March 31st

Some mornings I don't know where to start. Not because I'm spoiled for choice with lots of stories, just that I don't know how to begin. Normally thinking out loud in some way helps and by the time I've written a couple of lines it looks like I know what I'm talking about. Mostly.

For tomorrow's game against Aston Villa we're still without Freddie Ljungberg and Sol Campbell. That means our impressive back four can stay together again. Left full back has been a problem this season but it seems that both Cole and Clichy are doing well. Ashley is expected back in about three weeks while Clichy should return to full training next week. However, given their lack of match fitness and how well Mathieu Flamini is doing they may struggle to make the team even when they are over their knocks.

Thierry Henry feels things are going well now and puts it down the win against Real Madrid. He says "That win at Real Madrid did give us a lot of belief and now everyone is confident."

And if you had to pick a turning point that would be it. As enjoyable as that was though it did give weight to the criticism levelled at the team beforehand. When you see them playing like that it's what made the insipid performances pre-dating it very difficult to take. Let's use Gilberto as an example. After the Everton game I was particularly scathing about him and it's not something I normally do. I felt I was right though as the way he played characterised everything that was wrong about the team. Half-hearted, passionless, uncommitted. Now, let's look at Gilberto since the Real Madrid game. He's strong, winning tackles and no longer looks like he's afraid of getting kicked because as a central midfield player that's part of your game. His squaring up to Ibrahimovic the other night in defence of Senderos was exactly what we need from him. An experienced player standing up for, and setting an example to, his younger team mates.

I don't know what turned it around. Maybe we needed a big win to boost the confidence, maybe the manager bawled them out of it, maybe a combination of both but it's just a shame it took until February to shake the cobwebs off as this team has got far more to it than scrapping for fourth place. Anyway, I'm not sure where I'm going with this. It's too early in the morning to think straight. Let's just hope the same level of committment we show for the Champions League games is carried into every game between now and the end of the season.

Robert Pires has been linked with a move to Vilarreal and has been praised by Thierry for his recent form. He says "When he was not playing well, everyone was talking about him and now he is doing well, you should be saying so."

That's fair enough. As memorable as his goals have been for us, and some of them have been outstanding, I think the tackle on Vieira is going to live long in people's minds. And again it goes back to the half-arsed point I was making above. If Le Bob played every game like he played against Juventus we'd be begging the manager to give him a 2 year deal to make him stay.

Finally, let's remember David Rocastle who passed away five years ago to the day. Arsenal Talk has a nice piece about a great player and a true gentleman and if you can spare a couple of quid the David Rocastle Trust is more than a worthy cause.


March 30th

Still lots of coverage from Tuesday night's fantastic win so a quick round-up of the stories to follow.

Paul Merson is amongst the many praising Cesc, saying he should go to the World Cup and could be a real star there, but the player, to his credit, has his feet firmly on the ground. In reply to the many suggestions that he's taken over from Vieira he said "I don't know and I don't like it. I have always tried my best. I work hard in every training session and I always give my best. In the last few weeks we have won games and done well and it reflects well on a player individually, but I don't think that's fair. It's the team."

In the same link you can read the captain's thoughts about him and I commented the other night to my scruffy shirted companion that Cesc could well play an important part in Thierry Henry's decision to stay or go. Certainly if you couldn't see the chancet of a team developing then you might be more inclined to leave but it's obvious that Cesc is a special talent and to play alongside him, even as experienced as Henry is, must be a mouthwatering prospect. Add to him the defence, which the captain praised as well, Walcott, van Persie, Reyes and so on and the idea of leading those players out in the magnificent new stadium has to be a massive draw. Henry has as well tried to dampen down the praise a bit for the young Spaniard, saying "The important thing now is we must not go too far and get carried away. Cesc is doing extremely well and we just have to let him grow up and get on with it."

It is a good point. Particularly these days when websites and blogs and forums all over the internet can hype a player beyond belief. That's not to say Cesc doesn't deserve the praise at the moment, he certainly does, but remember how much hype there was around players like James Beattie, Shaun Wright-Phillips and even Peter Crouch when he had a good season for Southampton. It's very rare to see somebody say "Yes, he's playing well but let's see how he's playing in a year's time", it's nearly always over the top. The mark of a truly great player is performing consistently season after season. That's why Henry, Ronaldinho, Shevchenko and even someone like Frank Lampard can be tagged as 'World Class'. We can all see that Cesc has the potential to join that group, his talent is obvious and his intelligence is what will help him achieve so much, but maybe sometimes we forget he's still 18 and perhaps there's the danger of expecting too much from him (misrepresented headlines like this don't help - hit hunting is all it is). Anyway, we'll come back to this in 12 months time when he's FIFA World Player of the Universe - 4 Eva!!!!

