March 16th

Morning Arsefans. Thursday already. I got into work yesterday and was convinced it was Tuesday until someone set me right at about 4pm. Sweet. I love when that happens.

Ok, let's start with Fran Merida, the young Spaniard who has come, like Cesc, from Barcelona. Lots of sites are saying the deal is 'imminent', well, it's more than that. The deal is done and he's now an Arsenal player. To give you a look at what we're getting check out this link - thanks to Archie. It's a 46mb Zip file so those of you on dial-up will want to ignore it though.

Recent signing Emmanuel Adebayor talks about how he's finding life at Arsenal. He says "As long as I keep hitting the back of the net here, then I will be happy."

Let's hope he keeps scoring then or we'll have an unhappy Togan on our hands and when those guys get pissed off it is not pretty, let me tell you. Now that Robin van Persie is on his way back he's got some competition and that, as we all know, is a good thing.

Barcelona claim Henry, says The Times, only it seems their source for that article is this piece of shit on some piece of shit Barcelona blog. Lame, The Times, lame.

It's not something I normally do but I have to dedicate a little bit of blog space to some fans today. Firstly to long-time Arser Searsy and the lovely Mrs Sears - congrats to them on their second baby. A Gooner first and a Goonerette second. Well played and they resisted the tempation to call her Britney. Also to another Goonerette called Ava Starr in Seattle who already has her own Arsenal jersey despite being just 3 days old. Good man, Ian, your sister Anna is very proud.

Actually, this reminds me of my radio days. "And to Larry and Elaine in Cabra who are mad for each other and want to hear 'Everything I do, I do it for you' by Bryan Adams. Well Larry and Elaine, especially for you here's The Ramones."

Finally, we've all heard of people doing sponsored walks and swims and cycles and all sorts but Rob Marsden is an Arsenal fan who is trying to raise money for cancer patients by, wait for it, climbing Kilimanjaro. Some undertaking. I think everybody has had that poxy disease touch their lives at some time and seeing as Arsenal FC refused to sponsor him in any way I'm sure Arseblog readers can show their class by pledging a few bob. Click here to visit his site and give what you can to a very worthy cause.

Right, that's yer lot. Till tomorrow.


March 15th

A fairly quiet day yesterday, really. Cesc's agent denied that Real Madrid were interested in signing our young star which is quite odd because their President made it quite clear that he was interested. Anyway, Joseba Diaz said "He has five years left on his contract and is very grateful to Arsenal and especially to Arsene Wenger."

So let's hope that story is put to bed for now. The specially arranged match to provide match fitness to Robin van Persie and Sol Campbell saw an Arsenal XI win 1-0 against Brighton reserves. Dennis Bergkamp got the goal, Campbell played for 90 minutes, van Persie for 72 and Theo Walcott was also involved. Full report here from .con.

Bad news for Freddie Ljungberg though as his stop-start season continues. He's likely to be out for 10 days with a calf injury. It's a shame as his form was really picking up but he keeps getting these little knocks which set him back again. Hopefully it's nothing too serious with Juventus on the horizon and Charlton this weekend.

The Sun says Chelsea want to sign Ashley Cole but this time they'll do it by the book and not like the sneaky, underhand, lying cunts they are.

Chairman PHW ruled out a move for David Beckham in the summer insisting the player had never been discussed at board level which, as my exclusive transcript reveals, is a complete lie:

Hill-Wood: "So how do you think he gets his hair like that? Gel? Wax?"

Dein: "Beats me, I'm just green about the way his tan looks so natural."

Fiszman: "Green? Orange more like!"

Dein: "You shut up, you bitch!"

Hill-Wood: "Oooooh, hark at her!"

They'll sign him and put him in charge of the beauty salon at the new stadium. Anyway, I'm exhausted but I have to go to work. What a pain in the hoop. Laters.


March 14th

Dear the new Real Madrid president,

I would like to thank you for your very public interest in signing Cesc Fabregas. You have made it quite clear that he is the kind of player you would like to have at your club as you rebuild after the Galactico project did little else but eat a massive chunk into your bank balance. You didn't speak to Arsenal about it of course, you simply used the press to attempt to unsettle or perhaps impress a young Spanish player thinking this would be a good strategy to use.

However, I regret to inform you that Cesc is not for sale so you can talk until you're blue in the face but you're not getting him. He is the future of the Arsenal midfield and had you been paying more attention domestically perhaps you might have nicked him from Barcelona but then again you were probably too busy buying crappy South Americans like Diogo and Pablo Garcia.Even if you had you wouldn't have given him the chances we have which have enabled him to grow and mature as a player as fast as his talent deserves.

Another thing you have to bear in mind as well is that young Cesc grew up a Barcelona fan and, you know, playing for your lot, while prestigious no doubt, would be like asking him to eat his own poo. I'm sure, Señor Martin, that even you wouldn't ask an 18 year old to eat his own poo, would you?

