Arsenal have won over 45 major trophies in their long-standing history, including a record 14 FA Cups, 13 league titles and one undefeated season. They are firmly established as one of England’s greatest soccer clubs, but how did they get there?

Every great team has an abundance of great players, but the forgotten man is often the manager. Always in the hotseat, they face all the pressure and constant scrutiny to ensure the club performs to the fans and boards expectation. The managers featured on this list led Arsenal during different eras, each contributing unique qualities to the Gunners.

Here are the top 10 best Arsenal managers in history.

Who is the current Arsenal manager?

Arsenal F.C. appointed Mikel Arteta as the club’s latest manager in December 2019. He had previously served as the Manchester City assistant manager between July 2016 to December 2019.

Arteta has strong connections to Arsenal after he enjoyed a five-year playing career in North London, joining the Gunners in 2011 under Arsene Wenger. The Spaniard also captained the club from 2014 on, leading them to the FA Cup title in the same year. He served as the vice-captain under Thomas Vermaelen before assuming the captain's armband.

Who was the best Arsenal Manager?

There’s no doubt whatsoever that Arsene Wenger is the best Arsenal manager ever. His 20+ year tenure at the club is one of the longest in soccer history and his revolutionary approach put Arsenal on the world map. He transformed a once mediocre club into greatness, introducing a style of soccer that caught the world by storm. He was hugely involved in the development of some of the world’s best players and is also widely considered as one of the best managers in history.

Arsenal Managers History

Former Arsenal players are prominent figures in Arsenal’s managerial history. Many of these former players have transitioned into successful Arsenal coaches, becoming legendary figures in the club's management.

There have been 20 permanent Arsenal managers since 1897, with eight different caretaker managers also temporarily filling the position along the way.

Famous Arsenal Managers Not only is Arsene Wenger the best Arsenal manager of all time but he is also the most famous. His contribution to English soccer through changes to scouting, players' training, and diet regimens was incredible.

His greatest achievement was that he led the Arsenal team through an unbeaten league campaign in the 2003-2004 season, earning the nickname "The Invincibles." The only other team to ever register a historic unbeaten campaign was Juventus in the 2011-12 season.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Arsenal Managers of all time

  1. Don Howe (1983 – 1986)

Career Stats: Games 117
Awards: N/A

Howe was a former Arsenal player between 1964-1966. He took over as care-taker manager in 1983 and went on to be named the permanent Arsenal manager in 1984.

Howe makes the list for his role in introducing young players like Tony Adams and Niall Quinn. Adams would go on to become one of the best Arsenal players ever.

  1. Terry Neil (1976 – 1983)

Career Stats: Games 187
Awards: FA Cup 1978-79

Terry Neil was a Northern Irishman who played center-back for Arsenal, he captained the club and would eventually become manager in 1976. He joined Arsenal from North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. He was given the difficult task of replacing Bertie Mee and became the youngest manager of arsenal, taking over at just 34 years old.

He was blessed enough to be left with a good group of players including Arsenal legend Liam Brady. He led the club to three back-to-back FA Cup finals but his team were only victorious on their last visit, beating Manchester United 3-2 with a last-minute winner.

Neil had big ambitions for Arsenal after he signed Scottish striker Charlie Nicholas from Celtic, making him the second most expensive Scot and the highest paid footballer in Britain. Unfortunately, despite his talent, Nicholas didn’t flourish as much as he should’ve at Arsenal. Neil also tried to convince Diego Maradona and Glenn Hoddle to join the Gunners but was unsuccessful on both occasions.

Neil led Arsenal to the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final in 1980 where they eventually lost on penalties to Valencia. The following season, Arsenal finished third in the league, the highest they’d finished in the last ten years.

The next few years were mediocre for Neil, and he was reluctantly sacked by the chairman in 1983. As a result, Neil retired from soccer at just 41 years old.

  1. Harry Bradshaw (1899-1904)

Career Stats: Games 185
Awards: Promotion to Football League First Division 1903-04

Harry Bradshaw, an Englishman, served as the Arsenal head coach for five years in the second division. His aim was to guide the team to the first division, and he came remarkably close every year. Eventually, in the 1903-04 season, he led the team to a second-place finish, securing promotion for the first time in the club’s history.

