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How good are our players now, and how good can they become?

HOW GOOD ARE THEY NOW AND HOW GOOD CAN THEY BECOME?   by Don McMahon

After so many whiners saying that we’ll never win anything with our current squad and that the Invincibles are untouchable, I felt  a comparison, player by player, between our best teams in the 2003,2007 and today’s Arsenal squad, might tell us something about the rwality of the situation.

I will compare all positions in order to try and rank the top 2-3 players . While it is subjective it is based on Optma, historical records and other AFC stats taken from Arsenal.com. So here goes

In Goals:  Jens is still #1 but Szcesny is not far behind and Villiano has a similar pedigree

Fullbacks: Ashley Cole is still #1 closely followed by Sagna and then Clichy

Centrebacks: Sol Campbell is still #1 but there is little difference between Per, Kos and Vermaelen

Defensive Midfielders: Viera is still #1 and it is a toss up between Arteta,Ramsey and Gilberto Silva

Attacking midfielders:  Here Bergkamp is definitely tops but Ozil, Fabregas, Cazorla and Wilshere are so very close

Wingers: Pires is #1 but Walcott is potentially first class closely followed by Ljunberg, then Podolski

Strikers: Thierry will ALWAYS be #1 but Giroud could surprise everyone and Eduardo was class before his injury.

Substitutes: The Ox, Jenkinson, Monreal, Rosicky,Gnabry,Flamini and Miyachi seem real quality.

  2003-4 team 2007-8 team 2013-14 team
G Jens Lehmann Jens Szcesny
G Stuart Taylor Fabianski Fabianski
G Graham Stack Almunia Villiano
G Rami Shaaban Mannone Martinez
D Ashley Cole Sagna Sagna
D Martin Keown Toure Vermaelen
D Pascal Cygan Gallas Mertesacker
D Philippe Senderos Senderos Koscielny
D Gaël Clichy Clichy Monreal
D Sol Campbell Gibbs Gibbs
D Igors Stepanovs Djourou Jenkinson
D Sebastian Svard Eboue  
D   Connoly  
D   Traore  
D   Gilbert  
D   Hoyte  
M Patrick Vieira Diaby Diaby
M Robert Pires Fabregas Ozil
M Frederick Ljungberg Rosicky Rosicky
M Lauren Diarra Wilshere
M Ray Parlour Hleb Ramsey
M Giovanni Van Bronckhorst Denilson Cazorla
M Edu Flamini Flamini
M Gilberto Silva Silva  
M Jermaine Pennant Randall Frimpong
M   Song Arteta
M Kolo Touré Lansbury Zelalem
M   Barazite  
F Nwankwo Kanu Eduardo the Ox
F David Bentley RVP Podolski
F José Antonio Reyes Adebayor Giroud
F Dennis Bergkamp Bendtner Bendtner
F Sylvain Wiltord Walcott Walcott
F Jeremie Aliadiere Alliadiere Sanogo
F Thierry Henry   Park
      Gnabry
      Miyachi

Having done this, it became apparent that the Invincibles had the best starting 11 ever but we are rapidly improving and IMHO have achieved the quality of our 2007 squad, and perhaps exceeded it.

The really nice thing is that we have so many young players who are already at a level rivalling some of our best former players and when you realize that Szcesny, Gibbs, Jerkinson, Ozil, Wilshere, Ramsey, Zelalem, Walcott, Gnabry, Miyachi and Sanogo are all under 25, then there doesn’t seem to be any reason we can’t move up another step and perhaps someday rival the Invincibles….as fantastic as that may seem.

While the opposition have increased in strength exponentially, by some miracle Wenger has been able to keep us competitive and with the quality of players we now have, as well as a few additions in the future, this could be one of our legendary teams.

Anniversary of the day:

  • 20 September 2002:  Wenger announces “Arsenal can go unbeaten all season” to huge derision from media.  (Article contains the chronology of the era)

The books…

Recent posts

 

31 comments to How good are our players now, and how good can they become?

  • Ed

    Idiot, ‘close behind’ is not the same as miles away and that is what some of our current players are from the invicibles.
    Good team but a lesser team and you site players on the way down.
    Waste of time.

  • ClockEndRider

    Thanks for your positivism and politeness.

  • Unbelievable belief

    Ed, 1:47pm
    Manners are free.
    Your post is just a cheap shot.

    *cite, idiot.

  • amangey

    Ur analysis is dumb .fabregas was our best attacking Central midfielder who had too play around inexperienced mediocre player but still managed to marshal the midfield through out his stinct.Dennis had exceptional players to play with almost in all positions.Then I simply don’t understand the hype around Theo- that chap loses play when he wants and has never topped any statistics in the premier leagues.Hate it or love it Theo remains our major headache from last season,he use to have a companion in Ramsey,now he must be feeling lonely in the mediocre world.I rate Ox ahead of him, a fact everyone will get to see soon.

