In-depth comparison of this Arsenal squad vs Wenger’s worst ever season

Comparing this Arsenal squad to Wenger’s worst ever… by Dan Smith

I was reading Mark Lawrenson’s predictions for this weekend’s game when he claimed Arsene Wenger’s worst team would beat the current version under Arteta. We are currently 20 points away from Mr Wenger ‘s worst points total (ironically in his final season). Yet any comparison is complicated as many of the players from that campaign are still at the club.

The conclusion would be that the last few years haven’t been very good, but we already know that. So, to put the theory to the test we have to put the current dressing room up against one that has zero members of the current set up.

In 2007 the Gunners recorded 65 points, good enough to finish 4th but the lowest tally of points Wenger managed outside the current squad. I accept there are various other stats to measure success. My opinion is that points is the fairest. Plus, we still have strict lockdown measures in Wales, so I needed something to pass the time!

I’ll be comparing 22 players from 2007 vs Today’s Arsenal squad, putting players up against those who played similar amount of games (purely based on the form of that respective season).

Lehman vs Leno
Would be Lehmann’s final season as our number 1, a decision he publicly disagreed with. Put it this way, if in 2006-2007 Mr Wenger thought Lehmann’s powers were fading to the point, he preferred Almunia, then he certainly would have picked Leno ahead of him.
Winner – Leno

Almunia vs Martinez
My worry is Martinez could be like Almunia in terms of if he can he handle the pressure of playing for a club this size?

I have never seen a keeper mentally fall apart like Almunia did, and while the jury’s still out on our current number 2. So, while I don’t know if I can trust Martinez …. I know I can’t trust Almunia!
Winner – Martinez

Clichy vs Kolasinac
Yes, Tierney is clearly first choice left back and Saka has played well there but stats show that, due to injuries, Kolasinac had played in the position the most times in the Prem. Also is it fair to judge Saka out of position?

This was Clichy’s first season without competing with Ashley Cole and even at that age he was a better defender then Kolasinac. Emery would often switch to a back 5 purely to accommodate the full back as he didn’t trust him defensively. Which isn’t great given he’s supposed to be a …. defender.
Winner – Clichy

Touré vs Luiz
Criteria simply is judging the two most played centre backs from their respective campaigns. Do I need to really talk about what Touré could do or is it quicker to write about Luiz’s flaws? In 7 months, he’s conceded more red cards and pens at Arsenal than he did in 7 years at Chelsea.
Winner – Touré

Gallas vs Sokratis
Gallas wasn’t a great leader to what was a young dressing room, but he was a defender you can trust. It has taken gooners too long to realise that just because Sokratis pumps his chest and screams, that doesn’t make him a great player. He has often escaped the criticism that the likes of Mustafi gets.
Winner – Gallas

Eboue vs Bellerin
I kind of changed my own rules as we know clearly without a long-term injury Bellerin is our first choice right back. The question is; has his injury robbed him of his pace?, which would make Eboue more of an attacking threat (although Eboue’s final ball was terrible). I’ll give the Spaniard the nod as I would trust him more defensively if on form.
Winner – Bellerin

Chambers vs Djourou
Quite a good comparison as not just were these two the third highest to play centre back in their respective seasons, but they would both also be asked to fill in at right back. This was a season where Djourou would impress many leading to more starts the following year.
Winner – Djourou

Senderos vs Mustafi
The couple of seasons before, Senderos had looked decen,t but this was the era where he would get routinely bullied by Drogba and lost all confidence. We all know that Mustafi can be having a good game then suddenly will make a mistake, often by diving to the floor. This though is about picking the 4th centre back so I would trust Mustafi more not to let me down.
Winner – Mustafi

Flamini – Maitland-Niles
Both versatile, both see themselves as midfielders but were often asked to play at full back. This left Flamini feeling underappreciated and leaving the club, the same you can see happening to Niles. Niles has pace but I trust Flamini to give 100 percent, I can’t say the same about Niles.
Winner – Flamini

