So Who At Arsenal Is World Class?

This is often a matter of debate. For me most often in the question, “Do Arsenal have any World Class players left?

To be honest, answering that is unlikely to take long. I can string it out by answering this question first, though:

How do we define World Class?

Feel free to skip ahead. I’ll never know.

Let’s start at the bottom: most of us normal plebs would be Sunday-league class at best. If we were good enough to play at a higher level then we might be non-league class. ‘Non-league’ in English parlance means the level of football below the Premier League and the three Football League divisions, and is therefore better than Sunday-league. The top level of non-league these days is the Blue Square Bet Premier Division, also known as Conference National level. I don’t know how far below that you would continue to call ‘non-league’, but you’ve then got two more parallel Blue Square divisions (north and south), then three parallel divisions of Evo-Stik sponsored north and south plus the Ryman (Isthmian) league, and each of those has two parallel divisions below it of Evo-Stik and Rymans-sponsored football. I’d say that any player good enough to play regularly at any of those levels would be ‘non-league class’, though I’m sure there is some variation in standard. Many players at the top end are full professionals (and may have played in higher leagues), while those lower down certainly aren’t.

Then moving up again you’ve got the Football League, these days split into ‘The Championship’, ‘League One’ and ‘League Two’. Is England the only country daft enough to call the third tier of football ‘League One’? Probably. There’s not a lot of difference in the standard between the top of non-league and the bottom of League Two, but I’m sure it’s clear to aficionados which players are of a standard to be comfortable in each of the Football League divisions, which are struggling and which can go higher. I think most fans are clear on who is a Championship-level player and who will make it in the top rank of domestic competition, the Premier League.

If you’re good enough to play in the Premier League, then you are Premier League class. I think we all agree on that, though we may not agree on who is good enough. But in the Premier League there are teams of different class with different ambitions. Many of Arsenal’s players in recent years have been good enough to play in the Premier League, but sadly not good enough for a club like Arsenal. But leaving that aside, if a player can play regularly in the Premier League, then he is Premier League class.

Next level up is international class. Now this is perhaps tricky, as you could be international class for San Marino or for Brazil, which are different. But we English, we usually take international class to mean good enough to play for England, or a similar-level country – and let’s not overlook that England are third in the Fifa rankings at present, which says more about how they work out the rankings than it does about England. No matter. The top-level Premier League players are all international class because they can play for a ‘big’ country at international level.

Which brings us onto World Class. So if to be in any of the other classes, you need to be good enough to play for a team at that level, then surely World Class means that in a hypothetical galactic league you would be in with at least a good chance of getting into the World squad. That makes you top 30-40 (at most) in the world. (If you’re not using this definition, then why is your definition for World Class different to the definition for every other level in football?) So you probably need to be among the best three or four players in your position at any time to be World Class.

Remember Dennis? Thierry? Seaman? Vieira? They’d be in there. World Class. Even Cashley, who has got better since he left us. Van Persie? On top form, yes. For a while. But who have we got left?

Goalkeepers: nope, no one there.

Defenders: Sagna? On the brink, maybe. Others? Probably not. Not even Per and his many German caps.

Midfield: Rosicky looked as though he might be at one time – specifically the time just before he joined Arsenal. Wilshere? It’s early days, but if he hadn’t been out for a year, who knows? We’d probably have been fighting Barca and Real off all summer. Give him a bit longer. Arshavin? The nearly man. Cazorla? Bit part for Spain, though they are the world’s best, so he may be close to World Class. I hope so. The rest: no. Definitely not.

Strikers: As I write, we have eight strikers at Arsenal. I think I can safely assume that four of those aren’t in this discussion: Park, Gervinho, Bendtner and Chamakh. That leaves the English duo of Walcott (not yet World Class; probably never) and Oxlade-Chamberlain (not yet World Class; possibly one day), and the two other new boys. Giroud is 26 next month and has still to prove himself in a top league and at international level, so that’s another ‘not yet, if ever’.

