january 31st

So it's the last day of January. That has no relevance to anything I just felt like stating the obvious.

Yesterday Arsene Wenger said the team would 'fight like mad' for Champions League qualification. We probably do need to fight like some kind of mentaller who has gone bezerk during his playtime at the institution he's been holed up in for most of his adult life after a childhood of burning puppies and clubbing people over the head. We need to feel no pain. We need to so strong that it would take 6 burly guards and a massive shot of sodium penthanol to restrain us. Properly mad. Then we have a chance.

He also spoke about Chelsea's money and the difficulties that causes when he tries to buy players. He says "When I contact a club and say, `Listen I am interested in your player', you all know what answer I get. `Thank you very much, Chelsea is on the case as well'. It is like that everywhere - even in South America. I tell them, `First try to sell him to Chelsea, and then call me back'."

In fairness, I can see why most clubs would want Chelsea to buy their players. They pay about 400% more the the market value. I suspect what Chelsea have done is to make an offer for every single player in world football today because they know that other teams will know they can't compete. Soon only Chelsea will buy players as even your common or garden Carlton Palmer equivalent will cost £34,000,000.

If the first team have been off colour this season I am now living vicariously through the reserves who win nearly every week. Neil Banfield's men hammered Norwich 5-0. Lupoli and Bendtner scored their obligatory goals, there was one from Giorgos Efrem and two for young Irish prospect Anthony Stokes who was brought to the club as a striker but seems to be finding his feet in a midfield role.

Go the rezzies. Now I must go to work. Have a fun Tuesday and last day of January.

january 30th

Is there anything better than playing football with your brother? When I was a young lad me and the mug smasher used to have epic games. I would give him a 49-0 head-start and we would play to 50. I always won 50-49. Such is the advantage of an 8 year old over a 5 year old. He kept playing too. Mostly because we didn't have any other friends as we lived in a castle and were locked away from common people but still.

Yaya Toure is somebody who has been linked with Arsenal in the past and now he's been linked with Chelsea as that hideous cunt Drogba has recommended him to Mourinho. He doesn't seem keen though and it seems he would prefer to join the Gunners, saying "Although it is great to hear Didier talk about me in this way, it is difficult to beat playing alongside your brother."

And he's quite right. If you can't beat your brother 50-49 then you should play alongside him. Yaya in, Girlberto out, that's what I say.

Finally, congratulations to Arseblog reader Dan who is in training for the London marathon. He ran a 10k wearing an Arseblog CNUT t-shirt which I used to sell until it was pointed out to me that someone else had come up with the idea before me. He's looking for sponsors for his marathon run so check out his site (with the CNUT pics!) if you think you can help.

Anyway, it's pissing down with rain here again so it means I have to use public transport to get to work. And that's a pain in the arse. Till tomorrow, Arsers.

january 29th

So out of the FA Cup we go and with it our last realistic chance of silverware this season. Thankfully, if any small comfort can be taken, it was a cruel defeat, one that we didn't deserve and one that didn't come on the back of an insipid, lifeless away performance.

The first half was fairly even with no real chances for either side until right at the end when José was set up well by Hleb but blasted over.

In the second half Arsenal dominated and for me it's because we were more physical than them. Abou Diaby, who looks quite promising, was booked for a heavy challenge on Ivan Campo, Spain's curliest buffoon. Senderos and Gilbert soon followed as they showed Bolton they weren't going to intimidated and it was good to watch.

We made chances too. Freddie had one tipped over, Robin van Persie's header hit the bar, Sol's 6 yarder should have gone but the hit the bar as well.

Van Persie had another half-chance which hit the side netting. It really did look like it was going to be a 0-0 if we didn't sneak it but then with 5 minutes to go Bolton threw over a cross and while Sol was lost in no-man's land (not really his fault) and Senderos was covering the left back position, nobody tracked Stelios from midfield and he scored the winning the goal. A tremendous pain in the arse and that cunt is making far too much of a habit of scoring against us.

