Over the last few weeks, the team at Last Word on Football has delivered its ‘Team of the Decade’ series where you can read about some wonderful squads. But, this article is the opposite of those. Today, we look at the WORST to play for north London side Arsenal from 2010-2019.
This decade detailed Arsenal’s true decline, despite the end to a demoralising trophy drought. It consisted of the final eight years of legendary manager Arsene Wenger’s reign at the club.
From disappointing footballers who somehow played regularly to players who couldn’t do a thing right when they stepped onto the pitch, here is the worst team of the decade for the Gunners.
Worst Team of the Decade: Arsenal
Manager – Unai Emery
Spanish manager Unai Emery was supposed to steady the sinking ship at Arsenal after over 20 years with Wenger at the helm.
This is not what happened.
Only lasting less than two seasons as manager, Emery guided Arsenal to a fifth-place finish in his debut season. Furthermore, his second season ended halfway through, with the Gunners languishing in mid-table, having only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bernd Leno to thank for making sure Arsenal weren’t left in the relegation zone.
His best contribution to the English game was somehow learning the language via Peaky Blinders.
Formation – 4-2-3-1
If you were to look for Unai Emery’s preferred formation throughout his managerial career, it’d be the 4-2-3-1. This is the formation he used a good amount of at Arsenal. Emery would deploy his star striker in Aubameyang at left wing to support a one-time record signing in Alexandre Lacazette up top.
Moreover, Arsene Wenger even used this formation at points during the decade, but would mostly drop some of the attacking players back to form a 4-5-1 formation. Either way, this formation is the one we’re using to get the worst out of the players at our disposal.
Goalkeeper – Manuel Almunia
The Gunners have had some poor goalkeepers over the years and Manuel Almunia was arguably the worst. Amazingly, after signing in 2004, the Spanish goalkeeper would make 175 appearances for the club. He eventually lost his place at the start of the decade and his error-prone stint finally came to an end in 2012 when he was released.
Right-Back – Stephan Lichtsteiner
A free signing from Juventus, Stephan Lichtsteiner was supposed to provide competition for Hector Bellerin. He was slow, shaky, and nowhere near competitive for the young and quick Spaniard ahead of him in the pecking order. He is now playing for German side Augsburg.
Centre-Back – Shkodran Mustafi
One of the most controversial centre-backs in recent history, Shkodran Mustafi has been a mistake-merchant since arriving for a huge price at the time from Valencia. After a promising start, a big injury dented his confidence and his performances. After a strong start to 2020, Mustafi left it too late to not make it into this squad.
Centre-Back – Sebastien Squillaci
Sebastien Squillaci was one of Wenger’s worst ever signings when he signed for the club. To back this up, he would put in some dismal performances. The Frenchman was fit and available to play for the majority of the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons but only played seven times in that period. It came as no surprise when Arsenal decided to release him in the summer of 2013. He proved to be immensely disappointing.
Left-Back – Andre Santos
Who knows why Arsenal signed this guy? Andre Santos was just awful for the club. As well as his performances on the pitch, Santos even managed to wind up fans by swapping shirts with Robin van Persie at half-time in a match against Manchester United. That proved to be the final straw for fans and Wenger. He was sent on loan to Brazil for six months and left the club permanently the following summer of 2013. Good riddance for most Arsenal fans.
Centre-Midfielder – Granit Xhaka
Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka arrived in 2016 from Borussia Monchengladbach. He was supposed to be that defensive midfielder to fill the void left by Patrick Vieira all those years ago. However, he isn’t up to that standard. Xhaka isn’t actually that bad on the ball. But his poor decision making and rash challenges saw his relationship with Arsenal fans decline. Furthermore, that relationship completely broke in two when Xhaka responded to boos from his own fans by yelling expletives back at them.
Centre-Midfielder – Kim Kallstrom
If current fans are moaning over the fact that the Gunners signed Cedric Soares despite him being injured, they must have flashbacks to Kim Kallstrom. In January 2014, fans were only wondering when he would make his debut. That debut would come four months later, and he would subsequently go on to make just four appearances in the red and white of the former Invincibles.
Right Wing – Denis Suarez
After arriving on loan from Barcelona, Denis Suarez was touted to fix the midfield for the second half of the 2018/19 season. This hope could not have been more squashed. The Spanish playmaker, who could play on the right or centre of midfield, made his debut against league leaders Manchester City. After that, he went on to play a total of 67 minutes of English football, and barely any more outside of that. A worthless signing.
Attacking Midfield – Emmanuel Frimpong
Emmanuel Frimpong was not an attacking midfielder by trade, but we’re putting him there. The Ghanaian made 16 appearances for the club but failed to impress. He went to play in Sweden and Cyprus, which says it all really. He was quite the comical figure, however.
Left-Wing – Park Chu-Young
Park Chu-Young is more of an out-and-out forward for the most part, but here’s another instance where we must fit him in somewhere. He appeared just six times for the club over the course of his career. Only one of those appearances was in the Premier League itself. He is now 33 and playing up top for FC Seoul in his home country.
Forward – Yaya Sanogo
He was only 20 when he began his Arsenal career, which was underwhelming to say the least. Everyone wanted the youngster to succeed, but he just couldn’t. He didn’t score a single Premier League goal, and that includes a disappointing loan spell at Crystal Palace during the 2014/15 season. He now plays for rock-bottom Toulouse in Ligue 1.
Arsenal Worst Team of the Decade: Substitutes
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – He wasn’t the worst player to ever grace the right-mid spot, but he was very disappointing considering his promise at Borussia Dortmund, where he ripped up the Bundesliga. He secured a big-money move to Manchester United but didn’t live up to the hype. He is currently out on loan at Roma.
Marouane Chamakh – Apart from helping Arsenal to a massive 7-5 comeback win against Reading back in 2012, Chamakh wasn’t good for Arsenal. The Moroccan had a fairly decent start to his Arsenal career but that all fell apart quite quickly. He played 23 times and scored three goals in his final two seasons with the club.
Johan Djourou – It’s actually quite impressive that Swiss defender Djourou survived 11 years at the club. He spent three of those years out on loan at Birmingham City. He also had two years’ worth of Bundesliga experience. After 86 appearances and no significance, he joined Hamburg in the Bundesliga and is now without a club.
Carl Jenkinson – He was a Gunner through and through, which garnered him cult status at the club. However, he wasn’t as good as a through and through Gunner should have been. He wasn’t anywhere near world-class during his loan spell at West Ham United, despite making 32 appearances, and now he plays for Nottingham Forest.
Mathieu Debuchy – The Frenchman signed for Arsenal after an impressive season at Newcastle. However, he barely appeared for Arsenal over the course of four years. Plus, when he did, he seemed shaky. Hector Bellerin didn’t take long to overtake him in the starting lineup.
Matt Macey – Astonishingly still at the club at the age of 25, Matt Macey has barely gotten a chance in this Arsenal side, mostly being out on loan or playing youth games. He disappointed on loan at Plymouth Argyle a few years ago. Still, he is yet to have a chance in the first team.
Mohamed Elneny – Another one of those players who had decent runs in the team, but was overall disappointing since his arrival from Basel in 2016. That second-place finish in the 5000/1 Leicester City-winning season is one he can take some credit for. He is currently out on loan at Besiktas.
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