What is it about Arsenal that makes their players want to commit the ultimate betrayals?

Is Mesut Ozil about to become the latest in a long line of players to ditch Arsenal for pastures new?


Football fans everywhere, prepare to point and laugh. Gooners, you may well want to prepare the burning torches and pitchforks – because it looks like yet another Arsenal star could be doing the dirty on the club.

No, that isn’t some kind of metaphor for a dirty protest at the club’s training ground when Steve Bould isn’t looking. Rather, as whispers about Mesut Ozil running his contract down to join arch-rivals Manchester United at the end of the season grow louder, the Gunners face the prospect of a player committing the ultimate betrayal once again.

The Marmite German could find himself in esteemed historical company come next summer, alongside such luminaries as happy-go-lucky Emmanuel “I’ll work for free because I love this job!” Adebayor, in sticking two fingers up at Arsenal to head off to pastures new.

But what is it about Arsenal that makes their players want to commit the ultimate betrayal? We’ve taken a look at some key case studies to find out just what went on – and wrong – at the time.

Ashley Cole

What did he do?

Said goodbye to Arsenal as well as Highbury in 2006 as he moved across the city to recently-moneyed Chelsea in a protracted, acrimonious transfer which saw so much tapping up from the Blues they may as well have hired a load of plumbers to do the deal.

Why did he do it?

To be fair, this particularly bitter betrayal had nothing to do with Arsenal; Cashley had to move for his own safety. Don’t you remember how he nearly swerved off the road when he heard how the Gunners would only pay him a paltry £55,000 per week?

He had to get out of there. It’s no wonder he did all those National Lottery adverts dressed as a smug bastard angel from hell that summer – he needed every penny possible just to keep the heating on.

Betrayal rating: 1/10. Well, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to eat, right?


Emmanuel Adebayor

What did he do?

Moved to Manchester City to join the Mark Hughes average player recruitment policy revolution in 2009, just a year after demanding – and getting – a massive pay rise at Arsenal.

Why did he do it?

To quote ABBA – and Adebayor’s ringtone – “Money, money, money, must be funny, in the rich man’s world.”

Adebayor abandoned the Gunners bang in the middle of their Project Youth™ era in order to cash in on City’s new-found wealth, leaving them shorn of goalscoring options. The Gunners’ inability to match their rivals spending – particularly on players motivated by cash – made it difficult to keep hold of key men at the time.

But Arsenal fans certainly weren’t laughing just a few weeks into the season, when the Togolese nodded past Manuel Almunia at the City of Manchester stadium, triggering *that* celebration.

Adebayor would later go on to receive a ban for stamping on Robin van Persie during that game. Although Arsenal fans would probably wish they could’ve done the same just a few years down the line; more on that anon.

Betrayal rating: 8/10


David Bentley

What did he do?

Lobbed Manuel Almunia at the Emirates from 45 yards out and celebrated like mad while playing for Tottenham in the 2008 North London derby.

Why did he do it?

Bombed out of Arsenal after he wouldn’t realise it takes more scoring one chip in an FA Cup game and have a piss poor attitude to succeed Dennis Bergkamp, the Tesco Value David Beckham eventually found himself playing for Spurs via a stint at Blackburn.

Gooners didn’t care until, sod’s law, he pulled this off in a game where their nemesis snatched a remarkable 4-4 draw in the dying seconds.

His post-match interview “I feel like Superman” glee still still rankles with the red half of North London as one of the wankiest moments in the Emirates era.

Betrayal rating: 6/10 – minus points for his transfer to White Hart Lane giving Arsenal a sell-on fee windfall.


Samir Nasri

What did he do?

Jumped ship for the Citizens in 2011 after a stellar season for the Gunners in which he ended up in the Premier League Team of the Year. On arrival at City he claimed fans at his former club were not as “passionate” as his new team’s. Nasri then lifted the Premier League title in his first season at the Etihad.

Why did he do it?

Soon after the transfer went through and long before the Arsenal fans turned on their manager through the magic of Twitter hashtags and airplane banners, Arsene Wenger revealed he felt Nasri left for money rather than a shot at success.

Unfortunately for him – and Arsenal – it turns out he did both. This was a time in which Arsenal were all over the shop, when “half the team in the dressing room wanted to leave,” according to Wenger. No wonder this was a peak summer for betrayal, along with a certain Spanish F1 fan…

Betrayal rating: 7/10


Cesc Fabregas

What did he do?

The Arsenal captain felt a moral duty to test out the theory he really was a medical marvel, astonishingly cooked up in the La Masia academy and made of Barcelona DNA. Cesc later joined Chelsea in 2014 and has helped them win two Premier League titles, precisely two more than he ever helped Arsenal win.

Why did he do it?

Arsenal couldn’t really do much about this particular stab in the back, on account of the fact their club name isn’t Barcelona and they are based in rainy North London as opposed to sunny Catalonia.

Although some Gooners will have you believe his betrayal started while he was still at Arsenal, with this backheel to Andres Iniesta in a Champions League game a few months before they became club teammates.

Cesc now finds himself quite unaffectionately referred to as a snake by his old adoring supporters. Although he is now able to cover both his ears from the hissing with his Premier League medals.

Betrayal rating: 8/10


Robin van Persie

What did he do?

After seven years in the Arsenal treatment room where he is rumoured to have started the trend of “bed blocking” in the NHS, the Dutch striker finally had a fully fit season in 2011/12 and smashed in 30 league goals.

How did he repay the club? By releasing an open letter in the summer slating the club’s direction and ambition. He refused to sign a new contract, eventually ending up at Manchester United and firing them to the Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season.

Why did he do it?

At this point, Arsenal fans just had to assume that a genuine high class talent at Arsenal will end up screwing the club over at some point and van Persie proved no exception. And probably the most painful of the lot. Mainly because he kept scoring against them:

The less said about giving him the guard of honour at the Emirates, the better.

Betrayal rating: 10/10


Mesut Ozil?

What could he do?

Run his contract down at Arsenal and reunite with his old boss Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. Inevitably finally fulfill his complete potential and assist every goal in another 8-2 United mauling of the Gunners.

Why will he do it?

Yes, he may have received plaudits for his incredible talent and ability from world-renowned players and managers throughout his entire career. Yes, he may have created more goalscoring opportunities than Sam Allardyce has had hot dinners. But what’s the point if you’re not gonna please Claude or DT from ArsenalFanTV?

Betrayal rating: We don’t blame you, Mesut.


So… what is it about Arsenal that attracts player betrayal?

There’s been a myriad of issues at Arsenal over the years which has caused players to up sticks and move to rivals, whether that’s a direct transfer or via other clubs along the way.


We all know about the Wenger lost chequebook era which saw them lose key men for big money, but the fact they went potless between 2005 and 2014 probably didn’t help them keep their few world class performers either.

The Gunners have a unique habit of tearing open their wounds and inviting their former stars to pour a truckload of salt in them when it comes to playing them, which hardly makes the betrayal easier for Gooners to take.

We can almost see Mesut reaching for the salt shaker now – but at least it’ll make for some funny meltdowns on ArsenalFanTV. Every cloud…


Follow Jon on Twitter: @MoodyGooner

What do you think?