january 16th

Morning all, another working week begins. Yesterday was a relatively slow day in terms of news.

We had Arsene Wenger saying he hoped talks regarding Thierry Henry's new contract would be completed within weeks while there was fresh speculation - all on the part of the players agent, of course - regarding Tomas Rosicky. I'd be very surprised if anything was to come of this. Apparently he was somebody we were looking at in the summer but went with Hleb instead and now that Hleb has scored a goal he's fantastic and not poo at all.

And there's really not much else going on. No doubt we'll hear more about the Walcott deal this week but a couple of Liverpool and Chelsea sites have already reported our £12m bid failed. If the player is set on joining us then I very much doubt Southampton have rejected that amount of money when he could leave via tribunal in a couple of months. We shall see.

Right. I'm off to work. Till tomorrow.


january 15th

*boilk*, ladies and gentlemen. *boilk*

Amazing what a couple of signings will do, eh? We thumped a sorry Boro side 7-0 yesterday. A Thierry hat-trick equalled Cliff Bastin's league goals record and Senderos, Pires, Gilberto and Alexander Hleb all got on the scoresheet as well. Well done to Hleb, hopefully this can turn him around and make him pass forwards and stuff. I'm happy.

In a quick round-up of what's going on Thierry revealed that contract talks have begun. He says "I've spoken briefly with the board and manager in the last week, but we still have things to discuss."

Excellent. The boss hints even more strongly about Walcott, some papers are talking about him going to the World Cup which seems a bit premature, Real Madrid are linked with Cesc and Ashley Cole (I don't even know the swearwords in Spanish that Cesc would use if Real Madrid tried to buy him), Emmanuel Adebayor says he'll be the new Kanu - and the boss has described him as 'Kanu with pace', meow! - while ex-captain Tony Adams is now working for Utrecht. He gets around, doesn't he?

And that's about it. A 3-1 win for my team yesterday and apart from a smashed up knee and a cut face and a monstrous hangover I feel great today. Enjoy your Sunday, Arsefans.


january 14th

Well, all of a sudden Arsenal signings are like London buses. You wait for ages then two come at the same time. Sorry, someone had to make the joke.

It was an exciting day as the club confirmed the signings of Abou Diaby from Auxerre and striker Emmanuel Adebayor from Monaco. You can fact factfiles on both players here and here.

Diaby will wear the number 2 shirt and according to the boss will be seeing first team action 'within' weeks. He also said of him "He is a strong midfielder and has shown huge potential during his time at Auxerre. He will be a tremendous addition to our squad.”

As usual it seems Chelsea tried to hijack the deal at the last minute, I'm sure Real Madrid did too, but the quote of the year so far (not much competition yet I know) comes from Auxerre vice-president Gerard Bourgoin who said "The choice belonged to Diaby.But Arsene Wenger was better than Jose Mourinho, that's all."

Beautiful. Adebayor is a tall striker, somewhat in the Kanu mode, and he'll wear the number 25 shirt last worn by the Nigerian. He's tall and will give us another option which is what we've said we've needed for some time. His goalscoring record isn't exactly brilliant and he seems to be a bit of a spiky character but we should judge him on what he does for us. He's about to go on ACN duty with Togo and will join up with the squad afterwards. Of him the boss said "Emmanuel Adebayor is a great addition to our squad. He has shown in his performances with Monaco and Togo that he will add great quality to our offensive game. He is tall, good in the air and makes good runs. We are looking forward to him joining the squad when he returns from the African Nations Cup."

Certainly both players add something to squad. I do like Goodplaya's analysis when he says too many recent signings were similar type of players. Here we have a powerful midfielder, which is what we have considered most important, and a striker - not a forward as Goodplaya points out. I have to say I was slightly dubious about the Adebayor signing but am quite happy to give him time. I'm also hopeful that the freshness this will bring to the squad will rejuvenate some of the others - without naming names.

Now we come to Theo Walcott. It was widely expected that he'd be the third signing but Arsenal and Southampton both denied a deal had been done. However, Arsene Wenger spoke a lot about the young man, something he rarely does if he's interested in a player and some of his comments and his demeanour in yesterday's press conference lead me to believe that some kind of agreement has been made, if not with Southampton then certainly with the player. Remember, he still hasn't signed a deal with the Saints and should he choose not to his transfer feee could be decided by a tribunal which is likely to be significantly less than any arrangement between Double-D and Rupert Lowe. The Times suggest the reason the deal wasn't done yesterday was because Lowe was off duck shooting. Really.

Anyway, as well as comparing him to Thierry Henry he spoke about rumours that we could buy him and loan him back to Southampton for the rest of the season. He said "Ideally we want Theo to join us straight away. I am pleased to hear that he wants to come to us but we are not the only club after him and the negotiations are not complete. When you start a race with 10 others, you are always hopeful that you will win. But the other nine think the same."

