42 Comments

Arsenal’s Strongest Ever Squad ?

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 !” 

They say.

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.

 

42 comments on “Arsenal’s Strongest Ever Squad ?

  1. Without a doubt our strongest squad ever. Partially because a larger squad is now necessity. We’ve never had such a great blend of experience and youth. Also the youth in question is not wet behind the ears. The majority of the squad has got great experience and that is a lovely by-product of coming through a lean spell. We were forced to field young players when opponents would have a fully fledged international to rely on. Well guess what that’s put us in a strong position now.

    Good point well made george!

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  2. Also with your point about the natural progression of having settled players and also developing youth players…. how can people not see that, that is a stronger weapon than constant signings. Transfers Transfers Transfers. Does my nut.

    Surely the case of Gibbs, Ramsey, Ches, Ox, Jack proves that constant signings is not the only way to go. Look at 2 of the 3 top teams ever. Manure 90’s and Recent Barca were built from the youth project. We can possibly surpass those. Let’s just hope that project youth remains, I’m sure it will.

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  3. Good points, well made. The strength of the squad is not just measurable by names though. Versatility and a willingness to be versatile. Team spirit. Selflessness. Ambition. Durability. Loyalty. These qualities are so important.

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  4. Tim. I wish I had included that in the article. Great points.

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  5. Still think we are not defensively equipped for a whole season. We do need a sitting DM, because Arteta, Flamini/Wilshire are too small and weak and in some games will be unable to protect the defence. Just my opinion. I think we will fall away towards the end of the season. For many games out best line up will be wonderful, and very hard to beat.

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  6. Its not too late to do so! You have Editor’s permissions!

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  7. Great stuff George.
    Of course the coaching at Arsenal has hugely improved raw talents like Gibbs, Ramsey, AOC and Theo too.

    It’s something the Club mostly get no credit for.

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  8. Why not wait and make that a whole other post? The togetherness of this team is worth a good few paras.

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  9. Too true Canister. We don’t buy stars (well not very often), we make them. Get them in and mould them to our style. I’m looking forward to seeing who we get in as the next batch of 18-19 year olds to train for when our current 25+ players begin to wane.

    Obviously Chambers will be there.

    Who out of Chambers, Akpom, Bellerin, Haydens, Zalalem, Lipman, Olsson will make it into the realms of JW, AR, KG, AOC, TW?

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  10. george; true, very true. but tomas? nobody dances better than my shakira! rosicky is the best.

    is giroud now in you second eleven? i’ll put sanogo there at the moment. and campbell definitely has to be there.

    wenger must rate bellerin very highly that he allowed jenko to leave. i’m sure it is not just because he broke walcott speed record. he is so good with the ball to his feet. plus he uses both feet.

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  11. This is what we had as our strongest possible second XI in 2003-04:

    Stack;

    Hoyte(18 yo) – Keown – Cygan – Clichy(18 yo);

    Edu – Parlour;

    Bentley(18 yo) – Wiltord – Reyes(20 yo);

    Kanu

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  12. G_G…. your suggestion has merits, another post may be on its way.

    BTW – When do you ever see City or Chelsea play a youth player?

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  13. Yes, well said. The strength of the squad is that every player (and one or two who are not named) can contribute. Of the players we would expect to play regularly, no-one is less than what AW calls “international class” and three of our players are world class. The yutes and academy graduates have all shown they can step up, too – not counting Miyaichi here, he’s been injured or on loan the whole time we’ve had him.)

    Also, unlike a few years ago, we could put out a balanced “second string” because every position is well stocked. Numbers-wise, we are half a player short at CB (even taking into account TV’s replacement). But basically in every area we have competition AND different tactical and formation options.

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  14. I read an article the other day about the most promising Barça youths at the moment. Bellerin and Toral were the best players of the generation which is currently bubbling up. I also remember watching a Spanish football show where the pundit who supported Barcelona was furious over us landing them two. Apparently the outrage which was sparked by those two signings prevented Arsene from luring away a player they’re calling the new Guardiola.

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  15. Tense morning queuing at the cyber box office with my credit card clenched between my teeth !

