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Invincibles Our best ever? New Boys Or could these be? Player + age Lehmann 34 Ramsdale 24 Lauren 27 Tomiyasu 24 Cole 23 Zinchenko 26 Campbell 29 Saliba 21 Toure 23 Gabriel 25 Gilberto Silva 27 Partey 29 Vieira 28 Xhaka 30 Bergkamp 35 Odegaard 24 Pires 30 Saka 21 Henry 26 Jesus/Nketiah 25/23 Ljungberg 27 Martinelli 21 Are we better than the Invincibles? Ramsdale above Lehmann? Of course, Gus, you are joking, right? Better than the Invincibles, our greatest ever? I think we have to call BS on this one. Eh, no, let’s take a look at what we have and what we had and then we can say more clearly. Now, for sure, we are looking at different systems, different eras, different challenges but still there are similarities, maybe the most massive being a giant from Manchester is standing in our way. Plus, the Invincibles were a seasoned, hardened team who knew how to win big trophies. In comparison, we are a bunch of kids with potential and we are unsure if they have that killer instinct, that never say die attitude, or even the skill level required. Sorry Jens, I am a bitter man But let’s start at goalkeeper Lehmann vs Ramsdale. I am going to go Ramsdale as I was never a huge Lehmann fan. Maybe it is the Champions League final that sways it for me but it seems I am a petty man with a grudge. So 1-0 to the Arsenal, sorry, to the new boys. When I see 1-0 I automatically say to the Arsenal. Lauren vs Tomiyasu. Now first I have to say that I am choosing Tomiyasu over White as I feel he can put players in his pocket better. Lauren was a super player, unruffled and reliable. A good body of work with Arsenal and 7 trophies, I probably have to give it to him just about. Tomiyasu is similar, reliable, works hard and doesn’t let us down. A very tight 1-1 so. Cole vs Zinchenko. Tricky but if we take Ashley Cole’s career as a whole, his 107 caps for England, his huge trophy cabinet and compare that to Zinchenko’s body of work for us it is hard not to give it to him. Cole was under-rated at Arsenal but not at subsequent clubs or internationally. A lot of Arsenal fans can’t forgive him but I feel they should have recognized that he was world class. We had Gael Clichy waiting in the wings and I feel that was a big influence on the decision but Arsenal have always had a touch of stinginess about them. Maybe they should have given him the money his class deserved. Zinchenko might surpass him and I would love if he did but for now 2-1 to the Invincibles. Sol Campbell vs William Saliba William Saliba reminds me of Campbell. Both unruffled, classy in the tackle, comfortable with the ball and above all reliable. Big names can appear against us but these type of guys give us confidence. Campbell is a huge favourite of mine and he was part of the holy Trinity at Arsenal, him at the back, Vieira in midfield and Henry upfront. You have no idea how happy I would be if Saliba turned out to be better than Campbell. But for now it is 3-1 to the Invincibles. Kolo Toure vs Gabriel Magalhães This is tough. Toure combined very well with Campbell and was almost Bobby Moore like in how he won the ball but his career was never as good when he left Arsenal. I feel he was in the right defence and maybe looked a bit better than he was. So I am going to give it to Gabriel. I would certainly pick him if forced. 3-2 and one back for the new boys. Gilberto Silva vs Thomas Partey The easy answer every time for this exercise is Invincibles first but Partey is good, very good. If he had gone to Barcelona or Real early on I might have to give a different answer here but marginally the vote goes to Gilberto, I mean he won the World cup, his body of work is stronger. Again, though, Partey could change my mind over the next seasons. 4-2 to the Invincibles. Patrick Vieira vs Granit Xhaka Xhaka has done miracles, we can all agree, but Patrick is Patrick. Maybe we will never see another midfielder as good as him. 5-2 to the Invincibles. Bergkamp vs Odegaard Dennis - better than all the rest? Of course here the systems make it difficult and Odegaard plays a different role but I feel it is the closest comparison I can make. Bergkamp did not play on the wing so I can’t compare him to our wide men. Thierry Henry says that Bergkamp was the best he ever played with, which means he is up against Messi and Zidane and wins. The amazing thing is that maybe Odegaard could surpass Dennis. He is good but Dennis was Dennis. 6-2 to the Invincibles. Robert Pires vs Saka Nowadays, Pires would be criticized because he wasn’t a great defender whereas Saka can and does do both. Pires body of work is greater but I am just going to give it to Saka because I love him so much. 6-3 and another back for the new boys. Thierry Henry vs Gabriel Jesus/ Eddie Nketiah Well, you all know the answer to this one. Our greatest ever up against either Jesus or Eddie Nketiah as I am truly not sure who is better for the team, but Henry would go in all day long. We had 4 unbelievable strikers in Henry, Bergkamp, Wiltord and Kanu then, and maybe we will have 4 similar in Nketiah, Jesus, Balogun and Trossard to terrify the opponents, but at the moment I would certainly put Henry, Bergkamp and Kanu above anyone we have now. 7-3 to the Invincibles. Kanu- an Invincible sub would get into our new team? Ljungberg vs Martinelli Freddie just kept on doing it, he was loved by us all and Martinelli is also strong in our affections. Ljungberg had a more all round game and played a different role than Martinelli and I feel that I have to pick him for now but that could change in the future. 8-3 to the Invincibles. So, there you have it. A comprehensive win for the team of 2003/4. I doubt if anyone would give me a serious argument at the moment but in all seriousness, if this team could surpass our legends and go on a ten year run like the great Liverpool and Manchester United teams of the past, winning leagues and Champions league with abandon, then you can all come back to me and say, Gus, you were talking nonsense, our new boys, let’s call them the Incredibles, are better than the Invincibles and hardly any would get into an Incredible 11. Ah, I can dream.
