This is part four of a six-part series chronicling the list of 222 players who have played under Arsene Wenger’s 22 years at Arsenal.
The move to the Emirates Stadium started a period of austerity and lack of silverware. With the departure of several senior team members, the young squad finished fourth but reached the League Cup final where they lost to
Banter of the season: The 1-0 loss to Sheffield United who had Phil Jagielka in goal.
The 07/08 season saw the young squad five points clear at the top of the league with 12 matches to go. Then Eduardo’s injury in the 2-2 match at Birmingham derailed the league campaign as the team ended in 3rd place.
Banter of the season: William Gallas and his meltdown at Birmingham.
The club’s 08/09 campaign did not pose any challenge to the league title as the team finished fourth. The FA Cup and Champions League run ended in the semi-final stages to Chelsea and Manchester United respectively.
Banter of the season: Wigan at home. Eboue gets subbed in. Gives the ball away. Home fans boo. Eboue panics. Fans boo louder. Eboue tackles Kolo Toure. Fans boo again. The sub gets subbed off. Eboue cries.
The 09/10 season saw Arsenal chase the top two teams for the majority of the season as the team finished in third place. Early exits in the domestic cup competitions and a quarterfinals loss to Barcelona in the Champions League meant that the club had to be content with a Fair Play Award trophy.
Banter of the season: Old Trafford. Wenger gets sent to the stands after kicking a water bottle. The manager strikes a Jesus pose.
PART FOUR: Cup finals and the Banter Era
114. Abou Diaby
When fit, Diaby was brilliant to watch but he was injury-prone. Extremely. The Frenchman suffered as many as 37 injuries in his 9-year tenure at Arsenal.
Signed from Auxerre in 2006, Diaby stayed in Arsenal’s books from 2006 to 2015, a testament to Wenger’s faith in the midfielder. His best playing days were restricted to the 09/10 season where he featured in 40 matches.
Diaby joined Marseille in 2015 but after more injuries, he announced his retirement from football in 2019.
115. Emmanuel Adebayor
Signed from Monaco in the 05/06 winter transfer window, the Togolese scored on his Premier League debut against Birmingham City. Following the departure of Theirry Henry in 2007, Adebayor was the target man as he netted 30 goals in the 07/08 season.
Then came the other side: His on-field fight with teammate Nicklas Bendtner and his push to move to bigger European teams. At the start of the 09/10 season, he was sold to Manchester City. The first match with his former club saw Adebayor kick van Persie on the face, slap Alex Song, and famously run across the pitch to celebrate in front of the traveling Arsenal fans.
After a season he fell down the pecking order and was loaned to Real Madrid in the winter transfer window of 10/11. He signed up with Spurs in 2011 and his career went downhill. Adebayor currently plays for Olimpia Asuncion in the Paraguayan league.
Arsenal fans hate him and clearly the feeling continues to remain mutual. Then there is this rant against his own family.
116. Tomas Rosicky
Signed from Borussia Dortmund in 2006, Rosicky was nicknamed the ‘Little Mozart’ owing to his ability to dictate the game. A playmaker with deft feet and unshakable commitment on the field, Rosicky’s biggest enemy was his own body.
The Czech had as many as 39 injuries during his 10-year stint at Arsenal. He missed the 08/09 season in its entirety.
With a start-stop career, he featured in one FA cup match in the 15/16 season before announcing that he will be leaving the club. He returned to Sparta Prague and retired at the end of the season
A real shame for he was a delight to watch whenever he was on song. In Wenger’s own words: “ If you love football, you love Rosicky”. True.
117. Theo Walcott
The Arsenal faithful waited for Walcott to blossom ever since he arrived as a teenager from Southampton in 2006. Many feel that the pacy forward failed to fulfill his potential, however, the expectations placed on him at such a young age were too high.
Scoring his first goal at the 2007 League Cup finals against Chelsea, Walcott went on to chalk up 108 goals for Arsenal. The 12/13 season was his best with 14 goals and 10 assists in the league. After 12 years at the club, he joined Everton in 2018.
He did provide a few glorious moments, plus he is a nice lad who writes children’s books. But then, did you see that ludicrous display last night?
