11.18 - The News of the World is reporting that Sylvain Wiltord has told Arsenal he's leaving. He says "If another club was to offer me more of a goalscoring role, then I would leave".
He's been used on the right side of midfield a lot in the second half of this season, and has done well in fairness. 15 goals this season is a pretty good return, but I don't think too many Arsenal fans would cry if he left. He has never really won over the fans completely. His work-rate is fantastic, but too often his lack of touch or inability to play the simple pass has left people frustrated.
It also adds credibility to the strong rumours that Wiltord will go to PSG to facilitate the return of the 'enfant terrible', Nicolas Anelka. It's always been Wenger's dream to play Henry and Anelka up front together. Personally, I think they'd be brilliant together, the pace would scare the bejebus out of defences and in terms of goalscoring, they'd be as good as any other strike partnership in world football.
Also, at the moment I'm trying to track down something I heard whispers of a couple of days ago. I'll keep looking and hopefully I'll be able to put it up on the site later on.
17.55 - Arsenal 3-0 Sunderland. (Vieira 2, Bergkamp 4, Wiltord 29)
Early goals again as we came flying out of the blocks. Vieira opened the scoring, Bergkamp scored the 2nd and Wiltord added the 3rd on 29 mins. From then on, it sounded like cruise control for Arsenal, trying to save some energy for the game against Charlton on Monday.
Thierry Henry had a goal disallowed, but still put his Arsenal shirt over his head to show a t-shirt saying 'GIO - ROBERT - THANK YOU'. Hopefully he'll have a chance to show it off properly on Monday. Given the other results today, this was a very professional performance from Arsenal.
Finally, we have to mention that today was Tony Adams' 500th league game for Arsenal. If anybody embodies the spirit of this club, it's our captain. Well done Tony.
So, a day of rest and then off to The Valley to make April fools of Charlton with any luck. Happy Easter to you all.
11.00 - Fab blasts Wenger over Pires injury. Bald, pointy headed Man Utd keeper has accused Arsenal of treating Robert Pires like a robot therefore causing his injury.
He said "I know the right time for me to take my foot off the gas, but maybe that wasn't the case with Robert. At Manchester United, and also the French national side, they understand that footballers are not robots."
Quite. At least you can program a robot not to come charging out of its goal like some kind of demented schoolboy and try and dribble around the opposition strikers. As for taking your foot off the gas, you're a goalkeeper Fabien, you spend most of the match standing scratching your arse. How can you need a rest?
We at A R S E B L O G wish you all the very worst luck today. We're hoping for a complete miskick in the last minute to give Leeds the winner.
Sunderland at THOF for us today. 3 points vital. More later.
14.35 - Seeing as it's Good Friday (although how they manage to call it 'good' Friday to celebrate they crucifixion is beyond me. It wasn't a good Friday for Jesus was it?), here's something semi-religious for you.
Univeral Ministries will ordain you. You just need to fill in a form, wait a couple of days, and that's it. The Reverend Arseblogger highly recommends it.
11.30 - Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has given an interview to the Telegraph and has indicated that players will be sold this summer to help cut back on the wage bill. You can have a read of it here. As usual with Hill-Wood some of his comments seem a little blunt, for example 'Campbell doesn't feel like a free transfer', but that's the old Etonian in him, I guess.
But who's on the way out? Here are the A R S E B L O G predictions.
So with nearly that amount of money coming in, how do we replace the players who have left?
Van Bommell for Vieira seems to be a dead cert. Parlour's sale will see Pennant get more chances, and more of the younger players like Svard, Aliaidiere and that chap from Sierra Leone (Toure) will break through. We do need to strengthen at the back, and I reckon Darren Purse from Birmingham City could come in this summer. I don't see us splashing out on someone like Hofland, although that would be nice.
Agree or disagree? We're always glad to get your emails, even the ones calling us names.
20.25 - Jamie Ashdown, son of former Liberal party leader Paddy, signs for one month on loan as a cover for Stuart Taylor, Graham Stack and Craig Holloway who are all injured. Jerome Thomas has gone on loan to QPR.
Bob speaks to L'Equipe "I would simply like people to leave me alone now. Things are clear, the World Cup is dead for me. I took the decision to wait for three weeks to decide whether I will be operated on my knee or not, because I wanted to make my decision after a lot of thinking.
I would like medical secrecy to apply for my knee as well, like any other normal human being. My situation is difficult enough and I don't need some people to say anything more about it. One day it is not serious, the next I am out for six months and the following there is a hope. I am trying to do things as professionally as possible and I am clearly surrounded by competent people. I can be trusted, I will do my best to get better as fast as I can."
Added+ - Ashley Cole wallpaper and a hi-res scan of Pires scoring the equaliser in the Champions League game against Lazio last season. Click on the 'OTHER' section above to find them.
15.00 - If Michael Barrymore got married to Peter Schmeichel, would he call himself Michael Schmeichel?
11.00 - So today is transfer deadline day. Can't imagine there'll to be too many coming in to Highbury, perhaps one or two of the younger players might move down a division or two.
I remember transfer deadline day in 1994, opening up a newspaper and seeing Anders Limpar holding up and Everton shirt. Well, my heart just broke. I loved Anders and he had been sold. And then we bought Eddie McGoldrick.....I mean, seriously.
I think Anders summed it up best when a few months after joining Everton he said "Sometimes I wonder what the fuck I'm doing here". Too right.
If there's any Arsenal transfer action today - in or out - we'll let know.
21.45 - So ITV Digital has been placed in administration. Serves them right the miserable shower of no-good, non email replying, Peter Brackely's no legs hiding, overpaying for football rights gobshites. Bad news for Nationwide league clubs who have already budgeted for the TV money and now face the very real threat of extinction. Not content with trying to put people off football with their amateurish, advertising interrupted broadcasts coupled with ridiculously poor punditry, they've gone the whole hog here and put people off football by wiping out the clubs they support. Well done, you complete and utters tossers.
Have a look at Ormondroyd from Football Unlimited. If you like that, check out his site at www.ormondroyd.co.uk
The professor who originally examined Pires said this "I personally think there is no chance of recovery, simply because the cruciate ligament is not in the right place and it will be impossible for it to find some stability. I do not want to start a conflict of interests with Doctor Ferret, who is not a surgeon.
If, for psychological reasons, some have decided to make Robert believe that a miracle is possible, then why not? I saw his despair when I told him the news on Monday morning. He must be really confused now."
I hope this obvious conflict of interest between France and Arsenal is resolved quickly, for Bob's sake.
Added+ - Ray Parlour wallpaper, in the 'OTHER' section as usual, and if you're a Romford Pele fan, check this out. From the makers of The Grimster.
11.13 - If Roger Lemerre had his way.......
09.45 - French manager Roger Lemerre has blasted Arsenal's gruelling schedule and blamed Robert Pires' injury on the fact that he's played so many games. Of course, you didn't mention that you took him round the world and back for a meaningless friendly did you, you poxy bastard?
The lines need to be drawn in the sand now - Robert is an Arsenal player, we pay his wages, we should decide who treats him, when he treats him and how he treats him. Bob is off to Geneva for a 3rd opinion today, and it strikes me that Lemerre and France do NOT have to best interests of the player as their primary concern. They want to patch him up, play him in the World Cup and then ship him back to Arsenal whatever the consequences. If that means another 6 or 9 months out after the tournament, so be it.
The Sun and The Mirror both say that Arsenal are ready to go 'to war' with France over this issue, and rightly so in my opinion. The primary concern should be for the player, not the prospects of the reigning world champions in Japan and South Korea.
Meanwhile, Thierry Henry has gone all Fox Mulder and started talking conspiracies here. He reckons there are those above who want to stop Arsenal winning, and has used the example that most Arsenal fans would use to defend his 3 match ban. If Roy Keane can verbally batter referees week in-week out, how come nothing happens to him? A very good question, you have to say......
