08.56 - They may be chalk and cheese in terms of management style and how they like their football teams to play, but you suspect that with just a touch of George Graham's defensive focus, Arsenal would be looking to complete the double-double tomorrow against Southampton.
Gorgeous George says "Arsenal have to get a lot better defensively. I didn't have all the world-class players Arsene has and, in midfield and up front, they are wonderful to watch. But you have to get all three departments right and the defence is not. You only had to watch Real Madrid when they lost to Juventus in the semi- final the other night."
Which funnily enough is what our old chum Myles has to say about Madrid on ANR. "Like Arsenal, they are an attacking team with a dodgy defence." Lee Dixon has urged Arsene Wenger to go out and splash the cash on John Terry this summer. "Gone are the days when Arsenal can sign a player like Pascal Cygan for only £2million and then expect him to set to the world alight immediately. Sol Campbell has the ability to go on and become the best defender in the world but he needs a new partner to build up an understanding with. John Terry at Chelsea would be a good signing..."
Ashley Cole reckons it will be a 'disaster' if Arsenal finish the season without a trophy. David Seaman is set to be named captain for the game tomorrow, in what could be his last match for Arsenal (before he's snapped up by Kelvin Koogle for Man City).
In terms of team news, Pascal Cygan is definitely out (mentally more than physically if you believe the whispers). Oleg trained yesterday but remains a doubt so we could see Kolo at right back and Igors Stepanovs in central defence. I did hear that Gilberto may move into the centre of defence alongside Martin Keown with Gio or Edu playing in midfield. Apparently the team have played some training matches like this during the week. Wenger says "Pascal Cygan's out - all the rest are gambles."
So tomorrow eh? Love the cup final I do. I'll get up early, do my bits and pieces down the market, come home, get the beers into the fridge, and sit and watch about 3 hours of pre-match build up without moving. Those of you living in far-away places such as Canadia and America will have to get up at 4am and do the same. Even if there isn't any build up on the TV, sit and stare at the blank screen as if there was. Imagine the thrills of watching the team buses wind their way through the streets of the Welsh village, the locals slack-jawed with the technology of it all. Like ancient man seeing fire for the first time.
Do they still take the cameras on board the bus? Remember how they used to do that?
Reporter:'And here are 4 players playing cards. What're ya playing lads?'
Reporter:'You must be very excited about the game'
Player2:'Yeah, I am.....'
Oh, it was great stuff. I can't wait.....
08.53 - We've long been of the opinion here that Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood shut be kept locked away, and only allowed to speak after he's had a script drilled into him by somebody with half an ounce of tact and common sense.
He's made some comments recently about Patrick Vieira which have left the Captain with a sour taste in his mouth. "Hill-Wood continues to make comments which I am not happy about at all. He said that if I wasn’t content with the money I was earning then I could leave. But he always seems to wait until I am out of the country playing for France before saying anything. It is a total lack of respect and I really do not appreciate it."
Is Patrick Vieira more important to Arsenal than Peter Hill-Wood? Deffo. Short term, long term, any term, Paddy is the heartbeat of the team in more ways than one. However, it looks like it'll be well into the summer before any new deal is signed "Arsenal and I have talked three times and with the FA Cup final, my work in Senegal and the boss’s holiday, that will take us until after pre-season training before we can start to talk about a new contract again."
Not sure I like that to be honest. How difficult is it? 'Hello most influential midfield player in the world, how much would you like? Ok...please sign here'. Sort it out Arsenal.
The Times talk to Gilberto. Birmingham boss Steve Bruce wants Francis Jeffers for £4m this summer. Will Arsenal sell? Will Franny be fit enough to pass a medical if we do? David Seaman is an injury worry for the cup final with a neck injury. Despite having never played a first team game Guillaume Warmuz wants to stay at Arsenal next season, and if not would like to find another English club.
It's been a while since we've heard from him, and he's spent some time travelling around Goa, various Thai islands and Skibbereen in County Cork, Leopold Mendacious has returned. Cakes, crisps and fizzy drinks - a look at Arsenal's end of season party can now be found on the real ANR.
There are some cup final articles beginning to appear now - and one today in the Telegraph reveals fans favourite FA Cup moments. I'm not going to post it here because 3 of the top 5 feature Arsenal on the wrong end of it, with that fluke goal from Giggs being the number 1. In the interests of being completely partisan and biased, feel free to leave a comment today about your favourite Arsenal FA Cup moment, final or otherwise.
For me it's got to be Alan Sunderland in '79. That sick feeling when United scored their second was almost worth it when Chippy gave it to Rix and Rix floated it over and where the fuck is Gary Bailey oh look he's staring at the ball in the back of his net and look at those curls go mental. Sweet. How many times did you recreate that goal yourself in the back garden?
