of these trophies was the First Division win in 1989, a year that he would contribute six goals. Like Brady, the South Londoner’s quality didn’t go unnoticed as he was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, Barclays Young Eagle once and Arsenal Player of the Year once. In the memory of one of Arsenal’s greatest ever Academy graduates, he has an indoor centre dedicated to him at the current Arsenal Academy.
Moving forward to the 21st Century sees a player that spent a decade at the club. Tomas Rosicky. Coming in from Dortmund in 2006 the midfielder was plagued with injury problems for a lot of his time with the club but always put in top drawer performances when on the pitch. In his 10 years with us, he played 246 times scoring 28 times and a few of them were quite important and special. The Czech has scored some great goals against Tottenham on a few occasions, as well as classics against Sunderland and Liverpool too.
Rosicky could be seen as one of the positives of the first 10 years at the Emirates as he created a bond with the club and was finally rewarded with an F.A. Cup winners medal 2014 after getting the ball rolling with a goal against Tottenham in the 3rd round. Of course, it would’ve been nice to see him on a more regular basis but the times we did see him were definitely worth the wait.
Lastly is player whose performances from recent years have seen him attract attention from Europe’s big boys and we still don’t know if he’ll be in North London next season. Yes, he’s only been number 7 for a season but I don’t see why that’ll take away from his performances from his first two seasons. It’s Alexis Sanchez.
So far in his three years at the club, Sanchez has played 139 games and scored 72 goals which is a great record for someone who has spent most of that time playing out wide. It became even more evident how much of an impact the Chilean makes last season as he led the line for the majority. He’s helped us lift the F.A. Cup twice with goals in both semi-finals and finals in each year along with a couple Community Shields.
Everybody is hoping this season will see Sanchez lift the Premier League at Arsenal but with the forward’s future in doubt, who knows where he will be playing in 2017-18.
Some of the players that I, unfortunately, couldn’t go into detail on were Robert Pires, who I’ve done a piece on today as well, Kevin Campbell, and David Platt who all made contributions to the club’s success. I hope you enjoyed today’s ‘squad numbers’ piece, I’ll be back next week with a new number to look at.