2003/04: The Peak of the Invincibles’ Success
by K-PO, proud member of the Gooner Forum and Blog Manager
We are close. Very close indeed to being as great, nay, as Invincible as the legendary Invincibles Team was.
This is the legacy. These 11 men who fought through 38 games, and did not lose even one of them. How can we recreate that with the team that we have?
Well, what did Henry bring in 2003/04? He brought 39 goals and 11 assists. If Adebayor leaves can Eduardo bring that? Well, Eduardo, in his first 31 games for Arsenal, which is the number of games before his injury, he brought 12 goals and 8 assists. Not as good as Henry’s first 31 games, but it was his first season after having played in a very different league for several years, whilst Henry had played in Italy and France before moving to Arsenal. So, can Eduardo bring the goods that Henry did for Arsenal? Yes, but not in the same way that Henry did. He will bring the assists and the goals, but not in exactly the same way.
Bergkamp. Dennis Bergkamp was a different, different class that will never ever be seen again. But we’ve got the closest thing to him. And that’s Robin van Persie. Along with Cesc he is the most talented player on the team. van Persie’s vision and how ridiculous ideas for things to do on the ball (i.e. the goal against Milan, how the hell did he think of doing exactly what he did??) can eventually be almost as good as Bergkamp. In his career, Bergkamp made 393 appearances for Arsenal, and scored 106 goals in 11 years. van Persie has been with us for 4 years now, and truly loves the club. In those four years he has been able to bring 133 games, 43 goals, and 15 assists. He’s a quarter of the way there, and he’s only been fit for two of those four years. That is evidence of how great he can be. Just please, please, please, stay fit Robin! If you look at his injury record he is not injury prone, he has had bad decisions made about him, and has been very unlucky. Last October, he happened to land in a way that injured his knee for the Dutch, and against Manchester United, he made an awkward step and broke his foot.
On our bench next year we will be able to house two strikers, and they will be Bendtner and Vela. Both among the best young strikers in the world, and will provide firm competition for Eduardo and Vela, and they also have Sunu and Barazite behind them. Our striker situation is fine, even if Adebayor leaves. We could even start Bendtner, who would provide a height advantage. Also, he and van Persie showed that they can work together at least twice in the last campaign, and use Eduardo as a super-sub.
Next is ol’ Bobby Pires. Another amazing member of the Invincibles, and Rosicky is supposed to be his replacement. Rosicky IS injury prone, but his is also a great player, showing many times that he can be a good replacement for Pires, if he could only stay fit. If he cannot stay fit, Nasri and Traore would both be happy to take his place, and both of them WOULD bring the goods, I know Traore would, he could become a true legend if he replaces Rosicky and stays as Arsenal’s left winger until the end of his career. He would form an incredible relationship with Gael Clichy aswell. I think that Traore should play left-wing for Arsenal, and I convince myself more and more as I write this.
On the right, Theo Walcott has proven all of his doubters wrong, and I believe he can stay and bring back to life the energy, flair, speed and goals that Freddie Ljungberg once brought to the team. That’s all I’m going to say.
Cesc Fabregas. He is the difference, he is what will make the current team better than the Invincibles. He provides the spark, the creation and the determination that Edu/Gilberto couldn’t bring. We all know of his quality, and he has just proven it once again by winning EURO 2008 with Spain, and was my man of the match in the semi-final vs. Russia. But the main mystery this season is who will partner him?
That is the only question left, the last piece of the puzzle for me. The best option is Yaya Toure, and with Barca reported bidding 30 million pounds for Adebayor, all they have to do is add Yaya and it has to be a done deal. That’s all I want this summer, for us to sell Ade and Hleb and get Yaya. All I want. I don’t care about Nasri or Ramsey or Bischoff, all I want is Yaya, and this Generation is complete. But I doubt we will buy him, since we have Lansbury, Denilson, Diaby, Merida, Coquelin, and Frimpong in the ranks.
In defense, I don’t think there’s anything to say about Sagna, Clichy or Almunia, they were all brilliant. Kolo Toure and William Gallas looked like they were forming a good relationship in the first few months. but we were proved wrong after Gallas proved that he is the farthest thing from a captain and Kolo hit shit form. So, we need Nordtveit to replace Gallas in the next two years. Gallas is coming to the end of the line anyways, and Nordtveit is good enough, he should be a regular on the bench next season. We need a new Sol Campbell is what we need.
This is what I think/hope we will see most of the time next year, and for years to come:
Bench: Fabianski, Song, G. Hoyte?, Nasri, Denilson, Vela, Bendtner