This is a first XI comparison of the Invincibles of 2003/04 and the current squad. Only 3 members have survived the Wenger axe and they are Gilberto, Toure and Lehmann, with Bergkamp retiring.
The last member to leave was Freddie and though his exit wasn’t as acrimonious as that of (C)Ashley Cole, his statements after leaving the club have been in bad taste. But, I wouldn’t blame him too much for the statements in the press conference where he says that WHU can overtake Arsenal this year. Wanna bet??
Anyway, how is the Invincible’s squad doing and what happened to them?
Jens Lehmann: He is one of the survivors and though he is prone to madness occasionally, he is one of the best shot stoppers around and his will to win is amazing.
(C)Ashley Cole: Is rotting in the Chelsea squad. Joined the blues after an acrimonious transfer saga in 2006 which saw Gallas and 5mn moving to Arsenal. Clichy has been very good defensively, but has some way to go before he can deliver the crosses that (C)ashley used to do.
Sol Campbell: Had become error prone after 2005. If his goal had become the winner for Arsenal in that 2006 champions league final, then his name would have got etched in the minds of Arsenal supporters. Alas, that didn’t happen and he is now with Portsmouth. Gallas is an able deputy on paper, but he still has to prove himself in an Arsenal shirt.
Kolo Toure: Another survivor. He has become the rock of Arsenal defence over the last 2 seasons. Personally, I like Toure partnering with Senderos as Senderos is better than Gallas in the air. But, overall the Toure- Gallas partnership looks good.
Lauren: Got injured in the 2006 season and when he returned he wasn’t the first choice as Eboue had made himself the first choice for that position with some impressive performances.
Robert Pires: Is currently with Villareal. I was disappointed with him leaving as he was one of the best players in that invincibles squad. Cole-Pires-Henry on the left was an amazing partnership and have torn defences apart. Rosicky is a player who is very similar to Pires, but likes to play in a more central role rather than on the left.
Patrick Vieira: Plays with Inter Milan currently. Was shipped out of Arsenal to Juventus in 2005 after an below par season. Lifted the last trophy that Arsenal won, the FA cup in 2005. Fabregas wears the No.4 shirt for Arsenal now and bosses the midfield.
Gilberto Silva: Another surviror. He is the captain currently and had a very good last season. If he continues playing like this then I don’t see a reason as to why the Arsenal midfield cannot contribute 25+ goals in a season.
Ljungberg: Moved to WHU in the last few days. Gave 100% when he was on the field though his performances in the last couple of years were below par. Hleb looks impressive in patches and is forming a decent partnership with Eboue.
Henry: Moved to Barca last month. Had begun to moan and crib about the team last season and was constantly complaining. However, his performances in the last 9 years have been nothing short of phenomenal for Arsenal. My choice for the 2nd best player in the squad. Van Persie has big shoes to fill and will have to put a 20+ goals a season performance this time around.
Bergkamp: The best outfield player Arsenal has seen in the last decade and half. Quite superb ball control. The only player of the Invincibles squad who went into natural retirement after 2005. Eduardo/Adebayor cannot fill these shoes, but they are different kind of players.
Players I would love to see
Of this lot of players, the only one I would have loved to see continue in an Arsenal shirt is Robert Pires. I feel we sorely missed Pires during our last campaign.
And going against popular opinion, I would love to see Reyes return to Arsenal. He can be a great player for Arsenal, but will only be a squad player in Madrid. Come back Jose…..
I would also like to see Walcott run the flanks for Arsenal and against slightly weaker opposition, they should play a 4-3-3 combination instead of 4-4-2. The only problem with 4-3-3 is the fact that Fabregas has to move from central midfield to the right, with Rosicky manning the left side.