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Who were Arsenal’s worst players? The History Site investigates.

THERAPY – A GROUP EXERCISE

With all this present day chit-chat about “Wenger Out!”, I’d like to offer a little perspective, stimulate some debate, and hopefully cheer everyone up a bit. You always read these polls about who were the best players to ever put on an Arsenal shirt, which always infuriate me: you’re always left with this niggling feeling of “Aah…those were the days…why can’t the current team be as good as we used to be?”

But you never read a poll asking for nominations as to the worst players to ever put on an Arsenal shirt? Now, if we ever focused on that question, that would offer a whole lot of perspective and I am sure many readers would begin to feel a lot better about the current crop and the directiion it is heading….

Admittedly, my sphere of reference is limited to the mid-1970’s and subsequent, and having lived overseas for a significant portion of the 1980’s and 90’s (pre-internet), I may be missing a few ‘gems’, so I’d love to hear opinions. But without further delay – my nominations. I’ve left players off the list who were, in hindsight ‘fleeting’ or experimental (eg – Francis Jeffers), and focused on regular first-choicers.

Goalkeeper

Alumnia (sorry Manual – I don’t rate you too poorly, but the position has been such a strong one for us in the past that you just suffer by comparison)

Defence

Gus Caesar
Gus Caesar
Gus Caesar
Gus Caesar

Midfield

Stewart Robson
Michael Thomas (2 seconds of magic almost make up for the rest of the season which was utterly futile, but not quite)
David Hillier
John Jensen

Forwards

Perry Groves
Niall Quinn (Alas Smith & Groves!)

Answers on a postcard please! (Or alternatively fill in the response below)

Toby Maitland-Lewis

48 comments to Who were Arsenal’s worst players? The History Site investigates.

  • sinbad

    Wow how long can we allow on the list lol

  • James

    There is so much deadwood in the team at the moment that you could take the kot of them in that list; Eboue, Denilshit, Diaby, Cesc – needs to be sold as his mind is already in Spain, clichy, Gosh the list is endless

  • big Lebowski

    You forgot to add Jeff Blockley & Brendon Batson to you list both of these players were crap.

  • ivccrescit

    I offer you the following – Chris Kiwomya, glen helder, steady eddie mcglodrick

  • Stu

    I’m sorry but how on earth do Stewart Robson and Michael Thomas make this 11 in front of Eddie McGoldrick and Jimmy Carter??????? My worst XI since I have been watching my beloved Arsenal is:

    G/K: Vince Bartram

    DEF: Gus Caesar, Igor Stepanovs, Pal Lydersson, Craig McKernon

    MID: Eddie McGoldrick, Stefan Malz, John Jensen, Glenn Helder (just pips Jimmy Carter)
    ATT: Francis Jeffers, Chris Kiwomya

  • Kingsalami

    Kabba Diawarra, quite simply, the worst player I ever saw in an Arsenal shirt, makes Nikki B look like Cryuff.

  • tunadog

    How anyone could put Michael Thomas ,Stewart Robson , Perry Groves Alan Smith on a worst Arsenal players list is quite incredible.
    How about Jim Furnell, Terry Mancini , Jeff Blockley ,Stepanovs, Senderos, Cygan, Gus Caesar, John Mathews,Alan Skirton,Nutt,Hawley ,Hankin & the never to be forgotten Lee Chapman

  • ghoul sainsbury

    and a few more mikel sylvestre …………giles grimandi …….. alex manninger ………..niall quim …… brian marwood ….. charlie nicolas ……….kevin richardson …. colin pates … siggi johnson anyone remember siggi johnson ? ? …..andy cole ……the list can go on and on

  • I have no idea how you can include Stewart Robson and Michael Thomas. Groves and Quinn shouldn’t be in there either. We could do with a Robson-type player now.

    For me:
    Eddie McGoldrick – miles ahead (or is that behind) of the rest

    Colin Hill – he was like a rabbit caught in the headlights whenever he got the ball

    Kevin “offside” Campbell – I went to a youth team game where Pat Rice shouted himself hoarse telling Campbell when to run, when to run back, when to hold the ball, when to shoot, when to breathe in, when to breathe out. His finest contribution as standing miles offside against Liverpool in 1992 resulting in Limpar thinking “f** it” and lobbing the ball over Hooper from the half-way line.

    Jimmy Carter – his did would go to reserve games and slag him off!

    Lee Chapman.

  • This is madness

    Alex Manninger!!!! Did you not go to ANY games during 1997-98?

    Andy Cole? He played all of 5 minutes in the first team.

    Brian Marwood? Kevin Richardson? This is a wind-up surely.

  • Tony Attwood

    I think the article really does highlight the fact that some people just have pet hates in terms of players – there’s absolutely no justification given generally – just names.