Robert Pires speaks about his first tackle in 13 years and how it led to the opening goal. "I even surprised myself. When the ball is at Patrick’s feet he is a specialist, it is like the pupil who has copied the master."

More copying please, Robert, who is still playing for his new contract. In the Guardian, just below a boring piece about how ITV have to sell their Arsenal shares, an employment law specialist suggests that Arsenal's policy of offering one year deals to over 30s could be discriminatory as they're treating players under 30 differently. I think it's safe to say that employment law and football is not a good mix. You just can't treat football as any other profession. Yes, they should be afforded as much protection as is necessary but you can't offer a 32 year old player a 5 year deal the same way you can a 22 year old. It's nonsense. It's like Ashley Cole's nonsensical law suit against anyone he could possibly bring it against to claim his human rights were being abused when he went to meet Chelsea, totally outside the rules of the Premiership. Hopefully the players will see common sense but I suppose all it takes is for one of them to challenge the policy and things could go tits up.

Pavel Nedved tries to lure Arsenal into a false sense of security. Talking about the second leg in Turin he says "It will be very difficult for us to make something of this tie. In fact, maybe it is already over for us this year."

Expect lots of stories like this one between now and the game. One thing is for certain though, the manager and the players know the job is not done yet and will approach the game in that way, not thinking they're already through. Kolo Toure says Sol Campbell has been a big help behind the scenes and has given advice to the defence. "Now remember Kolo, if you make one mistake that's fine, but two means you throw a big strop and ponce out of the club like a drama queen."

Bad news for the reserves as they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season against Southampton going down 5-1. Eeek.

And there you go.


March 29th

Writing this directly after the game I am almost lost for words. Almost. This is what I don't get paid to do so don't worry, I have plenty to say.

Both Madrid games were awesome to watch for different reasons. From the stands at the Bernebeu I saw the potential of this team. In front of the TV for the return leg we saw not only the potential but the spirit and the heart. Tonight we saw both as we took Juventus apart, and there's no other way to put it than that. The first 10 minutes aside, when Juventus looked mildly irritating if not dangerous, the game was all Arsenal. We were the ones who looked dangerous, the ones who looked like we wanted to score, the ones who had the desire to win the game, the ones who put 100% in our tackles and positioning and without question we were the ones who deserved to win the game.

Cesc - he's the best

Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring on 40 minutes and given the night that was in it it was just the perfect goal. Patrick Vieira was dispossessed by a wonderful Robert Pires tackle (I know! I know!) and he then played it to Thierry Henry who slipped it to Cesc who rolled the ball through Thuram's legs to make it 1-0. Maybe Vieira was still on his arse when the ball went in. The symbolism couldn't have been any more accurate if he was.

He may have ruled the Arsenal midfield once upon a time but now there's a new master.

In the second half it was all us again. Henry had a left footed shot saved by Buffon, Hleb had a left footed daisy cutter saved as well and it was all Arsenal. When Juventus did look in any way threatening they had the back four to contend with. Kolo Toure made an amazing tackle in the box on Ibrahimovic while Senderos won everything in the air and on the ground and his first half charge forward just summed up his character and got the crowd going. The second goal had to come and it did after Pires took a quick free kick to Alexander Hleb. He played a beautiful ball to Cesc who squared it for Henry who finished with aplomb considering the ball was under his feet. 2-0 Arsenal and absolutely no less than we deserved.

After that the Italians were finished. They had nothing left, their 10 men effort against Roma weighed heavily on their legs, but more than that they lost their discipline. Vieira picked up a yellow for a kick at José which means he'll miss the return leg, Camoronesi got a second yellow which you have to think was deliberate - and his blowing kisses at the crowd as he went off showed how much he cares about his club and enraged Capello - and Zebina got a second yellow late on as Juventus finished with 9 men. It was a shame we couldn't score again but ask anyone before the game if they have taken a 2-0 and to a man you wouldn't have found a dissenter.