20.01 - Some word that the Pires injury might not be as serious as first feared - see here for details. I'm slightly confused as to why all his treatment is being carried out under the watchful eye of the French coach, but we can only assume it's all being done with the blessing of Arsenal FC.
I see that Arsenal.com set up a thingy to send get well soon messages to Robert Pires. They didn't do anything of the sort for poor old Giovanni Van Bronckhurst when he suffered the same injury - how must he feel? I'd say he's got a right pain in his knee with the insensitivity of it all. Shame on you arsenal.com webmaster.
There's a colour version of the new Arsenal kit - as premiered on Sunday here on A R S E B L O G - on Arsenal World.
There's been a lot of talk over the last few days that Jaap Stam will join Arsenal this summer. I had heard that we were looking at a centre-half in Italy, but as I exclusively revealed earlier in the month, it was Verona defender Marco Zanchi that had caught the eye of the Arsenal scouts. Maybe that was just a smoke screen. Also, some talk of Overmars being brought back in on loan as cover for Bob, but ask yourself this - if he can't get into the most average Barcelona side of the last 10 years, why would we want him?
I've been asked to do a wallpaper of Lauren, but I'm not going to, for a couple of reasons. 1 - I can't really find any decent pictures of him and 2 - I just can't find it in myself to like him. He's a funny looking bloke, who hasn't quite convinced me with his football, and at this moment I am totally and utterly indifferent to him. I don't dislike him, but I don't have any warm, cuddly feelings for him the way I do for almost all the other members of the squad - and I mean that in the most heterosexual way possible. Not that I have a problem with gayness, some of my best friends are gay blah blah blah. Just wanted to make sure my comments were not misinterpreted and don't come back to haunt me with a 'ARSENAL WEBSITE BLOKE WANTS TO SHAG ENTIRE PLAYING SQUAD EXCEPT LAUREN' headline. Seriously, how do you think that would make him feel?
So, for the moment, Lauren wallpaper is a non-runner. Of course, when he scores the goal that wins us the league, I might just revise my way of thinking.....
08.55 - Given the drama of yesterday, I am confidently predicting that today will be a slow day in terms of Arsenal news. Which is just as well, coz I'm gonna be out all day. I'll probably come back to find we've signed Rivaldo on loan.....
To keep you occupied for a couple of seconds, you can download the brand new Oleg Luzhny wallpaper - as usual, you'll find it in the 'OTHER' section above.
19.55 - Arsene Wenger received a phone call this morning from Paris. He was hoping for good news, but knew deep down it was likely to be bad. The news came through that Robert Pires had damaged his cruciate ligament and would be out for several months.
'Merde', he thought, 'what a great load of bollocks this is. I wish he'd landed on that Dabizas bastard instead, then none of this would have happened'.
He took the long walk from his office to the training pitch where the players were finishing up for the day. "Garçons" he said, "I have some bad news about Robert, he will not play again this season". Nobody said anything at first, then a lone, plaintive sob broke the silence.
"There, there Oleg", he said, putting an arm around his Ukrainian defender, "I know, I know".
"You know why this happened, don't you?" asked Kanu. "It's Danish witchcraft. That red nosed, pig farming, bacon advertising, scotch drinking leviathan has called on the ancient Norse gods to strike down the man who humiliated him last week".
"For sure" said Dennis Bergkamp, "I tried some Dutch witchcraft on him after he saved that penalty, Unfortunately it just made his cheese mouldy and his clogs unwearable".
All the while Vieira, Henry and Wiltord stood in silence, brooding, contemplating life without the 4th musketeer. "You know what this means", said Henry. Vieira and Wiltord looked up. "One for all, and all for......"
"JUAN!!" said Juan. "Quiet you" said David Seaman, and put Juan back in his pocket, "I told you stay in there and keep your mouth shut. I can't bring you anywhere, can I?"
Thierry Henry's reaction to the Pires injury here. French manager Roger Lemerre blames the gruelling schedule for Bob's injury here.
13.33 - The news we all feared. Pires is out for the rest of the season. He's suffered serious cruciate ligament damage and is to undergo surgery this week. Obviously he's going to miss the world cup as well.
It's a huge blow for Arsenal at this stage of the season. To lose the most creative player in the team is going to make life very hard for us, but I suppose the form of Dennis Bergkamp will help to a certain degree. In terms of the team, I'd play Freddie out left and one of Wiltord, Lauren or Parlour on the right. Arsenal always seem to thrive when up against it, and I hope this makes the rest of the players more focussed and determined to win something this season. Let's hope Bob can be back with the squad as soon as possible, coz when there's laps of honour to be done, he deserves to hobble around on his crutches and be part of it.
The other thing to consider is how will it affect Bob. He's been playing the football of his life, and would have starred in the World Cup. Will he ever recapture the form of this season? I guess it's a test of the mental strength of a player, as well as the physical. Maybe it's just me, but this type of injury seems to be more prevelant over the last few seasons? Is it because players are such finely tuned athletes that when something goes wrong, it goes really wrong? They're like thoroughbred horses. For a full list of our injuries this season, see March 23rd.
Anyway, I'm sure the player of the year award will cheer him up a bit when it comes, but in the meantime Arseblog would like to wish Monsieur Pires all the very best in his recovery and we'd like to thank him for his incredible contribution to our season so far.
Get well soon.
11.15 - So Liverpool are top of the league. I really hate Liverpool, the bain of my life for many years. Try growing up an Arsenal fan with a Liverpool supporting brother when they were winning all the time. Not only that, it was my little brother. Granted, he's been very quiet right throughout the '90s, but he's starting to annoy me again now.
The signing of the season has to be Jerzy Dudek though - what a great goalkeeper he is. I think if Arsenal had signed him like they were supposed to, we'd be a few points clear at the top of the table. He was so close to joining us that the people that run www.arsenal.com even put his player profile up the website. Then it all fell through and we signed Richard Wright. Hurrah. Dudek replaced Sander Westerveld at Anfield, apparently Houllier wanted rid of the Dutchman not long after he signed, but just didn't have the heart to tell him. Sorry.
Meanwhile, Paddy has had a right pop at Deportivo La Coruña for their dismal showing against Bayer Leverkeusen last week. Read about it here. He also says that he's going to talk to the club about prolonging his stay, which we're glad to hear. He'd been accused of making empty promises by saying he'd see out the 2 years left on his deal, forcing Arsenal to sell him.
You'll not be surprised to hear that I still haven't heard a thing from ITV after sending yet more emails. Obviously they're too busy trying to bankrupt half the football clubs in the country.
16.48 - Added Gilles Grimandi wallpaper. You'll find it in the 'OTHER' section above. He's much maligned is the Grimster, but I've always liked him I have to say. He came to the club as a centre-half, but has moved into midfield over the course of his Arsenal career. People tend to make him the scapegoat when we lose games, but he never gets any credit when we win. He's a good tackler, a steady passer who doesn't give the ball away very often and does a good job whenever he's called upon. You don't stay in the Arsenal 1st team squad for 5 seasons if you're not a good player.
Of course, there's the other side of his game, which tends to border on the dirty / theatric. See here for example,but that's all part and parcel of the wonder of Gilles. For a more in depth tribute to our under-rated Gallic Gene Wilder, have a look here.
Some other stories abound today that Robert Pires has said he'll decide his Arsenal future after the World Cup and maybe he'll get a 'chance to move to a bigger club'. A R S E B L O G doubts the authenticity of these tales to be honest, it was only a couple of weeks ago he was saying he wanted to sign for life. More media stirring, probably coz Man Utd lost 1-0 at home to Boro yesterday....heh.
