So last night was not the best of occasions for us but there were far more positives in there for me not to care too much about the result. I suppose it highlights the difference between this competition and others. If we were to lose in the league I think it would take me quite a while to recover but now I am already over it.
It was good to see us hold our own against a stronger team on paper. I was particularly impressed with Coquelin, Miquel, Frimpong and of course Oxlade-Chamberlain. He really does look a class act and I think he exemplifies what qualities a great all round footballer should have. Let’s just say I look forward to seeing him in the future.
The other point to note and perhaps my favourite part of last night was the humiliation that Nasri must have faced… Frimpong had him in his pocket for the night and at the end of the night revealed to him a “Beeeench” T-shirt, whilst not classy, was still brilliant. I am beginning to love this side of him and whilst I appreciate some fans find it irksome, it is something we haven’t had for a while.
Well with that mini round up, I suppose we can get back to Wenger’s Best Signings part 2.
5: Marc Overmars In: £7m Out: £25m
Marc Overmars arrived from Ajax after already winning 3 league titles in a relatively short career. This was soon added to as Overmars was an immediate success for Arsenal and managed to win the double in just his first season. He continued Arsene Wenger’s evolution of the club adding his blistering pace and sublime finishing to an already accomplished side. He may have not lasted long but given his incredible scoring record, particularly in big games, he remains a fan favourite to this day. Couple this with the fact that he essentially made the club well over 200% profit from his transfer, it is a great signing by any stretch. To make things even sweeter for the Arsenal faithful his transfer facilitated the moves for Robert Pires, Sylvain Wiltord and the reliable Lauren. Overall a fantastic signing with good business that followed.
4: Cesc Fabregas – In: £500k Out: £35m(ish)
Well here we have an incredible talent that Arsene Wenger hand picked at the age of 16. Upon signing him he helped nurture the lad who eventually blossomed into a world class talent. Fabregas was a technically gifted player, one whose ability is not seen very often. This was recognised by all and as a result he was in a protracted and very painful (for Arsenal fans at least) transfer saga to return to the team he came from. Aside from having great technical ability, Fabregas worked very hard for the team and had one of the best footballing brains I have witnessed. He broke countless records for the Arsenal in no small part due to the faith exhibited in him by Arsene Wenger. He became Arsenal's youngest ever first team player, aged 16 years and 177 days when he played in a league cup tie against Rotheram, he shortly after became the youngest goalscorer in Arsenal's history in a later round of the League Cup, scoring in a 5–1 victory against Wolverhampton Wonderers. The following season he capitalised on an injury to Vieria and managed to become Arsenal’s youngest ever League scorer in a match against Blackburn. Although he only won 1 major trophy in Arsenal colours his contribution to the club cannot be underestimated. He was one of Arsene Wenger’s Greatest signings.
So here we are into the business end of the top ten… So without further ado here is my top three.
3: Robert Pires – In: £6m Out: Free
Bought for just £6m from the profits of the Marc Overmars sale, it is fair to say that the Frenchman more than provided value for money. He was a phenomenal success and in a team with greats such as Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieria and Igor Stephanov, he more than held his own. In fact it can be argued that he was for large parts of his career one of Arsenal’s best players. He scored 84 goals in his time for Arsenal with 19 being his best return for a single season; not bad for a midfielder eh? He won two league titles, three FA cups and countless individual honours in his time at Arsenal. The highlight individually of course, was being recognised as the best player in the land by the Football writers in 2001/02.
2: Robin Van Persie In: £2.5m Now Worth: £100m
Now this might be a little controversial. Note at the start of the piece I had declared that ability was the single most important factor in deciding my rankings and whilst there are some supremely talented individuals here, Robin Van Persie is hands down one of the best players I have ever seen. Now I know he has been injured, hasn’t won much and all the rest of it but I have not seen many players that have such undoubted ability as this guy. Watching him live is such a joy, a pleasure I have not felt since watching the great Dennis Bergkamp. He is a truly amazing player with bags of talent but please do not think he is on this list due to current form alone. He has had undoubted ability since he joined the club and with some of the most unbelievable goals known to man to come from this man it is difficult for me to place many people higher than him. A particular highlight was his goal against Charlton. The fact he is now being compared to Ronaldo and Messi is testament to how good he really is and has been all this time. This is his longest period without injury and has cemented his place as a real talent. One can only imagine what could have been for Arsenal had he been fit these past few years.
1: Thierry Henry In: £11m Out: £16m
There was never really any doubt, was there? Arsenal’s record scorer and most celebrated talent, Thierry Henry is widely celebrated as the best Premier League player of all time. He scored at an incredible rate but it was his all round game that was really outstanding. He like many before him won two league titles and three FA cups and was instrumental in all of the successes. To highlight his importance as an individual just consider that in his time with Arsenal he was the French Player of the Year 5 times, Football Writers’ Player of the Year 3 times, in the PFA team of the year 6 times in a row, won the Premier League Golden Boot 4 times, won the European Golden Boot 2 times and was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame to name just a few. In 369 appearances for Arsenal he scored a record breaking 226 goals along with a phenomenal 92 assists. For ten of his best check out: Homage to a Legend. Thierry Henry is undoubtedly Arsene Wenger’s best signing to date!
Patrick Vieria In: £3.5m Out: £13.5m
I know, I hear what you are saying, even though I am not there. I hear you loud and clear; “How the hell is Vieria not in your list?”
Well to be honest, the main reason is it is a bit of a grey area. Patrick Vieria was signed in August of 1996 whilst Wenger was only appointed the manager of Arsenal at the end of September in the same year. Although it is clear that Wenger had some influence in the transfer and it was certainly a recommendation, it is difficult to give him full credit as he was not even in the job in the first place. So for this reason I have refrained from adding him. I shall leave you to speculate as to where he may have been if he had been included.
Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor AKA the Cash Cow
I will not go into detail with each transfer but only will say that as well as getting good quality players for relatively small amounts, Arsene Wenger was able to sell them on and make lots of profit. In fact around £30m at a very low estimate.