january 31st

08.36 – Well, the Arsenal squad got freshened up yesterday with the arrival of José Antonio Reyes, so I figured what better time to freshen up the site a little bit. Not all the changes have been put in place yet, and the old monthly pages will remain as they were (not because of any great desire to remember the design, just that there’s way too many of them to change around). One small thing, you can now link directly to a day’s posting as each day has an anchor tag. So to link to today’s entry, you’d make the link to http://arseblog.com/index.php#jan31 - this will change to http://arseblog.com/jan2004part1.php#jan31 when it’s no longer the index page. To the superstitious among you, I refer you to this date to look at the colour scheme. So there you go.

To your right there you can see a very happy Arsene Wenger with his new signing. He's confident about young José and describes him as 'another piece of the puzzle'. It was interesting to hear AW speak Spanish at the press conference, and David Dein needs to work on his pronunciation big time.

The vice-Chairman tells the story of how we signed Reyes in less than a day and how everything fell into place very quickly. There was more good news in that Sevilla got their fax machine repair man out, the clearance has arrived and our new number 9 (bye Frannie) could make his debut on Sunday against Man City.

Wenger and Reyes - Arsenal's new number 9

The player himself had a few words about his new club and what lies ahead for him. He's not bothered by the price tag, and is looking forward to getting started. He says "This is a big club and everyone would like to play here. I chose them as they are a club I have liked since I was a child. I know a bit of history about the club, I've found out for myself. What I do know is that it's a sensation. There is a great collection of international stars here, and what impresses me is the speed and precision with which Arsenal play."

Despite splashing out all that money for Reyes, the manager still has a few bob left to spend if he wants to bring in some more players in the summer. "To say we cannot buy anyone at all any more is not right, but we will have a smaller budget. If needed, we could, of course, go for more players, although not on the same scale as this transfer."

There's a good piece about Edu in the Standard, and he really does seem like one of the game's nice guys. "I want to win every game I play - and I want to enjoy doing it."

Now I must go spend my precious Saturday morning teaching. Hurrah.

january 30th

08.18 – Less going on today coz we don’t play until Sunday and the Reyes stuff has died down a little bit.

All I have for you today is the news that we’re still waiting for his international clearance due to Sevilla’s fax machine being out of paper or something (although how that would impact sending a fax I don’t know. Well, you try and think of a fax machine related joke then. It’s not easy). Also, it seems unlikely his Spanish suspension will be carried over so providing the non-funny message sending device problems are sorted, he could debut against Citeh on Sunday. BFR on JAR.

There really isn’t too much else going on at this early stage of the morning. Like the rest of you I’ve seen the shocking headlines this morning and wondered how life will ever be the same again. It’s devastating news really but like Take That, Steps and Abba, I’m sure I’ll get over Atomic Kitten splitting up in time.

I’m just too gutted to say any more. I'm off to drown my sorrows in Jesus Juice.

january 29th

09.21 – Ok, so the Reyes stuff continues. The club confirmed today that he had passed his medical, and said that his shirt number was not yet decided despite media reports. I reckon the number 9 is his though.

The club also took the unprecedented step of announcing details of the financial side of the transfer, something they never normally do. We’ve paid £7.1m immediately, with £3.55m due in the next financial year. There’s also a potential £6.8m to pay over the course of his contract depending on appearances and achievements. It is very unusual for the club to provide such in depth information, but I suspect it was done to provide clarity to the banks coughing up for the Grove, and to put paid to the rumours that we’d paid well over the odds for the player. We’ve paid less than £7.1m for Reyes right now, while Fulham stiffed United for £12.2m for Louis Saha. Aha. Ahahaha. Ahahahahahahaha. Good work Arsene. Reading the Spanish press it seems Henry welcomed Reyes to the club in ‘perfect Spanish’. I’m not sure Henry would have understood anything Reyes said though. I was listening to an audio clip of him on the Marca site and found it very difficult to understand him. The Andalucian accent is very sing-songy and seriously difficult to get a grip on.

Zidane on Reyes. Helguera on Reyes. I wish Parlour had said something about Reyes.

