The 11 worst Arsenal players of the 21st century - including ex-Chelsea and Everton talents

The Gunners will be eager to forget about this starting XI of under-performers.
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It is, by most metrics, a good time to be an Arsenal fan. The Gunners are flying high both domestically and in Europe, and came achingly close to ending their ongoing wait for a Premier League title last season.

To help Mikel Arteta and his men go one better this time around, the board at the Emirates spent big over the summer, and for the most part, those new additions have had a positive impact on the side.

But as another international break rolls over the horizon, they also got us thinking about some of the business in the Gunners' recent history that perhaps didn't work out so well. With that in mind, here is the worst Arsenal XI of the 21st century...

Richard Wright

Touted by many as the long-term successor to David Seaman, Wright instead spent just a single year in north London before being sold to Everton in 2002. His performances were, diplomatically-speaking, rickety at best, and a number of needless errors scuttled his Arsenal career before it ever truly got started.

Stephan Lichsteiner

A player who was, in retrospect, very much over the hill by the time he signed for the Gunners, Lichsteiner - like Wright before him - would spend just one season with Arsenal before being quietly ushered out of the exit door. Sluggish, uninspired, and fleeting, the Swiss international did more than enough to earn his spot in this XI.

Igors Stepanovs

Soundly regarded as one of the worst defenders in Arsenal's history. After scoring on his debut, things went downhill very, very quickly for the Latvian, who was quickly found out in the Premier League. Legend has it that Arsene Wenger only signed Stepanovs after the Gunners' squad at the time heaped praise on the centre-back during his trial in an effort to wind-up Martin Keown. In truth, his entire stint at the club felt like a prank.

Sebastien Squillaci

You have to be a special kind of awful to fend off Pascal Cygan for a place in this side, but Sebastien Squillaci has done exactly that. Brought in with such high expectations, the French international endured one torrid season before dropping down the pecking order spectacularly. A real disaster of a signing.

Andre Santos

In fairness, Arsenal have boasted a fairly decent procession of left-backs since the turn of the millennium, but Santos is absolutely a rare outlier in the sense that he was utterly, utterly dire. His fate was sealed when he decided to swap shirts with recently departed Gunners talisman Robin van Persie at half-time during a clash with Manchester United. Cardinal sin.

Amaury Bischoff

Even Arsene Wenger conceded that signing Bischoff was a gamble on account of his woeful injury record. The fact that he was released by the club having played just 25 minutes in an Arsenal shirt would suggest that it was a punt that did not pay off.

Kim Kallstrom

Another injury-blighted signing; who can forget the debacle that surrounded Kallstrom and his back? Despite the identification of a problem during his medical, Arsenal pushed ahead with a deal to sign the Football Manager darling on loan in January 2014. Four appearances later, he was back at Spartak Moscow and everybody was left in a state of mild bafflement.


Denilson somehow played over 150 times for Arsenal, but very few of those outings left any kind of meaningful impression. At one-time the youth captain of Brazil, the midfielder struggled to assert himself as the Gunners' main man in the centre of the park, and the drop-off in his career since he left the club in 2013 has been pretty drastic.


Perhaps it was the anticipation that surrounded his arrival. Perhaps it was the reported £200,000-a-week salary. Perhaps it was his seeming inability to string together two half-decent performances in a row. Whatever it was, Willian felt like a bigger flop than most in north London. Now doing the business for Fulham, Arsenal fans must be wondering whether they were saddled with an impostor.

Francis Jeffers

Few players have garnered the kind of hype that Francis Jeffers did during the early stages of his career. Genuinely impressive in the late '90s for boyhood club Everton, it was widely suggested that the striker could be the future of English football. A big money move to Arsenal followed, but things began to spiral almost immediately. In total, Jeffers scored four goals in 22 outings for the club, but perhaps the most damning indictment of his drop-off is that of his 40 career goals, 18 were scored before his 20th birthday.

Yaya Sanogo

Honourable mentions for Lucas Perez and Park Chu-Young aside, Yaya Sanogo has to slot in to the final spot in this XI. The striker emerged onto the scene as a promising 20-year-old, but that promise soon soured, and Sanogo would eventually end his Premier League career without a single goal to his name. A decade later, he now plays for Armenian outfit Urartu.