Return of the Right Back – Why Arsenal have more to be grateful for in Eboue than we have ever understood.

Posted: March 12, 2010 by curtisreidbarnes in Uncategorized

The rampaging Emmanuel Eboue has proved to us again that he is one of the best right-backs in the world. The question remains, how did we ever forget, and do we deserve to keep the services of a player who has been treated so unfairly?

The treatment Eboue received from those present at the Emirates on the 6th of December 2008 was one of the most galling and appalling things I have ever witnessed in football. It is the only time I have ever been made to feel ashamed to call myself and Arsenal follower, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I felt no association to those bastards; it was surreal to consider what was actually happening; Arsenal fans berating their own man to the point of despair, so much so that he was forced to leave the field on the brink of tears. What is even more surprising is that Emmanuel Eboue’s name still fills the ranks of the Arsenal squad list every week, and though most of those pathetic masses present at the Wigan game may have forgotten about it, I’m sure it is an experience that will like in his mind for the rest of his life.

Oh how the tables have turned. Eboue is playing some of the best football of his life, and is performing astoundingly; at the moment there is no Premier League right back whose performance can match him. The real question is, as I alluded to earlier, how did we ever let ourselves forget that this is what he was capable of?

Before I continue, I’d like state now that this article is not intended to be an argument of whether Sagna or Eboue is the better player for us, although I have my strong opinions on that. However, I will compare statistics to emphasise how underrated Eboue has been for us. Rather, it’s meant to be an exploration of just how it is that Arsenal fans have neglected, or even belittled this player at times. Statistics and facts which I put forward comparing Sagna and Eboue are not included as a reference to condemn Sagna, but to show how good Eboue really has been for us.

Let’s start at the beginning. Although Eboue joined us in the 04/05 season, he spent most of this season in the reserve team and made only 4 appearances; he was only 20 years old. By next season, he was playing regularly for us, including in the Champions league against such illustrious opposition as Real Madrid, Villarreal and Juventus. An injury to Lauren had gifted him an opportunity, and Eboue took this, performing very admirably in the League also, and making a total of 32 appearances that season.

His unpredictablity, vision and acceleration are often the undoing of teams.
He almost always beats his man.

The following season, he really came into his own. He helped the team to a Champions Final in the 05/06 Champions League, as well as winning the title of right-back of the tournament. On top of this alone, he made 35 appearances that season with 6 assists, despite spending very long periods of the season absent with serious injury.

In April of 2007, Eboue signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal. Two months later, Wenger signed a new player, Bacary Sagna, to be first choice right back for the team.

Why on earth did he do this?

Effectively since then, Eboue has been merely a bit part player. Relegated to the bench at right-back, Wenger has tried to mould him into a midfielder. But it is apparent to all of us that Eboue is at his dangerous best when he is in his natural flank position. Despite admirable efforts, he has never been at his best at right mid, and thus he was relegated from their too.

On the fateful day that he was marauded by those who called themselves Arsenal fans, he had been suffering from a significant form dip. This, you may remember, was completely in line with the form of everybody else in the team, which was very poor. What happened to him that day was appalling, by itself enough to warrant a player leaving the club. The thing is, Eboue has been in the background of this Arsenal team for three years now, in favour of a player which quite arguably he is a lot better than. His reputation is inexplicably poor compared to his true quality as a footballer.

Aside from his attacking prowess, Eboue’s defensive abilities are often undervalued…

And most of all, not to be ignored, is Wenger’s role in this. The actions of Wenger have done their best to destroy the career of one the game’s most promising right backs. He is a player whose name should be dropped when one considers the best in his position in the world; Maicon, Alves, Srna…Eboue! And yet, Wenger pig-headedly is determined to turn him into a right winger. It’s not only disrespectful to Eboue’s abilities, its just plain stupid. Here we have one of the best right-backs of a generation, and is not even allowed the basic respect of playing as a right back.