On the injury front for Bob, initial predictions are that he could be out for upto 4 weeks. He's gone off to some specialist somewhere in France to get a scan. Does anyone know if this is the club sending him to France? Why isn't he seeing a specialist in England?
Anyway, we at A R S E B L O G call on the ancient gods to help Bob get better quickly. I'm off for a pint of goat's blood and to find a sacrificial virgin. Anyone know Britney's telephone number?
12.27 - A brief update just to let you know there's a picture of the new Arsenal kit here. Unfortunately, it's in B&W, but it's better than nothing. More later.
15.32 - Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle. Good and bad, mostly good, but the bad is pretty damn bad.
First the good. A fantastic team performance, all over the pitch. A great response the the disappointment of Wednesday. A goal in a minute from Bob after a great Bergkamp pass, then Bob returned to favour a few minutes later and 2-0. Dennis played brilliantly, he hit the bar twice with typical curling efforts, and stuck in a great free kick for Sol to score the third.
Tony Adams and Ashley Cole were back from injury, a despite a couple of early moments got into the game very well. Brother Oleg had one of his best games at right back, Edu looks better and better each game and made some excellent passes, Richard Wright looked solid and made one great save, Freddie was all over the park and Gilles played really well when he came on (apart from the moment when he was clean through on goal and couldn't decide what to do with the ball) . Which leads us to.....
....the bad. Robert Pires landed awkwardly on his knee after about 25 minutes and was taken off. At half-time the news seemed to be quite positive, but after the game Arsene Wenger said we would be without Pires 'for a while' and that 'it doesn't look good'. Without Pires we're still a good team, just not as good as when he plays, and if he missed the end of the season, it's going to make life that bit more difficult for us.
I can't remember a season where we've suffered so many injuries to so many players. Off the top of my head this is what we've had to put up with.
||Rest of season
||Since January - still out
||4-5 months - two spells
||Ankle, knee, ribs
||2 months - Jan - March
||Ankle, knee, back, side, top, bottom, hair, ears etc etc
||Most of the season
|Giovanni Van Bronckhurst
||rest of season - till Sept/Dec 2002
||rest of season
I'm sure I've probably forgotten some or got some of the time spans wrong, so feel free to email me to let me know.
Still, I'm not trying to harp on and make excuses because of our injury list, that would be just too David O'Leary for me. It simply shows what strength in depth there is in the squad, and those people who consistently have a pop at Grimandi, or Luzhny or Stepanovs or Wiltord, ask yourself where we'd be without them now.
Get well soon Bob, you floppy haired genius.
21.35 - Today was a fine day. Sunshine, a book, the terrace, some beer. Not thinking so much about football, although I am looking forward to getting up tomorrow, having some breakfast in the sun and then watching the match.
Anyway, you've probably all heard the Urban Legends that go around - for example, Richard Gere and his gerbil related antics, Marilyn Monroe's six toes, Glenn Hoddle hates cripples ....oh, hang on...anyway, you know what I mean. Well, here's a site to have a look at over the weekend, some myths dispelled and others confirmed.
Speaking of Urban Legends, we heard some time ago that Nicky Butt was born with a tail. This is not as uncommon as it sounds, and it's easily removed in a short surgical procedure when the child is very young. I don't know what the medical term for it is, probably something like 'Freakus Appendageus', but no doubt someone will tell me. Anyway, with our hi-tech graphics supercomputer, we've made a picture of what Nicky Butt would look like if he still had his tail.
I think I might just have to email Manchester United to find out if this is true or not.
09.30 - Now, you might know we at A R S E B L O G have criticised ITV over the last month. I've sent them countless emails to try and verify the Peter Brackley's legs story and received no reply. We've said that we think The Premiership on ITV is a load of old goat's piss, and we've tried unsucessfully to browse the ITV football website, but that's a drop in the ocean.
After agreeing a deal with the Nationwide league for the TV rights to the games for their white elephant of a digital service, they now say they don't want to pay the full amount and are trying to renegotiate the deal so they pay less money. However, clubs have been banking on the money and simply cannot afford to do without it. It's estimated that up to 50 clubs could go bankrupt. You can read about it here and here.
The Milwall chairman says "Granada and Carlton have a business plan from the Ali G school of business". So congratulations to ITV, you've outdone yourselves this time. Crap coverage, biased commentary and useless pundits aside, putting football clubs out of business is some achievement. ITV should be made honour the deal, and threatened with legal action and a good beating if they try and wangle their way out of it.
So it's onto Newcastle this weekend and the FA cup replay at Highbury. Bobby Robson fears an Arsenal backlash after the disappointment midweek, I hope gets it. Keown and Jeffers both played in the reserves 4-1 win over Spurs reserves last night, so maybe they'll be in the frame.
I heard a great story about Bobby Robson a while ago. He was doing a book signing for his autobiography and one chap came up and spoke to him while he was signing his copy of the book. "You must have signed loads of these today" yer man said. Bobby replies "Oh aye lad, hundreds". So the chap takes his book and leaves the shop. He has a look at it when he gets outside and it says "To xxxxx, all the best, Bobby Hundreds".
21.15 - Lots of negativity about today from some sections of fans, saying the team is not good enough, we're not a big enough club etc etc. Well, the biggest club in Italy finished bottom of our group and Roma got knocked out by dour, defensive Liverpool, so that doesn't work.
Personally, I think the reason we've done so poorly in Europe this season is because the players don't want to win it as much as they want to win the league. It takes a huge effort to go this far in the season without losing away from home in the league, there have been huge efforts to win games - the two Villa games for example and Liverpool away - and maybe they just can't quite reach those peaks of performance in Europe because they know they want the league more. Pyschologically, they're more focussed and motivated for the league games.
If that's the case, then I'm glad we're out in a way, because it means there are no more midweek distractions and they can go hell for leather for the last 8 games. On the other hand though, what sort of an impact will it have if they don't win anything this season? To put in that amount of effort, commitment and energy, to go out and try 100% in every single second of every single game, and to come out of it empty handed might be too much for some players. How it will affect them, I don't know, but I can't imagine it will be positive. We've come second too many times now to be able to turn around and say 'Next year, we'll try even harder'. It's win or bust for this Arsenal team I think.
Lastly, thanks to you for all your visits. So many that I've started getting emails asking me to display banners on the site, and I receive a certain amount 'per click'. However, while it would be nice to make a few bob, it's not absolutely necessary to keep the site going, and it would certainly take away from my stunningly minimalist design. Add that to the fact that the banners are all for crap nobody needs and it's a non-runner.
I did seek some advice from that nice chap Richard at www.boring-boring-arsenal.co.uk and he told me these banner guys were just a bunch of evil criminals fronting for the Chinese mafia and if you get in with them they'll have you running drugs into the Middle East and if you don't do it they kill your family and stuff.
Well, he said they weren't worth a shite really, but I like my story better. Thanks again Richard.
10.48 - "We'll win it next year" - Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal boss is going to channel all his efforts, skill, know-how and experience into finishing first in the Fair Play league next season. Or he could be talking about the Champions League, who knows?
Patrick Vieira is going to stay with Arsenal, and that's according to the man himself. "I will be here next season. Where do you want me to go?" he asked journalists after the Juventus game. "I want you to go to Madrid" - Mark Irwin of The Sun, who took lumps of money from Vieira's agent last summer to write stories.
However if you look at it carefully, he's saying he will see his contract out. All well and good, until you realise that unless he signs a new deal, it's maybe not the ideal situation for the club. You simply cannot afford to let a player of his value see out his contract. So is Paddy going to just see out his deal - and in that case force the club into selling him because they can't risk losing him for free? His commitment to the club has to be underlined with a new contract. So while it's good news he'll be at Highbury next season, it's not as clear cut as it sounds.