Having discussed this matter in some depth with my fellow Arsenal fans the final thing I'd like to say to you is, and please don't take this the wrong way, that if you ever open your mouth about an Arsenal player again in a blatant and classless attempt to try and engineer a transfer that you know is never going to happen then I will hunt you down and feed you a tortilla made from your wife's eggs you poxy fucking cuntbag of a piss-drinking wanker.

If any of what I said remains unclear or if you would like me to clarify my position further please just let me know.

Yours etc,

Arseblogger

In other news Thierry and Fab talk about Paddy Vieira coming back to Highbury, Cesc talks more about the growing maturity of the team while Robin van Persie and Sol Campbell are looking to get back to full fitness with an internal game today. It'll be good to have Robin back. Finally the first seats were installed at the new stadium yesterday with Abou Diaby making the most of his time off injured by doing some DIY.

That's it. Till tomorrow.


March 13th

Hooooooo, what a good Monday morning. A deserved 2-1 win over Liverpool even if it did come about via a gift from their captain. 3 badly needed points and overall a good performance too.

We were without Reyes and Diaby through injury and Adebayor came back up front. He missed a gilt edged chance to put us ahead when Henry raced past most of their defence, squared it back and he lashed it over the bar. He should have done better.

We took the lead after about 20 minutes when Cesc played a wonderfully weighted ball to Thierry who took it into the box and finished with aplomb into the top corer. As good as the finish was the pass was even better and it's clear how important Cesc is to our team now.

Liverpool had a couple of chances when Crouch headed wide after being left unmarked and Luis Garcia beat the offside to volley over.

There was one scary moment first half when Kolo's flying challenge saw him injured and the way he reacted you felt it was something really serious but thankfully he was ok. The only thing I'd say was that his tackle, while committed, was always likely to cause injury one way or the other given the fact he was a few feet off the ground before he got the ball. And he did get the ball. Perhaps sliding might be better than jumping.

Second half we started well and had some chances none more so than Thierry who went through after great work with Robert Pires but his shot went just wide. Then Liverpool equalised. Cesc was fouled in midfield but the ref gave nothing, Gerrard shot and Jens could only parry it and that thumb sucking cunt Garcia nodded the ball home to make it 1-1. Then Xabi Alonso picked up a yellow card for a foul on Cesc and a few minutes later got a second for what, to me, looked like a foul on Flamini. My mug smashing, Liverpool supporting brother insisted that Alonso slipped for the second yellow but, you know, I don't care seeing as I'm giving him an iPod. My brother, not Alonso. He can afford plenty of iPods.

Then the winner. Gerrard had the ball and did exactly what he did for England in Euro 2004. He played it backwards not noticing the lurking Thierry Henry. This time the keeper didn't upend him for a penalty and our captain rounded him and scored the winner. It could have been more but Robert Pires hit the post with a couple of minutes to go. Final whistle 2-1 and we deserved the three points, no question.

Overall I was happy with the performance. The subsitution of Adebayor for the ineffectual Bergkamp seemed to be made more out of sympathy than reason, Eboue impressed at right back again, Hleb worked really hard after running himself into the ground on Wednesday, Senderos had a great game at the back, Kolo showed how brave he is and Thierry Henry is a matchwinner. I loved him taking the piss out of Luis Garcia's thumb sucking celebration. Last but not least was man of the match Cesc. We need to invent more superlatives for this kid as it was another awesome display from a teenager. You have your young strikers who make the grade every now and then but it's so rare to see a central midfielder of his age look so composed, so calm, so skillful. He's just brilliant. Three fantastic points. Well done, boys.

Afterwards Arsene Wenger said "We deserved to win the game overall. This team is slowly discovering its potential and I feel it is improving the belief and confidence. It was a great team performance. We played our quality passing game and it was outstanding to watch."

Next up is Charlton at home on Saturday and we have to build on this result and keep the pressure up on Sp*rs and make life as difficult as possible for Bolton and Blackburn. After that display topping off the one against Madrid and the one against Fulham it looks like we might be finding our form at the right time.


March 12th

Morning, Arsechums and it's another big, big game ahead. Given our league sitation and how much we need all the points we can every game is going to be a big one no matter who the opposition. Today though it's Liverpool and we certainly owe them after their late, late win at Anfield a few weeks back.

The manager talks about how we have to 'dig deep' to try and get the 4th Champions League spot. What we have to do today is make sure we follow up a great night in Europe with a a great afternoon in the Premiership and that means the same level of committment and work from everybody. The European nights have been great but unless we can sort things out in the Premiership there won't be any unless we in the CL.

AW on Thierry's contract - "I do not say it has been agreed, but I just do not think that will be a problem."

The rumourmill regarding David Beckham coming back to England has been steadily growing stronger and Arsenal are one of the obvious candidates if he does decide to leave Madrid. Yesterday Arsene Wenger added fuel to that fire by saying he would 'take' the England captain. By that he means he would buy him and not duff him up after school. He said "I can give you 20 names of players who could become involved in Arsenal Football Club - exceptional players who would add something, and if we need it we'll do it. He could be one of them."

At the start of the season I wouldn't really have been able to see a place for Beckham in the Arsenal team and it's still hard to see where he'd play but he's been quality for Madrid this season and if the money wasn't too silly we'd be remiss not to think strongly about bringing him on board. Anyway, that's one of the manager.