And yet, he battles on to prove his worth to us; a fight which he should be delighted does not go unnoticed by many. One only has to watch the games he has appeared in this season to see the quality he offers us. Eboue is dynamic, pacey, and unpredictable to defenders; everything that Sagna is not. The problem is that when a player gets such infrequent chance to prove himself as he has had, that when he has a bad game, people believe it is a reflection of his true ability. This is not an endeavour to say Sagna is not as good; we are certainly lucky to have two such capable players. I just hope to acknowledge that Eboue has never been given the opportunity or respect he deserves as a player. He is perfect for Arsenal, and this shows when he plays for us.

After all that has been inflicted upon Manu, he remains an Arsenal man to the great delight of many of us. He has been booed, berated, dropped and suffered the managers attempts to change him, but he remains with us nonetheless. But with rumours that there are numerous clubs interested in acquiring his services, can we really expect him to stay? He is finally being given the opportunity to prove himself as I am overjoyed to see, but with his contract running out, do we even deserve to keep him?

Eboue; an unsung hero of Arsenal.

And how can he trust Wenger? The last time he signed a contract a new right-back was brought in to usurp him within two months. How can he know that this run of games he is being given is not merely to entice him into signing, before he is dropped again.

And yet he denies he wants to leave the club; perhaps in self-acknowledgement of how well he has played when given the chance.

I sincerely hope that is not the case, for I truly feel that to lose Eboue would be one of the greatest losses of talent that we have experienced. Eboue is one of the best right-backs in the world, and given the chance he shows us. It is not unrealistic to believe that he is one of the best. So what I’m asking really is that he be given the respect he is really due. Let him play and he will prove how good he is, and opposing teams will fear him as a player. We see this time and time again when he is given the chance, Eboue is a player truly capable of magic.

I’m intesrested to hear from you all about this, and hope to see you on the forum to discuss it.


  1. 1arron ramsey says:

    small bit carried away there,he did not deserve to be booed but his as in very bad form, sagna cant attact like eboue but no r b in the world can defend like sagna… eboue deserves so much credit though

  2. Mean Lean says:

    Where is Sinbad these days? Probably chewing away at a massive chunk of humble pie.

    Enjoy it Sinbad.

  3. Raadi Al Haroumi says:

    Eboue is not just the best right back in the world, he’s the best PLAYER in the world. His wiggle jiggle makes me moist.

  4. Erik says:

    I have always had faith him in, I used to tell my mates that if players were cars, he would be a ferrari being driven by a donkey.

    By this I meant, he has all the physical attributes to be one hell of a player but he just needed to really improove his all round game, he was often dispossed trying to beat a full back, would loose control of the ball, would often play the wrong pass or not see a pass…

    Now, I can say that he is showing he can be a ferrari driven by Schumacher.

    But I think you make it sound like he has always been this good, please, he was really bad in some games but probably underlooked when he had a decent game, still, if we had the Eboue from a couple of seasons ago he would really impact our game negatively by giving the ball away.

    Diaby was at fault for this as well, and again, I had a lot of faith in this kid, since I saw his performance against Real Madrid, how composed he was with his chance he missed, still, he showed class even though he missed.

    Now he is starting to show he will be one of our most important players ever, an offensive PV4, he is nowhere near peaked yet…. so exciting!

  5. Ryan Felan says:

    all eboue was playing very well in the 06/07 season on the right on midfield- thus wenger took a gamble on sagna who has been a revelation and much more solid defensivly then eboue ever was and it was eboue who made his own demise by performing rubbish on the right flank, however he is reaching his form

    • Curt.B says:

      Simple mistake of chronology and a typo, really. I ahd been typing for a long time. Its difficult to assert what your saying, though, as the general consensus is rigt in thinking Eboue is better at right back.

  6. Pat says:

    Good points, but think about our biggest weakness….defense.

    Sagna is much more solid defensively with his positioning as well as his overall defensive play. In a way, Sagna is a CB playing RB. He can actually play both very well.

    At home, Eboue should start games. Away, Sagna should. Against top quality opposition, they should both start on the same flank.

    • Curt.B says:

      Is this really true? i didn’t touch on this fully but I think it is something of a myth that Eboue is significantly worse than Sagna on defence. Sagna is not without his occasional errors on defence either, just like Eboue. But what defender isn’t?

