How Arsenal players failed in the 2002 World Cup, but Wenger had the last laugh

Since I was born the 2002 edition of the World Cup remains my favourite.

To this day, the Italians and Spanish will argue “is that for the right reasons?”

South Korea received some odd decisions. A nation who had never won in the competition suddenly were getting to the semi-Finals.

Turkey joined them in the last 4, Senegal got to the QFinals on their debut to the world.

France, Portugal and Argentina were all eliminated in the group stages. This was the tournament of upsets.

For the second successive World Cup Arsenal players had won the Double that year, with 11 Gunners travelling to the Far East.

6 of which were in the ‘Group of Death’, 4 English, Kanu represented Nigeria and Freddie Ljungberg the poster boy for Sweden.

Sol Campbell finally got his goal, 4 years after having his header cruelly disallowed at France 98.

In a 1-1 draw with Sweden there was zero flag or official this time to rob the defender as his head met a David Beckham corner.

Unfortunately, though the iconic image of England’s campaign was David Seaman standing like a stature and in slow motion watching Ronaldinho’s free kick fly over his head.

Our keeper had always shown great mental strength in dealing with the media who at this point were more concerned writing about his ponytail and moustache.

There was no hiding that his mistake was responsible for Brazil’s 2-1 win. He would make a similar error, conceding from a Macedonia corner, a sad way for his international career to end.

France became the first Champions to fall at the first hurdle.

Thierry Henry hit the woodwork in the opening fixture. In their second fixture, he was sent off after 25 minutes against Uruguay so our strikers campaign lasted 115 minutes.

Every week Arsene Wenger would insist to the Asian media that we hadn’t brought Inamoto for marketing reasons even though he didn’t play a second in the League for us.

Yet here he was scoring in the co-hosts first two encounters.

The irony being that Gooners watched the midfielder for the first time and yet that led to him being released.

The biggest impact the month had on our history was Mr Wenger got to watch Gilberto Silva lift Brazil’s 5th World Cup

While a Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho got all the plaudits, the DM was the unsung hero doing all the dirty work, playing every second of the tournament, it’s been described as he carried the piano for R, R and R.

This led to him moving to London for 4.5 million.

The rest is history….

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  1. Gilberto :Yet another great signing.
    A great man in every sense of the word.
    Good to see him around the club.

  2. We haven’t replaced the Invisible Wall yet. Alex Song almost became a worthy successor, before he was shipped to Barcelona

    Hopefully our high pressers will allow us to play without a strong ball-winner next season

    1. Song was, by comparison with Gilberto, as Burnley is to Man City!
      Song was massively overhyped, foolishly so, and was not more than a barely adequate DCM.

      His main problem was he was never in his position when it mattered.


  3. I am sure I read somewhere that song had to go as he had built up a lot.of debt and needed the transfer
    Built up a decent understanding with RVP but never a true great for us.
    If we could ever find another gold nugget like Gilberto then we would be laughing.
    Players like him are truly fair and few between

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