So, it's Liverpool and Manchester United in the 1/4 finals of the Champions League, and I just like to wish them both the very worst luck and I hope they both get stuffed and pick up a load of injuries. I'm not bitter, I'd hope for the same things if we'd gone through as well.
22.39 - Juventus Ringers 1-0 Arsenal. Deportivo Ringers 1-3 Bayer Leverkeusen.
Lucky socks my hole. Had the dubious pleasure of watching the Deportivo game whilst listening to the Arsenal game on the radio. Deportivo rang the changes, and played like they didn't give a shit. Which of course they didn't. Makes no odds to them finishing 1st or 2nd in the group, when they play their best team and actually try, they know they can beat anyone. So, they went through the motions, and Leverkeusen beat them quite convincingly - because they had something to play for. Deportivo's fans booed them off at half time, and they were a bit better in the 2nd half, but all in all, you could see they couldn't care less.
As for our game, we had loads of chances by the sounds of it, TH went back to his old club and missed a penalty, and they nicked a goal from a corner. In the end it wouldn't have mattered if we'd won anyway. You have to look at our away form in Europe and say that's the reason we're out.
For a team that's gone this far in the domestic season without being beaten away, it's a bit odd. I don't suppose there can be any complaints about the side Deportivo put out when you look at the side Juventus had out. If we couldn't beat them tonight, we didn't deserve to go through.
Personally, while I'm always disappointed when Arsenal lose, I'd rather be out of the Champions League than out of the title race. Sure, I'd like us to win it, but I'd much rather we won the league. We still have the FA cup as well, and I hope the boys do as well as they normally do when they bounce back from disappointing nights like this one.
Adios Champions League - I suppose the only positive thing is that it takes two games off our hectic schedule. Scant consolation all the same.
09.00 - So tonight we'll find out if Arsenal can join Liverpool and Man Utd in the last 8 of the Champions League. What a result last night for the scousers - that's 2 seasons running they've knocked Roma out of europe.
Thierry Henry returns to Juventus where they wasted his talent and potential by playing him at left wing back. I hope he shows them what they're missing. Of course, Arsenal's qualification depends more on the result between Deportivo and Bayer Leverkeusen. If the Spaniards win then the result in Turin doesn't matter a jot. It's gonna be nerve wracking stuff later on.
Planet Football says we're giving a trial to another Japanese player. Makes sense. After the sensational impact of Junichi Inamoto.....er........ehm.....well, you can read about it here.
I'm off to put on my lucky socks. More later.
12.45 - There's another Arsenal blog out there for you - The Copenhagen Chronicle, a masterful display of alliteration in the title it has to be said. Also, when you click the headlines, the text appears beneath. It's like an internet version of the doors in Star Trek, all they need now is a 'vvvvvvvsssssssssssshhhhhh' sound when you click them.
I'm still unable to log onto the ITV website - perhaps the sheer numbers of people asking about Peter Brackley's legs has shut it down. Or maybe it's just coz they're useless. Either way, we're still looking for answers.
According to the Mirror, Bob Wilson says David Seaman will never retire. I can see how this will be hugely beneficial to Arsenal in the years ahead. The longer he plays, the older he gets. The older he gets, the bigger he becomes. By season 2004-5, he won't even have to move. His giant frame will fill the goal and he can drape his hair over the crossbar to make it more difficult for opposition strikers. I confidently predict he won't concede a single goal.
Had some good feedback to our hi-tech recreation of Robert Pires' goal against Villa. So, we might do a few more in the coming week. If you have a favourite Arsenal goal you'd like to see in all its multi-media glory, email us and let us know.
18.30 - Robert Pires' goal against Aston Villa was undoubtedly the goal of the weekend. After investing heavily in state of the art graphics software and all sorts of image manipulation, we are proud to recreate that fabulous moment right here.
14.43 - The injuries continue. This time it's world renowned centre-half Igors Stepanovs. He's got a groin problem and will miss the game against Juventus. If this continues we'll have to drag Stevie Bould out of retirement for the run in. Last time we won against Juventus in Turin the winner was scored by a young substitute called Paul Vaessen. Sadly, it was pretty much all downhill for him from then on. The Observer newspaper in England had a great article about him yesterday. You can read it here.
The one constant in our back four this season though has been Sol Campbell. It took him a while to settle in, but now he's well and truly established himself in the Arsenal team. As important as Pires, Bergkamp and Henry are up front, Sol is equally important at the back. He's had to raise his game because he's playing with better players every week, and playing more important games. A R S E B L O G would like to thank Spurs for being so terribly mediocre that their best player defected our way, and with all sincerity, we hope Glenn Goddle takes you into the Nationwide playing football the Spurs way.
For a Monday afternoon chuckle, here's some choice quotes from Hoddle, the simple fool:
"75% of what happens to Paul [Gascoigne] in his life is fiction."
"We didn't have the run of the mill."
"With hindsight, it's easy to look at it with hindsight."
"Okay, so we lost, but good things can come from it - negative and positive."
Finally, crazy goings on in the Nationwide this weekend. The match between Sheffield United and West Brom had to be abandoned after Utd went down to 6 men. 3 sent off, and 2 taken off injured - but some of the tackling was mental. You can read more about it here. I remember when I used to play when I was younger, we had a match abandoned because the ref got knocked unconscious after he caught a clearance straight in the nose. His hooter was broken and spread out all over his face in a wash of blood. Oh, how we laughed.
20.50 - Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal. Robert Pires, you are my hero.
Another goal from Edu, who popped up in the penalty area again after Schmeichel had spilled a Wiltord shot. Vieira tried to kick the ball and the great Dane's head off and it rebounded to Edu who sidefooted home. They got a penalty, and I can't remember the last time he saved a penalty, but Seaman stuck out a huge hand and made a brilliant save.
Then, a long ball from Freddie found its way to Bob, who flicked it over Boateng, let it bounce a couple of times and then lobbed it over Schmeichel who was only a couple of yards off his line. A superb goal, from a superb player who must surely be playing the best football of his life. A shoe in for the player of the year awards. The bookies have stopped taking money on him now.
As usual, Arsenal made me endure the last 20 minutes after Dion Dublin (tenuous link to Paddy's day joke) scored for Villa. But we hung on, my nails are shorter and my hair slightly more grey.
And what a laugh Pires was on Sky after. The reporter asked him a question and he made a sound like a startled goat and said "Daveed, you speak". When he got the bottle of champagne for MOTM he made the same noise and said "Fank you, I am sorree, my eenglish is very bad". Also, Igors has a song. "Igors Stepanovs, la la la la la" to the tune of Brown Girl in the Ring. I think Utd fans sang that to RVN until they copied the Kanu thing instead.
Second in the league with a game in hand. A happy Arsenal fan tonight.
11.00 - A happy Saint Patrick's day to you all. May your potatos be firm and blight free and your Guinness cold and smooth. Everyone's a little bit Irish today, some of us are a bit Irish everyday, but that's another story.
Had a funny dream last night that I was playing in the over 30s World Cup, which was taking place in a dsitrict called 'Little Holland' in some town in Spain. I was playing with Dennis Bergkamp and I kept making these sensational runs forward and every single time, Dennis would pass the ball just a few inches too far ahead of me. He kept getting really cross, and blamed it on the fact that he had to drive a bus to get to the tournament. Which was a lie. I had to drive, and I don't even know how to drive. Anyway, it was all going well until half time came around in one of the games, and I realised my football boots were actually made from uncooked chicken fillets. I had to retire from the tournament before I caught samonella.
A further thought on ITV - their website is completely unbrowsable because of the annoying pop-up ads that keep appearing. Yet more proof they're nothing but a two-bit operation. With all that money they can't get their website to work.....just like their football coverage.
