Oooooh, I had a bit of a lie in this morning. Well needed too. However, I was woken by a basset hound hanging for a piss and we’ve been off around the park already.
We’ve actually got a game tomorrow, doesn’t it seem like ages ago when we won the league at White Hart Lane? Not sure if it’s on the TV or not though, anyone? Ahead of the game Arsene Wenger has reassured Jens Lehmann that his Highbury future is secure, saying “He is my No 1, 100 per cent. He has had an outstanding championship. I am not looking for another goalkeeper. He doesn't get the credit he deserves."
Which in many respects is true. As I said the other day he’s part of the meanest defence in the league, and I challenge any goalkeeper to play the same amount of games Jens has without the odd mistake. Yes, he needs to work on his behaviour a little bit, but he seems to be popular within the squad and I’d be happy with him in nets next season.
Sol Campbell has said there’s no chance of Arsenal slacking off now that the league has been won at White Hart Lane. The big man wants to part of a team which goes the whole season unbeaten, and he says “It would be fantastic to go through the league season unbeaten. We've just got to keep it going and keep focused. There are four games to go but there's still more to come from us."
According to The Sun Freddie is on his way out of Arsenal, with Juventus interested in him and prepared to offer David Trezeguet in part exchange. This season he’s picked up knocks left, right and centre and hasn’t been at the top of his game, but he’s still scored 9 or 10 goals before you forget, and his contribution to the ‘02 Double was outstanding. He’s a big game player who would be difficult to replace, in my opinion.
Bergkamp on Van Persie:“Technically he's very good and although he's played a lot on the left I think he wants a role that gives him more freedom. It's up to us to find out what he can do. I'll help him in my own way and tell him about our movement and runs in the attacking half, and what is expected in the defensive half.”
Right, there’s not much else going on at this stage. What are you up this weekend, then?
So as predicted yesterday Arsenal signed Dutch ‘starlet’ Robin van Persie (am I the only one who immediately thinks of adding ‘Thrower’ to the end of his name?), who does come with a bit of a bad boy reputation. We’re not quite sure where he’s going to play as according to the boss he can play left or right wing, or as a target man style striker. AW was pleased with his latest left-footed purchase though, saying “Robin is a great young talent and a fantastic signing for the club. He has shown great potential at both club and under-21 international level and will help strengthen our squad considerably.”
He’ll join the club officially once the transfer window opens at the end of May, and he’ll meet his new team-mates for pre-season training in July. And one of his new team-mates might be Anti Niemi, according to the Daily Record. There’s lots of talk about how we’re looking to bring in a new keeper and that AW is not entirely happy with Jens Lehmann. That said, we’ve gone most of the league season unbeaten and he’s conceded the fewest goals of any keeper in the Premiership. He’s also been available for every game this season, although he did pull out of last night’s Germany game with back injury. To my mind he’s probably as good as any other keeper in the league, there is no outstanding talent, but his temperament is a bit suspect. He seems like an intelligent guy, you just wonder why he has these flashes of lunacy. I imagine that if he is being replaced in the summer it’s more to do with that than his goalkeeping ability.
Anyway, I think silly season is well and truly upon us, despite the fact the normal season hasn’t ended yet. How else do you explain us being linked with Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and John Terry in the last few days? I did laugh when I read Gerard Houllier’s latest tactic when it comes to hanging onto his job. The Liverpool boss says this about any Gerrard transfer “You would have to cut off my arms before I let go of him because I would have them both wrapped around him.” A bit like the small boy clinging to leg of the couch because he wants to stay up and watch more TV. Desperate.
Not much else going o this morning. It's pretty miserable weather wise here. Hurry up you stupid summer.....
Let’s move away from Arsenal for a little bit, and talk about one of things that has plagued the game of football for a number of years now. A dirty, nasty boil on the face of our beloved sport that doesn’t appear to be going away. That’s right, it’s Sepp Blatter, whose latest idea is to abolish the draw from the game of football, so that there’s a winner in every game.
Now, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how ridiculous a concept is, but even for a cunt like Blatter it’s taking things a bit too far. The man himself says “Every game should have a winner. A game is about emotions. There is passion. It can be dramatic. At the end of it it's almost always a tragedy. We can't be satisfied with draws.”
Which just shows how far removed he is from what football is about. Draws can be just as emotional as any win. An example, if I may. This season Arsenal played Leicester and were leading 1-0 right up until the final moments. Then Craig Hignett popped up with a late equaliser for the soon to be relegated Foxes and we ended up just taking a single point from the game. Sickening for us, but emotional. Leicester’s fans were ecstatic though, as you’d imagine. I can’t actually remember the last time we got a late, late equaliser, but as sickening as Leicester’s was, and Liverpool’s was in the previous season, scoring a late goal to secure a point is almost as joyous as winning the game. The relief, the lifting of the panic, the way you celebrate those goals is as much a part of football as winning or losing.
Suggesting that draws should be abolished from the game of football is like saying we should get rid of the letter ‘E’ from the alphabet. Pointless, nonsensical and unquestionably could only come from the mind of a total cuntbubble. Is there nobody willing to stand up and tell Blatter what a cock he is? Are the rest of the FIFA bigwigs such sheep that they let their association be embarrassed time and time again by his lunatic ideas and rantings. World Cup every two years? Fuck off. Complain about players playing too many games then organise money spinning summer tournaments for a worthless tin pot trophy which has already cost one player his life? Fuck off. Make the already grey area that is the offside rule even more pointlessly confusing? Fuck the fuck off.