Still. I would imagine that everything is pretty much in place. I know Chelsea are sniffing around and are probably offering a hundred million times what we're offering but it's thought the player prefers Arsenal, his idol is Thierry Henry and he can surely see the team that's being built at Highbury now. Young players who will get their chances as opposed to £24m Wright-Phillips who will sit on the bench. A deal should be completed next week, if not sooner and a lot of fans will have little butterflies in their stomach until they see it made it official. The manager seems to have already included him in his thoughts. Talking about the signings in general yesterday he said "I have always said I wanted older players but I believe so much in the potential of these three that I couldn’t let this chance pass. My priority was not to add experience to my squad but to bring in more size, power and stature. And I think we have done that."

So, an exciting day yesterday. Still not sure if I've won the lottery though. Anyway, it all slightly overshadowed today's game against Boro in which we are possibly without 5 defenders despite welcoming back Ashley Cole to the squad. Sol Campbell is out, Kolo and Eboue are on ACN duty, Gael Clichy is still out long term while Kerra Gilbert is doubtful and he could well have started with Lauren moving over to right back as Senderos and Cygan fill the centre-half positions. Robin van Persie is also out while Dennis Bergkamp is doubtful due to illness.

There will be a definite buzz around Highbury today because of yesterday's news. Let's hope that buzz and the help of the fans can reduce the impact of so many absentees. Right, off to do the shopping then it's my team's first game back since the winter break. I'm glad I kept my fitness up by training and running and not sitting around drinking beer and eating too much.


january 13th

Well, whaddya know. You write a big long piece about how we need signings and all of a sudden it seems like we've made our first move in the transfer window. I think I might write a big long piece about how much I need to win the lottery. Twice.

Diaby

That bloke there to your left (picture courtesy *cough* of the official Auxerre website) is Vassiriki Abou Diaby who, according to reports which started to emerge last night, has agreed a 4 year deal with us. He's 19 years old, 6'2" and a central midfielder. The inevitable comparisons we not long in coming.

I don't know much about him other than he doesn't have a great deal of experience, only 10 league games according to the Auxerre site, but he was a stand-out during the Under 19s world championships. Beyond that I know nothing other than he looks strong and we need strong.

Rumours have also been flying around about Southampton wonderkid Theo Walcott . Some are saying he spent yesterday at London Colney and that he and another signing could be unveiled today. Again Walcott is an outstanding young talent but he's not even 17 yet, still, I'd play him ahead of Freddie at the moment. The Sun goes so far as to say we've agreed a £10m deal while other papers remain more cautious.

What does seem to be the case is that Walcott has chosen Arsenal over all the others and at this point Southampton seem likely to do a deal because he hasn't yet signed a professional contract with them and could leave with his fee set by a tribunal. The Sun goes so far as to say we've agreed a £10m deal with £5m up front and the rest based on performances. Walcott's family are apparently keen for Southampton to be rewarded for nurturing his career thus far.

The other player linked yesterday was Monaco striker Emmanuel Adebayor who is currently in the dog house with Monaco for his behaviour around his appearance for Togo in the African Nations Cup. While Walcott and Diaby are exciting signings I hope we stay far away from Adebayor. I think what these signings indicate - if they do come off - is that this is definitively a new team we're building. The boss has his eye on the future still but hopefully these are players that can make an impact in the short term as well. If nothing else they will serve to motivate those older players in the comfort zone knowing that there's a talented youngster ready to take their place.

Real Madrid have been using Marca over the last few days to announce their intention to sign Ashley Cole in the summer. They went so far as to say that contact had been made between the club and Cole's representatives. Earlier yesterday though Ashley distanced himself from any move, saying "I've got three years left (on my contract) and I'm looking forward to playing in the new stadium. It has been in every paper since the start of the season and there is nothing I can do. I have just got to get back fit and that's my main aspiration at the moment, as well as trying to win things with Arsenal."

Last night Real Madrid real Madrid issued a statement, saying "Following press reports regarding an interest by Real Madrid for Arsenal's Ashley Cole, the club wishes to clarify that at no time has Real Madrid confirmed via any official spokesman that the club has made a move for Ashley Cole or any other player", which should cover them nicely in case people start asking too many questions. As for Cole he should be back in the next couple of weeks and maybe we needed him to be out of the team for a period to realise how much we miss him as a player despite his behaviour last year (which I still find hard to forgive but as someone who wants this Arsenal team to pick up the pace again I'll be happy to see him back in the team).

So, it's all a bit more promising than it was this time yesterday. Did I mention I need to win the lottery, twice? That Euro millions is €100m+ tonight. I reckon that could do it.


january 12th

"There is a chance but at the moment, I must say, a very vague chance because we are not close to concluding any deal." - Arsene Wenger yesterday on signing new players.

I hope Tuesday's game against Wigan has made him take stock and he's now actively looking to bring in players because without them the rest of this season is going to be a struggle. We were linked with another attacking player yesterday, Georgios Samaras from Herenveen. This is the guy whose agent was talking him up in the summer. Add him to Zigic and Rosicky over the last few days. However, I am not sure a striker is what we need.

