Where are they now? Arsenal’s XI from Laurent Koscielny’s debut v Barnet

Quick Reads

Laurent Koscielny has played with plenty of Arsenal greats, but his debut for the club featured a different assortment of names.

The Frenchman was still a fresh-faced, uncapped 24-year-old when he moved to north London from Lorient in 2010, and after more than 350 games he looks just about ready to move on.

His final game for the Gunners saw him share a pitch with the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but some of the names in his first game – a pre-season friendly against Barnet that Arsenal won 4-0 – were a little less illustrious. Arsenal made 11 changes at the break, with the likes of Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott coming off the bench, but here’s who started.

Łukasz Fabiański

Fabiański went on to make 14 Premier League appearances in the 2010-11 season as he competed with compatriot Wojciech Szczęsny for a starting spot, but that’s as good as it got for the Pole.

Since leaving in 2014, though, he has missed just three league games in the last five seasons for Swansea City and West Ham.

He goes into the 2019-20 season at West Ham’s first choice and will hope to help his country make it to Euro 2020 after a fast start in qualifying.

 

Håvard Nordtveit

Another man with West Ham games under his belt, Nordtveit never played in the Premier League for Arsenal but racked up 17 league appearances for the Hammers in the 2016-17 season.

The Norwegian has played Champions League football for Hoffenheim and Borussia Mönchengladbach and has earned over 40 international caps.

He’s now back at Hoffenheim after an unsuccessful loan spell at Fulham last season that nobody seemed to notice.

Thomas Vermaelen

Vermaelen gave a better account of himself at Arsenal than many others in this squad, though an injury suffered on international duty limited his involvement in the 2010-11 season.

The Belgian reached the 150-game mark before an injury-ravaged spell at Barcelona during which he was limited to 65 games in five seasons for Barça and loan side Roma.

Vermaelen is now at Vissel Kobe in Japan, where his team-mates include another former Gunner in Lukas Podolski.

Laurent Koscielny

Nearly a decade of service, helping Arsenal navigate one of the trickiest patches in their recent history.

The manner of his departure might not be great, but Koscielny has given the club the best years of his career.

Armand Traoré

The left-back went out on loan to Juventus shortly after this game but never really recovered from his part in the 8-2 defeat to Manchester United on his return in 2011.

Traoré almost played a big role in the 2011-12 title race, with an assist to put QPR ahead at Manchester City on the final day, but bounced around the Championship with Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City after leaving Loftus Road.

He joined Turkish side Rizespor in 2018, helping them to a mid-table Süper Lig finish in his first season.

 

Emmanuel Frimpong

Frimpong was just 18 when he took to the field against Barnet and big things were expected of the teenager.

He properly broke through in the 2011-12 season, making his Premier League and Champions League debuts, but wasn’t able to carve out a career with his boyhood club.

After spells in Russia and Cyprus, he was forced to retire early due to injury.

Tomáš Rosický

Rosický, like Koscielny, gave Arsenal several years of service but left some fans wondering what might have happened were it not for the injuries.

The Czech midfielder played more than 200 times for the club, with some of the fondest memories of his time there including a goal in a come-from-behind 5-2 win over Tottenham, but he managed just one game in his final season.

Injuries troubled him on his return to Sparta Prague, too, restricting him to fewer than 20 games before he cut his career short midway through the 2017-18 season.

Jack Wilshere

You’d think we’d tire of mentioning injuries, but the XI from Koscielny’s debut feels like it suffered from a much blander version of the Superman Curse.

At least Wilshere got a hot 2010-11 season before the problems began, putting in that display against Barcelona, but when he didn’t feature at all in the following campaign we should have known what to expect.

Now at West Ham, for whom he scored his first goal in a pre-season meeting with Athletic Bilbao and will hope to improve on a debut season in which he played just 55 minutes after September.

Andrey Arshavin

In the summer of 2010, Arshavin was ready to really kick on after scoring 16 goals in his first season-and-a-half, but an early goal at Underhill was his only strike in pre-season and he managed just six in 37 league games.

The Russian fell further and further towards the margins before leaving for good in 2013, first returning to Zenit St Petersburg and eventually seeing out his career in Kazakhstan.

He retired in 2018 but still holds plenty of fondness for his former employers.

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Jay Simpson

Simpson scored two of Arsenal’s four goals against Barnet but moved to Hull for £1million before the end of August without a Premier League appearance for the Gunners to his name.

The striker struggled for goals in the Championship but became a cult hero at Leyton Orient after a 25-goal season for the League Two club in 2015-16.

After helping the Os earn promotion back to the Football League – via a stint out in MLS with Philadelphia Union – he joined Cypriot side Nea Salamis this summer. He’s not the first former Arsenal man to spend time there, with Julian Gray enjoying a couple of years in Famagusta towards the end of his career.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

Emmanuel-Thomas has a couple of parallels with Simpson, having played for QPR and then moved to Thailand, and is currently in South-East Asia with PTT Rayong.

It never really happened for him at Arsenal, though his one and only Premier League appearance did arrive in the 2010-11 campaign.

He’s still only 28, you know.


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