february 29th

A very quick round-up this morning as I'm off to play tennis and I'm sweating beer. I know I've given out about Spain a bit this week, but by the same token I can go to the supermarket and buy 24 beers for under €5. I suppose in future I just have to pass the time waiting for repair men by drinking beer. Lots and lots of beer.

Arsene Wenger has said the title race is far from over. "We're in a good position but it's far from being over yet. Seven games ago, we were three points behind Manchester United and there are still 11 to go."

He's also warned his charges against complacency. Now, I don't expect us to outplay everyone, every game, but maybe yesterday was a bit of a wake-up call for us. Can’t complain though, these were the sort of games that cost us points last season, so while we might have had a bit of luck near the end, hats off to the boys from the improvement.

Gael Clichy talks about his meteoric rise in the Independent. "It's a great pleasure playing for a team like this. Even before I actually joined Arsenal, I was a fan of the club. Now I am one of the players, but still a supporter."

Right, it’s a-courting I go. Enjoy the 29th, you won’t see a day like this one again for 4 years. Check out the mind-boggling, stats and info frenzy that is Diamond Geezer for more. Read today’s entry and scroll down for more.

february 28th

Arsenal 2-1 Charlton (Pires, Henry)

Two goals in the first three minutes and you thought it might be a walkover. But Charlton aren't fifth in the table for nothing. A free kick for them mid-way through the second half made it one of the most tense last 20 minutes of the season, but we hung on for the 3 points, just.

I think I need to lie down though. Good news elsewhere was that United drew 1-1 with Fulham. Inevitably Saha scored on his return, but the Cottagers cottaged the United players and cottaged an equaliser. 9 points the gap now, which is great, but it's still a long way from over. Enjoy your weekend, Arsefans.

february 28th

With all the excitement of the leap year and the ranting about useless Spanish repair people, I totally overlooked the fact that arseblog.com was 2 years old yesterday. It all began yesterday two years ago in a rather aimless fashion, and I'm glad I've managed to be be consistent. Two years of mindless crap, day after day after day. What larks. I do think it's probably the longest running daily sports blog around though, so that's quite something.

Thanks to all of you who visit regularly and irregularly.

Team news for today’s game against Charlton sees Gilberto and Ashley Cole return from their mid-week rest. Cole will almost certainly replace Gael Clichy but it remains to be seen if Edu will keep his place ahead of Gilberto.

Good news on that front though is that Edu is likely to be offered a new deal by the club, with Arsene Wenger - who is staying cautious when it comes to talk of the title - saying "We want to keep him here longer than his current contract. We will be looking to extend his stay."

Here’s hoping he signs and stays in this kind of form for a long time. Also in talks over a new contract is Sol Campbell who, if he signs, will see out the rest of his career at Arsenal.

In other less important news, Rami Shaaban could be off to Gillingham on loan. With the emergence of Graham Stack, it looks as if the Swegyptian’s days at the club are numbered, barring an injury crisis. NIMBYs make a fuss over the new stadium. I’m convinced for some people complaining is a hobby. They enjoy it. Thrive on it even. Someone should just give them an Airfix and tell them to shut the fuck up.

Work this morning. Gah. Charlton this afternoon, and with the last couple of games having been televised, it’ll be interesting to see if Arsenal radio works on my Mac (and if it doesn’t I’m going to complain like a fox). More later.

february 27th

As you may or may not know the blog family household has been experiencing some transport related problems recently. My wife’s car has been in the garage since 1998, it seems, waiting on a part. Everytime we go down to ask them about it, the bloke says “I don’t know when it will be here. I’ll ring you as soon as it is.”

I suppose that’s fair enough, he hardly needs the car blocking up his garage, unless there’s a hidden €20 a night charge we don’t know anything about, in which case he’ll be retiring and I’ll be spending a lot of time in secluded areas of Sitges with an inudstrial sized tub of KY.

My scooter is also fucked and after a week of phone calls like this:

Me: “Hello, Alberto Correcto, when can you come up and take a look at the bike for me?”

Alberto Correcto: “Not today. Ring tomorrow.”

I rang today and he said “Today. I’ll pass you on to José here and he’ll get your address and all that.”

So José comes on the phone and I explain the problem to him, tell him what happened, what happens when I try to start the bike and all that. I give him the address. He asks for a couple of landmarks to help him find his way. I oblige, happy that somebody is going to finally come and I can get around speedily again. It’s a pain in the arse walking for 20 minutes to work when a 3.5 minute scoot usually does the trick.