As far as I can see 95% of our problems are in midfield. Essentially we have lost 4 quality players since last season. Vieira and Edu moved on. However, the normally considerable contribution from Ljungberg and Pires (in terms of goals at least) has pretty much dried up altogether. Freddie has yet to score in the league this season. Bob has a couple or three (with at least one penalty in there) and he obviously got two against Cardiff in the cup. However, you take those four players out of any team and they are going to struggle. Now, the manager wasn't to know that Pires and Ljungberg would fall so spectacularly out of form, although the warning signs have been there. Letting Vieira and Edu leave without signing any kind of replacement - and I do not consider Alex Song any kind of replacement - is now coming back to bite us in the arse which is what we all feared in the summer.

Gilberto is playing in the comfort zone, complacent because he knows he's getting his game every week. He's playing so badly that Cesc is having to do the wrong kind of job in midfield. Our young Spaniard is a creative player with an eye for a through pass and one who likes to get forward. Gilberto is so inept this season though that Cesc's game is being completely stifled. I know Flamini isn't everyone's favourite but at the moment I'd play him ahead of Gilberto firstly for his effort but secondly because he will do the job he's told to do. If that means sit back, break up the play and give it to Cesc I think he's more than capable of doing that.

Ideally though I would like to see us bring in a decent central midfield player. Obviously an established player would be best but if we have to bring in that Diaby lad and if he can add strength, running and not falling over like a fucking new born foal then that'd suit me fine. It is also my belief that we need to bring in a wide player too. Let us assume that José is going to play on the left wing from now on so we start with him there and we leave him there to get a run of games under his belt. Pires and Ljungberg are on the right. Neither of them are playing well, Bob might pick up his game because he wants a new contract but that's not enough. Freddie is off lying underneath supermodels advertising underpants. We need pace, we need someone who can shoot, we need someone to add some spark back into the midfield. I'm not even considering Hleb at the moment as he looks nothing like the player we'd expected.

Let's look at Liverpool for a moment. They went something like 321 games this season without conceding a goal yet in the transfer window they've gone out and bought two new defenders. They are strengthening an area they are already very strong in. Stevie Wonder can see that we were weak in midfield and at the moment it doesn't look like anybody is interested in addressing that problem. I believe that a couple of signings to make the midfield strong again will turn us around. A strong midfield will provide more protection to the defence which in turn will give us a more solid platform to play the attacking football we should be playing.

With Cole almost back, when Eboue and Toure come back from ACN duty, Sol Campbell trying his hardest to make England's world cup team and Senderos getting through that difficult second season better than a lot of young defenders I've seen then I think we're ok at the back. But while our rivals are making themselves stronger in areas they're already strong we badly need to make ourselves strong in an area we're kittenesque in our weakness.

I can see how we could fit a striker in during the window as well but that would only be welcome once we've sorted out the midfield. What's worrying me most though is the way Arsene seems to be trying to find a formation to suit the players we have rather than going out and bringing in the players who would allow us to play the fluid 4-4-2 we are/were so good at. As my chum on Gunnerblog pointed out yesterday we played 4-6-0 at Wigan with no focal point for the attack - yet on the bench we had a pair of strikers who have been tearing up reserve defences all season. Nicklas Bendtner and Arturo Lupoli are an awesome pairing, they understand each other well and they fucking well know where the goal is. None of this pussying around passing sideways for them. They're both hungry and they both want to score. Why couldn't we have played a 4-4-2 with those two up front and a midfield of Reyes (left) - Flamini - Gilberto (I know, I know) - Ljungberg/Quincy (right)?

It surely couldn't have been any worse than having no strikers at all. It wasn't long ago that Arsene Wenger was scathing about this 4-5-1 formation we've been adopting lately and I loved it when he said that because I hate it too. I hate the negativity of it and this Arsenal has never been about that. Now we're seeing it all too often and it's depressing. He wants to give youth a chance but won't play these two lads who can't do any more to prove to him they deserve a go in the team - especially in the Carling Cup. How many goals do they need to score? Bendtner has 16 goals in 18 reserve and youth games, Lupoli has 14 goals in 11 reserve games. And remember he's often playing against senior players in these games, players bigger and stronger but he can still score.

I want us to go back to playing 4-4-2 and I badly want the manager to sign the players we need to do enable us to do that. We won't win a thing playing 4-5-1. We won't qualify for the Champions League next season playing that formation. I am all for the manager being loyal to players and showing faith in them but, and this is not the first time I've said this, he is being let down - BADLY - by a number of his senior pros and now he has to show he's ruthless enough to deal with the situation. Gilberto, in my opinion, doesn't deserve to play the next game. If we had the personnel I'd make him watch from the stands on Saturday. I certainly wouldn't allow him to spout all over the official website how the home game would be different. Well, earth to Gilberto, it would fucking want to be.

Every fan loves when their club signs new players. There's an excitement about the speculation, about the thoughts of how he's going to fit into the team, whose place he'll take. At the moment I'm not excited about signing new players. I'm desperate for us to sign new players. The idea that we might not sign anyone at all makes me get a little bit sick into my mouth each time and frankly I could do without that. Yes, we need to find the right players but we hear all the time about our famed scouting network and the manager's knowledge of every player that ever existed and even some that haven't been born yet. It's time to start putting things right before it's really too late. Thierry Henry is a wonderful player and I am so happy that he has decided to stay but will he stay without Champions League football and would anyone blame him if he decided he had to leave to further his ambition?

