It’s Halloween season, y’all!
While watching Arsenal can be frightfully good, it can also be a mostly terrifying experience. Whether it’s getting thumped 8-2 at Old Trafford, being Neal Maupayed or watching Emmanuel Eboué tackle his own player, the ride is usually far from smooth.
Beyond what happens on the pitch, the actions of the boardroom can also be compared to sitting through The Exorcist alone in a dark room.
In north London we’ve witnessed some shocking transfers, we can’t deny.
Players who’ve walked through the door – limped, in some cases – on deals that made no sense, were scarily bad or whose impact was as meaningful as Slender Man’s on the film industry have, sadly, been aplenty.
In the spirit of the holiday, let’s revisit some of those tragic additions who’ve been brought to Arsenal and left us all cowering behind the couch.
Kim Källström – 2014
The Guy With the Broken Back could easily be a 1980’s thriller film, but is actually the adequate description of Källström’s time in north London.
Coming in on loan until the end of the season on the final day of the 2014 winter window, doctors noticed the issue with his back during the medical examinations – kind of hard to miss, really – yet for whatever unfathomable reason, Arsenal persisted.
He wouldn’t make an appearance for the club until March 25th, as a late substitute against Swansea in the Premier League. Leading 2-1 at the time, a Mathieu Flamini own goal secured the visitors a point.
But he scored! He actually scored for Arsenal! That penalty shootout goal against Wigan in the FA Cup semi-finals was our second in a 4-2 spot-kick win. The Swede has since described it as ‘the greatest fifteen minutes of my life’. Good on him.
Doesn’t make the original deal any less baffling.
Francis Jeffers – 2001
For those old enough to remember, Francis Jeffers was bad. But not bad, I mean really, really bad. And he cost £8m. And the other option at the time was Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Having done well at Everton – seven goals in 14 appearances prior to moving south – the expectancy on Jeffers to perform at Arsenal was relatively high. Stood among legends of the club such as Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Tony Adams, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and so many more, he looked hopelessly out of place.
It was the same on the pitch, as the ‘fox in the box’ more closely resembled Bambi on ice. In his defence, he scored twice in the Premier League as Arsenal won the league title that campaign, but he was never going to break the Henry/Bergkamp mould.
Jeffers eventually got sold to Charlton for £2.6m in 2004. Van Nistelrooy was just a smidge better.
Andre Santos – 2011
Taking up the final slot of a (heavily) contested place in this list is Andre Santos. Where do we start with him?
His signing was quite a left-field move at the time, since very few had heard of him. The reasons for that becoming apparent not long after.
Santos was hopeless. Quintessentially Brazilian with some occasional neat footwork, how on earth he became a left-back considering he was slower than Arsene Wenger across ten yards is beyond comprehension.
Rarely has anyone been caught of position so often, as he’d meander forward without a care in the world, scoring being his only intention. Oh, and the shirt swap with Robin van Persie during half-time at Old Trafford? Goodness gracious.
Let’s finish on a high, though.
That goal at Stamford Bridge in the 5-3 win? A very memorable day indeed. The equalising goal at the Hawthorns that set us on our way to a 3-2 victory to secure Champions League football? That too will be remembered fondly.
The rest won’t.