Arsenal: Gunners Worst Team Under Arsene Wenger
This article is a selection of players who, if together today, would give Arsenal fans sleepless nights and arguably provide Wenger with his toughest management test.
I have used a 4-3-3 formation and selected from first team squad players.
Manuel Almunia (Goalkeeper)
The choice for the goalkeeper’s jersey was a relatively easy one.
Almunia has been at Arsenal since 2004 and played over 100 games. While originally brought in as backup, the Spaniard has had several chances to establish himself as number one.
While he is capable of pulling off a brilliant save from time to time, he is far more likely to make horrendous errors, often at the worst possible time.
Arsene Wenger can count himself lucky with the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny who seems set to be first choice for many years.
It is amazing that Almunia has survived so long with the Gunners.
Oleg Luzhny (Right Back)
The Ukrainian was brought in as cover and possible replacement for Lee Dixon. Sadly it did not work out that way and Lauren was purchased one year later.
While Luzhny was not renowned for making countless mistakes he didn't offer any added value. When Lee Dixon or Lauren were bombing down the right wing, you realised that Luzhny was out of his depth.
It is incredible to think that he won five medals in a four-year stay at Highbury. His subsequent move to Wolves produced just six appearances.
Igors Stepanovs (Centre Back)
The case of Igors Stepanovs is a strange one. The Latvian was signed for over £1 million in 2000 and was forced to take to the field much sooner than expected because of injury to Tony Adams.
He performed reasonably well and kept his place in the side until one fateful day in February 2001.
Arsenal travelled to Manchester United in what was expected to be a close game between the top two teams. What ensued was a disaster for Wenger, the fans, the team and Stepanovs in particular as United romped to a 6-1 win.
The defender had a woeful game and as a result was dropped playing only once more in two and a half years.
Stepanovs is a great example of how one match can ruin your career.
Pascal Cygan (Centre Back)
Cygan was signed in the summer of 2002 from Lille following the retirement of legend Tony Adams.
Wenger opted to start the season with Cygan on the bench and it remained that way for quite some time. He filled in when needed and established a run in the side in the 2003/2004 season which enabled him to pick up a Premier League winners medal.
The defender's biggest problem was his pace. In the Premier League if you are a slow defender, it does not matter how experienced you are, you will find times when you are exploited. Unfortunately for the Frenchman it happened to him far too often.
Nelson Vivas (Left Back)
Vivas signed from Boca Juniors for over £1.5 million in 1998. Despite Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn being the established full-backs, Vivas was viewed as healthy competition and a potential replacement.
Whenever the defender was given the chance he failed to deliver. He missed important penalties against Charlton Athletic, in their first season in the Premier League, and Middlesbrough in the League Cup defeat in 1999/2000.
He was loaned, shortly after, to Celta Vigo and later sold to Inter Milan. He had a similar impact in Italy, to his Highbury experiences, and eventually moved back to Argentina.
Remarkably, Vivas amassed nearly 40 caps for his country. He was obviously doing something right. It is a shame that Arsenal fans never saw what it was.
Stephen Hughes (Midfield)
It is hard not to feel sorry for Stephen Hughes. At 35 and unable to find a club it is fair to say that his best days are behind him. Unfortunately for Hughes, that statement could have been made when he left Arsenal in 2000.
Hughes was being spoken of as the next big English hope. The reality was that Arsenal had been bereft of any young English talent for years and people started raving about the first one to come along.
With Vieira and Petit running the Arsenal midfield, Hughes ended up at Everton, before an infamous half-time bust up with assistant Archie Knox called time on his Merseyside career.
Could Hughes have achieved more ? Perhaps, but if he really was the next big England hope, surely Wenger would not have been so keen to move him on and the teams fighting for his signature would have been fighting for trophies.
There used to be a player called Denilson who won a World Cup winners medal in 2002 and at one point was the most expensive player in the world. It is fair to say that Arsenal's Denilson is unlikely to match those achievements.
The Brazilian's over cautious defending infuriated the fans as he seemed to prefer to pass the ball back or sideways when he was feeling adventurous.
The youngster was openly disappointed with how last season ended and said he wanted to move on as he was a 'winner.' He is now on loan at his former club, Sao Paulo.
His tweet about a certain section of the Sao Paulo crowd was met with hostility and is likely to have damaged any chance he has of securing a permanent deal; that is if his performances on the pitch have not already done so.
Gilles Grimandi (Midfield)
The Frenchman was a difficult inclusion but ultimately a fair one. While he provided useful backup to Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit he never did enough to warrant a first team berth.
He received a mixed reaction from fans and many were rarely comfortable when his name was on the team sheet.
At Arsenal he probably played more than was expected. Earlier this season Gunners fans were slating the current midfield. If Grimandi was part of that crop, the roars of disapproval could have been deafening.
Kaba Diawara (Striker)
Arsene Wenger thought he had secured a bargain when Diawara joined from Bordeaux in 1999 for £2.5 million. It soon became clear that Wenger had made an error in judgement.
The striker made his debut in the controversial FA Cup clash with Sheffield United, which eventually had to be replayed. He was replaced by Kanu, who was also making his debut, and the rest is history.
Diawara went on to play 12 games for the Gunners but failed to hit the back of the net. At the end of the season he was sold to Marseille and incredibly, Arsenal made a £500,000 profit on the striker.
Given his failure to score and unimpressive performances it is hard to say if that profit was worth the torture Diawara put Arsenal fans through.
Francis Jeffers (Striker)
It feels as though Francis Jeffers played for more teams than he scored goals. While this is not the case, his goal record at Arsenal was terrible.
The striker is arguably Arsene Wenger’s worst signing. Four goals in three seasons and an £8 million fee to Everton does not represent value for money.
Jeffers had done reasonably well at Everton but was far from being an established top flight striker. Arsenal's gamble came unstuck.
Nicklas Bendtner (Striker)
Some people may be surprised to see the Dane on this list, but his performances and more importantly, his attitude have been appalling.
Arsene Wenger finally lost patience at the end of last season and made him available for transfer. Unsurprisingly, little interest was shown and if it was not for Steve Bruce's desperation, Gunners fans may still have been seeing the Dane at the Emirates this season.
The striker believes he is far greater than he actually is, which is staggering given his goal scoring record. There is no doubt in my mind that he deserves a spot on this list and if you have watched Bendtner in action, you will surely agree.
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