So what if players are cup-tied for the Champions League this season? The most important thing now is getting into next year's competition. If we go further this year, great, I'll be chuffed, but a glorious semi-final exit this year isn't worth a shite if we're not in the draw next September. We have money to spend, there must be dozens of players good enough to make a difference and it's all very depressing when you don't see us active in the market especially when United and Liverpool have gone out and strengthened their squads quickly and efficiently. A good win on Saturday will raise spirits until the next time the lazy, overpaid, feckless senior pros decide not to turn up and leave the youngsters to do all the work for them. Then it'll get miserable again. What would put this right is fairly plain to see.

Signings = new players + new skills + fresher squad = competition for places = motivated players = good performances and results.

No signings = me being sick in my mouth, and probably down my front, a lot between now and May.

Come on Arsene, I hate the vom. Sign someone. Please.


january 11th

Obviously nobody told the players we were playing in a cup semi-final last night. Wigan ran out 1-0 winners and I can't begrudge them their victory one bit. They lost two of their most important players in the first half hour as well.

Our back 4 and keeper apart (and possibly Flamini because at least he looked like he gave a little bit of a shit) we were atrocious last night. I have seen some bad performances from Arsenal in the past but this has to be one of the worst ever displays under Arsene Wenger. Maybe it had something to do with the formation because I couldn't keep track of who was playing where. Quincy, Ljungberg and Reyes all took turns up front before switching wide again. Why couldn't we just have played a 4-4-2 which the players know and are comfortable with?

That aside the players you put out have to try. Quincy showed again that he is a long way from being good enough for the first team and one good game against Everton over a year ago isn't enough to make a reputation on, Freddie had a good chance early on but scooped it over and his most notable contribution afterwards was jumping out of the wall to allow Kavanagh's free kick to be on target, José looked like he would rather have been anywhere but Wigan and he's normally somebody you can rely on for effort at least. Then we come to Hleb and Gilberto. I realise players need time to get used to the English game but Hleb looked like he might be useful when he first joined. He seems to have gotten worse though. He was absolutely useless. He couldn't pass water at the moment. I suggest we have him kidnapped.

Gilberto though was something else. He looked like it was his first ever game of football. It was embarrassing watching him in the second half he was that bad. He gave the ball away all the time, missed tackles, missed headers, fell over his own feet. Truly horrible to watch and the sort of insipid, lackadaisical performance he's put in on more than a few occassions this season. And he was captain as well? If he can't be arsed to play the way he played against United because it's Wigan in the semi of the lowly Carling Cup well he can fuck off. His performance tonight was to football what Phil Collins is to music. If it had been a dog there would have been a queue of people round the corner ready to put it out of its misery.

What made it all the worse was when they scored we really picked up the pace, started passing and moving - with not much end product, granted - but at least we looked like we were trying. Why couldn't we have done that before they scored? I hope some of them get a real roasting tonight because they fucking deserve it, the slack cunts. Tonight was another indication that this squad needs strengthening and quickly. Actually, not so much an indication as a gigantic naked woman with four tits and three minges with snakes for her hair holding up a flashing neon sign saying:

"SIGN SOME FUCKING NEW PLAYERS NOW FOR FUCKS SAKE!!"

Normally when a player plays badly you can drop him and bring in somebody else who is dying to prove their worth to the team and who is motivated to play well when given a chance. We don't have anybody like to take Gilberto's place and after the worst performance I have ever seen from him you can be guaranteed he'll still be in the team on Saturday and that, as far as I'm concerned, is not good enough. That was a performance born out of comfort and no team can afford to carry players like that.

Not too many positives then. I thought the back four were solid enough, Senderos did well, Djourou looks like games will do good things for him and Almunia looked good again. Not much to take back to Highbury for the second leg but if we go into that game with the same attitude as this one we'll be nowhere near the final and Wigan will deserve their day in the sun, so to speak. And the powercut was the most exciting thing to happen all night long.

Even Arsene Wenger was unhappy afterwards and he's normally Johnny Positive no matter what. He said "The most disappointing aspect is we didn't score and we didn't create a lot of chances."

So there you have it. A horrible game to watch on the comfort of my sofa and my thoughts often turned to the travelling Arsenal fans who deserved better than that. I hope the pies were decent, at least. Some arse kicking in training this week is definitely in order. Still, at least Joe Cole got the shit kicked out of him, so it's not all bad.


january 10th

Some injury news to start with and it looks like we're going to be without Robin van Persie (talking here about the chances given to young players at Arsenal) who has either a small crack in one toe or a broken foot. A fair distinction you'd have to say. Sky Sports reports the broken foot - perhaps some wishful thinking on their part, more disastrous headlines for the Arsenal - while Arsenal.com says it's a small crack and not considered too serious. For once I choose to believe the official site.

