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Well hello again. How nervous are you today? Match days are remarkable for the different feelings they provoke depending on such things as form and confidence. Are you going to the ground, praying to find a half-decent stream, or living somewhere that you will get a live broadcast of the game? Are you cursing because your lucky pants are still in the wash after the Standard Liege game ten days ago? (If so it is your grundies bloody fault!)

I’m sure Stoke fans will understand if I say that this is a game that, under normal circumstances, would not have us questioning if, but by how many goals will we win this afternoon? Normal circumstances however do not include three consecutive domestic defeats, with no goals scored and seven conceded. The little voices are chipping away at us again.

A much-respected friend who has been travelling home and away with this club for more years than he would care to admit talks of the ‘tippy-tappy’ football he is currently witnessing. This is not a recent convert, a young man derided as a ‘plastic’, or indeed one of the moaners of life. Those who have read me elsewhere will know that I do not share his pessimism about this squad, but his viewpoint is helping me to be a little more understanding of those who do not share my admittedly optimistic outlook.

If my view of all things Arsenal is to prevail this season we need to be putting points on the board in December. Home games against Stoke, Hull, and Villa, should yield a team with title aspirations no less than seven points, and if three aren’t secured against the Potters we can expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The whole season now revolves around solving the problem of replacing the goals, and physical attributes, of Robin van Persie until the squad can be strengthened in January. Arsene Wenger acknowledged as much yesterday.

“There is always a little period of re-adaptation when such an important player is missing. A team needs to find a new balance. During this period sometimes you pay for it, but we have no choice. I believe we have enough quality to live with that, and we have a good opportunity to show that in the coming games.”

Hopefully in days rather than weeks we will have Nicklas Bendtner back, but to rely on him to retain both form and fitness for six months is too much to expect, probably. Le Boss was quick to rule out any move for Edin Dzeko or Mario Balotelli in January, and probably discounted Marouane Chamakh as well, given that les Girondins have progressed to the knock-out phase of the Champions League.

“Let’s not dream too much. In January you need to find a world-class player, who has not played in the Champions League, so we need a very good Christmas.”

Of course there are existing solutions that perhaps we are too quick to rule out. Eduardo and Vela have proven to be predatory goalscorers in the past. Indeed both before, and since, his horrific injury at Birmingham, we have seen Eduardo spoken of as ‘the best finisher at the club’. I expect him to be given the nod today to rediscover that touch that has so deserted him in recent weeks.

Last night I was hopeful that we may see an all-out attacking supporting cast of Rosicky, Nasri, Fabregas, and Arshavin, providing the bullets for him, until I watched Nigel Winterburn on ATvO hinting that Emmanuel Eboue was in line for a start, and suggesting perhaps another surprise. Whoever we get to see, I am confident that the points will be secured. Come on Arsenal!

An Update From Barcelona

The break didn’t start well. Apparently blogs twisted his ankle at the airport and, unable to locate any horse placenta, persuaded a local vet to inject him with some ass’ jizz, or at least I think that is what was said. The line wasn’t the best in all honesty.

Apparently a romantic evening at Don Tapas is planned tonight. I am reliably informed that blogger has quickly remastered his five words of Spanish, although Mrs Blogs is still required to order the mojitos.

Hola, dos cervezas por favor.

I’m glad you are both having a great time. Just so you are prepared reports from home suggest the party is still in full swing. The Garda are keeping a respectful distance but watching developments closely.  A trained negotiator earned the release of the arseblog basset hound who was placed with your local electrician. To be fair it is the local electrician’s faithful partner who is doing the looking after, as the aforementioned sparkie has also not been seen since last night. Press helicopters are doing a good job covering the ongoing events.

Cheers all. Please pray, if only for my benefit, that we give this lot a convincing beating today.