“Alrighty,” says José, “I’ll be there in about half an hour.”

That was at 3.45pm yesterday afternoon. Seriously, this country is just fucking insane for getting anything done. You hear all the stories about “Mañana, mañana”, but they’re true. There’s an old saying “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” The Spanish motto is “Never put off till tomorrow what can do sometime in the next fucking century. If you can be arsed.”

Of course, there’s also the insistence on being as loud as possible, as early as possible. Long time readers will know that they’re building a house more or less opposite mine, but to the left a bit. ‘Still building that one house?!’, I hear you cry. I refer you to the previous paragraph for an explanation for that. So this morning they decide to angle-grind and randomly jack-hammer stuff from 7.40am. Now of course they’ve knocked off for their two hour breakfast which will consist mostly of beer. Good for them, you might say. I might say, ‘You fucking cunts couldn’t do some sanding or pollyfilla work early in the morning, could you? No, you couldn’t, because you’re fucking bastard cunts who only exist to make my already difficult life more trying.’

And a happy Friday to you too. If you want Arsenal news, look here. And check back in the next hour for a new column from Steve E which will appear here.

february 26th

Our good old friend Edu is getting lots of nice coverage, and you have to say he deserves it. Although I’m sure most of you know the problems he’s had, it’s worth going back over them just to give you an idea of how much he’s gone through to get where he is today.

He arrived in England and was promptly sent home again because of dodgy paperwork, when at home he and his family were held at gun-point in their house and robbed, soon after his sister was killed in a road accident, and when he did finally manage to get over and get a game he pulled his hamstring and never really got a look in during his first few months.

In the ‘01 Double season he stepped up when injuries cost us Pires and van Bronckhorst and he played in the last third of the season, showing us what he could do. Defensively very good, creative, and looking like he could forge a lasting partnership with Vieira. Then came the World Cup and AW went out and bought Gilberto, limiting his first team appearances. This season he’s played in the cups, notably in the Carling Cup when as one of the senior players he took responsibility on the pitch when others were happy to hide (SW11), and has taken his chance again to show the boss what he can do in the first first team. Seven goals so far this season from central midfield is an excellent return.

‘Why the eulogy?’, you ask. Well, I’m just a little bit worried that a player as good as he is might not be happy to play second fiddle to his fellow Brazilian, especially when it’s obvious to everyone who the player in form is. It would be unrealistic of us to assume that there’s no real interest in him from clubs on the continent, because I’m sure there is. He loves the club though and we love him. I hope he stays a long time. And if anyone who knows Edu is reading this, tell him Barcelona is a shit place to live and Brazilian bashing is the new craze over here. It’s like the Rio Carnival, except with baseball bats. Honest.

Lauren on the second leg. Pires on the first leg and the second leg. Joe Royle on Clichy.

It's still pissing it down over here, and ironically I'm mainly not on the plain.

february 25th

So Arsenal laid their Spanish hoodoo to rest last night with their first ever victory on Spanish soil. They had to work hard for it though. Twice we took the lead, twice they equalised from set pieces, before some training ground style one-touch passing between Henry and Pires sealed the 3-2 win in the last 10 minutes.

Man of the moment Edu got Arsenal’s first two goals though. The first a scrambled effort at the far post from a Pires free kick, the second a goal only a player in great form and full of confidence could score. He had the ball on the edge of their box, dragged it back onto his weaker right foot, and curled the ball in the top corer. A goal that Bergkamp or Henry would have been proud of.

He really has laid down the marker now. He’s got his chance now that Gilberto is out injured and he’s really taking it. I hope it’s not a situation that Gilberto goes straight back into the team once he’s fit though. Edu deserves to be in the team at the moment, and for my money the partnership between himself and Vieira is the best we’ve got.

Edu celebrates his second goal against Celta Vigo

After the game the typically modest Brazilian said “I'm really happy for the team, this is what is important for me,” while Thierry Henry said of our goal scoring hero “He's been playing well for a long time now and he deserves to do well.”

I thought Gael Clichy did exceptionally well again at left back, and he had to. Celta targetted that area of the pitch when it became apparent Pires wasn’t interested in helping out the young defender. Time and again they went after him, and in general he did a great job on their Edu and Mostovoi. At one stage he was looking around as if to say ‘Why isn’t anyone helping me?’, which is a pretty good question. We gave away two goals from set-pieces, the first when Vieira’s poor challenge for a header let Edu (celta) in, the second when Sol and Kolo got in each others way a bit and it dropped down for them to score. I’m sure the boss will be looking for an improvement in this area.

