Pick an Arsenal team from Players that were the only Gunner from their country

Mat Ryan Joins A Select Group Of Arsenal Names By Dan Smith

As many of you know I like a list!

During lockdown, a group of us would set ourselves many challenges to write ‘the best Premier League Players who are French’, Best XI to never win a trophy’, etc.

So, I happened to mention that if Mat Ryan started at Villa Park, he would become the first Australian to represent the Gunners in the Premiership (and only second ever).

So I was challenged to come up with a best Arsenal eleven who were the only players from that country to pull on the red and white shirt. The criteria is as simple as they have to be the only player from their country to have played for Arsenal in the Premiership (so no trying to be clever by naming a youngster who was in the youth team but only played in the League Cup)

It’s pointless, I know, but who knows; one day this knowledge could be the difference in a quiz between you winning money or not?

207 nations are affiliated with FIFA, 47 of those have represented the club.

I’m playing a very attacking 3-5-2, you will see why when you see our choice of defenders.

Manninger – Austria
Ryan – Australia
Ospina – Colombia
Poom -Estonia
Runarsson – Iceland

Keepers – Australia is a proud sporting Nation and we have a large Ozzie supporters group who would have been up late watching ‘one of their own’ make his debut. Unfortunately, his first touch was picking the ball out of his net.

Matt Poom was a good Prem keeper but only featured for us once when he joined us more in a coaching capacity.

Austria’s Alex Manninger became a cult hero for his contribution towards Arsene Wenger’s first Double.

I’m going to pick Ospina though, who in truth was too good to be a back up, and I’m glad he got the recognition of an FA Cup winners medal.

Ospina also had a great song thanks to the AC Milan tie. Anyone who attended the 2nd leg at the Emirates will know what I’m talking about. I had an Italian sat next to me who clearly should have been in the away end. As my peers were dancing along to this tune being sung, I asked him to translate for me the words. Let’s just say if the majority of gooners knew what he told me they wouldn’t have found it so funny…

I’m assuming we all agree to early to judge Runarsson and if we did, it wouldn’t be good?

GK -Ospina

Vermaelen – CB- Belgium
Kolasinac -LB- Bosnia
Yennaris – RB- China
Elneny CM/CB- Egypt
Stepanovs – Latvia
Luzhny – RB/CB- Ukraine

When I read one article the other day describing Mustafi as one of our worse ever defenders, I thought ‘He never saw Stepanovs’.

He played in my first ever game at Highbury and to this day, I have never seen a crowd hold their breath whenever a player took a first touch.

Ray Parlour tells a story that he was so bad on trial they players would wind Martin Keown up by telling Arsene Wenger how great this new kid was and that he was better than Keown. The problem is their manager thought they were being genuine, if the likes of Adams and Dixon were impressed who was he to question them?

So the joke led to a permanent transfer!

Even though he’s one of the few natural centre backs I can pick…. I simply can’t.

Elneny plays sometimes in this position for his country so that’s an option. Instead I’m going to have Kolasinac and Luzhny either side of Vermaelen.

It’s fashionable at the moment to have a left back and right back in a three and that’s what I’ll do. My attacking formation will allow them to bomb down wing when in possession.

Luzhny’s last game for us was in the centre and ironically was his best, winning the FA Cup against Southampton

Vermaelen was a case of what could have been. A great defender who’s best years were taken due to injury. Not just for us but at Barcelona as well.

Maybe a surprise that in a golden generation for Belgium, only one Belgian has played for us in the Prem era?

Vermaelen, Kolasinac and Luzhny

Mkhitaryan – In Any Attacking Role – Armenia
Hleb – Any in Attacking Role – Belarus
Sanchez – Left/right/ Up front- Chile
Joel Campbell – Either Side on wing or as striker – Costa Rica
Elneny- CM- Egypt
Benayoun -Any in Attacking Role – Israel
Ryo – Japan – Winger
Arshavin – Any in Attacking Role – Russia
Torreira – CM- Uruguay

Mkhitaryan simply never settled into English football unlike how he played in Germany and now Italy.

Even though Torreira has also been sent out on loan I need two DM’s in him and Elneny to sit in front of my defence and allow the rest to attack.

You may have seen in the past Elneny start in midfield but drop back when his team have possession, allowing the two centre backs to step into midfield. Need him to that for my team.

I want to acknowledge Benayoun who I think was undervalued for his contribution to us. Even though it was just for a year I felt he brought leadership to a young dressing room at a time we needed a calm presence.

The three I will have behind my strikers though will be Hleb (who has often admitted his regret in leaving) in the middle with Arshavin and Sanchez free to interchange on the left and right.

Elneny, Torreira, Hleb, Sanchez, Arshavin

Aubameyang – Gabon
Diarra- Guinea
Wreh – Liberia
Tomas Danilevicius – Lithuania
Carlos Vela – Mexico
Chamakh – Morocco
Park Chu Young – South Korea
Adebayor – Togo

Take away your personal feelings towards Adebayor (and his towards us) and you have got to admit what a partnership he would form with Aubameyang in this team.

Auba could pick and choose when he wants to be on the left and when to cut inside, while Adebayor would give you a plan B.

If your passing’s not working, he’s someone to knock the ball up to who can hold up the ball, and good in the air.

We let Vela go too soon. Judged on the player he would become (and it’s believed we had a buy back clause) Vela would be an option.

The goals Wreh did score always seemed crucial such as the winner in an FA Cup Semi Final.

Chamakh had a great scoring start as a gunner but seemed to lose all confidence once Van Persie returned from injury.

Tomas started once in the League for us, while Mr Wenger always insisted Park Chu Young was not brought for marketing reasons. He protested too much.

Adebayor and Aubameyang

Here is my final XI..

Vermaelen, Kolasinac, Luzhny
Elneny, Torreira, Hleb, Sanchez, Arshavin
Adebayor, Aubameyang

I researched this, so if I made a mistake or any country I left out, let me know peeps.

Put yours in the comments.

Also give me any ideas of any other lists (top 10/best to worse).

Be Kind To One Another.


Tags Adebayor Alexis Hleb


      1. Both spellings were wrong….

        And he didn’t play for that country even if you got either right!!!!

  1. Ospina, kola, Igor’s, luzhny, yennaris, ryo, elneny, benny, campbell, Big Kabba and Park up top.. that team would tear it up in today’s PL 😆 all seriousness I’d go with Dans lineup 👍

    1. Wonder goal from Foden, Kev! Sterling finally scores against that lot!
      Alisson very De Gea-esque 😂😂 Loved it, get in there
      City City bang bang!!

      1. It was a screamer Sue 😯 what a great talent, would you take him ? 😂😂. Alisson thought he was playing for city today 😆 the great Anfield record well and truly over and they missed a pen too 😆

      2. Ted Lasso ,
        Watch it you 2 if you haven’t ,brilliant series ,so good and it’s about football 👍

  2. Great list and i cant find any fault in it other than
    Ryo isnt the only Japanese player we have had, we also had Inamotto aswel 🙂

      1. Yeah Dan- I can recall Inamoto coming on as a sub at Highbury at least once, unless it was a Cup game(s)

  3. Liverpool please sack klopp then we can have a proper manager at Arsenal another huge mistake the club made should have got klopp a year before he went to liverpool but owners never had the bottle to sack wenger!!

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