His achievement of promotion alone earns him a place on this list, but Bradshaw's impact extended beyond that. He brought in highly influential players of the time, among them famous Arsenal players like Jimmy Aschcroft, Jimmy Jackson, and Archie Cross. These players played a pivotal role in securing the much-awaited promotion to the first division.

  1. George Allison (1934 – 1947)

Career Stats: Games 279
Awards: English League Champion 1937-38, 1934-35, FA Cup 1935-36, Charity Shield 1934, 1938

George Allison took over as Arsenal’s manager after the sudden death of his predecessor, Herbert Chapman. In his 13-year tenure, he helped the club win three league titles, one FA Cup and two Charity Shields.

Allison wasn’t known for his tactical application and awareness. He instead had more of a hands-off approach, focusing on transfers and the club’s financial position rather than direct involvement with his players.

Nevertheless, he is still considered one of Arsenal’s best managers. Out of his 279 games in charge, he won 129 of them and through 13 years’, their average league position was 4th. The club enjoyed several years of success under Allison.

Allison is also credited with being the creator of the club’s famous chant ‘one nil to the Arsenal’ after appearing on a film in 1939 ‘The Arsenal Stadium Mystery’. He played himself and was caught muttering the words on camera.

  1. Tom Whittaker (1947 – 1956)

Career Stats: Games 429
Awards: English League Champion 1947-48, 1952-23, FA Cup 1949-50, Charity Shield 1948-49, 1953-54

Tom Whittaker was part of the Royal Garrison Artillery and the Royal Navy before being demobilized in 1919. After the War, he joined Arsenal as a player, making 64 appearances for the Gunners. Unfortunately, his career came to a halt after suffering a knee injury and he was forced to retire.

Whittaker became Arsenal’s first-time trainer whilst studying physiotherapy and played a big role in the progression of the club under managers Chapman and Allison.

After the Second World War, and Allison’s retirement in 1947, Whittaker took over. He led the club to two league titles and an FA Cup. Unfortunately, Whittaker died of a Heart Attack in 1956, just 58 year's old, and still manager of Arsenal. He totaled 429 games in charge boasting a 47.09 win-percentage, making him one of the best arsenal coaches in history.

  1. Mikel Arteta (2019-Present)

Career Stats: Games 190 (currently)
Awards: FA Cup 2019-20, Charity Shield 2020-21, 2023-24

Mikel Arteta currently manages Arsenal, joining the list of former players who moved into managerial roles. His appointment in 2019 generated significant excitement, having previously been part of Manchester City’s coaching staff under the guidance of one of the best managers in the world, Pep Guardiola.

Expectations were high for Arteta to implement Guardiola's tactics, combined with his unique style, and he has delivered exactly that. In his first season, he led the team to an FA Cup victory. After being initially hired as a Head Coach of Arsenal, the club subsequently changed his title to ‘manager’.

For managers who have been in charge for at least 20 games, Arteta’s record as the manager of Arsenal sees him boast the best win percentage (59.76%) compared to all his predecessors. His team is showing no signs of slowing down either and is emerging as one of the best in English soccer, competing in both the Premier League and the Champions League. Exciting times lie ahead for Arsenal fans.

  1. Bertie Mee (1966-1976)

Career Stats: 540 Games
Awards: English League Title 1970-71, FA Cup 1970-71, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Winner 1969-70

Bertie Mee served as Arsenal’s manager between 1966-1976, a surprising move by the Gunners as Mee was working as a physiotherapist previously. He even asked for a clause in his contract that would allow him to return to physiotherapy after a year if the manager job didn’t work out.

Mee was Arsenal’s winningest manager until Arsene Wenger surpassed his record. With 241 wins in 540 total games managed, he boasted a win percentage of 44.63%.

The club hadn’t won a trophy since 1953. In 1969, Mee led the team to its first European Trophy, the first trophy in 17 years. They hype around Mee’s team was building as he was assembling a young group of players including Pat Rice and Ray Kennedy that were determined to win.

In 1971, Mee’s Arsenal completed a double as they won the FA Cup and the League. To the delight of Arsenal fans, they won the league at White Hart Line. A special title victory that will forever be remembered as one of the greats. This was only the second time a club had won a double in the 20th century.

Mee didn’t manage to win a lot of silverware during his tenure, but he remains an important part of Arsenal manager history as the first manager to bring them European glory.

