The Greatest XI: The Left Winger…

The Greatest XI: The Left Winger...

Yeah, it’s still me. Sorry about that. But hey, selfishly I am getting to do all the really fun positions as I reckon I’ll still be in the hot seat come the strikers next week. Go me. Someone else writes about the full backs, and who cares about them? I get to write about the creators and the finishers. That is a right result.
Anyway, as we continue to line up in the 442 that has brought Arsenal many a fine result post-Herbert Chapman we move on to the left of midfield, left wing, outside left, whatever you want to call it. The number 11 if you want to be all pre-Premier League squad numbers. History dictates that this man should have a “cultured left foot” if we are doing this right, but that would immediately rule out one of your Invincibles? Anyway, it’s not for me to decide. I am only here to spark the debate before I head back to worrying about the sense of having both of Rob Lee’s sons playing for my team next season.

#1 Anders Limpar

Please remember my usual caveat – I am not an Arsenal fan but I do know a bit about the club. So, when George Graham paid £1m for the Swedish wide man it caught my attention back in 1990, even at the age of 11. Firstly, Limpar was a bit of a flair player. That wasn’t very George Graham like. Secondly, he cost £1m. Even back then, that was a sizeable investment for a player not many people will have heard of. Thirdly, he came from Cremeonese in Italy and with Italia 90 having just finished, that caught a lot of our schoolboy imaginations. Limpar slotted straight in, contributing 13 goals in his first season, 11 in the First Division which Arsenal went on to win. He rounded off his first season with a hat-trick in the final match against Coventry City. He only stayed a few seasons, leaving for Everton after Graham refused to offer him a new deal. In the end, Limpar was just a little bit too much of a flair player for the Scot’s liking.

#2 Liam Brady

Liam Brady made his first-team debut for Arsenal in 1973 against Birmingham City and started a love affair with the club that lasted, as a player, over 300 games, more than 50 goals and thousands of beautifully pinged passes with that left foot. The playing love affair ended in defeat against Juventus in the 1980 Cup Winners Cup Final, Brady playing so well that the Italians went out and bought him. Brady was the man they invented the phrase “cultured left foot” for and he moved seamlessly into continental football. The only team honour his time at Arsenal produced was the 1979 FA Cup Final win but he was a regular in the First Division Team of the Year in the late 70’s and was the PFA Player’s Player of the Year in 1978/79. Brady came back to the club to be an integral part of the youth academy set-up.

#3 Graham Rix

Graham Rix, over 450 games for Arsenal, many of them on the left of midfield alongside Liam Brady. When Brady left, Rix took over the mantle and went on to become an Arsenal legend. He made his debut in 1977 and stayed 11 years before finally being released in 1988. Like Brady, his only team honour was the 1979 FA Cup Final but if he hadn’t missed that penalty in 1980…. well who knows?

My Revenge On Ben Foster

#4 Robert Pires

There was a time, a long long time ago, where Arsene Wenger could go head-to-head with the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Juventus and persuade a player to sign for them without having to pay over the odds. Pires for £6m? Even in 2000 that sounds like one of the Premier League bargains. Pires took a bit of time to adjust to playing in England, but once he had – wow. Nearly 200 games and 84 goals was a fine return, considering what Arsenal achieved in that time. Pires formed one of the finest left-hand sides in the game, combining with Ashley Cole and Thierry Henry when the striker used to drift to that side. Pires won a few things too, two Premier League titles and one as an Invincible, two FA Cups which would have been three but he wasn’t in the squad for the 2002 Final. Pires has been voted the 6th best Arsenal player of all time so we have a real contender for the shirt here.

#5 Marc Overmars

Before Robert Pires there was a flying Dutchman called Marc Overmars. My word Arsene used to sign them. Overmars joined from Ajax in 1997 for a fee between £5-7m apparently. Back then, that was big money but he delivered value for money in abundance. He was vital to Wenger’s first reshaping of the Arsenal style. His pace down the left was electric, providing the perfect out ball for the likes of Viera and Petit. His goal at Old Trafford in 1998 will always be considered the turning point in that title chase. Overmars’ last game for Arsenal before leaving to Barcelona was the 2000 UEFA Cup Final defeat to Galatasaray.
So there you go folks – I might have missed some of your personal favourites but I think the finest left midfielder Arsenal have ever had will in that little group there for you.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know