Amy Lawrence writes a great piece about Arsene Wenger and English players - "Arsenal's back four have the best record in the Champions League. And it cost less than half of Glen Johnson. Johnson was sold for £6m to Chelsea - 10 times what Arsenal paid for Eboue - and was last seen missing a flight for Barcelona after a night out. Terrific value-for-money English player there, then."

Kolo Toure cost Arsenal £250,000. Glen Johnson cost £6m. You could get 24 Kolos for one Glen Johnson. Arsene knows what he's doing. Another 'cheap foreigner', Cesc Fabregas, talks about today's game against Liverpool, scoring more goals and how his dream would be play Barcelona in the Champions League final. That would be a fine night out, you have to say.

And there you go, my body is aching after a 6-2 yesterday which sees us qualify for the 1/4 finals of our cup competition. I think I need a pint or two to recover. Have a good Sunday and come on the lads!


March 11th

Ok, first things first. It just had to be Juventus, didn't it? Not because they're a great team, not because they're one of the most dangerous teams left in the competition, not because the car makers fixed the draw (I think) but because of Patrick Vieira. The ex-captain will return to Highbury for the first leg and will no doubt be afforded a warm welcome. Despite his best efforts in previous summers his departure was not at all acrimonious last July and while I had been critical of him on this site it would be horrible to think he might be 'booed' by anybody. Arsenal fans are better than that.

Arsene Wenger said "I am confident he will get the reception he deserves" and speaking about the match in general (first leg is on March 28th) he said "We aren’t favourites. The league positions, the youth of our team, the achievements of Juventus, the names of their players. But it is a good opportunity to show our quality."

There'll be plenty of time to talk about Cesc v Paddy in the weeks ahead so I'll leave that for now. In general though I suppose the draw could have been easier but that's to underestimate the achievements Vilarreal and perhaps Benfica who weren't so fancied, not to mention ourselves as nobody thought we'd get past Madrid. If you get to this stage of the competition you have to expect quality opposition and that's what we've got. Added spice for me is that I'm still bitter about them signing Liam Brady all those years ago so I want revenge. Oh yes.

Away from that the boss hit back at Alan Pardew's ridiculous comments about the lack of Englishmen in Arsenal's team against Real Madrid. One of the things I love about Arsene Wenger is his intelligence and his ability to defend and explain his beliefs and values. The following will have to go down as one of his best ever quotes. He said "When Alan Pardew calls me at the beginning of the season and asks for Jeremie Aliadiere on loan, he doesn't check if he's English or not - he just checks if he's good or not. It's just painful."

Brilliant and AW went on to classify the comments as racist, saying "First, we kick racism out of football and racism starts there, and, second, when you're a manager you want to accept a technical opinion but not that kind of remark. It's very, very disappointing to hear that because it's a regressive way of thinking."

I think all of us would love to have more English players in the side but we want them there because they're good enough to play for Arsenal not simply because they're English. With everyone fit we'd certainly have had Ashley Cole and had his brain not imploded and his pie eating not got out of control then Sol Campbell too. There's Theo Walcott still to come and what many people fail to ackowledge is the fact that there are now lots of young English players playing regular football, making good careers for themselves, because of - and not in spite of Arsenal. Pennant, Upson, Gray, Kilkenny at Birmingham weren't good enough for Arsenal but received the training, the formation, the education as a professional football player that has given them an advantage of young players at other clubs. Steve Sidwell is about to reach the Premiership with Reading and he has spoken about how much he learned at Arsenal. If a guy is good enough to play he will play irrespective of his nationality. If he's not he's free to make the most of his career elsewhere. Those that can do so without a chip on their shoulders will do well.

Pardew's comments were cretinous, the subsequent back-up of them from Gordon Taylor and even David O'Leary was disappointing. The manager's response to them was top class and that's that for me. Arsenal are Arsenal.

Safety has his say on the matter - Right to reply.

The Guardian has an excellent interview with Philippe Senderos - "Mistakes are going to happen in life and I'm sure I'm going to make more, like any other player, but the good players are the ones that learn from them and try to get better. There are some people who are going to like me and others are going to dislike me. I don't mind that. I have to get better because I want to be at the highest level and take my place here."

Ahead of tomorrow's game against Liverpool the only real doubt is Freddie Ljungberg who has a calf strain. Unfortunately there's nobody back. Cole and Clichy are obviously still out, Cygan is out but we can live with that, Campbell is back in normal training but according to the manager needs to play a couple of internal games to be considered while Robin van Persie will also miss out with his broken toe. Emmanuel Adebayor is available after being cup tied for the Champions League.

Ok, that's too much for a Saturday morning after a few beers last night so I'll leave you to to it. Have a good day.


March 10th

Main point of interest today is the draw for the Champions League quarter finals which takes place at around 11am GMT. That'll probably be closer to 11.30 as they generally preface these things with some clown talking about how great UEFA is and how they're not at all just a bunch of money grabbing weaklings unable to addresss the real issues in football. Anyway, I have no particular preference. A Spanish draw would be nice as it means I'll probably be able to get to the game.