    And that fits with the current craze for listing some of the current squad as among the worst ever. Just lists, no names.

    I would be willing to take any of these lists seriously if they actually had some justification somewhere in them.

    Let me take two examples. First a player: Chris Wreh. He played in the cup final ahead of Ian Wright (we won it, you may recall) and then suddenly lost form so quickly and so badly that no one could imagine how he could ever have got a cup winner’s medal. I seem to recall him failing to get into the team at Bournemouth a year or two after that final.

    Second, it is interesting how often the names of big centre halves come up. Maybe they look more gangly and awkward than other players, maybe it is just much more rare to find a gifted centre half.

    For me there is more amusement in considering what is going on in the head of “supporters” who claim that a player like Denilson is among the worst ever, rather than in chuckling over the errors of some players.

    And I say that as one who was at the Luton Town cup final with Mr Ceaser in the squad.

  • Samuel

    Sol Campbell,William Gallas and Mikel Silvestre?

  • sinbad

    Denislon has some quality but he is too error prone like clichy

  • Gary

    The man the legend Nelson VIVAS

  • vretou

    Ohh this is more like it: Where’s Cygan on this list? Actually he had blinder of a season once he left us so he probably couldnt hack the pace of the EPL. I reckon that francis Jeffers and richard wright were the two biggest duds

  • vretou

    sol campbell? I thought he was immense in his prime time – sly was just brought in for cover and he ended up bloody playing more games then required

  • Tony Attwood

    It is interesting that as soon as this article appeared the site started to get hit by a series of posts which had nothing at all to do with the topic under discussion.

    I am getting a bit bored by endlessly saying the same thing on Untold Arsenal, but I guess I have to say it here as well – if you want to contribute you must

    a) not be abusive
    b) be on topic

    If you want to direct readership to another site, or quote from another site, please do that when we are discussing the other site, not here where today we are discussing poor players.

    In case anyone is interested, the next article planned for this site will be about the Rioch era and the players who played for that one season. In particular I want to investigate whether the notion repeated by a few people that “this is the worst Arsenal team ever” can stand up in relation to the Rioch team as it played (leaving aside the stunning potential and history of a number of those players).

    Tony (site editor)

  • vretou

    In terms of poor players we have seen many come and go and in our current team Id have to say vela was one of them, pity really i was hoping he’d be the world star

  • Tony Attwood

    Vretou – interesting point about players who play well or poorly before or after being with us.

    A reversal of the Cygan case was Flamini, who had two ordinary seasons with us, then one absolute blinder playing next to Cesc, then went to Milan, and was very much a substitute, either unused or just coming on for the last 3 minutes. (He did get some games of course, I remember him playing against Portsmouth in the Uefa Cup, but was nothing like the great salvation and future of the club that the Wenger bashers made him out to be).

  • vretou

    @Tony, thanks for your comments, Yes, Flamini the forgotten man. Pity of what he could have been – a certain name HLEB rings to mind – if he only the guy would shoot when needed. Kabba Diawara? Lol

  • simon

    Gus Ceaser – September 8th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    1. Eddie McGoldrick
    2. Jimmy Carter
    3. Francis Jeffers

  • simon

    Has to be Stepanovs I’m afraid. At fault for every goal in the 6-1 Man Utd fiasco even after being subbed!

  • andy bishop

    Can we have some statistical criteria so we can make our minds up by statistical analysis LOL

  • utshav

    Silvestre???
    The manU spy.

  • Pakistani Bunker

    Some of the defensive greats are already mentioned here – Gus Caesar, Igor Stepanovs, Pal Lydersson, Nelson Vivas…but I’m surprised noone has yet mentioned Oleh Lhuzny – “The Horse”.
    I never quite understood why he was called the horse. Shires aside, horses are generally such graceful creatures. Perhaps he had bad teeth from too many sugar lumps. His head face-on was almost exactly the same shape as a Fisherman’s Friend. They’d adored him at Dynamo Kiev…and his mother said he was good. But then that’s what mother’s are for.

  • Ashburton Grover

    Great idea by the way,I’ve similar debates with fellow goons about us not being as bad as perceived from the outside.

    Some lads who couldn’t cut it in Red and White: Eboue. I mean he’s a cult hero and all, filled in so well for Lauren we forgot about Lauren but then was so poor his first full season as Rb that we got Sagna, and we cheer him on now because he was such rubbish and still is rubbish on the ball/off the ball; not good enough for me.

    Pascal Cygan was just french so he fit in but not a good footballer. Same with Squalici , would rather have seen mistakes he made, made by Miguel or some other “kid” because he was brought in for “experience” and makes routine amateur blunders.

    Hopefully that’s more than just a list!