Finally Podolski. Over 100 caps for Germany, along with the 40-odd goals sounds pretty good. But on the other hand he went to Bayern for a couple of years, didn’t do a lot and then went back to Koln. That doesn’t sound World Class to me.

So there you have it. One or two possibles, one or two not yets, and the rest making up the numbers. Thierry and Dennis in the same team . . . I hope we realised how lucky we were.


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57 thoughts on “So Who At Arsenal Is World Class?

    • Sahin going to Liverpool was not a matter of an inability to compete. He was all set to be a gunner, real didn’t want us to have the ability to actually buy him hence Liverpool being his only option. He flat out chose arsenal over liverpool so please keep that kinda unwarranted negativity away from the club, it’s ridiculous.

      • BBC report Liverpool have option to buy. I know Sahin wanted Arsenal, but if we refuse to pay 14m (rumored option to buy fee) then theres something seriously wrong. Sahin is better than WIlshere and would be great to have around to rotate with Arteta, Wilshere, etc. We want to compete for the title, not fight to be fourth.

      • Again, that’s just name recognition. He’s played for a less recognisable side for many years, and in more attacking positions. Is he a worse player than alonso or busquets? Not particularly – he would contribute just as much in big games as those two imo.
        As soon as City paid big money for Silva his reputation improved. He was always considered quality, but so are many other Spanish AMs, and the fee went some way to cementing his place in the Spain side. Cazorla chose against joining Madrid, and consequently didn’t gain such a massive reputation, even though there’s not much difference between him or Silva or Mata, in reality.

  1. Kos, definitely. Arteta, probably, and the 2 new strikers have to prove themselves. Oddly I’d never say that about Sagna because I don’t often see him dominate opponents in big games. He tends to hold his own well, but he lacks that bit of pace that would make him truly great.
    Its a silly label because it’s more based on how recognisable their name is than how good the players are in reality. Kaka has been called the best or one of the best players on the entire planet at various times in his career. Is this true? Nope.

    • Agreed, rafiq.
      I queried the ‘definition’ on a web site only 2 or 3 days ago when the suggestion was made that Manchester United have FOUR world-class strikers on their books. I assume(d) that Berbatov was actually excluded as he’s on his way soon, and so presumed the four to be Rooney, van Persie, Wellbeck, and Hernandez.
      Rooney, yes… world-class. van Persie, based on last season alone, yes… world-class. But before last season international class only. The other two are still learning their trade and are nowhere near world-class (yet).

  2. England isn’t a world class country. What England player would get into the Spanish or Dutch sides? I bet Arteta could get into the England side. the . PSG, Shitty barca, RM and the chavs are probably the only clubs who can afford known world class players. Sad fact of life. The mancs only got RVP because none of the others wanted him and they’ve bought someone at the end of his career.

  3. Nah, we’re shit. I don’t get the did, dig, dig. Who’s world class at the mancs, the fat granny shagger? What a load of bollocks.

      • What’s bollocks? The fact I think none of the current squad are as good as Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Seaman, Cole, Pires? Or do you think that all the current squad are going to become World Class when sprinkled with a bit more of Arsene’s fairy dust? I’ve acknowledged the possibility that some may become World Class and a couple are on the verge of it. If you think that’s unrealistic you’re going to have to explain why rather than just come out with comments like ‘What a load of bollocks.’

  4. What World class players do the mancs have? Shrek? no chance. Vidic is good. RVP is probably thier bast player now.

  5. No world calss players, no transfers at the end of next season, continuity at last. Sahin, big clubs DO NOT take players on loan.

  6. Well written mate! For me, Cazorla defenetly is a world class player! He would have more than 100 caps for every other nation than spain! And if he joined real madrid he would be as famous as mata, xavi, fabregas… and would be labeld worldclass. But your right, the others arent worldclass with podolski coming closest in my opinion. Ah and by the the way, in switzerland they call the third legue “league 1” as well! 😉

  7. Cazorla was voted the 4th best player in Spain last season if that isn’t world class coming up against Messi, Ronaldo, Ozil then WTF is?