Obviously he's not in the squad for tonight's game against Wigan but José Antonio Reyes is. We're also without Kolo Toure and Manu Eboue who were hauled off for African Cup of Nations duty just 90 minutes before Saturday's game against Cardiff in which both were on the team sheet. I know it's one of the downsides of signing African players but there are ways and means of doing things and threatening a player's employers that they could forfeit a game if they use the players whose wages they pay is out of order. The manager was none too impressed either. The full squad for the game is here. Wigan have their own injury problems but it's still going to be a tough game, I reckon. Their manager says he views the game as a bonus as their priority, rightly so, is to stay in the Premiership which they look like they're going to achieve unless they lose every game between now and the end of the season - and after the game they gave us in the league that's not going to happen. So they'll be right up for it despite their weakened squad. Another good test for the youngsters who get a run out tomorrow.

The draw for the FA 4th round was made yesterday and like last season we got Bolton away. They turned us over in the league up there earlier this season so we owe them one. I'm really looking forward to it as is the manager who said "Every draw is OK for us. We'll go there and have good memories of last season and we'll go there and do it again."

Excellent. He also spoke about the Thierry Henry situation and he wants to get the contract sorted as soon as possible. He said "I always felt that, once he had made his mind up, the situation should be sorted out quite quickly. It depends on the negotiations and when he will be ready to sign. But I think the quicker, the better."

The Chairman has also said we'll go to the 'limit' in terms of salary for the captain. AW also mentioned speaking to Jens Lehmann and Robert Pires about prolonging their deals. I shall stay silent on that for time being. As expected the speculation regarding players has continued with Dortmund's Tomas Rosicky saying he'd like to come to Arsenal because Thierry Henry is the best. He was somebody we looked at in the summer and in the end I think the manager chose Hleb instead. Well, you live and learn, I suppose. Some whispers suggest up to three players could come in before the end of the transfer window but as yet whispers is all they are. The Sun reports we're making a £7m bid for Red Star Belgrade's Nicola Zigic who has been linked with West Ham during the last week or so.

Right, that's it. Pasta for lunch. Off to work. Till tomorrow.


january 9th

Not much going on this Monday morning. After the boss's words about spending money I'm expecting an outstanding week of transfer speculation as we're linked to every player with all his limbs and reasonable mobility. It started yesterday when Auxerre's French U-19 midfielder Vassiriki Diaby appeared on the radar. According to his agent "Arsenal are very hot on the player and are close to signing him although you know nobody can compete with Chelsea when it comes to money. Maybe he will have more chance to play at Arsenal but who's to say he won't earn a Chelsea place? He's that good. Wenger thinks he can be the new Vieira."

There really must be a course for agents on how to talk up their players. In the summer we were linked with some Greek or Norwegian bloke, I don't remember, and his agent made him sound like the best player of all time and that the deal with Arsenal was done. Naturally none of us have heard of the cunt since so we'll take this rumour with a hefty pinch of salt too.

Alan Smith on the task ahead of Arsene Wenger now that Thierry has decided to stay. He does seem to have a naturally miserable outlook although he does make a couple of decent points. The Sun reports, brieflly, that Joan Laporta does not believe Thierry Henry when he says he's staying and is still convinced he can bring our man to Barcelona. Yesterday Manchester United's Mikael Silvestre called this Arsenal team the worst one he's ever seen - just hours before his side couldn't score against the mighty Burton Albion. Best to keep those fish lips firmly shut, eh Micky?

Finally, let's have a little laugh at Sp*rs. 2-0 up against Leicester who then spared us all more Chas & Dave as they came back to win 3-2. Highly amusing. Right, off to work. Till tomorrow.


january 8th

A quick Sunday round up for you. Two goals from Robert Pires helped us to a 2-1 win over Cardiff in the FA Cup yesterday afternoon. I only caught the last 25 minnutes on the radio and the most exciting thing I heard was some lunatic getting on the pitch and pushing Manuel Almunia. Whoever he is he wants locking up. With a hungry bear. So the first steps to retaining our trophy are taken.

Arsene Wenger says Thierry Henry's decision to stay will help make Arsenal the best team in the world. Not unless we buy some players it won't but the boss seems to have told the captain that he'll match his ambition, saying "I know Thierry wants us to invest in big names. That's always the case because big players always feel comfortable when they are surrounded by other big players. All I can say is that we will spend the money we can afford to spend in a bid to convince him how much we want him to stay."

In the People an 'Arsenal insider' says "We are actively chasing several big names which we know will satisfy both the other players and the supporters."

It all sounds very promising and hopefully we'll see some money spent this January. And that's about all there is this early on a Sunday morning. Enjoy what's left of your weekend.


january 7th

So last night I wrote a big long piece about how urgent signings are this January and I still believe that they are but given the news that broke as I'd just finished it seemed a bit churlish to post it. As I'm sure you've heard by now Thierry Henry says he's made up his mind to stay with Arsenal.

Henry says he's staying

In an interview with The Sun he said "The truth is I love this club and I’ve made my mind up to stay. I can say to all my fans and the people who care about me I want to lead the team out in the new stadium. I'll talk to (manager) Arsene Wenger, to (vice-chairman) David Dein and the board and talk of the future. There was a lot of ridiculous speculation but the truth is this, I never spoke with or met with a single person from any other club at any time. This will put an end to all the stories. We can move on"

Fantastic news and hopefully the fact he's made his decision will help things in general. We won't have the specualation, the 'He's thinking about Barcelona' every time he isn't smiling like a minstrel and the rest of the team now know where the captain's future lies and it might help put the focus back on the football.

