Oh look, Dream Team are paying too much attention to old team-mate combinations again.
For no reason other than it’s the weekend, we dug into the archives and selected an interesting (weird, funny, incredible) former team-mate for each of the players in Arsenal’s current XI.
Take a couple of minutes away from the doom and gloom of modern life and enjoy football’s vast network of connections…
BERND LENO & JENS LEHMANN
That’s right, Arsenal’s current No1 has shared a dressing room with the Invincibles’ keeper.
Bernd Leno’s formative years were spent at Stuttgart, where Jens Lehmann spent his post-Arsenal years — although you may remember the eccentric German came out of retirement to play to play one game for the Gunners in 2011 because of an injury crisis.
Leno never played for Stuttgart’s first team as he honed his skills with the second team in the third tier of German football.
But he would have trained with Lehmann and since this connection is too satisfying to pass up, that’s good enough for us.
HECTOR BELLERIN & TROY DEENEY
Arsenal’s stylish right-back would have played with some incredibly famous players during his time at Barcelona’s La Masia but we’re only interested in senior football.
The image of fashion-conscious Bellerin sharing a pitch with Troy ‘where’s your cojones?’ Deeney seems comical today but it was reality back in 2013/14 when the Spaniard spent three months on loan at Vicarage Road when the Hornets were in the Championship.
Funnily enough, the penalty Deeney scored in the infamous ‘cojones’ game came from foul conceded by, you guessed it, Bellerin.
SHKODRAN MUSTAFI & MAURO ICARDI
Plenty to choose from here.
From his uneventful Everton career alongside Marouane Fellani and Eric Dier, to his retrospectively hilarious centre-back partnership with Nicolas Otamendi at Valenica, Shkrodran Mustafi has multiple old flames worthy of note.
Ultimately, we went for Mauro Icardi as the pair’s Sampdoria’s days are easily forgotten.
The German spent three seasons in Italy, the second one coinciding with Icardi’s debut Serie A campaign in which the Argentine made the league aware of his abilities with a respectable return of ten goals.
DAVID LUIZ & FREDDY ADU
At 32 years old, David Luiz has been around the block enough to have acquired a range of interesting team-mates, past and present.
His first season with Benfica was Rui Costa’s last in professional football and while we thought nobody could have topped the legendary Portuguese playmaker, we had to go for Freddy Adu.
The American was tipped to be USA’s first truly world-class talent and, thanks to Football Manger 2005, fans all over the world expected big things.
Unfortunately, Adu’s career never reached the heights of his virtual self in the world of Sports Interactive.
Benfica signed him after he impressed at the 2007 Under-20 World Cup but he made just 17 league appearances for the first team in four years.
His tenure at the club overlapped with Luiz’s closely but as the Brazilian signed for Chelsea, Adu returned to his homeland for underwhelming spell with Philadelphia Union that preceded time in Brazil, Serbia and Finland.
SEAD KOLASINAC & TEEMU PUKKI
Bukayo Saka is making a name for himself as Arsenal’s left-back this season but since he’s 18 and has only ever played for the Gunners, he’s yet to boast any intriguing ex-team-mates.
So we peaked into Sead Kolasinac’s past and picked out Teemu Pukki.
The mugger-repelling Bosnian was too late to the Schalke party of Manuel Neuer and Raul but had the pleasure of playing with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Julian Draxler, Leroy Sane and everyone’s favourite Finnish forward (Pukki, not Jari Litmanen).
They both featured semi-regularly in 2012/13 but whereas Kolasinac’s stock improved the following campaign, Pukki was shipped off to Celtic.
GRANIT XHAKA & MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN
We really wanted to pair Granit Xhaka with Mohamed Salah but we felt it was too much of a stretch.
Both were technically on Basel’s books at the same time in 2012 but it’s highly unlikely the two would have ever trained together as the Swiss international left soon after the future Anfield hero arrived from Al Mokawloon.
In contrast, Xhaka and Marc-Andre ter Stegen were regulars at Borussia Monchengladbach for two full seasons.