    Podolski isnt even fit and is revered in Germany as their Rooney. This article is blinkered. Some of these players once bedded in are going to make you look rather foolish. Its a new team for FFS. They have come to play for AW not for the money who has done wonders building us a new stadium, creating a brand, nearly paying of the mortgage already and purging the team of Darren Deins evil influence. Considering that he is up against the Glazers and the Oil Barons AW is working Miracles. I appreciate a sense of reality but this article looks like it was written by a Spud

    When RVP is injured and Songs warming the bench and we are top of the league 10 points clear he will look a genius.

    I saw the invincibles slowly being put together, it’s a process not an event. We are 2 players and a bedding in period away from a title winning squad. Pires was awful in his first season, I saw the stick he got, TH14 was quiet, even Berkamp took 6 months to settle. You need to get real

  8. According to the BBC the reason why we are not signing Sahin is because Liverpool offered to pay a greater percentage of his wages, not because Real were not prepared to include an option to sell. Liverpool will also get the £14 million buyout option that we had. It’s a sad day when we can’t even compete on wages with a glorified mid-table club!

    • They always spend more than us. We haven’t competed with them finacially for years. Would you have paid £35 on Carroll? Are you pissed off that Wenger didn’t spunk that on Carroll?

  9. nobby of course Dennis was a world class before he came at Arsenal…
    He was already a legend to Ajax and Dutch national team…he was selected in the best team of the tournament in Euro 1992…he was Dutch player or the year twice and first league scorer…He had 2 Uefa cups and one Cup Winner’s Cup before he joined Arsenal…He was simple stuning!Even when he didn’t get well in Inter’s spirit he still scored regurarly on the Dutch national team…

  10. I think Sagna and Koscielny are world class, although Koscielny needs to keep it going for a few seasons to confirm that. Cazorla was probably the 4th best player in La Liga last season so I’d say he’s WC.

    Overall, I believe the quality(or number of) of players have dropped severely over the past 10-15 years.

    • Oh dear, there’s always one, isn’t there. Why don’t you try reading the rest of this site. It would be a lot of trouble to go to if I wasn’t an Arsenal fan, don’t you think?

  11. I wouldnt use the words “World Class”, not when referring to Arsenal any more, Arsene along with Kronke & Gazidis have run our squad down the tubes! I would say that RVP was our last top class player, Cazorla is better than most of our midfielders with the exception of maybe Jack when her returns and possibly Ox in a few years but if all goes the way it has in the last 7/8 years both of them will be sold off to make Stan’s bottom line profit!! As for the rest, Podolski has never been top class, he is just above average, as is Arteta, Vermaelen, Koscielney – after that you get into the “average” players and there are an awful lot of those!! Szcesney,Sagna,Walcott,Rosicky,Gervinho,Giroud,Mertesacker,Santos,Arshavin,Ramsey,Coquelin,Diaby,Miquel,Bendtner,Gibbs,Jenkinson,Yennaris then there are the likes of Fabianski,Mannone,Chamakh,Squillachi,Djourou,Eastmond,Henderson,Aneke,Frimpong,Park,Watt who lets face it are probably not even good enough to get into Norwich’s side!!!! This then makes up the core of our squad and just look closesly the standard is pretty poor, probably the worst we have had in 20 years! One player who I think has had a raw deal is Henry Lansbury, I have watched him many times and he is an Arsenal man through and through, yet even when he has played well in the first team Wenger leaves him out in the cold, which considering how many times Ramsey has played and performed poorly plus the number of poor games Diaby,Arshavin ,Walcott,Gervinho etc has has played makes me wonder what he has done wrong to not be given a chance (just remember he has been loaned out for the past 2 years to the championship winners Norwich and West Ham and each time he has been a major player in their squads putting in some terrific performances) I dont get it?? Wenger gives out the usual bull about how we are a better side than last year (I think he should just record that once and replay it every year – it will save him having to repeat it again, yet we replace “top class players with lessor quality and this time we have lost 2 of the core players i.e. our main striker (who is going to score 30 goals for us this year, can you see Giroud,Podolski,Gervinho or Walcott doing it….. not a chance, we will be lucky if they get 30 between them!),
    Unless at least 2 “top quality” signings are made before the close of this transfer deadline expect more “Sunderland” performances and results! And dont expect us to be challenging for 3rd or 4th, 5th could even be a struggle if Everton maintain their form (have you noticed that Moyes has quietly been building a pretty good looking squad?? We no realistically have Everton,Newcastle,Sp*rs & Liverpool to compete with behind the likes of Chelsea,Man U & City, gonna be a cold hard winter lads & lasses!!!!

