Arsenal Greatest XI vs Everton Greatest XI: Who Wins?

We asked two supporters to pick the greatest Arsenal and Everton Xls they'd seen play in the flesh. Here's what they came up with...
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We asked two supporters to pick the greatest Arsenal and Everton Xls they'd seen play in the flesh. Here's what they came up with...

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We asked two supporters to pick the greatest Arsenal and Everton Xls they'd seen play in the flesh. Here's what they came up with...

Arsenal’s Greatest XI

GK: David Seaman – Forget his leaden footed displays at the tail end of his career. During most of the 1990s, Spunky’s peerless displays between the sticks made him the ultimate big game stopper for the Gunners. 8

RB: Lee Dixon – Feisty, sharp in the tackle and unfussy in his approach, Dixon was just the man you wanted in your back line, especially back in the days when you could boot the opposition winger into the stand without punishment from the ref. 7

CB: Tony Adams – His transition from George Graham’s hard drinking, blue collar lieutenant to Arsene Wenger’s poetry loving free thinking, roving skipper was remarkable. What didn’t change was his undimmed will to win. Fergie admitted he couldn’t wait for him to retire. 9

CB: Martin Keown – This grizzled warrior certainly came good during his second spell at the Gunners. Later combined an indomitable desire for combat with much improved distribution at the back. His clash with Van Nistelrooy in 2003 may not have been pretty, but you’d always want him in your team. 8

LB: Ashley Cole – Whatever Arsenal fans think of “Cashley” these days, it cannot be denied that during his six year first team career, he provided excellent service, with his surging runs down the left. His link play with Pires in the “Invincibles” season was a joy to behold. 8

LM: Liam Brady – Arguably the cleverest play maker of his generation in the 1970s, he would glide past opponents with unerring ease, and hit shots with minimal backlift. A genius. 10

CM: Patrick Vieira – A titan of Arsenal’s midfield for nearly a decade, the Frenchman appeared to relish clashed with United more than anyone, if his “fire and brimstone” clashes with rival skipper Roy Keane both on the pitch and in the tunnel are anything to go by. 9

CM: Cesc Fabregas – There is little that the Spanish diamond couldn’t do, and in the Premiership, there was no one who can match his artfulness, vision and creativity. 9

RW: Robert Pires – A goal scoring wide player, defences simply had no answer to the Frenchman’s direct running and setting up of chances for the likes of Henry and Bergkamp during the noughties. 8

CF: Ian Wright – Quite simply the most natural goal scorer seen at Highbury since Bastin in the 1930s. Aggressive and self centred on the pitch, the team’s reliance on his goal poaching under GG effectively made it “Ian Wright FC” for several years. 9

CF: Thierry Henry – “We’ve got the best player in the world” chanted Arsenal fans when Henry (more often than not) was on song. The Gunners’ record goal scorer was, on his day, quite simply unplayable. 10

Total: Arsenal 95

This is a controversial choice but I’m still mad at Gary Stevens for the pass that let Ronnie Whelan in at the 1986 cup final.

Everton Greatest Xl

GK: Neville Southall

First up these are only players I’ve seen but even so the magnificent, contrary, scruffbag, maestro would be in any all time ace Everton list. Has there ever been a player so good yet so completely at odds with his status? Considered by many to be the best in the world in the mid to late 1980s – I can’t say as I never saw all the others – he was at times unbeatable. Ask John Barnes. Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1984/5. 9

RB: Ian Snodin

This is a controversial choice but I’m still mad at Gary Stevens for the pass that let Ronnie Whelan in at the 1986 cup final. Snodin came from Leeds United as a midfielder and he was alright there, but when he filled in at right back for a spell he was superb. Fast, aggressive and smart, he made the position his own and was called up for England but had to withdraw when injury knackered him. 7