Despite our progress in the CL and being the only English club to do so some people have to have a pop. West Ham manager Alan Pardew has decided he's important enough that people might care what he thinks and he has criticised the lack of English players in the Arsenal team. He also says that all teams should be made include at least three English players. I would just like to take this opportunity to criticise the lack of non-cunts in the West Ham side. They're a disgrace to non-cunts and I would like to propose that each team should include at least three players who are not complete and utter fuckbags. How do you like those apples, Pardew, you cretin?

PFA Chief Gordon Taylor has also opened his big fat cunting mouth, saying "It's an English club but not an English success."

He can go suck a leper's cock for all I care. The Sun does a league table of how many English players each team has. We're in the 'relegation' zone while at the top of the table Birmingham have 12, while Pardew’s West Ham, Manchester City, Newcastle, Charlton, Middlesbrough and West Brom are all in double figures. And what a reflection that is of the English player. Not one of those teams is ever going to challenge for the league and more than one of them has a good chance of real relegation. Still, we should listen to a man with less than one season's experience of Premiership management and pay over the odds for English players who aren't as good as other players but they're English and that's the important thing. Not winning matches or competitions or trophies. How many 'English' players did the Liverpool team of the late 80s have? To my recollection it was full of Irish, Scotch and Welsh with an Aussie and a Zimbabwean thrown in for good measure. If buying lots of Englishmen brings you the massive success Birmingham has enjoyed this season then I'll put my stock in Arsene Wenger and not Alan Pardew.

Jens Lehmann says being dropped for Manuel Almunia last season was a good experience for him. I said last season that when he got his place back in the team he certainly seemed more focussed and that, along with his burning desire to be Germany's number at this year's World Cup, has seen him become the best keeper in England in my opinion. Complacency is a footballer's worst enemy and maybe that happened to him a bit but this season he has been consistently excellent and it's a real shame he's not a couple of years younger so he could stay as our number one for a few more seasons. I was discussing this with my chum who needs to buy a new 70s home shirt during the Madrid game and we concluded he's definitely our favourite Arsenal goalkeeper since Blind John.

"I categorically, from the bottom of my heart do not want Thierry Henry to leave Arsenal Football Club" - Ian Wright explains his recent comments after a rather harsh backlash.

Thierry himself has called Wednesday's 0-0 win over Madrid his 'greatest Champions League moment with Arsenal'. I think it might be for most of us as well. Nobody gave us a chance of beating Madrid over two legs, let alone winning away in the Bernebeu. If was going to be won by us it would surely have been done at Highbury but the boys have shown the potential that the manager has always claimed there is in the squad. Now it's a matter of finding the consistency to bring things to the next level. About his future he said "We're a good team with good togetherness and you surely saw where my desire is. The way I was playing is the most important thing, not all the time talking about my contract."

Well, that clears it all up! Still, when things are going well, or in the wake of nights like Wednesday, it becomes less of an issue. Let's hope it remains that way from now until May.

In other very brief news I believe we may be in for a month of Sundays and if you have any relatives or friends down there you might want to send them a woolly jumper because hell has just frozen over. James Lawton writes something nice about Arsenal. Oooooh, and there goes the flying the pig.

Finally it's goodbye to Paul Merson who has finally hung up his boots. He said "It goes very quickly. When you are a kid you think you are going to play forever. But it has just caught up with me."

Good luck, Merse. And that's that. The final day of the week. Thank fuck.


March 9th

Can I first say that that was the best 0-0 draw I have ever seen? Then can I say Yeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaa! We just knocked out the 9 times European Cup winners and over the two legs nobody can say that we didn't deserve it.

Hleb fights off circus freak

They probably started brighter and I'm not sure there was even 5 minutes gone when Ronaldo got a free header at the back post. Luckily he's so fat the blubber has spread to his forehead and he cushioned the ball down to the near post where Jens put it out for a corner. A bit worrying but that was about as threatening as they got in the first half.

We seemed to make a good few chances in the first half. José skewed one wide, Cesc had one blocked out for a corner and then Thierry played in José again who hit the bar. It did seem that Thierry delayed his pass just a bit too long though. As the ball rebounded though it broke upfield and fell on the edge of the box to Zidane whose shot was bravely blocked by Kolo Toure, who along with Philippe Senderos at the back, was immense. Did anyone else spot Zidane try to stamp on Kolo's foot afterwards though? Don't fuck with the Kolo, ZZ, you slaphead.

Half-time and 0-0 and the ref was a cunt all the way through giving all kinds of free kicks to Real Madrid for very little but in Europe that's not a surprise given their cash reserves and influence. The second half began and it turned into a real end to end kind of battle although Madrid didn't really have too many chances. Beckham hit a free kick too hard and it looked like he may have been trying to catch Jens off his line but that was never the case.