On a player by player basis it's almost impossible to single anyone out. Jens was quiet but that was because Juventus didn't threaten at all. The back four have been outstanding in recent weeks. Eboue is so full of energy and that's mirrored on the other side with Mathieu Flamini who just gives 110% all the time. In the middle I've said before how much I like Kolo and Phil as a partnership and again they were awesome. They won everything in the air, distributed the ball well and I know Senderos has had some critics this season but I despair of anyone that can't see these two are the future of our defence for the next decade (I loved Phil knocking the ball out of Vieira's hand coming back from a corner).

In midfield Hleb, Pires, Gilberto and José gave everything and didn't shirk their defensive work while Cesc just showed again what a player he is. If you were given a choice between him and Vieira in your midfield would anyone seriously choose Paddy? He looked lost tonight. He looked like he didn't have the legs to compete. He never got forward. He never threatened. He could hardly move at the end. The total opposite of Cesc who was creative, in the middle of everything and right to the final whistle was full of running. His smile at the end of the game made my heart glow. I love that lad and I still maintain Arsene did some good business moving on the former captain when he did. Tonight's listless performance is typical of his season and his last season with us. It is a cliché but nobody knows the players better than AW, not even themselves. Vieira didn't enjoy his return one little bit and while I'm glad he was shown respect before the game I have no problem with the way he was shown up during it. People have often criticised us for not being ruthless enough. Well, things have changed. I'm sure he looked at the ability and the promise of our young side and wanted to be part of it. I'm sure he saw himself playing alongside the precocious talent of Cesc. Oh well! You make your bed, Paddy... thanks to Kaids who provided this picture which pretty much sums up his night.

Up front Thierry was Thierry. Dangerous one minute, chasing down defenders the next and in European competition he has 49 goals in 99 games. More than anyone I hope he can see the potential in this side and what he can bring to it to develop it. His goal was no less than he deserved. Overall, leaving aside the various merits of the individuals, what we saw was a real Arsenal team tonight. Everyone knew their job, everyone put in the effort, nobody gave up and more and more you feel like there's something happening with them. Maybe the Champions League is a step too far this season, maybe not, but what they're showing is that it's an achievable goal in the future, that we can mix it with the best teams in Europe, that we're not star-struck or overawed and that we've got a core of players who, with the right investment, could create another great Arsenal side. I can't tell you how much that performance and result means to me and I'm sure to all of you as well. Had things not gone right tonight you can be sure there would be those happy to write off Madrid as some kind of fluke. Well, not now. We just outplayed the Serie A champions elect and nobody can argue with that. I love the lads!

Afterwards Arsene Wenger said of the performance "It was everything you want" but urged caution as well, saying "We scored two goals and didn't concede, so that was good. There's still a lot to do, but it was a good start."

Cesc was interviewed after the game and he showed what a mature head is on those young shoulders by saying "Now is just 'half-time' in the game and we'll see what happens there. If you look at the way we played, we dominated the game. We scored two, it's a good result, but it's not finished yet."

And that is true. It's not over by any means but that doesn't mean we shouldn't enjoy what we did last night because we should. And the players, the manager and the staff should as well. That was fun, wasn't it?


March 28th

So much of the build up to tonight's game involves the return of Patrick Vieira. No doubt he'll get a decent welcome, some smiles and handshakes before the game, maybe a rendition of his song from the stands but then I hope we give him nightmares and he doesn't enjoy his return to Highbury one little bit. There's no room for sentiment during the game and I'm sure Cesc Fabregas will be looking to continue his fine run of form against the man whose mantle he's taken over.

One thing the manager and the player have in common is that neither of them regret the decision to let him leave to Juventus in the summer. Arsene says "When you have a youth policy, the final step is to make room for the players who grow in behind and without that you cannot have a youth policy. Was it right to sell or not is not even a question that bothers me all" while Vieira says "In the nine years it was the best bit of history of Arsenal and I proud to be part of it, but I never regret any decision."

I hope he regrets trying to find Emerson with a raking pass which is intercepted by Cesc who feeds it to Thierry for the goal which gives us the lead. Maybe that's just me though.

Of course we know the Thierry connection to Juventus and the Vieira one is obvious but go back in time a bit and you find a man who played for both clubs. Liam Brady, of course, who broke all our hearts when he left us to go to Italy in 1980. Back then there was no comparison to the Arsenal team of today. This team has potential, has won championships and is full of quality players whereas back then Brady stood pretty much head and shoulders above everyone else in a team that lacked investment and struggled all through the 80s in what was a depressing decade for Arsenal until that night at Anfield. He talks today in the Guardian about his time there and the development of youth at Highbury, particulary Cesc who he claims is on his way to becoming a 'giant of the game'. I love you, Liam.

