Watford 1-2 Arsenal (2006): Where are they now?
Robin Van Persie scored a late goal to give Arsenal all 3 points at Vicarage Road

Boxing Day 2006 would be Arsenal’s last league visit to Vicarage Road before this Saturday’s clash against Watford.

Under manager Aidy Boothroyd, the Hornets kept it tight against the Gunners, only losing 2-1 due to a late Robin Van Persie winner.

Goalkeeper and defenders

Jens Lehmann

The German shot stopper joined Arsenal in summer 2003 and played every minute of their 2003/04 ‘Invincibles’ campaign, as well as being in goal for their successful 2005 FA Cup win and record-breaking run to the 2006 UEFA Champions League final.

However, errors at the start of the 2007/08 season cost Lehmann his first team place to Manuel Almunia and despite occasional appearances during injury spells to Almunia, he left Arsenal in 2008 joining VFB Stuttgart.

After two top six finishes in Germany, Lehmann retired in 2010 but re-joined Arsenal less than a year later as emergency cover for Manuel Almunia after injuries to Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny.

He played one final game, his 200th for the club in a 3-1 victory over Blackpool after Almunia was injured in the warm-up, at the end of the season Lehmann retired a second time at 41-years-old.

Justin Hoyte

Hoyte was a youth academy graduate at Arsenal and made sporadic appearances before making his breakthrough in the 2006/07 season after Emmanuel Eboue picked up an injury.

He played in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the 2007 Carling Cup final and was the first Englishman to score for Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

However, after Arsenal signed Bacary Sagna in 2007, Hoyte’s first team appearances became limited and he was sold to Middlesbrough in 2008.

He became a regular at ‘Boro, playing 162 times on Teeside before moving back to London, joining Millwall on a loan that would be made permanent.

However, Hoyte only made eight appearances for the Lions and in 2015 signed for League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge.

Kolo Toure

Alongside Sol Campbell, Toure was a rock at the back between 2003 and 2006 and retained his place following Campbell’s departure in 2006.

In 2009, Toure would become one of the first major signings by Manchester City under Sheikh Mansour for £14 million and was handed the captains armband when he arrived at Eastlands.

At City, he soon became a squad player but did enough to be apart of their 2012 Premier League Title season, the club’s first league championship in 44 years.

He moved to Liverpool on a free in 2013 and was close to winning his third English league title with his third different club but the Red’s late season collapse handed the league title to Man City.

Johan Djourou

Another academy graduate, Swiss defender Djourou would make sporadic appearances before being loaned to Birmingham City in 2007.

On return, injury hindered his development, missing the entire 2009/10 season due to a knee injury but finally broke into the team during Thomas Vermaelen’s injury the following season.

Alongside Laurent Koscielny, he provided a solid centre-back partnership, Arsenal were in fact unbeaten with Djourou playing up until April, their best performance was the 2-1 victory over eventual Champions League winners FC Barcelona in 2011.

However, the pair would also be mainly at fault for Arsenal’s embarrassing 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford in August 2011 and he lost his place after Per Mertesacker was signed.

After losing his place, he was loaned to Hannover in January 2013 and later sold to Hamburger SV in July 2013 where he is a fixture for both club and country.

Gael Clichy

Despite an amazing 2007/08 season which saw the French international named in PFA Team of the Year, Clichy was injury and error prone and sold to Manchester City with Samir Nasri in summer 2011.

After a battle with Aleksandar Kolorov for the starting left-back place Clichy has began to cement that position as his own and during his time at the Etihad been involved in two more league title winning sides to add to the 2003/04 Premier League medal he won at Arsenal.

Midfield and attackers

Alexander Hleb

The first Belarusian to play in a UEFA Champions League final in 2006, Hleb replaced Robert Pires on Arsenal’s right hand side but would not have the same impact of the Frenchman.

Hleb was sold to FC Barcelona in 2008 but even though he was part of Spain’s first ever treble winning team, he struggled to get into Pep Guardiola’s team ahead of Xavi and Iniesta in midfield or Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry on either wing.

Instead, Hleb soon found himself on loan, being loaned to VFB Stuttgart, Birmingham City and VFL Wolfsburg in consecutive seasons.

He was released by Barcelona in January 2012 and has played in Russia and Turkey since but has now settled back at BATE Borisov.

Cesc Fabregas

Arsenal’s creative spark, Fabregas was named captain in 2008 but was sold to FC Barcelona in August 2011.

However, his time back ‘home’ was not as romantic as he dreamed, despite making 86 goals in his previous five years at Arsenal, more than Xavi and Iniesta he struggled to displace them and was often used either out wide or as a false nine for club and country.

