When Robert Pires abutting Arsenal in 2000, the acumen was that the aggregation was already complete. But the Frenchman provided that final blow of chic that fabricated them one of the Premier League’s greatest anytime outfits.
Pires was a about backward accession to the advance which would go on to spearhead the Invincibles. By the time he accustomed from Marseille in the summer of 2000, Dennis Bergkamp had been at Arsenal for 5 years, Freddie Ljungberg for two and Thierry Henry for about 11 months.
Arriving as a backup for addition advantageously affected player, Marc Overmars, Pires was won over to Arsenal’s could cause admitting able absorption from Real Madrid and Juventus, fatigued to the club by its French affiliation and the allegorical duke of Arsene Wenger.
It was one of the best signings Wenger would anytime make, with Pires accouterment the finishing touches to a aggregation which would go on to accomplish abreast perfection.
Fresh-faced and baldheaded afar from a aphotic button band if he aboriginal accustomed in arctic London, Pires would become an adumbration of the blooming Francophile ability at Arsenal.
Growing out his hair, his sideburns and his beard to become a array of d’Artagnan figure, he was a footballing musketeer in as abundant as he was at already dashing, majestic and baleful in his access to the game.
If Bergkamp was ‘The Iceman’ and Henry was a barbarous attendance up front, Pires was a cottony finisher who brought a buttery acumen to Arsenal.
He was a luxury, absolutely, but he was aswell all-important in Wenger’s adventure to accumulate one of the a lot of aesthetically adorable abandon to adroitness the Premier League.
In an era afore English humans advisedly acclimated the appellation gegenpressing, and high-press football was beneath fashionable than it is now, Pires was not accountable by backbreaking arresting duties.
Arsenal were anchored by a absurd aback 5 throughout his time at the club, while it was the job of Patrick Vieira and, from 2002 onwards, Gilberto Silva to win the brawl aback in the midfield.
This gave Pires a chargeless role on the larboard addition to actualize and accomplishment adventitious afterwards chance, while his clip and in-game intelligence were acute to the baleful counterattacks for which the Invincibles would become famous.
He was not a boxy tackler or a have-a-go hero afterwards possession, he lacked Bergkamp’s abandoned band and needle-like elbows, but he nonetheless became a close fan favourite on the arete of his glassy skills, bright passing, agog eyes and ability brain.
Of course, it didn’t do Pires’ continuing amidst the admirers any abuse that he helped blaze Arsenal to the appellation in his additional division at Highbury, topping the Premier Alliance assists table and scoring nine goals as the Gunners accomplished seven credibility bright of abutting rivals Liverpool.
He was both the Football Writers’ Amateur of the Year and Arsenal’s Amateur of the Season, admitting accepting broken his cruciate bond in March and afterwards absent out on the boastful cup final adjoin Chelsea.
The 2001-02 attack aswell saw him account what abounding would altercate was his career-defining goal, an astonishing bifold lob over George Boateng and Peter Schmeichel which aggressive one of the a lot of quoted moments in the history of football commentary.
Though the lob over Schmeichel was apparently Pires’ a lot of memorable effort, the one which epitomised him best came adjoin Southampton the afterward season.
In an contrarily black attack in which Arsenal blew an eight-point advance to duke the appellation to Manchester United (even if they did win the FA Cup as a consolation), Pires had boring congenital himself aback up to top anatomy afterwards his abrasion and amorphous to animate the admirers again.
On the penultimate matchday of the alliance attack he denticulate a hat-trick adjoin the Saints, ambience in motion an aberrant 49-match best streak.
His third and final appetite was quintessential Pires: an arrant dent from about 30 yards, it appropriate absurd address and ambition, a blow of airs even, acclaimed with an unapologetic smile.
The aforementioned cottony blow with which he agape Southampton was abiding throughout the Invincibles season, in which Pires was additional abandoned to Henry in the team’s goalscoring charts.
Henry got 39 in all competitions, but Pires popped up with 19 of his own, a absolute which in added affairs would accept been admirable for anyone arch the band alone.
Not abandoned did Pires accomplish a addiction of scoring beauties – his iconic early-season champ adjoin Liverpool, for instance – he aswell connected a trend of scoring with arresting regularity adjoin Tottenham in the arctic London derby.
This included a appetite in the 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane which saw Arsenal allowance the appellation with four amateur to go, addition acumen for the red bisected of arctic London to acclaim Pires and the white bisected to resentfully bethink the name.
Arsenal would accomplishment that attack best in the Premier League, down in no baby allotment to Pires’ advancing elan and beautiful brilliance. It would be the acknowledged acme of his time at Highbury, even if he would win the FA Cup afresh a year later.
Sadly, his time at the club came to an end on something of a low note, if he was commissioned anon in the 2006 Champions Alliance final afterwards the sending-off of Jens Lehmann. Pires would move to Villarreal not continued afterwards, abrogation abounding Arsenal admirers despondent.
It was a asperous breach for the man of silk, but with six years at the club, abundant honours and some of the a lot of acclaimed goals anytime denticulate to his name, Pires was consistently traveling to leave abaft an Invincible legacy.