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The forgotten kids of Arsenal’s League Cup campaigns – where are they now?

Arsene Wenger has used the competition in the past to field as close to an Under-12 side as possible

Arsenal haven’t won the League Cup since 1993.

But then when you consider Arsene Wenger has used the competition to field as close to an Under-12 side as possible down the years, it’s perhaps easy to see why.


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A 4-0 defeat at Liverpool was just a blip for Arsenal, according to Arsene Wenger

Rex Features
8
Wenger and the League Cup have a strange relationship

Gunners fans have witnessed some pretty weird and wonderful players in England’s second domestic cup competition during Wenger’s reign.

But where are they now?

We ran the rule over seven who were given a chance and then faded into the abyss…

JEREMIE ALIADIERE

Aliadiere – Paul Merson’s worst nightmare

Times Newspapers Ltd
8
Aliadiere – Paul Merson’s worst nightmare

Aliadiere is probably the first name that springs to mind when you utter the words ‘cult hero’ to Arsenal fans.

Amazingly, the Frenchman spent six years on the Gunners’ books which included three loan spells to Celtic, West Ham and Wolves.

Aliadiere was named the best young talent in the League Cup in the 2003/04 season after four goals on their way to the semi-finals.

He regards Wenger as a father type figure and is still playing for French side Lorient in his second spell there.

QUINCY OWUSU-ABEYIE

Ok maybe even more of a nightmare for Paul

Reuters
8
Ok maybe even more of a nightmare for Paul

First spotted by Gunners legend Liam Brady, Owusu-Abeyie made a real impression for the youth sides after scoring six times in one game for the Under-17s against Wolves.

Like many of Arsenal’s young guns the League Cup was the Ghanaian’s only real chance to shine but his debut against Rotherham in 2003 was a mixed bag.

Owusu-Abeyie’s delightful chip played a hand in getting Rotherham goalkeeper Mike Pollitt sent off but he then missed a penalty in the shootout after the game finished 1-1.

He did get his first Arsenal goal against Everton the following season but the arrival of Theo Walcott soon after signalled the end of his time in north London.

He moved to Russia with Spartak Moscow before spells with Birmingham, Cardiff and Portsmouth – to name but a few – and was last playing for Dutch side NEC Nijmegen before he was released last January.

FRAN MERIDA

Cesc Fabregas’ heir didn’t quite live up to the billing

Bradley Ormesher - The Times
8
Cesc Fabregas’ heir didn’t quite live up to the billing

Merida was dubbed the next Cesc Fabregas after following in the Spaniard’s footsteps by leaving Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy for Arsenal.

He scored one of his two Gunners goals in the League Cup – a stunning strike in a 2-1 win against Liverpool in 2009.

Aside from that his career never really took off in north London and he left for Atletico Madrid in 2010.

Merida had a spell in Brazil with Atletico Paranaense but is now back in Spain with Osasuna.

CARLOS VELA

This became a familiar sight for goalkeepers

Times Newspapers Ltd
8
This became a familiar sight for goalkeepers

Possibly the most successful of the lot, Arsenal fans still feel Vela had more to give for the side after showing glimpses of huge promise.

The Mexican prodigy scored a number of brilliant goals – mainly impudent chips which he made his signature finish – and bagged a brilliant hat-trick in the League Cup against Sheffield United in 2008.

His second goal that night against the Blades was voted as one of Arsenal’s Greatest 50 Goals after he controlled a long ball on his chest and nonchalantly lifted it over the approaching goalkeeper.

Vela’s six years with the Gunners came to an end in 2011 when he joined Real Socieded, for whom he’s scored 72 times in 230 appearances since.

HENRI LANSBURY

File Lansbury under the category ‘wasted talent’

PA:Press Association
8
File Lansbury under the category ‘wasted talent’

Local boy Lansbury probably falls under the same wasted talent category as David Bentley considering his huge potential.

After overcoming glandular fever that kept him out for six months in the 2007/08 season, Lansbury was given the loan treatment including temporary sells at Scunthorpe, Watford, Norwich and West Ham.

He joined Nottingham Forest in 2012 and was made captain after some inspirational performances but his move to Aston Villa in January has been an unmitigated disaster so far, failing to score in 22 appearances.

SANCHEZ WATT

It all started so well for Watt

News Group Newspapers Ltd
8
It all started so well for Watt

Watt really struggled to light up (sorry) the Emirates during his four years as a Gunners player, earning more contract extensions than goals scored.

The sole strike he managed was a memorable one though, scoring in the 2-0 win over West Brom in 2009, and made him the 85th player to score on their Arsenal debut.

Since then he’s spent the majority of his career in the lower leagues, including current club Crawley, but also had one season at the brilliantly named Kerala Blasters in India.

RYO MIYAICHI

A rare sighting of Miyaichi in an Arsenal kit

PA:Empics Sport
8
A rare sighting of Miyaichi in an Arsenal kit

FIFA players will hold Miyaichi close to their hearts mainly because of his insane speed statistics but his actual career has really failed to take off.

The Japanese starlet impressed Wenger immensely on trial, but just seven appearances later he was on his way out of the club to Feyenoord on loan.

Four of those came in the League Cup, including on his debut against Shrewsbury Town in 2011.

After going back to the Netherlands with FC Twente Miyaichi joined German hipster outfit FC St Pauli in the German second division.


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