Arsenal are a club with incredible history and pedigree, they were founded in 1886 as 'Dial Square', but soon renamed as 'Royal Arsenal', before becoming 'Woolwich Arsenal', and ultimately, simply 'Arsenal'. The first members of the Football League from the south of England, this originally caused problems for the Gunners, whose isolation saw lower attendances than their rivals and financial difficulty as a result.
As the years went by though, Arsenal became a real force within the English game. To this day the club has never been relegated, and they currently stand as the third most successful team in England, behind only Liverpool and Manchester United. Arsenal have won 13 league titles and 12 FA Cups, the latter of which is a record, and are one of only two clubs to ever go a full top flight season unbeaten.
Clearly Arsenal's consistency and achievement is a mark of the quality of player that has graced the club over the course of their 129 year history. With the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Tony Adams among their esteemed list of former players, some real legends of the game have strutted their stuff at Highbury and the Emirates. As always, there are exceptions though, and here we celebrate them. Here are the top 15 worst Arsenal players of all time:
15 Pascal Cygan
A player who divides opinion, some would have Cygan down as one - if not the - worst player in Arsenal history, while others would consider his inclusion in any list of this ilk very harsh. The truth is Cygan was not as bad a defender as some people liked to make out, but he was error prone, and in the Premier League, more often than not, his mistakes were punished. Chants of "He's bald, he's s***, he plays when no-one's fit, Pascal Cygan", emphasized what many fans thought of the Frenchman. He spent four years at Arsenal and played 63 league games.
14 Pal Lydersen
From one fairly disastrous defender to another, Pal Lydersen arrived at Highbury as a Norwegian international intended to provide cover for Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn. The cover he provided was far from ideal though, Lydersen looked out of place in every one of his 16 appearances in a Gunners shirt, which spanned three years before his swift to Norway and IK Start, the club who he joined Arsenal from.
13 Francis Jeffers
Francis Jeffers' time at Arsenal was compounded by the hefty price tag and high expectations that he arrived at the club with, but even if he had joined the Gunners as a free transfer on a pay-per-play basis he would have been considered just as useless. Arsene Wenger signed the young striker when he was only 20 years of age for $15 million, having made an impressive start to his career at Everton. It turned out to be a flash in the pan though, and in three years at Arsenal he played 22 games and scored only four goals. He retired in 2013 with a record of 40 goals 235, having scored 18 of those goals before the age of 20.
12 Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter, not the 39th President of the United States but the former Millwall winger, joined Arsenal in 1991 after a very brief spell at Liverpool. Carter had impressed at Millwall in both the First and Second Divisions, but looked out of his depth at Liverpool and Arsenal. In four years at Highbury the wide man made only 25 league appearances, showing that he was only ever a fringe player, but that was still 25 games too many in many supporters eyes. Arsenal won three trophies whilst Carter was at the club but his two goals did little to help that, he went on to play for Oxford, Portsmouth and Millwall once more.
11 Kaba Diawara
French-born Guinea international Kaba Diawara was fairly prolific in international football, scoring six goals in 13 games for the Guinea national team, rather more impressive than the zero in 12 games he managed at Arsenal, although the quality of the opposition may explain the difference between those two figures. Diawara joined Arsenal from Bordeaux but looked hopeless in England.
He later had loan spells at Blackburn and West Ham which took his total Premier League tally up to no goals in 28 games. Diawara left Arsenal after less than a year and went on to play in Qatar, Turkey and Cyprus.
10 David Hillier
A product of the Arsenal youth academy, David Hillier was highly-regarded as a youngster and captained the Arsenal youth team to success in the 1988 FA Youth Cup final before making his league debut in 1990, aged 21. He went on to play over 100 league games for the Gunners, the only player on this list to have done so, spending six years in the Arsenal first team.
The midfielder won one cap for England under-21s and was very fortunate to stay at Arsenal as long as he did, and was placed on the transfer market as soon as Arsene Wenger arrived at the club. After leaving Arsenal, Hillier played for Portsmouth, Bristol Rovers and Barnet.
9 Jeremy Aliadiere
Another academy product, Jeremy Aliadiere joined Arsenal at the age of 16, and made his club debut at 18. Highly thought of by Arsene Wenger at that time, Aliadiere won seven caps for the French under-21 team, scoring once. Supposedly capable of playing as either a striker or as a winger, Alidiere looked like he was barely capable of playing football for much of his time at Arsenal.
He spent a total of eight years at the club, but was loaned out three times and made a total of only 51 appearances for the club, scoring nine goals, only one of which came in the Premier League. Aliadiere is now 32 and currently playing in Qatar for Umm Salal.
8 Jeff Blockley
One-time England international Jeff Blockley spent three years at Arsenal, having signed for the club from Coventry City. The years Blockley spent with the Gunners, from 1972 to 1975, were disappointing ones. Having finished second in 1972-73, the club slumped to 10th in 1973-1974 and dropped even further down to 16th in 1974-75. Blockley was seen as suspect to many for this seismic downturn in fortunes, and he left for Leicester City having played 52 league games in an Arsenal shirt.