  7. sammy says:

    This is nicely written piece, but leaves a sour taste from the basic fact that this site more than any other has berated the team and Arsene Wenger all season. Perhaps not by this writer, but this site has remained extremely ignorant, idiotic and inflammatory.

    So despite the sentiments expressed in the article being accurate, it’s too little too late and makes everyone associated with this site look extremely fickle, hypocritical and frankly stupid.

    In the words of a wise man – better to say nothing and be thought of a fool, than to speak and confirm it.

    • Curt.B says:

      Let not the sins of the father be visited upon the son.

      Ie, please don’t let the sentiments of Sinbad’s writing be associated with my beliefs. We are two different people and two different writers with different opinions. I would delete your comment but I want people to see this.

  8. Norseman says:

    Eboue ❤

  9. jack says:

    im not being funny with you, but eboue is nowhere near the level of being one of the best in the world, in fact he’s not even one of the best in the league and if you seriously consider him at that level, you’re a moron… no offence…lol granted eboue has come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months, but this doesnt change the fact that he was extremely poor (either that or he was playing poor consistently) for along time whilst an arsenal player, and it was this, and his theatrics, diving, annoying the ref etc that contributed to him getting booed last year during the wigan game… now i wasnt there, but i understand why some fans felt the need to boo him, because it wasnt just his performance that day, but a culmination of seeing him deliver this kind of performance continously without deviation… i wasnt there that day, but if i was ill be honest, its more than likely id of been booing aswell… i never really took a shine to eboue as i was always under the impression he either wasnt good enough or wasnt interested enough to try, and also the carling cup final when he threw an awful punch to the back of wayne bridge’s head and then acted like a twat an fell over and try to say it wasnt him, really just annoyed the christ outta me…lol… but credit where credits due, he’s turned the situation around, and kept his head down and concentrated on improving his game which he looks to have, but you cant claim he;s one of the best right backs in the world on the back of a few good performances, thats ridiculous…

    • Curt.B says:

      Maybe your a moron?

      No offence of course, though : )

      You’ve had your say, fair enough, but I don’t see anything in your comment that provides ANY truth or evidence that is valuable enough for you to starting insulting another persons intelligence over their differing opinion.

      You have also totally missed the point in the article, that he hasn’t just performed well in recent games, but has always been a very good player.

    • Andrew says:

      ok who’s better than him right now in the RB position
      Sagna is not better than him (maybe defensively but not overall)
      Neville and Rafael are not better than him
      Johnson is not the player he was at portsmouth
      Bosingwa and Ivanovic are not better than him

      The best fullbacks in the world are people who can defend and help out in attack eg. Maicon, Alves, Evra and Cole
      because if you atack then their fullback doesn’t come too much down your half.

      Whether you like it or not Eboue is a very good RB (he could improve his defending a bit) but he has done a very good job for us this season
      The other thing about Eboue is that his presence in the team is very uplifting. He keeps the morale high and helps players feeling down which is a special talent in itself so stop abusing because you don’t know squat.
      If you want to know what Wenger thinks about him then just check out his latest press conference.

      • Curt.B says:

        Thank you for a very constructive post. I agree with you, really.

        Though I think you can seriously see what Wenger thinks about him, playing him at right attacking mid agaisnt Hull. Poor Eboue, Wenger took a gamble, and I feel sorry for him being brought off when really he should have been starting RB.

  10. jackson says:

    i agree with the post. jack shd just shutup. eboue rules

  11. Andrew says:

    People will forget it again, if he starts to under perform again and that’s how it goes with us
    This is the thing I hate most about us why do we boo our own players. I mean why do we do it?
    Everyone under performs at some stage in their career and he will surely have a dip in his performance again but rather than supporting him we boo hm?
    that’s not right and I think we are lucky that he hasn’t left us till.
    I hope people realise their mistake but I think I am facing a losing battle here.