You’ll have been well aware at this stage that the Carling Cup semi-final was called off due to bad weather. Nothing to do with the pitch apparently, nor was it anything to do with the fact that Ehiogu and Southgate were missing, it was all to do with the fact that the roads were impassable. Nobody’s heard of grit north of the Watford gap then. The fixture has been rescheduled for next Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, the FA Cup game against Chelsea will take place on Sunday 15th of February and will be shown live on BBC.

The Chairman reiterates what I said yesterday. Henry is not for sale. Tons of stories in the Spanish press about him moving, and that washed up old hack Breen-Turner that purports to be Talksport’s Spanish correspondent reckons the fact we’ve signed Reyes means Henry will leave. Bollocks mate. Stick to serving Piña Coladas in Marbella and playing classic hits to the ex-pats in Alicante. Fact is we’re likely to lose Kanu, Wiltord and Bergkamp in the summer. That leaves us with Henry, Reyes, Bentley and Aliaidiere. There’s no way Henry is going anywhere. I’d put my house on it.

Right, I’m getting paid today. That means putting the money in the bank and watching it disappear on bills and cc payments straight away. Hurrah for English teaching and the lavish lifestyle it affords me. I'm thinking of charging 5c per arse. I could retire on yesterday alone....

january 28th

08.48 – There really is only one story worth talking about this morning, and that’s our new record signing (£20m)José Antonio Reyes. He’s been a player much coveted by Arsene Wenger, and for a long time we’ve heard stories of Steve Rowley spending more time in Seville than at home to watch him train, to watch him play, to find out as much about the man as the footballer. Rowley’s reports further convinced Wenger, who convinced Double-D, who convinced the board to smash Arsenal’s transfer record to bring him to the club. Confirming the transfer on arsenal.com, the boss said "We have a game based on movement, technique and pace. Reyes has all that. We have been following him for a year."

He'll have his medical tomorrow and may travel to watch the Boro game. There should be a press conference on Thursday to official introduce the player.

So what do we know about Reyes then? He’s left footed, can play wide or up front, he’s scored 21 goals in 84 La Liga games, and has won three Spanish caps. Some facts here, and there’s a more detailed analysis of his stats here from Planet Football.

Anyone who was lucky enough to see Seville beat Real Madrid 4-1 in the league earlier this season will have witnessed a master class from Reyes. He tore Madrid to pieces that night – Sid Lowe in the Guardian tells the story better than I ever could. We know he’s going to wear the number 9 shirt, so that’s a big cheerio to Frank Jeffers then.

From what I’ve seen, and I’ve made a point of watching him since we were linked to him, he’s an extremely talented and creative player who will be a real asset to the squad. I think that his long term future is the Bergkamp role, playing just behind Thierry Henry and providing the passes for him and Ljungberg.

One thing we have to do though is give him time to settle in England. He’s a Seville boy through and through, oranges and bull-fights and 40c summers. It may take him a little while to adjust to life in the less sunny climes of N5, but I’m sure the boss will bed him in slowly. I now fully expect him to make a quite sensational debut against Manchester City, scoring a Bergkamp v Leicester type hat-trick - although it has been suggested he'll be banned for that game following a suspension in La Liga.

It’s a very exciting time for the club. This signing, along with the extremely promising youth players we’ve got coming through, the wonderful players that grace the first team at the moment, the new stadium about to be announced officially even though it’s fairly obvious work is going ahead (and we wouldn’t be buying anyone if the finances weren’t in place), top of the table, in the last 16 of the Champions League, and the best manager this club has ever had taking us forward and making us better. This signing shows the ambition of the club and sends a message to the fans, to the players like Henry and Vieira and Pires and Campbell, and to the rest of the Premiership and Europe that Arsenal really mean business.

