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From Herbert Chapman’s Gunners sides in the 1930s to the famous 2003/04 Invincibles squad that was guided to glory by Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have been treated to some truly talented football teams during the club’s existence, with some classy players more than playing their part in the club’s journey. There have, of course, been some rather forgettable players among all the glory, too.
After all, it’s impossible to get every new addition right. Even some of the best managers in the history of the game have talked up a recent acquisition, only for the player to fail to live up to expectations in an English environment. We’ve also seen cases of defenders who simply can’t adapt to the physicality of the Premier League, midfielders who struggle to cope with the intensity of the division, and strikers who, frankly, can’t hit a barn door with a banjo. It’s just football.
Now, though, when assessing today’s talented crop of players that are aiming to fire Arsenal to a long-awaited title win, some of the shocking professionals that came before seem like a distant memory. These days, the frustration around poor signings and a lack of investment in the playing squad have been replaced by a young and hungry army of players that are aiming to write their own story, with Premier League odds of 11/10 suggesting that they’re more than capable of reigning supreme come the end of the season. Whatever happens, though, progress is being made, particularly when looking back at some of the worst players to play for the club. Let’s look at just some of them below.
One of Wenger’s most expensive signings backfired horrendously
Younger Arsenal supporters probably aren’t mentally scarred by the addition of Everton striker Francis Jeffers, but he’s a name that many older fans will potentially still be having nightmares about. With four goals in 22 appearances to his name during his time at Highbury, Jeffers was an undoubted flop, especially when factoring in the £10 million fee that Arsenal paid for the striker. In today’s game, a fee of that size is peanuts, but back then it was seen as a big investment to make. Arsene Wenger made some of the best signings football has ever seen, but Francis Jeffers most definitely wasn’t one of them.
Glenn Helder was an almighty flop
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Glenn Helder, a Dutch footballer who arrived at the club with plenty of excitement surrounding his name, failed to make a notable impact at Arsenal during his time playing under George Graham. In fact, Helder was actually Graham’s last ever addition at the club, and what a dreadful decision it turned out to be. Some might blame his well-documented personal issues as a reason for him failing in North London, whereas others will argue that the Dutchman simply didn’t have the ability to play for a club like Arsenal in the first place.
Yaya Sanogo didn’t score a single league goal during his time at the club
Arsenal’s reliance on the French market is evident, particularly during Wenger’s time at the club, with Yaya Sanogo joining a long list of youngsters to move to the Gunners from France. Like many before him, Sanogo came with a glowing reputation from Auxerre. What soon became evident, though, is that playing for Auxerre and replicating those same performances in a more demanding Premier League is a totally different objective, particularly for a raw youngster. Sanogo did show glimpses, albeit rarely, but the fact that a striker failed to score a single league goal during his time at Arsenal can’t be ignored. Some fans enjoy joking about failed additions like Sanogo, but let’s be honest here, he was painfully rubbish.
Andre Santos added to Arsenal’s issues at left-back
A name that might still be fresh in the minds of some Arsenal lovers, Andre Santos joined the club in the same window as Per Mertesacker and Yossi Benayoun, with the Brazilian expected to fix the left side of the defence for Arsenal. Sadly, and somewhat disturbingly if you had to watch him every week, the former Fenerbahce man was horribly slow, his positioning was all over the place, and his decision to swap shirts with Robin van Persie during half-time at Old Trafford summed up his poor showing in a Gunners shirt. Santos cost the club €7 million, too; a decent fee at the time.