Whatever happened to the Arsenal side that beat Liverpool 6-3?

Many Arsenal fans were hailing the emergence of a new team following their 2-0 victory over Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday. Cast your minds back to January 2007 and the Gunners fans were speaking in similar terms. Arsenal had just fielded a team of youngsters that had gone to Anfield for a Carling Cup tie and hammered the home side, who had the likes of Steven Gerrard and Sami Hyppia in their side, 6-3. Both fans and pundits alike claimed that this Arsenal team would in couple of years, once they had matured, conquer all before them. So what happened to the players in that Arsenal team that night who seemingly had the world at their feet?

Manuel Almunia (Goalkeeper)

The Spaniard eventually became the Number 1 goalkeeper and for a period his form was such that there was talk of him taking up English nationality and turning out for the Three Lions. However, a mistake was never far away for Almunia and after a horrible run of form and howlers, he lost his place to teenager Wojciech Szczesny. Is now at Watford in the Championship.

Justin Hoyte (Right Back)

A regular in England Under 21 squads at the time, Hoyte was enjoying his best period as an Arsenal player with regular appearances in the first team. Never truly seemed to be good enough however and has now found his level in the Championship at Middlesbrough.

Kolo Toure (Centre Back)

The Gunners’ captain on the night and at the time was rightly seen as one of the league’s best defenders. However, Toure’s uneasy relationship with defensive compatriot William Gallas before his contraction of malaria saw Toure unsettled and importantly, lose the lightning recovery pace that he often needed. Became one of the first Arsenal players to move to Manchester City.

Johan Djourou (Centre Back)

One of the only members of the side who currently remains at the club, but very much as a 4th choice centre back. Retains Wenger’s trust but has struggled with injuries. Appeared to be making a break through as he enjoyed a productive 2010-11 season but struggled badly last season, particularly in an ill-fated stint at right back.

Armand Traore (Left Back)

Fans had high hopes for Traore, a marauding, lightning quick left back in the Gael Clichy/Ashley Cole mould. However, later years saw Traore’s performances degenerate to the extent that many Arsenal fans cringed when seeing his name in the starting line up. His final appearance for the club? Manchester Utd 8-2 Arsenal. Is now at QPR.

Theo Walcott (Right Midfield)

Making one of his first appearances for the club since his big money move from Southampton as a 16 year old. Has many critics from both fans and observers for his wayward final ball and perceived lack of technical ability, but has established himself as a regular for both club and country, improving season upon season. Is currently in contract dispute with the club and could leave for nothing next summer.

Cesc Fabregas (Central Midfield)

Arsenal’s future captain was only 20 at the time but gave Anfield a masterclass in midfield control and passing. Went from strength to strength and began to add goals to his game in a truly brilliant spell for the Gunners which deserved a trophy for all his efforts. Has now finally returned to the club Arsenal pinched him off, Barcelona, after a three year transfer saga that had most Arsenal fans craving for his departure by its end simply to give the club the chance to move on.

Alex Song (Central Midfield)

A goalscorer on the night; coming weeks after Song was booed off at half time by his own fans in game at Fulham after a truly horrendous performance. Would eventually establish himself in the Arsenal midfield and would progress from a mere holding midfielder to one of exceptional passing ability (Arsenal’s top assist maker last season). Another one who has now departed for Barcelona after a contract dispute.

Denilson (Left Midfield)

It’s hard to believe but at the time many thought Arsenal had one of the world’s best young midfielders on their hands. Appeared to have it all; passing ability, wonderful technique, a willingness to get forward and the tenacity to compete. However, an extended run in the first team in 2008-09 highlighted his slight physique and Gunners fans became enraged at his inability (or unwillingness depending on who you talk to) to track back on counter attacks. Is now farmed out on loan to Brazilian club Sao Paolo after Arsenal were unable to find a buyer.

Julio Baptista (Striker)

Appeared to be kickstarting his Gunners career with his four goal haul at Anfield but “the Beast” never found his bite at the Emirates. Could never settle in a regular position and ironically for a man with his nickname, appeared to lack the physicality or pace English football required. A disappointing loan spell was not renewed at the end of that season and after a similar disappointing spell for Roma, is now back to something like his Sevilla form at fellow Spanish side Malaga.

Jeremie Aliadiere (Striker)

Despite Baptista’s four goals, was arguably Arsenal’s stand out performer on the night as he scored one and laid on three more for his strike partner. Having emerged in the early 2000s as both Arsenal and France’s best young striking hope, by January 2007 Aliadiere had already had unproductive loan spells at the likes of West Ham, Wolves and Celtic. For all his talent, the Frenchman never convinced consistently enough for the Gunners and at the end of the season was sold to Middlesbrough. Is now at French side Lorient.

This Arsenal team went on to be defeated in the Carling Cup final that season by Chelsea before many of its players suffered several near misses in the years afterwards. This is not to draw any conclusions on Arsenal’s current crop of players and their chances for success, only that sometimes, even the brightest young talents cannot guarantee senior success.

Adam Mazrani

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