  • elkieno

    Pretty fair analysts but I think Ozil could have made a spot in that side his, for sure.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop…I am not waiting for the side to go through a rough patch. That will surely come as it does to all teams. No, I am waiting for the reaction of the fans who slated The Arsenal for the better part of the last 3 or 4 years, who wanted Wenger out and who have hopped back on the bandwagon saying that Wenger is finally doing what they wanted him to do and hence our success. I am waiting to see how long they wait, after an inevitable rough patch, to jump off and resume business as usual, screaming about how bad AW and The Arsenal are. Ed seems to have already started.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Amangey,
    so Theo being best English goal scorer last season, being best English assister in the past two seasons (not 100% sure about this but I seem to remember this) is a worry.
    Well let me worry then, don’t worry…

  • OMGArsenal

    Ed…..starting a post by calling the author an ¨idiot¨ displays a totallack of class, a vacuous and irrational arrogance and a depth of ignorance that proves you have nothing to add to the discussion. I cite 9 players under 25 whose pedigree and skills will only improve. I name another 9 who have achieved the top of their form and another 3 who, despite being over 30, have made themselves irreplaceable….so you seem to be the cretin here in ALL respects.
    Amangey dog, I did say that my assessments were based on statistics and Optma data, but what data did you use to make your statement (not that I disagree about Fabregas and Bergkamp being top class)about their relative merit versus our current batch. I guess you stopped reading after the title and decided to piss on the post without taking time to back up what you wrote….like a mangey dog.

  • para

    Those who can’t see that another invincible team is already in the making are just blind. The team is growing from strength to strength and will soon be making records again. It took a while for us to get to where we are now, i won’t list the reasons, we all know them, but AFC is becoming again, and will be the best team in UK(that is, recognised by other fans, as we already know that)over the next 10 years.
    COYG.

  • Mick

    @GoingGoingGooner
    Given that Wenger is now doing what his slaters wanted, when the bad patch comes, as it inevitably will to a greater or lesser degree, what or who will they blame? It will be their desired course of action which is failing. How embarrassing for them. If they want the credit whist things are going well they will have to take the flack when they are not. I suspect they will squirm their way out of it somehow though.
    @Ed
    I recommend you take a happy pill of some sort mate, what must you be like when we are going through a bad spell. Oh and learn some common courtesy as well.

  • Arsenal1Again

    This is the only site I know which whines about Arsenal Fans in every post. Well not EVERY post but certainly near to it. Perhaps we can have regular charts updated to help us forecast the likelihood of being judged and generalised about. This way we can stop reading as soon as we see the author’s name.

    Özil is close to Bergkamp according to Opta stats, etc? After his one league game? Yeah right. :/ Wasn’t Bergkamp a Centre-Forward. 😀

    The Opta stats, etc, say Thierry will ALWAYS be number one?

    Well I knew already Denilson was our best midfielder in 2007 so it’s good to see you get that right but sorry, Theo could NEVER match Bobby.

    The problem is Don McMahon, this team failed to be as class as the Invincibles as soon as they lost to Aston Villa on the first day. You DO understand this flaw in your reasoning, right?

  • Arsenal1Again, no not every post. We publish 3 articles a day, and one of them most days is a ref review, so that’s 66%.

    But the fact is, it is a legitimate theory to suggest that a huge amount of damage has been done to the club by the alliance of the press, the TV and the AAA, and not that many sites have been continuously fighting back.

  • @ Arsenal1Again

    Did you read the article before commenting? If you had, you would have seen the phrase:

    “. . . and perhaps someday rival the Invincibles.”

    The author is clearly not saying that the team will be Invincibles this season – I mean duh, the author probably realises that the opening game of the season was lost – but that this team could (someday) be of a similar stature.

    You DO understand this flaw in your reasoning, right?

  • amangey

    Lol OMGarsenal…u took to insult and gave up class urself.well not that I disagree with u totally myself but I’m having a hard time understanding while Theo is so hyped, not that he’s that bad but that dude keeps on doing thesame thing over again-always getting dispossessed & trying to outrun the ball.@walter when talked of statistics I Expected you to use premiership stats but you baffled with english stats maybe I’m easilly baffled or maybe I didn’t make the transition from arsenal to england fan as required of me(eyes rolling) but I forgive u for inappropriate comment.Finally OMGarsenal using derog word such as “dumb” has never been my style so I beg u another shot at “class”(lol)forgive me-i retract.I know hard it must have been for u to put that piece together.thanks as we agree totally on one thing COYG!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sammy The Snake

    WWWWWDWDWWWLWWWWWW

    That is our form since our loss to Sp@rs in March. It’s not invincible, but it’s sure not that far.

    Reference: http://shewore.com/2013/09/20/wwwwwdwdwwwlwwwwww/

  • @ amangey

    “thanks as we agree totally on one thing COYG!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Yes, we do.

  • Unbelievable belief

    Excellent assessment Don.
    This group of players is now becoming the strongest squad we have had in years.
    The rebuilding process since the invincibles era a has been damaged several times over. AW is finally getting some time and putting some stability back into the squad.
    All they need is that bit of magic self belief combined with a bit of ruthlessness and there will be no stopping this bunch.