    REWARDED with a ticket to Citeh on the 13th

    Yaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy

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  16. You may well be on the money there George – we have an exceptionally well equipped squad – As I think Chelsea have, and the Sheikh’s men, and even Liverpool and spuds have much greater depth of players than four or five years ago.

    The point may also be that since the arrival of Abramovich and the much greater investment by clubs in players in order to compete you really need two genuinely good players to cover every position, even though that will inevitably lead to good players having to sit out matches on the bench despite a huge price tag.

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  17. Sponsorship deals with Europecar, Indesit.
    It might be boring, but Kerching!!

    If we want Reus next summer – this is what has to be done.

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  18. At a stretch Flamini can cover at CB, but we will all be hiding behind our fingers every time he put’s in a two footed tackle inside the box.

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  19. It looks like Francis Coquelin might be around for a wee while yet, named on the UCL play-off squad. He counts as home grown.

    And believe it our not, our former No 4 is counted as home grown for the Chavs.

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  20. The amazing thing about the quality of the squad is Wenger and Gazidis have acheived this at a fraction of the cost of the oilers in particular. (Anybody have the figures?) Both oilers, by the way, have excellent squads but as Man City demonstrated over last weekend there is a significant gap in quality between their 1st and 2nd Eleven.

    On another note I just read that Liverpool have already spent north of £100M, basically exhausting the Suarez money, to bring in 6-7 players, most of them unproven in the Prem. Talk about doing a Spurs. Coincidentally there was a piece in the English press where Rodgers has annointed Sterling as his go-to-guy for the new season. Can you imagine expecting a 19-20 year-old to carry them like Suarez? Frankly he is either deluded or simply trying to hoodwink the public.

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  21. Good post George and well timed I think Arsene eluded to this very thing however the teams we are facing are also much better versions of themselves and so injuries luck and administration may play the biggest parts this season

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  22. FG, who are the three world class? ihope kos, per and tomas are among your three world class.

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  23. the invinsible was one of the weakest squad in recent history.the first eleven were just super humans to have gone a long season without injuries and fatigue. plus the addition of reyes in january was very timely and crucial.

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  24. “Versatility and a willingness to be versatile. Team spirit. Selflessness. Ambition. Durability. Loyalty. These qualities are so important.”

    There is a good spirit, we can all sense it.
    It’s why so many of us were happy that the club in the end ended up with a player who wants to play for the club, and not to have a holiday for a bit before moving to Bunga Bunga.
    I hope that Hunter can understand that, and is not in a sulk.
    Yes, we know the F Word could well save Mourinhio’s job, but Ramsey was player of the season last year and LJW scored the goal of the season…they are his true heirs, in his own words. Özil was only brought in to take up the Master’s mantle once Rosicky retires. Hehe! How great was the sight of the master and apprentice, of Rosicky and Wilshere coming on in the cup final? We’ll enjoy some more moments/super substitutions like that this season with a stronger squad.

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  25. The RB situation sums it all up. This is how it could go:

    Debuchy first choice this season.
    Bellerin and Chambers and even the Flamster in reserve. Jenks on loan.

    Next season Jenkinson could return, Bellein may go on loan, whilst Debuchy retains his senior spot. The season after, you’re looking at a toss up between the two younger and now experienced players as they compete to take over from Debuchy.

    Looks like a plan to me!
    Lovely jubbly.

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  26. els
    I think Chambers looks like he’s marked for the fast track. AW has not been that keen in the past to throw rookies in at CB up against the likes of the Sheikh’s team. Interesting.

    Bellerin and Chuba are both very very quick so I hope they both make it! Zelalem seems to be on the fast track but it could be a couple of years before we see him play. Hayden I like. Out of this bunch, even if they don’t make it at Arsenal, you get the impression they’ll all have good careers. They all need better luck with injuries then Afobe and Frimpong.

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  27. *’scuse the double post George, I can’t even manage to spell my own name properly….

    els
    I think Chambers looks like he’s marked for the fast track. AW has not been that keen in the past to throw rookies in at CB up against the likes of the Sheikh’s team. It is interesting.

