Yesterday Arsene Wenger cam out and claimed his current crop of forwards was the best options he has had in his 2 decades at the club, surpassing the invicibles:
“Certainly numbers-wise and quality-wise together [they are the best],” Wenger said ahead of today’s clash with struggling Watford.
“We had never so many players who could perform and score goals – certainly never.
“Dennis and Thierry had the quality but we did not have a large number. We had Sylvain Wiltord and Robert Pires as well so it was not bad.”
Many have used this of further proof that Arsene Wenger is a deluded old man who has gone senile. It is further quotes to prove that he now looks at the current set up through rose tinted glasses.
Arsenal’s current forward options are: Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil & Lucas Perez. How can these compare to Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Kanu and Sylvain Wiltord. The invincibles.
Well the statistics do make for interesting reading:
Invincibles v Class of 2017
So the Invincibles scored a goal every 2.96 games. Whilst the Class of 2017 are a goal every 3.01 games. Almost nothing in it. We are talking about a 5 minute difference. But of course, it disproves Arsene Wenger’s point. The Invincibles were superior goal scorers, but only just. And probably not by as much as people think.
For me there are main differences between the two groups of players is top end quality. The Invincibles had Thierry Henry.
Henry is by far and away the most clinical player out of the 12 players and the primary reason that the Invincibles scored more than the Class of 2017.
A minor reason is Dennis Bergkamp against Mesut Ozil. Bergkamp was much more of a striker than Mesut Ozil. Scored more goals.
Henry better than Giroud, Bergkamp better than Ozil. When you combine all 12 players into a single long list, it makes equally as interesting reading.
This list further proves that Henry was superior to every other player. Our greatest goal scorer of all time. But the next two on the list are interesting. Both from the Class of 2017. This shows that whilst the Invincibles were heavily reliant on goals from Henry, the Class of 2017 has two goal scoring options.
Lucas Perez has to kind of be disregarded as he has played so few games to make a true judgement.
You then have the next 5. Pires, Bergkamp, Wiltord, Welbeck & Walcott. Very similar games to goal ratio.
So the Invincibles had the best goal scorer, but the Class of 2017 had the better options.
Player v Player
A last comparison is just seeing players per their position.
Again, this highlights the importance of Henry and Bergkamp. Henry is vastly superior to Giroud. Bergkamp better than Ozil. This is not exactly ground breaking news.
On the left hand side, Sanchez out scores Pires, which again is not exactly surprising. Sanchez is better than Pires.
The right hand side of the midfield might surprise you. Walcott is more dangerous than Ljungberg.
Wiltord and Welbeck are both hardworking strikers who also cover the wide positions. Wiltord had played a lot more than Welbeck, but their record is identical.
Lastly we have Perez v Kanu. Not similar in style, but they are the lost ones left. Kanu on his day was a game changer, but was extremely inconsistent. A scorer of great goals, rather than a great goal scorer.
I think it is wrong to compare the Invincibles to the Class of 2017. The Invincibles won league titles, and went unbeaten. Add in a lot of FA Cups. Whilst the current crop have just those 2 FA Cups to show for their efforts. But the comparison does make interesting reading, and the difference is not as much as you would think.
The difference is Bergkamp and Henry.
Note: I know I spelt Wiltord’s name wrong in the pretty pictures