7 Eddie McGoldrick
A lot of Arsenal fans' pick for the club's worst ever player, Eddie McGolrick played non-league football before and after his time at Arsenal. He spent five years in non-league football with Kettering Town and Nuneaton Borough before making an impression at Crystal Palace and earning himself a move to Arsenal. His time at Highbury was thoroughly unimpressive though, in three years he played 57 games (33 league), and scored only once, as well as routinely taking set piece duties from far more gifted players. He left for Manchester City in 1996 before spells at Stockport County and Corby Town.
6 Igors Stepanovs
Almost certainly the worst Arsenal player of the modern or 'Arsene Wenger era', Igors Stepanovs had all the defensive howlers and catastrophes of Pascal Cygan without the defensive qualities to compensate. The defender joined Arsenal from Latvian side Skonto FC for around $2 million in 2000, something of a panic buy by Arsene Wenger in the absence of his injured captain Tony Adams. In the four years Stepanovs spent at Arsenal he played only 17 league games. His Arsenal career effectively ended after the team lost 6-1 to Manchester United in a crucial game in the title race, in which Stepanovs was dreadful. Stepanovs played in Switzerland, Latvia and Russia following his Arsenal departure.
5 Glenn Helder
With a list that includes the likes of Marc Overmars, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin Van-Persie, Arsenal have had some fine Dutch players over the years, but Glenn Helder was not one of them. He joined the Gunners in 1995, where he stayed for two seasons, being loaned out for one of them and playing 39 games in the other, scoring once. Following his loan to Benfica Helder was seriously injured and upon his return he found he had been replaced by compatriot Marc Overmars and was now surplus to requirements. His career never recovered, having sporadic spells in China, Hungary and even the Dutch amateur leagues.
4 Vince Bartram
The worst goalkeeper in Arsenal history, Vince Bartram joined the club after impressing in the third tier with Bournemouth, where he spent three years as first choice goalkeeper. The step up from third to top flight proved too great though, and Bartram looked hopeless at Highbury. Brought in as an understudy to David Seaman, Bartram played only 11 games in four seasons, all coming in a single season, and he was laughably poor between the sticks.
Most comical of all were his goal kicks, with Arsenal supporters ironically cheering any clearance of his which crossed the half way line. Following his departure, Bartram joined Gillingham, where he saw out his career, spending six years with the Gills before having his career cut short through injury due to a bizarre clash with the opposition goalkeeper, Tony Warner.
3 Mark Flatts
Mark Flatts career trajectory after leaving Arsenal is a fairly good indicator of his overall abilities. He joined the Gunners in 1990, aged 18, and went on to make 10 starts and 8 sub appearances for the club, over a period of six years. In that time, Flatts was loaned out to Cambridge, Brighton, Bristol and Grimsby. Not only did he fail to impress at Highbury, he looked incapable even at a lower level. Following release he had a failed trial at Torino and ended up in non-league football with Bishop Stortford. His professional career had effectively ended at the age of 24 and he was widely considered one of Arsenal's worst ever players.
2 Ian Selley
Another player whose post-Arsenal career spoke volumes, in the modern era, even those who fail at Arsenal tend to end up in respectable leagues overseas or at least at a decent level of the Football League. Not in the mid 90s though, and Ian Selley was another fine example. The academy graduate made his Arsenal debut at 18 and by 20 he was in the England U-21 team, where he made three appearances. Unfortunately for Selley, the midfielder had a torrid time with injuries.
He broke his leg at Arsenal and did so again with his next club Fulham, ending any chance of success at the highest level. In truth, Selley had looked way out of his depth before the leg break in 1996 though. His early promise had rarely shone at first team level and following his second leg break his career fell off a cliff. Selley spent four years at Woking before sporadic spells with Lewes, Grays, Maidstone and more.
1 Gus Caesar
The worst player in Arsenal history, Gus Caesar also showed promise as a youngster but looked utterly dreadful in the first team. He somehow managed to play more than 40 games for the club, and won three caps for the England U-21s, showing that he did have some talent and obviously impressed in training. On the biggest stage though, Caesar froze. He looked nervous, unsure of himself and more often than not simply a liability. Caesar began to develop a reputation for making high-profile and calamitous mistakes and became increasingly unpopular among the Arsenal supporters.
The climax of this came in the 1988 League Cup final, in which Arsenal led 2-1 in the dying embers of the game, only for a mistake from Caesar to gift Luton a way back into the game. The mistake as good as ended his career at Arsenal, and his career in general, as he spent the majority of his post-Arsenal years playing in Hong Kong. Caesar was named the Arsenal's worst ever player by club fanzine 'The Gooner' and also ranked third in 'The Times' list of worst players in the history of the top flight.