In my all important opinion, the Arsenal of today have few world class players. I'd like to make a run-down of this team, at full strength, compared with the Invincibles of 2003-04.
Before I start, though, I just want to say that I think signing Arshavin would be a bad signing. I think an out-and-out winger is needed more than he. Who plays on the wing for Arsenal these days? Diaby (a natural CAM), Nasri (a natural CAM), Rosicky – when healthy (a natural CAM), and Walcott (maybe the only natural winger). To me, it seems like Arshavin is in the same mold. Arsene needs to sign that holding midfielder and possibly a center-back as well.
GK Jens Lehmann v. Manuel Almunia: Jens Lehmann at his best in 2003-04 is an unbeatable goalkeeper. Almunia is just above average. Invincibles
LB Ashley Cole v. Gael Clichy: Cole was an absolute monster in 2003-04 but it's hard to give him any credit after the way he treated his boyhood club subsequently. Clichy, on the other hand, is very classy. Current Team
CB Sol Campbell v. William Gallas: This one is a sitter. Campbell is far better in the air, but also a fantastic defender. Strangely, both seem to be a bit unstable. Invincibles
CB Kolo Toure: I can't make a judgment here, although the Kolo Toure of 2003-04 was remarkably better than the worn out one we see today.
RB Lauren v. Bacary Sagna: As great as Lauren was for Arsenal, I think Sagna is pure class and an unbelievable defender. Current Team
LM Robert Pires v. Samir Nasri: As much as I like Samir Nasri, no sane person would choose him over the Pires of the Invincibles. Invincibles
CM Gilberto Silva v. Denilson: Gilberto was pure class for us that year, and although Denilson is a consistent player, he is not nearly as dominant. Invincibles
CM Patrick Vieira v. Cesc Fabregas: The two number 4's and central midfielders and captains. It would be sacrilege to pick one over the other. Draw
RM Freddie Ljungberg v. Theo Walcott: Ljungberg was a much smarter player than Walcott is right now, and he had roles in many of the goals scored that year. Walcott is for the future. Invincibles
ST Thierry Henry v. Emmanuel Adebayor: Ha ha. Invincibles
ST Dennis Bergkamp v. Robin van Persie: As well as Robbo has played this year, how can I go against the brilliant Flying Dutchman? Invincibles
So in the end, only the outside backs of today's team would get a spot in the Invincibles, with Cesc and Vieira starting every other game. Also, look at the average age of the team. I'm not one with statistics, but it is remarkable. What happened, Arsene?
Cardiff may be tricky this weekend, but a loss would be inexcusable. I'll be travelling Saturday so I probably won't be able to catch the match.