Not a particularly good performance from us, but certainly a great result. The Spanish TV were going mental saying that Celta should have had two penalties, but Arsenal showed that even on an off night they’ve got too much for this Celta side. I expect a much more Arsenal performance at Highbury in 15 days time.

Arsene Wenger was happy with the result, but wasn't counting any chickens before the second leg. He said "We are in a good position but it is far from over. One of the keys will be the mental approach for the second leg. It is important that we go into the game and try to win it."

In other news, Jeremie Aliadiere made his comeback from injury by scoring the reserves, while there was bad news for rising star Ryan Smith who had his cruciate ligaments shattered in a reserve game by some triallist for the opposition and he faces at least 6 months out. Good luck to him.

It's miserable, cold and rainy in Barcelona today.

february 24th

Ahead of tonight’s Champions League game against Celta Vigo came the revelations...*yawn*...from Barcelona’s big mouthed president Joan Laporta that if he was Thierry Henry he’d sign for the Catalan club. The only problem I see in this scenario is that Laporta is a talkalot chancing spoofer of a lawyer club President and not the best striker in the world. I think we should nick another top youngster off them and let them keep Gio for another season, just to teach them a lesson.

The news brought a suitably droll response from Arsene Wenger who said "I feel, as many people do, bored by all this. I want to buy Buckingham Palace but I can't do it.”

The boss has also backed Gerard Houllier's increasingly precarious position as manager of Liverpool. Good stuff, Arsene. The longer he stays there the better for us.

Team news for tonight is that Ashley Cole and Gilberto miss out through injury, although Patrick Vieira is fit. Expect the line-up to be: Lehmann, Lauren, Kolo, Sol, Clichy, Ljungberg, Vieira, Edu, Pires, Reyes, Henry. Spanish youngster Cesc Fabregas is in the squad and is the only central midfield cover we really have at the moment.

José Reyes is looking forward to his return to Spain, saying "This will be a special game for the club and, especially, for me to return to Spain with a club from abroad. But the most important thing is not returning to this country or my aspirations for the national team but the performance of Arsenal. I expect Arsenal to give a competitive and beautiful display."

Some Ashburton Grove related links for you - and the news that Arsene Wenger is prepared to extend his contract and manage the team in the new stadium made yesterday a prettty fine day all round for Arsenal fans.

So can Arsenal put their pain in Spain behind them this evening? Will José Reyes the roof? I hope so. More later.

february 23rd

Sorry about the lack of blog action yesterday, but I just really didn’t feel like it. And it felt good not feeling like it and not doing it, because other days I’ve not felt like it but still done it. If that makes any sense to you. And this morning I slept late.

So back to football and we get Portsmouth in the FA Cup 6th round after they ended Liverpool’s chances of silverware this season. Houllier blamed the pitch and the weather and increased his Incomprehensible Buffoon count to 99 out of a possible 100. Surely the best manager Arsenal fans have ever seen Liverpool have. I doubt he’ll be there in August though. Which is a shame.

Dennis Bergkamp’s form has been impressive over the last little while, and he wants to complete 10 years at Arsenal with a contract extension. He says “The way I feel now I don't want to stop. I feel great."

With Kanu almost certain to leave, and Wiltord’s future up in the air, it seems unlikely that Arsene Wenger would want to lose 3 such experienced players in the summer. I’d be happy to see Dennis stay another year. Players like Jose Reyes, David Bentley and Jeremie Aliadiere can still learn a lot from him, and when you see him craft goals like he did for Vieira on Saturday you know he’s got something to offer even if his goals scored tally is a bit too low for a player of his quality.

Wenger on Edu: "He's been getting better and better every year, and he's been outstanding this season."

Early team news for tomorrow night’s Champions League game against Celta Vigo suggests that Patrick Vieira will be fit, despite fears about his right knee. Ashley Cole however will miss out as he’s not quite fully recovered from his back strain. We’ll have a better idea about the line-up tomorrow.

There are unconfirmed reports this morning that the stadium funding announcement has been made to OFEX, where Arsenal's shares are traded. I don't have link or anything yet, but expect some news today.

UPDATE: An official announcement from the club.

Arsene Wenger : "This is very exciting news. This Club has such an illustrious past but today is one of the most important dates in our history. It has been a big target of mine to participate in pushing the Club forward and relocating to a new stadium is a necessity as it will enable us to become of one the biggest clubs in the world. Also, I love the fact that the new site is so close to Highbury, it's where our heart is and from a personal point of view, I am hopeful of being the Arsenal manager when we move to the new stadium in 2006."