  • Any list of the all-time worst Arsenal players that does not have Mikael Silvestre in defense is nonsense. He was a fair player for the Fergies, and a decent person, but in an Arsenal uniform, he was a sieve.

    Don’t even get me started on De-NIL-son. And if we’re going by proportionate cost, I’m sorry, he’s a good guy, but Tomas Rosicky must be considered, despite taking injury into account.

    Alex Manninger shut out the Fergies at Old Trashdump, with Marc Overmars scoring the winner. For that, he deserves our thanks.

    Kevin Richardson? He stole the ball from John Barnes, a damn good player, and thus started the “last attack” that night at Anfield. You want to talk 2 seconds, there it is, but it, like Michael Thomas (which was more like 5 seconds), overrides all other considerations. If Denilson had scored the only goal on Sunday against United, instead of Ramsey, I’d have forgiven all.

  • dats

    I remember a player coming here from South Africa to play for us back in the 50’s. Arriving in a blaze of publicity I was horrified see that here was a footballer who could trap a ball further than I could kick it! After a handful of games on the wing he returned home never to be heard of again. His name? Dan LeRoux. Anyone out there remember him? I thought not.

    Finally, how can anyone mention Alan Skirton! He was my hero! I’ll never forget his winning goal past Bill Brown in the Spurs goal at the clock end in, was it, 1962.

  • Justus

    It is amazing how nostalgic it can get. Just the mention of Jimmy Carter’s name again! Glen Helder, Franny Jeffers and what about Marinello the milky kid? Sadly also Denilson and Manuel but Jeff Blockley probably takes the biscuit. Mind you, some of the largest transfer fees paid were for Alan Ball and even Malcolm MacDonald both of whom were not flops but never lived up to the prices paid and are fine of examples as to why splashing the cash does not always work nb Wenger Out loonies!

  • tunadog

    @dats …Alan Skirton was dire only surpassed by Nutt & Tidy or McPherson …fastest winger without the ball.
    Martin Hayes who had one great season scoring 25 goals (most of which were pens)was awful… how George Graham got £800,000 from Celtic for him god alone knows .Ian Ure who can forget his contribution at Wembley against Swindon.

  • dats

    Oh no, tunadog, you can’t say that about our Alan!!
    I do agree about Gordon Nutt & Mike Tiddy however. They were desperate. I seem to remember we bought the two together and it was difficult to work out which one was worse.
    My wife would be most upset at you mentioning Ian McPherson. Apparently he and Jon Sammels some years later had the nicest legs!
    One of the biggest disappointments has to be Mel Charles. On hearing of his signing I was expecting to see a player just like his brother John. It was not to be unfortunately. Did any player ever fall over the ball more often than him?

  • Big Dave

    Worst Goalie: Statistically it would be Jack Kelsey, but people said he was the best in the world. Our defence was awful in those days but I’m too young to remember who they were. So I would say Richard Wright.

    Defenders: Gus Caesar, Jason Crowe, Igors Stepanovs, Jeff Blockley.

    Midfield: Peter Marinello, Ian Allinson, Alan Skirton

    Forwards: Paul Vaessen, John Hawley, Lee Chapman

    No current players are actually that bad, they would have shone back in the old mid-table days.

  • Patrick Donegan

    c’mon what about the (not so) lethal strike force of Ray Hankin and John Hawley ?

  • Daryl Tinworth

    For the worst players list you have to take into accountability 1) relative transfer fee (if applicable) 2) Impact vs potential 3) Loss on any resale 4) Onfield mistake consistency 5) Legacy

    Forgetting point 5, I would have to say that Squillaci is the worst player we have had. 5million quid, no re-sale value, came to the arsenal with a good reputation being an international with France, made several key mistakes in his first 12 months & left the team without a quality defender back up that he was purchased for.

  • How can you forget our Chris Kiwomya in the forward line?

  • My worst XI

    Almunia (Had some great games but all too often was shockingly bad)

    SIlvestre
    Stepanovs
    Cygan
    Squilacci

    Helder
    Malz
    Mendez-Rodriguez
    Ricketts

    Jeffers
    Diawara

    played Squilacci at RB just to make him look even worse

    strugled for a RW but hate rohan with his cionstant bleating on the radio so put him there

  • Andrew Sheppard

    I well remember the disaster that was Nutt and Tiddy. Even worse: Eddie Clamp. I lived near Wolverhampton in 1959, whose crowd would yell “Clamp!” in fear whenever the ball got near him, correctly anticipating some nameless disaster that invariably came. Who then bought him? Arsenal, of course, during that terrible trophyless age after Whitaker and before Mee.

  • Christina

    How about you get rid of the Gus Caesar 4 times under defender , for gods sake he made
    One mistake and you arrogant people love to make it noticed , how about you people get a life there are worse arsenal players open your eyes .

