What is the best (worst) 5-a-side of cult heroes famous for all the wrong reasons?
By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor) and Rob Worthington
With the ever-abundant amount of talent that has come and gone through Arsenal, has come a high level of success that has helped the side to achieve the feat of being the biggest and moreover, the best team in London. So many quality players, including, but not limited, to the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira have helped to contribute to the past triumphs.
Along the journey, however, has come a flurry of players that are legends of the club in their own way, the way of being somewhat of a laughing stock. In today’s featured article comes the first ever collaborative effort on the site. Have a read and make a decision as to who out of the website writers; Rob Worthington or Daniel Finton, have the best 5-a-side of players that have gone down in history for all of the wrong reasons.
Daniel Finton’s “Scrumptious Fivesome”
Goalkeeper: Manuel Almunia
Unlike the vast majority of players that are going to be in this incredible team, Mr. Manuel Almunia actually achieved an impressive amount of appearances for the club. The fact that the Spaniard managed a resounding 109 appearances, taking the reins from Jens Lehmann should not glorify him, but instead be a tad humiliating for the gunners. The fact that there was not a goalkeeper who could be chosen in his stead on over 100 occasions is pretty embarrassing to be honest.
Nonetheless, the fact that Almunia managed so much game time given the fact that he wasn’t very good makes him a shoe in for my side. He must have a way with words, standing at an imposing 6 feet 4 inches, to have been awarded the amount of game time he was. Either that or a petrifying scornful look about him that forced Arsene Wenger to choose him so frequently and would be sure to intimidate Rob’s striker.
Defender: Sebastien Squillaci
Sebastien Squillaci managed just twenty-three Premier league appearances in three seasons for the club and thank God for that. His defensive talents were unprecedentedly brilliant and he is surely the best defender the club has ever seen. If you did not have the privilege to watch the French Maldini in person, I would heavily encourage you to look back at his defensively artistic highlights in the red and white.
Midfielder #1: Kim Kallstrom
Kim Kallstrom managed a grand total of 4 appearances for the club. However, in the time which we needed him most he came up big in a penalty shootout against Wigan in the FA cup semi-final in 2014 to spur us onto the final of the competition, which we eventually won. Signing the Swedish international on loan was an incredibly bizarre signing, although one that inadvertently paid dividends in that shootout. Unpredictability and more importantly, coming up big in the most massive of moments is why Don Kim makes me 5-a-side.
Midfielder #2: Denis Suarez
The one and only player on this list in which I, personally have seen in the flesh, is Denis Suarez. I still remember saying to myself on the 24th of February when we beat Southampton 2-0 last season, “Man, I’m excited to see this geezer, Suarez come on. He’s a silky player. Maybe the heir to Santi Cazorla’s throne.” My dreams were crushed.
Though I saw him warming up on the sideline, I did not have the pleasure of seeing him grace the pitch. If he had come on we most likely would have ended the match with 99% possession and won by a larger margin. Suarez now earns his trade with Celta Vigo, having a far fall from grace. Barcelona, to Arsenal, to Celta Vigo and now to Daniel’s scrumptious fivesome. The Spaniard would leave Rob’s defenders wondering who the hell he even is and shocked at the fact that the baby faced assassin is 26-years-old somehow.
Striker: Takuma Asano
You forgot didn’t you? The single greatest signing of Arsenal’s history. If Takuma Asano even penetrated the gloomy border of England, the signing would be classified as the one that ruined the Premier League’s competitiveness completely. Luckily the English government intervened. Asano was never given a Visa to avoid ruining the league due to England’s government showing mercy; I personally have none. I’m sorry, Rob. I have to win this hypothetical fixture because it is everything to me. And though the selection of Asano is an unfair one, especially to Emiliano Viviano, your goalkeeper (spoiler alert), it will guarantee a “dub” in the bag for yours truly.
Rob Worthington’s “Fivesome from Heaven”
Goalkeeper: Emiliano Viviano
Oh Emiliano, what did Arsène Wenger propose to you to persuade you to sign for Arsenal on the Summer deadline day of 2013? One season on loan at the club and not a single appearance. Not one. Not even in the Carling Cup.