The boss has still to decide on tactics and I suppose the decision is to whether to go to 4-4-2 with Robin van Persie and Thierry up front or to stick with the 4-5-1 which was so successful against Real Madrid. Personally I'd like to see the former, Freddie Ljungberg's energy was a big part of why the latter worked so well and he's out of the game with his calf injury. It's certainly too early for Walcott to debut and Pires just doesn't work hard enough. Also out is Sol Campbell who Arsene Wenger said would have been 'involved' as he has a bruised toe. Sitting on the bench is 'involved', isn't it?

Whatever team he picks it's going to be an exciting night and hopefully we can repeat the performance and result of 2001 when Juventus came and went home with a 3-1 spanking. Again we need the work ethic from front to back that we showed against Madrid, we need Gilberto to be strong against Vieira and Emerson and to protect his young partner in the centre and we need Thierry to show Juventus, again, what they missed out on by playing him as wing-back.

Hopefully we can stay solid at the back as well and not concede as we know already how important away goals are in Europe. Right, I'm away, let the fun begin and come on the lads!


March 27th

Ah Monday, back to work today although for how long remains the question.

Not much happening really. No team news yet ahead of tomorrow night's game but Juventus will be without Del Piero and the suspended Pavel Nedved. Apparently they've got some French midfielder who used to be quite good but I can't find any stories about that. Another interesting factor is Thierry Henry playing against his old club. It would be fair to say his time at Juventus was not a success, playing as a wide man in a 5 man midfield was not his game and when Arsene took him to Arsenal and moved him to the striker's position his career really took off. Juventus vice-President Roberto Bettega says about selling him - "It wasn’t an error on our part. And, remember, we are not talking about Henry as he is now. This was a long time ago.”

Robert Pires - "This is a very important stage for us, a little less so for Juventus who are more used to being in the Champions League semi-finals or final."

Jens Lehmann will have to wait until May to find out if he's got the number 1 shirt for Germany this summer. No harm, that. It'll keep him on his toes.

There was a good result for us in the north east yesterday as Boro scored a last gasp winner against the Walrus man's Bolton. Suck on that you gum chewing mouthpiece. We do need Blackburn to start dropping some points though and obviously it would be nice if Sp*rs imploded.

And that's it. Welcome to a new week.


March 26th

So yesterday's game was called off because of rain. What a load of bollocks. This isn't cricket or tennis. If Portsmouth can't fucking keep their pitch dry or covered up then they should lose the 3 points. This is not the dark ages. Absolute nonsense in 2006 for a Premiership game to be cancelled because of rain. Speaking frankly, Portsmouth should not only lose the 3 points but they should be automatically relegated for not having a ground capable of hosting Premiership football.

Anyway, the game will be rescheduled for some time when we least need it, no doubt, but in the meantime it gives the lads a rest before Tuesday. Speaking of which Arsene Wenger says we have to beware of David Trezeguet because he's a 'snake'. At least he's not a motherfucking snake on a motherfucking plane though. That would be something far worse entirely.

In a quick Sunday round-up Gary Lineker talks about the return of Vieira, AW talks about the return of Vieira and Alexander Hleb talks about giant rats. No, really.

And there you go. I have a Dad sized hangover. Till tomorrow.


March 25th

Morning all, a quick Saturday round-up for you all.

Arsene Wenger has called for players who dive to be suspsended and Goodplaya has some interesting points to add as well. I did like Arsene's tongue in cheek comment though "I can say that when my team are not involved I am 100 percent against it."

The boss has also defended the wages players are paid after Birmingham Chairman David Sullivan criticised some of the, mostly English it has to be said, players at his club who are picking up £30,000 and doing fuck all. The boss says "It does not matter how much you are paid in life, it is your attitude that is important. I do not have a problem with the money the players earn as long as they have the right attitude."

Exactly right. And speaking of attitude Sol Campbell is raring to go apparently, he's full of confidence, he's motivated, he's itching to play and happily Arsene Wenger has left him out of today's squad altogether. You see, it doesn't matter how much money you earn once you have the right attitude. Without playing today it's unfeasible that he'll play against Juventus. The boss says he'll get a chance soon but I'm in no rush to ever see him back.

