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Ten Arsenal’s famous attacking flops

By , People Daily Digital
Monday, September 13th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

1. Park Chu-young

Arsenal went to great efforts to sign Park from Monaco, for whom the South Korea striker had enjoyed a solid if unspectacular goalscoring record.

He was handed the No.9 shirt, raising hopes of a significant contribution following his arrival in 2011, but the striker’s Premier League career amounted to six minutes against Manchester United in January 2012.

Wenger would later admit he perhaps didn’t give Park enough opportunities, but a return of seven games and one (League Cup) goal is extremely underwhelming for a player who was signed with a view to featuring for the first team.

2. Takuma Asano

There are likely a few Arsenal fans who haven’t even thought about Asano since the day he signed for the club from Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2016.

Wenger tempered expectations by describing the Japan international as one for the future, but it turns out it wasn’t Arsenal’s future.

Asano never played a single competitive minute for the Gunners, spending three years on loan in Germany before making a permanent switch to Partizan in Serbia, but the 26-year-old has been on fire this season, scoring six times in the first four games of the season.

3. Yaya Sanogo

Watching Sanogo at Arsenal, it will have been hard to square his performances with his record of a goal every other game in France.

Twenty Arsenal games brought just one goal, and he matched that tally during a loan spell at Crystal Palace.

The Frenchman even managed to look underwhelming when scoring four against Benfica in the Emirates Cup, and is currently a free agent after three seasons (and 12 league goals) with Toulouse.

4. Lucas Perez

In retrospect, paying £17m for a striker with just one hot season in a big five league by the age of 27 is ambitious.

We say ‘in retrospect’ - even at the time, Perez’s record of being a simply okay scorer for PAOK and Karpaty Lviv before briefly catching fire at Deportivo La Coruna meant there was a question mark over his adaptability.

Not that the Spaniard was ever really given a chance, starting just two league games under Arsene Wenger despite performing a little better in the cups.

5. Joel Campbell

There’s only so long you can push the angle that you’ll come good next season, and Joel Campbell tested the limits of the idea during his seven years (yes, really!) on Arsenal’s books.

That spell involved loans to no fewer than six clubs, plus a brief run in 2015/16 when it looked like he was building to something at Arsenal but, as we know now, wasn’t.

The Costa Rican played roughly twice as many games for his country during those seven years than he did for Arsenal.

6. Francis Jeffers

Now a firm part of football lexicon, the “fox in the box” was a phrase that haunted Jeffers following his £8million switch from Everton to north London in 2001.

On paper, it seemed to make sense as Arsene Wenger had a pure goal-poacher to match all the craft and creativity in wide areas and around the penalty area - the then 20-year-old could turn into a 20-a-season man.

But Jeffers never settled in London and was consistently down the pecking order, to the point he only made six league appearances in his first season.

He did enjoy a reasonable campaign in 2002/03 to indicate that Wenger’s prophesy was accurate but injuries stunted his progress and he gradually fell from view.

7. Julio Baptista

Julio Baptista was only on loan at Arsenal, but his reputation in Spain convinced enough people the Gunners were getting a real gem.

The Brazilian had scored 38 goals in his first two La Liga seasons, and a poorer return after moving to Real Madrid wasn’t enough to temper the enthusiasm.

There was a notable high point with a four-goal display against Liverpool in the League Cup, but he scored more in that one evening than in 24 league games combined.

8. Willian

Tipped to be the next big thing at Arsenal after his commendable seven seasons at Chelsea where he score 37 goals with several assists in 234 appearances, the Brazilian turned to be a lame duck at Arsenal where he scored a single goal with one assist before he left on mutual agreement just after one season. 

9. Gervinho

An Ivory Coast international, Gervinho was far too inconsistent after his 2011 move from Lille.

The forward’s post-Arsenal career has shown him to be just as erratic, with moments of genius at Roma and Parma surrounded by the same spells of inactivity which blighted his two seasons in north London.

Those seasons brought just nine league goals, probably not enough even when you bear in mind he wasn’t expected to be Arsenal’s principal goalscorer.

10. Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Signed as part of a player plus money transfer that involved Chile international Alexis Sanchez moving to Manchester United and Mkhitaryan moving the opposite direction, he was tipped to shine like he had while at Borussia Dortmund, but he ended up miss firing at the Emirates, only managing eight goals in 39 matches.

He was released to AS Roma where he seem to be finding his foot at the moment.