It might also be a case that he has received some assurances from the manager as to strengthening the squad - whether that's in January or the summer remains to be seen but Thierry is obviously an ambitious person. The fact that he's decided to stay has a lot to do with the fact he loves the club, he loves the fans but it also has a lot to do with the fact that he believes he can win things with Arsenal. So that is promising as well.

Having written the above last night in the cold light of a very rainy day here in Barcelona it really is brilliant news. There's no doubt the uncertainty was unsettling and during a time when results were not going well it meant that everything was blown out of proportion. My original piece about how we needed signings still has valid points (I might use some of it on Monday coz it's usually a slow day) but this is a great way to start. Having Henry at the club is a draw for lots of top players, now we need to kick on from here and ensure we achieve a top 4 finish so what we've done this year in blooding young players isn't in vain.

Another player who committed himself to the club yesterday was Robin van Persie who has signed a new deal which will keep him at Arsenal until 2011. He said "I am very happy that I have extended my contract to 2011. I am very happy too with my team mates and the boss. In fact a lot of my progress is down to him and his faith in me."

Thierry won't play today against Cardiff as he is rested along with Jens Lehmann, Cesc and Sol Campbell but I'm sure we'll hear his song more than once.

It's amazing how one piece of news can lift some of the gloom, eh? A signing or two now would really go down a treat. How about it, boss?


january 6th

Ian Wright - what a player he was. Sadly now it seems every time he opens his mouth he's being less than legendary in an Arsenal sense. Talking about Thierry Henry and all the speculation about a move to Barcelona he said "My gut feeling is Thierry is going to leave. If I was in the same position as him I would."

Nice one, Ian. So if you had been brought to the club when your career was going down the pan in Italy, turned into one of the best players in the world by a manager who you'd known since you were a teenager and who gave you your debut for Monaca, scored more goals than any other player in Arsenal history, been worshipped by the fans, won lots of trophies and been made captain of the club you said you loved on countless occassions and the first time things went a bit wrong and the manager and the club and your teammates needed you to stand up and be counted you'd have left without a second thought? I'm not actually surprised that you would.

Let's not forget Wrighty was urging his son Shaun to join Chelsea ahead of Arsenal this summer. Naturally he had Shaun's best footballing interests at heart as we can see how much of a success he's been there, playing once or twice a month if he's lucky, and I can assure you it had nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of money Shaun could earn there or the amount of money his 'representatives' could milk off the transfer.

Yesterday the Chairman spelled out his fears about Thierry and he just said what nearly every Arsenal fan is thinking. PHW said "At the back of my mind there is a fear he will decide to go. I have no evidence - other than maybe I have been here too many times before with players and have become cynical."

Can't argue with that but he went on the remind Thierry, not that he owes Arsenal, but not to forget what Arsenal has done for him, saying "Henry was nothing when he came to Arsenal and Arsene has turned him into the world star he is today. I do hope he takes that into consideration and puts loyalty and thanks amongst his priorities when the time comes."

I hope he does that too. The Mirror however is reporting that Henry is in constant phone contact with Barcelona chairman Joan Laporta. They say reports in Spain suggest this information is correct. However, what seems to have happened is that El Mundo Deportivo has run a story suggesting these calls have taken place and El Mundo is the mouthpiece of Barcelona in the same that Marca is for Real Madrid. I would suggest that this story is designed to cause the sort of reaction we get in the Mirror and designed to cause trouble for Henry amongst Arsenal fans who think he's being disloyal. I have no proof the calls didn't happen but I would be very, very surprised if they did and you must remember Barcelona use the newspapers as part of their transfer dealings. They announce their interest in players via the paper and not the club the player is at. So far Barcelona have been out of order in the way they've dealt with their interest in Henry - witness Arsene's barbed retort to Laporta when he declared his interst in signing Henry, funnily enough in the pages of El Mundo! (what a surprise) - and you should expect them to get worse. They might have a great big stadium with great players but they don't have even a touch of the class of Arsenal, the miserable cunts.

Anyway, my main point is don't believe everything anything you read in the Mirror especially when it comes from Spain. Elsewhere, Theirry has taken time out from his pow-wows with Laporta and his househunting in la Zona Alta to talk about the return of Ashley Cole and what we need to do at the moment. He reckons Cole's return will help spark the second half of our season - certainly having a proper left back will help us play the kind of football we love to play - and he says "We have to dig in, as we’re doing. When everything becomes easier, we will try to play better — but, at the moment, it’s really important not to concede goals and at least we did not lose against United."

And you can't argue with that either. Tomorrow sees Cardiff visit Highbury in the FA Cup and Cesc is determined to retain the trophy we won last year, saying "Arsene Wenger has had a great run in the FA Cup down the years and we want to do it this season again."

