ARSENAL – Kaba Diawara

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might see Dennis Bergkamp’s FA Cup semi-final penalty miss as the point Arsenal’s Double became Manchester United’s Treble in 1999, but the sliding doors moment arguably came even later.

The two sides were separated by goal difference heading into the final two games of the Premier League season, and both faced difficult fixtures. United had to travel to Blackburn and host Tottenham, while Arsenal visited Leeds and took on Aston Villa at Highbury.

Arsenal blinked first. They were beaten 1-0 by Leeds 24 hours before United drew 0-0 at Ewood Park, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink netting the goal that effectively crowned United champions.

But the game will always be remembered for the inexplicable profligacy of crossbar challenge champion Kaba Diawara, who was thwarted by woodwork and Nigel Martyn about four times in a 19-minute substitute cameo.

The striker had joined that January for £2.5m, and was billed by Arsene Wenger as the next Nicolas Anelka. Fifteen games, no goals and 123 days after moving to north London, he was loaned back out to France and never played for the Gunners again. He was not the next Nicolas Anelka.

ASTON VILLA – Jean Makoun

“He has played in the Champions League. He’ll be a good asset for the future,” said Gerard Houllier when he paid a not-inconsiderable £6.2m for his old Lyon man Jean Makoun in 2011. He was not a good asset for the future. A month later he was sent off for a lunge on Blackpool’s DJ Campbell and things never really got any better, with the Cameroonian eventually playing just eight league games for Villa before leaving for Olympiakos on loan and then Rennes on a permanent deal after new Villa manager Paul Lambert said he “had not got a clue what he (Makoun) looks like”. continue reading

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