It’s the end of another decade and what better way to finish up what has mostly been 10 years of pain for Arsenal fans by looking back at some of the worst players to pull on the famous red and white during that time?
Immediately, you hit upon a very real problem when you look back at the list of players who have turned out for Arsenal over the past 10 years. How do you cut it down to just 11?
What was instantly apparent was that the majority of crapness over the last 10 years lay in Arsenal’s centre-back and defensive midfield positions, although I’m quite certain this will come as a shock to no-one.
The talent at the other end of the pitch was never usually in doubt, even when we had to play Andrei Arshavin as a lone striker for a while.
Not everybody is going to agree with my selection, I couldn’t even find a consensus between the Daily Cannon team. So, remember, if you read this list and have an uncontrollable urge to be a dick about it, Paddy Power are the ones you should contact.
GK: Manuel Almunia
Over a large part of the last decade, Arsenal perfected the art of taking talented goalkeepers and making them s**t. I took untold amounts of abuse for claiming that Lukasz ‘Flappyhandski’ was actually a really good keeper. Gerry Peyton, Arsenal’s goalkeeper coach, I said, was just making him rubbish. Ditto Wojciech Szczesny whom I will always hold a grudge against the club for selling.
There was some proper rubbish, too, and this position was a toss-up between Manuel Almunia and David Ospina and it could have went either way, really.
Overall, I went for Alumina because Ospina has at least shown himself to be competent in Italy and with his national side, whereas Almunia was a man who didn’t only look like he was haunted, said he actually was. Plus, he scarred me much more than the Colombian.
Almunia played 105 times more for Arsenal than Ospina so his scope for causing trauma was greater, although only the last two years of his time at Arsenal were spent during this decade.
Mention Almunia’s name to any Arsenal fan old enough to remember him and watch as they are sickened by flashbacks of the Spaniard rushing towards the corner flag for no discernible reason or kneeling down so Lionel Messi can lob him.
CB: Sebastien Squillaci
Asking an Arsenal fan to pick their worst central defenders from the last 10 years is kind of like asking Donald Trump to just pick one lie and stick to it. There are just so many to choose from.
I was going to name Phillippe Senderos, until it was pointed out he left just before the decade started, so for me that leaves three to pick from Sebastien Squillaci, Shkodran Mustafi, Johan Djourou, Gabriel, Mikel Silvestre, and William Gallas.
The first has to be Squillaci who Arsenal paid nearly £6m for in 2010. Three years later he was gone for free having somehow managed to get himself into an Arsenal shirt and the first team 39 times.
Perhaps it wasn’t really all his fault, cursed by the number 18 shirt that had once belonged to Pascal Cygan and the player who comes next.
CB: Mikael Silvestre
Jesus Christ. A player so bad United fans still laugh that, not only did they get Arsenal to take him, they got Arsene Wenger to part with cash for him too, almost one million of the Queen’s pounds.
Like others I’ve listed here, Silvestre played a lot less than I remember, just the 43 appearances in his case. It just felt like a lot more because every appearance was so emotionally exhausting.
Although he left in August 2010, he more than deserves his place in the worst Arsenal XI of the decade.
CB: Skhodran Mustafi
Mustafi is a World Cup winner, which just goes to show you shouldn’t really judge anyone on the contents of their trophy cabinet (apart from Spurs, obviously).
When we signed him, we thought we were getting a great, ball-playing centre-back until we heard Gary Neville claim he couldn’t give away the player Arsenal had just paid the guts of £37m for.
When he dies, his headstone will read ‘he didn’t need to go to ground there’.
LWB: Andre Santos
Only at the club for two years, Andre Santos cost Arsenal £6.3m and was another willingly shown the door for free just to get rid of him. He signed for Flamengo, whose fans then beat him up for playing so badly in a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Internacional that left them rooted to the bottom of the table.
I’m not sure he was quite that bad for Arsenal, but he was never good yet still somehow managed to play for us 33 times.
Again, it feels like it was a lot more.
RWB: Stephan Lichtsteiner
There was a time, a few years ago, when Arsenal were linked with a move for Stephan Lichtsteiner and Juventus fans couldn’t stop wetting themselves laughing at the thought of a player of his calibre leaving Turin for North London.
That was not the Stephan Lichtsteiner that Arsenal signed.
While he might well have brought a whole new level of shit-housery to the club with his incessant whinging, moaning and haranguing of officials, that was about all he did well with any consistency.
Given a one-year deal on a free transfer, even that seems too expensive looking back.
It’s no wonder Arsene Wenger never wanted to buy a defensive midfielder because when you look through the list of players to play in midfield over the last 10 years, the worst ones all played in that position.
Denilson. The Brazilian crab who would never pass forward if there was a sideways pass on instead.
Will most likely be remembered by Arsenal fans as the player overtaken by the referee as he jogged back while Manchester United hit us on the break. They scored to make it 3-0.
CM: Kim Kallstrom
Look, I know his penalty helped us reach a cup final thus ending our trophy drought and the media’s obsession with how many years it had been since we last lifted a pot but come on!
It pains me to include him on this list, but not as much as I’m sure the broken back he had when we signed him on loan pained him. That’s right, needing players desperately, Arsenal reached out for 32-year-old Swede playing in Russia who couldn’t actually do anything for two months because of his broken back.
Did I mention he had a broken back when Arsenal signed him as emergency cover?
In total, he played just four times for Arsenal, completing 90 minutes just once and we never lost any of those games.
You start to think that maybe he shouldn’t be on this list until you remember, as I might have mentioned, that he had an actual broken back when Arsenal signed him when they needed fit players.
Gervinho is not a bad player, certainly not as awful as he is remembered as being at Arsenal, but if ever a player wasn’t cut out for the Premier League then it was the Ivorian.
He will always be remembered as the man who missed an open goal just inches from the line resulting in Arsenal losing to a League 2 side.
Had he shaved his head like a man with any sort of dignity, he probably would be remembered more fondly.
CF: Park Chu Young
This transfer might vex me more than any other Arsenal fan I know because from what I can see he was signed to play seven minutes at Old Trafford, increase shirt sales in South Korea and nobody ever talks about what happened here.
Arsenal took an average striker who was set to sign for Lille and was the South Korean captain and then set about never playing him.
He was 27 when Arsenal signed him and his career never recovered, losing the captaincy of his country and only making his way back into the national team in 2014 for a brief stint. He hasn’t represented them since.
CF: Yaya Sanogo
Arsenal fans love Yaya Sanogo, but it’s the sort of love you feel for a puppy with three legs that hasn’t quite worked out how to deal with that.
Signed for free in 2013 from Auxerre, a back injury meant he played just 580 minutes in his first season which only increased to 748 the second due to a series of other problems.
Officially, he scored just one goal for Arsenal in 20 games (with two assists), although he really scored a couple more that were ruled out incorrectly. All that being said, Sanogo was a player who not only struggled off the pitch with injuries but on it with the co-ordination of his own limbs.
His cult status at the club came about not because fans could see a talented player struggling but, rather, because they saw what it would be like if they were out there themselves trying to play Premier League football.