‘Here ‘holic, are you doing anything special for your four hundredth post?’
Some of you sad but crazy people really should get out more. Even I didn’t realise that milestone had arrived. Thank you anyway.
There is no news to ponder over. The Euros are now under way so there is little chance of any activity for the next couple of weeks, unless of course Ken Friar is in Africa as we speak?
So what does an old gooner sit here and think about as the sun beats down and a spot of shade has to be sought for the rioja? Why, his favourite Gooners, of course.
This was prompted by a chat with an old boy in the pub recently. “What would be the team you would pick out of all the Arsenal players you’ve seen then, ‘holic?”
Put fifty fans on the spot with that question and you probably won’t get two teams the same, but for what it’s worth here is the team I would love to have seen.
It would have to be David Seaman in goal. I loved Bob Wilson, and Pat Jennings gave us a few years more than we expected when the clowns up the road decided he was over the hill. I’m swayed though by the fact that Seaman was number one for over a decade, and needed to win us over at the start because we couldn’t understand why George Graham had dumped John Lukic. A big man with a big character.
My back four would start with a controversial pick. I know I would not be able to find a place for Peter Storey in midfield, so he would have to be right-back. Sorry Dicko, Viv, and Ricey, but room has to be found for the winner that Storey was. No liberties would be taken down that flank.
The central pairing would have to be Tony Adams and Frank Mclintock. Great players and leaders of men both, although that would be harsh on David O’Leary, Peter Simpson, Steve Bould and Martin Keown who also retain a special place in the memory.
Left-back would have to be ‘Nutty’. Bob McNab and Kenny Sansom were special, but Nigel Winterburn just saw off all challengers for the number three shirt for a whole generation. Wingers would not want to play against ‘my’ Arsenal!
The midfield quartet. How do you narrow a dozen true greats at least into a four? I’ll go for balance. Little George Armstrong on the right would just edge out Rocky. Both were irresistable going forward. Rocky perhaps more likely to score himself, but George created countless goals for others with his pinpoint crosses, and would spend as much time in defence as attack. A true all action player.
I would just have to pair Patrick Vieira and Liam Brady in the middle. Liam would have loved the amount of ball that Vieira would have won for him, and Pat would have enjoyed playing alongside the lad with the magic wand of a left foot. Sorry Emmanuel, Charlie et al.
The left side would have to be ‘Bobby’. Pires in the first half of 2001-2002 will remain in the memory. We surely had the best three players on the planet at that time, and Robert was certainly one. I’m not sure we realised just how reliant we had become on him until he was gone. What a footballer.
And so to the hardest selection of all. Up front it has to be Dennis and…who? Bergkamp is a shoe-in. Not just a provider, not just a goalscorer, he had attitude and style. He could drop deep or play up in support. He had everything.
Alongside how do I leave out Joe Baker, who scored a hundred goals in a side that couldn’t defend? How can I ignore John Radford, who succeeded Joe and led the line to double glory. Charlie Nicholas, Frank Stapleton, Alan Smith, Brian Kidd, scorers all. Then of course there was Wrighty. We thought nobody would make us feel like Ian Wright, but we were wrong.
My final selection has to be ‘that Barcelona bloke’ as he is known in another place. Thierry Henry was made to play with Dennis Bergkamp, and Robert Pires. When I finally check in at the Pearly Gates my first question of St Peter will be ‘how long do I have to wait to see these three playing together again?’
So that’s it.
Storey, Adams, Mclintock, Winterburn;
Armstrong, Vieira, Brady, Pires;
Not a bad little side, even though I say so myself. I wouldn’t mind paying a few quid to watch them every week.
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