Arsenal Team of the Decade: Van Persie in, Aubameyang out

Robin van Persie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal
With 2020 approaching, Goal has decided to pick out the best players to have graced the Emirates Stadium over the past 10 years

  1. GK: Petr Cech
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    GK: Petr Cech

    A tough one to start with.

    Arsenal have hardly been blessed when it comes to goalkeepers in the last decade, with a number failing to really grasp the No.1 spot.

    Manuel Almunia started as first choice but soon lost his place to Wojciech Szczesny, who broke through in exciting fashion following a loan spell with Brentford.

    But inconsistency and questions over his attitude saw Szczesny lose out to David Ospina, before Cech was eventually signed from Chelsea in 2015.

    The experienced Czech may not have taken his Stamford Bridge form with him to the Emirates, but he at least brought some stability to the position and enjoyed a solid four years in north London.

    He won the Golden Glove in his first season, keeping 16 clean sheets, and went on to make 139 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners.

  2. RB: Bacary Sagna

    RB: Bacary Sagna

    Bacary Sagna deserved so much more from his time at Arsenal.

    Signed from Auxerre in 2007, the right-back went on to spend seven years in north London before leaving for Manchester City in 2014.

    Sagna was the model of consistency on the right side of the back four under Arsene Wenger and made 280 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners, setting up 22 goals and scoring five himself. His performances saw him named in the 2010-11 PFA team of the season.

    It was fitting that in his final game for the club the Frenchman got to lift the FA Cup, after the win over Hull City at Wembley.

  3. CB: Laurent Koscielny
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    CB: Laurent Koscielny

    He may have left the club under a cloud, but Laurent Koscielny was a near constant in the heart of the Arsenal defence throughout the past decade.

    Having arrived from Lorient in 2010, he went on to make 353 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners and was made club captain by Arsene Wenger.

    Koscielny scored some vital goals, including the winner on the final day of the season in both 2012 and 2013 to guarantee Arsenal fourth place and secure Champions League football.

    The Frenchman also won three FA Cups during his time at the Emirates.

  4. CB: Per Mertesacker

    CB: Per Mertesacker

    Like Koscielny, Per Mertesacker endured a difficult start to life in England, after signing from Werder Bremen in 2011.

    But he soon adapted to English football and formed a solid partnership with the Frenchman which was the bedrock of Arsenal’s defence for the majority of the decade.

    He won three FA Cups during his time in north London, even scoring in the 2015 final against Aston Villa.

    But his finest moment came in the final against Chelsea in 2017 when, on his only start of the season, he produced a man-of-the-match display as Arsenal beat the Premier League champions 2-1.

  5. LB: Nacho Monreal

    LB: Nacho Monreal

    Few Arsenal fans had heard of Nacho Monreal when he arrived from Malaga in 2013 but he went on to become one of the club’s most consistent performers during the next six years.

    The left-back made 250 appearances for the Gunners before returning to Spain in the summer to join Real Sociedad.

    He won three FA Cups during his stay in north London, scoring a vital equaliser in the semi-final success over Manchester City at Wembley in 2017.

    That was one of 10 goals he scored for Arsenal, six of which came during the 2017-18 season, when he finished as runner-up in the club’s player of the year vote.

  6. CM: Santi Cazorla
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    CM: Santi Cazorla

    One of the most gifted midfielders of his generation, Santi Cazorla lit up the Emirates during his six-year stay at Arsenal.

    Signed from Malaga in 2012, he settled immediately and became one of the Gunners' most influential players, playing in a number of roles across the midfield and attack.

    Cazorla would control the tempo of games in midfield, with the likes of Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey running off him.

    The Spaniard – who produced one of the best midfield performances the Premier League has seen when Arsenal claimed a 2-0 win at Manchester City in 2015 – was hugely influential in Arsenal’s FA Cup wins of 2014 and 2015.

    He scored the free-kick which started the comeback in the final against Hull in 2014 and was named man of the match when Arsenal retained the cup a year later with victory over Aston Villa.

    Injuries, unfortunately, disrupted the midfielder’s final two seasons at the club, but he still scored 29 goals in 180 appearances for the Gunners, while also registering 42 assists.

  7. CM: Aaron Ramsey
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    CM: Aaron Ramsey

    Aaron Ramsey grew from a boy into a man during his 11-year stint with Arsenal, becoming one of the best midfielders in England in the process.