Then our most dangerous moment of the game came when Raul hit the post and similar to the position Luis Garcia found himself in during the Liverpool game the other week he hit it back across goal but Jens got a touch and it was cleared. A truly awesome save from the best keeper in England this season. Up the other end Thierry forced a fingertip save from Casillas, he put another one just wide and close to the end from a Real corner Robert Pires was clear with the keeper up for the corner but his shot didn't have enough and Roberto Carlos cleared on the line.

In the last minute of injury time we had another break on but Pires gave the ball away and you feared the worst, they had a shot but Jens made a smart save down low. Eventually the final whistle went and there was jumping and hugging and cheering and such relief after a scoreless draw I don't think I've ever experienced. We reaped the benefits of the 1-0 in Madrid and every single player worked hard and thoroughly deserved to go through the next round.

On a night like last night it's hard to single out any player as the man of the match. Jens was solid as always this season and he made a fantastic save as mentioned earlier, Eboue is a much better player after the ACN, Kolo and Phil is a top partnership in the middle in my opinion - ciao Sol!, Matty at left back was 100% effort and commitment in an unfamiliar position, José ran himself ragged, Cesc was good enough for me to let him marry my beautiful daughter one day, Gilberto mopped up and did as good a job as he did in Madrid, Freddie was all effort with some very nice touches, Thierry was dangerous and strong and deserved a goal but if I had to pick one player it would be Alexander Hleb. He's come in for some criticism in the past and even last night we saw him give the ball away once or twice. Maybe his first half wasn't so great but after the break he was fantastic. He worked so so hard, tracked back in his own position, more than once he went over left to cover José, he showed some great skill, kept the ball well, distributed it better, got in dangerous positions and he really did give everything. I hope this is a bit of a turning point for him because if he can keep up that kind of performance level and improve his final ball then we've got ourselves a player. That's not to say he was far better than anyone else, as I said it's hard single anyone out, but when a guy gets as much stick as he's been getting and puts in a performance like that then he deserves the virtual pat on the back.

Afterwards the manager was full of praise for his young team, saying "Overall something is happening in the team they are gelling together and growing together, they are very, very young but they have shown character and that's very good for our club. If you had told me before that tie we will play two games against Real Madrid, with a whole defence nearly out, and not concede a goal, that shows you how remarkable the spirit is in the team."

Except now Eboue is a contender for a starting place when Lauren comes back and in Kolo and Philippe Senderos I think we have a central partnership that compliments each other perfectly and given enough time can grow together to become a permanent fixture in the team. With Cole or Clichy back then we've got ourselves a back four and that's not taking anything away from Mathieu Flamini who has doen such a good job in recent weeks. Even though we might have Sol Campbell back soon you have to give the two we have in the middle the time to develop that they deserve.

The captain had his say as well -"I think it's amazing once again we are going to go into the quarter finals for the second successive season but we have to keep focused. We have a big game against Liverpool on Sunday and we'll see how we do."

After Madrid two weeks ago we lost the next game to Blackburn and this is a weekend when we need to make points to fight for the fourth Champions League spot especially with Sp*rs away to Chelsea on Saturday. It's a wonderful achievement to have beaten Madrid and we need to enjoy it as emotions have run high in different ways this season but we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep focussed.

As for Madrid themselves the new President said they were going to eat Arsenal and that history would judge the players. Now that we're through we can safely say that Ronaldo looks like he's eaten a life sized chocolate and cream figure of each one of our team and ultimately history will judge this Real Madrid as the best group of individuals ever assembled but who simply aren't and never have been a team.

So we go into the draw for the next round along with AC Milan, Juventus, Lyon, Barcelona, Benfica, Vilarreal and the winners of next weeks's game between Inter and Ajax. Plenty of quality in there, isn't there? Barcelona would be nice though, wouldn't it? You could all come and visit me and buy me beer. Lots and lots of delicious beer.

Anyway, well done to the lads, I love them. I love football. I love the Arsenal y Adios Merengues. Hasta luego!


March 8th

So it's tonight. One of those games that's in your head from the moment you wake up. 8.45pm is going to seem a long way away all day long.

In squad news we've got Robert Pires and Manuel Almunia back after their absence this weekend and Theo Walcott will make the bench with AW saying "I will not be scared to throw him on if it is needed". You can see the full squad here. The consensus is we're likely to play the same team and formation as in the first leg. I think we might have been more likely to go for the 4-4-2 with van Persie or even Adebayor available but Dennis has been out for so long and has offered so little this season that I think it'll be same again. That said we could see Reyes up front with Diaby in the midfield, Freddie on the left and Cesc on the right although give how well he played in the middle in the first game it seems a bit of a waste to put him out there. I dunno. Arsene Wenger does though.

The boss reckons success on the night will be built on a solid defence. He says "I believe the job needs to be performing well, it's to defend well again. The second part of the job begins when we win the ball back. We want to give them some problems, score goals and not just be negative and pass it."

And there's no doubt that's true but it's not just down to the defence to defend. It has to start high up the pitch and in midfield we can't give them a minute to dwell on the ball. Basically we need the same kind of work ethic and energy we witnessed in Madrid. Whether Ronaldo plays or not they're dangerous and goals can come from Raul, Robinho, Zidane and Guti and there's our old chum Baptista on the bench too. As wonderful as winning in the Bernebeu was tonight is the night when we can truly put some of those YADNIEFA©® times behind us.