The Buy Well Team Jennings Dixon Toure Campbell Sansom Llungberg Cazorla Vieira Pires Henry Bergkamp Spend money, Arsenal Ok, our best ever buys put into a team. There is no way I can win with this one as everyone has their favourites and of course, I can go back further than a lot of you, but I am going to give it a go. I have a few rules as it is impossible to talk truly about players before your time as coverage was very restricted when I was growing up. You pretty much had to go to a live match to see it and 15 minutes on Match of the Day didn’t really give true pictures. So I am choosing players from 1969 onwards and also not choosing players who came to Arsenal very young, like Fabregas. Also not choosing players like Keown who started at Arsenal but was bought from Everton after not quite making it first time around. So if you wish to choose your own they are the rules. Also I am going 4 4 2 because it suits the team. Right from the start I am going to say that I have not chosen any current player simply because none have proven themselves to be Arsenal legends yet but feel free to choose one if think they are better than my choices. Big Pat Or big David or Big Jens? And so goalkeeper. In fact we have not brought through many goalkeepers so all the big names are available. I am going to say the top three are Lehmann, Seaman and my choice, Pat Jennings, possibly because he was foolishly discarded by Tottenham and went on to become a legend with Arsenal. So one Irishman makes the cut and he is the only one. He helped make Northern Ireland legends for their World cup exploits and played, it seemed, forever. But in truth, all 3 candidates are top class and it is difficult to say truly, which is the best. Huge hands Pat for Goalie I am going to go with Lee Dixon for right back as Pat Rice started at Arsenal and cannot appear on this list and truly it is hard to put someone in front of a guy who won 4 league championships, 2 FA cups and one European Cupwinners cup. Viv Anderson and Lauren were challengers but I would just about put Dixon in front. He set up the vital goal for Arsenal v Liverpool in 1989 as well so he deserves the nod. One of our best I feel Kenny Sansom for left back with Nigel Winterburn as runner up. 86 appearances for England over Winterburn’s one gives him the position I feel. He was classy and as a full back won player of the year in 1981. Full backs don’t win player of the year. So classy Centre backs and defensive midfielders are a bit tricky For centre backs I am going to go with Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure simply because they were superb together. Steve Bould is a possible but he never truly became first choice and only got 2 England caps. Frank McLintock also pulled up stumps for us as captain and was a strong choice. We brought through plenty of legends of our own in this position, Tony Adams, David O’Leary and Terry Neill spring to mind. Not available for this team, though. They never let us down The midfield 2 for me are Patrick Vieira and Santi Cazorla. Vieira will be everybody’s choice, of course, as one of Arsenal’s greatest ever. Santi, for me, was special. Emanuel Pettit was of course a contender but he didn’t stay too long at Arsenal. Alan Ball also but I feel his best days were behind him at Arsenal. Little - Cazorla And Large - Vieira Wingers are easier to pick Freddie Ljungberg as right winger/midfielder although he could play both sides. One of Wenger’s greatest buys, everyone loved Freddie. I feel the only real serious contender was Marc Overmars but he didn’t stay too long at Arsenal. Happy days Robert Pires as leftwinger/midfield. I think an easy choice. Voted Arsenal’s 6th best player of all time, he was everything you need in his position. He scored goals, got penalties, created assists and won lots of trophies. As are Strikers Dennis Bergkamp as striker. What can I say? He could do things nobody else could. All his teammates said he was an amazing footballer. Thierry Henry, when asked who was the best player he ever played with, said the Dutchman. That tells you everything when you think of the legends he played with for France and Barcelona. Better than Batman and Robin? And Thierry Henry alongside him. He invented the art of only scoring great goals. He could score a hat trick and all of them could be contenders for goal of the month. Widely regarded as probably the best player ever in the Premier league, he is the easiest pick of the day. And those left out? Ian Wright omitted? Yes, but what could I do? However, supposing he had come from Palace at 21 instead of 27? His goal record would be well in front of Henry’s and may have made my choice harder. Still, I doubt if I would have put him in front of Bergkamp or Henry. Ozil was another possible as, at his best, he was excellent, his ability to create was unsurpassed but he just didn’t do enough to get into the team. I feel modern young fans don’t appreciate how good he was. The heart of the Invincibles You may have noticed that this is also the essence of the Invincibles and that is inevitable. Any team that can keep their game to such a high consistent level have to be top class. And a lot were bought by Wenger who would, of course be manager of this team having been bought from Grampus 8. So buying is good, without them Arsenal would have been a far poorer team. Next week I am going to go for the best home grown side and see how they shape up against this team. Of course, few would regard this as Arsenal’s best ever side because some legends were home grown but it would give any team a hard game. So, what do people think? Have I got it right? Where can we finish update. Never predict football matches, it is the road to poverty. Now we have got to do it the Arsenal way, the hard way that turns Arsenal fans old before their time. I have a secret to confess, I am really only 21 years old, the grey hairs have been given to me by Arsenal. Of course we can still do it but we must go on a run, Chelsea and Man Utd are the right start in one sense as the pressure is less against top teams and they will give you chances. The problem is our weakened defence. I think we will concede in both games. We have to score and we don’t seem all that good at scoring. We are the lowest scorers in the top 7. However, I am going to add to my 21 year old grey hairs by saying 4 points to keep us in the hunt.