In the past, we’ve looked at Arsenal’s experiment at the end of 1993-94, opting to go 1-11 with names on shirts rather than using squad numbers.
That didn’t last too long and, apart from that, the only time we’re aware of that they had the ‘first 11’ on the field in the squad numbers era was late in a 0-0 draw with Oldham Athletic earlier in 93-94 – they started with 10 of the right numbers and Kevin Campbell (7) came on for David Hillier (18).
Since then, the possibility has been remote, with the closest occasion being against Fiorentina in the 1999-2000 Champions League.
As you can see, Arsenal began the game with three numbers over 11, and the three subs who came on were number 7 (Nelson Vivas – a full-back whose arrival looked to have scuppered any 1-11 hopes), 8 and 9.
Fredrik Ljungberg was first on, for Ray Parlour and Vivas replaced Emmanuel Petit, possibly the only time he played in midfield. It meant that, on the field, Arsenal were now 2-5-6-3; 8-7-4-11; 25-10.
With the game remaining goalless, Brian Moore (we’re fairly sure it was him) brought the news that Davor Suker was warming up (strange to think now that Thierry Henry was kept on the bench, but he was in the very early stages of being repackaged from a winger to a striker).
The teams were level on five points each, so a draw would have been a blow but not terminal as there was still one game to go in the group, with Arsenal travelling to AIK and Fiorentina at home to Barcelona. A straight swap with Nwankwo Kanu seemed likeliest.
Instead, Lee Dixon was withdrawn, Arsene Wenger played 3-4-3 for the first (and only, until spring 2017) time in his Arsenal career. Two minutes later, Gabriel Batistuta scored, and Arsenal would not make it to the second group stage.