Tierney Vs Traore
Tierney wins almost by default. When Clichy was injured Gallas or Touré would switch to full back, with Traore only trusted for cup ties. Tierney on the other hand we know will be first choice left back, he just needs to stay fit.
Winner – Tierney

Silva vs Torreira
You could say we still haven’t replaced Gilberto Silva. The Brazilian was underrated in how he led this young team. Torreira became a fan favourite based on him simply being a DM, but when was his last great performance? He is not helped by Emery playing him further forward and injuries. If he keeps moaning though that he misses Italy, send him back..
Winner – Silva

Fabregas vs Xhaka
I defend Xakha a lot and feel fans don’t understand tactically what he brings to the team. but he’s obviously not Fabregas. In many ways the poster boy of this young Arsenal squad, more experience would have seen him win so much more at the Emirates than the one FA Cup.
Winner – Fabregas

Auba vs Rosicky
Makes it easier for me that Auba has started more games on the left, with Arteta trying to teach him how and when to link up as a front two. Rosicky would also be in a three behind the main striker encouraged not to stay in one position. Auba’s ability to score from the left is amazing and I see better work rate since Emery left.
Winner – Auba

Hleb vs Ozil
Both kind of similar in they can pass the ball for fun, but are they clinical enough in terms of scoring enough? Hleb only scored twice in the prem the season we are covering. Us gooners just were not so quick to turn on our own back then. I would trust Ozil in the final third more to make an assist.
Winner – Ozil

Ljungberg vs Pepe
Trying not to judge Freddie on what he had done previously, but just the season 06-07 where he was often injured and not the scoring midfielder we were used to. Yet what has Pepe done to get chosen ahead of a legend? As things stand, he’s one of the flops of the season. If there was a cup final, you couldn’t trust Pepe to show up, which is crazy when he cost us 72 million. I would trust Freddie.
Winner – Freddie

Adebayor vs Lacazette
Obviously I’m not saying he’s better then Henry or Van Persie (he’s not) but based purely on the season 06-07, injuries meant Adebayor played 14 more times than Henry and 10 more than Van Persie. Even then he didn’t finish our top scorer. This was his first full season; he was raw and not the force he would become. Gooners are turning on Laca but I like his work rate. It’s what he does off the ball that would give him the edge over a young Adebayor.
Winner – Laca

Van Persie vs Martinelli
Martinelli is kind of where Van Persie was at this stage. Clearly a hot prospect but an injury hitting him halfway through the season. Strangely though Arteta seemed reluctant to start him before he was side-lined, suggesting he wasn’t happy with something. Van Persie gets in now but watch this space.
Winner – Van Persie

Henry vs Eddie Nketiah
Okay it seems unfair, but because of injuries Henry didn’t play as much as the other two strikers meaning I put him head to head with Eddie. This convinced the club it was their last chance to get decent money for Thierry, who’s 12 goals that season would be his lowest return at the Arsenal.

Okay Eddie is starting at the moment but he still needs to do a lot more to convince me that this could be permanent. It is no disgrace for a youngster to lose out to our greatest ever player.
Winner – Henry

Baptista vs Ceballos
Both ironically on loan from Real Madrid. Baptista did good in the cups but not enough to make us sign him permanently while the same will happen to Ceballos. These two go head to head as stand-in AM, but I like Arteta’s idea of dropping the midfielder deeper into the Pirlo role. Just for curiosity, he gets in.
Winner – Ceballos

Diaby vs Willock
Diaby at this point was a better player, but his season would get cut short because of injury. Unfortunately, that was a sign of things to come. I love Willock’s bravery to run at people and try to make things happen but at the moment he lacks end product. Just for staying fit though, he gets in ahead of Diaby.
Winner – Willock

Denilson Vs Guendouzi
I was going to say Denilson based purely on his rival’s immature comments last weekend, but I accept Guendouzi is a better player. He was our best player at the start of the season, and while Denilson was more disciplined in terms of staying in his position, Guendouzi will get better. I never thought that way about Denilson.
Winner – Guendouzi

