The 19 players who played just one Premier League game for Arsenal

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Arsenal have always been willing to give opportunities to young players – but establishing themselves at the club is an altogether different challenge.

Arsene Wenger was particularly renowned for giving prospects a chance to shine in the first team, although earning an appearance in the Premier League was always trickier than getting a run-out in one of the cups.

We’ve taken a closer look at the 19 players to appear just once for Arsenal at the Premier League, excluding the likes of Perry Groves, who were Gooners for a number of years prior to the competition’s rebranding.

Lee Harper

“I found myself in a Roy of the Rovers-type story, which was just being in the right place at the right time,” Harper told us in 2018. “I started in non-league at Eltham Town, where I asked then to sign for Sittingbourne after playing against them.

“The next thing, Arsenal were watching our centre-half, Neil Emblem, as Sittingbourne were producing a lot of footballers at the time – four left for league clubs that year.”

Harper ultimately caught the Gunners eye and was signed for £150,000 in the summer of 1994. The goalkeeper had to wait until 1997 before making his debut in a 2-0 win at Southampton. At the end of that season, he moved on to QPR and spent the rest of his career in the lower leagues.

READ: The story of the keeper who went from non-league to play for Arsenal

David Grondin

Signed from Saint-Etienne’s academy in 1998, Grondin was immediately loaned back to the French side and also spent spells on loan at Cannes, Beveren and Dunfermline.

The left-back was given a Premier League outing in a 0-0 draw against Liverpool in 1999 and was also given run-outs in the League Cup and Champions League before leaving on a permanent deal to Dunfermline.

Mart Poom

Poom spent two years in north London after being signed as a back-up goalkeeper from Sunderland and had to wait until the final game of his final season at the club to be given a chance in the Premier League, coming in a 0-0 draw at Portsmouth.

Ryan Garry

Garry’s only Premier League appearance for Arsenal just so happened to be the first game of the Invincibles’ 49-match unbeaten streak, a 6-1 win over Southampton.

“I remember going to the hotel before the game; the pre-match meeting was based around a player I would be marking, a French winger named Fabrice Fernandes,” he told us in 2018. “He was their best player and I was going to have to stop him.”

Come the end of that season, the defender discovered he was playing with multiple stress fractures in both shins, and injury problems blighted the rest of his career, forcing him to retire at the age of 27 after a spell with Bournemouth.

READ: The Englishman who played for Arsenal’s Invincibles but retired at 27

Amaury Bischoff

Nicknamed ‘No Knees’ such was the extent of his injury issues, upon signing the player, Arsene Wenger acknowledged Arsenal had taken a “gamble” due to his fitness problems.

The midfielder’s only Premier League appearance came towards the end of the 2008-09 season in a 3-0 victory at Portsmouth, but he was released a month later and has since played in the lower reaches of Portuguese and German football.

Brian McGovern

Another player to appear in the 4-2 defeat to Newcastle at the end of 1999-00 alongside Rhys Weston, the defender failed to establish himself in English football during subsequent moves to Norwich and Peterborough before returning to his native Ireland.

Rhys Weston

“I knew the reason I was playing was because they’d already secured Champions League football, and it was a bit of a hiding to nothing,” Weston told us in 2017 about his solitary appearance for Arsenal, which came in a 4-2 defeat to Newcastle at the end of the 1999-2000 season.

He added: “There was a great photo that popped on social media of me challenging Alan Shearer for a header. Well, it’s more a case of him challenging me as I’m about six inches below him and he’s over the top of me winning the ball and that’s pretty much how the day went aerially.”

The defender went on to play much more regularly at Cardiff City, where he also became a senior Wales international. He now works in the commercial department at Brentford.

READ: ‘A hiding to nothing’: The story of Rhys Weston’s one PL game for Arsenal

David Bentley

Bentley carved out a decent Premier League career with Blackburn and Tottenham but was restricted to a 1-1 draw against Portsmouth in Arsenal colours.

The winger returned to haunt the Gunners with a stunning goal for Spurs in a 4-4 draw at the Emirates but retired at the age of 29 after becoming disillusioned with football.

Tommy Black

Best known for his seven-year spell at Crystal Palace, Black was part of Arsenal’s academy alongside his older brother Michael.

While Michael was never given a chance in the Premier League, Tommy at least appeared in a 1-0 win over Everton in 2000.

Gavin Hoyte

“I remember just going out there, seeing Robinho and thinking about what he’d done to other defenders, hoping he wouldn’t do that to me. But I was full of confidence and I was ready,” Hoyte told us in 2017.

As far as Premier League debuts go, Hoyte was thrown in at the deep end as Arsenal were beaten 3-0 at Manchester City the day after William Gallas was stripped of the captaincy for criticising team-mates amid a poor run of only one win in four games.

The defender subsequently dropped down the divisions and is still going for Maidstone in non-league.

READ: The story of Gavin Hoyte and his one Premier League game for Arsenal

Nico Yennaris

Now known as Li Ke after becoming a naturalised Chinese citizen and representing the national team, Yennaris was well thought of at Arsenal and made his Premier League debut in a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford, one of four senior appearances he made for the club.

The midfielder left the Emirates in 2014 to join Brentford but struggled with injuries in his five years at the club before joining Beijing Guoan.

Julian Gray

Perhaps better known that some names on this list after becoming a regular in the Premier League with Birmingham City, Gray also appeared in the defeat to Newcastle, replacing Kanu with 19 minutes remaining.

A successful spell at Crystal Palace followed, but he eventually dropped down the leagues and even spent time playing in Cyprus.

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Ryo Miyaichi

Seemingly destined for big things, Miyaichi played seven times for Arsenal’s first team – including a 17-minute cameo against Stoke in the Premier League – and also played top-flight football for Bolton and Wigan.

The attacker failed to establish himself at Wigan and that seemed to spell the end of his career in England, eventually joining St Pauli on a permanent deal, only for injuries to severely limit his playing time.

Nestor Caballero

Fifteen minutes in a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough totalled Caballero’s Premier League career before he globetrotted around the world playing in Paraguay, South Korea, Cyprus, Greece, Chile, Guatemala and, erm, Scotland.

Stathis Tavlaridis

A £1million signing from Iraklis Thessaloniki as a 21-year-old in 2001, the centre-back was always going to struggle to displace Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure during his three years in north London and had to settle for 15 minutes in the 6-1 win over Southampton.

He left Arsenal for spells in France with Lille and Saint-Etienne before spending the final seven years of his career back in Greece.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

Currently without a club after a spell in Thailand, Emmanuel-Thomas has failed to live up to expectations after making his Premier League debut in a defeat at Chelsea in 2010.

Arturo Lupoli

We still reckon he could do a job mainly because he was good on Football Manager and has a pleasingly Italian name, but Lupoli is now onto the 16th club of his career with Serie C outfit Virtus Verona.

The forward played and scored for Arsenal in the League Cup, but his only Premier League outing resulted in a 1-0 defeat at Blackburn.

Park Chu-young

Congratulations, Park, you’re the worst player to wear the No.9 shirt for Arsenal in the Premier League.

READ: Ranking every player to wear No.9 for Arsenal in the Premier League

Isaiah Rankin

A journeyman lower league forward, Rankin was handed his Premier League debut as a substitute in the north London derby, coming on as Arsenal drew 1-1 at White Hart Lane.

After leaving for Bradford in 1998, he played for 13 different clubs reaching double figures in a single season just once.


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