Here we are going to be talking about 5 of the most dominant, intimidating, tough and fearless men who ever played Arsenal. Players like and John Terry should come to mind when you think of aggressive Premiers League players. But which here, we focus on Arsenal Players. Here are the top 5:
5. Martin Keown
If you ask any Arsenal fans, they will tell you, Martin Keown isn’t scared of anything. The man was 6 feet 1 inch tall and he never let anybody get the best of him.
Many consider him to be one of the best man-markers in English football ever. He was never the quickest like Sol Campbell but he frustrated many forwards like Ruud Van Nistelrooy or Francesco Totti.
Keown also had a reputation for being somewhat crazy, one which Giovanni van Bronckhorst would give an account of. He was a fierce leader and never shy to let teammates know if he thought their performances was below par.
Martin Keown is probably the most successful player on this list with 10 trophies: three FA Cups, three EPL titles, three Community Shields, and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
4. Sol Campbell
After making the switch from direct rivals, Tottenham Hotspur in 2001, Campbell had to do it all to win the hearts of Gunners fans. Eventually, his hugely successful time at Highbury put everything to bed.
Campbell was a monster back in his prime as a centre-half. The former England international was a linchpin in Arsenal’s ‘invincible’ 2003/04 Premier League campaign. Strong, imposing, powerful – Campbell was probably the closest thing to Tony Adams that the Gunners ever had. His was never shy to lunge into crunching yet effective tackles and most of all, his leadership was unquestionable.
Many fans got caught up with the fact that the man was once a Spurs player but the true Arsenal faithful realise how truly great he was. Even when Campbell came back to the club nearly 4 years after leaving, his quality and leadership ability once again shone through. He was a defensive beast, even at the age of 35.
3. Peter Storey
Peter Storey was ranked 26th on The Times’ list of the 50 greatest hardmen of all time which will give you an idea of how scary he truly was. He liked to bully people off the ball with his reckless challenges and very rough play. There was a common joke amongst Arsenal fans that Peter Storey was “one Storey that belonged in the horror section.”
Storey made over 500 appearances for Arsenal in his career, winning the FA Cup and First Division Double in 1971.
2. Wilf Copping
Wilf Copping is known as one of the hardest men in football who spent 5 seasons with Arsenal. He originally started out with Leeds United and then signed for the Gunners in the 1934-35 season, winning the Football League Championship that very campaign.
One of Copping’s most famous quotes read, “The first man in a tackle never gets hurt.” He also called the “Iron Man” because of how he imposed his physicality on other players.
The former defender was a hard tackler who never shaved on matchdays as he believed that it accentuated his intimidation tactic on the pitch. To make it even more shocking Copping was never sent off or even booked in his career, despite his reputation and philosophy. His name has been included on the list of the 100 greatest legends of the Football League.
1. Patrick Vieira
I don’t think anybody can top Vieira on this list as he set the example of truly being a rough and tough player but also setting the example of graceful football. The Frenchman is the most booked player in the Gunners’ history.
He was combative, aggressive and loved to mess with opposition players with trash talk. But he was much more for Arsenal than just that. Vieira was a leader and a champion, who, when on the ball was as technical as any other playmaker. The former Inter Milan footballer could carry the ball from his own to the opposition end without dropping a sweat.
It was his influence that kept one of the greatest Arsenal teams ever assembled together. His skills were impeccable and he remains one of the greatest players to ever play for this football club.