This is great news for the club, and credit has to go to the manager, Danny Fiszman and the board who have struggled and worked tirelessly to get this project off the ground, in the face of stiff opposition. It's the start of a new Arsenal era. We'll have more on this, and more reaction, over the next day or so.

A day off today, more or less. Only one class to teach and that’s not until 8pm. A lazy day ahead, methinks. I’ve just perfected the art of scoring direct from a corner in PES3 with Edu. A left-footed inswinger fools the keeper most of the time, but practice makes perfect.

february 21st

Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal (Vieira, Edu)

Vieira celebrates his goal against Chelsea...

One nil down after 27 seconds, you just thought for a little while that it might be Chelsea’s day. Not to be though as Arsenal’s best central midfield pairing got the goals that notched up yet another win over the pretenders from West London.

Patrick Vieira got the first from a fantastic Bergkamp pass, and then Edu capitalised on a mistake from Neil Sullivan to fire home from close range after an Arsenal corner. To be fair to Chelsea, they had a lot of the ball but didn’t really do an awful lot with it. Mutu looked kind of dangerous at times, and Lauren got skinned by his Cameroonian buddy Geremi more than once, but Sol and Kolo were fab once again - they really do make an excellent partnership in the centre of defence. They never really had a chance after Eidur Gudjonhsen was sent off for a second yellow. His first was for a pretty obvious dive in the penalty area, the second for a cynical trip on Sky’s Man of the Match Gael Clichy. Chelsea fans sang '2-1 to the referee' which shows how clueless some of them are.

We certainly didn’t play anywhere near as well as we can, but once again we’ve ground out a result when it’s needed, which is the sign of a highly focussed and determined team. Earlier in the season people were concerned about the games we were drawing. I wasn’t that worried as these were the types of games we’d lost in past seasons. This team is now extremely hard to beat, only looking at the next game, and no matter how much the Sky interviewer tried to get Patrick Vieira to say the title was Arsenal’s, he would only say ‘There’s a long way to go. We’ve learned from our mistakes last season.’

That's something that us fans need to remember as well. We're in a very nice position, but there's plenty of football still to be played before the season is out.

The huddle at the end said it all about the spirit in the team. To make this an even better weekend for Arsenal, Leeds came from 1-0 down at Old Trafford to take a point. Can’t ask for much more than that.

I’m going to enjoy the Carnaval tonight my friends.

february 21st

Lots going on this morning, most of it centring around our old friend Demento starting his mind games. He made reference to Arsenal’s unbeaten reference being a ‘burden’, and that sooner or later we’d have to lose a game. Well, you don’t need to be Einstein to work that one out. He also made himself look an even bigger fool than normal by saying "I read this week that Arsenal could go into administration next year. You would hate to think anything like that could happen to a club with such tradition and history.”

Obviously he’d like nothing better than for his biggest rivals to go under, but we all know that. The fact is he must have been reading the Spoof Gazette, because I certainly didn’t see any such story this week, and I trawl most of the sites and news feeds every day for the blog. He’s making stuff up, and if he honestly believes that we’d spend up to £17m on Jose Reyes – with the threat of administration hanging over us - after being prudent in the market for so long then he’s as mad as someone who thinks they’d be given 50% of a £200m race horse without paying a penny. Oh. Anyway, it’s no more/less than you would expect from him at this stage of the season. Almost like clockwork he starts this crap every season, and it’s now just predictable and boring. He doesn’t know anything about how Arsenal is run, how our finances are run, how we spend or have spent our money. Fact is, Ashburton Grove is going ahead. The finance is all sorted out and an announcement will be made shortly. Work on the site has begun, and in a couple of years we’ll have a 60,000 stadium which will increase the manager’s spending power. We’ll never be as rich as United, but the gap will have been closed considerably. Taking into account Wenger’s ability to pinpoint players that fit well into his team and style of play, plus what he’s done on a shoestring budget up till now (Reyes apart), against Ferguson’s increasingly dodgy and desperate transfer dealings and obvious failings without a strong number 2, the future for Arsenal looks rosy.

Arsene Wenger meanwhile has laughed off talk of the ‘burden’, saying “We just want to win our next game. We have enough experience to know that what is important is what we do and not what other people say.”