And that's it. It's a holiday here today, hence the lateness of the blog, and hopefully we've cleared up some of the Henry stuff so you can rest a little easier. Basically - El Mundo = cunts. Barcelona = cunts. Joan Laporta = cunt. Mirror = cunts. Tape that to your monitor, arsechums.


january 5th

Hints of a bit of transfer window activity emerged yesterday when former Arsenal legend and now Arsenal scout, Gilles 'The Grimster' Grimandi told a French radio station "There are a lot of great players in Ligue 1 in France. We may propose a contract to a midfielder who plays there."

The good money is on a 16 year old wonderkid who we'll loan out to a team in Poland until he's 20. Still, it's better than no hints at all. The Guardian are suggesting the player in question is Alou Diarra, which sounds like a rather unpleasant bowel complaint. Still, he's eligible for the Champions League - I didn't realise he was a former Liverpool player though. Anyway, he's 6'3 and picks up yellow cards for fun. Excellent. Now in a couple of seasons he'll stick his arse in the air waiting for Real Madrid and the cycle will be complete.

Dennis Bergkamp seems to be advocating dance lessons ass he wants Arsenal to combine their steps back with some steps forward as well. In seriousness though he makes a good point when he says "It's not bad to take one step back and maybe then make up two steps the next season. But you have to be careful not to take two or three steps back as then you're going to struggle. That's the period we're in now. We have to focus on keeping going and getting the points."

He's laying down the marker for the young players according to the news reports - again I'll state it's not them that have been the root of our problems this season but I understand where he's coming from.

As we're struggling for goals at the moment why not put out the reserves who are banging them in all over the shop. Two more for Arturo Luuuuupoli as they beat Ipswich 2-0 at London Colney. Read what reserve coach Neil Banfield has to say about it all.

Ahead of the FA Cup game it seems Thierry Henry will be give a breather, even though he doesn't feel like he needs one, while Sol Campbell will probably be rested and Philippe Senderos brought in. The threadbare state of the squad means the boss can't make too many changes.

I have to go to work now. Bye.


january 4th

A 0-0 extravaganza last night in a game that neither side really deserved to win but in which United probably had the better chances. Arsenal started with a 4-5-1 formation which I really, truly hate but I understand why the manager used it. While a win wuld have been great losing would have been a tragedy so it was safety first.

Our chances in the first half consisted of a Cesc shot which went just wide when a clearing header fell to him on the edge of the box, a Thierry Henry free kick which also went just wide and a Robert Pires shot which looked like it was heading just inside the near post but van der Sar made the save. Their only real chance in the first half came when Jens saved a van Nistelcunt shot and Ronaldo blasted over the rebound when he really should have done better.

In the second half Thierry and Gilberto had shots blocked in the area and we might have had a penalty when Cesc seemed to be bundled over by Gary Neville. The replays I've seen are unconvincing and it did look like the ref's view was blocked by some United cunt. I've seen them given though. For their part they started to have some success getting behind Cygan, who was pretty solid nonetheless. Ronaldo found Giggs at the far post but his shot went out of the ground it was so wild, van Nistelcunt had a great chance when Kolo played him onside but he smashed it wide, Gary Neville got around the back from a Rooney ball and we can be thankful it was a full back and not a forward on the end of that ball and from a corner in the dying minutes Wes Brown's header was cleared off the line by Manu Eboue.

Henry

Moment of the match though? It has to be Lauren's tackle on Ronaldo which almost sent him into orbit. Classic. All in all a decent point, not a bad performance and some things to build on. The defence has gone 4 games without conceding but in all honesty we didn't look like scoring unless it came from a free kick. I won't mention corners or free kicks where we cross the ball because we still look as clueless as ever when it comes to those. José was a livewire and full of energy if little end product, Pires had his best game for some time, Gilberto actually got stuck in and Sol Campbell, his penchant for silly long passes aside, was better than in recent games.

The main reason we never looked like scoring was the formation though. If you play 4-5-1 you need a big hideous cunt as your striker (exhibit a) and a midfield to provide him with the ball which he holds up and allows the wide players to get forward and cause problems. Thierry Henry is not that kind of forward. Didier Drogba - *spit* - is that kind of forward. As well as that there was nothing coming from the centre of midfield. Gilberto and Hleb like to pass the ball sideways and backwards, in fact anywhere but forwards and Cesc is the only one with any craft. It got so bad at one stage that Thierry was dropping so far back into midfield to try and get the ball that when it broke to Robert Pires he was the furthest man forward with no striker to pass it to. As I said above I understand why the manager chose to play that formation but I hate watching us play like that. It also means that if we persist with it then we're going to need one of two things. 1 - a big hideous striker (I hear John Hartson might be available) or 2 - another midfielder who can create. I really can't see either of those things happening, thankfully.

I hope we go back to 4-4-2 and get back into our groove because, most importantly, with 4-5-1 we're playing a formation the players are not really familiar with and we're never going to play the incisive football which has made us successful using it. We're good at 4-4-2 and I suppose once we get some stability and confidence back then we can start playing the way we should be playing.

Afterwards the boss declared himself satisfied with a point, saying "We wanted to win but it was a high pace and I felt both teams were always trying to have a break to get the other on the counter-attack. It was difficult to create chances but in the end we created a few and they created a few."