118. Julio Baptista
Nicknamed ‘The Beast’, Baptista joined Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid for the 06/07 season. He did not quite fit into Wenger’s system – or the Premier League for that matter.
The Brazilian played a crucial role in Arsenal’s League Cup run. Scoring four goals (plus missing a penalty) in a 6-3 win over Liverpool in a quarter-final match before going on to score a brace and an own goal in a 2-1 win over Tottenham in the semifinals.
He returned to Madrid at the end of the season and was sold to Roma in 2008. Since 2011, he has played for Malaga, Cruzeiro, Orlando City, and CFR Cluj before announcing his retirement in 2019.
119. William Gallas
Gallas moved to north London in 2006 as part of the Ashley Cole deal. The Frenchman was supposed to be a reliable performer but he had other ideas of his own.
The defender was surprisingly handed the captain’s armband over Gilberto Silva at the start of the 07/08 season. His leadership qualities peaked in the match against Birmingham City where he stood into the opposition half in protest of a penalty given against Arsenal, kicked an advertising hoarding before striding off to sit in the center-circle by himself after the final whistle.
He wasn’t done yet, he accused Gilberto Silva of attention-seeking in the changing room and the duo nearly came to blows. Arsenal’s title challenge evaporated soon after. Against all odds, Wenger let him keep the captain’s armband the following season. After four seasons, he joined Tottenham in 2010 before retiring with Perth Glory in the A-League in 2014.
A defender so good that he wore the #10 jersey left behind by Dennis Bergkamp. What’s the definition of megalomania again?
120. Matthew Connolly
An academy product who did not get much of a look in barring a couple of League Cup appearances.
The defender signed for Queens Park Rangers in 2008 and joined Cardiff City in 2012. He was voted the Player of the Year in the 2015/16 season, however, the defender has not gotten much playing time in the Premier League.
The captain of the Brazilian 2005 U-17 World Cup team joined Arsenal from Sao Paolo in 2006.
Following the departure of Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto Silva in 08/09, the midfielder found a regular place in the team playing 51 matches in all competitions in a single season. Injuries crippled his career and he headed back to Sao Paulo in 2013.
He also played for Al Wahda in the UAE but more injuries hampered his progress. Denilson was last seen playing for Botafogo (SP).
122. Mark Randall
Touted by Wenger as the player for the future, the midfielder did not live up to the billing. Signed on as a youth player, Randall made multiple cup appearances and a couple in the Premier League.
Lack of opportunities meant loan spells and ultimately he signed for Chesterfield in League One and he spent most of his time in the lower leagues – the latest being Larne FC in Ireland.
123. Armand Traore
Signed from Monaco in 2005, the technically gifted left-back had to fight for his spot against the likes of Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy.
He went on loan to Portsmouth and Juventus during his time at Arsenal before signing on for Queens Park Rangers in 2011.
After his move to Nottingham Forest, Traore joined the Turkish club Çaykur Rizespor in 2019. He was moved down to the club’s U21 side before securing a move to Cardiff City on a short term contract. Traore was released without featuring in a single game in January 2020.
124. Mart Poom
The six-time Estonian footballer of the year was signed as a back-up goalkeeper to Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia in 2005.
Poom was rarely called upon but he did make one Premier appearance against Portsmouth at the end of the 06/07 season. He also picked up the Champions League runners-up medal after the 05/06 final despite not playing a single minute.
After a move to Watford in 2007, Poom retired from the game in 2009. He currently works as the goalkeeper coach of the Estonian national team.
125. Bacary Sagna
A brilliant Wenger signing. Plucked from Auxerre in 2007, Sagna went on to cement his place in the team as the Gunners right-back for seven years.
Undistinguishable with his blonde braids, Sagna was a consummate professional and the Arsenal fans had little to begrudge his move to Manchester City at the end of the 13/14 season. Towards the end of his career, Sagna featured for Serie A side, Benevento, and the MLS club, Montreal Impact.
A free agent, Sagna will always remain in the hearts of all Gooners.
