From the cutting-edge tactical innovations of Herbert Chapman and Bertie Mee’s youth-inspired success in the early 1970s to the revolutionary training and dietary regimes first advocated on these shores by Arsene Wenger, Arsenal has remained at the forefront of change and progression in the English game since its inception almost 136 years ago.
The product of such an inventive identity has consequently manifested on the pitch and contributed to the rise and development of many talented players at the club. Their boundless ingenuity and ambition allowed Arsenal to scale extraordinary heights, all while embracing a brand of football that has earned us esteemed international recognition.
Ranking the 5 best Arsenal playmakers of all-time
In a list that collates the verdicts of each PITA writer and features iconic names from both the wing and midfield, here are the top five playmakers to have represented the Gunners.
5. Cliff Bastin
His name may not be quite as familiar to the modern Arsenal audience, but 178 goals in 396 games – most of which came while on the left-wing of Herbert Chapman’s dominant 30s side – suggest Cliff Bastin is a worthy inclusion and ranks among the greatest to have worn the famous red and white.
The teenage Bastin was signed by chance after a managerial scouting mission when Exeter met Watford in 1929, and he defied his youth to become an ever-present for the club over much of the next ten years. During what was a magnificent period of unprecedented success, ‘Boy Bastin’ won seven domestic honours and remains the youngest player to claim a league title, FA Cup and be capped for England.
The arrival of Ted Drake in 1934 and Alex James’ unavailability saw him shift from his preferred wide position to striker, but he returned to the flank in 1937/38 and notched 17 goals in another successful First Division campaign.
Although he was sidelined for much of the next season and had his football days cut short by the outbreak of World War Two, Bastin still managed to secure his status as an Arsenal icon and his impressive exploits place him third in the club’s all-time goalscoring charts.
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