This has got to be the icing on the cake though. He does not have the best interests of the game at heart, and it’s patently obvious he’s trying to make the game more marketable so he can sell the rights of his flagship tournament for more and more money to the TV networks. How long before we hear him talking about the game being broken into 4 quarters so more advertising can be sold, so more money can be made?
“THE NEW SOCCER – EVERY GAME’S A WINNER, THIS FALL ON FOX!!”
I know lots of intelligent people who love football, who love talking about football, whose opinions and ideas would be of far more use to the game than anything this clown has come out with. I both mock him and pour scorn on him, and if I could pour boiling oil instead of regular old scorn, I would. Sadly his mandate as FIFA President runs until 2007, unless football can find its own Lee Harvey Oswald.
Oh, and we've signed Robin van Persil, who will ensure our whites are whiter than white.
It is a bit strange having the league wrapped up with still four games to go, isn’t it?
Lots of Arselinky goodness around this morning, without too much comment from me. Let’s start with El Sol Campbell talking about how he considered quitting football after the death of his father and the flurry of red cards he received, Jose Reyes reckons Arsenal are a better side than Real Madrid, The Independent eulogises Thierry Henry yet reckons Jens Lehmann is a weak link in this Arsenal side (but check out the stats at the bottom of the article where they compare him to David Seaman), Arsenal-Land talk about GoldenWenger (Bond’s latest nemesis), Dennis Bergkamp reckons Arsenal are miles ahead of United and Chelsea and is looking for a new contract, while Martin Keown will look to be involved as much as possible in our last 4 league games otherwise he won’t get a medal.
Looking forward to next season, The Sun reckons we're after John Terry and Steven Gerrard, while Europe is the final frontier for this Arsenal side with Patrick Vieira saying “The Champions' League is a target for us. It is the same for every one of us here because no one has won that competition.”
So the boys have a bit of a rest before Saturday’s game against Brum. I suspect we’ll see a few changes in the side as some of them get a rest after their recent exertions. Maybe we’ll see Reyes start and Philippe Senderos could possibly make his full Arsenal debut before the end of the season.
On another note, you might remember the boiler saga from earlier this season. Well, on Saturday the fucking thing packed up again. We had no hot water and had to have cold showers all weekend long. Yesterday morning I rang the boiler repair people and kicked up such a stink they’re sending somebody out today (it normally takes at least three days, I’m very proud of myself really) to take a look. Yesterday afternoon I just said I’d give it an old fashioned whacking, like you used to do with old TVs, and what do you know, the thing started working again. Huzzah. Naturally, I haven’t told the boiler people...
If you go back to last August on Arseblog I made some predictions about the coming season. Without wishing to blow my own trumpet (that pesky extra rib puts paid to that anyway), I’m kind of chuffed that my prediction that Arsenal would finish first in the league came true.
It’s quite obviously my predictive power that has made the boys so hard to beat this season. I also said this “Arsenal player of the season : Kolo Toure for becoming the world's finest centre-half in one season.”
And that came true too. Apart from Thierry Henry (who retained his PFA Player of the Year title) and his magical scoring boots, Kolo has been quite the revelation and is without question the finest centre-half in the world. And not just because I say so, oh no.
I also said this, “1st manager to get the boot: Glenn Hoddle. He bought 3 strikers while seeming to forget his midfield and defence were worse at football than a group of blind, crippled, thalidomide, hunchback midgets. Adios Glenn .”
And by the christ that came true too. This week I predict I’m going to win the lottery, my wife’s book is going to sell thousands of copies when it’s released this week, and that Phil Collins will remain a talentless, bald cunt.
So now I’ve got all that prediction nonsense out of the way, let’s talk about the team. I can remember a stage earlier in the season when a lot of people thought we were chucking away points when we drew with the likes of Fulham and Leicester and some other cunts. I was of the opinion at that stage that these were the kind of games we’d lost in previous seasons, and it made me very positive about the season ahead. There seemed to be a more solid feel to the team, even if we did make life a bit difficult for ourselves sometimes.
34 games into the season we haven’t lost, we’re champions, we’ve seen the emergence of quality young players like Gael Clichy and Kolo Toure, and while the two cup exits were disappointing, I still maintain it was the opposition that made those knock-outs more painful than they actually were. Obviously you might look at this season’s Champions League as probably the best chance we’ve had of winning it so far, but the fact that the teams in it aren’t Europe’s elite doesn’t mean it would have been a walkover. Ask Real Madrid and Milan about how easy it is to beat Deportivo and Monaco. This is a young squad though, our time will come.
For me, the most important prize each season is winning the league. It’s beating the teams I hate and have hated for years. It’s about the banter with my mates who support Liverpool, United, Spurs and all the others. This season we’ve been privileged to see the best football I’ve ever seen an English club side play. We’ve got great players, a great manager, and even a board that’s got vision and didn’t hock the club’s future to raise money for signings when some fans were crying out for them. We’ve got the best player in the world, loads of great kids coming through, we’ve won the league, reached the semi final of the FA Cup, the semi final of the Carling Cup and the quarter finals of the Champions League with a squad of players that were being written off by the ‘experts’ at the start of the season.
