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
First Team – 2007 6-5 2020
2007 11-11 2020
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…