Afterwards the boss was quick to highlight the positives of the performance, saying "I thought we did enough to win the game. We played away from home with a very young side and I cannot remember Bolton creating one chance until the moment they scored. It is very cruel and difficult to take, losing a game like that."

Still, lose we did and in reality, Real Madrid apart, all the focus for the season has to be on finishing in 4th place or higher. I really do love the FA Cup though and it's hard to go out as holders to Bolton, to that Walrus looking cunt of a manager, when we deserved to win that game but that's football. When things are not going your way you just don't get the breaks you need.

A word for the BBC coverage of yesterday's game. CUNTS. All the time talking about how we were putting out a weakened side when in reality the only one of the absentees who could have played was Pires. Henry and Lauren have injuries, Bergkamp couldn't possibly play after playing 120 minutes at his age during the week and Ian Wright - you can suck my hairy balls you horrible little prick. You are to football punditry what Westlife are to music.

So on we go. In other news Emmanuel Adebayor has been told he'll need to grow up if he wants to make it at Arsenal. Togo coach Steve Keshi was unimpressed at his behaviour during the ACN and he says "His behaviour has been infuriating and it certainly hampered our preparations. I hope he learns, because he's a good boy. He will be a success if he gets his feet on the ground and his head on his shoulders. He has to decide what he wants to do when he gets to Arsenal - either 'I will learn from the big boys', or 'I'm there already'."

And that's it. I'm going to get my breakfast, not sure I'm going to get the Sundays today - I hate the papers when we lose - and maybe I'll go to the cinema. Away from football for a while, anyway.

january 28th

FA Cup day today and some of my Arsenal site chums seem a bit gloomy about our prospects of getting a result today. When you look at the amount of players missing - Kolo, Eboue, Cole, Lauren, Henry, Cygan, Clichy, Cesc, Pires, Bergkamp and Gilberto - and our current form it's easy to understand. It means lots of youth, inexperience and one or two players desperately out of form but I reckon we can still get a result against what has been a bogey side for us in recent times.

Given the personnel at our disposal I fear we'll see the dreaded 4-5-1 again but I think a 4-4-2 with Reyes and Robin up front has more than enough to get us a win. After being 'bullied' off the part against Bolton earlier this season - and I do think that's an understatement when Gilberto was the one who got bullied the most and there are 6 year olds with no shinpads who could do that - the boss has brought in Martin Keown. Of all the Arsenal players of the modern era he is the one above all who would never have allowed that to happen. AW says "I felt that the team needed a bit more experience in the dressing-room. Martin has that and can give it to the younger players. He has been doing his coaching badge and I asked him to come in to help us. He is a reassuring presence, he knows about the culture of the club and he has been a winner.”

I'd really like Keown to look after the young centre-halves as well. Teach them about coping with physical opponents, how to make the fouls that don't really look like fouls and how to provide a solid platform at the back on which we can base the rest of our game. It's too late for Sol but it's good to know the problem is being addressed. Of today's game AW says "I feel the whole team is up for it. We have to win the challenges that is for sure, and not forget that when we win the ball to put it down and play our game and not play like they play."

I quite fancy our chances today, I have to say. We've got an amazing record in the FA Cup and maybe the lack of senior players isn't such a big problem. They're the ones with the pyschological block about Bolton, the youngsters won't be afraid. Can you really see Robin van Persie giving a shit about any previous games with Bolton? Me neither. It's a good chance to pick ourselves up and find some form and restore a bit of confidence to the squad again.

The boss also spoke about the Thierry Henry contract situation, saying "We are, at the moment, doing everything we need to. Since he stated he wanted to stay we have been quick to offer a contract and when we are ready we will announce it."

Not much else happening this morning. It is the rainiest, coldest day of the year here in Barcelona. I have a match at 8 if the pitch isn't underwater by then. Enjoy your Saturday, Gooners, and come on you rip-roaring red<s>currant</s>s!

january 27th

Well, Peter Hill-Wood spoke yesterday and the first thing he had to say was that the club had made a contract offer to Thierry Henry. He said "We've made him an offer which is probably as good an offer as anybody in this country - maybe other than Chelsea - would make. It's for five years. Arsene Wenger thinks he's physically capable of playing for another five years."

