The other night I tweeted this
“I’m going to stick my neck out here and say this is Arsenal’s strongest SQUAD ever.”
Of course my Time Lime was immediately swamped with mocking toddlers who were quick to tell me that I was deluded and the 04 team was better.
Clearly these people were unable to distinguish the difference between “squad” and “team” . Why was I not surprised ?
Before we go any further I should make it clear that I don’t think our current best eleven is better than that of the 04 team( Although I don’t think there is much in it).
“But we have only added Sanchez !”
Well Yes. Since last May. Thats sort of true. if we say Debuchy= Sagne, Ospina= Fabianski and at a stretch Chambers=Vermaelen. (and conveniently forget Campbell).
However if we look at it over the last two years the squad is almost unrecognisable in terms of true quality.
In that two year period we have added Santi, Mesut and Sanchez . Those three are arguably considerably better than anyone at the club was, prior to Santi arriving.
There have been others like Podolski, Giroud and Monreal, but I think its fair to say we had players that were in the same class as them. I believe that Tomas is in the same class as Santi, Mesut and Sanchez, but thats for another day.
We don’t however only have those three in the very top bracket though. Aaron Ramsey can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of them. We didn’t have this version of him two years ago
Then we have Koscielny. If there is a better central defender in the world, I haven’t seen him. I would not have said that two years ago.
Gibbs is now a really good leftback. Again much better than two years ago and the best we have had for at least since Cashley slunk across town.
Also its fair to say that AOC and Jack are much better than they were. Especially Jack as then he was out of the game totally.
Per and Giroud are also very much better than they were, having fully settled into the league.
Finally, Just look at what Szczesny has become compared to himself or Almunia two years ago. I believe he is the equal of any keeper in the country.
So, Santi, Mesut, Sanchez, Aaron, Gibbs, Koscielny and Szczesny are massive improvements on what we had just two years ago. Then Per, Giroud, Jack , AOC and even Theo are also improvements to one degree or another.
We must take into account the improvement of our existing players when looking at the team, not simply the players we have signed.
Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Unsigned CB, Monreal, Flamini, Jack, Rosicky, AOC, Giroud, Podolski ! Swap Abou for anyone if you like, and that is our second string eleven. If anyone can list a second team that we have ever had that comes close to that, be my guest.
So I am convinced this is indeed our strongest ever squad.
By the way, we haven’t even finished shopping.
By pedantic george @Blackburngeorge.