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5 players you didn't know played for Arsenal

Yossi Benayoun's brief Arsenal career has now been largely forgotten.
Yossi Benayoun's brief Arsenal career has now been largely forgotten.
Scott Newman

Recognized as one of the Premier League’s giants, Arsenal has been home to some of the greatest players ever seen in England’s top flight.

Names like Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie, and Mesut Ozil are just some of the greats to have played for Arsenal. But many other big names have played for the Gunners and been forgotten since.

While these players saw success elsewhere in their careers, their time at Arsenal was either a failure or forgettable for other reasons.

Here are five players you never knew played for Arsenal.


#1 Jermaine Pennant (12 appearances for Arsenal)

Jermaine Pennant failed to live up to his potential at Arsenal.
Jermaine Pennant failed to live up to his potential at Arsenal.

A genuine journeyman of football who played for no fewer than 15 clubs during his career, it’s easy to forget that Jermaine Pennant was once an Arsenal player.

In fact, the winger was signed by the Gunners from Notts County at the age of 15, for a fee of £2m.

That fee was a record for a trainee at the time and meant that Pennant was supposed to go on to achieve big things in North London.

Unfortunately, it never really panned out for him. Pennant made his Arsenal debut at the age of 16, becoming their youngest-ever player at that point.

But after scoring a hat-trick on his full league debut, it became clear that the winger’s mentality didn’t quite match his talents.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger never fully trusted him, and he ended up making just 12 Premier League appearances for the Gunners.

Pennant moved to Birmingham City, initially on loan in the 2004-05 season. And after a conviction for drink-driving, he made the move permanent.

Later in his career, Pennant wound up at Liverpool – and even started for the Reds in the 2007 Champions League final.

However, overall, his career was one of wasted potential, and he’s largely been forgotten by Arsenal fans now.


#2 Mathieu Debuchy (13 appearances for Arsenal)

Mathieu Debuchy failed to make a mark at Arsenal.
Mathieu Debuchy failed to make a mark at Arsenal.

A French international who won the Ligue 1 title with Lille in 2010-11, Mathieu Debuchy spent four seasons with Arsenal.

However, it’d be very easy to forget the full-back’s tenure at the Emirates, largely because he only played a handful of games for them – 13 in the league to exact.

Debuchy’s career in the Premier League actually started with Newcastle United. He moved there in January 2013 after 10 seasons with Lille and performed impressively for the Magpies for a season and half.

His performances at St. James’ Park were enough to persuade Arsenal to part with £12m for him, and the Frenchman was even given the #2 shirt upon his arrival.

However, Debuchy only made 10 Premier League appearances for the Gunners in his debut season. His failure to establish himself in their first team was largely down to a mix of injuries and the emergence of Hector Bellerin.

Debuchy continued to struggle for playing time in the 2015-16 season and then moved to Bordeaux on loan for the second half of the campaign.

That move didn’t pan out either, and he made just nine appearances before returning to the Emirates.

However, despite spending another full season at Arsenal, he played just eight more times for the Gunners before finally moving to Saint-Etienne in January 2018.

Considering his reputation as a high-level French international, to say Debuchy’s time at Arsenal was disappointing would be an understatement.

#3 Yossi Benayoun (19 appearances for Arsenal)

Yossi Benayoun performed well for Arsenal, but his stint there has been largely forgotten.
Yossi Benayoun performed well for Arsenal, but his stint there has been largely forgotten.

A wildly popular player over his years with West Ham United and Liverpool, it’s easy to forget that Yossi Benayoun played for Chelsea – let alone Arsenal.

However, the Israeli international actually made 19 appearances for the Gunners in the 2011-12 season, scoring four goals in the process.

Benayoun first appeared on the Premier League scene with West Ham in the 2005-06 season and spent two successful seasons with the Hammers.

After helping them to the 2006 FA Cup final, the Israeli moved to Liverpool in the summer of 2007 for a fee of around £5m.

During his time with the Reds, he became a key player and helped them mount a Premier League title challenge in 2008-09 before departing for Chelsea in 2010.

Playing time for him at Chelsea proved hard to come by, though, and by the 2011-12 season, he was clearly surplus to requirements.

And so the Blues surprisingly sent him on loan to London rivals Arsenal, where he actually performed excellently. In fact, his goals in the latter part of the season enabled the Gunners to finish above their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League table.

However, his performances weren’t enough for a permanent move. He moved back to Chelsea before being sent on loan to his old club West Ham – ensuring that most fans have forgotten that he played for Arsenal at all!


#4 Davor Suker (22 appearances for Arsenal)

Davor Suker was largely unable to establish himself in Arsenal's first team.
Davor Suker was largely unable to establish himself in Arsenal's first team.

Widely recognized as one of his generation's best strikers, Davor Suker accomplished an incredible amount in his career.

The Croatian forward won the La Liga and the Champions League with Real Madrid and helped his international side to the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup.

In fact, Suker finished as the top scorer in that tournament and was voted runner-up in 1998’s Ballon d’Or for his performances.

However, his time in the Premier League was largely forgettable, to the point where most fans don’t even remember his brief time with Arsenal in the 1999-00 season. Suker wasn’t a classic big-money flop, however.

The Croatian was already 31 when he arrived in North London. And he didn’t cost the club a penny as his contract with Real Madrid had ended at the end of the previous campaign.

Despite this, he couldn’t really break into the Gunners’ first team, largely due to the form of forwards Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry.

Suker made just 22 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, and most of them came as a substitute.

And while he did score eight goals for the club, he also missed his penalty in the 2000 UEFA Cup final shootout as Arsenal were defeated by Galatasaray.

By the end of the campaign, it was clear that Suker wasn’t going to become a first-choice player at Arsenal. And so he moved to fellow London side West Ham – where he had an equally forgettable season before departing the Premier League for good.


#5 Marouane Chamakh (40 appearances for Arsenal)

Marouane Chamakh didn't live up to the hype at Arsenal.
Marouane Chamakh didn't live up to the hype at Arsenal.

It seems hard to believe now, but while Arsenal’s rivals were spending millions on new players in the summer of 2010, the Gunners’ big arrival was a free transfer from Bordeaux.

That big arrival was Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh. And while he wasn’t prolific for Bordeaux – scoring 56 goals in 230 games – it was hoped he’d fire Arsenal into a Premier League title challenge.

Unfortunately, he never came close to doing such a thing.

Chamakh scored a handful of goals in the 2010-11 campaign’s pre-season games. And he opened his official account for Arsenal in his second Premier League game, scoring the final goal in a 6-0 win over Blackpool.

The Moroccan continued to find the net in his early months at the club. But by the turn of the year, he’d lost his touch entirely and looked a shadow of the player he’d been in the summer.

He quickly slipped out of Arsenal’s first team and ended the season with just 18 starts and seven goals to his name.

By the 2011-12 campaign, he was widely recognized as a flop. And after making just 11 appearances – ten from the bench – he was moved on in a loan move to West Ham for the 2012-13 campaign.

Chamakh only played three times for the Hammers too, and then made a permanent move to Crystal Palace – where he once again failed to make an impact.

Chamakh’s career ended in the EFL Championship with Cardiff City, and he now remains one of Arsenal’s more forgettable players of the last two decades.

Edited by Zaid Khan

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