  12. Charlie says:

    The problem with playing Eboue and Clichy in the same team is that we have two attacking backs, which looks great on paper but practical reason may cause it too be too unbalanced and overly commited going forward. Hence, Sagna comes in. Unless, we have two defensive minded CM, like Chelsea, we could play both of them. Not a bad idea, IF, and If we have these two in midfield, not when Denilson is playing; perhaps with Song and Diaby.
    However, with Nasri’s current form, how do we accommodate him and Fab? AND, Clichy and Eboue. Too attacking. When the opposing side counter attacks, we are dead.

    • Curt.B says:

      But with our narrow 4-3-3, attacking full backs are essential to our width.

      Its not like Sagna defends any more, its just that his attacking is so negligible you don’t notice it. Thats the truth.

  13. ken says:

    Never recall anyone berating Eboue as a R/B but he is extremely average as a midfielder and Sagna is unquestionably a better R/B, better in the air and better in the tackle. Eboue is better than Sagna or Clichy at crossing but that just isn’t the priority. And it is impossible to condone Eboue’s continued diving/cheating. He has become our new heroic Perry Groves – and Perry Groves wasn’t very good either.

    • Curt.B says:

      Big call to say Sagna is unquestionably better. Eboue’s attacking ability is essential to our team. Sagna is the weak link in our attack when he plays.

  14. Rick Jones says:

    Terrific presentation – sometimes it’s difficult to keep one’s finger on the Arsenal pulse. I have family in London (Camden) who are all Gooners and I’ve always been an Eboue fan. He’s a lesson to us all in humility, effort, and sheer exuberance of Life. He’s always positive, happy, and what a player! Arséne knows what he’s doing. Your short film goes some way in atoning for the awful treatment the lad got. Let’s hope he’s forgiven us. I’d hate to lose this treasure to Real, or God forbid Man City. Well done.

  15. Rick Jones says:

    Forgot to mention – we live in California, whee keeping up with our team is a bit harder than when we lived in London. :O)

  16. justin says:

    Hey there blogger. I do to a certain extent agree with the fact that the treatment he has received over a certain number of games has been over the top and no arsenal player should ever be boo’d off by his own fans. However, some of the criticism he has received i think has been justified. You cannot disagree with the fact that at a certain period, mainly over the 08-09 period, he changed the way he played, falling over trying to win fouls, and a general lack of effort. Any fan can accept that a player aint good enough but we knew how good this boy is which is why to see him playing like he did was really hard to deal with. As to Wenger bringing Sagna in, whats the big deal with that? So if tomorrow Wenger decides to bring in Villa or Messi would you then have a go at him for betraying Bendtner? or Theo? Players who are considered the best of their time should have no qualms dealing with competition. If you’re good enough you’ll play. If Sagna wasnt good enough or wasnt better than Manu at the time do u think Wenger would still play him?

    I reckon there needs to be a bit of a balance and i do think you’ve gone slightly overboard.

    • Curt.B says:

      Wenger is playing him more and more so perhaps he believes he is better than Sagna?

      Yes nobody likes to see people diving for fouls, and yet players like drogba and Gerrard are still lauded as the best in their position.

      I havn’t seen him go down cheaply for sometime.

  17. mel$ says:

    I have never believed that Sagna is a better RB defender than Eboue. Not now and not in the future.

    One pointer to that is that on one on one situations, Sagna backtracks and allowa an opposing winger to get closer access to our 18 yds while Eboue goes in for the challenge.

    Eboue might miss the challenge but it saves us on 2 fronts which otherwise will mean harm in Sagna’s technique.

    1. Sagna backtracking exposes the entire defense to penalties
    2. Sagna exposes us to deflection goals

  18. Gooner from Sydney says:

    Eboue is pure class, the commitment he shows is unbelievable, agree with this article completely

    where the hell is sinbad that twat, within hours of losing to Chelsea (or was it man utd) the shameless loser put up a petition to sack Wenger, now when we’re going good, he keeps his mouth shut, come write an article you pathetic plastic moron

    credit to Curt once again, great article

  19. Odiegooner, 9ja says:

    Spot on Curt. @JACK or Jerk or wateva u name urself. It really shows how clueless n brainless football-wise u are. In support of booing off ur player. Skunt!