Freddie talks about his form this season and the game - "We have the quality to win the game and go through, but at the same time I have a lot of respect for Madrid. They are a great side, with great players."

For their part Real Madrid are hungry for success as new President José Luis Juan Pablo Snachez Rodriguez Romero Speedy Gonzalez says "The players will eat Arsenal." I am avoiding the very obvious joke about Ronaldo.

And there you go. Let the countdown begin, the butterflies start butterflying and the beer start chilling. Have a good day and come on Arsenal!


March 7th

Only a day to go before the big game and the build up is beginning in earnest. We have Gilberto saying the tight pitch at Highbury could cramp Madrid's style while Arsene Wenger says the tight pitch might work against us as Madrid are very good technically. Tony Adams says we won't win the Champions League the big party pooper. There's no team news as of yet but I suppose the only one we could realistically hope to have back is Robin van Persie. Given the fact the manager said he couldn't even get a boot on his foot for the Fulham game it might be a bit much to hope and even if fit he'll probably find himself on the bench after being out for so long. Will we play 4-4-2 with Bergkamp and Henry or stick with the 4-5-1 that served us well in Madrid? We shall see.

In other news the boss has reiterated his desire for Robert Pires to stay at the club but insists he won't be offering him any more than the one deal offered to all players over 30. He says "I want him to stay. We have such a young squad the experience of players like Robert Pires will always be important. He wants more than one year but I remain faithful to our policy."

He's also spoken about Freddie Ljungberg who has looked much more like the player we've known over the last couple of weeks. That's no surprise to AW though as he says "Freddie’s a winner and can suddenly get a second gear. He's done that many years from March onwards, he's always been very strong. He's one of the more experienced players in the team as well. He can make a difference. I cannot imagine that Freddie in five or six months lost his ability to score goals. It was just that as a team we were not as dangerous."

It is one of the things we have missed this season. The goals from the flanks that Pires and Ljungberg have provided every season have won us many games. It shows how important they have been to our success when things haven't gone so well this time around.

Ian Wright says Thierry Henry should seriously consider leaving Arsenal for Barcelona. He says "With everything that Henry has done at Arsenal and with the desire he has to win the Champions League and other titles I would have to consider it if Barcelona called me."

The more he talks the more I wish he'd shut his fucking mouth especially on the eve of such an important game. For someone who claims to be an Arsenal fan he's got a really funny way of showing it. I realise that what he says may not really make any difference to Thierry's decision when he does make it but if all the chattering voices in the media were telling him to stay it might have some bearing on his thinking. Anyway, after insisting his son went to Chelsea maybe Wright is not the person to be giving anyone career advice based on how well that move worked out (leaving aside the $$$$ and judging it on the football).

Ok, have to dash. Team news will emerge during the day so keep checking the news feeds and I'll have a preview tomorrow. Tonight it's Barcelona v Cuntski which should be fun around these parts tonight. Till tomorrow.


March 6th

A typically quiet Monday morning. I get far too early for any of the real news to have broken yet, still, given my precarious work situation I may get a lie in soon enough. Midday Arseblog's could be the future. Oh yes.

So what is happening then? Well, Arsene Wenger has praised Thierry Henry. Not for his two goals or the rest of his scintillating display against Fulham but for his role as captain which has drawn some criticism this season. The boss says "He is developing as a captain. He is conscious of the problems of the team. He talks more, he is more worried about the team. He speaks to the defenders. It takes time to get completely into that role. You don't get that from one day to the next."

Which is a good point. Back in the summer Thierry really was the only obvious candidate for the captaincy and not too many people had a problem with it back then. Ashley Cole took himself out of the running, Sol Campbell has shown how bad a decision it would have been to give it to him and while someone like Kolo might well be a candidate now last July Thierry was the only captain we had. It would be nice if he did the captainly thing and signed a new deal but that's by the by.

Former Leeds star Raul Bravo reckons he's the man to stop Thierry on Wednesday. He says "Arsenal depend on Henry a lot. It’s going to be key to stop him."

The Guardian has a piece about Ashley Cole's upcoming legal action against the News of the World and The Sun. German coaches have denied they have already decided that Jens Lehmann will be Germany's number one in the World Cup. They say "Das ist eine load of sheiße".

Nice to see Chelsea get the welcome they deserve here in Barcelona. I was at home all evening, I promise. And there you go. I'm off to work, such as it is. Till tomorrow.


March 5th

Hurrah! Three points on the road again and a performance that will instill some confidence ahead of Wednesday's kickabout with some ex-pat team from Madrid.

It started slowly enough but then Abou Diaby played a nice ball to Thierry Henry who did what he always does to ex-Gunner Moritz Volz. He nicked it past him, accelerated like some kind of cheetah and then hammered a left footed shot past Warner in the Fulham goal. A couple of minutes later Freddie Ljungerg, having his best game of the season by a long shot, played a beatiful ball through to Adebayor whose first time left footed shot made it 2-0 and that's the way it stayed at half-time.