Some people might accuse the board of certain things but they have moved swiftly and decisively in this matter. They might also question the need to make it public but if Thierry can come out with stuff about how the club have to match his ambition then surely the club can say we've made a player a fantastic offer. It looks like it's now up to Thierry so let the nail biting begin. Apart from the contract the Chairman also put into words what a lot of Arsenal fans have been thinking about certain players in the squad, saying "What we've got is two or three players who are probably a year from not being good enough in the Champions League. Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Sol Campbell. Whether they have lost a yard of pace I don't know."

I think we do know. Sol looks enormous and in my opinion Senderos is suffering alongside him. As pointed out elsewhere they both like the play on the left hand side of the defence but the senior man doesn't seem to be helping his younger partner. I think when Kolo gets back, and gets a bit of a rest, we should play him and Senderos in Sol's position. They were rock solid at the back end of last season and while Philippe is certainly not reaching the same level of performance as he did last season he's undergoing a steep learning curve and I believe we need to stick with him. People forget Tony Adams went through the same thing - although at least he had good senior partners like David O'Leary who helped him grow and mature as a player and not one who is dragging him down with him - and even John Terry was prone to mistakes, own goals and poor positioning up until a couple of seasons ago. A good player will learn from the tough times and I think Senderos will do that because of his talent and his attitude.

Le Bob is certainly not worth a 2 year deal and Freddie is probably the one I'd be most inclined to hold on to even though we have Walcott earmarked for the right hand side. Still, it was interesting to hear it said out loud and if the feeling is these players need to be replaced then the summer could well be an interesting one.

In team news ahead of Bolton we're a bit threadbare. Campbell was supposed to be rested but now it seems Gilberto is out with a calf injury so he's back in the squad. Lauren and Thierry are definitely out with hamstring problems and Cesc is suspended. There's no Ashley Cole or Pascal Cygan either so the left back choice is going to be an interesting one. I suggest we bring back Kenny Sansom on a pay as you play deal. His girth means it would take any player about 40 seconds to get round him on either side and even Sol Campbell should be able to get across to cover in that time.

Anyway, it's Friday. Then day when beer after work is the only polite thing to do. Not a lot else going on so I'll toddle off to work. Till tomorrow.

january 26th

So you might have noticed Arseblog was off limits yesterday/today/right up until the point you've actually read this. I have had to move the site to a different server and things went swimmingly, in a Natalie Woods style. Hopefully it's all sorted now though. A big thanks to Tom who took time out from his honeymoon to try and fix the Arses but sadly it was 3.30am and for some reason he was exhausted. Bigger thanks though to forumer Sexay who took a look under the covers, fiddled with a couple of knobs and now our Arses are blowing hot air as usual. Thank you!

So we've got an FA Cup game against Bolton at the weekend and the manager is resting the 'big players, especially true in the case of Sol Campbell who seems to have been taking inspiration from Janet Jackson. I'm not especially impressed. As I pointed out yesterday, although nobody was able to read it, the FA Cup is our last real chance at a trophy this season and while I understand the need to finish top 4 is paramount I don't believe the players deserve a rest when there's the possibility of silverware. Thierry Henry says we're learning our lessons the hard way. Seeing Sol caught out again with a ball over the top that he should have done better with I doubt we're learning at all. Henry's absence is more than likely down to him having a bit of a hamstring strain rather than being purely rested.

Maybe the boss thinks we've got a better chance with younger players who aren't afraid to give 100%. Still, I'd like to see us put out as strong a team as possible although at the moment, given the form of certain players, I'm not sure what that might be. Certainly I'd like to see Flamini and Diaby get a crack in central midfield and Robin van Persie will surely start up front. With Lauren being rested I wonder if Ashley Cole is fit again.

And speaking of Ashley he'll be glad to get out on the pitch to start earning his money again after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his appeal against the fine imposed on him for going to meet Chelsea last season. The CAS said they had "no jurisdiction to rule on the dispute between Mr Cole and the Football Association Premier League."

