Did we realise how lucky we were?
Our team from 2001-2005 was peppered with talent from the heavens. A perfect blend of physical strength, subtle movement and incisive play, with the end result being the decimation of the majority of teams we faced.
But if we scrutinise deeper and compare the talent we had in that team to the world-class talent across the globe today – do we genuinely overlook what we had?
Take Le King, for example. Thierry Henry. Robbed of the Ballon D’Or in 2003, the Frenchman broke records with alarming frequency. Even Lionel Messi was in awe of our number 14 when he joined Barca.
Next up, Paddy Vieira. The French midfielder had everything in his locker and bossed the Premier League from 1998 through to 2005. He was peerless in his ability to simultaneously destroy opposition attacks, and in a blur of legs, set us on an attack by striding through the midfield – always selecting the right option for his pass.
Dennis Bergkamp in the early 2000’s possessed a touch rivalled only by the likes of Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane. Vision that was all too often the reason we broke teams down.
Bobbi Pires had a goal involvement ratio that if held up today, would be amongst the best in the business.
Sol Campbell was unpassable.
Freddie Ljungberg couldn’t be stopped in his missions into the box.
If these players were in their pomp today – they would stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in their positions.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have taken football and pushed it onto another level, but the likes of Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira - if a World XI were chosen, would surely be in it. Think of todays talent – is there a midfielder you can think of that can do what Vieira did? Not one.
What about Henry? Only Messi and Ronaldo can boast of such figures.
The touch of Bergkamp, allied with his vision? Perhaps De Bruyne could claim to be near The Iceman.
Put simply, we were blessed with what was the best in the business back then. We had a team of heroes and only looking back now do we realise the sheer skill we had on show.
We appreciated that team when we had them, but only time has shown us that as players, the Arsenal team of 2001-05 would still be the best in the business today.
We were beyond lucky.