    • Yeah.. Many says that we’re not good enough.. But many ‘top’ club willing to buy our first team, and this ‘average’ club that finish 3rd last year and always get the champions league every years, going longer than other mancs. And I remember last year people saying that we’ll be in relegation..

      • I can see vermaelen, Walcott & Cazorla and maybe Ox going maybe when their contracts run down or they get an offer they cant refuse!!! but as for the rest which of the worlds top clubs would want them??? Who was rushing to get their cheque books out to challenge us for Podolski, Giroud, Chamakh, Arteta, Mertesacker etc., no one!!! Says a lot I think!! Abd if you read what I said ….if you take RVP’s goals away from last season we would have finished 4th from bottom….and tell me who is going to save us with 30 goals this season??

  12. I think Kos and Arteta may make it. I am not saying Gervinho would make it but I find it odd you consider Walcott and not him

  13. @nobby
    When United were lucky enough (astute enough) to sign the fat granny sh@gg#r they purchased the best young English player arguably since Gazza. He has for quite some time been world-class, and will continue so for some time to come. If Rooney had joined us when unsettled (not so long ago), and teamed up with van Persie, we’d have enjoyed what Utd are about to enjoy… a mouthwatering prospect.

  14. Unsure about Arteta being worldclass with his legs today. So would have to disagree with Gents here. Another way to figure World class is to put a price tag on it. Which of our players would fetch 30mn or more today? (Cesc was the last remember, and RVP comes close at 24 for a 29yr old)

    Hypothetically lets say they are all age 25 with their current talent. Who would you pay 30mn for? No one. There’s the answer.

  15. You forget that “international level” is at least partly defined by the national FA’s management and coaches, so it’s not cut in stone.

    Secondly, Vermaelen (good def + mentality) & Kos (skills + game understanding) are on the way to world class, if not there already.

    Arsenal has always relied on players’ growth & development within the club, and let’s not forget this.

    • Sorry about my first reply (yes, I know the Chavs are Chelsea – the light went out). But… Rooney not world-class?
      van Persie (albeit on one season’s form) not world-class? – regardless of no other clubs wanting him.
      Vidic arguably the Premiership’s second best centre-back (after Kompany) not world-class?

      • I mentioned Vidic in an earlier comment. He probably is. I Said RVP was thier best player. rooney is not world class. He’s hyped up because he’s English

      • If Rooney had continued developing at the rate he did from 16-21, he definitely would be, but I’m not sure he’s much better now than then.

      • I can’t see it with him. I admit I may be biased but He’s so far behind Higuan, Messi, Ronaldo and Ibra

  16. How about this as a definition: a player who would be likely to get a place in any (most?) of the top international squads. That would increase the number from your 30-40 to perhaps a hundred or more. And that way your two Arsenal ‘possibles’ might graduate to ‘probables’. And along with Dennis and Thierry we could number practically every other player in their side as world class.

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