    After battling back from the broken leg he suffered against Stoke in 2010, the Welshman made himself a fixture in the starting line-up.

    Ramsey won the club’s player of the season award in 2014 and 2018, and scored the winning goals in the FA Cup final successes against Hull City and Chelsea.

    He scored 64 goals in 367 appearances for the Gunners and also contributed 59 assists. The only shame was that injury denied him the farewell he deserved before his free transfer to Juventus last summer.

  8. LW: Alexis Sanchez
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    LW: Alexis Sanchez

    What an impact Alexis Sanchez had at Arsenal following his shock transfer from Barcelona!

    He signed after the 2014 World Cup and immediately became a firm favourite at the Emirates on account of his desire and determination, winning the club's player of the year award in his first season. He was also named in the 2014-15 PFA team of the season.

    Sanchez spent three-and-a-half years in north London before leaving for Manchester United after rejecting a new contract offer.

    The nature of his departure – coupled with his choice of destination – means he is not fondly remembered by Arsenal fans, but his record while at the club was superb.

    Sanchez scored 80 goals for Arsenal in 166 games, including 30 in the 2016-17 season, and won the FA Cup in 2015 and 2017, scoring in both finals.

  9. CAM: Mesut Ozil

    CAM: Mesut Ozil

    His time at the club may be drawing to a close, but Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal career has certainly been a success.

    Few arrivals have been met with as much excitement as that of the German, who joined from Real Madrid in 2013 for a club-record £42 million ($53.5m).

    His signing coincided with Arsenal ending their long wait for a trophy, with the FA Cup secured in his first season (two more would soon follow).

    At the time of writing, Ozil has made 233 appearances for the Gunners and he was named Arsenal's player of the year in 2016 following a season that saw him create 181 goalscoring opportunities and set up 20 goals in all competitions. 

  10. RW: Theo Walcott
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    RW: Theo Walcott

    A choice that many will no doubt disagree with, especially as it means only one out-and-out striker will make the team, but Theo Walcott developed into one of the best goalscoring wingers in England during his time at Arsenal.

    The England international often divided opinion, but he scored 106 goals in 388 games for the Gunners and set up a further 57.

    He was also a man for the big occasion, scoring numerous goals in important games, including the opener in the FA Cup win over Aston Villa in 2015.

    Walcott also netted in a League Cup final, FA Cup semi-final and Champions League quarter-final and was a regular scorer against the top sides in the Premier League.

    He may not have hit the heights some predicted when he broke through as a teenager but he still had an excellent career at the Emirates.

  11. CF: Robin van Persie
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    CF: Robin van Persie

    Only two of Robin van Persie’s eight Arsenal seasons came in the past decade, with the Dutch striker leaving in 2012 to join Manchester United.

    The fact that he left under such a cloud makes his inclusion in the team even more difficult, but it’s tough to ignore just how good he was during his final two years at the club.

    He scored 22 goals in 33 appearances in the 2010-11 season and 37 in 48 during the 2011-12 campaign, taking his Arsenal tally to 132 goals, which places him eighth in the club's all-time list.

    Van Persie was named the PFA Player of the Year in 2012 and also won the Football Writers' Association (FWA) award at the end of a sensational season. 

  12. Honourable mentions
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    Honourable mentions

    There’s no doubt that the most difficult decisions picking this XI came up front, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Olivier Giroud both unlucky to miss out.

    Giroud scored 105 goals in 253 games for Arsenal between 2012 and 2018 and set up a further 36, including the assists for Aaron Ramsey’s FA Cup final winners in 2014 and 2017.

    Aubameyang’s fantastic form since arriving from Borussia Dortmund also made him a contender for an attacking berth, with the Gabon international having already netted 49 times in just 75 appearances.

    In midfield, Jack Wilshere was excellent during the early part of the decade before injuries took their toll and Cesc Fabregas shone before his move to Barcelona in 2011.

    Tomas Rosicky, meanwhile, was always excellent when injury-free and Mikel Arteta was hugely influential following his switch from Everton.

    Further back, Thomas Vermaelen and Wojciech Szczesny also deserve honourable mentions.

  13. How they line up

    How they line up

    So, there you have it, our Arsenal Team of the Decade!

    But what do you make of our selections? Are there any glaring omissions, in your opinion?

    Post your thoughts – and your own line-ups – in the comments...