Both earned high-profile transfers to Barcelona and Arsenal respectively although it’s probably fair to say the Catalans have been more pleased with their purchase in the years since.
MATTEO GUENDOUZI & JEREMIE ALIADIERE
Just like Leno and Lehmann, this one matches up a current player with an Arsenal Invincible.
Jeremie Aliadiere was a peripheral figure in 2003/04 but ten league appearances meant he comfortably qualified for a medal.
The French forward re-joined Lorient in 2016/17, meaning his final season in professional football aligned with Matteo Guendouzi’s first.
MESUT OZIL & FABINHO
Mesut Ozil had the pleasure of playing with Tim Wiese at Werder Bremen, the German keeper who famously quit football to pursue a career in professional wrestling in 2014.
And he knocked about with Ivan Rakitic and others at Schalke in his early years.
However, for sheer unlikeliness, we selected Fabinho.
The Brazilian’s Real Madrid career totalled 14 minutes — the end of a 6-2 victory over nine-man Malaga in 2013.
Ozil played and scored in the game, which proved to be one of his last in the famous white shirt as he signed for Arsenal in the summer.
NICOLAS PEPE & SOFIANE BOUFAL
We won’t claim to have watched any of Angers’ games in 2014/15 but they must have been entertaining when these two were on the pitch at the same time.
The dribble-enthusiasts helped the French side earn promotion to Ligue 1 and both were snapped up by Lille, although the transfers occurred two years’ apart and they were never reunited as Sofiane Boufal joined Southampton.
Nicolas Pepe followed a similar route, crossing the English channel to join a Premier League club in the summer of 2019.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG & RONALDO
Fill your boots here.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brilliance only became apparent to followers of the football mainstream when he started plundering goals for Borussia Dortmund.
The six years prior to joining BVB provide a treasure trove of eye-opening team-mate combinations.
While on AC Milan’s books he was technically an equal of Cafu, Andrea Pirlo, Paolo Maldini and co.
On loan at Lille, he joined an exciting squad that also featured Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Idrissa Gueye.
In 2010/11, he linked up with Layvin Kurzawa, Mahamadou Diarra and 2005 Champions League winner Djimi Traore at Monaco.
He joined Saint-Etienne permanently that same season and enjoyed four months of playing with Dimitri Payet.
In Germany, he established a friendly rivalry with Robert Lewandowski as the pair competed for the Golden Boot on either side of the Klassiker divide — but it’s often forgotten that they were team-mates for a season at Dortmund before the prolific Pole’s defection.
Spoilt for choice, we simply had to go for Ronaldo.
There’s every chance Il Fenomeno never even exchanged pleasantries with Aubameyang as the duo’s time in Milan barely overlapped.
The Gabon international was a young upstart who knew he would have to be patient while Ronaldo was already considered one of the greatest players of all time.
Sadly, the legendary Brazilian suffered a terrible knee injury halfway through Aubameyang’s first season as an official Milan player and was released the end of the campaign.
Instinctively, Aubameyang and Ronaldo feel like they belong in different eras entirely… which makes this a great combination in our book.
ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE & KIM KALLSTROM
Alexandre Lacazette’s past life at Lyon gave us a lot to work with in this department.
The Arsenal striker was team-mates with Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris for two-and-a-bit seasons.
He overlapped with the end of Miralem Pjanic’s spell in Ligue 1 and would have played arm-in-arm with Dejan Lovren more than a few times as well.
But how could we choose anyone over Kim Kallstrom?
The Swedish midfielder spent his best years at Lyon but is remembered by fans on English shores for his bemusing loan move to Arsenal in 2014.
Despite noticing a back injury during his medical, the Gunners chose to go through with the temporary move, a decision that was ultimately proved foolish.
Kallstrom was restricted to just four appearances and is still referenced by Arsenal fans today in discussions of curious transfers.
Lacazette’s breakout season at Lyon came in 2014/15, the same campaign Arsene Wenger took a risk on Kallstrom.
Funny old game, isn’t it?