I really hope he just pays his fine and puts this whole thing to bed once and for all. Let's face it, it's just a little over a week's wages for him now. Sadly The Times is reporting he's considering bringing the case to the High Court for restraint of trade. Pathetic. As much as I want him back in the team this kind of shit reminds you where, for me, things started to go wrong for us.

Finally, I'd like to ask a small favour of you, if you don't mind. Despite the fact that they yet again ignored sports blogs and refused to give us a category despite their being one for all kinds of minorities and nerd groups one of Arseblog's favourite blogs is up for the Best UK and Ireland weblog in the 2006 Bloggies. Please follow the link and vote for Diamond Geezer. I don't care about the rest of the categories, just vote Diamond Geezer coz he is, as his name suggests, a Diamond Geezer and he's an Arsenal fan. Vote now and tell your friends.

It's good to be back.

january 25th

An exciting cup tie last night but heartbreak for Arsenal as Wigan went through on away goals despite our 2-1 win.

José missed a penalty in the first half then spent the rest of the game sitting on his arse every time a Wigan player came near him. He needs to be stronger and quickly. We scored midway through the second half when Kerrea Gilbert, who looks more like a right footed Ashley Cole clone (and that's a good thing), broke down the right and crossed for Thierry to head into an empty net. His reluctance to take any credit for the goal was kind of nice. No more goals until 10 minutes from the end of extra time when Robin van Persie crashed home a brilliant free kick which should have been remembered as the goal that took us to Cardiff but will now just become part of his personal, and increasingly impressive, showreel.

Then the crowd started cheering our passes even though a Wigan goal would see them win the tie if we didn't score again. I know football is entertainment too but that Oléing and cheering each pass is bad enough when you're winning comfortably. It was horrible to listen to when we still had so much to lose. I can't begin to tell you how much I hate it and I was thinking "Stop doing that. It'll come back to bite us in the arse."

We had a great chance to make it 3-0 when Wigan's keeper saved from Dennis Bergkamp then lo and behold - into the last minute. A hopeful ball over the top, Sol Campbell totally misjudged the bounce, it scrambled around and fell to the feet of Jason Roberts who tucked it away. 2-1 Arsenal but Wigan go to Cardiff. And I blame the cheering.

I fucking hate last minute winners against us. I'm not going to get into individual performances but although it was a better performance than against Everton there were still some worrying displays which are going to have to be righted before we play Bolton on Saturday. Realistically the FA Cup is our last chance at silverware this season. I know we're still in the CL but given our current form it would take a miracle of me getting a go on Angelina Jolie and Kylie at the same time for us to win that.

The manager's comments about the side are a bit worrying though. He says "Saturday we will rest many players. It is the FA Cup on Saturday, we have many injuries, and many players have hamstring problems - two or three hamstrings - we will not take a chance in the FA Cup. Lauren, Campbell, Henry will all be rested."

Erm, bollocks. This season is a bit hard to take at times, eh?

january 24th

So it's all guns blazing ahead of tonight's Carling Cup semi-final against Wigan. Thierry Henry and Sol Campbell will both play, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie come back into the squad, Robert Pires may play as well and it's pretty much the first team with little sign of the youngsters. Full squad here.

We may see a debut for Abou Diaby but no doubt Gilberto will be given yet another chance to enjoy the comforts of home after being scared out of his wits away from home again. I would like to see: Almunia - Gilbert - Senderos - Sol - Lauren - Pires - Diaby - Flamini - Reyes - Henry - van Persie.

We made another signing yesterday. Estonian keeper Mart Poom signed for the club on permanent basis. Not exactly the kind of signing to have you as enthralled as Walcott but he's good back up and adds depth to the squad. Can't see the problem with it myself.

Jermaine Pennant warns Theo Walcott about joining Arsenal. Theo should listen up. Apparently arriving drunk to training, arriving late all the time to training, getting banned for driving, breaking England U21 curfew, getting sent for England U21s for punching somebody in the head then wrapping somebody else's car around a lamppost while drunk while still under a driving ban and then telling the policeman your name is Ashley Cole and getting sent to prison might limit your chances of first team action at Arsenal. Wise words.