What I think also needs to be said is that arrival of Reyes should in no way be seen as any sort of sign that Thierry Henry is going to leave. From what I’m told it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that another striker could join before the end of the transfer window, and even if that happened it wouldn’t mean Henry is moving anywhere. The Arsenal board didn’t sanction a purchase of this magnitude to replace Henry, they did it to strengthen the team that Wenger is building around Thierry (amongst others). So no matter what you read about Henry going to Madrid, to Barcelona, to Milan, to anywhere in the world, don’t worry. It won’t happen. We have significantly improved our squad with the signing of Reyes. Enjoy it and welcome to a world where Arsenal have some money to spend again. I do suspect that Reyes arrival means the end of both Kanu and Wiltord though, whose contracts expire at the end of the season.

Lost in the enormity of this signing is the fact that we have a Carling Cup semi-final to play tonight. We go into the game a goal behind on aggregate, and the carrot of playing Bolton in the final should we progress. There's likely to be the same mix of kids and first-teamers, with Bentley and Quincy likely to start up front, with Parlour, Edu, Vieira and Gilberto making up a very strong midfield. Fingers crossed they get a result oop norf later on.

It's sausages for breakfast. Hurrah. More later.

january 27th

15.59 – It's a red letter day for Arsenal as all reports suggest that we’ve signed Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla. No idea of the fee yet, no doubt it will be another undisclosed job from Arsenal, but €30m is being mentioned. There’s been no official confirmation from the club yet, but the player himself has announced it on his website saying “I’m the happiest man and the saddest man at the same time. I’m leaving the best club in Spain to join the best in England”

The fact that Arsenal’s head scout Steve Rowley has watched nearly every game this boy has played is a testament to his talent and how much Arsene Wenger wants him. We’ve just signed an exceptionally good player Arsenal fans, and he’ll be our new number 9. He could make his debut against Man City at the weekend.  This is great stuff.

Bienvenido a el Arsenal, José.

More on this tomorrow.

08.37 – Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but there’s something just a bit off about drawing Chelsea in the FA Cup for the fourth year in a row. Anyway, it just means we’ve got another game against Chelsea not long before we play them at Stamford Bridge in the league. They could be the next Boro. The only other tie of interest is the possible Manchester derby – provided Keegan’s team actually win a game for once and dispose of the Lily Whites in the replay.

Arsene Wenger has had  a little pop at FIFA and their recent announcement about their centenary game which could affect Arsenal and other clubs badly if they reach the FA Cup final. FIFA have also announced the World Club Championship will return from the scuttery grave it was consigned to a few years ago. When the subject of Arsenal taking part was broached the boss said “The only interest is financial, it's not sport. So we might consider it purely for financial reasons but the responsibility of FIFA is to keep the level of football high and always try to push it higher. What people enjoy is to see the best against the best. It's happening in the Champions League, but it wouldn't happen in the Club World Championship.”

Fairly damning, you have say. And he’s dead right. FIFA talk all the time about players playing too many matches, how players have to be protected, and then they dream up dead-end tournaments like this. Patrick Kluivert has denied he’s signed a pre-contract agreement with Arsenal. There’s been lots of speculation about this transfer in the UK press, but nothing at all in the papers here in Spain. At this stage it seems like a non-runner. Some more from David Bentley - "I know everyone is making comparisons right now, but to even be mentioned in the same breath as Bergkamp is an honour. I have a very, very long way to go to be put in the same class as Dennis. He is my hero and as a player he’s on a different planet."

Right, I'm off to the airport. My mother is coming to stay and she's bringing sausages.

january 26th

09.09 – I’ve got the Monday morning blues. Or I’ve got the blues on Monday morning. Not sure which.

Paddy would never join Chelsea. He might also play against Boro on Wednesday. The boss fears Robert Pires has gained a reputation as a diver and isn’t getting the free kicks he deserves because refs are twats.

That’s all.

january 25th

10.09 – What a sunny Sunday it is.

David Bentley scores his first Arsenal goal....

On your left you can see a very happy David Bentley, celebrating his first Arsenal goal. After the game Arsene Wenger paid him the compliment of comparing him to Dennis Bergkamp. “I believe that he has a bit of the characteristics of Bergkamp, who is his idol. If a young boy comes on for five minutes and chips the keeper, you cannot say he lacks confidence.”

