With Arsenal retaining their FA Cup with an emphatic victory over Aston Villa, and also giving Chelsea a small fright in the league, Arsene Wenger is surely under massive pressure to make the signings this summer that can elevate the Gunners from a top four club happy with a domestic cup trophy, into an all-conquering side that could rival the Invincibles of 2003/04.
However, the Frenchman will be keen to make sure that any additions actually prove beneficial to an already strong side, and don’t end up like some of the names on the scrapheap of signings that Purely Football have previously put together as Wenger’s worst XI.
Here is their team in full:
GK- Manuel Almunia
Wenger has worked with some excellent keepers during his tenure – including the likes of David Seaman and Jens Lehmann – so the Spaniard has to be considered as one of the favourites for the position in this squad. During his eight years in north London, he played in a Champions League final – once Lehmann had been sent off admittedly – but made several costly errors over the years which denied some exciting teams more success than they actually achieved.
The likes of Stuart Taylor and Richard Wright will be breathing a huge sigh of relief to see the 38-year-old make the team.
RB- Oleg Luzhny
This choice seems particularly unfair as while Luzhny was not quite to the standard of either Lee Dixon or Lauren, he was a pretty solid back-up option during his four years at Highbury. He made 18 appearances during the 2001/02 season when the Gunners clinched the Premier League title for a second time, and made his final appearance during the 2003 FA Cup final win against Southampton, where the Ukrainian put in an excellent performance.
Nelson Vivas – who played for the club at a similar time – is probably a better choice as he made even less of an impact.
CB- Sebastian Squillaci
The Frenchman has certainly earned his place in the side after a series of errors during his time at the Emirates. He made just 23 league appearances during his three years, largely thanks to some shocking performances that saw him fall behind almost anyone who could even slightly play at the heart of defence in the pecking order. There can surely be little debate about this one.
CB- Igors Stepanovs
Unfortunately, the Latvian – who wasn’t a terrible defender – will forever be remembered for a pretty awful afternoon he endured at Old Trafford in 2001, when he had a torrid time trying to deal with Dwight Yorke in particular. Manchester United would go on to win 6-1 that day – with Yorke bagging a hat-trick – and Stepanovs would only make a handful of appearances following the defeat, before his departure three years later.
Although the loss will live long in the memory of most Gunners fans, the names of Pascal Cygan, Philippe Senderos, and maybe even Johan Djourou should not be forgotten as they also proved to be poor defenders during their respective Arsenal careers.
LB- Andre Santos
Seemingly in the wake of Arsenal’s 8-2 hammering at the hands of Manchester United in August 2011, Arsene Wenger brought in the Brazilian full-back, probably in the hope that he would sure up the evidently leaky defence. He was very much mistaken. In his first Premier League game, the Gunners lost 4-3 away to Blackburn, and it soon became clear that the left-back couldn’t defend. It’s safe to say that he will not be considered alongside Nigel Winterburn as one of Arsenal’s best during the Premier League era.
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