  • Andy

    Gus Caesar was elegant compared to the lump that was named Jeff Blockley!
    My worst 11 would be as follows:

    1: Geoff Barnet
    2: Sebastian Squillaci
    3: John Devine
    4: Steve Gatting
    5: Jeff Blockley
    6: Igor Stepanovs
    7: Glenn ‘Lionel’ Helder
    8: Jimmy Carter
    9: John Hawley
    10: Lee Chapman
    11: Niklas ‘Grasshopper’ Bendtner

    Each of the above were to me a shower of poo who weren’t or aren’t fit to pull the famous red and white on. However, I’m sure someone will find worse!

  • Tom

    Does no one rememeber Ian Ure ? The central defender that made Willie Young look Brazilian…..total crap although for some reason Man U took him off our hands prior to the Double winning season and pairing of McLintock and Simpson.
    Other crap……..Brian Hornsby ( Twiggys bruv ), Alex Cropley, David Price, Martin Hayes, Raphael Meade and Mark Healy.

  • Mike

    Richard Wright ;

    Diawara
    Vivas
    stepanovs
    Silvestre
    Denilson
    Eboue

    Jeffers
    Helder
    Jensen
    Kiwomya

    Siggi johnsson

    Andre santos

  • Nigel

    Not long known about this terrific site so catching up on the archives and was very interested to see the post from dats who asks if anyone remembers Dan Le Roux. About thirty years ago I surprised a person I knew who asked me if I had heard of him and when I replied that I did when for a few games he replaced Danny Clapton on the right wing. My father saw his fifth and last league game soon after Christmas in 1957 at Luton when we were beaten 4-0.
    This person then told me he had been to school with Dan in South Africa and was soon going to see him when he was going back for a holiday. A few weeks later when he was home again he brought me a newspaper cutting of a photo of Le Roux in action in a practice match at Highbury (Jack Kelsey and Dave Bowen also in picture) which his pal had given him to pass on to me which he inscribed and signed. Also a postcard style of same photo with the printed autographs of the Cobblers and Arsenal teams who met in the FA Cup that season. I thought that was a wonderful gesture and apparently he was really pleased someone remembered him.
    When fans discuss worst players to play for their team I think it is worth remembering that players are only human and and should be rightly proud to have represented a professional club, in particular Arsenal. I was never good enough but would still have been proud just to get a trial, let alone even play for the youths, reserves or first team even if only for a game or two. Dan Le Roux had a respectable goals scored against appearances in the Football Combination. We should always show respect whatever their limitations.

  • Porcupine Fizzy

    Van Persie-The worst Judas we ever had.

  • Porcupine Fizzy

    Here’s our worst XI of all time.

    GK- Vince Bartram (we nearly got relegated with him in goal)
    RB- Kerra Gilbert
    CB- Mikkel silvestre (daft signing, we only bought him to fund Berbatov’s move to Man United from Tottenham)
    CB- William Gallas (he ran off to Tottenham)
    LB- Andre Santos (he wanted to swap shirts with Judas at half-time)
    M- Nelson Vivas (he played well against England in the 1998 World Cup but he was awful for us)
    M- Jimmy Carter (I heard that urinated on other Arsenal players)
    M- Andre Arshavin (he was too lazy to do well for us)
    F- Francis Jeffers (fox in the box – fox that got run over by a car that is)
    F- Clive Allen (okay, he didn’t play for us but he was still an Arsenal player)
    F- Robin Van Persie (what can we say here, an injury prone crock who had one good season with us then ran off to Man United to help them win the title, and he didn’t help us to win any title, he should be erased from Arsenal’s history)

  • Porcupine Fizzy

    Philippe Senderos ruined the legend status of the number 6 shirt which had been made an icon by Tony Adams.

  • Dave

    Niall Quinn, a clumsy overated twat,without doubt Arsenals worst forward

  • mark

    How can any debate on our worst players not mention Martin Hayes? I know he scored a lot of goals in that one season but, let’s be honest, the majority of them were penalties. I could never understand how he progressed to the first team when many other (better?) academy players never got a sustained run in the first team. I know that he was ‘one of ours’ but, he really was not an Arsenal player. AT least we got something approaching half a million when he was sold to Celtic.

    Whilst on the subject of worst players, it is interesting to see that today Bendtner has left Forest after only 2 goals in 17 appearances for the (mighty) Norwegian league!

  • Reg Sammarco

    Having watched the magical feet of Johnny MacLeod I was horrified when we picked Tommy Coakley. Utterly hopeless and managed to score on his debut at Highbury. Smashing the ball into the net from less than one yard. To my horror that earned him a few more appearances until the powers that be realised just how abysmal he was.

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