Download a wallpaper featuring the new DB celebrating his first Arsenal goal here.

There’s a great piece on Kolo Toure by the always excellent Amy Lawrence in the Observer. I especially like the fact that Kolo, who has been more or less ever-present, talks about playing at right back and how he has to work hard to get his place back in central defence. "...now Lauren is back and Pascal Cygan is playing well [alongside Campbell], so that puts me in a bad position. But I have to work hard to get my place back."

You just can’t fault his attitude at all and if he's up for young player of the year and he doesn't win it, there's something very wrong somewhere.

Not much else going on this morning. I’m going to go down to the beach and read all about how Demento is about to be shafted out of United by Magnier and McManaus (Sunday Times for those of you interested). Till later.

january 24th

18.05 – Arsenal 4-1 Boro (Bergkamp, Ljungberg 2, Bentley)

I’ve just seen David Bentley’s first goal for the club having watched the game on some internet stream. They say special players announce themselves in a special way. Beckham from the half-way line, Henry’s first against Southampton, Wayne Rooney’s wonder strike against us last season. Well, if his goal is anything to go by, Bentley is a very special player indeed. He got the ball from Robert Pires around the edge of their box, went to go round the defender, dummied inside and chipped it over Mark Schwarzer, into the top corner, with his weaker left foot. A quite wonderful debut goal. Make sure you catch it on the TV tonight. I said after the Carling Cup game I’d like to see him in the middle. I’ve now seen him in the middle, and I like it.

Overall it was another roasting for Boro (“We always win 4-1”) - Freddie got two typically Freddie goals after Dennis opened the scoring after some great work by Ray Parlour. George Boateng got sent off, Danny Mills tried to get everyone upset again, and we had way too much for them again. I hope every little bit of confidence they took from the Carling Cup game is now gone and we murder them on Wednesday.

Enjoy your Saturday night, folks.  

08.05 -  A very quick round up this morning before I go and clear out a garden for three hours. I hate when people ask me to do stuff when I’m not in a mentally alert enough state to say ‘no’.

Arsene Wenger has revealed he’s unhappy at Feynoord releasing details of a bid he may or may not have made for Robin van Persie. The boss reckons they’re trying to make it an auction. He also explains why he’s resting Thierry Henry while Patrick Vieira says we’ve got enough quality to cope with TH, and the other strikers who are missing - including Francis Jeffers who we can recall from loan if we need to. Jens Lehmann has pleaded guilty to an FA misconduct charge for chucking a ball at Kevin Phillips, while Edu tells his team-mates to beware of Juninho.

This got lost a bit yesterday, so I'm moving it here. Back for part 3 of the Borothon©. More later.

january 23rd

08.38 – It’s yet another Friday morning. Quite predictable really, considering.

Almost as predictable as the story that there’s 20% chance of signing somebody now, according to Arsene Wenger. Last week there was no chance at all you’ll remember. But with Wiltord’s injury worse than previously thought (is he really injured or being used as part of a deal?), Jeremie Aliadiere out for a few weeks still, Kanu in Africa, Bergkamp hobbling his way back and Henry about to sign for Madrid any second, it seems a striker could be coming to the club. I have a feeling we’ll make a signing and I think the player will join from Spain.

Lauren’s going back to play for Cameroon, according to Winifred Shotglass, the Cameroon coach. I wonder does this have anything to do with the fact that his automatic first choice position in the team seems to be gone now? Gilberto reckons Arsenal can win the lot this season.  Demento says Arsenal are still the main rivals to Man United.  I’d so laugh if he lost his court case with Magnier and McManus (who is an Arsenal fan, you know), then got fucked over by the two of them and fired out the door, to be replaced by Peter Reid. My god, I really would laugh. Even without the Peter Reid bit. But especially with the Peter Reid bit.

Fridays are good. I think I’m going to get very, very drunk tonight.

january 22nd

09.47 – Henry close to Real move – Arsenal accepts Real Madrid’s offer for Henry.