  20. wrightydenhenry says:

    Good post would have liked to see
    wins/losses with Eboue and Sagna.
    I agree his has improved this season
    and is reaching his best form as he
    as he matures. Often defenders start
    to peak at 25/26. He’s very
    popular with other players and when he
    plays with Theo their link up play
    makes us much more dangerous. His
    speed is an asset going forward and
    defending and I’d like to see Wenger
    play him him next time against the
    We have two good right full backs
    which gives us excellent options.

  21. Boris Godunov says:

    Fans’ reaction and player treatment depend on that player’s performance. The Great Arse fans were very patient with Eboue when Sagna arrived and Eboue was moved to midfield, but a long string of bellow par shows finally got to the nerves of the faithful. The whole team needed a kick in the ass and he got the worst of it. What I’m trying to say is, a player at this level should have class, result, and prospect on regular basis. Having one good game in eight (as it happens so often with Diaby) is just not good enough. We must have consistent and excelling players to keep the dream alive.

  22. Empress says:

    Blah, Blah, Blah. You lost my interest the moment you started insulting Wenger.

    Eboue is good, but not outstanding.

    • Curt.B says:

      Hey man, thats really nice, thanks for reading my whole article then. You said you stopped reading when I started insulting Wenger, right? Given that I didn’t insult him at any point, you must have read the whole thing!

      Has it come to this, that we can’t even question a managerial decision without being branded a Wenger hater?

      Wake up and smell what your shovelling, mate.

  23. Chris says:

    I feel ashamed that Eboue got that treatment. Wonderful player.

  24. YL says:

    The treatment he got last season was terrible and I hope those fans hang their head in shame – but then again many Gooners seem to prefer to moan about the team than support them when times are bad.

    Wouldn’t go as far as to say Eboue is one of the best in the world – but he is a great team member with some great qualities (shooting not being one of them)! He seems to be great for morale.

    We definately need to keep him as I’m sure he will continue to get better.

    Up the Gooners!

  25. Joe_@** says:

    i always though that eboue should not play as a midfielder because he is a naturally a defender.

    the difference is, sagna is a fullback & eboue is a wingback. this makes a big different & looking at the bright spot, it provided us with plan b.

    no one player should dominate a position. there should be competition. on top of that, players should be played to their strength as situation demands

  26. Dan says:

    His ability was never an issue for me… I hated the way he managed to dive/roll around/feign injury in every match without fail.

    I’d hate Cesc if he did that aswell. I can accept players having bad games (Not a problem with Bentdner on Sat) but if I know a players is constantly intentionally doing what Eboue did for a 2 year period, I’m going to dislike him. It’s got nothing to do with performances or talent.

    I just hope he doesn’t start doing it again cos he’s playing really well.

    Any Arsenal fan would admit that his major weakness (other than his at times lax defending) is his propensity to collapse with nobody near him then hold his knee. It was embarrassing but he’s always been a very good attacking fullback with more ability than 99% of the worlds fullbacks.

  27. Mean Lean says:

    Curt B,

    My first comment was not directed at you, not at all.

    I just feel very annoyed with some so called Gooners spouting their vile crap all over the internet.

    Eboue has been in fine form this season and I am loving his passion and attitude.

  28. aravindvr says:

    on his day he da best….
    hes far better thn Sagna in my opinion….
    If we had not signed Sagna, by bow Eboue cud hav got more games and cud have become the best RB in da world….
    in modern day football its not abt defence only…only an attaking player shud play in the flanks…we r not playing schoolboy soccer with four CBs…
    Sagna is more of a CB thn a winger/RB…
    Eboue’s defending is not at all tht bad…
    I am happy tht hes still with us n performing,,,
    Those who booed n criticized manu can start eating thier words now…

  29. Curt.B says:

    People are commenting that I’m disrespecting Wenger. I don’t feel this way; I think Wenger is fantastic manager and does great things for us.

    I respect that he changed the position of Henry to striker and he became truly great. However, I don’t believe this means he is unaccountable for the decisio to try and play Eboue in midfield. Doing something like that does not void a manager’s ability, nor does my commenting on it void my faith in him.