Robert Pires could leave Arsenal for Valencia as they're offering a two year deal whereas Arsenal, quite rightly in my opinion, are only offering a one year deal.

Feeling well enough to go to work today, which is a shame.

january 23rd

Not a great deal to say today after yesterday's lengthy post. We've got a day before our Carling Cup semi-final and with it being a game we have to win you wonder how many 'first teamers' the boss will put out. It's a hard one. I'd want the senior players to play so we get to a cup final and they can use the game to find some form but at the same time the mostly young players who have got this far deserve a chance. One for the boss anyway.

New striker Emmanuel Adebayor now appears to be staying with Togo and not quitting the ACN despite harsh words from his coach who said "He wouldn't do it with Wenger, maybe it is because I'm a black coach. If I was white, maybe he would have more respect for me."

I really don't know too much about him, I have to say, but he's not making a brilliant first impression in terms of his character.

Off sick today so that's all you're getting.

january 22nd

After the week we've had, signing three new players and the excitement that has brought, yesterday's game against Everton was typical of our season and made everything very much an anti-climax. A 1-0 defeat and another insipid away performance.

Cesc is cool

We played 4-5-1 in the first half and that was our first mistake. After taking Boro apart playing 4-4-2 why the manager chose to play a formation which just doesn't suit us and makes us as much of a goal threat as Kaba Diawara with two broken legs is beyond me. We can't play 4-5-1 - we have never put in a good performance using it - and I feared the worst.

The second mistake came when James Beattie got between a hesitant Philippe Senderos and a stationary, leaden footed Sol Campbell (who carried on his fine form of letting small players beat him to headers all day long) to clip the ball past Lehmann to make it 1-0. I will come back to this goal in a bit. He could have had a second when Cesc was surrounded and not a single Arsenal player made any kind of move to allow him to pass. He tried to pass it back to the keeper, didn't see Beattie but luckily he clipped the ball well wide when he should have just gone past the keeper.

We had two decent chances first half, the first of which saw Freddie hit the post via the keeper and Cesc put the rebound wide, the second was when Cesc was clean through and forced a decent save from Nigel Martyn although Pires looked well placed for a square ball.

You can't blame him for shooting in that position though, we're accused of overplaying too much as it is and Pires was probably offside. In the second half we played 4-4-2 and looked a little bit more dangerous although not much. We saw Hleb come on and do nothing, as usual, while Abou Diaby got 10 minutes at the end and it's impossible to make any judgement on him although physically he is very like Vieira. Right at the death Cesc got a red card for grabbing Tim Cahill around the neck. You'll hear the usual shite about how you shouldn't raise your hands which is all well and good but Cahill fell over like a girl and Cesc was trying to stick up for his captain who felt he had been fouled earlier. Granted he shouldn't have done it but if more of our players showed more of his passion and commitment then we wouldn't suffer horrible away days like this one. He explains himself here I suppose he'll get 3 matches now which is the last thing we need as I come back to the Everton goal.

The ball is dropping, underneath it is a footballer who is paid thousands and thousands of pounds a week, he's a World Cup winner and vastly experienced. Instead of trying to control the ball he fly kicks it like a Sunday league player right up in the air, it drops to an Everton player in the end who plays it through for Beattie to score. I lost count the number of times Gilberto either gave the ball away or pussied out of tackles or challenges. Even though it was only on TV I swear to God I could see him try for one header with his eyes closed. It was another atrocious performance from him and maybe the reason we're playing 4-5-1 is to try and add some stability to a midfield in which he has been the weak link all season long. The only time he did make a challenge was a cowardly two footed lunge into the back of an Everton player for which he was rightly booked and which sums up everything about him at the moment. He is playing so badly it's hard to find words for it. I'm really not one to single out players for poor performance, and I like him as a person, but Gilberto needs a very hard kick up the arse. He is afraid to tackle, afraid to be physical and he insists on giving the ball back to the opposition as much as possible. Some people might say Cesc is lightweight but he's not afraid to get stuck in and his partner in central midfield is embarrassing to watch now. It's such a shame Cesc got a red card because it means Gilberto will play more. If I was the manager I'd send him back to Brazil with a one way ticket. He's supposed to be the senior man in midfield but he doesn't take any responsibility and leaves an 18 year old to try and do the job of two men. Unacceptable.