Just two headlines that were available last night. Of course, neither of them are true. It’s pure shitwitchery from two websites who want to get a few more hits and are putting ridiculous story titles so they’ll show up on NewsNow and lots of people will click on them. Have these people no shame?

Arsene Wenger last night dismissed a move for French keeper Sebastian Frey, who has been telling anyone who’ll listen that Arsenal and Chelsea are fighting over him. Well, he’s now been shown up as a right desperate twat as Chelsea will sign Peter Cech at the end of the season and Arsene Wenger says "He said that he has had me on the phone telling him that I want him to come here. I can tell you that I've never spoken to him."

With regard to Robin van Persie he wasn’t so outright dismissive, saying "I can just say that we haven't signed anyone and you can trust me that when we've signed someone, we will inform you."

The rezzies got done 2-0 by West Ham last night, with former Arsenal next-big-thing David Noble scoring one of the goals. Thierry Henry may only be on the bench for the FA Cup game against Boro on Saturday. I suppose it all depends on the fitness of Dennis Bergkamp and Sylvain Wiltord, who have both been injured for the longest 10 days that I’ve ever known. Le Bob talks about Euro2004, gossips and how much he wants to win the Champions League.

Thursday already. This is good.

january 21st

09.23 – Well, the law of averages suggests Boro had to beat us sometime, and last night they did. We gave a run out to kids Clichy, Bentley and Quincy, who partnered Kanu up front. Not much of a game to look at really. Boro had the best chances, it has to be said. Juninho hit the post in the first half, took advantage of some poor positional play from Gael Clichy and some non-existent tracking back from David Bentley to score the only goal of the game, and we can be thankful that Joseph Desire Job is so shit he missed from 6 yards late on.

I thought Clichy played well, a little naïve defensively at times, but he’s got pace to burn to make up for any little mistakes. I know Bentley’s position is not wide left, and he showed some nice touches, but overall didn’t do too much. I’d like to see him play more centrally. Quincy has a lot of step-over thingies, and looks very, very quick. It’d be interesting to see him with better service. I was impressed with keeper Graham Stack though, who made two excellent saves, one from Juninho and one from Pastahead, looked solid throughout and seems to be decent cover for Jens Lehmann. We saw a little bit of Jerome Thomas and Ryan Smith, but although we had lots of possession and put them under a lot of pressure near the end, there was to be no teenage hero. Still, we should be very proud of the kids for getting us this far in the first place, well done to all of them. Oh, and a word about Edu who was outstanding last night (corners apart). I wish he'd get a few more games, but you've got to give him credit for being a professional and always being happy to play whenver he does get a chance.

Obviously this result is going to have a bearing on the kind of team the boss puts out at the Riverside for the second leg, although the boss says he'll stick with the kids, but next up in the Borothon is the FA Cup 4th round on Saturday. No doubt the big guns will return for that.

Arsenal were yesterday linked with a move for Feynoord starlet Robin van Persie. According the Dutch club our first bid was turned down and they’re waiting for Arsenal to come back with an improved offer. Given our reticence to do any kind of transfer dealing in public, you have to wonder whether Feynoord might have just ensured the first bid is also the last. We’ll see. Anyway, it may all be irrelevant as it seems we've already signed Patrick Kluivert.

january 20th

09.10 – It’s Borothon Episode II – Return of the Kids, as Arsenal take on Boro in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Highbury. With most of the team that played against Villa set to be rested, we should see a mix of youth, and some experienced heads like Martin Keown, Edu, Ray Parlour and Kolo Toure in the line-up. The good news is that Kanu will be staying for the game, we’ll just wait and see who gets the nod to play up top with him. It could well be David Bentley who’ll get the chance to play in his favourite position, having played out wide in previous rounds. Definitely out though is Cesc Fabregas who has got a back problem.

Jermaine Pennant might have thought he’d get a recall from Leeds considering all the injury problems we’ve got, but his loan at Elland Road has been extended. If you read the Bentley piece up above, it talks about him not going on loan because the boss didn’t want him playing the wrong kind of football. Would it be cynical to suggest that the boss is letting young players like Volz, Svard and Pennant out on loan to put them in the shop window, rather than giving them match experience to benefit them on their return?