They deserve our respect and admiration and support. I’m proud to be an Arsenal fan, and I’d like to say thanks to all the players and the manager for all the pleasure and enjoyment they’ve brought me this season.
Have an e-pint on me, boys. Cheers.
Sp*rs 2-2 Arsenal (Vieira, Pires)
Well done boys, you've been fuckin' excellent all season. A well deserved title.
We won the league, at White Hart Lane, we won the league at White Hart Lane....
Champions, Champions, Champions....
Good god, drinking all afternoon in the sunshine can produce some of the most hangovery hangovers of all time.
With that in mind this morning’s blog will be short and to the point. According to today’s News of the World we’ve signed Robin van Persie for £4m, and AW is ‘desperate’ to bring in ...erm...Fabian Barthez. The first one certainly has a ring of truth to it, but I just can’t see Le Baldy in our goal.
That aside there seems to be little to report. United lost to Liverpool yesterday, so Newcastle know they’ve got to beat Chelsea to keep the race for 4th place alive. If that happens and we beat Spurs....well, there’s a bottle of Cava in the fridge, just in case. Unless I drank it last night, of course.
I do so love working on a Saturday morning. Honestly, there’s nothing better than getting out of bed at the weekend and going to the school to teach two two-hour classes. It’s relaxing, fun, enjoyable and certainly beats a game of golf or playing football or any of those other silly pastimes people fill their weekends with.
Arsene Wenger agrees with me, saying “Working at the weekend is just a load of old cheesey shite really.”
Well, he didn’t say that at all. But he did say something about tomorrow’s game with Spurs. There’s a feeling among many people that Arsenal just have to turn up to win, but the boss is warning against complacency. He says “There is something at stake for both teams. Tottenham are not completely safe although they are 90 percent. But in their mind, they don't feel safe. It is difficult to predict. Whenever I have been to White Hart Lane it has never been a stroll. They always raise their game really well at White Hart Lane."
True words. Obviously on current form we’re miles ahead of them, and the fact they’re so far down the table just highlights the gulf between the two teams. But often in derby games this isn’t really a big factor. They’re nearly always tight games, and the only thing Spurs’ can give to their fans this season is a win against Arsenal. They’ll be really up for it. That said, we’ve had 9 days since the last game, the batteries have been recharged, and if all goes well, we could clinch the title at White Hart Lane.
Graham Taylor makes an interesting point about the quality of the Premiership, very much so. James Lawton reaffirms his status as most bitter journo in the land, making stuff up to suit himself as always, while there’s another Indo piece about how consistency in the squad has been good for the Gunners this season. Thierry Henry says Ruud van Nistelrooy's penalty miss was a definisning moment in Arsenal's season, while Arsene Wenger says we won't gloat if we do win the league on Sunday. Could it be Shaun of the Dad, a WWW return to Arsenal?
Check out the audio clip of Ron Atkinson calling Marcel Desailly names.
Anyway, it’s short and sweet this morning. I’m off to have fun at work.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to have a son who, despite all your best efforts, just grew up wrong? Maybe they get involved with drugs, petty crime, vandalism, drinking cans of Scrumpy and biffing old ladies in the park, glue sniffing, graffiti, joyriding or god forbid, being a Spurs fan?
Well, the trials and tribulations of one such devastated family have been captured in classic photo casebook style by Arseblog forumer Robert Builder, whose series ‘Nicky’s a Lily White Cunt’ expertly captures the fear and horror of any Arsenal supporting parent with a scummer for a son. Enjoy.
Day 1 – Day 2 – Day 3 – Day 4 – Day 5 – Day 6
Of course it is possible that we could win the league at WHL on Sunday, provided Chelsea don’t pick up all three points against Newcastle earlier in the day. It would mean a second league title clinched at their ground, as we did the same thing in 1971. There’s a nice piece in the Telegraph from someone who was there that night to see it all happen.
There's a bit of team news around and it's good news as everyone is fit, except Pascal Cygan. Freddie Ljungberg and Ashley Cole are both back in the squad and could start, while Gilberto doesn't want Sunday's game to be 'a war' as he reckons Arsenal should just concentrate on playing our game game and rise above any provocation.
The sun is shining here again for St Jordi's Day (or St.George as you Englanders know him). Watch out for them dragons.
As yesterday there’s little or no Arsenal news this morning.
The biggest football story around is the resignation of Ron Atkinson from ITV’s football coverage team. He fell on his sword after viewers in the Middle-East heard him call Chelsea’s Marcel Desailly a “lazy fucking nigger” after his microphone had been left on after the match had ended. Despite spending hours on a sunbed to make his skin darker, and sporting a clutch of bling-bling jewellery, Big Ronny Ron Ron was unable to convince anyone he was just ‘dissing one of the brothers'. The stupid white cunt.