Villa v Arsenal later - I remember in this fixture a couple of seasons ago, some bloke tried to parachute into Villa Park, missed, landed on the roof, tumbled onto the pitch and had to have his legs amputated.
I think it should be compulsory for the entire Leeds squad to parachute into Elland Road for their home games.
14.58 - Just spent 90 of the most boring minutes of my life watching Middlesboro v Liverpool. Without doubt two of the most dour, boring teams in the league. Liverpool won 2-1 and now go top of the league. They're a pain in the arse to watch though. Even last Wednesday, Liverpool v Barcelona, two of the biggest teams in Europe, and it was like watching someone pull the hairs out of your arse - painful and slow.
Former Arsenal fave Paul Merson has a right moan about Aston Villa, footballers wages and life in general here.
I have tried emailing ITV for the 3rd time to try and get some sort of an answer about Peter Brackley. So far, they have totally ignored me.
Stupid ITV - imagine that they poached the TV rights from the BBC and then went on to make a show like The Premiership. The people in charge must have sat down and had power lunches, and brainstorming sessions to come up with a show they thought people would like, and then they gave us that abomination on a Saturday night.
More ads than football - Lynam couldn't give a rats arse anymore, Venables is a shit talking fool, McCoist is a philandering, overly smiley gobshite, the only reason Andy Townsend should be on TV is as a demonstration of what not to do, Robbie Earle is as camp as John Inman and the whole thing stinks like an incontinent old man.
I don't understand why they can't make the show longer, enabling them to show more football from more teams. Cut out the stupid crap like 'Ally's goal of the week'. Do you think Ally's goal one week was to shag Patsy Kensit?
Anyway, due to circumstances beyond my control, I can no longer receive ITV and I'd rather watch endless repeats of Mr Ben than watch The Premiership anyway.
20.33 - Still no Francis Jeffers. He's got a back problem now and is not in the squad for the Villa game. It's very rare that AW makes a mistake when he pays a lot of money for a player. I know Wiltord has his critics but none of them could question his contribution in terms of work rate and goals this season. Technically he's poor but he tries hard, and at least he's fit most of the time.
Has Francis Jeffers just been unlucky with injuries this season? Well, he had plenty of injuries at Everton, so you'd have to assume he went through a fairly stringent medical before he joined Arsenal, so what's going on?
Hailed as the fox in the box we needed to progress, he's only started 2 games all season - and for £8.5m Arsenal fans expected more. Most of us are a fairly patient bunch though, and nobody's written him off yet, but unless he gets fit and stays fit, he's going to go down as Wenger's first big money transfer blunder.
A R S E B L O G pays its own tribute to Francis Jeffers here.
10.21 - Morning. Head hurts. Much beer last night.
This is London is reporting that Patrick Vieira is in talks about a new deal at Arsenal. They say he could sign a one year extension to his current deal which would expire in 2005. Fine, but welcome and all as that would be, we'd be in exactly the same position next summer, where Paddy has 2 years left on his contract, and all the speculation will begin again. However, signing a one year extension is something - better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish as my Grandfather used to say.
Onefootball.com - a good site, lots of stuff about European leagues, have this great story about Lazio fans and that well known paragon of race relations, Sinisa Mihajlovic. The Lazio fans were most ticked off having been spanked in the Rome derby, and invaded the training ground. Cragnotti's son went to reason with the fans and come back covered in spit, while the fans smashed up the players cars. Mihajlovic meanwhile was taken out of the training ground by the police clutching a baseball bat which he was going to use to batter his way out if he had to. The cowardly Yugoslav said "He brought me home safely, but I don't know what happened to the other players." So he escaped leaving his team-mates to suffer the wrath of the angry mob. The A R S E B L O G pussy of the week award is on its way to Rome.
Recommendation: If you've never read Eamon Dunphy's 'Only a game?', you should. You can order it here. A really, really good book which chronicles Dunphy's season as Milwall player in 1973-74.
I sent another email to ITV and still they haven't responded. I'm not sure they're taking me at all seriously.
20.18 - Just back in, to find out that Patrick Vieira has been cleared by the FA. I suppose this makes up for the heavy sentence imposed on Thierry Henry. Mark Viduka and Alan Smith were also cleared of misconduct today, so I guess someone's slipped something in the tea at Lancaster Gate.
I sent an email to ITV football last night to ask about Peter Brackley's legs. I haven't received any reply as of yet. Shocking customer service really - no wonder ITV Digital is going under. heh. Will try again.
Villa coming up on Sunday. I really hope we stick a hatful past that hateful, red nosed pig farmer.
Put €25 on Deportivo to win the Champs League and La Liga at 14-1.
09.20 - Patrick Vieira's hearing for his elbow on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is due to take place today. He's probably going to get a ban of 3 games, given his past disciplinary problems. Maybe, and I stress maybe, it'll be a blessing in disguise. He looked tired against Deportivo and was more than a touch culpable for their first goal.
Apart from a few games recently, when he has been at his imperious best, he's been a shadow of the player he was last season. Too many distractions? World cup, the captaincy, house hunting in Madrid - are these things affecting his performances? If you asked me now if he is going to stay with Arsenal, I'd have to say no. He's spent nearly 6 years at Highbury, and if he wants to go and try something new, who can blame him? Let's just hope it's all done in the best possible taste (©k.everett) and we don't have to go through the bullshit of last summer. A nice chunk of Madrid's cash will bring in Van Bommell and one other. I've heard whispers that we're after ex-Juventus defender Marco Zanchi - he plays for Verona in Serie A now.
Meanwhile on ANR, Myles Palmer asks "Any Gooners like comedy clubs?". No Myles, we all hate Tottenham.
20.22 - Edu fans - there's a good article about him in the Arsenal vs Deportivo programme - online here at arsenal.com.
Gonna watch Barcelona play Liverpool now. Of course, there are 4000 Liverpool fans in Barcelona, along with a load of hippies, vegetarians and "anarchists" who are here for an anti-globalisation demo. Should be hot in the city tonight. And how do 4000 unemployed scousers manage to get the money to pay for plane tickets to Barcelona? Car boot sales I suppose. Car boots across Liverpool full of hubcaps. They probably all ended up buying their own hubcaps back. I am joking. Salt of the earth them Liverpudlians. My best friend's dog is from Liverpool. Love him I do. The dog I mean.
I might send ITV an email to find out if Peter Brackley has legs, It's beginning to bug me now. I shall report back with any findings, don't worry.
00.20 -There are all sorts of combinations of results that will send Arsenal through to the 1/4 finals. Juventus are now out, having lost to Bayer Leverkeusen, and it all boils down to this. If Leverkeusen beat Deportivo next week they go through. If they draw or lose, no matter what the result of the Juventus v Arsenal game, Arsenal go through. Unless Arsenal lose to Juventus and Bayer draw with Deportivo, then Leverkeusen go through. Or if Arsenal win 6-1, and Deportivo and Bayer draw 3-3 and Deportivo have one man sent off, Leverkeusen go through if they get less than 3 yellow cards and none of their players swears at the ref. Confusing eh?
Expect the Leverkeusen board to send gifts of fine German wine *ahem* and efficient automobiles to La Coruña during the week. We're watching you, you sneaky Germanians.
Meanwhile, it's being reported that Robert Pires was involved in a tunnel incident after the game against Newcastle. More details here.
No doubt the FA will find something to charge him with.
"The FA announce that Robert Pires will serve a 3 match ban for shrugging in an overly French manner while sporting hair in a carefree fashion. There is no right to appeal as the referee didn't see anything. Nor for that matter did Arsene Wenger, but that's another story. Carry on, what, what."
10.40 - Saw the game on tv here, and without doubt, Deportivo are the best team we've played all season. In fact, I'm off down the nearest bookies tomorrow to put some money on them winning the champions league.
