Arsenal’s most underrated players: Not every single hero gets a song and tale forged for him. A few are like batman, always staying in the shadows, while others are like Green Arrow, protecting the Glades at all cost. Similarly, a few footballers claim recognition like wildfire while others stay concealed in the fold, helping their respective clubs and nations to win silverware which wouldn’t have been possible without them otherwise.
Arsenal, one of the most illustrious English clubs, has also got similar players who stayed under the shadow of Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry while their trophy cabinets spoke volumes. Despite the lack of recognition, they were crucial parts of the master plan which was forged by the preceptor and the triumph would have been incomplete without their likes.
In this story, we will take a quick look at five footballers who were absolute heroes but didn’t really grab all the attention that should have befallen them because not all heroes wear capes.
#1 Gilberto Silva
Silva dished out an impeccable performance at the World Cup in 2002 that made the Gunners snaffle him in no time. He joined Arsenal from Brazilian club Atlético Mineiro. He played a crucial role in the defensive half abreast Patrick Vieira and forged the crucial partnership that soaked in the entire storm that was being subjected to their defence.
He didn’t really believe in fancy stuff. He wanted to get things sorted, and every single time something leaked from the midfield and was rolling towards the Arsenal goal, he ensured that he was at the receiving end of it. His ubiquitous presence in the defensive third ensured that Vieira could scamper forward without the worry of his rearguard being compromised.
#2 Ray Parlour
Parlour graduated through the ranks at the Arsenal academy and finally was successful in breaking through to the main team. He was handed his debut against Liverpool in a game where the Gunners went down by 2-0. Despite intermittent bursts of brilliance, Parlour had to wait a while before unfolding at his fullest potential, and that unlocking happened under the chaperonage of Arsene Wenger.
The man who would go onto make 450 appearances for the club, Ray Parlour, was known for his thunderbolts from the range. His trophy cabinet at the club is equally impressive, as he managed to win three Premier League titles and four FA Cups before finally heading to Middlesbrough in 2004.
#3 Nacho Monreal
Monreal arrived at the Emirates from Malaga at a price of 10 million Euros. His brilliant display propelled Arsenal to a FA Cup triumph in 2015 that also saw him firing home the important opener against Manchester United in the quarter-finals.
He also managed to bag another screamer against Manchester City in the semis to secure a final berth, where Arsenal came up with a spectacular 2-1 victory against Chelsea to bring the trophy home. Sadly, he wasn’t the messiah that Arsenal was hoping to land, but he definitely stood out amongst the others who failed to realize the weight of the jersey.
#4 Nwankwo Kanu
Not really able to unlock his true potential with the Nerazzurri, Kanu joined the Gunners and Arsenal was hoping him to fill the boots with Nicolas Anelka. Though a lot was expected from him, he managed to play a crucial role that helped Arsenal climb the ladder and Kanu gained a lot of cult following in no time.
The appearance that immortalized him at the Emirates was his hat-trick in 15 minutes against Chelsea that saw them bounce back from a 2-goal deficit. He won the Premier League title once with Arsenal, that was laced with three FA Cups.
#5 Lukas Podolski
The star-German striker failed to kiss premium heights for Arsenal, but he played a reticent role at the Emirates, managing to bag 31 goals and string 17 assists in 781 appearances. He was snapped up from FC Koln alongside Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud at a price of 15 million euros.
Despite his impressive statistics, Podolski couldn’t really find a place regularly in the starting XI and was already looking for suitors to give himself more game time. His lethal left-foot left a lot of opponents reeling before he was loaned out to Inter in 2015, and he finally secured a permanent exit to Galatasaray a year later.