As a fan who has been supporting Arsenal since 1998, I laughed aloud when I saw the comments Theo Walcott made about this current team being better than the one that consisted of Henry, Bergkamp, Ljungberg, Pires, Reyes and Viera.
Is Walcott capable of making a strong Juventus defence look ridiculous the way Bergkamp did (I still chuckle when I remember the frustration on the defenders’ faces)? Is there any player in this current squad capable of scoring against Real Madrid the way Thierry Henry did in 2005-06? The answer is of course No!
So why did Walcott make such a blatant statement? Because it is true…this current team IS stronger than the Bergkamp and Henry combination for two reasons. Obviously man for man, there is no comparison. The 2004 team wins hands down but there are two things that the 2004 team lacked.
Compare Walcott, Rosicky, Sanchez, Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere, AOC, Joel Campbell, Cazorla, Welbeck, and Giroud. Throw in Chuba Akpom and Serge Gnabry for good measure. The Arsenal team of 2004 was a good squad but mention the players they had on the bench? Edu was an average player and I cannot even remember any other player on the bench.
If there is one thing no one can fault this Arsenal team, it is the fact that the fight to the end. Case in point is the game against Stoke City where they went 3-0 down in the first half and scored two goals while almost grabbing an unlikely point. The 2004 team was a joy to watch when in full flow but their spirits would go down the minute they would go a goal down.
The two most disappointing moments for me as an Arsenal fan happened in 2002-03 as well as 2003-04. In ’03 Arsenal was cruising towards the Premier League title when they began to drop points. I can still remember the way I felt after the game against Leeds United and the way they refused to fight to the end. In ’04, the most disappointing game was the FA cup loss to Manchester United. Arsenal could have gone for the treble that season but it seemed they sacrificed that game for the Champions League. Losing 1-0 was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. It would have been better to lose by a three goal margin than give up the game that meekly.
Henry and co may be immortalized as the Invincibles but make no mistake, they had their deficiencies.