  1. George Graham (1986 – 1995)

Career Stats: Games 460
Awards: English League Title 1988-89, 1990-91, FA Cup 1992-93, League Cup 1986-87, 1992-93, Charity Shield 1991-92, Europapokal der Pokalsieger Sieger 1993-94

Graham, a former Arsenal player from 1966-1972, fully overhauled the team during his tenure as manager. He put a massive focus on promoting players from the youth squad. One of these players was Arsenal Legend Tony Adams, forming a solid defense with the likes of Lee Dixon and Steve Bould.

Under Graham's management, Arsenal clinched their first League title in 18 years in 1988-89. They’d not won since Graham was a player himself.

George Graham went on to sign goalkeeper David Seaman, who played a pivotal role in Arsenal winning their second title under him in 1990-91. The great signings didn’t stop there either, with striker Ian Wright joining, which led to further successes, including the FA Cup and League Cup double in 1992-93 and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in the following year.

Graham led Arsenal to six trophies in eight seasons but eventually lost his job after accepting a bribe from an agent and was subsequently banned by the FA for a year. Regardless, what Graham achieved with the club as a manager was impressive, and many of the players he brought into the club went on to become Arsenal legends.

  1. Herbert Chapman (1925 – 1934)

Career Stats: Games 201
Awards: English League Title 1930-31, 1932-33, FA Cup 1929-30, Charity Shield 1930, 1931, 1933

Herbert Chapman, an English former player and manager, was the manager of Arsenal from 1925 to 1934. He made an immediate impact during his tenure by signing Sunderland’s record goal scorer and England international Charlie Buchan, making him his captain in the process.

He revolutionized the team by introducing tactics like increasingly popular WM formation, that essentially dropped a midfielder into defense. Chapman was able to refine this tactic and put his own twist on it, notably adding a counter-attacking element to it.

Under his leadership, Arsenal won an FA Cup, two First Division titles, and three Charity Shields. However, despite not winning as much as other managers on this top 10 list, Chapman is in 2nd spot because of the legacy that he created. He combined tactical brilliance with extreme levels of fitness from his players which created a level of professionalism at the club which had been previously missing.

Chapman was also one of the first managers in the league to consider signing black and foreign players and was responsible for introducing the iconic red and white sleeves to Arsenal's shirt. Chapman's transformative approach elevated Arsenal from mid-table obscurity to a top English club, making him a pivotal figure in Arsenal's managerial history.

  1. Arsene Wenger (1996-2018)

Career Stats: 1235 Games
Awards: Premier League 1997-98, 2001-02, 2003-04, FA Cup 1997-98, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2004-05, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-17, Community Shield 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2014, 2015, 2017, Onze d’Or Coach of the Year 200, 2002, 2003, 2004, Premier League Manager of the Season 1997-98, 2001-02, 2003-04, LMA Manager of the Year 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award 2002, 2004, London Football Awards – Outstanding Contribution to a London Club 2015, World Soccer Manager of the Year 1998, FWA Tribute Award 2005, English Football Hall of Fame, France Football Manager of the Year 2008, IFFHS World Coach of the Decade 2001-2010, FA Premier League Manager of the Year 2014-15, Premier League Hall of Fame.

Arsene Wenger is without a doubt Arsenal’s greatest ever manager. His 22-year tenure is heavily decorated with trophies and individual titles. The Frenchman joined the Gunners in 1996 and was a major part of their rise to being one of the top teams in England.

Wenger was the first non-British manager to coach the team, attracting a wide range of international players to Arsenal. Wenger is credited with the development of some of the best players to have ever played for Arsenal, including: Patrick Viera, Cesc Fabregas and the greatest Arsenal player of all time, Thierry Henry.

His greatest achievement was that he led the Arsenal team through an unbeaten league campaign in the 2003-2004 season, earning the nickname "The Invincibles." The only other team to ever register a historic unbeaten campaign was Juventus in the 2011-12 season.

Arsene Wenger managed a staggering 1235 games for the club and holds the record for all-time manager wins (716), at a win % of 57.98.

Under Wenger, the club didn’t finish outside of the top four until 2016 which showed just how consistently his teams performed over this period. With a name like Arsene, it’s fitting that he would go on to become Arsenals greatest ever manager, and he may hold that title for some time.

Parameters of RankingThese former arsenal managers plus Mikel Arteta (current Arsenal manager) have been ranked based on their achievements at the club and their impact on Arsenal. Accolades and Honors won as players or with other clubs have not been taken into account.


The 10 greatest Arsenal players of all time 

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