126. Eduardo da Silva
Pleasing on the eye and a deadly finisher, Eduardo was a fan favorite. Signed from Dinamo Zagreb in 2007, the Brazil-born Croatian made an impact with outrageous goals.
Unfortunately, his career went off course after that horror leg break against Birmingham. The incident caused a furor among the Gunners faithful and derailed the 07/08 title challenge. His return from injury in Feb 2009 saw him score a brace but injuries continued to hamper his progress. He signed with Shakhtar Donetsk the following season and was applauded by the Arsenal fans when he scored at the Emirates in a Champions League clash.
Last seen playing for Legia Warsaw, many feel that Arsenal was scarred by the revulsion of “Dudu’s” injury as the Premier League trophy slipped out of their grasp.
127. Lassana Diarra
Signed in August 2007 from Chelsea, sold to Portsmouth in January 2008. That is Lassana Diarra’s career in a nutshell.
The talented midfielder’s career path is a head-spinner. The Frenchman won the FA Cup with Portsmouth, spent three seasons with Real Madrid, went to Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkala, and Lokomotiv Moscow, returned to Ligue 1 with Marseille, joined Al Jazira in UAE before joining PSG before announcing his retirement in February 2019.
128. Lukasz Fabianski
Signed from Legia Warsaw in 2007, the Polish goalkeeper served as a backup to Manuel Almunia and Wojciech Szczęsny in his seven-year tenure at Arsenal.
Despite good performances, he was also prone to conceding soft goals which earned him the nickname ‘FlappyHandski’. In his last season, Fabianski appeared in domestic cup matches which culminated in the 2013/14 FA Cup final which ended Arsenal’s nine-year trophy drought.
Fabianski signed with Swansea City in 2014. His profile as a goalkeeper took a turn for the better as he was voted Player of the Season in 17/18. The Pole in goal signed with West Ham United in 2018.
129. Fran Merida
Signed from Barcelona’s youth set-up for a world-record fee for a 15-year-old in 2005. The midfielder failed to live up to the high standards of the senior team.
After six league appearances, Merida joined Atletico Madrid after five years with the Gunners and plied this trade in Portugal (Braga), Spanish second division, and Brazil. The midfielder currently plays for Osasuna, a club he signed for in 2016.
The Spaniard is yet to command the transfer fee as he did as a 15-year-old.
130. Nacer Barazite
The Dutch youth international signed from NEC in 2006 but was restricted to playing in domestic cup competitions.
Barazite went out on loan for a couple of seasons before signing a deal with Austria Wien on a permanent deal in 2012. His footballing journey has taken him to AS Monaco, FC Utrecht before going heading east to Yeni Malatyaspor in Turkey, and further east to Al Jazira Club in the UAE. His look east policy continued when he signed for Thailand’s Buriram United in 2019.
In 2015, the Dutch-Moroccan came under the scanner when he refused to shake the hands of a female journalist owing to religious reasons.
131. Kieran Gibbs
A cultured left-back who joined the youth team in 2004 and served as a backup to Gael Clichy in the senior team. Part of Wenger’s young English core signed, Gibbs could not nail down the starting spot. Made several substitute appearances as a wing-back or to shore up the defense on the left flank. Gibbs captained the team in League Cup matches in his last season with Arsenal.
In 2017, Gibbs signed for West Bromwich Albion for £7m – the initial bid from West Brom was for £10m. Go figure.
In his 13 years at the club, no incident has been as famous as that red-card incident when he was wrongly sent off by referee Andre Marriner, who had mistaken him for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
132. Henri Lansbury
Signed as a schoolboy in 1999, the attacking midfielder was tipped for big things at the youth level. A member of the 2009 FA Youth Cup-winning team, he could not force his way into the Arsenal midfield.
Lansbury sent on loan spells in the Championship with Scunthorpe, Watford, Norwich City, and West Ham United. He gained cult status at Norwich with his celebrations.
In a bid to gain more game time, Lansbury joined Nottingham Forest in the Championship in 2012. At present, he is playing for Aston Villa where injuries forced him on the sidelines for large parts of his tenure.