So there you go. Next up is the FA Cup against Cardiff. Finally for today, fuck off Patrick. We missed you when you were here and didn't turn up for 18 months, you cunt.


january 3rd

Good Tuesday, Arsefans and it's going to be an exciting day ahead as Gooners all over discuss tonight's game and how many goals we're going to lose by. There really is no point in me writing anything about how important this game is, how winning could kick-start our season (again!), how losing would blah blah blah, how we need big performances from the big players and so forth. We all know.

In injury news we're without Freddie Ljungberg who has a virus and, more importantly, Robin van Persie who got another kick on the knee which forced him off against Doncaster. The Dutchman is by far the bigger loss this season but by the law of averages Freddie has to score a league goal at some stage and he does tend to pick up a few against United so he's a miss as well. Gilberto is back however so he can add some experience to the midfield. All we need for him to do now is add some passing, tackling and leadership.

Speaking ahead of the game Arsene Wenger has said he has high hopes for 2006 and that people are too quick to write Arsenal off. He says "Don't rule us out too quickly. We want to make 2006 a great year for Arsenal Football Club. The team is very determined to achieve that. People draw quick conclusions. If our squad were all aged 33, I'd say yes. But we have the youngest team of all the four and we're not as far away as people think we are. We have until May and I'm a great believer that there is a lot, lot more to come from my team."

Now, despite the problems we have, and I have never denied that we have them, I think people have been far too quick to dismiss the team and it's potential. It's funny for me that - after 8 or 9 seasons when we have never finished outside the top 2 - the first time we struggle a bit the manager all of a sudden doesn't have a clue what he's doing. I've heard people say that we should look to replace Arsene Wenger. That's a nice way to show faith and gratitude for what he's done for us, isn't it? "Sorry Arsene, forget the past, forget the trophies, we've had a bit of a bad patch and it's time for you to fuck off."

Madness. The same goes for Thierry Henry. I'm sick of reading every time he has a quiet game that he stood around thinking of Barcelona like he never had a quiet game before. This is a man who has scored so many goals for us, our record scorer, a man who has dazzled us, a man who has always been loyal to the club on and off the pitch, and maybe he's not the best captain yet, maybe Tony Adams would struggle a bit to lead a side as young as this, but he deserves better than people who tell him to fuck off. There's a reason why Barcelona want to sign him, you know. It's because he is one of the best players in the world. A difficult concept for some people, I realise, but you can be guaranteed that if he was available every single team in the world would want him. He's not good enough for some fans, of course, but he's good enough for Barça, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus and Acrington Stanley.

I will admit that the manager has become a victim of his own success. He has set very high standards at this club and at the moment we are not reaching them. I will also admit that I think he's made mistakes, primarily by not replacing Vieira as I wouldn't call his sale a mistake in the long term, but I also think he has more than earned the right to rectify those mistakes without people calling for his head. He hasn't been let down by the young players he has tried to bring through and who will have learnt so much from their time on the pitch this season. In my opinion he's been let down by some senior players who, had they shown the same desire and hunger as the youngsters, would have made a big difference. The two main wide players, Pires (who has a bit of a cheek asking for a 2 year deal based on his performnces) and Ljungberg, the goals have dried up and those goals make a difference. Gilberto was expected to step up in midfield but he simply cannot cope with a physical game and can be bullied off the park - and when you consider he's 6'2 and full of muscle is not good enough. Sol Campbell has been woeful at times when we needed someone to provide stability at the back. And Thierry - he's had an injury hit season, still scored 13 goals but what I would say is we need him to show more leadership. When the chips are down we need him to bellow, cajole and take the game by the scruff of the neck. It's difficult for a striker to be captain to be fair but there's no doubt he could improve this part of his game.

I think if the manager adds to the squad in January in the right positions - midfield and possibly defence - there's more than enough time to turn things around, to put together a run of results and to climb our way up the table. I know he's spoken about how bringing in players would deprive young players the chance to play but he's surely got to see that it's the older players that need the pressure for their places, that they're the ones who need the kick up the arse and the motivation to improve their performances. In my opinion people are too quick to make judgements in football these days. And that works both ways. A young English player puts in 5 or 6 good games and all of a sudden he's the best thing since sliced bread. A hugely consistent team has a bad patch and all of a sudden it's the end of an era and years of hardship and barren trophy cupboard lie ahead. A bit of perspective is what's needed.

Anyway, it's still only January 3rd, there's plenty of time and plenty of football between now and the end of the season. Three points tonight would be a massive boost and beating United would be fantastic for morale. Let's hope we see a proper Arsenal performance tonight.

Finally, having been MIA for a long time, we've made contact with Leopold Mendacious who has received some unusual Christmas presents and has been speaking to an old Arsenal favourite about how to solve the problems we have right now. Check out Disgusting on the real ANR.

Till tomorrow.


january 2nd

Just a quick one to let you know I'm back from my holidays having drank Ireland dry of Guinness Brew 39. Normal service will resume tomorrow and the archives should be up to date. Have some fresh arses to play with.

John Devine wishes you happy new year


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