Youri Jerkyoff reckons Arsenal need tobuy in the transfer window to maintain their title challenge. He calls United’s decision to buy a striker as they lose a defender, ‘great management’. We shall see. Graham Poll says quick free kicks are ok. Nothing like the backing of the world’s most popular referee to get people back on our side.

I reckon I’m not fit enough to go back to work. Which is a shame. A crying, crying, shame.

january 19th

09.12 – I didn’t get to hear all of the game yesterday because I had to puke, shite and then go back to bed, but it seems a 2-0 victory brought out the best in David O’Leary.

Conveniently forgetting that his Leeds team had done the exact same thing to Arsenal a couple of seasons ago, he complained that ref Mark Halsey cost them the match by allowing Thierry Henry to take a quick free kick. Nothing to do with O’Leary’s side being mid-table shite who didn’t manage to score more goals than us then?

Henry made it 2-0 with a penalty after Kanu had been felled in the box by Olaf Mellberg. With United losing 1-0 to Wolves at the weekend, and Chelsea drawing 0-0 at home to Birmingham, it’s been a good weekend for the Gunners and we sit two points clear at the top of the table.

AW wants Kanu to stay for the Carling Cup game tomorrow night, as the only fit striker we have apart from him is Thierry, who needs a rest and to let the mouth injury he picked up against Villa settle. “I will try and have a good chat with Kanu and convince him to stay for the game. It is his decision now because, by the rules, we have to release him.”

Sylvain Wiltord as admitted he’s thinking about moving somewhere else when his Arsenal contract expires. The pointy headed stringer/winker says “I am saying that maybe there is life after Arsenal. Under the new rules I am already free to sign a pre-contract with another club for next season. There have been calls but I prefer to finish my contract and then make my choice. Everyone knows I would like to play for PSG at some stage in my career."

No comment on any of the above. Right, I have to go decide whether I’m well enough to go to work later.

january 18th

09.34 - Spent most of last night vomiting. Seriously ming. Feel like 24 carat poo today. Can't be arsed going through the sites for news. Although I have to say thanks to Iain for emailing this fabulous quote from David Pleat speaking after Spurs game against Liverpool. "Our central defenders, Doherty and Anthony Gardner, were fantastic and I told them that when the go to bed tonight they should think of each other."

Aston Villa in a while. More later.

january 17th

09.09 – A quick as you like round-up of the news coming at you far too early on a Saturday morning.

Some transfer activity at last, but it’s only players going out, none coming in, so far. Rami Shaaban has joined West Ham on a month’s loan, while Moritz Volz has finally sealed a move to Fulham. He’s signed a 3 year deal and we’ve been paid an undisclosed fee. He’d been at the club 5 years, and is one of the players we’ve nurtured who can go on to have a good career at the top level. Best of luck to both of them.

Arsene Wenger has again said he won’t be buying anyone during the transfer window, instead he’s going to save his money for the summer and try and double it with a visit to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. “We could spend £10million but, at the moment, it's very difficult to find players at the right price as there's no transfer market. I'm trying to make £20million in June with the £10million now. We're saving the money until then.”

Thierry Henry says Arsenal’s unbeaten record will count for nothing unless it results in silverware this season. “Honestly, I am not taking a lot of notice. Being unbeaten until the end of the season does not interest me. Maybe these records are nice when you retire — but you want to sit back and have the medal to go alongside such an achievement.”

Rio Ferdinand is set to appeal against his 8 month ban, typical I suppose. They leave the appeal until the last minute to ensure he can play for longer. It’s taking the piss a bit now, especially as he’s going to appeal against the guilty verdict and the length of the ban. I hope he gets his ban doubled. And a big thumbs down to Vodafone who requested that Arsenal World remove this picture from their website and forced the Gooner fanzine to re-do their back cover at the last minute. Boooo.

Right, that'll do for for now. It's a holiday here today, "Donkey Day", seriously. You can't begin to imagine the fun and excitement.




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