Five of the Best Arsenal One Season Wonders

Arsenal have had their fair share of long-serving stalwarts and one-club men, but there are also plenty who shone relatively briefly. Some of these were of course at the club for more than a year, but only had one really good season.

1. Brian Marwood 1988/89

By the time Marwood joined Arsenal in 1988, he was 28 years old and had played over 300 times for Hull and Sheffield Wednesday. Eyebrows were raised at the size of the £600,000 fee for a player in his late twenties, who had played in a lower division for the majority of his career.

However, Marwood fitted the mould of similar George Graham signings such as Steve Bould, Perry Groves, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn from the lower leagues and modest backgrounds. Arsenal’s title winning side of 1989 combined this grit and experience with the youthful skill of talented homegrown players like David Rocastle and Michael Thomas.

George Graham welcomes Brian Marwood to Highbury in 1988
Marwood played a few matches towards the end of the 87/88 season, but started the 88/89 season in fantastic form, scoring four goals in his first four league appearances. His scoring record dipped, but he still chipped in with important goals against Charlton, Millwall and Newcastle, as well as being a regular supplier of crosses for top scorer Alan Smith.
Injury meant that Marwood missed the last five games of the season, including the title decider at Anfield, and injuries would continue to affect him throughout the 89/90 season. The signing of Anders Limpar in the summer of 1990 marked the end of Marwood’s brief but successful Arsenal career. A subtle clue to his dissatisfaction was detectable in the autobiography Marwood released shortly after Limpar’s arrival, with the final chapter titled ‘Why I Must Quit Arsenal’. He moved on to Sheffield United after demanding a transfer request.

2. Stefan Schwartz

By 1994, George Graham seemed to have lost faith in flair players - such as Anders Limpar and David Rocastle - and developed a habit of bringing fairly functional midfielders into his teams. The likes of David Hillier, Ian Selley, John Jensen and Steve Morrow shielded an already solid defence and ushered in the era of ‘one nil to the Arsenal’. The signing of Stefan Schwartz in the summer of 1994 - hot on the heels of a successful World Cup in the USA - where Schwartz played a key role, as Sweden finished third - was perhaps an acknowledgement by Graham that his midfield needed an injection of creativity.
The Swede didn’t tear up trees for Arsenal, but played a crucial role in their run to a second successive European Cup Winners Cup Final, and brought a touch of class to a team that struggled for form in the league, eventually finishing twelfth.

His finest moment in an Arsenal shirt came against Sampdoria in the second leg of the Cup Winners Cup semi-final, with a late goal from a free-kick, when it looked as if the Gunners were heading out.
Ultimately, Arsenal were beaten in the final by Real Zaragoza with Nayim’s famous goal from the halfway line. However, the season was defined by the sacking of George Graham in February 1995, following allegations that he had personally taken a slice of the transfer fee paid to Arsenal for John Jensen. Perhaps the turmoil at the club hastened Schwartz' decision to depart – in any case, he left for Fiorentina after just one season with the Gunners.

3. Christopher Wreh 1997/98

Christopher Wreh played less than 50 games for Arsenal but made a huge contribution to Arsenal’s double success in 1997/98. The Liberian was brought to the club in the summer of 1997 by Arsene Wenger, who knew him from their time together at Monaco, as back up to Nicolas Anelka, Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright.
An injury to Wright, and Bergkamp’s suspension, meant Wreh was given his chance, and he scored crucial goals in 1-0 wins against Bolton and Wimbledon in the Premier League, and Wolves in the FA Cup semi final. His goal against Bolton was particularly impressive: a powerful strike into the top corner from distance, the sort of moment of individual skill and inspiration that the missing Wright or Bergkamp might usually be expected to produce.

Wreh played in the FA Cup final win against Newcastle and scored in the next season’s opener - a Charity Shield win against Manchester United - but started the 1998/99 season as a substitute and despite Ian Wright’s departure, was unable to find enough form to challenge Anelka or Bergkamp for a starting place.

4. Davor Suker 1999/2000

Just a year before joining Arsenal in the summer of 1999, Davor Suker’s six goals helped Croatia to a surprise third place finish at the World Cup and bagged him the Golden Boot. Despite his undoubted pedigree, the Croatian took his place in the squad as back-up to Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Kanu. Suker made a handful of substitute appearances before scoring a wonderful brace against Aston Villa at Highbury on his full league debut - the first a nice finish after a sublime Bergkamp flick, and the third a rare free-kick from inside the area, blasted into the roof of the net

Suker proved a useful addition to the squad but never seriously challenged Bergkamp, Henry and Kanu for a regular starting place. The Croatian was a classy addition to a very talented squad and although he had his moments, his final kick of the ball for Arsenal was a missed penalty against Galatasary in the 2000 Uefa Cup Final.

5. Yossi Benayoun 2011/12

Arsene Wenger had his busiest ever transfer window in the summer of 2011, bringing in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta, among others. Arsenal fans were largely underwhelmed however; in part due to the calibre of players departing – Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri – but also due to a disastrous start to the season, the lowlight being the humiliating 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford

Yossi Benayoun’s arrival on loan on transfer day was a surprise (though Benayoun told The Independent he’d known about the move a week earlier) but wasn’t the statement signing Gunner’s fans craved. The Israeli had been a popular figure in his time at Liverpool, chipping in with important goals (including two in a 4-4 draw with Arsenal in 2009) but when he moved on to Chelsea he struggled to break into the team.

Benayoun started on the fringes of the team but would becoming an increasingly influential figure in his only season at Arsenal. He won the fans over with a fantastic performance in the 5-2 win against Tottenham in February, then scored vital goals against Norwich and West Brom in the last two matches of the season, which helped ensure Arsenal once again finished above their North London rivals and secured Champions League qualification.

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