Also out today Freddie Ljungberg, who suffered a set-back with his calf injury but may be ok for Tuesday night, and José Antonio Reyes who talks here about Vieira, our form and his life in England which is like a little piece of Andalucia. Except without the sunshine. Personally I think we need to decide long-term where we're going to play him and then give him the confidence of a long run in the team in that position. I'd love to see him wide left tearing past opponents and not falling over opponents so much.

Thierry Henry on the similarities between our Champions League campaign and Liverpools - "Liverpool played Juventus in the quarter-finals of the Champions League last year and now we face Juventus in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. But I do not believe in history repeating itself. You create your own history.”

And that's that. It's a glorious sunny day here today, I've got Irish sausages and bacon brought over by my dad, a big fry-up is on the way and I'm playing football later. Have a good one and come on the lads!


March 24th

Another Friday rolls in. Ahhh, good times. You'll be pleased to know that I was unbeaten as Arsenal in my PES5 tournament yesterday. The two Italians, using Milan, Barcelona and Juventus at various times, were unable to better my glorious gunners. Take that, Eyeties!

In Arsenal news Sol Campbell and José Antonio Reyes are back in contention for this weekend's game against Portsmouth. It'll be good to have José back. Arsene Wenger says "I don't know yet whether they will play on Saturday or not but they are very close."

I also liked the boss's comment about how Campbell was 90% fit enough to 'compete for a place in the team'.

Arsene on Vieira - "It is always difficult to tell a player he is no longer wanted when you have been in battle together and given everything together. He often feels it is a betrayal. No player understands when he is no longer strong enough. I have learned to tell my players in the most frank way possible, even if they don't accept it. Some refuse to accept my judgement, but they accept the verdict because they know the level of honesty of their coach."

No doubt Paddy will be full of passion when he returns but after a good start in Italy his performances have been under par and his apparent lack of effort at times has frustrated Juventus supporters. I still maintain the mistake was not replacing Vieira, selling him was good business.

A goalkeeper called Pele? It's true. He plays for Le Mans and we've watched him 20 times this season it seems. Apparently the Grimster has been scouting him and the French club say "We are aware of Arsenal but he is being watched by many clubs. If a big club makes an offer we could discuss it."

Another keeper rumour involves Hearts Craig Gordon but I'm not sure how much truth there is to that. Meanwhile current number 1 Jens Lehmann would like former Scummer Jurgen Klinnsman to make a decision now about who is going to be Germany's number one for the World Cup. He says "Actually, it would please me if the coach made the decision now. I believe my chances are good. I have no idea how I would react if I am told I am No 2. I have asked my wife the same question many times and I still don't have the answer."

Just off the top of my head I would imagine Jens reaction to being number 2 would be akin to that of King Kong in Manhatten. He would climb tall buidling and pluck bi-planes out of the sky before throwing them to the ground, roaring and beating his chest. He would develop the ability to shit fire bombs and would drop flaming loads on the streets below before going to Munich to fight his arch-nemesis the evil, albino gorilla. A monstrous battle would ensue and fur would fly and some teeth would be lost before Jens snapped the gorilla's neck and removed its head. He would then climb to the top of the brand new Allianz Stadium and drop kick Khan's hideously mis-shapen noggin which would fly for miles before landing in the meditteranean just south of Sicily. Locals will exclaim "Oooooh, mama!"

In other news Ryan Smith says he wants a place in the Arsenal first team despite not being able to win a place in the Leicester first team and David Beckham added fuel to the rumours that he'll be at the club next year by saying he'll be supporting Arsenal in the Champions League this season.

And that's it. My old man never said 'be a To*tenham fan' so he's flying over this weekend to stay. Some food and beer is in order. Till tomorrow, Arsechums, have a good Friday.


March 23rd

Really not a lot going on this morning. There've been a couple of kick off changes. One is the Sunderland game which now takes place on May 1st after originally being schedules for April 29th and the other is the Sp*rs game which is going to be shown live on Sky on April 22nd. Kick off moves from 3pm to 12.45pm.

Thierry Henry on Alexander Hleb - "It takes time to get used to it [here], and we must not forget that he also got injured. But he has come back and then was not playing. We were not playing so well either and that does not help."

Wenger on Campbell - "Sol is mentally focused, he is working hard and there is no basic problem. If he is fit I would have no problem with playing him against Juventus, but we have competition for places."

