Thierry Henry in action

Thierry Henry, right (Photo Works | Bigstockphoto)

Arsenal may not have enjoyed quite as much success as their fans would have liked over the past 15 years or so (okay, to say the least!) but the club remains one of the most successful in the Premier League era. Certainly, in more general terms, they are among England’s elite if we accept the truth that football really did exist before the early 1990s.

Of course, as all Gunners know, that success has come about due to the club boasting some incredible players over the years. Our focus in this article is the Premier League era though and the question is simple: have any Arsenal players ever won the Premier League Player of the Season award? There are many prestigious individual awards open to players, from the global Ballon d’Or to the much sought-after PFA Players’ Player of the Year prize, as well as various Golden Boots and other honours.

But here we are considering just one award, which, by definition, only applies to the years since the inception of the Premier League. However, whilst the first season of the rebranded league took place in 1992/93, the Player of the Season (PS) award was not inaugurated until 1994/95. Alan Shearer was the first footballer to earn this honour but have any Gunners followed him since?

Patrick Vieira Becomes First Arsenal Player to Win the Award

Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira (Simon Heseltine | Wikipedia)

Individual honours are so often won by attacking players, typically strikers and creative forwards. So it is testament to just how good Vieira was that he was the first Arsenal player to win the PS. The combative French midfielder was awarded the league’s top individual honour in 2000/01. The fact that Manchester United, and not Arsenal, won the league that season speaks further to just how impressive the all-action star was. The Gunners finished second, fully 10 points behind their great rivals of that time, but it was not for want of effort, or brilliance, on the part of Vieira.

The bare numbers do not really reveal what he was about that season and he only made 30 appearances. Five goals and four assists was a decent return but it was his leadership, his ability to take games by the scruff of the neck, and his relentless energy that meant he got the nod. He was a defensively minded midfielder, but undoubtedly still a box-to-box one, and it was his ability to be influential at both ends of the pitch that led to him winning the award.

Freddie Ljungberg Makes It Two in a Row for Gunners

Freddie Ljungberg
Freddie Ljungberg (Ludovic Péron | Wikipedia)

12 months after Vieira’s success, Swede Ljungberg received the same honour, but this time it was in a winning team effort. The Gunners won the 2001/02 Premier League in fine style and lost just three games all season. They scored more than two goals a game and Ljungberg himself chipped in 12, providing a further four assists.

Impressive as Ljungberg was in Arsenal’s title success, his winning of the Player of the Season award was still rather strange. The Gunners won the double and the Swede got 17 goals in all competitions, being hugely influential in the second half of the season. However, he made just 25 PL appearances in 2001/02. No player has played fewer games and been crowned Player of the Season and Vieira (30 as above) is next having played 20% more matches.

Henry Wins His First Award

Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry (funnydae | Wikipedia)

Thierry Henry would be the first name many Arsenal fans would say when asked who their best player ever was and he is one of a very select group (of just four) to have won this award more than once. His first came in 2003/04, a campaign that Gunners will remember forever.

That was, of course, the Invincibles team, Arsene Wenger’s incredible group going the whole season unbeaten. That was down to their incredible desire and will to take something from games but also don to Henry’s sustained magnificence. The French ace won the Golden Boot that year, netting 30 times in 37 games and providing a further six assists.

Henry Doubles Up in 2005/06

Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry (joshjdss | Wikipedia)

Just a few seasons later the French flyer, who combined grace and elegance with numbers more typical of a pure goal-poacher, was perhaps even more impressive. 35 goal involvements (27 goals, eight assists) from just 32 league outings was truly incredible and once again the former Monaco man won the Golden Boot.

Sadly, from a team perspective and for the fans, the Gunners did not have a great season, despite the best efforts of the pacy forward. He scored six more league goals than his nearest rival (and also placed fifth in terms of assists) but Arsenal finished down in fourth, a whopping 24 points behind Chelsea, as a new order was being established in the Premier League, and indeed in London.

Henry was the last Arsenal player to land the prestigious prize, with Man United, Liverpool and Man City dominating since then. Ahead of the announcement of the winner for the 2023/24 campaign, in fact, City players have won the award four years running, Kevin De Bruyne accounting for two of those. But how do Arsenal compare to other clubs when it comes to winners of the PS?

Man United Boast the Most Player of the Season Winners

Man United logoUnsurprisingly, given Man United have won the PL title far more than any other club, players from the red half of Manchester have won more Premier League Player of the Season awards than those from any other team. United boast eight awards in total, with six different players responsible for those (Cristiano Ronaldo and Nemanja Vidic are the other two players with multiple awards).

City footballers are next, Erling Haaland, Ruben Dias and Vincent Kompany supplementing De Bruyne’s double. Next come the Gunners, who are tied with Liverpool, both clubs having seen their players win the prize four times – though Liverpool have won with a different player on each occasion.