To be honest, I’ve got no idea what the Italian was thinking. Arsenal already had a very competent number 2 in Lucasz Fabianski and a very promising number 1 in 23-year-old Wojciech Szczęsny. The weirdest thing about it all is that he’s also apparently a pretty decent keeper. After leaving Arsenal, he nailed down a starting spot at Sampdoria for four straight seasons. Strange signing, nonetheless, never to be forgotten, provided some stiff competition for Kim Kallstrom that year. Two brilliant investments from Arsenal, wouldn’t you agree Daniel? The training videos definitely showed me that this is the man to defy Takuma Asano, Arsenal legend vs. Arsenal legend in that battle of individuals.
Defender: Emmanuel Eboué
There’s no other way to say it. Emmanuel Eboué is a legend of the Emirates era. Mr. Versatility enjoyed 7 wonderful years at Arsenal in which he scored a magnificent 5 goals. Eboué actually provided me with one of my earliest memories as an Arsenal fan through his disasterclass against Wigan Athletic in 2008.
The poor man just couldn’t do anything right once he was brought on as a substitute in the 32nd minute and Arsène Wenger pulled him off later in the match to save him from more abuse. After the game, some fans visited the training ground and told him “Eboué , don’t listen, you know we love you.” Truer words have never been said since. We love you Emmanuel. Be wary Daniel, he’s ready to dance your lot off the field if he manages to grab a goal in this one.
Midfielder #1: Francis Coquelin
It’s impossible to forget Le Coq’s brilliant run of games for Arsenal in the 14/15 season. No sarcasm involved with this one, he was absolutely incredible. Flying into tackles, throwing his body on the line and allowing Santi Cazorla to spread his magic stress-free was the Frenchman’s game. And boy, didn’t he play it wonderfully? If Cazorla had stayed fit that season, that midfield partnership would’ve taken us to the title in 2016- it just wasn’t meant to be.
Seriously Mr. Finton, this guy is not the sort to take an L lightly, captain material for me. Coquelin can look back on his Arsenal career with a great sense of pride, he really was one of us. Mind you, I won’t remind you of the score on the day as it still gives me nightmares all these years later, but the only way was up after his debut.
Midfielder #2: Matteo Guendouzi
I thought I’d add some chemistry to the midfield by partnering Coquelin with some more French excellence. A modern day cult hero, Matteo Guendouzi. Best moment at Arsenal? This one is a no brainer. Let me paint the picture for you. December 3rd 2018, just outside London’s Finsbury Park. Arsenal had battered Spurs 4-2 just hours before an iconic moment when a car slowed down next to some enthralled Arsenal fans. The window opens and there he is, Golden boy, Matteo Guendouzi.
The curly-haired Frenchman embraced a number of fans before his driver race. Then, Douzi flung his afro out of the window and started celebrating rather similarly to the way I did in the East Stand after Lucas Torreira sent the Emirates Stadium faithful into raptures at around 3:30 PM on the same day. And that was the day the French Under-21 international earned his cult hero status. Also, just to warn you Daniel, this guy isn’t going to be afraid to piss your fans off, as you probably know all too well, Guendouzi is the ultimate pantomime villain, and we love him for it.
Striker: Lord Nicklas Bendtner
Sorry Daniel, there’s no way you can combat this one. Up front, the one, the only, the Lord Bendtner. He wasn’t actually as bad as some made him out to be and I remember vividly, aged 7, complaining ferociously at my dad when Wenger did not start the Dane. I genuinely thought he was brilliant during his first few years at the club.
Nonetheless, this is not the Lord which most people remember. Most people remember the Lord for his spectacular air shot against Coventry City in 2012, most people remember him for flashing his Paddy Power boxes whilst on international duty for Denmark during Euro 2012 and others remember him for his instagram post where he was posing completely naked on a sun lounger apart from one area being covered by what one can only assume to have been his wife’s bra. I’ll leave that one to your imagination. His blonde locks are welcome back at the Emirates any time. The personification of a cult hero.
So, there you have it. The cards have been laid on the table. Daniel Finton’s “Scrumptious Fivesome” and Rob Worthington’s “Fivesome from Heaven” have been revealed. It’s the battle you’ve been waiting for your whole life. And now, we are left with four major questions.
Firstly, who has the better team name? Secondly, which team would actually end up winning the match? Thirdly, where would the match be played? In one of London’s finest football cages or on a Floridian Beach? Or perhaps a more neutral venue? And finally, who is Arsenal’s ultimate cult hero from the Emirates Era? I’ll leave these questions to the array of wonderful Gooners whose thoughts have been provoked by weloveyouarsenal.co.uk’s first co-written article. A momentous occasion for us all!