Ranking every player to wear No.8 for Arsenal in the Premier League

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Arsenal's Martin Odegaard celebrates after Gabriel scores in the Premier League game aganst Fulham. Emirates Stadium, 27 August 2022.

Arsenal are currently blessed to have a pretty great player wearing their No.8 shirt – but how does he compare to his predecessors? 

While it might not be the most iconic shirt number, some of the eight players who have worn it are among the best to play for the Gunners.

Ranking the eight players was a tough task, but here they are – from the player who did the least in an Arsenal shirt to the one who made the biggest impact, ever since the Premier League introduced official squad numbers for the 1993-94 season, from worst to best.

8. Lassana Diarra

The easiest pick of the lot. French midfielder Diarra was given the No.8 shirt after arriving from Chelsea in the summer of 2007 but didn’t even manage to play eight league games for the Gunners before being shipped off to Portsmouth in January.

His 13 games in all competitions brought no goals, but he only tasted defeat once – a 2-1 reverse at Middlesbrough – and left the Emirates Stadium with the team level on points with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table.

7. Dani Ceballos

After struggling for regular first-team minutes at Real Madrid, Ceballos decided to join Arsenal on loan ahead of 2019-20.

The Spain international helped the Gunners win the FA Cup in 2020 and did enough to return to the Emirates for a second successive loan.

But he failed to build on that promising first season and found himself in and out of the team in 2020-21, starting just 17 Premier League games before heading back to Madrid. 

6. Samir Nasri

Nasri’s high points at Arsenal were very high, but he loses points for leaving under a cloud. After all, there aren’t exactly many fans who would welcome him back with open arms.

Additionally, the Frenchman’s ranking on this list is testament to the quality of the other players to wear No.8 for Arsenal. He might be top of other clubs’ lists with performances of the same calibre, but he’s dealing with some phenomenal competition in the form of his peers in North London.

Still, we’ll never forget that goal against Porto.

READ: A tribute to peak Samir Nasri at Arsenal & one of *the* great English CL goals


5. Mikel Arteta

The La Masia graduate arrived at a difficult time for the club, joining from Everton in the aftermath of that humbling 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, and his leadership and experience helped keep the Gunners in the top four shake-up and, crucially, above Tottenham.

Arteta’s later years might have been plagued by injury, but the club was better off for him having been there.

We wonder what he’s up to these days…

4. Aaron Ramsey

It’s tough to know where to put Ramsey on this list. Do you treat him as the man who would have got into every Premier League team at his peak, or the one who failed to translate his obvious ability into more than a handful of trophies?

Arsenal missed Ramsey greatly for a time, even more than his performances towards the end of his spell there suggested, and it’s painful to watch him struggle in the latter years of his career.

Ramsey had the goods to push himself towards the top of this list, but it didn’t quite happen as he might have envisaged it. Injuries played their part, sure, but there’s also his failure to drag the rest of the team up to his level, as hard as he tried.

3. Martin Odegaard

The 24-year-old Norway international is yet to lift any silverware at Arsenal, and he might not this season.

So it’s arguably a bit premature to stick him in ahead of Arteta and Ramsey, who left behind real legacies at the Emirates. But Odegaard has been exceptional as both the creative fulcrum and captain of Arsenal’s best team in almost two decades.

There’s every chance he lifts the Premier League trophy as Gunners captain, which would be a legendary achievement. Who knows; maybe one day down the line we’ll bump Odegaard up a place – or two.

2. Freddie Ljungberg

Ljungberg didn’t waste any time whatsoever making an impact at Arsenal, scoring in a victory over Manchester United on his debut as a 21-year-old.

In the era of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira forming an enviable core, Arsenal needed someone to chip in with goals from midfield, and the Swede did just that, scoring a goal every other game in the 2001-02 title run and capping it off with a delightful goal in that season’s FA Cup final.

Just as importantly, though, Ljungberg added that particularly Arsenal brand of star power – a player who wasn’t a household name when he arrived but quickly became all that and more.

READ: Freddie Ljungberg: A ‘colourful’ player whose influence continues to be felt

1. Ian Wright

One of Arsenal’s biggest stars before they became a team of stars, Wright was Arsenal’s top scorer for each of the first five Premier League season, before helping them win the league in his sixth.

The England international helped in the transition from those mid-table seasons under Graham and Rioch to a permanent place in the top four in Wenger’s first decade and a bit. While many credit the back four inherited by the Frenchman, Wright’s goals were just as valuable.

He’s also a lovely, lovely man.

READ NEXT: Aaron Ramsey: Briefly Arsenal’s Steven Gerrard and never just a ham roll

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