[Update, it's true, Theo has dislocated his right shoulder in training with England and is out of action until January, damn and blast...! Can this season get any worse?]
Well, it’s been a busy day all round, and the debate’s been rife on yesterday’s comments and the day before. Yesterday, we had a look at the old guard versus the new and whether the current crop is anywhere near as good as the golden oldies. I’ve had quite a few emails come in as well, do feel free to share your comments with others done at the comments section, but I do appreciate all the emails too…!
The debate on email was whether Seaman or Lehmann were better keepers. The debate in the comments yesterday was also split, but ultimately Seaman has come out on top for a string of outstanding saves and consistency (Nayim aside), whereas the catalogue of errors that Lehmann had (a few very erratic Champions League performances) and petulant behaviour saw him come in second, some did say Manninger for his solo season, whereas current keeper Almunia has come in for a little criticism.
The defence was pretty unanimous, so here’s the “best” back five so far:
Sagna – Keown – Adams – Clichy
So that takes us nicely to the midfield… (Kieran, we’re just looking at Arsene’s players so Jensen doesn’t make it)
Left Wing: Overmars, Pires, Rosicky and Nasri
So on the left wing, Arsene has been graced with quite a set of performers. Just imagine all four of those in the same team, albeit very attacking and somewhat injury prone. In the early days, Arsene took a gamble on bringing Overmars, a play who’s career was under threat and he became a fans favourite with some amazing performances, and some outstanding and vital goals. But of course, when Overmars left to Barcelona for a huge fee, he was replaced with Pires. And boy, Pires was the epitome of Arsene Wenger. Very French, very creative and very good. He went on to play a hell a lot of games for Arsenal and score some great goals. As I sit here, I remember his goal against Aston Villa when he lobbed Schmeichal. His link up play with Henry was sensational and between him and Ljungberg, you knew a goal could come from nowhere. Then Rosicky…. coming to think about it, we haven’t actually seen much of Rosicky as he’s really been in the wars throughout his Arsenal career. But he is a talented player, no doubt. And finally, we have Samir Nasri. He’s had an incredible start to his Arsenal career, with 5 goals in all competitions. He’s scored 2 against our biggest rival and you expect him to go on and have a great career with us….
Right Wing: Ray Parlour, Freddie Ljungberg, Alex Hleb and Theo Walcott
Good old Ray Parlour, what an awesome player. His desire was huge. I remember him chasing a ball on the corner flag when no one thought he’d get it and it resulted in a goal… and remember the FA cup final… it’s only Ray Parllllllouuuuuuuur!! He was replaced with Freddie Ljungberg. Freddie had a knack of scoring some very vital goals, in the cup final against Chelsea, in his debut against United. In that season, remember that one? Between him and Pires, they got something like 30 goals between them. Freddie was a fans favourite…. we love you Fredddie and the end to his Arsenal career came through a plight of injuries that kept him out of the team. And then there was Alex Hleb. A magician with the ball. He could keep it stuck to him at times and no one could get it off him. He was very frustrating in front of goal, but definitely had a football brain of some sorts. Our current crop sees Theo Walcott deployed at right midfield for us and for England. He’s definitely got potential, as that run against Liverpool last season showed as well as the hatrick for England confirmed. Too early to be judged perhaps?
Central midfield: Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Gilberto, Edu, Cesc Fabregas, Flamini, Diaby and Denilson
Yes, I know I could name a few more, but these players are the stand out ones, aren’t they. Arsene seemingly landed with Vieira and Petit and they had a formidable partnership in the middle of the park, both complete midfielders who you’d easily find on the edge of the box defending as well as running forward starting attacks. Vieira was definitely one of the best and he also had many leadership qualities and battles with many players. When Vieira was named on the teamsheet the opposition were scared. Petit left as part of the Overmars transfer and Grimandi, Parlour, Edu and Gilberto partnered Vieira for a while all respectable players, but it was Gilberto who formed the partnership and established himself in the first team. Maybe not as gifted as Vieira, he had a great desire, and his loyalty was outstanding. When Vieira left, he was partnered with Cesc Fabregas and this combination allowed Cesc to develop the attacking and passing side of his game. Cesc has been with us for five years now – can you believe it? He was amazing in the Champions League Final season. He formed a great partnership with Flamini last year which saw us come very close to winning the league. As Gilberto, Flamini and Edu all moved on, the current crop of Cesc, Denilson and Diaby are now trying to forge some partnerships. Diarra had a cameo appearance, but wouldn’t get past Flamini last season and of course Song has been in and out of the side. Cesc when partnered with Flamini really flourished. This season, he’s been partnered with Denilson for the majority of games and not hit the dizzy heights of last season. Is that a case of the partnered midfielder or is Cesc burnt out? With Denilson only establishing himself this season, the jury is still out and with Diaby yet to really establish himself, the jury is definitely still out on him.
So which four players are the best midfield? Does Walcott – Denilson – Cesc – Nasri compare with Ljungberg – Vieira – Petit – Overmars? What about Pires!
I’ll leave it to you – but in reality where does the current crop stand in comparison with the golden oldies? Which four would you pick?