Extremely talented, Lansbury’s best moment with the Gunners was this goal against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
133. Aaron Ramsey
What do you call a Gunner who scored two winners in two FA Cup finals? Ans: A certified modern-day Arsenal legend.
Sought by Manchester United, the Welshman was signed from Cardiff City in 2008 at the age of 16.
The engine in the Arsenal midfield, Ramsey suffered a horrific leg break at Stoke City in 2010 that nearly ended his career and created the animosity between the Potters and the Gunners faithful.
A scorer of bangers, Ramsey’s biggest moment was in the 2014 FA Cup final when he scored the winner to end the 9-year trophy drought. Three years later, he went on to score the winner of the 2017 FA Cup final.
After 11 years at the club, he left on a free transfer to Juventus. Clearly, the club could have tried harder to make him stay because he clearly loved the club.
134. Samir Nasri
Signed from Marseille in 2008, Nasri scored on debut against West Bromwich Albion. His best performance of the season came against Manchester United where he scored a brace.
The technically-gifted player spent three good seasons in London and then his relationship with fans broke down following a transfer saga at the start of 11/12 season. Since his move to Manchester City, Nasri had been a constant target for the fans and his dig at his former club widened the chasm.
After five seasons and the arrival of Pep Guardiola, Nasri was sent on loan to Sevilla before signing for Antalyaspor in 2017. What happened between the two signings is the stuff of legends. Nasri’s encounter with drip doctors in December 2016 resulted in a series of bizarre tweets. In February 2018, he was handed a six-month ban by UEFA for receiving the treatment.
Lest we forget, here’s a reminder of his long feud with William Gallas, the latter accused Nasri of planning to have him tasered. Shocking, I tell you.
135. Carlos Vela
The king of scooped finishes in League Cup games, Vela joined Arsenal from Guadalajara in 2005. Owing to work permit restrictions, Vela spent two seasons on loan in Spain.
In 2008 his work permit came through and Vela scored a hattrick in his first start in the League Cup tie against Sheffield United. With limited starts in the league, Vela joined West Bromwich Alboin on loan in the winter of 2010.
The following season, he spent the full season on loan at Real Sociedad before signing a permanent deal in 2012. After six years in La Liga, the Mexican international joined LA Galaxy in the MLS where he was voted the MVP in 2019.
If you excuse the soundtrack, here is a collection of Vela’s trademark chipped goals.
136. Jack Wilshere
A fan favorite, Wilshere wore the Arsenal colors for 17 years. Signed at the age of nine in 2001, the midfielder went on to become the youngest-ever league debutant at the age of 16 years and 254 days against Blackburn in 2008.
Wilshere played a key role in Arsenal’s 08/09 FA Youth Cup win and signed his professional contract four months after his senior team debut. His playing style drew comparisons with the Arsenal great Liam Brady.
After making his debut with England, the 10/11 season was Wilshere’s best with Arsenal. His man of the match performance against Barcelona will live long in the memories of Arsenal fans. Then the injuries came along hampering his development as a player. Wilshere left Arsenal in June 2018 to join West Ham and his injury problems continue.
His goal against Norwich is worth watching again. And again.
137. Francis Coquelin
The midfielder looked to be heading the way of other untapped talents but made a sensational return to become a key man.
Spotted by former-Gunner, Gilles Grimandi, the midfielder signed from Stade Lavallois in 2008. After a handful of appearances in the cup matches, Coquelin was sent on loan to Lorient, Freiburg, and Charlton Athletic.
An injury crisis in the Arsenal midfield in the 14/15 season was the turning point for Coquelin. His performances as a midfield pivot to Santi Cazorla cemented his place in the team.
Coquelin signed for Valencia in the winter transfer on the 17/18 season. He won the Copa del Rey with the club in 2019.
138. Gavin Hoyte
Hoyte signed with the club at the age of nine before signing a professional deal in 2007. The London-born defender played three League Cup matches and one Premier League match in the 08/09 season.
He spent most of his time on loan and was released by the club in 2012. He signed for Dagenham & Redbridge in League Two. With stints in Gillingham, Barnet, and Eastleigh, Hoyte returned to Dagenham & Redbridge in 2018. Hoyte is currently playing for Maidstone United in the National League South.