    How can some not see this? You can be a great fan of Arsenal, but its the extremists, those Wenger-Out fans AND the Wenger knows fans that are most taxing on the club, and especially, us reasonable fans in the middle.

  30. ritesh says:


    Respect dudes!

  31. GunnerX says:

    Contrary to popular belief, I am of the opinion that Eboue has improved his all round game as a direct result of being played in midfield. He seems to be much more of an attacking right back than Sagna, but mabe not as effective when asked to defend. Though for me, attack is a valid form of defense, hence whilst Eboue’s up front tearing up the opposition, he obviously giving our defense a break.

  32. ritesh says:

    Wenger did come out in his defence many times when fans were on his back

    People felt that Eboue was preventing the good citizen Walcott from playing which is why he was being booed which ultimately resulted in that incident.

    Once Walcott puts in a few decent shifts, Eboue will be in the same situation again.

    I would understand if he left for another club.

  33. johnpt says:

    I like eboue . He is a talented and skillful player that we must keep. I hope wenger does not sell him . We need players like him in our squad. The players like him and the public admire his skills. It is a pity he was booed as sometimes the mob takes over even though it is distasteful to the public in general. He is coming of age and it will be a wasteful if he lands at rio madrid as he is class player

  34. MistaKen says:

    Eboue should not be sold because he is a good squad player. He is not as skillful though as Diaby, Nasri, Risiky Sesc etc. Still needs to learn when to release the ball to avoid running into traffic.

    • Curt.B says:

      Eboue’s skill on the ball isequal to all those players, relative to his position, which is rb and thus not expected to be the same as an attacking midfielder like rosicky.

  35. ASHGOON says:

    do people have such short memories? sorry, but the reason sagna was drafted in was because eboue over the course of 06/07 started making some major defensive cockups, not unlike clichy this yr. it was pretty obvious to most that rb was a weak link for us because of this, and i remember many gooners happy that sagna was bought, even though no-one knew him, because what it meant was that wenger saw what alot of others had, that eboue was proving to be a liability defensively. i think a 433 suits him, as it allows midfield cover, so maybe its time to reassess the sagna/eboue debate, but people need to stop going overboard on his recent performances – sagna (imho) is without doubt better defensively. but maybe we need to weigh up whether what he now brings to the table in our new formation is worth more than sagna’s qualities.

  36. Vishnu says:

    Eboue….let’s not forget him…it was with him as a right back, we had the best ever defensive record in UCL and we were in the final at that year…. he must be played as a right back… his pace clicks when he got the space overlapping from the back but not as a midfielder… 🙂

  37. Søren says:

    Excellent article Curt B. – I’ve loved Eboue ever since the 05-06 season and it’s nice to see him turn his game around after the pathetic abuse he received.
    On to the sagna eboue discussion. I think we should just be lucky to have both. Sagna is defensively the best rightback (insert Clarkson pause) in the world, where as only a select few (the ones you mentioned) can boast the same attacking capabilities.
    I find the team selection (at least the right side of the team) should be based upon who’s playing on the right flank/wing. For instance walcott seems to play signifcantly better with eboue than sagna.
    Having both sagna and eboue gives wenger so many options which aren’t lessened considering eboue’s versatility.

  38. ken says:

    after watching Eboue v Hull it was reassuringly scary to see him play rubbish again

    • Curt.B says:

      …. when played out of position at right mid.

      Get him back to RB, that game was tailor made for him and Walcott to start down the right, not Sagna.

      I feel sorry for him, and you could clearly see he was pissed at not getting to play RB when he came off.

  39. Deano says:

    Fantastic work, Curt. Quality in-depth stuff that’s superbly written. Best I’ve ever seen on this blog by some way.

  40. pete smith says:

    Big fan of eboue. He was boo-ed against wigan as the fans were taking their fustration with the team’s performance out on him. it was wrong…simple as.

    the diving i think has got better but is still a tad annoying. otherwise, he is quality, and one of the few players in our team willing to just run at players.

  41. King Malta says:

    WONDERFUL blog curt, absolutely fantastic.

    as you would already be aware mate, I agree with you on this subject 100%!

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