Yesterday saw Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez, kick-start his summer transfer dealings by categorically ruling out a move for his top target. Like he did with Ronaldo, and Beckham this time last year, he said that Real Madrid were not at all interested in Thierry Henry. Do we believe him? My arse. Of course he wants Henry. Madrid want him, Milan want him, Barcelona want him, Juventus want him, Man United want him, Scunthorpe United want him...you get the picture. Perez is fooling nobody, least of all Arsene Wenger who knows exactly the dirty tricks Madrid pull to get their man. Except he’s not their man, he’s our man, he loves Arsenal and he’s not going anywhere. And if I could offer one piece of advice to the Madrid President as he anxiously seeks re-election it would be to spend some money on your defence and shut the fuck up about Thierry Henry. You stinking shitepipe.
Ahead of Sunday’s game at White Hart Lane, Spurs fans formed a mass protest to show how much they all care about the way their club is being run. This exclusive picture shows just how badly the Spurs fans feel and how much they all care.
Not much else going on at this stage. It looks like it's going to piss down here this morning, which as I have to go to teach a class in about an hour, is fucking typical.
“10 men went to laugh, went to laugh at Chelsea...”
It’s only Wednesday and we don’t play until Sunday, so as you can imagine the news is in fairly short supply this morning.
Newcastle Chairman and pillar of the community Freddie Shepherd says that Arsenal can’t have Jonathan Woodgate (convicted lout) unless we give them Vieira, Henry and some cash. Vieira and Henry, Shepherd and Woodgate. It really is true when they talk about birds of a feather, eh?
And that’s kind of about it. Once again I’ve reached a point where I wish I’d kept an amusing story or two in reserve for days like this. At least there’s Euro2004 this summer, which does remind me of a story, ackshally. I was watching Soccer AM last Saturday and they do this feature where they interview a player/manager called ‘Things I know about football’. Each little bit begins with them saying stuff like:
“I know that this team can blah blah blah” or “I know that my favourite player is blah blah blah”.
As you can imagine they haven’t had old Ged Houllier on it as they need to fill more than 3.5 seconds. Still, they did have that low-browed Scouser Steven Gerrard on. One of his segments was “I know dis England team can do well at Euro2000, la.”
I happen to know that Euro2000 was over some 45 months ago. The daft twat.
In other exciting Arsenal news it seems that Lauren is set to return to the Cameroonian fold after announcing his retirement a couple of seasons. He’s going to have his work cut out to keep ahead of the likes of Hoyte and most probably Touré next season. What better way to do it than to stay match fit with some International games?
A question to get you arsing this morning: If you could have one Arsenal player from days of yore in today’s team, who would it be? Me, I’d go for Liamo alongside Paddy in midfield.
What’s the difference between Arsenal and Tottenham?
No, it’s not a joke, and I’ll ask you to leave aside the fact that we have great players, a great manager, play great football, aren’t on the brink of a relegation battle, set out every season to win something and obviously aren’t complete and utter cunnys like the Spuds.
The thing is that people were saying Arsenal’s season might not be considered a success because we got knocked out of the Champions League and the FA Cup by Chelsea and Man United respectively. Imagine what they’d say about Spurs when their captain Jamie Redknapp illustrates the gulf in class and ambition when talking about Sunday’s match with Arsenal. He says “Maybe stopping them winning the title at White Hart Lane will give something back to our fans for the season we've had.”
So the best Spurs can hope for this season is delaying us winning the league for a while. Anyway, in order for us to win the league at WHL, Newcastle have to take points off Chelsea earlier the day. So the best we can hope for is Chelsea to give it loads during their 6-0 defeat to Monaco tonight, be knackered for their game on Sunday and concede a last minute equaliser, while later in the day Arsenal hammer Spurs 5-0 with all the goals coming from Sol Campbell overhead kicks...from inside his own half. Unlikely, but football is a funny game.
It really does speak volumes for how desperate the situation is at Spurs if that’s the best they can do this season though. Not that I mind, of course, especially when you read this interesting piece on Arsenal Land about what winning the title this season means.
In other news Jermaine Pennant is staying at Leeds until the end of the season, while another misfit, Francis Jeffers insists he wants to stay at Everton despite his recent bust-up with David Moyes. Ol’ juggy says "It has been difficult since I came back, but I knew that I wanted to earn a contract and that's why I came back.”
I suspect actually scoring some goals might be a better way to earn a contract than throwing a girly strop over his manager’s team selection. Hopefully someone will pick him up the summer and we can earn a few quid back on what has to be AW’s biggest ever transfer mistake. There's a very good interview with Dennis Bergkamp in the Guardian, and that's about the size of it for this morning.
So I’m back.
Managed to catch both games while I was away. Newcastle was a pretty dour draw, but a decent point, especially when Chelsea’s Easter Monday result came through.
Leeds was just awesome. I watched it in the pub, surrounded by Pool, Villa, Spurs and United fans, and they were all gracious enough to acknowledge how good we, and four goal Thierry, were.
As well as that I’ve discovered that Arsenal are not the most important thing in the world. They make me very happy and when things go well and we win stuff it’s a great feeling. However, when we lose it’s not the end of the world, and no loss, no matter how late in the game it comes, how Sheringham the goalscorer is, or anything else, will ever be as painful as the week I’ve just had.
Bill Shankley can shove his famous old quote up his fucking arse. If he hadn’t already settled the matter of life and death, that is.
Anyway, it’s good to be back. How are you lot then?
