Going, Going, Gun.

by Ian Walsh

Kolo Toure’s £15million departure from Arsenal to Manchester City marked the end of the ‘Invincibles’ era. Toure was the remaining member of that Arsenal squad that remained unbeaten for 49games in the 2003-04 season, and becoming the first team since Preston North End in 1888-89 to remain a whole league campaign unbeaten.

Football - Manchester United v Arsenal Barclays Premier League

That season also saw Arsenal clinch the Premier League title, finishing 11 points clear of second placed Chelsea. Arsene Wenger and his side have yet to win the league since, but also have not won any silverwear since the FA Cup in 2005. Toure said

When you see a lot of players going from the club, important players like Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, it makes you think you have to leave. I feel I have done that at the right time’

So where have these ‘invincibles gone?

  • Jens Lehmann – free, Stuttgart
  • Lauren – free agent, Portsmouth
  • Sol Campbell – Portsmouth
  • Kolo Toure – Manchester City
  • Ashley Cole – Chelsea
  • Robert Pires – Villarreal
  • Gilberto Silva – Panathinaikos
  • Patrick Vieira – Inter Milan
  • Freddie Ljunberg – West Ham, Seattle
  • Dennis Bergkamp – quit 2006.
  • Thierry Henry – Barcelona

Having banked £39million from Manchester City for Toure, and Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsene Wenger remains coy as ever, unwilling to discuss transfer targets. However, reports suggest he is to make a shock bid for former skipper Patrick Vieira. Wenger said -‘I think Patrick is a legend here and he would always like, if he had the chance, to come back to this club. He is a great player who has done extremly well for this club.’ At 33, the re-signing of Vieira would be just what Arsenal’s young squad need, because at the moment they’re lacking leadership and guidance, and a man of Vieira’s spirit and passion would re-ignite Arsenal’s passion and drive to remain a Top 4 club.

Chelsea FC v Inter Milan

Vieira was the last person to lift silverwear at Arsenal, when he led them to FA Cup victory back in 2005, beating rivals Manchester United in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

The Londoners have only made one signing so far ahead of the new season, bringing in Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax. But Wenger has today promised more signings before the season kicks off on August 15th.

This will most definitely be one of Arsene Wenger’s toughest seasons since he took charge in 1996. Wenger remains as the second longest serving manager behind Sir Alex Ferguson.

Having lost Samir Nasri to injury, Tomas Rosicky made a welcome return to the Arsenal side yesterday, in their 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid in the Emirates Cup. The game also saw some pure brilliance from Andrey Arshavin who came off the bench to score twice, and clinch the victory for the Gunners.

Arsenal will certainly need a miracle this year if they are to challenge at home and in Europe, but just like his old foe Fergie, Wenger has the ability to pull it all together when needs be, and if there was a time to prove his critics wrong, this is his the time to do it.

Wenger maybe proud of his inexperienced squad, but he needs to justify that by winning trophies, and bringing back a born leader like Vieira might just be the winning formula Arsenal need.

So who are these wannabe wonderkids?

  • GK – Manuel Almunia
  • RB – Bacary Sagna
  • CB – William Gallas
  • CB – Thomas Vermaelen
  • LB – Gael Clichy
  • RM – Theo Walcott
  • CM – Cesc Fabregas
  • CM – Denlison
  • LM – Tomas Rosicky
  • FW – Robin van Persie
  • FW – Andrey Arshavin

As we look ahead to the start of the season, anything below a 4th place finish for Arsene Wenger would be a travesty, and with Manchester City going from strength to strength in their pursuit of glory, let’s hope this Gunner won’t be a Gonner come the end of the season.

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