That's not to say the rest of them were much better yesterday. Thierry booted the ball away at the final whistle and if he'd put that much energy into the game we might have done better. Yesterday we lacked leadership, we needed him as the captain to show an example but he was strutting around on the back of a hat-trick last week. Now, I love Thierry. He's a fucking brilliant player but as valuable as his 3 goals against Boro are we need him to do more in games when we struggle. As a forward he's not going to be involved as much as other players but he was sloppy and careless yesterday and we need more than that. That said the poxy 4-5-1 formation doesn't suit him at all and I really do have to ask a question of the manager. I understand wanting to be more solid away from home but after a 7-0 win which would have done wonders for our confidence why do we go back into our shell and play a formation which, with the players we have, we're fucking crap at? And why take off the right back who was having a decent debut and put Freddie Ljungberg, one of this season's worst offenders, there instead? Bizarre.

The sooner we get back to playing 4-4-2 home and away the better. Maybe we can't carry Pires and Ljungberg away from home as the wide players but we could easily drop them both, play José on the left and let Flamini do a Ray Parlour style job on the right. Watching us lose is depressing but watching us lose knowing we've handed the initiative to the opposition right at the kick off by playing 4-5-1 breaks my heart. And I'm a double-hard bastard, so I am.

Anyway, again it was the senior players letting us down and letting down their younger team-mates who have needed more from them all season. There are a number of players I would be quite happy to see us sell this coming summer, despite all they've done for us, so they can go pick up their retirement fund wages elsewhere. The manager was critical of Everton afterwards calling them efficient but saying they didn't play football. Sour grapes, if you ask me. They were committed and energetic and they all knew their jobs, the direct opposite of us. They weren't dirty or overly physical. As for the sun being in our eyes, well I'm lost for words. I know it's a difficult thing to deal with but come on. He then went on to invite everyone to a re-run next week against Bolton which will just redouble Bolton's ambition to play a physical game. We used to cope with physical games by playing good football and dishing out a bit back. We can't seem to do either at the moment.

And while our away form certainly warrants close investigation and criticism it's the manner of these defeats that is most worrying. There's no fight, no sense of urgency, nobody really standing up and taking responsibility. Cesc was the most vocal yesterday but where was the cajoling and encouragement from the likes of Sol Campbell? The boss says he's worried about the Champions League place. I think we all are. Despite the excitement of the signings it's all very depressing at the moment.

Anyway, a quick game of spot the difference to liven up this Sunday. On January 12th new signing Emmanuel Adebayor slammed his then club Monaco, saying "They don't want me to play for my country, but I'm ready to die for my country. My country is my country and I'm going to play for them whether they like it or not."

Yesterday, after being left on the bench for Togo's first game in the ACN, he said "I am done with Togo for the Nations Cup and I'm heading home to visit my sick mother."

Excellent, sounds like we've got a real class act on our hands here. If he's not playing in the ACN then he should really come to the club that's now paying his wages but that probably doesn't suit him. Away from that fella if you were wondering why the Walcott deal took so long the 84 signatures must have had something to do with it.

Have a good Sunday, Arsefans. A few beers might help.

january 21st

Well, thank God he signed. It's been a boring week for some Arsenal fans as all the other Arsenal fans were talking Walcott all the time. It was like being on a long car journey with the kids. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

It was hardly a case that the deal was in the balance either. It was obvious he was going to sign. Anyway, what we have got is one of England's finest young talents for £5 down with another £7.5 to be paid based on appearances and achievements. Theo Walcott is now an Arsenal player.