Some shiny new arses to play with.
Arsenal did the business yesterday, Thierry Henry silencing the doubters (you have to wonder what it was about his previous 31 goals this season that had them that way to begin with) with a stunning hat-trick, and another goal from Robert Pires (17 so far this season for him) added up to a 4-2 Arsenal win.
A nice way to put the disheartening defeats against United and Chelsea behind us. It’s Newcastle next up on Sunday, and it’s hard to see how much the boss can change the team around. Gilberto came in yesterday and did well, and while the common consensus was that Henry would only play one game over the Easter weekend, how do you drop/rest him after his performance yesterday?
Yesterday showed the spirit and togetherness in the squad. They worked so hard, Vieira put in a real captain’s performance, they got there through sheer determination. Hats off to them and the crowd at Highbury who sang and supported and I’m sure that made a difference to the players. Proper Arsenal stuff.
There’s no doubt the squad are feeling the pinch of all these games in such a short space of time. Thierry said afterwards "I don't know how we produced that second half and I don't know how we're going to play at Newcastle on Sunday because we're exhausted. But we were determined not to give up on our whole season. I'm sure people thought we were gone at half-time but we showed just how much we wanted it."
We’ll wait and see what happens at St James’ Park then, and team selection is the AW’s problem. Maybe the likes of Wiltord, Kanu and Alaidiere might come back, and with Martin Keown getting a few minutes at the end, he might renew acquaintances with Alan Shearer.
On another note this is going to be last arseblog for a little while. Due to some family issues I’ve got to back to Ireland for a week from tomorrow. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll have the time or the inclination to update the site, so fingers crossed everything goes well for Arsenal, for you, and I’ll talk to you when I get back.
So will it be a Good Friday for Arsenal, or will our week go from bad to worse as we get crucified by the Scousers and their wicked leader Pontius Houllier?
Arsene Wenger has called on his weary troops to raise their game and prove that they are the best team in the land. Despite two defeats on the trot by our two biggest rivals, winning the league will prove the Gunners are the best. The boss says “It's very important for us to get back to normal business. We want to come out strong mentally and we shouldn't feel too sorry for ourselves. You don't achieve 30 games unbeaten in the modern game without a special character.”
And we’re going to need all of that character today against a Liverpool side who seem to have found a bit of form. Patrick Vieira has echoed the words of the manager, saying “It hurts that we have lost the two games but now it is all about how we react as a team. We have to recover from this blow. We have to be strong and go for it.”
In team news Thierry Henry could play after it turns out he doesn’t have a hamstring problem after all. Instead he’s suffering from a back strain and he’s currently undergoing extensive treatment and will have a fitness test before the game. There's also some interesting reading about Thierry on ANR and Arsenal Mania, both of whom suggest a conflict between Henry and Reyes, certainly from the Frenchman's side anyway. Not sure I buy that myself, but it's interesting reading nonethless. If he doesn’t make it we could see Bergkamp and Reyes up front. Also in contention again are Gilberto and Wiltord, two players who have had a difficult time from sections of the Highbury crowd over the last little while. Now that the injuries are piling up and the legs are tired we need the full depth of our squad, and these guys are important to us. Give them the same support you’d give any other player, it might be more effective than calling them names, eh?
We’ll say a good morning to some first time visitors I think. To those of you who have found Arseblog for the first time because of our brand-new listing business on NewsNow, welcome along. Now, I’m off for some brekkie and then it’s to the wireless for the radio coverage of the game.
Due to the fact that I spent 6 hours drinking great jugs of beer in ‘La Oveja Negra’ in Barcelona last night, and the fact that I’m kind of ‘written out’ after the last few days, today’s arseblog exists only to provide you with fresh arses to play with.
For Arsenal news, please go here. And please go quietly. Ouch. And *boilk*.
That is all.
So I’m writing this about 90 minutes after the end of the game for publication in the morning. I’ve had a few beers, I’m feeling pretty shite if the truth the be told, and Arsenal are still out of the Champions League. And if there’s anything worse than losing a European 1/4 final to a local rival, it’s losing it in the last couple of minutes when it’s impossible to do anything about it. Sickening, horrible, unreal – but that’s football. You can’t win every game, and we’ve done Chelsea in important games for the last 5 years. They had to win one sometime and unfortunately it was last night.
Obviously I have my own opinions on where we might be able to improve, and more specifically where we might have gone wrong in last night’s game. But, I’m not going to talk about them at the moment. At least not on here. We have forums and arses on this site to do that. People can vent their spleen, share their opinions, regale us with their theories and blind us with the expertise they’ve gained from years of football management.
Ok, the last bit is a bit of a dig, but if the internet has given us anything it’s easy to access porn and the rise of the football expert.
Personally I’m going to keep my opinions to myself for the time-being. We have another huge game on Friday. The manager and the players are now under an enormous amount of pressure. The press are going to have a field day chalking up another defeat (that’s a grand total of 5 this season, I think. Shocking) and labelling us chumps and chokers, but while going out of the CL to Chelsea hurts we’ve still got lots to play for. Maybe we’re suffering from having a small squad, but this is our squad until the end of the season. You can get behind the lads until the league is settled or you can bemoan lost chances, heap more pressure upon them and make it more difficult for them to win anything. We can sit around and feel sorry for ourselves and we’ll get what we deserve. We have to pick ourselves up again and get it together to beat Liverpool on Friday. The Chelsea game is not important anymore. Yes, there are lessons to be learned from it, but the important thing is winning the league now. The players need the fans to believe in them, to get behind them and to support them. Because at the end of the day that’s what we are. We’re supporters. We’re not team management consultants, we’re not tacticians and we’re not training gurus.