Yep, and we've got two players in there who have given everything for us in recent weeks which puts them miles ahead of Campbell in the pecking order as far as I'm concerned. The fact that he has not once said sorry to the fans for his walkout means he is 100% off my Christmas card list. His only motivation now is the World Cup, where if Ferdinand and Terry stay fit, he's going to spend the whole time on the bench.

Arturo Lupoli is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. He was due to join Brighton on loan but that deal has had to be shelved.

Off again today and tomorrow, which is nice. Nearly as nice as the drilling cunts on the road outside. One of them decided he'd see how loudly he could smash an iron bar off another iron bar this morning. He could smash it very loudly indeed, so he could. So there you go. I'm going to have a PES5 tournament with some chaps from work who are also off today. It's been a tough week.


March 22nd

Wednesday already, late blogs because of a weird work situation. Means I get a lie in though and lie ins are good, especially on week days.

Anyway, onto more important matters. The Arsenal. Philippe Senderos has been talking about the rest of the season and he reckons our destiny is in our own hands with regard to the final Champions League spot. Given the fact that Bolton and Blackburn have games in hand that's not exactly true but I think what he means is that if we keep playing the way we're playing now we're going to give ourselves every chance of making it. The Swiss defender says "We are in top form and we want to continue that until the end of the season, that is our goal. We have got some consistency over the last seven games or so, and have been playing better in every match. The group has been growing up and learning."

Can't really argue with that and I hope Arsene resists the temptation to tinker with a winning team by bringing back fit again Sol Campbell. He may have experience but he doesn't merit a place in the team at the moment and to put him back ahead of a player forging a very nice partnership with Kolo would be criminal. While you can see how Cole is a natural replacement for Flamini I hope that Phil's good form continues and Sol keeps the bench warm until the end of the season.

I haven't commented too much on the Thierry Henry contract situation as it is all speculative and rather pointless as everything has pretty much been said already but Arseweb has a nice piece on it while Arsenal Times has a very interesting piece about Matt Hughes who moulded that crappy Barcelona blog story into a broadsheet report that was picked up by other 'credible' sources.

And that's all I've got and you're lucky to get this. There's something wrong with the electricity in my apartment. It keeps turning off and on again and the box is making fizzing sounds, which is not good. I've been in touch with the electricity company and they say I have to get my own electrician so I've called one of them and I expect him some time before the end of next week even though he said 'this morning.'

Till tomorrow, hopefully.


March 21st

Feeling a bit better than yesterday morning I'm sure you're happy to hear. A normal blog today full of interesting news, snippets and wotsits.

Having been offered a one year deal, as is the Arsene way, Robert Pires is mulling over his options. He wants a three year deal but the manager is standing firm, saying "I’ve always said that I want Robert to stay for at least another year and I hope that he will make that decision sooner rather than later. He will always be part of my plans but we must stick to our policy."

His agent denied he had been in talks with Rangers and now it's up to the player. Personally I think the one year policy is a good idea. In the twilight of one's career I suppose it can get a bit more difficult to motivate yourself and find that extra hunger which can win things so if you know you're relying on your performances to win you a new deal then consciously or not there's something that will drive you on and provide the motivation. I think Robert Pires signing a one year deal would be good for the club. Robert Pires signing a three year deal would not.

Meanwhile Thierry Henry is enjoying playing with Emmanuel Adebayor even if the Tongolian was the brunt of some frustration on Saturday. He says "Manu is the type of striker who is really nice to play with because he shows the ball well and he does the bad [hard] work. That is always a plus for me because then I am more free up front."

What he does give us is something different to Robin van Persie in that he holds the ball up more and allows the midfielders to get ahead of the play and something different to Dennis Bergkamp in that he scores goals. It will be good to have RvP and Adebayor competing and knowing that each of them can bring something different to a game when we need it. It's still early days but he looks promising.

The captain explains, very well in my opinion, his criticism of the team after the 3-0 win against Charlton - "The reason I was critical of the team as a unit is that it is better to do it when you have won. When you have lost a game, it is too late. It has taken us a long time to get where we are again and it is easier to lose it again — rather than build it back up."

Arsene Wenger has admitted he might have got things a bit wrong this season and that the poor league form is down to him. He says "I have been living with the anxiety that perhaps I made some wrong choices when you look at our league form this season. So now my job is to steady the ship."