Similar to his brother, Justin, he went on to represent Trinidad & Tobago at the international level.
139. Jay Simpson
The forward joined the club at the age of nine. Simpson signed as a senior player in 2007 and made three appearances for the club. In a rare start, Simpson bagged a brace in a League Cup tie against Wigan Athletic in 2008.
After being sent on loan for three seasons, he signed with Hull in 2010. Simpson’s career has seen him play in Thailand’s Buriram Club – where he scored the winner in the Kor Royal Cup in 2014 and the MLS with Philadelphia Union.
He returned to England in 2019 to represent Leyton Orient before signing for the Cypriot club, Nea Salamina.
Let’s take a look at his two goals for Arsenal.
140. Mikael Silvestre
A strange Wenger signing. Silvestre’s arrival from Manchester United in 2008 did not impress the fans.
His two seasons with the Gunners were largely forgettable and he moved to Werder Bremen in 2010. In the twilight of his career, he spent a season in the MLS with Portland Timbers, before one last salvo in the 2014 Indian Super League with Chennaiyin FC.
In his 26 league appearances, his greatest contribution to Arsenal was this moment against Manchester United.
141. Amaury Bischoff
Given Wenger’s ability to unearth uncut gems, the midfielder’s signing in 2008 raised expectations. Signed from Werder Bremen, Bischoff went on to make four substitute appearances for the club.
Hampered by injury, Bischoff spent one season in London. The Franco-Portuguese joined Académica de Coimbra in Portugal in 2009. In the past decade, the midfielder has played for Aves, Preußen Münster, and Hansa Rostock before moving to Bahlinger SC in Germany.
Bischoff represented France at the U-18 level and chose to play for Portugal’s U-21 team but never made the transition to senior international football. He will always remain as Wenger’s gamble on talent.
142. Rui Fonte
Signed as a youth player in 2006, the Portuguese forward spent three years at Arsenal but made only one League Cup appearance.
Upon his release in 2009, Fonte joined Sporting CP before going on to play for a host of clubs like Benfica, Braga, Espanyol, and Fulham. He reunited with his older brother, Jose, during a loan spell at OSC Lille in 2018.
Rui signed a permanent deal with Braga in 2019.
143. Paul Rodgers
Not to be confused with the singer, Rodgers joined the youth ranks in 2005. The defender played one League Cup match against Burnley in 2008.
He was released in 2009 and has played for a host of clubs in the lower leagues namely Northampton Town and Newport County. He last played with Harlow Town F.C in the Isthmian League.
144. Andrey Arshavin
Arsenal’s most expensive signing moved from Zenit St Petersburg in February 2010. The Russian showed glimpses of his enormous talent, especially with his four goals against Liverpool.
He struggled to settle away from home and was often placed on the bench. It was a story about an unusual talent that was wasted because of laziness and dissatisfaction. After five seasons in London, Arshavin went back to Zenit but life was never the same. After a stint at FC Kairat in Kazakhstan, Arshavin announced his retirement in 2018.
There are many memories with the Russian apart from this goal against Barcelona. Wearing an Arshavin t-shirt under his jersey, the Q&A on his personal website, nearly walking into the pitch with a headgear, these pictures, and many more.
He still has a soft corner for Wenger – after all, he named his son after his former manager.
145. Vito Mannone
Signed as a youth player in 2005, Mannone had to wait for ages for a first-team chance. He got his big break in 2009 when Manuel Almunia and Łukasz Fabiański were out injured. He had a good run of games that gave Wenger a goalkeeping conundrum: Almunia, Fabiański, or Mannone? Hmmm.
Eventually, he was relegated to the bench and subsequently sent out on loan the next season. The Italian joined Sunderland in 2013 and enjoyed relative success before moving to Reading in 2017. He is currently on loan at Esbjerg fB in Denmark.
146. Thomas Vermaelen
Strong in the air, comfortable on the ball, but prone to the odd costly brain melt and perennially crocked. Vermaelen joined Arsenal from Ajax in 2009. After a strong 09/10 season, he missed out on most of the 10/11 season due to injuries.
