Arsenal’s most used Champions League XI of all time: Walcott, Fabregas…
Arsenal are back in the Champions League this season and we couldn’t help but revisit the players with the most appearances for the Gunners in Europe’s top competition.
While Arsenal have never got their hands on the Champions League trophy, they have been involved in plenty of iconic moments over the years and the competition is certainly stronger for having them in it.
We’ve gone back through the records and have compiled an XI made up of the players with the most Champions League appearances for Arsenal.
GK: Jens Lehmann
The German goalkeeper racked up 35 appearances for Arsenal in the Champions League, one more than David Seaman managed and three more than Manuel Almunia.
The Gunners made it all the way to the final with Lehmann between the sticks, but European glory just managed to allude him. After he was shown a red card just 18 minutes into the 2006 Champions League final, Barcelona managed to take advantage of the extra man and win the final 2-1.
The Cameroon international spent his best years with Arsenal and racked up over 240 appearances for the club in that time. Of those 240 games, 53 of them came in the Champions League.
“Lauren was exceptional. He could go anywhere in the world and he would be ready for a fight, Arsene Wenger told reporters in 2019 when discussing the former Arsenal full-back.
CB: Kolo Toure
Toure made more appearances for Arsenal in the Champions League than any other defender. He featured a total of 61 times in the competition for Arsenal and scored two goals in that time.
CB: Sol Campbell
Campbell is joint with Laurent Koscielny with 41 Champions League appearances for the Gunners, but as Campbell played 142 more minutes in the competition, he gets the nod ahead of his French counterpart.
The former Arsenal defender had plenty of memorable moments in Europe too. It was Campbell who opened the scoring for Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final before Barcelona managed to flip the game on its head.
Classic UCL final crosses 🎯 Your favourite? 🤔
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 21, 2021
LB: Ashley Cole
Things ultimately soured between Cole and the Arsenal fans after the left-back decided to jump ship to London rivals Chelsea in 2006. Cole’s final appearance for Arsenal came in the 2006 Champions League final, but he had to wait another six years to get his hands on the trophy.
After experiencing heartbreak with Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final, he finally got his hands on the trophy in 2012. In total, Cole made 45 appearances for Arsenal in Europe’s top competition.
RM: Freddie Ljungberg
The Swedish winger spent nine years of his playing career with Arsenal and he even spent a short time in the dugout in 2019 as he was appointed interim boss following the sacking of Unai Emery.
He racked up a total of 64 appearances for Arsenal in the Champions League, making him their second-most-used player in the competition.
CM: Patrick Vieira
An Arsenal XI wouldn’t be complete without Vieira and the Frenchman has earned his spot in this team with 57 Champions League appearances to his name.
Vieira left Arsenal one year before they made it to the Champions League final, but he managed to get his hands on the trophy later down the line with Inter Milan.
CM: Cesc Fabregas
It didn’t take long until Arsenal fans recognised they had a star on their hands. Fabregas broke into Arsenal’s starting XI as a teenager and he was handed the captain’s armband in his fifth season with the club.
The Spanish playmaker made over 300 appearances for Arsenal, with 55 of those games coming in Europe’s top competition. Despite having successful spells with Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea, Fabregas never got his hands on the Champions League trophy.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 15, 2020
LM: Robert Pires
Pires was a victim of Lehmann’s red card in the 2006 Champions League final as he was substituted after just 18 minutes to make way for backup goalkeeper Almunia. That game then turned out to be his last in an Arsenal shirt.
“[The defeat that hurt me the most was] the Champions League final with Arsenal against Barcelona. When Arsene took me off [after Jens Lehmann’s sending off], I couldn’t believe it,” Pires told L’Equipe.
“I walk past the coach, we don’t look at each other. I go to sit down, very angry. And then I tell myself, ‘what I want is for us to win’. Two days later, I told him I was leaving. It triggered my departure.”
Pires made a total of 63 appearances for Arsenal in the Champions League and he scored 11 goals and provided nine assists in that time.
ST: Theo Walcott
While Walcott spent most of his time playing on the right-hand side, he did also play through the middle on a number of occasions. While racking up 59 Champions League appearances for the Gunners, he scored 15 goals and provided 10 assists.
This assist away at Anfield will forever be iconic.
🔴 Sensational run & assist at Anfield by Theo Walcott, #OTD in 2008😱
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 8, 2022
ST: Thierry Henry
Who else? Henry has played 77 Champions League matches for Arsenal, making him their top appearance maker in this competition. The legendary Frenchman is also the club’s top scorer in Europe with 35 goals to his name.
Of course, Henry had to wait until his Barcelona days to get his hands on the trophy, but he enjoyed plenty of memorable moments for the Gunners in Europe too.
They simply don’t make them like Henry anymore.