In the second half we saw Arsenal play the way we know they can. Full of confidence, good movement, good passing and with Thierry Henry on fire. He was awesome. He made a chance for Adebayor who took a touch too many instead of hitting it first time, he made a chance for Hleb who forced a great save from Warner, he made a chance for Freddie who really deserved a goal and he skidded one across the goal mouth before getting his second after being played in by Freddie.

In the dying minutes we got a fourth when Mathieu Flamini went overlapping, Freddie played him through, he crossed it, José dummied it and Cesc was on hand to make it 4-0. When you consider how strong Fulham have been at home lately this was a very promising result by any standards.

Afterwards Thierry was interviewed and put the performance down to the fact that the team defended well from back to front and that was obvious. We looked calm and everybody worked hard. It sounds almost too simple but we were solid at the back, solid in midfield and the forwards were able to make the most of that. As well as Thierry there were some good individual performances as well. Freddie was so like the Freddie of old, I thought Hleb looked much, much better and in Abou Diaby we look to have found a very good player. He got on the ball a few times and ran with it to good effect, he had one shot from the edge of the area and after good work between Hleb and Eboue had a great chance in the area but Warner again made an excellent save.

Of course one swallow does not make a summer and it would be silly to suggest all our problems are behind us but at the same time we have to take heart from the result and performace and build on it. The biggest problem this season has been consistency and putting together a run of good results. Fingers crossed we can take confidence from this and start the ball rolling, so to speak. We were very good yesterday but Fulham were also very poor. Real will be a much sterner test after their 2-1 derby win last night.

Ahead of the game on Wednesday Arsene Wenger has accused Real Madrid of 'low level behaviour' for using their mouthpiece Marca to declare their interest in signing Cesc Fabregas. It is total gamesmanship, of course. They know there's no chance of Catalan Cesc going there and the manager says "I feel it is unfair before a big game to behave like that, as they have by coming out and saying they want to buy Fabregas. There is nothing less classy than that", although he may want to take a look at Jose Mourinho's histrionics yesterday.

So a happy Sunday after an away day, breakfast and the Sunday papers will be a pleasure and not a chore. Thanks lads! Enjoy your Sunday. Till tomorrow.


March 4th

A quick round-up ahead of our game against Fulham today.

Ashley Cole will be fit for the World Cup according to Arsene Wenger, which is precisely fuck all use to us. Sol Campbell will be fit for the World Cup as well. Good for him. He's about a week or two away from challenging for a first team place as well. Thierry Henry says he hasn't had a heart to heart with Sol but puts his bad form down to injuries, which is farily diplomatic of him.

The captain is also hopeful we can turn things around between now and the end of the season, saying "I am ready for the criticism at the end of this season. Yet I really hope we can still do something this year, although I know it will be tough. The spirit and heart at Arsenal is as strong as ever. We must try and improve our league position and even if we beat Real Madrid in the Champions League there will still be a hell of a long way to go."

Excellent stuff, but then it's capped with a rather paranoid sentence. He says "As has always been the case, I know people on the outside will try and blame me if it goes wrong. At major clubs, not just Arsenal, people always like to single out one or two players."

Given the fact he's our leading scorer and has been for years I don't think he is to blame for our woes this year. What we have lacked from him is leadership, some fight like we used to see from him, and as long as his contract is unsigned it creates an air of uncertainty and makes it difficult not to mention him when things go wrong. But he's not the only one. Often you can say a team's failings are down the team itself, this season our problems have been because certain players have not performed and not contributed to the group. Anyway, if Thierry's fired up and willing to run those extra yards then that is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Let's just see the words transformed into performances as this is old ground we're treading on now.

Arsene Wenger has backed Ashley Cole's decision to sue the News of the World and The Sun for implying he was one of the players involved in the 'gay premiership footballers' story. In his 23rd lawsuit of the year Cole and his lawyer brand the stories 'disgraceful', saying "There is no truth whatever in these allegations. Ashley Cole will not tolerate this kind of cowardly journalism or let it go unchallenged. These proceedings will be vigorously and actively pursued."

And if there's no truth to the stories then he's probably right to sue them. The boss isn't worried that Cole seems to have spent more time in his lawyer's office than on the pitch this season though, saying "I feel he is focused on his job and focused on doing well and recovering quickly."

Robert Pires reveals he's been offered a one year deal by the club. The 'Dennis Bergkamp formula' he calls it and he says "We have a new generation with a huge potential. If I can act as a guide it will be with pleasure," but he's still considering his options, saying "I am lucky to have other propositions, not in England. Some time ago I had a lot of worry with my contract extension at Arsenal. Today if I have to try something abroad, I will try it."

Pires doesn't play today as he has the bird flu and Manuel Almunia is also out with a hand injury. Bergkamp and Ljungberg are back in as revealed yesterday but there's still no debut for Theo Walcott. The manager says "We will certainly see him before the end of the season because he is moving quickly forward, but this week we have such a big game that we need all our experience, I feel."