The Belgian formed a partnership with Laurent Koscielny and went on to captain the team in the 12/13 season. Vermaelen left Arsenal after winning the 2014 FA Cup. His next destination was Barcelona where he 14/15 La Liga season despite playing one match.
Injuries persisted and after five years (including one on loan at Roma), Vermaelen signed up with Vissel Kobe in Japan.
147. Gilles Sunu
The pacy forward joined the youth team in 2007 and was part of the 2009 FA Youth Cup-winning team. The Frenchman impressed with the reserves team and made his debut in the League Cup against West Bromwich Albion in 2009.
The only other match he featured in was a substitute appearance in the Champions League against Olympiacos – a game where Wenger featured a second-string team.
Out on loan, his spell at Lorient developed into a permanent deal in 2011. He spent seven years in French football before joining BB Erzurumspor in 2018.
Although he represented France at the youth level, Sunu followed his father’s footsteps to play for the Togo national team.
148. Wojciech Szczesny
With a name that could score a billion points on the scrabble board, Szczesny was Arsenal’s uber-confident, cigarette-smoking goalkeeper who paid the price for one too many high-profile mistakes.
Signed as a youth player in 2006, Szchzesny established himself as the number one goalie after injuries to Łukasz Fabiański and Manuel Almunia in 2010. By the start of the 11/12 season, Szczesny established himself as the # 1 goalkeeper. In 13/14 he was awarded the Golden Glove alongside future Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.
The 14/15 season did not go according to plan, as high-profile errors culminated in him getting dropped with Ospina replacing him. The arrival of Cech in 15/16 prompted a move to Roma on loan. After two seasons, Juventus came knocking and the Pole signed up with the perennial Serie A winners.
Popular with the fans, “Chesney” is a Gooner at heart.
149. Sanchez Watt
The forward joined Arsenal as a seven-year-old in 1998. A member of the 2009 FA Youth Cup-winning team, Watt scored on his senior team debut in the League Cup match against West Bromwich Albion in 2009.
After two League Cup ties, Watt had to contend with loan spells with League One teams before signing a permanent deal with Colchester United in 2013.
He also featured in the 2015 edition of Indian Super League with Kerala Blasters, where he scored two goals. Watt returned to England is playing for Hemel Hempstead Town FC in the National League South.
150. Craig Eastmond
Signed from Millwall at the age of 12 in 2002, the midfielder was a member of the 2009 FA Youth Cup-winning team.
Eastmond made a promising start in his senior team debut against Liverpool in a 09/10 League Cup tie. The versatile layer was also deployed at right-back on occasion. Unfortunately, his Champions League debut against Shakhtar Donetsk was a forgettable affair as he scored an own goal.
With a lack of playing time, Eastmond was sent on loan and his spell at Colchester United developed into a permanent deal in 2013. Unfortunately, his career has did not take off as expected as plying in the National League with Sutton United.
All was not lost as Eastmond faced his boyhood club in the FA Cup in 2017. Judging by his comments, he clearly loves Arsenal.
Two of his brothers are professional footballers while his cousin, Kyle Eastmond, has represented the England rugby team.
151. Kyle Bartley
Yet another member of the 2009 FA Youth Cup-winning team. The giant center-back who joined Arsenal in 2007 went on to captain the reserve team.
Unlike most up-and-coming players, Bartley did not represent Arsenal in the domestic cups, instead, he made his first-team debut in a Champions League match against Olympiacos in 2009.
His tenure was dotted with loan spells at Sheffield United and Rangers before joining Swansea in 2012. Bartley currently plays for West Bromwich Albion.
Top four was now a trophy for Wenger. Then Arsenal went on to actually win one in 2014.
After 22 years, 1235 matches, three league titles, and seven FA Cup trophies, the Arsene Wenger era was over in 2018.
Newspaper headlines asked “Arsene Who?”, as the Frenchman began his journey to transform Arsenal FC – and English football forever.
Wenger’s team finished in second place for three consecutive seasons before winning his second double in 01/02.
Wenger creates history with the Invincibles while Arsenal say goodbye to Highbury.