Arsenal’s 15 best signings of the 2010s: Sanchez, Cazorla, Ozil…
Arsenal supporters are unlikely to look back on the 2010s with too much fondness, but they did get to watch some wonderful players.
Arsenal failed to return to their success of the early 2000s and dropped out of the Premier League’s top four, although they did enjoy glory in the FA Cup in Arsene Wenger’s final years in charge.
And the Emirates faithful were still able to enjoy watching some stellar names come into the club – as shown by their best signings of the decade, listed here in no particular order.
A one-man swarm of wasps that plagued Premier League defences for three-and-a-half seasons at Arsenal before things went remarkably pear-shaped at Manchester United.
Sanchez is one of only two players, Robin van Persie being the other, to score 30 goals in a single season for Arsenal this decade.
While it may have ended in acrimony, no Arsenal defender could able to match Koscielny for consistency and longevity at the Emirates over the decade.
Signed for just £8.5million from Lorient, the Frenchman blossomed into a 51-cap international and Arsenal captain in north London.
Given he inherited the No.6 shirt from Philippe Senderos, we’re going to say that was decent value for money.
The most inevitable goalscoring return in the history of football. And it was absolutely glorious.
— Arsenal Goals (@Arsenal_Goals) January 7, 2016
When Bellerin joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old from Barcelona, he spoke of how Wenger had promised him a pathway into the first team.
Both manager and player lived up to their end of the bargain, and by the end of the right-back’s first full season in the senior squad, he was starting in the FA Cup final victory over Aston Villa ahead of the more experienced Mathieu Debuchy.
One of just five players in this list still at the club, the Spaniard is now vice-captain and also seems like a really, really good lad.
Given he’s now the club’s manager, you don’t need us to tell you Arteta made quite the impression at Arsenal.
The Spaniard arrived as a classy attacking midfielder from Everton but was converted into more of a holding role under Wenger, showing he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and taking over the captain’s armband, becoming one of only two players to lead the Gunners to a trophy in the 2010s.
He’s already done it as a manager, too.
Big handsome Olivier could divide opinion, but he could also put the ball in the back of the net on a fairly regular basis, passing the 15-goal mark in each of his five full seasons in north London – including two 20+ goal hauls.
In 2015, he scored the final goal in the FA Cup final victory over Aston Villa, while he provided the assist for Aaron Ramsey’s winners in 2014 and 2017. He also did f*cking this…
It feels slightly uncomfortable trying to evaluate Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Arsenal career. Given he was signed as a precociously-talented 17-year-old from Southampton, he perhaps never quite fulfilled his potential and was regularly hampered by injuries.
But he still provided plenty of memorable moments. Not least two pivotal performances in the FA Cup semi-final and final victories in his final full season in north London before moving to Liverpool.
It’s also nice to see the Gunners still mean a lot to the midfielder, who refused to celebrate after scoring against them in the League Cup, saying: “That was something I always knew that I’d do. I have full respect for a former club and their fans. I always want to show a lot of respect to Arsenal for what they did for me and the times I had there.
Two weeks before the 2017 FA Cup final, Mertesacker was allowed to go on holiday. He hadn’t started a game of first-team football for 392 days. Arsenal were set to play league champions Chelsea in the decider at Wembley and Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel Paulista were well-established as Wenger’s first-choice centre-halves.
Then Gabriel and Mustafi got injured. And Koscielny got sent off in the final league match of the season, when Metesacker was given his only 37 minutes of the season.
So the BFG got thrown in against Diego Costa and Eden Hazard as part of a back three – he’d never played in a back three in his career – alongside left-back Nacho Monreal and Rob Holding, a youngster who had been relegated from the Championship with Bolton the previous season.
We don’t need to tell you what happened next, but we’ll leave you with Mertesacker’s words after the match: “Don’t write me off, man. Don’t write me off.”
“When you are at a big club like Arsenal, sometimes you don’t realise what it means to be there until you are gone. I never got to say a proper goodbye,” Cazorla told The Independent in November 2019.
“It was the biggest team I played for in my career and I miss everything about Arsenal.”
Don’t make us cry, Santi. You were gorgeous to watch. We still miss you.
The news that Arsenal had signed ‘Nacho Monreal’ from Malaga in January 2013 was met with the general air of an Alan Partridge shrug.
Two hundred and fifty-one games later, Monreal left north London as a fan favourite to return to Spain, having proved himself a player to stand up and be counted during the tough times, even converting himself into a centre-back to help the side.
A record of 48 goals in 127 games is decent enough for a forward who has often had to settle for a place on the bench at Arsenal. He was voted Player of the Year by the fans for the 2018-19 season and has a lovely relationship with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Talking of who, only Thierry Henry has a better goals-per-game record than Aubameyang for Arsenal in the Premier League. That’s quite frightening.
It remains to be seen how Ozil will be remembered by Arsenal fans in time, but the enigmatic attacking midfielder has provided some astonishing moments of class in a red shirt.
As our very own Tom Victor wrote in 2017: “When a player is capable of making the game look so easy, fans will undoubtedly be frustrated on the occasions he seems to find the going that bit tougher, but this would be less of an issue were he not the only one at the club capable of some of the things he does.”
He was good to start with and a necessary older head among a squad lacking leaders.
Just don’t talk about how it ended.
He’s young, he’s a bit mad and he’s still got lots to learn. But he’s also got some b*llocks about him, and Arsenal really need to look after Guendouzi.