You might not be interested in squad numbers, but Daniel Storey is a massive nerd and cares about stuff like this. Which notable numbers are missing at the time of writing?
Arsenal’s No. 1
Manuel Almunia had it for five years and Wojciech Szczesny for three, but since the Pole went on loan to Roma nobody has worn the No. 1 shirt for Arsenal, as made famous by Pat Jennings and David Seaman. With Szczesny sold to Juventus and Arsene Wenger happy to rely on Petr Cech (33), David Ospina (13) and Emiliano Martinez (26), it’s unlikely to be filled any time soon. Which saddens me.
Chelsea’s Nos. 5, 6 and 8
Last year Chelsea’s No. 9 was free, but Alvaro Morata has followed such luminaries as Falcao, Franco di Santo, Steve Sidwell, Khalid Boulahrouz, Chris Sutton and Mark Stein in taking that shirt. Instead it’s one in and two out, with Kurt Zouma and Nathan Ake vacating their 5 and 6 on temporary and permanent bases respectively. With Oscar’s old No. 8 shirt also free, Chelsea are sticking two fingers up at football traditionalists. Take that, the past!
Tottenham’s Nos. 2, 6 and 8
How quickly things change. On August 29, 2015, a Tottenham line-up containing Kyle Walker, Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason wearing Nos. 2, 6 and 8 drew 0-0 against Everton to drop to 15th in the Premier League; they were winless. Spurs would eventually finish third, Bentaleb went to Schalke, Mason moved to Hull City and Kyle Walker was destined to crawl on his belly for all eternity by agitating for a move to Manchester City.
Manchester United’s No. 7 and 10
Two iconic squad numbers, and nothing to show for them. Manchester United’s No. 7 may have been home to Cristiano Ronaldo, George Best, Bryan Robson and David Beckham, but it has been a hostage to fortune in recent years. It nearly broke Antonio Valencia and did the full job on Memphis Depay and Angel di Maria’s United careers. The No. 10 is a little easier to explain: Wayne Rooney had it for yonks but then got a bit pappy round the edges and so left for Everton.
Liverpool’s No. 8
How do you replace a man like Steven Gerrard? It would be no surprise if Liverpool chose to retire their captain’s old shirt, but no official announcement was ever made and the number still lies vacant. Georginio Wijnaldum opted for the No. 5 shirt, but it would be interesting to see what would happen should Liverpool sign both Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita. One takes No. 4, but the other?
Manchester City’s No. 9
Typical bloody Pep Guardiola. He plays midfielders as full-backs and makes people talk about trequartistas and fantasistas on social media as if they are entire sports to themselves, so of course he doesn’t have a No. 9. Wouldn’t surprise us if he goes leftfield with his squad numbers and picks one of the dugouts or the concept of irony as his No. 9. Or Gabriel Jesus.
Southampton’s No. 9
Not a very interesting one to finish on, is it? Au contraire. Let me present you with a list of Southampton’s five No. 9s prior to Jay Rodriguez (who vacated it this summer): Lee Barnard, Grzegorz Raziak, N’Diaye Papa Waigo, Peter Madsen and Brett Ormerod. It is an absolutely sensational rundown of who’s not.