Ultimate XI's

Ultimate XI’s- Arsenal Emirates Era

Hello!

I’m back for another blog, and today’s XI will be looking at the all time greatest Arsenal team…. since they have been playing at the Emirates stadium.

The Gunners moved to the Emirates in 2006, and they have won just three FA Cups in that time.

So this XI will be based on players who have played for Arsenal during this time!

GOALKEEPER- Bernd Leno

Since joining Arsenal in 2018, Leno has been superb, and arguably one of the best shot stoppers in the Premier League. He is prone to the occasional mistake, but name me a goalkeeper that hasn’t!

Arsenal have not had a truly great goalkeeper in their time at the Emirates, and it has always seemed to be a problem position for them. Leno has now solved this issue and this is now probably the one position they don’t need to replace.

While Petr Cech and Wojciech Szczęsny were both good during their time at the Emirates, neither of them had the best time of their careers for the Gunners.

LEFT BACK- Nacho Monreal

The left back position was a straight shoot out between Nacho Monreal and Gaël Clichy, but I have decided to go for the former.

Monreal was part of what I would consider to be Arsenal’s best defence during the Emirates Era, and he showed that he could contribute at both ends, scoring seven Premier League goals.

The Spaniard spent six years at Arsenal, and he was there for all three of their FA Cup wins during this period, so he edges in ahead of Clichy for me.

RIGHT BACK- Backary Sagna

Sagna joined Arsenal in 2007 and went on to make just shy of 300 appearances, so for me he had to go into this XI at right back. While I think Bellerin will almost certainly go down as a better player once his career is over, Sagna’s contribution is better so far.

The Frenchman was an excellent outlet down the right hand side, and his ability to cross the ball was so important to the way Arsène Wenger wanted his Arsenal side to play. He never made less than twenty appearances in the Premier League across his seven seasons, which just shows his importance to the side.

Sagna somewhat tainted his Arsenal reputation when he jumped ship to Man City in 2014. But many fans still remember him for his form that got him into the PFA team of the year on two occasions for the Gunners.

CENTRE BACK- Per Mertesacker

Affectionately known as the ‘BFG’, Mertesacker was another player who was part of all three of the Gunners’ FA Cup wins during the Emirates era.

While he may never have been good enough to lead Arsenal to a Premier League title, he only finished outside of the top four twice during his seven year stay at the Emirates.

Part of me thinks that Mertesacker’s skill set wasn’t suited to Arsenal’s style of play, which was shown in the 2017 FA Cup final. The German put in a man of the match performance as Arsenal adopted an uncharacteristic low block, where Mertesacker’s weaknesses can be nullified.

CENTRE BACK- Laurent Koscielny

On his day, Koscielny was one of the best centre backs in the Premier League, never the best, but he was certainly up there.

When Koscielny was at his best, he was quick, strong and read the game excellently. This made him an excellent fit for Arsenal and had he been paired with an elite centre back, then I’m sure Arsenal would have won more silverware.

Another Arsenal player who slightly tainted his reputation when he left, Koscielny’s physicality started to fluctuate as he reached his 30’s, but he will be remembered as probably Arsenal’s best defender of the Emirates era.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Cesc Fabregas

How could I choose anyone else? Fabregas was absolutely brilliant for Arsenal, and he arguably played the best football of his career at the Emirates.

Fabregas played over 300 times for Arsenal, and he left when he was just 23! He won Arsenal’s player of the year on two occasions, and during his final years at the Emirates he was unplayable.

Most of his success has of course come elsewhere, winning two Premier League titles with Chelsea and a World Cup with Spain (along with consecutive European Championship wins). But he will always be loved by the Arsenal fans.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Santi Cazorla

Santi Cazorla is arguably the most technically gifted player seen at Arsenal during the Emirates era, and he had to make this XI.

The Spaniard’s Arsenal career was curtailed by injury, and it was such a shame that he was never able to say a proper farewell to the Arsenal faithful before he went back to Spain to play for Villarreal.

He came to England as an attacking midfielder, but he managed to adapt his game and he formed a good midfield partnership with Francis Coquelin in a role that was deeper than he tended to play. Cazorla was a super player for Arsenal and he had to be in this XI.

RIGHT MIDFIELD- Aaron Ramsey

Just as Arsène Wenger did, I am pushing Aaron Ramsey out wide in order to get him into my team. The Welshman will captain my Emirates XI as no player defines the Emirates era more than he does.

He has scored two FA Cup winning goals, one in 2014 and one in 2017, and he has always seemed to pop up with goals when they were most needed. He had a wonderful season in 2013/14 where he scored 16 goals in all competitions and lit up the Premier League before Christmas.

An often underrated midfielder, Ramsey was a magnificent talent who’s 11 years of service to Arsenal has made him a modern day club legend.

LEFT MIDFIELD- Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez was truly world class when he was at Arsenal and when he was on form there was no stopping him.

His best season for the Gunners was 16/17, he scored 30 goals in all competitions and played over 50 games. His fitness and willingness to play every game he possibly could made him Arsenal’s best and most important player.

He could play on either flank or through the middle, and he could play as an out and out goal scorer or as a creative winger. To put it bluntly, he could do anything, and he did.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD- Mesut Ozil

I can’t think of a Premier League player who has divided opinion as much as Mesut Ozil in recent years, but my opinion on the German is set.

His innate ability to see a pass before anyone else on the pitch has made him a unique talent throughout his career. I will not get into why some of the criticism against him annoys me, but I just think he is a wonderful player.

Of course now he is probably past his best, but I do think he still offers a lot to Arsenal and he has shown that his game is not just about assists. He is another player that could have led the club to glory had he been surrounded players that matched his quality, but so far this has not been the case.

STRIKER- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The striker position was a tough one, with Robin Van Persie and Olivier Giroud both scoring plenty of goals during the Emirates era, but Aubameyang is the best of the lot.

The Gabonese man is lightning quick and deadly in front of goal, and his scoring record is astonishing. He was signed from Dortmund in 2018 and he has already amassed 61 goals for the Gunners.

I am certain Arsenal would have won the league in 15/16 if they had a goal scorer of Aubameyang’s quality in their ranks. But he has joined at a time where they don’t have as much quality behind him as before.

That’s all for today’s blog!

I hope you enjoyed it, would you have picked anyone different?

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