Ranking every player to wear the Arsenal No.14 shirt in the PL

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Arsenal's Thierry Henry celebrates scoring during the Premier League match against Manchester United at Highbury Stadium, London, April 2003.

Eddie Nketiah has been given the No.14 shirt at Arsenal – and it’s safe to say that he has big boots to fill. 

Plenty of players have made the No.14 their own around the world, from Johan Cruyff to Xabi Alonso, and the number has a storied history at Arsenal since squad numbers were introduced in 1993.

“I joined the club at the age of 14,” Nketiah told The Telegraph after signing his new contract in June 2022.

“I wore 14 on loan at Leeds, and I even lived at No.14 at one point. When the opportunity came up to take it, it was hard to say no. I know what it means to the club and the fans. It’s a nice feeling, an iconic number.”

And Arsenal fans will be hoping Nketiah can replicate half of what previous incumbents have produced while wearing the famous jersey.

We’ve ranked all the previous wearers of Arsenal’s No.14 jersey from worst to best.

4. Martin Keown

Squad numbers weren’t really a thing until the Premier League era and the 1993-94 season saw centre-back Keown do the honours.

The defender’s second spell with the London side – Keown played for Aston Villa and Everton in the late 1980s and early 1990s – lasted more than a decade, and involved Premier League title success in 1998, 2002 and 2004.

The bulk of those games came with the defender wearing 14 on his back, too, including in the 1998 FA Cup final as Arsene Wenger’s team delivered a league and cup double.

Keown eventually usurped Steve Bould’s No.5 jersey, perhaps a more befitting number for Arsenal’s starting centre-back. And it was the No.5 shirt Keown wore while acting as Ruud van Nistelrooy’s neckscarf in 2003.

3. Theo Walcott

The 2007-08 season was a breakthrough campaign for Walcott in the first year he wore the No.14 shirt. Coincidence? You decide.

The former Southampton youngster scored his first Premier League goals for the Gunners and also played his part in Europe – that Speedy Gonzalez impression against Liverpool will live long in the memory.

He would wear the number for almost a full decade before leaving Arsenal for Everton in January 2018.

“I’ve got Thierry’s shirt number now but he’s not getting it back, even if he comes back for a while,” Walcott said shortly before Henry’s brief return in 2012. “I’ve already told him that.”

Sure, Walcott never eclipsed his predecessor but a number of important goals and 12 years’ service was hardly a bad return from the winger.

READ: How the football Gods conspired to deny Walcott hero status at Arsenal

2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

“I like two numbers, nine and seven,” Aubameyang told Arsenal TV in 2020. “But [Alexandre Lacazette] has nine and Miki [Henrikh Mkhitaryan] had seven.

“I asked Miki before I came, ‘Will you be taking the No.7?’ and he said yes so I said, ‘Okay, I will try something else’.”

The manner of Aubameyang’s exit still stings for many, but he did the No.14 shirt proud for much of his time at the Emirates Stadium, scoring 92 goals and winning the 2020 FA Cup final single-handedly.

1. Thierry Henry

Arguably the greatest player in Arsenal’s history, Henry has redefined the No.14 jersey in his own image – but it wasn’t his original choice.

“I came back [on loan in 2012] with No.12, that’s my number actually,” Henry told former teammate Cesc Fabregas in 2020, as reported by Metro. “Fourteen is not my number. I took the No.14 at Arsenal because Christopher Wreh had No.12, so I didn’t want to take it off him.

“That’s the reason, I didn’t want to take it off him. That’s why when I came back, No.12 because of Marco van Basten at Euro 88.”

The course of history may have been very different if Henry had taken Wreh’s number instead. Although, on second thought’s probably not…

READ: How Thierry Henry’s first Arsenal hat-trick signposted his legendary status


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