Arsene Wenger said "Theo Walcott is a very young player, but has already shown in his performances for Southampton that he is a talented player with huge potential. We are delighted Theo has signed for the Club and will make a fantastic addition to our squad."

He also thinks it won't be too long before he's ready for first team action, saying "As a player he is ready to compete in the first team. Maybe he needs an adaptation of a few weeks, but after that you have to be open - you look at the quality and not the age of the players."

Where exactly he's going to play him remains to be seen but I suspect wide right is where we're likely to see him. There's no doubting his potential and his ability but at 16 he's still not fully grown and maybe up front is too much physically for him.

The player himself was delighted to join the club, saying "I’m very excited about this move and the chance to train with world-class players. It’s all about my development as a player. Money has never been an option for me so I don’t pay much attention to that. All the youngsters at Arsenal get a chance to play and, hopefully, I will do that one day and go on to big things."

Wenger compared him to Rooney, obviously in terms of his talent as a footballer and not his fatness or thick necked studpidity and while some people might think £12.5m for a 16 year old is a lot you have to think how much he'd have cost in a season or two seasons time. One thing I think we have to do is be patient with him as well. He is only 16 and no matter how good a player he is that can be a disadvantage at times. Overall though, like everyone else, I am very happy he's an Arsenal player. At last.

Ahead of today's game against Everton Sol Campbell is fit and should line up alongside Philippe Senderos in the centre of defence, with Kerrea Gilbert at right back meaning Lauren moves over the the left. New signing Abou Diaby could make the bench. Right, I'm off to do the shopping then to see the Everton game. No match for my team this weekend so it's a peaceful and injury free Saturday.

january 20th

Walcott Watch: Yesterday Arsene Wenger said he hoped we'd have it all sorted in the next 24 hours. So that means some time today. And there you go. The hype is just too much for me.

Thierry Henry said he thought about leaving Arsenal but decided to stay because he loves the club. Hurrah. He said his recent statement was made because "I just wanted to clarify the situation for the fans. I wanted to say to those who love the club, what I have deep in my heart."

Talks on a new deal are only at the early stages with every single person at Arsenal working 24 hours a day without sleep to ensure we sign a 16 year old from Southampton.

Saturday's game against Everton sees us without a recognised left back, or any left sided defender, for the 56th time this season. Ashley Cole is definitely out as is Pascal Cygan. We could see Kerrea Gilbert at right back with Lauren on the left. Sol Campbell could be back too. Robin van Persie is likely to miss out but Dennis Bergkamp is back in contention.

Abou Diaby won't feature this week but he talks about why and how he joined Arsenal and snubbed Chelsea. He says "Chelsea had contacted me before I moved here but the fact that Arsenal have a French manager in Arsene Wenger means a lot to me. I thought that Arsenal would be the best place to be and I’m sure the other French players will help me to settle quickly. The way the club conducted themselves in the contract negotiations was impressive and now I’m actually here I’m doubly delighted."

Doubly delighted. Fantastic. I'm triply thrilled he's doubly delighted. And that's it. Another week over and done with and now the weekend begins. Nobody does any work on a Friday, do they?

january 19th

Walcott Watch: Reports last night said he was going to be having a medical today. The old 'cup and cough' before signing on the dotted line. I know how it is from my time in the Foreign Legion although some of the men seemed to enjoy the cupping for much longer than the medical. Anyway, that's the latest. Such drama.

Earlier Thierry Henry had a few words to say and he let the youngster know he would welcome him to Highbury, probably by having a little party with fizzy drinks and ice-cream and Rice Krispie cakes. That should certainly rule Chelsea out of the race as they were only offering typical Russian fare like Yak bollocks and the refried brains of Chechen rebels.

New signing Emmanuel Adebayor (why do I keep trying to write Akinbiyi? That's not a good sign) is sure he has a big part to play in our season. He says "Arsene Wenger has confidence in me. He even declared at my arrival in England, 'you are not here to play a secondary role'."

Robin van Persie might have something to say about that. He does go on to say though "When I think about this, I feel I have to do my best to be at the top", which is good to hear. At least he realises he's got quality ahead of him at the moment and that if he wants to play he's got to perform consistently, something he hasn't really done for Monaco up to now.