    Bellerin and Chuba are both very very quick so I hope they both make it! I’d like to see them both get some games this season, even though Chuba has a lot of competition. Zelalem seems to be on the fast track but it could be a couple of years before we see him play. Hayden I like. Out of this bunch, even if they don’t make it at Arsenal, you get the impression they’ll all have good careers. They all need better luck with injuries then Afobe and Frimpong.

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  28. Fins

    I agree. We can’t expect to see them all make it with us. We know that doesn’t work out. Out of the prospects I’d love to see chuba and hayden make it.

    I think you’re right on Chambers even if we do sign another defender (don’t know if we will) I’m expecting him to get some good game time.

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  29. We have a lot of depth and plenty of good, attacking players. But let’s wait until the season ends until we label this group Arsenal’s strongest ever squad.

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  30. Last pre-season I was very, very, excited with what we saw from Chambo and Walcott in the forward areas against Abu Dhabi in Helsinki. Alas one of the few times we saw a further glimpse of that potential during last season was in the third round against the Tinies. And the team looked good. Yup: It was a tough old season for a pace junkie like myself *sobs*

    Chamberlain isn’t quite there with his fitness yet, I don’t think he’ll be starting against Palace. But it won’t be long before Arsene will be able to unleash his pace battery against the PL.

    In the meantime he can spice it up with a pinch of Yaya here and there alongside Giroud. The games where Yaya has started in order to beat the opposition CBs into submission (Liverpool, Everton cup games), he’s done the job before other strikers have come in to kill the game off. Could we see a repeat of this tactic against Palace or will OG get the start from the off? With the CL game coming up it all becomes very interesting. I’d give generous odds on Sanogo to start against Palace, maybe getting the first sixty, with Giroud starting in Turkey.

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  31. @ layksite August 13, 2014 at 12:17 pm
    I would say Ozil, Ramsey and Sanchez.

    @ layksite August 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm
    “the invinsible was one of the weakest squad in recent history.the first eleven were just super humans to have gone a long season without injuries and fatigue. plus the addition of reyes in january was very timely and crucial.”

    Precisely. We went unbeaten using about 13-15 players all season, if I remember the stat rightly.

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  32. Gains, it matters not whether we win the league. The competition is much stronger than in the past. Winning is not a measure of the strength of the squad, its a measure of relative strength.

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  33. FIns, what odds would you get on Yaya first goalscorer for a 2 nil?

    Now that’s worth a tenner.

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  34. Out of the youngsters coming through Hayden may not be the best technically however I believe he is the most mature which is why he had the captaincy last year, he is also the most versatile as he has played ever position apart from keeper

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  35. FG
    if world class means one of the best in the world at what you do, then kos is undoubtedly one. he may not be one before joining us but he is now. we shouldnt only regard players who join us from other big clubs as world class. kos can convinienly walk into the starting eleven of almost every big clubs in the world.

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  36. kos can convinienly walk into the starting eleven of every big clubs in the world

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  37. Actually yes, I agree about Kos.

    And he didn’t join us from a big club, nor did Ramsey!

    So that’s four, then.

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  38. I don’t say Ozil and Sanchez are world class because they joined us from big clubs, I say that because I think they are world class.

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  39. And Santi and Rosicky. IMO.

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  40. most of our players are, george. just wait and see how tv5 will outshine or even displace pique, the player previously regarded as the best defender in the world just because he plays for barca. just as manonne did last season and fabianski has already done by displacing vorm whom some idiots said was a better goalkeeper than our sir chezzer. injuries permitting, gibbs is among the ten best left backs in the world.

    so many fans wanted wenger to buy 19 year old varane last season but the same people are complaining about the english version of varane – calum chamber. calm, composed and inteligent. if we hadnt bought ozil last season, nobody would have regarded ramsey as a world class. but seeing ramsey outshining everyone in our midfield, they were all forced to admit the obvious. just wait and see our previously useless forwards perform side by side with alexis.
    the down side is that most of them would turn against him just as they did against ozil for daring to allow ramsey to shine so well last season when they all expect him to be shoulder higher than anyone in the midfield. i thought poldi was a world class when he joined us. no wonder some of them blame wenger for destroying some of this world class when they come to arsenal. i remember that monreal was suppose to put gibbs on the bench because gibbs is not up to the european standard and his positioning is suspect.

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