Team news for today is that Edu is likely to start in midfield alongside Patrick Vieira, while a fit Gilberto could well start the game on the right hand side of midfield. With Ashley Cole out injured, the boss has also defended his decision to withdraw Sol Campbell from the England squad in midweek. "He could need an operation, but only if we don't take care of it. I thought that if England had forced him to play, they could lose him for the European Championships.“

Good management if you ask me.

Jens Lehmann’s comments about Oliver Kahn have not gone down well at home in Germany, with the main man Franz Beckenbauer criticising the Arsenal keeper. Maybe it’s just me, and maybe it’s because I don’t live in Germany, but does Beckenbauer ever say anything good about anyone or anything? He’s always moaning, although he does have a point with regard to Lehmann’s comments. Coming ahead of an important time for his club, our keeper should be focussed on that, rather than trying to dislodge the obvious number 1 for Euro2004. Paddy and Ashley talk to the The Sun about AW, Arsenal and other Arsenal related matters.

Jermaine Pennant has been banned from driving for 16 months following his arrest for drunk driving. Just don’t take a lift to work from Jody Morris, Jermaine. I don’t know how to introduce pieces about Kolo Toure anymore. He’s just tops. Read about him in The Independent and I just love this quote “If some player acts like he is fighting, or bossing, you have to do something. If someone wants to give me a kick I will show him I am not his woman."

I think that's enough for a Saturday morning. Some brekkie, then I'm going to settle down and watch the match. More later.

february 20th

I’ll start this morning with squad news for the Chelsea game. Ashley Cole misses out after picking up a knock against Portugal - Gael Clichy will deputise - but the good news is that Gilberto could well be fit enough to be part of the squad after his injury turned out to be far less severe than was first thought. Whether he starts or not is another thing. Also likely to start is Freddie Ljungberg who will play with a plastic protector for his damaged ribs, and there’s no place in the squad for Cesc Fabregas – who many thought might step in if Gilberto’s injury had been as bad as reported.

Elsewhere, Jens Lehmann has been telling everyone that he’s the best German goalkeeper in the whole world and faces the wrath of the current number 1 by saying that Oliver Kahn is a square faced, butter-finger kunt. The Sun says Roman Abramovich is fuming that he missed out on Jose Reyes, as he was prepared to offer £20m down instead of Arsenal’s £8m with the fee rising depending on appearances etc. They say we gazumped him, but doesn’t that mean we would have paid more? Unlikely. If Chelsea had offered £20m straight up, Sevilla wouldn’t have bothered their Andalucian arses dealing with us at all.

Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri has said a loss to Arsenal will end their title hopes. I’m not sure I really agree with him, and I imagine he’s trying the old mind games thing on his players, making this game the most important of the season so far for them. Roy Keane has been at it too, saying he doesn’t expect Arsenal to hand the title to United like we did last season. His comments stink of Ferguson and the mind-games have well and truly begun now. I’m sure AW will keep the players focussed on the important things and not the comments of Claudio and a mad Irishman.

Not much else going on at this early stage. Due to scooter malfunctions and our car being in the garage for the last 3 1/2 weeks waiting for a part from India of all places, I’m going to have to break out the bicycle to get around again. Yes, it’s better for the environment, but when you see how the Spanish drive it’s a risky business going out on a bike, let me tell you.

february 19th

So, what’s new in the world of Arsenal this fine morning?

Well, last night’s international friendlies have cost us two players. Gilberto was stretchered off against Ireland at Lansdowne Road last night, while Ashley Cole lasted all of 15 minutes of England’s game against Portugal before being taken off with a back problem. If only FIFA hadn’t prevented Sven from making the 11 substitutions every 5 minutes he’d been planning.

Seriously though, we’ve now got two players out injured because they were off playing in nothing games which nobody was really interested in. Well, Brazil are always an attraction, and let’s face it, Ireland haven’t seen a decent football team at Lansdowne Road since the last time Brazil were there in the 70s, but even still it’s no wonder club managers get pissed off when players come back knackered from international duty. Early reports suggest Gilberto could be out for a month, while the extent of Ashley Cole’s injury is not known but it’s nowhere near as serious. With Ray Parlour already out for 6 weeks central midfielders are a little thin on the ground at the moment – what odds Cesc on the bench for Saturday?

Ireland’s Graham Kavanagh has apologised for his tackle which injured Gilberto. Tellingly he says “It was one of those where if we’d both gone for it 50-50 then I don’t think he would have got hurt.”