It looks like Ashley Cole is out of Saturday's game against Everton with thigh injury although details are sketchy at the moment. With Kolo and Manu Eboue away on ACN duty and Pascal Cygan out with a hamstring strain it means that I eagerly await AW's call for my first start of the season.

Not much else happening. Hopefully the Walcott saga will be put to bed tonight. At 8pm. After being read tucked in and read a story. Till tomorrow.

january 18th

Walcott Watch: Nothing definite yet. It seems Rupert is trying to spark a bidding war. Yesterday he said "We have now received a couple of offers and the indications are another may follow. These have not been accepted or rejected at this stage."

No doubt Chelsea are one of the clubs who have bid along with ourselves. At the end of the day though it doesn't matter if Chelsea offer a squillion, billion and ten pounds if the player has decided he wants to play for Arsenal. I'd expect we'll hear something today.

In other news Ashley Cole says Arsenal want second place in the league. The returning left-back said "Realistically, we are not [now] going to aim for the top spot, but if we can keep winning all our games then we can get second. A team like Arsenal has to be in the Champions League and there is a lot of expectation on the players."

No harm in aiming as high as we can no matter how difficult it might be. Arsene Wenger has praised young Swiss centre-half Johann Djourou. A couple of years ago the boss was determined to keep him from the spotlight and told reporters to forget the name he'd just mentioned. Now though it seems he is no longer he who cannot be named but he who has made his league debut and done well. New signing Emmanuel Adebayor reveals Sp*rs were interested in signing him before we made our move. He says he turned them down because they are 'hapless cunts'.

Managing director Keith Edelman talks about the new stadium and what it will mean to the club. "We will be much better off financially than we were at Highbury once we move to the new stadium. The new stadium is a positive contribution. Immediately we move to the new stadium we will be earning more money than we would at Highbury."

And that's the bottom line really. Years of history cast aside for money but in the modern game you either move on or get left behind and no matter how sentimental some of us get for Highbury the reality is the new stadium is vital if we want to compete in the long term against the big boys in the Premiership and Europe. However, what separates fans from people like Edelman is evident when he says "Our gate income will probably be the highest gate income in the world because we've got 60,000 fans and we've got higher-priced tickets and more premium tickets than any other club in the UK."

Nice to know that he appreciates how much it costs to go to games now and he loves all of you because you buy his higher-priced tickets and his premium tickets. Even if that was the case was there any need for it to be made public? I think we're all proud of our new stadium and appreciate the work the board has done to get it up and running but comments like that are horribly boastful at the expense of the people who have to pay for these tickets. Anyway, his comments aren't going to make him any less popular with Arsenal fans. I'm not sure that's possible.

That's about it then. Those of you fretting about Walcott - try not to worry too much. Although it does remind me of when we were after Charlie Nicholas and I said 4 decades of the rosary every night which made him sign. Whatever works for you.

january 17th

Still no definite news on the Walcott thing. It seems Rupert Lowe was off quail hunting then he went on a Fabergé egg hunt before going to a wild party with his friends Tristan, Tarquin and Alistair where they stayed up all night snorting lines of caviar and making the servants play Twister.

No doubt we'll hear something soon enough. I'm not sure I believe all the stories about the bid being rejected and the Independent says the Southampton board will discuss Arsenal's bid today.

Thierry Henry talks about the new signings, saying Diaby is a great player for his age while Adebayor is really good at colouring without going outside the lines and Arsene Wenger talks about Thierry Henry and how he never thought he'd score as many goals as he has.

Apart from that there is bugger all going on so that's it for today. I don't have time to make stuff up and flesh out the stories that are already there. I'm sorry but I have a life, such as it is. I'm not merely here for your entertainment you know. Now, if I were to win the lottery I could hire someone to either make stuff up for me or to go about my normal day to day business so I had time to make stuff up. It's quite disgraceful that I haven't won it yet.

I'm off to see my MEP.

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.





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