He opted to leave Barcelona in 2014 and had the chance to re-join Arsenal as the Gunners had first refusal but with Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla already in the team and a switch away from Fabregas’ suited 4-3-3, he was not re-signed.

Instead he joined London title rivals Chelsea and contributed 18 assists in his first year, helping the Blues re-gain the Premier League for the first time in five years.

Gilberto Silva

The Brazilian was integral to Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten run and later successes but would leave the club perhaps prematurely in 2008.

He joined Greek side Panathinaikos and played a key part in their 2010 Greek league & cup double in 2010.

In 2011, Gilberto returned to Brazil with Gremio and eventually got his dream move back to first club Atletic Mineiro.

He led the team to the Copa Libertadores in 2013 before announcing his retirement.

Tomas Rosicky

One of three from the game’s squad that are still at the club, Rosicky has had to suffer through many injuries during his time at Arsenal.

The Czech international would miss the entire 2009/10 season and upon return struggled to find consistency and became a squad player.

However, after the sales of Fabregas and Nasri, Rosicky’s standing elevated in the team and he had a knack of scoring in North London derbies.

He scored after just 72 seconds in 2014 at White Hart Lane, adding to goals in the 5-2 in 2012 and FA Cup Third round in January 2014.

Robin Van Persie

After several injury-ravaged years at the club, Van Persie finally regained full fitness in 2011 and was named club captain after the departure of Fabregas.

During 2011, he was one goal shy of Alan Shearer’s goals in a calendar year record of 36 and carried the club to a third place finish after a terrible start to the season.

However, with a year left on his contract and no intention from Van Persie to renew he was sold to Manchester United for £24 million and went onto score 30 goals in 48 games and sealed United’s 20th league title.

Following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, Van Persie’s time at United descended, injuries hampered a second season and even under former Dutch national manager Van Persie couldn’t rediscover his form.

This summer he was sold to Fenerbahce in Turkey for £4 million.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Despite a 30-goal season in 2007/08, Adebayor was viewed as too lazy and unreliable in the bigger fixtures and after reported bust-ups behind the scenes was sold to Manchester City in 2009 for £25 million.

He enraged Arsenal fans even further after his sale, running the length of the pitch to knee-slide in front of the away Gunners support after scoring in City’s 4-2 victory over Arsenal in September 2009.

In 2011, Adebayor joined Real Madrid on loan and then Tottenham Hotspur for the season too.

After scoring 18 goals in 37 games, Tottenham signed him on a permanent deal but he never replicated his form even with a resurgence under Tim Sherwood in 2014.

In September 2015, Spurs released Adebayor after transfer talks with West Ham broke down in late August.

Substitutes

Philippe Senderos

Despite being at centre-back for the 2005 FA Cup final and part of the side during their record-breaking clean sheet run to the 2006 Champions League final, Senderos’ lack of pace was a hindrance against pacey Premier League forwards.

Senderos was sent out on loan to AC Milan in 2008 and Everton in January 2010 before leaving for Fulham on a free in June 2010.

A torn Achilles tendon disrupted his start at Fulham but did go onto make 62 appearances before moving to Valencia in January 2014 just prior to Fulham’s relegation from the Premier League.

However, after 11 appearances in Spain, the Swiss centre-half returned to England with Aston Villa.

After a decent start injuries have disrupted his time in Birmingham and in September 2015 he was not selected in Villa’s 25-man squad for the 2015/16 season meaning he can’t play for the club until January 2016 in the Premier League.

Theo Walcott

After some inconsistent seasons as a youngster, Walcott has now become one of Arsenal’s first team regulars and is in contention with Olivier Giroud for the starting striker role.

After injury in January 2014 caused him to miss Arsenal’s 2014 FA Cup win and England’s uneventful FIFA World Cup he bounced back to score the opener in Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Aston Villa in the 2015 FA Cup final.

Julio Baptista

Baptista was a season long loan from Real Madrid in exchange for Jose Antonio Reyes who was loaned the other way.

Despite scoring four goals in a 6-3 victory over Liverpool in the league cup, the Beast’s time in England wasn’t spectacular and he returned to Spain at the end of the season.

He left Madrid in 2007 for AS Roma but still struggled to regain his Sevilla form and moved around clubs including Malaga and Cruzeiro.

Notable Watford Players

Future England players Ben Foster and Ashley Young both appeared for the Hornets, Foster was on loan from Manchester United during the season, whereas Young would join United in 2011.

Unused substitute Lloyd Doyley remains at Watford and is a rare one-club man appearing 443 times for the club since 2001.

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