I think the one thing we'd all agree on is that we should have replaced Vieira. Not buying somebody to add steel or competition for midfield places was a mistake but the manager deserves our support no matter where we end up this season. I think we can all see the potential of the young players now and why he had such faith in them to begin with.

A pretty strong reserve side beat Charlton reserves 2-0 last night. Sol Campbell played the 90 minutes with no ill effects or tantrums, Robin van Persie also featured and set up a goal for Theo Walcott while Abou Diaby also came back from injury to get some match practice. Nicklas Bendtner scored the other goal.

And that's it. A little later than usual but there you go. Till tomorrow.


March 20th

*boilk*

Boilky boilk boilk boilk boilkity boilk. Boilk boilk boilk a boilk boilk triple boilk boilk. Boilk boilk boilk focus boilk a captain boilk boilk boilkington boilking like a fucking boilk.

Boilkaton boilk boilk boilikty boilk boilk floppy Le Boilk summer boilk proddy hun boilk boilk.

No más boilk a boilk boilkification Liam boilk Wife boilkarama 'just one more' beer boilk burpy fish tapas megaboilk boilk McBoilk boilk poo vom piss boilk.

*boilk*


March 19th

An impressive 3-0 win over a fairly limp Charlton put us into the 4th place for a few hours yesterday - until those cocksmokers down the road rolled over relegation fodder Birmingham.

We were ahead after 12 minutes through Robert Pires but could have had a couple before that, especially when Adebayor just needed to roll a simple pass to Thierry Henry but delayed, went it alone and cocked it up. Some people have suggested the captain's reaction was a bit over the top but I'm impressed at Henry's restraint. If it had been me waiting for the pass I'd have gone over and kicked him in the balls, then when he was lying on the ground I'd have booted his ribs in before driving over him with a steamroller.

Alexander Hleb

To be fair to the big Togan he made amends by sending Henry through to set up the first goal and he scored the second one when the Charlton defender let the ball go through his legs. As the striker was falling his nicked it past the keeper with the outside of his foot to make it 2-0.

Henry had a free kick for which Charlton had two men on the line. Had it been a foot or two lower neither of them would have got near it.

Second half saw us go 3-0 up after about 5 minutes. Hlen ran with the ball, gave it to Adebayor who shot and it scrambled around a bit before Helb himself volleyed it home for his second Arsenal goal and one he thoroughly deserved.

We probably should have scored more, Robin van Persie and Dennis Bergkamp came on, Robert Pires hit the post but it was a comfortable win and from front to back another good performance.

Afterwards Arsene Wenger said "The confidence is back in the team and we have found the way we want to play the game. It is enjoyable to see how quickly the young players have improved and how strong they look. I am very, very happy for them and for the club."

And he's right. We might have what we might have considered a makeshift back four but Eboue and Flamini are full of energy in the full back positions and Kolo and Philippe Senderos are forging the kind of partnership I really hoped they would. Senderos in particular looks more confident and that's noticable in his performances. You have to think that the reason we're better in midfield and up front is because we've become more solid at the back.

Fabregas in midfield is continuing his fine vein of form and again you can see the confidence in his game. He always does the simple things well but now he's adding a bit of flair to his game and it's great to see. Special mention again though to Alexander Hleb who has now started to show what Arsene Wenger saw in him. Great running on the ball, works hard and while his final pass still needs a bit of work he's become far more dangerous and his goal was apt reward for his performance yesterday.

Up front Adebayor looks like a new born foal everytime the ball comes to him but he's got a knack of scoring goals and all round he was invovled in a lot of good stuff. The only thing I'd say is when we have a corner I'd like to see him in the box instead of hanging around the corner taker looking for a short one. Then Thierry, who yesterday sort of distanced himself from all the Barcelona speculation, well, what can you say about him? He looked like he was just gliding across the pitch yesterday. Some people might say we could bring in a new era without him but I'd much rather our new era included him. On form he's just a pleasure to watch and I hope he's at the forefront of this exciting new Arsenal team. Overall, job well done, boys, thank you.

Sunday round-up from the papers: The News of the World suggests we're soliciting offers for Henry from Inter Milan. I don't even have the words to dismiss that for the load of bollocks that it is. Arsene Wengers says he's not nice, according to The People and that his new dream at Arsenal is "...winning the Champions League and rebuilding an 'invincible' team to experience again the total serenity of 2004."

