In this edition of the 300+ club, we will be looking at some of the French Influence within the club each of these players making over 300 appearances for the club. Since Wenger arrived at the club in 1996 there has been somewhat of a French revolution or revolving door of French players at the club you have the greats in Henry, Viera and Robert Pires (who I had thought had made well over 300 apps for the club in all competitions but have since found out it was only 238 appearances so apologies for including his name in previous articles), the good in Wiltord, Nasri and Giroud and the not so good in the likes of Cygan, Squillaci, and Debuchy (maybe Mr. Wenger should consider some Italian Defenders for a change) however, for this piece we will be looking at those greats in Thierry Henry and Patrick Viera
Back in 1999 who would ever have thought that this young Frenchman wouldn’t just go on to be the clubs all-time leading goal scorer but a legend, icon, greatest ever, however you choose to describe his time at the club. Henry made 370 appearances for the club scoring 226 goals during his time there. Henry started on the wing for Arsenal when he first joined the club, a position he played for Wenger during their time at Monaco together. When Henry made the switch to forward it, wasn’t long before Arsenal would reap the rewards in eight seasons at the club only three of those seasons he didn’t reach the 20-goal mark (still double figures for those three seasons though) it was helped that he played along great strikers the likes of Bergkamp, Kanu, and Van Persie. Everyone has their favorite Henry moment be it that solo goal against Spurs in 2002, when he walked past a Liverpool defense in 2004 or more recently when he returned to the club on loan in 2012 who will ever forget that goal against Leeds in the FA Cup, for myself for what it’s worth my favorite Henry goal will always be that goal he scored against Man Utd in extra time with a bullet of a header in 2006/07 season. His time at the club saw him win two Premier League titles, three FA Cups as well as the Golden Boot four times. After he left Arsenal he went to play with Barcelona before finishing up playing career in America with the NY Red Bulls. Henry these days can be seen on Sky Sports as one of their main pundits, while he has also linked up with up Roberto Martinez to become his Assistant Manager at Belgium.
“If we were offered £50m for Patrick we would not take the money.” the words of Arsene Wenger on his former captain. The Frenchman was fearless on the pitch, while Henry and Bergkamp provided the class, Viera put the tackles in but had the intelligence to pick out those important passes. He made 407 appearances for Arsenal scoring 34 goals for the club. Vieira’s willingness to get stuck into the tackle seen him being sent off eight times and who of us will ever forget those memorable Viera and Keane moments that infamous moment when Roy Keane accused Viera of picking on Gary Neville before the teams got onto the pitch. Viera enjoyed a successful spell at Arsenal his time there saw him collect three Premier League titles, four FA Cups. Vieira was captain of ‘The Invincibles’ when Arsenal romped to the title. He also scored the final penalty for Arsenal in the 2005 FA Cup final this would be Viera’s last game for the club. After he left Arsenal he went onto play for Juve, Inter and Man City in later years. He is currently Manager of M.L.S team New York City FC.
Coming up later in the 300+ club we will be looking at England’s finest “Adams, Merson, Sansom” looking at some of the Individual Greats in Dennis Bergkamp and Fredrik Ljungberg. Until then you can keep up to date with all Arsenal news at ArsenalInsider.com; follow us on @ArsenalInsider and feel free to follow me at @Michael_Mac_39.