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Hello all, and welcome to the not unsurprising news that our spiritual leader has succumbed to the lure of Barcelona. Not entirely surprising, given his previous with the city. It was only a matter of time before he answered the call. I expect his Friday night will be spent chatting to the Barcelona players in their favourite restaurant come nightclub, CDLC. Still, enough of Puff Paddy, this is an Arsenal blog and there is news to catch up with.

However much I would like to leave the past where it belongs, there is no getting away from the manufactured hullaballoo about that non-handshake. I have to say I was critical of both managers in the moments that followed the game on Wednesday, but my attitude towards Mark Hughes part in escalating the incident is hardening. Thank goodness, in a veritable media sea of vitriol and bullshit, Amy Lawrence came to the rescue of those seeking some perspective.

One of those quick to offer his opinion was not surprisingly Tony Pulis, manager of Stoke City, who must be dreaming of being the next student of the ‘Phil Brown academy in deflecting attention from your own shortcomings as a shit manager’ to be snubbed by Arsene, really or otherwise, on Saturday.

More on that contest tomorrow, obviously, but the early news from Arsene’s Thursday interview made for some mixed emotions as usual. Bacary Sagna should be fit to return, but Theo Walcott has ‘gone in the fetlock’ again, and as we all know Alexandre Song is suspended. Arsene was clearly not talking about Nicklas Bendtner and Abou Diaby’s most missed attribute when he added,

As for the other players we had injured, the long-term ones I do not even speak about. But the players who looked to be shorter – like Clichy, Diaby and Bendtner – will not be available.

Short they most definitely are not, boss, and we are missing them because of that. I suspect the Friday press conference will reveal more, but we will just have to wait for that.

The transfer speculation, increasing almost hourly it would seem as January edges ever closer, included the forgotten man of the Grove, Philippe Senderos. The Times put his wish to pursue regular football in relation to the upcoming World Cup, which makes sense. I’m not aware though exactly where the rumours of Atletico Madrid’s interest originated. Always question what you read, even in the Times!

Now, those of you who religiously turn up on a Friday looking for the always excellent arsecast are three days too late this week. Try popping back to Tuesday’s post if you are desperate for your fix. I must confess I am a bit peeved. When blogger asked if I could look after the blog as a last resort, what with Tom being away as well, I immediately got to work on a Friday podcast.

Well aware I would have to top Dara O’Briain as a guest, I managed to get in touch with Orlando Bloom. It was surprisingly easy given that his number (and Latin name, oddly) appeared in the yearbook of the Florida Horticultural Society. He visibly wilted when I passed on the news that blogger was pulling the plug on my ‘cast. Orlando, I trust you have been able to stem your disappointment at being hung out to dry like that?

Anyway, if you were hoping to be the winner of the competition to win a Savile Rogue scarf, the man says come back next week, and he’ll throw in a lace handkerchief as well as interest on the late award, (and remember, if you’re doing Chrimbo shopping you can get 10% off purchases at Savile Rogue by using the code ARSEBLOG at check out before Dec 6th).

So that is it. Have a great long weekend, arseblogger, and when you get round to reading this would you remind me about the arseblog basset hound’s strict dietary regime. I think I may have got the order wrong already. I’m sure the smell will have left the east wing of the kitchen before you get back.