Walcott vs Saka
So, I didn’t think it would be fair to rate Saka against other left backs even though that’s where his best displays have come from. It made sense to judge the 18-year-old against Theo who was 17 at the time. The view of Theo was that he didn’t develop like he should have but don’t let it make you forget what a weapon his pace was off the bench at this time. Pace he would lose through injuries over time. While I think Saka could go on to be a better player Theo’s pace off the bench was more of a weapon.
Winner – Walcott

Results
First Team – 2007 6-5 2020

Squad
2007 11-11 2020

Conclusion
Defensively 3 of 2007’s back 4 are picked. Further forward it’s more competitive. In terms of the fringe players, 2007 had talented youngsters who couldn’t stay fit. For the 2020 youngsters, that remains to be seen.

What would your results look like?

Be kind in the comments…

Dan Smith

27 Comments

  1. Loose Cannon says:

    Hleb over Ozil, any day or everyday. Baptista = Cabellos, cannot decide who is “more” worse. The Arsene team was much much better, but the competition now is more intense, more continental players hence making the league wide open and unpredictable.
    While you compared the squads, you did not compare the coach/manager. My pick would be Mikel, yes Mikel over Arsene! Till date Mikel has not humiliated us 6-0, 5-0 or 8-2 with one of the most horrible squads of modern Arsenal or should I say top 10 teams of today’s EPL in terms of intensity and passion/desire to win.
    Finally, had we to get Klopp, it could have been us celebrating the EPL. This man has won the UCL, EPL, Super cup, Club world cup, he just cannot stop!

  2. Godswill says:

    How can you compare Henry with Nketiah? It’s annoying. Closest should have been Auba.

    1. Admin Pat says:

      He is compsring the Henry FROM THAT SEASON

    2. Dan says:

      You didn’t read the rules
      Stats say that season Henry was our third choice striker so I have to compare him with Eddie
      If your saying that’s unfair , you kind of answering the question that 07 was a stronger squad

    3. Stephen (Ire) says:

      The midfield performance in Arsenal’s WIN over Southampton was the worst I have seen in more than 40 years as an Arsenal supporter. Comparisons of the current squad to the Terry Neill and Don Howe eras would be more appropriate.

  3. Joe Allysons says:

    Your comparisons are skewed and confusing. To the best of my memory , we played a double pivot in that season. Gilberto was always our deepest lying midfielder . That is Xhaka today (and quite frankly ever since he joined arsenal)

    Hleb played on the right , so he’s most suitable comparison , both in the case of purpose and style would be pepe. Rosicky came down the left , so he’d most suitably be compared to saka or someone like that

    we played RVP and Adebayor upfront , so They are better compared with Auba and Laca.

    you failed to take into account the difference in formations. If I were doing this, rather than chose the players because of where they played/currently play , I’d choose them best on roles. say , Hleb used his dribbling to draw players away from the center so RVP could drop in behind Adebayor. Kinda similar to what pepe is asked to do . That way , you’d not end up comparing Hleb and Ozil . Also , I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare teams of the last two years with Ozil in a starting line up.

    Great job tho. I like these kinds of articles

    1. Dan says:

      Well wait wherever you compare xakha with Silva or torreria with Silva you get same result
      The rest you are wrong
      We rarely play two up front
      Stats from this season show Auba starts more on the left
      Also heleb , rosisky and lungberg had the most starts in the attacking midfield areas and would move around
      RVP started 17 out of 38 Prem games so the idea he partnered Adeybayore not true mate

  4. Kedar says:

    I will not compare individual but I will nominate best starting 11 from this team

    Leno

    Bellerin. Touré. Gallas. Tierney

    Gilberto. Fabregas

    Pépé. Hleb. Rosicky

    Aubemeyang

    I chose Tierney over Clichy because Tierney is much better than Clichy in both the departments…. Offensive as well as defensive…

    Any given day Gilberto over Torreira because Gilberto is natural leader in midfield and better destroyer than Torreira….

    Pépé over Freddie only for 2 reasons… 1 is his dead ball ability and his speed….