Good news though is that Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg and Kanu are likely to be fit/back for Saturday’s game against Chelsea, while Robert Pires talks about how his goal against Liverpool at Anfield kick-started his season. Elsewhere, Jermaine Pennant sees his Arsenal career go from strength to strength as his loan spell at Leeds is extended for yet another month. With the injuries we’ve got at the moment you might have thought the boss might recall him to the side, but it seems that Leeds has a much bigger shop window than Arsenal can provide the eary winger. Speaking of Leeds, here’s the real reason Marc Viduka is out of Australia’s international this coming weekend.

That’s about all there is going on this morning. I have to go teach my ladies. Later.

february 18th

I had typed out a whole other piece this morning about writing this site and the many and varied joys it brings me, but I decided to delete it and post this instead. Which is a bit of a shame for you because the other piece was far more interesting and decidedly more witty, but thems the breaks I’m afraid. So as you read this, see if you can make yourself feel empty inside. Where there should have been the warm Ready Brekky glow of a fine blog entry (fnarr), there is now only the hollow feeling akin to that of a sick child after a bath with Michael Jackson. I probably should have deleted that bit too. Oh well.

Not much Arsenal related stuff going on this morning. David Bentley was Man of the Match for England U-21s lat night as they beat Holland 3-2. The young Arsenal man scored a fab goal too. Patrick Vieira reveals he does indeed have the biggest penis of all the Arsenal players, some information that I’m sure you couldn’t live without. Did they sall whack them out on a table to measure them or something? Edu misses out on Brazil and while he’s always been a great pro and not complained, who could blame him if he was getting  itchy feet, especially when Barcelona are said to be interested?

Has Myles lost the plot? And speaking of mad people, it’s not Arsenal related, but this came up on the forums yesterday and it reminded me what a good read this site is. Finnish Crystal Palace player Aki Riihilahti is as mad as a hatter, but extremely entertaining. Well worth checking out.

So, most of you this morning are logging on with baited breath to see if you’ve won yourself a copy of the 1971 FA Cup final DVD with thanks to Nostalgic TV. There were hundreds of correct responses, and the answer to where Arsenal clinched the league title was of course ‘White Hart Lane’. Har di Har. I then went to this site which generated 3 random numbers, and the winners of the DVDs are:

  • Lucas
  • Phill Brown
  • Terry August

Well done, I’ll be in touch with you this morning, a copy of the DVD will be winging its way to you shortly.

And do keep an eye on the Nostalgic TV site; 71 and 79 were good years for the Gunners, although it might be worth forgetting 72 and 78.

My cold has now progressed to the point where the luminous snot is a crusty mass when you wake up in the morning. Hurrah. I think I might need a life transplant.

february 17th

So there’s a little bit of a lull this week as the international friendlies take place. England go to Portugal, France play somebody and Brazil, featuring Gilberto, travel to Ireland to take on ..er...Ireland. Our current goalkeeping number 2, Graham Stack, has been called up to the Irish squad by Brian Kerr, so good luck to him and hopefully he’ll get some kind of a run out.

Meanwhile, our current number 1, Jens Lehmann has been fined £10,000 by the FA for throwing the ball at Kevin Phillips’ head. No arguments from here about that, I’m surprised he wasn’t banned for a game or two considering he was warned about his future conduct following the battle of Old Trafford.

The draw for the FA Cup was made yesterday. Arsenal will be away to the winners of the Portsmouth v Liverpool replay. So, Portsmouth it is then. Dennis Bergkamp doesn’t care who we get, while according to The Sun the FA will let Arsenal keep the cup if we make it an unprecedented hat-trick of wins. Not sure I agree with that to be honest. Winning it three times in a row would be a marvellous achievement but the history and magic of the FA Cup goes beyond the success of one club over a certain period of time. It’s a nice idea, but I hope that come May it’s a situation where we can turn around and say ‘Thanks, but no thanks’.

Paddy on José: “We all know he is a terrific player and you could see from the celebration which greeted his first goal how popular he is in the dressing room. That goal will be fantastic for his self-belief and when he is working every day with Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Kanu he is going to be learning all the time.”

It’s been a little while since we’ve heard from him, and I think he’s still far away on one of his escapades, but Leopold has checked in with a new piece called ‘Self Reyes-ing Arsenal’ on the real ANR. He’s also promised to be more regular, but whether that means we get more of his writing or he’s going to increase his bran intake remains to be seen.

Last chance to enter the 1971 competition with thanks to Nostalgic TV. I’ll announce the winners tomorrow morning.

I’ve got a really minging cold as well. Luminous-snot-tacular. mmmmmmm.




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