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On Jens

You have to love a man who's stopped both Ruud van Horseface and Helder Postiga from the penalty spot and made Kevin Phillips look like a dancing Munchkin. Jens Lehmann, now known as simply "Mad Jens", has endeared himself to the fans right from the start with his save on the Horsey-Faced One.

Not bad for a man who raised a collective "whooooo?" when linked with the goalkeeping vacancy at Highbury. He's not only taken on the Premiership in amassing an impressive record thus far with Arsenal, but has publicly challenged Oliver Kahn over Kahn's apparent lock on No.1 for the German national side. Perhaps it was coincidental, perhaps not, but in Kahn's next high-profile match, a key Champions League match against Real Madrid, he made a mistake any U-12 goalkeeper would be embarrassed to make.

Is Mad Jens secretly a voodoo practitioner, putting vexes on his rivals? Wouldn't be surprising. The 34-year-old is rumoured to have challenged Arsenal's up-and-coming 22-year-old goalkeeper Graham Stack to a mini-decathlon, hoping to prove his fitness in 400 and 800-metre running contests, throwing, and the long jump. While many Arsenal fans wish Lehmann would simply stick to the plot, it's also nice to have such a strong personality in the squad.

Goalkeepers, by nature, tend to be a bit crazier than your average footballer; anyway, some vintage goalkeeper insanity is far better than the Chav-tacular antics other teams' players have gotten into this season. Jens' success and popularity makes one wonder, "What were Borussia Dortmund thinking?" Arsenal got an instant mini-legend in the Community Shield alone, not to mention a solid goalkeeper, while Dortmund got... Warmuz. Hmmm.

Welcome to Arsenal, Jens. It's certainly been more entertaining since you've come around.

Press my arse

I hope I'm not the only person thoroughly creeped-out by the recent Arsenal hysteria in the press. From Liverpool fans calling into talk shows and raving enthusiastically about Arsenal to the likes of Football365 calling Arsenal "the very best", it's all gone completely insane lately.

With the Evil Empire crashing out of the Champions League along with notable sides such as Juventus, some are even calling for Arsenal to win it this year. It's revolting, quite frankly.

Everyone hated Arsenal at the outset of the season, but Goonermania appears to be the latest flavour of the month -- more importantly, the hype couldn't come at a worse time for a team facing a critical juncture in the Champions League, a massive FA Cup semi-final, and a run for the Premiership title.

One can't help but be reminded of the hype at the beginning of the 2002-03 season, when Arsenal were also on an amazing run of form before eventually losing out on the championship. Though this year's team looks infinitely more mentally prepared, the cliches about football being a funny old game aren't for nothing.

The hyperbole is flattering, but somewhat terrifying at the same time. Everyone get out your lucky scarves, T-shirts, dartboards with Ken Bates' face in the middle, whatever brings Arsenal luck.

There's a lot at stake now, and everyone's watching.