Arsenal have had a complicated relationship with the number nine shirt since the dawn of the Premier League. Since the supremely talented Nicolas Anelka was brought to the club by Arsene Wenger for £500,000 in 1997, nine players have put on the shirt that should be synonymous with leading the line and goals.
New signing Gabriel Jesus will be wearing the shirt in 2022 after his big money move from Manchester City and with the start he and Arsenal have already made Arsenal fans will hope the curse of the nine shirt will end with the Brazilian. With a strong start to their Premier League campaign you can find the best spread betting odds on Arsenal and Jesus here.
The lack of success for Arsenal’s number nines over 20 years is truly unfortunate. Below is a ranking of all the players to wear the shirt since the turn of the millennium.
One of the rare success stories for the Gunners number nines’ Podolski joined the club in 2012 and spent two and a half years at the club. In the 82 matches he played for Arsenal, Podolski scored 31 goals and was an integral part of Arsenal’s 2013-14 FA Cup winning side. While his time at Arsenal slowly ebbed following the arrival of Alexis Sanchez in 2014, Podolski’s superb debut season combined with the mutual love between fans and player means he can be considered as one of the best to ever wear the number nine for Arsenal.
Lacazette’s five year spell at Arsenal came to a close this summer as he returned to Lyon on a free transfer. The Frenchman’s time at Arsenal was productive if unspectacular as once the club’s record-signing. He appeared in 206 matches for the Gunners where he scored 71 goals, won two titles and an FA Cup, but he never developed into the leading marksman Wenger signed him to be. He was often outshone by his strike partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and by the end of his five-year spell he had developed into a goal creator for Arsenal’s exciting young talent.
Jose Antonio Reyes
The Spanish winger played at Arsenal for three seasons from 2004 to 2007 where he appeared in 110 matches and scored 23 goals. He was a key member of Arsenal’s historic ‘invincibles’ squad and also played a crucial role in the Gunners reaching the final of the Champions League in 2006. Reyes was not deployed as a striker in a traditional sense, but played more as a winger in order to account for the greatness in Thierry Henry. Homesickness and a strained relationship with Thierry Henry compromised his time in North London, but he did play a key role for the Gunners with some dazzling displays that will have him remembered fondly.
The Brazil-born Croatian international had an impressive start to his Arsenal career, notching 12 goals in 31 appearances in 2007. His career took a turn for the worse when facing Birmingham City he dislocated his ankle and broke his leg receiving one of the worst challenges in Premier League history. He did return to action in 2009 but was no longer the player he once was post the devastating injury and in 2010 he was sold to Shakhtar Donetsk. Eduardo appeared in 67 matches for Arsenal where he registered 21 goals.
A year after Croatia’s historic third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup, Croatia star Davor Suker joined Arsenal from Real Madrid. He spent just one season at the North London club before heading to West Ham in 2000. In his only season he wore the Arsenal number nine shirt, Suker scored 11 goals in 39 matches.
The Brazilian forward spent just one season on loan from Real Madrid during the 2006-07 campaign. He scored 10 goals in 35 matches for the Gunners which included only three in the Premier League. Baptiste’s four goals away at Liverpool in a League Cup tie established himself in Gunners folklore, but he generally failed to live up to those heights in his single season.
The Spanish forward’s stint with Arsenal was short-lived (much like a number of the strikers on this list), after joining from Deportivo La Coruna in 2016 Perez scored seven goals in 21 appearances. He was replaced by Alexandre Lacazette as the club’s number nine after a year and Perez returned to Deportivo on loan for the 2017-18 campaign.
The English forward joined in 2001 and remained at Arsenal until 2004. During Jeffers’ stint with the Gunners he was plagued with injuries, the forward managing to play 39 matches with only eight goals scored for the club. What was an incredibly successful period for the club, Jeffers was largely unproductive during his time with Arsenal.
Park arrived for £6m in the Summer of 2011 on the back of a solid campaign with Monaco in which he scored 25 times in 91 Ligue 1 appearances. Wenger thought he’d be adding sufficient cover for the departing Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vera, with the awarding of the number nine shirt a show of faith. The faith proved to be unfounded as Park struggled to adapt to the Premier League and was released in the summer of 2014 having scored one goal in seven appearances.