Last season, Arsenal conceded only 39 goals in the 38 Premier League matches. Only the champions, Manchester City allowed fewer goals.
Much of that success comes from the fact that the Gunners have some amazon defenders in the squad. This goes especially for Arsenal’s fullbacks, whose job in modern football is not just defending but providing support to the offense as well. Kieran Tierney on the left and Hector Bellerin on the right have been key players for the North London side during the previous season. Still, in the eyes of the fans, they’re (still) not among Arsenal greats. The reason isn’t that the two fullbacks are bad. On the contrary, they’re fantastic players! So why aren’t they in the pantheon of Arsenal’s footballing gods? It’s because a few others have left an unerasable mark in the fans’ memory!
Pat Rice, Ashley Cole, Lee Dixon, and Kenny Sansom are some of Arsenal’s greatest-ever players in the fullback position. Tierney and Bellerin will have to do much, much more to come anywhere near these guys. Let’s see what those for did for Arsenal that makes them so cherished by the Gunners!
Pat Rice – Arsenal’s Favorite Fullback, Coach, Assistant Manager
What do Paul McCartney and Adele have in common with Pat Rice? All three of them have been awarded an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), which practically makes them nobility. The reason why Queen Elizabeth awarded Pat Rice with an MBE in 2012 is his contribution to the game, not only as a player but as a coach and assistant manager. All of those positions, Pat Rice had held at Arsenal in the past. As a player, he was in charge of the right-back position for 13 years, during which he recorded 397 appearances. Rice was Arsenal captain for several seasons, leading his team into three consecutive FA Cup finals, one of which they won (1979). Once his playing career was over, Rice moved to coaching. From 1984 to 1996, Rice was Arsenal’s youth coach. His next job was the role of assistant manager to Arsene Wenger. He was with the team during their glory days, including the 2003-04 title-winning season when Arsenal stayed unbeaten for 49 straight games.
Ashley Cole – The Left Back of the Invincibles
Ashley Cole was one of Arsenal’s Invincibles, who won the double in 2004. He played the left-back during the 2003-04 season, during which the Gunners recorded zero losses in the Premier League. In fact, that season, Arsenal went on an unbeaten run of 49 straight matches. Cole played 47 times for Arsenal that season, fewer than only two other outfielders – Kolo Toure and Thiery Henry. He then spent two more years at Arsenal, before doing something unimaginable – he transferred to one of Arsenal’s fiercest rivals Chelsea. At the time, the fans looked at it as a stab in the back. Still, their anger tuned down eventually, the reason being that the Gunners just can’t forget what he did for them in the early noughties.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say Kenny Sansom was dominating the left side of the pitch in England in the eighties. The fullback signed for the Gunners in 1980, and over the next eight years, he seemed irreplaceable. Not only were his tackles superb, but he also had a real engine in him that enabled him to cover more miles than others. Sansom was also strong in the air, which wasn’t (and still isn’t) a common trait of fullbacks. After playing 314 games in the Arsenal shirt, he decided to part ways with the team. The reasons included a beef with the manager, as well as the fact that the Gunners had brought in a few other fullbacks, including Lee Dixon.
Lee Dixon – Arsenal’s Title Magnet
Dixon came to Arsenal the same year Sansom left. Although the two played on opposite sides, Dixon’s arrival was one of the reasons behind Sansom’s departure. The decision to sign Dixon proved a very smart move as he quickly became one of the team’s crucial players. Despite finishing his playing career almost two decades ago, Lee Dixon remains one of Arsenal’s most decorated players. His achievements include winning the league four times, winning the FA Cup on three occasions, and getting ahold of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994. No surprise there, as Dixon’s Arsenal career lasted for 12 years, from 1988 to 2000. As a right-back, he played 458 times for Arsenal, scoring 25 goals along the way.
Wrapping It Up
Arsenal is one of the most popular football clubs not just in England but overseas as well. Its popularity is huge in Canada, although it’s mostly thanks to the Gunners’ success back at the start of the century. In recent times, this team hasn’t been too successful. Still, with a couple of new signings, they could re-establish themselves as one of the heavyweights. Are the Gunners going to get some major additions over the summer transfer period? Should we expect them to start an invincible run in the upcoming season? A good way to stay up-to-date with all the Arsenal stories is to check out sports betting news at True North Casinos on a regular basis.