CB: Dave Watson

Wretched at first – a Guardian match report on one of his early games (probably by Ian Ross) reckoned he and Kevin Ratcliffe weren’t on first-name terms yet – he became one of Everton’s most important post-war players. Rock solid, rock hard and fond of unorthodox refuelling methods, Watson was superb. Lifted the FA Cup as captain in 1995 and once ruffled Michael Owen’s hair when the little s*** was whining. 8

CB: Joleon Lescott

Most people my age would go for Kevin Ratcliffe here, and he was a good player and our most successful skipper, but Lescott was simply brilliant for us. His defection basically finished football for me. Good on the floor, good in the air, fast and with an incredible knack for scoring (big) goals, him leaving left a massive hole in my betting strategy. 8

LB: Pat Van den Hauwe

An absolute beast but a brilliant player. Once put Vince Hilaire over the advertising hoardings at Goodison with a spirited tackle. As Hilaire’s twitching torso was stretchered off people were whispering ‘I think he’s dead’. Also smashed through Jimmy ‘s***house’ Case after he’d fouled Adrian Heath or Trevor Steven (can’t remember which) when playing for Southampton. Scored the goal which clinched the 1987 championship at Norwich City. 8

RM: Andrei Kanchelskis

My god what a player. Twenty goals in 52 league appearances in just under two seasons, including a cracking brace at Anfield in a 2-1 win in November 1995. He was fast as fuck with a great shot and a fine head too. At times Kancheskis was unstoppable – then he got the a**e over a move to Fiorentina and that was that. 9

CM: Peter Reid

Described by Howard Kendall as Everton’s most important post-war signing. Paul Bracewell was arguably a better player but not as important. Reid wasn’t the quickest but he had everything else – he’d be priceless in today’s game. Although he’d get sent off a lot. Along with Kim Gordon and Jonny Marr, the only famous person I’d like to meet. Although we’d make an odd crowd. Marr would probably sneak off early having left his share of the bill but ‘forgetting’ the tip. 9

CM: Mikel Arteta

I was slow to warm to Arteta as I feel midfielders should be able to tackle, and it p***ed me off that he needed Lee Carsley in there to hold his hand at times. But the best little Spaniard was brilliant the last few seasons until he jogged onto London.9

LM: Kevin Sheedy

Sheer brilliance. I don’t know who Liverpool had on the left in 1982 when Sheedy joined us but he must have been bloody brilliant. Sheedy wasn’t quick but he didn’t need to be because his touch, passing, crossing and shooting were so good. But it’s the free-kicks people remember, with many pointing to an FA Cup tie with Ipswich where he smashed it top corner, was told to retake, and smashed it in the other corner. Magic. 9

CF: Peter Beardsley

Along with Sheedy the most skilful Everton player I’ve ever seen. John Motson on Match of the Day when we played (I think) Coventry said: “You could take this first 30 minutes from Beardsley and put out a video called ‘how to play football’”. There’s no better sight than Beardsley shaking his hips, sending the defender the wrong way and then stroking the ball past a baffled keeper. 9

CF: Graeme Sharp

Everton’s post-war record goalscorer, Sharp scored some of the most important goals in the club’s most successful period, including the winner at Anfield in 1984/5, the first in the 1984 FA Cup final, and the equaliser in the home leg of the 1985 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi final against Bayern Munich. The Toffees went on to win 3-1 in a game regarded by many as Everton’s greatest ever. If you weren’t there you missed out because it was f***ing ace. 9

Total: 94

Arsenal 95 - Everton 94

A distinctly modern-day feel to this clash of the greatest with not one single player puffing on a Woodbine. The midfield battle is worth the admission fee alone as Reidy skirmishes with a player twice his size in Vieira while Arteta is on a one-man mission to show everyone he is Fab’s rightful heir apparent. The Toffee’s forward line gets little change out of Arsenal’s superbly drilled rear-guard and it eventually falls to a delicate chip by Brady to break the deadlock. 1-0 it remains.

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