Amy Lawrence talks about the support of Juventus, Italy's biggest club. Imagine that they actually gave away 26,000 tickets for the Werder Bremen match but were still 30,000 short of capacity.

Right, that's it. I'm away to get the always enjoyable after a win Sunday papers and some brekkie. Till tomorrow, Arsers.


March 18th

Good morning, Arsechums, hope your hangover isn't too bad after all the green beer, green whiskey and green Creme de Menthe. Oh.

Anyway, we've got a game today at 3pm against Charlton and as usual the boss has been talking. He reacted to speculation linking him (or Carlos Ancelotti) with the Real Madrid job by saying "I love Real Madrid. It was the team I admired when I was a kid and I have a lot of good memories for Real Madrid. But my priority is to do well for Arsenal because I am here and I feel we are in the rebuilding process of a big team again and I want to do that."

He also denied a deal had been done to bring Thierry Henry to Barcelona and again challenged the captain to create his 'legacy' at Arsenal. Even without the 4th Champions League spot he thinks he'll stay, saying "A player like Thierry will certainly want to play in that competition but there is more at stake than just one year in the Champions League or not."

He also reminded everyone that Thierry does have a contract until 2007 so any deal Barcelona might have concluded with our player would be most illegal indeed. Anyway, the whole Thierry + Barcelona thing is most boring now so that's all I'm going to say on it. I refuse to be drawn any further down the road of speculation.

Yesterday FIFA did what UEFA have fannied around for years and announced new penalties for clubs involved in racist chanting. The new penalties range from match suspensions to deductions of points; three for a first offence, six for a second and relegation if there are further incidents. They have also threatened to suspend associations from international competition for up to two years if they fail to impose them.

It is great that somebody is finally addressing the issue in a serious way, fining super rich clubs is no deterrent, however, there is always the fear that the system could be abused and Arsene expressed his concerns about that too, saying "I feel it is difficult to tackle a club 100% because you cannot be responsible for 50,000 people, if there are five silly people in there. It can happen. As well you can have fans disguised in the colours of your team and start when you are in a relegation battle to say absolutely silly things. You can work for opponents."

I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens the next time we have an incident like Eto'o at Zaragoza or Cole and Wright-Philiips in Madrid. Interesting though. Are Scousers a race?

Team news for today sees Robin van Persie return to the squad while Sol Campbell has to get fitter by playing in a reserve game on Monday. After that he's supposedly 'in contention'. I am indifferent.

Right, that's all I've got. It's early on a Saturday morning. I've got to go get a haircut and do the shopping. Have a good one and come on the lads!


March 17th

Well top 'o the mornin' to you and may your day be beer filled and snake free. Happy Saint Patrick's day and as this year, for the first time since Arseblog began, we don't actually have a Paddy (Vieira) or a real Irish Paddy in the team we'll have to celebrate with a hideously green colour scheme. The Irish readers won't complain though, they're drunk already!

Where to start. Ok, José Antonio Reyes is out of the Charlton game with a hamstring strain so he joins Freddie, Cole, Diaby and Clichy on the injury table which I hope is like a medieval banquet table to fit them all on. Despite coming through the behind closed doors game the other day we still may not see Robin van Persie. Arsene Wenger says of the Dutchman and Stroll Campbell "I don’t know or not if they are going to be in the squad [for Saturday] yet. They are still a bit short."

With Freddie and Reyes out it means we'll probably have Hleb on the right and Pires on the left but it does make a bit of room for Theo Walcott who has just turned 17 and has probably signed his first professional contract with the club. It would be nice to see him get a run out and get a birthday goal on his debut.

Speculation in France is linking us with Nantes keeper Mikael Landreau. His name has cropped up more than once and according to his agent a decision about his future will be made soon. He says "Betis, Sevilla, PSG, Fiorentina, Arsenal and Internazionale, which wants him as number two, has contacted Mickael. But some of those clubs don't attract him."

Jens is certainly playing a blinder this season and if the World Cup keeps him this motivated I'm sure a 26 old snapping at his heels will do the same. Or it might drive him to batter the 26 year old to death but that's life.

He's been away for some time and I'm told that telling Debbie Gibson to watch out might be a good idea but it's good to have Leopold Mendacious back on the real, old school, non-fancy, ANR. According to him Arsene Must Act and who are we to argue?

Right, there you go. Really and truly thank God it's Friday. This has been one poxy week and I will be glad to see the back of it. Have a good day everyone, don't drink too little.


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.





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