I believe this team is good enough to win the league. I believe we’ve got the quality to pick up enough points from now until the end of the season to finish in first place. At the start of the season if you asked me to choose one trophy to win it would always, always be the league. It’s 38 games, we’ve gone 30 without losing so far. If we beat Liverpool and beat Newcastle we’ll be almost there, but it seems that winning the league for some people won’t be enough. Yes, we had a good chance at the Champions League this season, but there’ll be other seasons. And of course if we had gone through we’d have had little more than a walkover against Monaco who only went and beat the part-timers of Madrid. Not only did they beat them, they clawed back a 2 goal deficit against the ‘best team on the planet’. But naturally Arsenal would have easily beaten them in the semi-finals.
We won’t get another chance at winning the league this season. Let’s do what we can to help the lads through what is a bit of a sticky patch for them. It’s the first time we’ve had a spell like this in the season, and how do you think they feel, especially when so many fans are so quick to castigate and criticise? I’m sick and gutted like I am when we lose any big match, but this season is not over yet. Show a little faith.
Come on Arsenal.
The good news to start this morning with is that both Freddie Ljungberg and José Antonio Reyes trained yesterday morning, and while a decision won’t be made as to their inclusion in the side until later today, it’s encouraging to say the least, especially as Reyes was supposed to be out for three weeks.
The boss has laughed off suggestions by the media that Arsenal are now about to crack and are on the slide. Remember, this is the same Arsenal side they were all creaming their pants about a couple of weeks ago. Ignore the press, get behind the team. As the boss says “We have not lost in our last six Champions League games and are unbeaten in 30 in The Premiership.”
The FA Cup game was the first game we’ve lost since October (if you don’t count the Carling Cup). Quite a record for a team on the slide.
Patrick Vieira says “We know how strong we are as a team and we still have our two biggest targets to aim for. This is one of the biggest games that I have played in since I joined the club.”
At stake tonight is a Champions League semi-final against either Real Madrid or Monaco. It’s a chance to put the disappointment of previous European campaigns behind us and show that we can challenge for the big prize. And I’m glad to read on other Arsenal sites people asking for the fans to make noise tonight. If you’re going to Highbury this evening please purchase a packet of Strepsils, gargle with honey and lemon, practice your scales and then sing, shout or scream your head off.
If the players can hear you getting right behind them it’ll give them a lift, maybe it’ll inspire that extra 5% of performance that’s needed to beat Chelsea tonight. Hopefully we won’t need it, I’d prefer if it wasn’t a close match, but who knows? So, I’ll say it one last time – make some noise, even if it's not normal for you. Don't be shy. Get your neighbour singing. Encourage them. Sing the songs. Support.
“Arsene Wenger’s red army.... Arsene Wenger’s red army..... Arsene Wenger’s red army..... Arsene Wenger’s red army.....”
“We simply cannot dwell on this defeat and feel down — we don’t have time. We have to pick ourselves up because we now have a massive game against Chelsea."
Thierry Henry sums it up perfectly. Today might be a bit crap for those of you going back to work with United supporting colleagues, but fuck it. It's over and done with. Let them on with their Cup Final against Milwall, and let's get on with with the games that are going to make our season.
I'm going to say it again, but make Highbury an intimidating place for Chelsea on Tuesday. Not a place full of people still dwelling on Saturday's defeat. When Chelsea have the ball whistle and jeer and remind them what utter, utter cunts they are. When we have the ball cheer the lads, make some noise, encourage them, support them. It will make a difference.
Not much going on this morning really – Arsene Wenger has spoken about Dennis Bergkamp’s contract situation and suggested that a new deal is likely once Dennis accepts the fact he’s not going to be an automatic first choice. I think it’s pretty obvious that the first choice striking duo for next season is going to be Henry and Reyes, but Dennis still has something to offer, and with so many talented young players at the club who could learn a lot from him it’d be a good idea to keep him, in my opinion.
The boss has also had a pop at Demento’s claim that Arsenal would go out of Europe tomorrow night against Chelsea. He said “For a long time we have not listened to what he says.”
He also raised a point that bothered me after seeing Paul Scholes terrible challenge on Reyes. Just before it happened Scholes was in conversation with the United manager, then he took out our young Spaniard with a ‘tackle’ that deserved more than the yellow card he got. AW was obviously very angry at the challenge and the fact that Reyes will be out for at least 3 weeks, but also said “I hope it wasn’t the case from Scholes that he felt he had to stop Reyes because it would be very disappointing.”
More a case of the United manager feeling he had to stop Reyes because he was really causing them problems, Scholes was just the hatchet man. Of course it’s all speculation, but if you asked me to put money on whether or not it was deliberate, I wouldn’t bet against it.
