During Arsene Wenger's 19-year tenure at the club, Arsenal have featured some of the fastest footballers to ever grace the Premier League. After Great Britain sprinter Richard Kilty challenged Theo Walcott and Hector Bellerin to a race last week, the subject of Arsenal's fastest players has arose. Here are Arsenal's top five fastest players during Wenger's reign:
5) Nicolas Anelka:
The former France international was Arsene Wenger's first ever signing at Arsenal in 1997, signing from French side PSG at the tender age of 17. In the 1998-99 season, Anelka scored 17 goals and won the PFA Young Player of the Year award. His finishing was matched by his blistering pace, which Anelka utilised often to beat his opponents and get a shot on goal. Towards the latter parts of his career, the striker's pace significantly dropped, but he was, nonetheless, one of the quickest the crowd has seen at Highbury.
4) Marc Overmars:
The man Arsenal fans affectionately called 'The Flying Dutchman' was a dynamic, purposeful winger who brought trickery, speed and power to Arsenal's flanks. This was before Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez were even a glimmer in Wenger's eye. Some past reports suggest that the winger did the 100 metre sprint in just under 11 seconds while at Arsenal. One thing is for certain; Overmars was certainly blessed with impressive agility, both off and on the ball. Nowadays, the former Arsenal ace is at Eredivisie club Ajax, working as the Director of Football.
3) Thierry Henry:
The Arsenal legend is one of the best strikers ever to grace English football. He is also one of the quickest. The Frenchman's pace blew away some of the best defenders in Europe, and helped him become Arsenal's all-time top scorer. So many classic Henry moments were the result of the striker's devastating runs; his infamous goal against Tottenham Hotspur in 2002, his mazy run against Liverpool in 2004 and his brilliant one-man run against Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2006.
The goal which really showed off his pace? His goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup in 2006. Henry had the ball on the edge of the centre circle and pumped the ball past Jamie Carragher onto the flank. With Carragher almost half the way to the ball, Henry caught him up with unbelievable pace, took the ball round him, cut in on his right foot and slotted past Jerzy Dudek. Valid, it was Carragher, but still, Henry's speed was undeniably impressive. 'The King' was the holder of Arsenal's record for the 100 metre sprint (10.8 seconds, apparently) until Theo Walcott stepped up.
2) Theo Walcott:
Like many quick footballers, England international Theo Walcott deliberated whether to pursue football or athletics. In the end he chose football, but his ability has definitely been a useful asset so far in his career. The 26-year-old's hat-trick against Croatia in 2008 would not have occurred if it was not for his incredible pace. He smashed the record for 100 metres, held by Henry, with a 10.6 seconds. However, another player has recently broken Walcott's record.
1) Hector Bellerin:
The 19-year-old starlet reportedly broke Walcott's record for the 100m last year. He also broke Walcott's record for the 40m sprint too, as well as bettering Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt's 40m time, with a time of 4.42 seconds. The Spanish teenager has been fantastic this season at right-back; his pace and willingness to drive forward has been a key asset for Arsenal, particularly the second half of the season.
Other notable speedsters: Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis Sanchez.