A good game to watch, and we had our chances. Pires shot saved by Molina, Bergkamp skimmed the bar, and we had all the ball to begin with. Then Wiltord lost the ball in midfield, our right back was scratching his arse halfway up the pitch and moments later it was 1-0 Deportivo. Their second game from more bad defending, but the shot was going nowhere until it bounced up off Stepanovs and over Seaman.
In the second half, Freddie came on for Wiltord - who was useless all night - and Kanu for Grimandi. Freddie won a penalty within 2 minutes of being on which Thierry Henry promptly missed. He then fell to pieces, you could see him replaying the penalty in his mind over and over, but when you're 2-0 down and looking for goals you don't take off your top scorer I suppose. He didn't have a good game though. Lots of pressure from Arsenal, but they defended really well and could have had another goal or two when they broke.
They are a very, very good side and have a great chance of winning this competition. I saw them beat Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey last week and they were impressive then too.
A disappointing night for Arsenal, but maybe this will help focus the players again. I think too many people thought all we had to do was turn up to win this tonight. Not so. I thought we would win it, but I always knew they were quite capable of doing us too. On to Turin, and it looks like we're gonna need a win, coz Juventus lost 3-1 to Bayer Leverkeusen. Still, it wouldn't be the Arsenal way to make life in any way easy for ourselves. I predict much nail biting, fag smoking and pain in the left arm and chest ahead.
09.45 - According to Planet Football, Kanu's home was raided by masked gunmen last Sunday morning. They broke in, and tied up Kanu's brother Henry and left with cash and clothes after discovering the car they wanted to steal was not there. It'll be easy enough to catch them, just keep an eye out for somebody selling pairs of size 14 shoes.
This is the second time his house has been burgled, and earlier this season Thierry Henry's house was broken into and his housekeeper, a Mrs Doubtfire, was tied up while the thieves ransacked the house. Apparently, Robert Pires is paying £10,000 rent per month for his home in London - I'm sure paying that amount of rent ensures a fine security service - guards, dogs, hungry Hannibal type pigs. If I was Kanu I would buy a couple of lions to patrol the grounds of my house. Can't see anyone trying to break in then.
Read a marvellous quote from George W Bush this morning. "One of the best things about books is that sometimes they have fantastic pictures in them". Don't you feel safe knowing this man has taken it upon himself to protect the western world?
Deportivo la Coruña tonight - a really good side with some fantastic players, but our home record in Europe is brilliant, and Henry and Bergkamp up front should score the goals to take us through to the 1/4 finals.
19.52 - Another email regarding Peter Brackley. See March 9th for background.
"Dear Arseblog....blah blah blah ....I can assure you that Peter Brackley does have legs....seen him in the flesh....blah blah blah.....used to work with his son.....blah blah blah"
The mystery remains though.
WHY is it that you can find a pictures on the internet of people doing unspeakable things to themselves, others and animals, but it is not possible to find any kind of picture of Peter Brackley standing up, walking, kicking dogs or doing anything that involves his legs?
WHY does he always sound like he's commentating from home? Especially when he does the Italian football. Is the reason he sounds like that is because his lack of legs restricts his ability to travel to games?
WHY would they hide the truth? There's nothing wrong with having no legs, pretending to have legs is another more shameful thing altogether.
If you know anything about Peter Brackley's legs or lack of legs, or if you know anything about his alleged custom built home broadcast studio, or his alleged party piece of doing that wheely baddie from Dr Who, email me.
13.20 - Got an email today asking me if I could put some spunky wallpaper on my site. I thought this would be an opportunity to make lots of laddish, sperm related jokes, but thought better of it in the end. I don't jism to tempatation that easily.
Added+ - David Seaman wallpaper - click in the 'OTHER' section to find it.
18.30 - According to Soccernet, Inter Milan have bid £100m stg for Vieira, Pires and Henry. Elsewhere, there are reports that Barcelona have come into the reckoning with a bid for Vieira. Barcelona's bid - if they have actually made one - is pure PR. The team is struggling a bit at the moment, and they at least have to show the same ambition as their great rivals Real Madrid.
Thierry Henry meanwhile has said he loves all things Arsenal and if the club came to him now and asked him to sign for life, he would. Can I respectfully suggest to the esteemed members of the board that they do precisely that? This guy hasn't even come close to reaching his peak yet. It's frightening to think how good he can become. Even more frightening is the thought he might be that good somewhere else.
At the time of writing, Spurs are 3-0 down to Chelsea at WHL. Their season is well and truly over....which is nice. Chelsea look good though, I would prefer to avoid them in the draw tonight.
A word on Edu. I was so pleased he scored last night, it was obvious how much the goal meant to him. It seems he has from now till the end of the season to convince AW he has a future at the club. He was playing wide left, which I'm not sure is his best position, but he did well. He's come through a lot to score that goal, let's hope there's more to come.
Finally, this is a transcript of a Talksport broadcast, the morning after the death of English actor, John Thaw. You couldn't make it up.
Alan Brazil: "It was so sad to hear this morning of the death of John Shaw."
Mike Parry: "John Thaw, Alan."
Alan Brazil: "Do you know, I keep getting his name wrong. John, if you're listening, sorry mate."
21.50 - Newcastle 1-1 Arsenal. A fairly lacklustre performance from the boys it has to be said, but if we're gonna play below par in any of the upcoming games, I'm glad it was this one. A good goal from Edu who got in where most of us have been crying out for our strikers to be all season. An equaliser from Laurent Robert, and Newcastle could have had a handful. Some last gasp defending and the woodword kept it one each. Saw Stepanovs play for the first time since the Everton game. He's improved, but he still puts the shits up me everytime he comes near the ball.
We just couldn't pass the ball tonight. Credit to Newcastle they played their black and white socks off. That Acuña fella did well in the midfield even if he does look like some kind of homosapien-lupine-bovine crossbreed.
Not the ideal result coz that means another game in an already congested fixture list, but, we're still in there. I hope we win the FA cup this season for Dennis. Some post match reaction here.
16.50 - The battle is hotting up between AW and Fergie. Arsene was asked this week what he thought Alex Ferguson's weakness was. He replied "...that he thinks he doesn't have one". Fergie hits back and complains that Wenger won't have a drink with him, or anyone else, after a match. More in this Onefootball article. Expect this to go back and forth till the end of the season. My own favourite is when Fergie said he had sent an apology to Arsene over something, and when asked if he had received it, AW replied "He must have sent it by horseback, because I haven't got it yet".
They've been showing Frank Sinclair's own goal again today, along with a collection of his other classics. All footballers probably have one thing they're really good at. It might be great passing, tackling ability, positional sense, finishing etc, but it's quite obvious that the thing Frank Sinclair is best at is scoring own goals. Not ideal for a footballer really.
Anelka played very well for Liverpool the other night. He's a quality player, he really is. He's just fucked up in the head. Maybe he'll settle on the sunny banks of the Mersey, but given his past form he'll be itching for another move in 18 months.. I'd love to see him playing up front with Henry at Arsenal. We'd win everything and this is how. When we build the new stadium, we build a pitch 50 yards longer than any other pitch in the league - draw the opposition to the half way line, someone in midfield punts it over the top and the two speed hounds latch onto it and score. We'd win games 14-2 and stuff. Imagine Gerry Taggart or Laurent Blanc trying to keep up.
Still no word about Peter Brackley's alleged legs.
19.30 - I got an email today from someone today to tell me that Peter Brackley does indeed have legs and quite often attends the matches he commentates on. I sent them an email back asking them to forward one of Peter Brackley's legs as proof. It seems to have shut them up. There's a picture of the legless wonder on the ITV football website. A head and shoulders shot, nothing from the waist down. Coincidence or are they hiding something?
Speaking of hiding something, have a look at this.