    Hleb and Ozil then obvious choice it’s Hleb…
    See we don’t want finisher… we want greater…
    We have lot of superb finisher like Aubemeyang and Henry, RVP and Lacazette….
    So instead judging on ability in final 3rd I will judge on producing service to final 3rd…

  5. CorporateMan says:

    Our recruitment after Wenger has been atrocious to say the least. No way Wenger would spend €80m on a Pepe for instance

    1. Adajim says:

      It’s part of our rebuilding process. We will severally make mistakes b4 we finally get it right

      1. ahmad73 says:

        A 70M mistake is a big mistake for a club like Arsenal. I trust Pepe will come good though. That being said, after Wenger had accepted a City offer for Sanchez, he had apparently made a 90M offer for Lemar who has been quite underwhelming at Athletico M. Point is it is hard to compare such stuff.

    2. Joe Allysons says:

      He spent 35 on Mustafi and gave Ozil a 350k contract . Don’t put anything past him

    3. Davis says:

      Football pricing is a bit different now, 50 million pounds took Torres away from anfield that would be like 120million today. Wenger gave ozil his current contract remember?

  6. tyler says:

    dude, you can’t base comparisons on that particular season for most players then change it to the future for Guendouzi vs Denilson.

    Can’t imagine wenger playing someone as bad as Guendouzi as regularly so Denilson all the way.

    Remember if wenger doesn’t rate you at all you don’t play eg Lucas perez

    1. tyler says:

      Same thing with ozil. Really sloppy from you in changing standards for guys you have a soft spot for.

      Hleb was important cog in the wheel for arsenal the whole time he was here including the season you mentioned.

      Ozil has been missing in action the whole season obviously hleb wins.

      You actually should be comparing him with Fabregas a more like for like, which Fabregas wins.

      1. Dan says:

        Hleb scored 3 goals in 48 games that season so hardly clear cut
        Fabregas played in a two that season next to Silva
        Ozil is our AM so I compared him with 07 AM

        1. tyler says:

          cmon, man u just gonna pick any stat to suit ozil. hleb then was obviously more influential and contributed to good displays then ozil now. hleb never looked great in stats. That’s why he will be one of the more underrated players wenger had. U really need to put your hand up and say you’re making excuses for ozil if you’re honest in any way.

          1. Dan says:

            It’s an opinion mate
            If you want to pick Hleb what’s the issue
            I’m just saying it’s not like I picked Ozil over Fabregas

        2. tyler says:

          It’s fine I have already made my point, only the biggest of ozil fanboys would agree with you.

          Anyway you haven’t addressed using future potential rather than the relevant season performances to rate guendo vs denilson.

          1. Dan says:

            Mate give your opinion
            I don’t have to defend my article or my opinion

      2. ahmad73 says:

        Hleb has fantastic close control and I enjoyed watching him. That said he was at the peak of his game when he was at Arsenal. Also he had players like Fab, Gilberto, Rosicky on the team. The current Ozil is in his twilight years. Plus he has absolutely crap supporting cast in the midfield.

  7. ThirdManJW says:

    One has to remember that part of this squad is way more Wenger than Arteta, so difficult comparison to make.

    Martinez, Kola, Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Xhaka, Laca, Auba (only just), AMN, Mustafi, Nketiah, Ozil, are all from the Wenger era.

    1. Adajim says:

      Exactly

  8. Goonster says:

    Hleb was better for us.

  9. Goonster says:

    And Rosiscky better.

  10. Shakir says:

    Some peoples hatred for Ozil is just evident in this post.So much that Hlebs statistics are excluded from tge conversation.

    Lets be real,if you are considering statistics ok be it but why the double face.And if you are really want to know his importance,look at at the games he played in and how he gets involved in almost every goal we scored.

    And if he is greedy,lazy,lacks passion and “dont care” why should he take the trouble to be back on the team.Why should he collide with emery for not playing him?Why did ornstein say that ozil was oneof those who impressed MA in training pre lockdown?

    Just becuase he doesnt run around doesnt mean that he is lazy.Hleb was a great player and am not talking the comparison.

    1. Sue says:

      Good for you, Shakir 👍

Comments are closed