So, injury problems, relatively poor form, out of the FA Cup, the same press that were labelling us the best team football had ever seen a couple of weeks ago are now writing us off, it’s all part and parcel of the rollercoaster ride that is being an Arsenal fan.
We never make it easy for ourselves if we can avoid it.
Having had time to think about yesterday’s game, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s quite possibly the worst thing that’s ever happened to the football club I love so well. Despite not having lost an FA Cup game since the 2001 final, the 1-0 loss to Manchester United is prove positive that the players have no motivation for the FA Cup whatsoever. The manager doesn’t care a jot about this competition, neither does any single member of his staff, and quite frankly they shamed all the fans yesterday with their insipid display. They were a disgrace to the good name of Arsenal Football Club.
Let’s face it, the FA Cup is ours by right. It shouldn’t be allowed that another team can beat us, especially when they only score one goal more than us.
Ok, I can’t keep it up, but judging by some of the OTT reaction yesterday you would swear it was the end of the world. Of course losing an FA Cup semi-final hurts, of course it hurts when defeat comes against our biggest rivals, but as much as winning runs and scoring lots of pretty goals are part of football, so is losing matches. It seems some of our fans have forgotten that. A couple of seasons ago the manager was quoted as saying “When you eat caviar it is hard to go back to sausage.”
Well, maybe yesterday was a taste of sausage for some fans who have only known caviar. What those people need to realise is that we’ve got 3 more huge games coming up in the next week. The Champions League 1/4 final against Chelsea at Highbury, Liverpool at Highbury and Newcastle at St.James’ Park. Three games that will go a long way to determining how successful our season is going to be. With Chelsea cutting the gap in the league to 4 points it’s likely the players are going to be feeling a bit of pressure. What they need now though is the 100% support and backing of the fans. They need to be encouraged, cajoled, praised and most of all supported. They certainly don’t need a silent Highbury when we haven’t scored twice in the first 10 minutes. They need the fans behind them, they need to hear that the fans are behind them, they need to hear the songs and the chants. They need to hear the fans saying “Come on Gilberto” or “Come on Wiltord” (because believe me, we need both those players whether you like it or not, especially as Reyes is out for 3 weeks after Scholes’ hatchet job on him, and Freddie is out with a broken hand), and not “For fucks sake Wiltord you useless cunt.”
This Arsenal team has given us a lot over the last 8 months. They’ve gone through the whole of the league season unbeaten, we got to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup with kids, we got to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, we have a chance to go through to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time after pulling off a quite miraculous sequence of results to get out of the group stages (5-1 in the San Siro anyone?), yet people still moan and whine and bitch. It’s time for the fans to give something back to the team now.
This is the final push. They need us, all of us. Stand up and be counted. Make some noise. Get behind the lads.
Support your team.
Arsenal 0-1 Man United
Well, Arsenal’s unbeaten FA Cup run had to come to an end sometime, it’s just doubly shit when it happens to end against those cunts. A first half Gingercunt goal was enough to separate the sides, and while Arsenal started the second half brightly we never really created any clear cut chances (unlike in the first when we could have had 2 or 3).
That might be down to some players underperforming, it might be down to a pretty impressive defensive performance from United (who seem to have found the French Henchoz in Mickael Silvestre, the fish-lipped handballing cunt), it might be down to a strange team selection from the boss, but whatever it was doesn’t matter now. United will go on to win the cup final as they’ll face either Sunderland or Milwall in the final, and there’s no chance of either of those two teams pulling off a shock against a team as good as them.
Not our day, but then we’ve got other priorities and neither the team nor the fans can afford to be down for too long. It’s the second leg of the CL 1/4 final against Chelsea next week, and if you’d asked any Arsenal fan to choose between matches, I’m pretty sure the majority would have sacrificed the FA Cup for the Champions League. Obviously we’d rather win both, but I’m being hypothetical here.
Yes, losing this game hurts. Losing any game hurts, and I’ve watched United beat us in semi-finals too often now. We’ll have our day again, but we’ve got to concentrate on the games ahead. Let’s show how we can react, make Highbury intimidating on Tuesday night against Chelsea, and let’s see if we can win the big cup.
Come on Arsenal.
Right, it’s early morning. I have a hangover. I have to go down the town and then come back and watch the match whilst drinking some beer. The sun is shining. It’s warm. The sky is blue. Arsenal will play in red.
According to The Sun Jeremie Aliadiere and Dennis Bergkamp will start up front for the Gunners, with Thierry Henry rested. However, yesterday afternoon I was told it was 99% certain that Thierry would play, but perhaps the boss has an eye on all the games coming up and has decided that this is the best game to give him a rest in. Maybe it’s a boost for United, but we went to Old Trafford last season and won with Jeffers and Wiltord up front, hardly a striking duo to ...erm...strike fear into anyone’s hearts.
There’s loads of other build up stuff going on. The boss praises the maturity and performances of young defender Gael Clichy, James Beattie says Arsenal are too reliant on Henry’s goals (while failing to recognise Pires and Ljungberg are also in double figures while Edu has 7 or 8 and not mentioning United’s reliance on RVN), James Lawton says the FA Cup has lost it’s magic (tell that to the thousands of Arsenal fans who want 3 in a row and the United fans that want this trophy to make something of their season), Bob Wilson talks about Arsene Wenger and gruff ex-Spur Jimmy Greaves reckons things are about to go ‘belly up’ for Arsenal. He’s obviously been round George’s house.
