The 2011/2012 Premier League season is under a week away and World Football fans can hardly wait. The thrills, the tears, the tension, the money, all is set to reignite come the weekend. It has been a long Summer which has been dominated with transfers, speculation and controversy.
However with the added influence of rich investorts, the equality between clubs has greatly tightened and 2011/2012 is set to be even more intense than the previous campaign. One club who will be well aware of the growing status of their rivals is Arsenal.
The Gunners' enter 2011/2012 with the lingering burden of six successive seasons without silverware success and many feel it is do or die for the North London giants. However in tribute to the upcoming season, BleacherReport moves away from the still present transfer speculation and the voices of discontent with Arsenal's title chances.
This slideshow establishes the top ten most despised opponent players in the clubs' history. Arsenal and particularly Arsene Wenger has his grudges. The rivalry with Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have created some storms in a tea cup whilst the constant aggressive, physical and often thug like approach some of the weaker skilled side take infuriates every Arsenal fan.
But just who are the ten most despised players in Arsenal history?
A hugely talented and clinical striker, Arsene Wenger signed the imposing Togolese forward in January 2006 for £7 million from French outfit AS Monaco as a highly rated 21-year-old. A 6ft3 giant, Adebayor blossomed during the 2007/2008 season and immediately mitigated Thierry Henry's recent departure to Barcelona.
The Togo captain amassed 48 appearances and 30 goals as Arsenal narrowly missed out on Premier League glory. However Adebayor began to demand ridiculous wages and stated a desire to play for "bigger clubs" but the striker remained at the Gunners' for 2008/2009.
However Arsene Wenger sold Adebayor to Manchester City for £15 million the following Summer and when the two sides met early in 2009/2010 campaign, Adebayor stomped on Robin van Persie before scoring a decisive goal and running the length of the field to taunt the Arsenal fans.
The Stoke City midfielder arguably possesses the longest throw in World Football. The Englishman's ability to hurl the ball into opponents box causes immense discomfort and often results in goals. Such is the case when the Potters encounter Arsenal.
Since Stoke regained promotion to the Premier League in 2008, Tony Pulis's men have won three encounters out of six with Delap's long throw usually the catalyst in Arsenal's inability to conquer the considerably less skilled opponents.
What is more infuriating for Arsenal fans is Delap impacts little else to the game besides precarious challenges on the Gunners' squad.
Martin Keown loathed Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Patrick Vieira loathed Ruud van Nistelrooy, Lauren loathed Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ray Parlour loathed Ruud van Nistelrooy. One could go on. The Dutchman was a terrific striker and it was not just his ability to score against the Gunners' that leads to this despise.
No the forward had a tendency to dive often against Arsenal alongside niggling the Arsenal back line in certain circumstances. Van Nistlerooy's goal during the 2004/2005 stages is notorious for ending Arsenal's historic Invincibles run.
This video also explains more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUZxnW2tAHk&feature=related
The experienced and talented midfielder has the ability to get under Arsenal fans and players' skill is well documented and viewed. Whether it is the Englishman's rash tackling, taunting, violent tactics or the occassional brilliant pass or goal against the Gunners', the play maker is not liked in North London.
This Summer Barton has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal. The Irony.
The Stoke City defender is a hated presence in North London. It began with a rash challenge on Emmanuel Adebayor during the Potters' 2-1 win over Arsenal during 2008/2009. However it immensely intensified on 27th of February 2010 when the Englishman's precarious and unnecessary challenge resulted in young star Aaron Ramsey suffering a double leg break.
Shawcross left the field crying, clearly upset with the damage he had done and one cannot say the centre half deliberately attempted to hurt the young Welshman but none the less Arsenal fans despise Ryan Shawcross.
The man who many Arsenal fans consider the main reason the Gunners' did not achieve Premier League triumph during 2007/2008. On the 23rd of February 2008, Arsenal encountered Birmingham City and were sitting atop the EPL table.
However a wreckless Martin Taylor challenge two minutes in resulted in Eduardo Da Silva sustaining a horror leg break that was so disturbing, Sky Sports refused to show replays or pictures of the incident. Arsenal drew the game as players were visibly shaken and from that their season unravelled.
Eduardo eventually returned under a year later but the physochigical scars were evident and the Croatian striker never properly regained his touch and form. Eduardo was sold to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Summer of 2010.
A once brilliant left back for Arsenal who was an integral part of the 2003/2004 Invincibles squad and amassed 213 appearances for the Gunners' between 1998 and 2006 before Cole notoriously left Arsenal for rivals Chelsea, after Wenger's inability to offer him what he believed a suffice wage which resulted in the nickname "Cashley."
Cole has since taken an aggressive approach every time Arsenal and Chelsea meet, often igniting arguments with Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie.
The Ivorian striker is a shinning light in World Football for his off field and on field attributes. However his ability to constantly, constantly score against the Gunners' ensures the African star is not a favourite at the Emirates.
Drogba boasts 14 goals in 15 games since arriving at Chelsea and it often comes at vital times for Arsenal. Often described as "in a game of his own" when the two rivals encounter, age does not seem to restrict Didier Drogba consistently sufficing against Arsenal.
The renowned striker has a knack of scoring against Arsenal but the antics conveyed by the Englishman since emerging in 2002 have diminished his ability, well at least in Arsenal fans' eyes. It began with his notorious dive to win a decisive penalty during a contreverisial match in 2004 which Manchester United went on to win, ending Arsenal's unbeaten run from 2003/2004.
It has been furthered with displays of aggression, ego and in some cases violence when the two sides meet despite his immense ability. It is safe to say Arsenal fans will always despise Wayne Rooney.
Patrice Evra does not like Arsenal. Constantly verbally abusing the North London giants with taunts, abuse and criticism. Arsenal players will often rashly challenge the Frenchman and minor scuffles often materialize when Evra graces Arsenal presences.
It has been furthered by his comments that Samir Nasri should leave Arsenal and join Manchester United, in order to satisfy his winning desires.
For me, Arsenal is a football training centre. You watch the match, you enjoy it, but are you going to win a title afterwards? That’s what people remember. It has been five years since they won anything and for a big club like Arsenal, that is a crisis.
We can lose against them, but at the end of the day, what is there for Arsenal? There is nothing. There are no trophies, there is nothing. Our real enemy is Chelsea. We are more concerned with Chelsea’s results than those of Arsenal, even if we know Arsenal are a great team who can beat Chelsea, us or anyone.