From Wright to Reyes: Meet Arsene Wenger’s team from hell
In football, as in life, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, success hasn’t come without a few mistakes along the way for the Emirates club.
The Gunners are the current 4/9 favourites to win the FA Cup with Ladbrokes while they also remain in the hunt for a first Premier League title in 10 years, with the bookmakers pricing the north London club at 12/1 to take back their crown.
But this season’s success, and the many years of enjoyment under Wenger wouldn’t have been possible without a misstep or two. Or maybe even 11.
Richard Wright – Signed from Ipswich Town in the summer of 2001 with a view to succeeding David Seaman as Gunners no.1, Wright played only 12 error-strewn games with his highlight being a comedy own goal in a 4-2 defeat to Charlton. Left for Everton a year later.
Mikael Silvestre – Selling Van Persie to Manchester United was once thing, but some Arsenal fans still haven’t forgiven Wenger for the purchase of the clapped-out Frenchman from their hated rivals. Responsible for damaging goals against Barcelona and old foes Tottenham during his time.
Sebastien Squillaci – The former Monaco man may have irked Gooners with his lacklustre, error-strewn displays that came despite being on a bumper contract but he did at least make one positive impact – his poor form prompted Wenger to splash out on Per Mertesacker. Cheers Seb!
Igor Stepanovs – Remains something of a footballing war criminal around north London for the part he played in Arsenal’s 6-1 mauling at the hands of Manchester United in the 2000/2001 Premier League season. Managed just 17 games in four years with the club.
Nelson Vivas – Ultimately a stop-gap for Arsenal before Lauren arrived on the scene, the Argentine’s most memorable contribution was a missed penalty in a shoot-out with Middlesbrough in the 1999/2000 League Cup. Recently sacked from a managing job for punching a fan in the face.
Jose Antonio Reyes – Signed for £10.75m in 2004, Reyes may have been the one to put Wenger off big money purchases. Scored a double against Chelsea but fell victim to a radio call-in prank where he revealed his true desire to move to Real Madrid – left after a year and a half.
Amaury Bischoff – The man who would have been king of the Emirates, were it not for his seeming inability to complete 90 minutes, Bischoff was a bargain gamble for Wenger that failed to pay off, with injuries contributing to the midfielder’s record of one game and no goals for the Gunners.
Kaba Diawara – Another Wenger budget buy who would have been better left on the shelf, for a man with a reputation for goals at previous club Bordeaux, the Frenchman was woefully inept going forward and despite spells with three clubs in England managed just one goal. Against Rochdale.
Andrei Arshavin – Arrived in north London with a big reputation only to depart four years later with a bigger waistline, it’s fair to say that the Russian – who harboured dreams of becoming a fashion designer – didn’t have his heart in it. At least there were those four goals against Liverpool.
Francis Jeffers – Signed in the wake of the Gunners’ painful 2-1 loss to Liverpool in the FA Cup for £8m the forward represented a bargain buy for the club. If you consider a return of £1m per goal scored for the side a bargain – which only Roman Abramovich would.
Park Chu-Young – Still on the books at Arsenal but unlikely to go down as anything other than a flop, big things were expected of the South Korean, who turned down a move to Lille in favour of Arsenal. Still, one man’s loss turned out to be Salomon Kalou’s gain…