Maybe some fresh blood is exactly what we needed but there you go. Alexander Hleb has criticised the boss for not playing him and playing him out of position. Maybe he should pass the ball to his own team more, then he might get more games. Fingers crossed we can shake our away day nightmare and pick up three very badly needed points against a Fulham team that are strong at Craven Cottage. Here's hoping.

My team plays today. We're third taking on the second place team which should be a good battle. Enjoy your weekend and come on the lads! Not literally, of course. Ashley Cole might sue.


March 3rd

Ok, well we've got a couple of players fit again for tomorrow's game against Fulham. Dennis Bergkamp is back as is Freddie Ljungberg before he picks up another knock that'll see him out for a couple of games. No Robin van Persie though but he could be fit enough to be in contention for Madrid. Pascal Cygan is a week away from fitness, Sol Campbell is 2 weeks away and Ashley Cole is going to be out for 3 weeks with his ankle injury which, although it might not seem it, is good news as I'm reliably informed they thought it was going to be around 6 weeks.

That means Mathieu Flamini will continue at left back while our number one left back when he's fit is launching an extraordinary libel action against the News of the World and The Sun for not naming him in their gay Premiership footballers exclusive. It's all a bit complicated so follow the link back there to read more. Suffice to say I couldn't give a rat's arse what any of players do with their penii or mobile phones once it doesn't keep them from performing on the pitch.

The Spanish press yesterday were glowing in their praise of debutant Cesc Fabregas. The consensus amongst them is that he's part of a new generation of Spanish players and that he just has to go to the World Cup. It would be a fairytale for a guy of just 18 but who can say he doesn't deserve it? He's worked hard, played well and gets his headlines for what he does on the pitch. Unlike, say, Jermaine Pennant. Anyway, today's Marca has this cover stating that the new Real Madrid president has made Cesc his main target for the summer. There's about two chances of that happening and slim has just left town. It's not in the least bit suspicious that this story would break before next week's game either. Oh no.

And that's it. I am most glad it's Friday. This week seems have dragged more than Danny la Rue and I think I've got some kind of cold or bird flu or bubonic plague. I may forego the usual post work beers for Lemsip and some painkillers. Gah. Still, at least I can sleep tomorrow. Till then so...


March 2nd

All the internationals have wiped all the proper news. Senderos and Djourou, making his debut in the second half, did well for Switzerland as they beat Scotland 3-1 which in Spain Cesc made his debut against the Ivory Coast. That one finished 3-2 to Spain with Cesc setting up one and José Antonio Reyes getting on the scoresheet. Well done to all involved and hopefully there are no injuries to report.

Apart from that there's very little else going on and I don't have too much time to invent stuff. There's been no word from the club regarding Ashley Cole's injury that he picked up against Sp*rs reserves the other night. Ignorance is bliss and all that but it's a bit suspect that we haven't heard anything yet. Fingers crossed it's not too bad but if it's a proper sprain then we're probably going to be without him for 3 or 4 weeks.

We've got Fulham away coming up this weekend. They have a very good home record and seem to have found a decent striking partnership with McBride and Helguson. There's no team news yet but something should emerge during the day. Could we Walcott? Will van Persie be fit? These questions and more will be answered somewhere by someone at some time. Not by me though. It's too early.

Till next time, Arsefans.


March 1st

Welcome to a brand new month on Arseblog and here's hoping our players on international duty come through unscathed. Cesc looks set to win his first cap for Spain as they take on the might of Kolo's Ivory Coast. Philippe Senderos is in action for Switzerland and Johann Djourou could win his first cap and I can't pretend to be interested in the meaningless friendlies for a second more. Here's hoping they all play well and come back in one piece.

Some good news yesterday for Robin van Persie as Dutch police finally announced that the charges against him for rape were being dropped due to lack of evidence. It's certainly something that's been hanging over him for some time now and for many reasons I'm glad it's been dropped, not least of which is that it seems a nasty crime has not been committed.

Jens Lehmann is 'optimistic' about signing a new deal with Arsenal, saying "I am optimistic but we still haven't reached a solution because it depends on how long the agreement will be for. I would like to stay but I do realise that I am 36 years old and if I ask for a four-year contract I might only get two."

He might only get one given the club's policy on players over 30. We shall see but he has performed really well this season, the World Cup is obviously a big motivation for him.

Yoann Gourcuff. 'Who's he?', you ask. Someone we're scouting very seriously at the moment, I'm told. He's 19, plays in midfield for Rennes, has made 26 appearances this season, scored 4 goals and he's French. I have no reason whatsoever to disbelieve this story.

Sol Campbell is out for another month according to The Sun. He's worried this will affect his World Cup chances whereas I couldn't give a fish's tit about his World Cup chances or him at this stage.

You might have read during the week about Arsenal signing a deal to promote Israel as a tourist destination. It's fairly obvious that the club will put their name to anything these days if enough £$€ is involved but it seems this particular deal hasn't gone down too well with Emirates, the sponsors of the new stadium and our shirts for the next billion years. See here for more.

That's it. Midweek. Could do with it being Friday today but what can you do? Have fun.




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