Newcastle again tomorrow in the FA cup. I think Edu will start in midfield. I could be wrong. I often am. It'd be a nice game to win, but not the end of the world if we don't. Again, I think we'll have too much for them. Step up Dennis.
11.14 - Interesting fact for you. Did you know that ITV commentator Peter Brackley has no legs and never attends live matches? He commentates from a state of the art room in his house, with 5 flat screen monitors showing all the action, while he sits in a hi-tech console allowing him to move 360 degrees with the push of a button. He also makes his co-commentators sample his special home brewed Lambrusco before they are allowed in the studio. Paul Elliot says it takes like goat's piss. We won't ask how he knows what goat's piss tastes like.
Added+ - Sol Campbell wallpaper. As usual, it's in the 'OTHER' section above. Also, you'll find a reasonably good Dennis Bergkamp article here.
16.05 - Arsenal have decided not to appeal against Thierry Henry's ban. That's according to www.the-fa.com
Patrick Vieira has a hearing next week in relation to his elbowing of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink before Christmas. Of course, because the referee booked Graeme Le Saux for a knee-first assault on Vieira nothing more can be done about it.
Paddy was stupid to use his elbow like that, but you have to laugh at Hasselbaink, going down as if he'd been hit with a cannonball....the big girl.
Did you see Ian Harte running over to Brian Kidd after he scored against Ipswich last night? He scampered across the field at his top speed of 3mph, with a giddy grin, looking like some kind of 'special school' pupil greeting a parent at home time. A fantastic display - one of the comedy moments of the season. I've tried to find a picture of it, but no joy yet. If anyone has it, please email me.
11.21 - What a dodgy penalty United got last night. If it had been in a nothing match against Spurs it would have been hilarious. Still though, with or without the penalty United would have beaten them last night. RVN has been a fantastic signing for them. I remember us being linked with him long before he was ever linked with United, what a shame we never made a bid for him. Thierry Henry and RVN up front would have been unstoppable. Definitely one of the candidates for Player of the Year as well. 32 goals so far is a brilliant record in his first season, with Henry's ban he's favourite to be top scorer in the Premiership now. Though, TH has a couple of hat tricks left in him I'm sure.
If you're reading this in work with nothing better to do (obviously you have nothing better to do if you're reading this!) - have a go at this. Curiously addictive.
00.36 - Nice of Tottenham to roll over as usual again last night. Still, I suppose it's unique in that both sets of fans are going home happy, even though one lot has seen their team get beaten 4 - 0. AW was not happy with the outcome of today's hearing, and is still deciding whether or not to appeal. The official club statement is here. Personally, I think we should accept it - that's not to say I agree with it - and just get on with winning as many games as we can between now and the end of the season. With Paddy's hearing next week and this still brewing, it could cause a distraction we don't need. The players need to stay focussed. I sound like that bloke from the lucozade ads. The Arsenal players need to reach PERSONAL GOAL HEAVEN. Amen to that.
Added+ - Edu wallpaper. You can find it in the 'OTHER' section above you. Quite an enigma is our Brazilian - he's had more drama in his life in the last 18 months than the most badly written soap character. Passport problems, being held up and robbed at gunpoint in his own home, his sister being killed in a car crash, a couple of bad injuries and an own goal in his home debut. The boy must feel like some kind of Jonah. I just think there's a story in him somewhere, he hasn't gone through all that for nothing. The Gods have to repay him. What price Edu for the winner at Old Trafford?
18.30 - Thierry Henry had his hearing today following his outburst at the end of the Newcastle game when Graham Poll took centre stage yet again. The 'Thing from Tring' gave Newcastle a penalty when Sol Campbell made the tackle of the season, sent off Ray Parlour harshly, sent off Craig Bellamy, and generally ran the game to his liking so once again the headlines would be about him, and not the football. He is the kind of wannabe media star referee the game does not need. The FA's backing of him after his comments about giving yellow and red cards to build his reputation as a hard man was disgraceful. This guy is England's World Cup referee - he'll see it as his chance to get his name in the papers and his face on tv stations all over the world.
So at the end of the game, Henry lost his temper at what everybody else plainly saw as a poor refereeing performance and tried to ask him 'Why did you kill the game?'. Poll wouldn't answer, Henry kept asking, shrugging off his team mates and Alan Shearer, expecting the most basic manners from a match official. If somebody asks you a question, surely they should answer? Imagine you asked your boss, or a workmate a question and they just stood there. And the more you asked, the more they ignored you. Wouldn't you be infuriated? Poll, stood with his linesmen beside him, stone faced. His behaviour was poor and there has been no mention of that.
So, the outcome? A 3 match ban for Thierry starting on March 21st. See the FA's site for details.
We'll get on with it. We've got Bergkamp, Kanu, Wiltord and maybe Jeffers (can't say for sure and no doubt the minute I say he's available he'll break down with another injury - the bloke must be made out of mecanno) who can all fill in and score goals. Terry will get a nice rest and come back gunned up for the season finale. He'll be nice and fresh for the Champions League midweek games too. It's funny how when you're top of the league, you can always see the positives.
Tonight's prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham. Keane, Sheringham, Scholes, Giggs, Sherwood and Ferdinand all sent off. Veron and Beckham crippled. Giggs hamstrung. RVN scores two before being kicked in the head by Sherwood, out for 8 months with a coma. Oh, and Liverpool 6-6 Newcastle.
22.40 - Arsenal 1-0 Derby. 68 minutes without a goal, listening on the radio, hearing us miss chance after chance, hearing Henry hit the post, hearing their keeper having a stormer, biting my nails, smoking, scratching, trying to do things that have been good luck before - like having a certain webpage open - and then.......ROBERT PIRES. GOAL. Relief that we've scored, quickly replaced by a feeling of sheer terror that they would score. My other half told me recently that my hair has started greying a bit, this is why. Henry misses from 3 yards, Henry misses when 1 on 1 with the keeper, every time they have the ball I see their strikers clean thru on goal with Seaman flat on his arse having tripped over Igors Stepanovs. At last the final whistle. Pulse slows from gabba house, to kicking techno.
What a team this is. We won 1-0 against Derby at home on the way to the double, this feels like the same kind of result. Pires has got to be player of the year, and he seems to score important goals for us. £6m for Robert Pires or £9m for Seth Johnson. Can you work out why David O'Leary has problems? The crowd at Highbury sounded very loud tonight, if the team got that kind of support every game, we'd never lose there again. I'd be all for the continental style booing and whistling whenever the other team has the ball. It's gotta be better than silence eh?
Chuffed with the result. We are top of the league.
14.20 - Still painting. I see Fergie's gone off on one again. See here for details. Thank goodness we have another 3 years of his harping, moaning, mumbling and blinkered guff to enjoy. There's no more attractive site in football than seeing a worked up Fergie with 2 whole packets of Hubba Bubba in his gob, chewing with his mouth open for the whole world to see. United are under pressure for the title for the first time in a couple of seasons, and he's starting his old 'pyschological' tricks again. In fairness, it worked beautifully on Kevin Keegan when he was manager of Newcastle - they were 12 points clear at the top, and with Keegan reduced from a bumbling fool, to an incredibly angry bumbling fool live on television, Manchester United took advantage of Newcastle's implosion and went on to win the league. Don't think it's gonna work on the Arsenal though, Alex.
Derby at THOF later on. Henry and Bergkamp to start up front I reckon, and given the form of the two strikers, added to the form on Paddy and Bob, we should be well capable of taking 3 points tonight. United play Spurs tomorrow night. Expect Hoddle's boys to bottle it as always.
