The Premier League’s original Dutch master. The man with magic feet. The one and only Dennis Bergkamp. We at Arsenal-Mania are in a particularly reflective mood this afternoon, and have come to the realization that Arsenal have never possessed another number 10 quite like Bergkamp.
You would be hard pressed to find another player Bergkamp in general (outside of Henry and Vieira) but as far as number 10s go in particular, Arsenal have never possessed another. Dennis was special for his multifaceted game, as he could create a goal as quickly as he could score one. Exceptional technique and intelligence, he was just as happy to set up a teammate with a deft flick as he was to tuck the ball into the goal.
Imagine a forward with the finishing ability of Henry and the vision and passing ability of Mesut Ozil. What do you get? You get Dennis Bergkamp. Epitomized the number 10 role in all its glory. Dennis was clever in his play. It was not just his ability on the ball, but his intelligence and movement off the ball that in many ways taught his teammates a thing or two.
The pitch was his, and the team was his, as everything moved off of his cue. The number 10s before and after him have a hard time stacking up to his kind of influence.
To be fair, William Gallas was not exactly in a position to emulate Dennis as a centre back, and the current number 10 Jack Wilshere has much things to work out before he can even be compared to Dennis. Paul Merson is the only other number 10 in with a real shout, but falls short of Bergkamp’s overall influence.
Merson made 289 Premier League appearance for Arsenal from 1985-97, scoring 78 goals in the process, on route to 2 First Division titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 1 Community Shield, and 1 EUFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
Compare that to Bergkamp’s 315 league appearances, and 87 goals in the process of securing 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 Community Shields, 1 UEFA Cup final appearance and 1 Champions League final appearance, and you would have a good argument for Merson. The difference to me though, is Dennis’ presence and impact on his teammates and to the club.
When he was on, you always felt Arsenal would win, and his statue outside the Emirates is a real testament to that. How we would love to have Dennis in the side today.