    A1A, the Invincibles was a once in a lifetime achievement, there is no shame in being slight less perfect than them, even George Graham came very nearly close to doing it.
    Consider yourself privileged to have been around to see it.

  • Stuart

    Arsenal1Again,
    It’s better than the other sites you no doubt frequent that whines about Arsenal every post.

  • Super Singh

    The Invincibles team just HAD to be stopped and the FA, the Refs and Man U made sure of that? Now looking at Sammy the Snakes post at 4:59, that’s 18 games, 2 draws, 1 loss and 16 wins, am I the only one who’s worried when our current run might come to an end? Especially if you have bent Refs in the game?

  • dan

    There seems a change in the media, the special one being the recipient of the special treatment.

    Recent CL games having highlighted the deficiencies that the supposedly greatest club representing the greatest league from the UK. Utd played well, Arsenal just scraped by!

  • The font

    Is it big ed no brains
    And no DB 10 was not a centre forward he played in the hole behind Wright. And Henry pretty much like ozil will

  • andy bishop

    The media is fickle and too many on this site place too much emphasis on what they say.

  • Florian

    Come to think about it, that L should have never been a loss, but thanks Anthony Taylor anyway.

  • Stuart

    Don,
    Good write up, the critics also need to factor in ages and therefore room for improvement, especially if this team stays and grows together. Their unity will be unstoppable.

  • OMGArsenal

    A1A……please do me the honour of re-reading my article and of refraining from making incorrect assumptions based on your jaundiced and mistaken misunderstanding of what I wrote.

    1)Bergkamp was used as a false 9 and on occasion as an attacking midfielder, as well as a striker. both under Graham and Wenger.

    2)Ozil’s stats are based on his 8 years playing professionally and indicate that he can wear the mantle of DB someday soon…he is only 24….and is already considered the best No.10 in the world.

    3)I dare you to try and prove that any striker we have had since TH left,even RVP, has attained his heights. As well, he was loyal and is still ultra-supportive of the Arsenal. We may never get another player like him and that doesn’t come from Optma statistics, it comes from every true Gooner.

    4)Theo is 24, he is starting to reach his prime (26-29) but RP was a different player, and it took him 18 months to start to show his real worth. You, of course, knowing more than anyone else about talent, have decided that Arsenal’s future is dimmer than its past…..shame on you.

    5)So in your infinite expertise, a loss in one game dooms this squad to a purgatory of mediocrity and hopelessness based only on that opening loss? The fact that we have won or tied 16 of our last 18 games played means nothing? Even the Invincibles had 7 ties in their undefeated season.

    I suggest you crawl on over to LeGrove’s website and join in their collective whining and demeaning of this year’s squad, Wenger, the Board, the Emirates, the individual shite player of the month (now Walcott but was Ramsey) and in general display your ignorance and mental ineptitude….you’d be at home there.

  • Gf60

    @OMG Good points and article, but, a small correction. DB never played under George G.

    (And believe it or not, Le Groan is doing the turnaround of the year as it actually praises more than groans/whinges. Must be embarrassing to be a converted AAA. :o)

  • blacksheep63

    @Gf60Le Grove/Groan has turned his cloak? Excellent.

    As it is written,

    “I tell you there will be more joy in Highbury over one AAA sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” DB10 15:7

  • Shard

    Gf60

    Disagree about Le Grove. He praises because he has no other choice, but he praises through gritted teeth, and in language that makes it fairly clear that he’s laying the groundwork to kickstart the moaning again when the opportunity rises.

    R&W have maintained a studious silence though. What about their criticism of not increasing commercial income? Their stated plan for the club was always the same as the board’s. Except they criticised from a position of no responsibility, and by giving the impression that Usmanov would spend his billions on the club. I am yet to find a direct quote where he, or R&W, have actually stated that. Not that you mentioned them, but one propaganda merchant just reminded me of another.

  • Nelson Wong

    getting close at the back but as Giroud said, small things matter and if the back can’t close that gap, they cannot hammer out such great results.

    As of the front, is weaker by far. Giroud and Walcott not certain although they aren’t bad. Poldi is good but he lacks a bit of something still.

    Only the mid field, with Ozil, can match the best team out there. If Ozil, Wilshere and Ramsey all develop further , then Cazorla, Roisky, Arteta and Flamini picks up their top form, this mid field can beat anything in the world. Hope they can form up this year and start to take some cups. Then they might be able to wipe the EPL off early.

  • nicky

    Following the January transfer Window, when Arsene will be expected to finalise some strengthening to his squad for the 2014/14 run-in, I can foresee another strong finish, perhaps to the title itself.
    While newcomer Ozil will be hailed as the main source of the Club’s success this season, my forecast is that Flamini will be our Player of the Year.

  • Gf60

    @Shard…you’re probably correct but I’ll confess to a bit of pleasure having gone there to see what drivel might have been posted to explain the recent results/signings. What a surprise.