18.44 - The world and his mother are drooling over Bergkamp's goal against Newcastle. The more you see it, the better it gets, and the unadulterated joy of seeing the defender flat on his arse as he scores the goal is quite something. It really was a unique goal. In 30 years of watching football I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. Bergkamp only tries things like that when he's full of confidence, and focussed on his football. When he's in form he really is a special player, it's just a shame we haven't seen more of it in the last couple of seasons.
Derby tomorrow night. They'll be boosted by the result against United, but hopefully they'll be knackered. I've been painting rooms in my house today. I hate painting. I always thought Manual Labour was a Spanish communist. Ah well.
Added+ - Hi-res scan of Gilles Grimandi acting all innocent after clobbering Diego Simeone in the head during the Lazio v Arsenal Champions League game last season. You can find it in the 'OTHER' section. Gilles' "WHAT ME?" face is an absolute picture. It's quite a large file, so it might take a while to load if you have a slow connection.
Added+ - Patrick Vieira wallpaper.
21.38 - How nice it is to see it all go horribly wrong for Leeds. I heard David O'Leary say that they had gone from being everybody's second team to the most hated team in the country. HA. People have short memories, Leeds have always been despised, just years of mediocrity after their successful years in the 70s made people forget. It's like Liverpool. They've been so average in the 90s you kind of forget why you hate them - now that they think they have a half-decent team it's easy to hate them again. My philosophy is quite simple, I hate every other team apart from Arsenal. I don't have time for people who have 'second' teams. It's rubbish. You support one team, and one team only. Of course, I can suspend hatred of any other team at any time, for any reason I see fit. Suppose that's why I have a little soft spot for Blackburn and Derby at the moment. However, full on, rage enducing, arm waving, speak in tongues hatred of Derby will resume as normal on Tuesday.
If you want to learn more about Arsenal players, past and present, have a look at this site - The Jack Kelsey fan club. Some really good stuff here.
20.01 - Manchester United drew 2-2 with Derby today. That leaves us a point behind with a game in hand. It's in our own hands now. This reminds me very much of the double season in 97-98, the way the team is playing, the run of results, everything. This is the best Arsenal team I have ever seen, it would a blow if they didn't win anything this season. All in all, a good weekend for the Gunners.
Some weekend fun, try this - http://www.soul-reflector.net/vida/drug/. You can find out what drug you are, I'm 'Heroin'. Great.
16.25 - Saw the goals on Sky News - Dennis is doing that stuff that he used to do again. What a goal, he made a right chump out of Dabizas, surely the most hated Greek player in the Premiership these days - and a lovely ball in for Sol's goal. If he stays in this kind of form and can resist that little voice in his head that tells him to elbow and stamp on people, he will be instrumental in us winning something/everything. Defenders won't like playing against him again - whereas in the last two years all the defender had to do was get in with a few niggly tackles and Dennis would be sat on his arse with his arms up pleading to the ref. It's good to have the real Dennis back again. Carry on sir.
Team spirit looks amazing, and Sol Campbell has been outstanding over the last 6 weeks or so. He's really come into his own, and more than anyone, he'll be desperate to win something this year so he can avoid the inevitable "Oh Sol Campbell, you went and joined the Arsenal and you won fuck all" chants from the Tottenham fans. Tottenham fans cry on the telly though.....stupid Tottenham.
We've got Derby on Tuesday night. Hopefully they'll be knackered after they give every ounce of energy beating Man Utd today. I'm hoping for a game with lots of serious injuries and red cards for both teams, but with a late winner for the Rams. Fingers crossed.
22.00 - Pics to your left and right of tonight's game. Haven't managed to see the goals yet - but I've just about got over listening to the game on the radio. I swear once you get to a certain age, listening to football on the radio is bad for your health. It's almost masochistic. My impressions of the game were that you couldn't really single anyone out, they all played really well. Obviously Dennis will get some praise for what sounded like another superb goal. This was a real TEAM performance. I hope people will enjoy this win, and realise that the Grimster, Oleg and Igors may not be world beaters, but they have a place in the squad and we'd struggle without them.
On a lighter note, the radio comms from arsenal.com had Malcolm MacDonald as co-commentator, and he sounded like he was pissed to begin with, and fucking buckled by the end of the game. What entertainment.
20.27 - Full time: Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal (Bergkamp, Campbell). FAB. Thoughts later.
13.06 - My hangover is not helped by the news that Thierry Henry is out of this evening's game against Newcastle. Bobby Robson has been mouthing off saying that he can't believe Henry has not been up in front of the FA for his outburst at the end of the Arsenal v Newcastle game at Highbury. He's suggested there's Arsenal bias at the FA. The fact that Henry didn't really do anything wrong doesn't seem to enter into it. He tried to ask self-styled hardman ref Graham Poll a question. He didn't swear, use abusive language, lay hands on the referee. He didn't put someone out of the game for 9 months will a terrible tackle - Hello to you Steve Finnan of Fulham. He didn't throw a coin back into the crowd and get away with it. If the FA are going to ban Thierry Henry for merely trying to speak to the referee, and they let Jamie Carragher away with his inciteful and disgraceful behaviour, then Mr Robson, you can be sure there is bias at the FA, but it's not towards Arsenal.
The other point to consider is that if Graham Poll had the manners and decency to actually speak to Henry that time, this whole thing wouldn't have happened. Instead of standing there like a 'little Hitler' (©Ian Wright), thinking he doesn't have to answer to anyone, he could have simply had a word with Thierry and said 'We'll discuss it inside'. No, he had to play the hardman. It's as much Poll's fault as anyone else's. The FA and the referees association are always talking about improving communication between officials and players. No doubt they'll keep talking about it and do fuck all as usual.
I hope we spank those Geordie monkeys tonight.
19.30 - Apparently, this is the squad for tomorrow's game against Newcastle - Seaman, Dixon, Campbell, Stepanovs, Lauren, Wiltord, Pennant, Vieira, Grimandi, Pires, Henry, Bergkamp, Wright, Edu, Kanu, Volz.
Lauren is likely to be fit and should play left back I would imagine Henry and Bergkamp will start up front.
Added+ - Tony Adams wallpaper and Kanu wallpaper. You can check them out in the 'OTHER' section. Was going to do a 'Flavour of the month - Igors Stepanovs' wallpaper, but I figured I'd jinx the fella and he'd have an absolute 'mare if he played tomorrow. So, for now, this place will remain a Stepanovs wallpaper free zone. If we win something this year, I'll sort it out. As if Igors didn't need any more motivation, now he could add an A R S E B L O G wallpaper to his medals. I hope he'll be able to cope with it all.
Plant watch - My Kylie calender fell on one of the plants today. Luckily it survived - perhaps I'll have a plant touched by the ass of Kylie. Can't wait to smoke that one.
10.05 - It's Friday today. Today's the day when you think about the match. What team is AW going to pick? Who's going to play left back? Will any of our injured players recover in time? So many questions. Here's another question - do you think those blokes from the KLF who burned a million pounds in cash a few years back in the name of art are regretting it now?
Maybe they're sitting at home with only enough money to buy a tin of beans and a loaf of bread thinking 'Why the fuck did I do that?'. It surely has to be one of the most stupid things I've ever seen. If you want to make art - buy some paint and go all Jackson Pollock on a canvas. If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about - look here.
I found a website that has Arsenal goals to download - handy if you're abroad like me and you have to rely on dodgy satellite tv. Get the goals here.
I'm out for the day now. More later.
09.30 - Welcome to a new month. What you see below you is a sneak preview of Arsenal's new home shirt for the 2002-3 season. Someone sent it to me in an email. I'm sure countless man hours have gone into the design, it's probably made from space age fibres that enable players to run faster and not sweat so much and hundreds of sweat shop kids in Nike factories in Korea will spend 18 hours a day making these shirts for €1 a week so they can be sold for €60 a pop. And who are this crowd 'Sponsor'? Never heard of them.