And we welcome back our old friend Leopold, who's Knee Deep in all things Arsenal on the real ANR. Sort of.
Right, I’m off down the town for some breakfast, then it’s back home for the game. More later.
Ok, so most of you noticed I got an April Fools in yesterday. The log in and password should really have given it away. If you take the numbers 11618912 and break it down to 1 – 16 – 18 – 9 –12 and assign a letter to each one based on their position in the alphabet, then you get the word ‘April’, while ‘tonto’ is the Spanish word for fool. I’m going to have to start thinking about next year’s gag in the off-season.
Back to football we go and Arsene Wenger has blasted the FA for the fixture pile up we find ourselves involved in at the moment. The boss says “It is unbelievable and disrespectful. We tried to have the programme changed but they said that's it. But all it has served to do is now make me and the players even more determined to win every game.”
The main concern is that with two cup games that could possibly go into extra time the players would be dead on their feet by the time the league games against Liverpool and Newcastle came around. With that in mind it seems unlikely that Thierry Henry and Robert Pires will play in the FA Cup, but we’ll get more team news and likely line-ups later today. I know every game is important, and there could be no question of taking the FA Cup or a game against United lightly, but if he had to prioritise then I’m sure the boss would say the Champions League game against Chelsea was the more important of the two.
So with the squad likely to be fully stretched over the coming couple of weeks, injuries are not what we need, even if they do happen to Pascal Cygan who is likely to be out for 3-4 weeks. Gilberto and Ashley Cole are unlikely to be ready for either the United or Chelsea games, but Sylvain Wiltord should make the Champions League squad, while Philippe Senderos is close to full fitness and may find himself thrown in right at the deep end if we pick up any more knocks in defensive areas.
Freddie Ljungberg is determined to put the nightmare of the ‘99 semi-final behind him once and for all. Surely nobody needs reminding of the late penalty miss that destroyed Dennis Bergkamp for so long, and that goal by that hairy bastard (I turn the TV off every time I see it, but I can still remember thinking at the time ‘SOMEBODY JUST TAKE HIM OUT’). United went on to do the league, FA Cup and Champions League treble that season, Demento got a Knighthood and we had to suffer United mania for months afterwards. Freddie says “You have put in so much effort to get that far only to be beaten one game from the final. No one remembers who loses in the semi-finals."
Except for the fans on the team that loses, which last time happened to be us. And this time I really, really don’t want to lose. Like Freddie I want revenge. I don’t want a last-minute winner either, I want a comprehensive victory with at least 4 goals from Reyes before half-time.
I also want a Nurofen for the hangover I seem to have.
So it's April 1st. April fools day, and if you take a look back at April 1st on Arseblog over the last couple of years, you'll see it's been traditional for me to play some kind of April fools prank with varying degrees of success. Last year's Gilberto story on March 31st caught out a few, while the Google story the following day was even more successful because I'd made it clear that the Gilberto one was the prank. A bit tricksy I know but what can you do?
So this year I was racking my brain trying to think of something, and I've pretty much given up the ghost. Anything I do today would be seen through in no time, and while it might be a bit of a laugh, the whole idea of April Fools is to fool people and if I can't fool anyone I might as well not bother and wait until another day later in the year and do a belated April Fools.
This was one of my ideas, and I'd even thought about approaching Sky to get them to donate a URL to it but I just didn't have time to do it. This was another, although regular readers will know that to be a most unlikely event, although my good friends at Arsenal Mania could do with taking that idea on board it seems. So you'll just have to hold onto your hats and see if you can spot the gag in the coming weeks and months. Oh, by the way, your shoelaces are untied....
Thierry Henry played 45 minutes for France as they drew 0-0 with someone. I can't even be bothered to go look up who they were playing because it's not important. The important thing is that Thierry came through the game without injury, unlike Aston Villa's Darius Vassel who managed 6 minutes of England's game before getting clattered by his own team-mate, Olaf Mellberg, and eventually had to come off. I'm sure our old chum Nose-Face is chuffed.
Up and coming striker David Bentley appears to have his feet firmly on the ground, even if he does have lofty ambitions. He wants to eventually replace Dennis Bergkamp in the Arsenal side, but he's under no illusions as to how difficult a job this is going to be. He says "I feel my chance will come. They can buy another player but if I'm not ready this season or the season after, then it will be the season after that. I've just got to keep performing in every game."
It didn't take much to figure out that the earlier story of Thierry Henry and Lauren having fisticuffs after the United game last Saturday was more than likely fed to the Mirror by a Manchester source. BlogFC gives you more of a clue, and to give you even more of a clue and to show you how erm...clueless the source in question was, I've got a picture of the source talking to the Mirror journalist outside the press room at Highbury atfer the match. Because I was sent this by someone who obviously wishes to remain anonymous, I've put it in a password protected area so it won't get picked up by the search engines. Just go here, then log in with the username: 11618912 and the password: tonto and feast your eyes on the moron in question.
Right, it's the last teaching day before the holidays. Hurrah. Then it's some serious nothing, well, by nothing I mean 'not teaching', which suits me like a fox.