As good as that was though, I'd much prefer an easy win on Saturday to anything remotely nailbiting, 8-2 please Arsenal.
08.59 - Let's start today with the news that Patrick Vieira wants to stay with Arsenal. Erm...heard that one before actually. But in a fairly lengthy piece in The Sun, he talks about his and Arsenal's future. He's laid the gauntlet down to the club a bit though, challenging them to demonstrate their ambition.
"I know I'm in a good position with only a year left but the club want me to stay and I want to stay so that is a good start. If the boss says we will fight to be at the top, of course I will be with him. I trust him because he has been great for my career. If he believes in the future, that is good enough for me. If I agree with the boss then I will sign for two, three, four or I don't know how many years. In my mind there is no thought of going anywhere else."
And he has put paid to talk that Arsenal's French players have been urging AW to sign specific players, in particular Valencia striker John Carew. "..as captain, I can talk about so many things about the team. But I would never tell him who to sign. Everyone should know his place." Thank God for that, Carew is un burro.
Bob Wilson reckons David Seaman should not retire and keep playing. Which gives me a chance to use this picture again. I know he's been a great servant to the club, but there comes a time when we have to look to the future. As well as that, 40 is just too old to play top level football in my opinion, no matter how good a player you are.
Dennis Bergkamp has made it clear he wants to stay for another year at Highbury. "I am confident that I want to stay. I still haven't found any reason to retire. I still feel great physically and mentally. I always said that Arsenal would be my finishing point and I still can't see a reason why that cannot happen." I guess it all depends on the finances, but a player like Dennis has got to be worth keeping around, even if his role in the first team might be more peripheral next season.
Gordon Strachan reckons winning the FA Cup would mean more to the likes of Chris Marsden and Brett Ormerod than it would to the Arsenal players. "The top players will still treat it like a trophy to be won - that's why they are top players. But there will be much more excitement for your Marsdens and Ormerods than the guys who have won World Cup medals." Not sure if that's true to be honest. The Arsenal players, World Cup winners or not, will be determined to finish the season with some silverware after the disappointment of the league season.
Remember if you have any transfer rumours, or find anything on the web, hear something on the radio etc, you can add to the growing list over on the transfer rumours forum (registration required). So far, names we're linked with include Carew, Harry Kewell, Jermaine Defoe, William Gallas, Thomas Sorenson, Rustu and Zinedine Zidane. Oh wait, the last one might not be 100% accurate. We should have quite a list by the end of the summer.
Here's one for you though, a friend of a friend sort of a thing from here in Spain reckons Barcelona want Kanu. Being pretty poor, they can't go splashing the cash in the trasnfer market this summer and realising Arsenal would take £150 and his wages off the wage bill, Raddy Antic is set to make an offer. So there you go, it's off to the Kanu Camp for the big Nigerian.
08.53 - Having been left out of Sven's England squad for the forthcoming internationals (spit), it looks as if Saturday's FA Cup final will be David Seaman's final competitive game. There's been no official announcement of any kind yet, but most of the newspapers reckon this is the end for old Spunky.
It does look as if he's going to take over as Arsenal's goalkeeping coach, and his experience will be invaluable to the likes of Stuart Taylor and Graham Stack, promising young goalkeepers who have every chance of making it at Arsenal. Maybe he went on a bit too long, but he's been a magnificent servant to the club, has provided us with some fantastic moments and performances and I sincerely hope he goes out on a high in Cardiff this weekend.
Speaking of which, it's possible that Edu will be fit to play, easing the injury crisis a bit. Ray Parlour is still struggling and we could have an all Brazilian central midfield if Razor fails to recover in time. It's possible he may play alongside Gio van Bronckhorst with Gilberto dropping back into central defence if Oleg or Cygan don't recover in time. A bit makeshift for my liking, but when the alternative is Igors....
Tony Adams is set for his first football management position as he's set to become the new boss of Crystal Palace. A stepping-stone on the way to taking over from Arsene Wenger eventually? Who knows. Tony says "Football is in my blood. Without it, there's been a part of me that is empty and lonely and longing for something to get my teeth into."
Jermaine Defoe will no doubt be linked with Arsenal now that's handed in a transfer request, less than 24 hours after seeing West Ham relegated. What a fucking twat. He's obviously a player that other clubs would be interested in, why go so public, so soon? He ought to be strapped to pole and thrased with cactii. But should West Ham fans be surprised? He left Charlton's youth set-up in a flash once West Ham came and offered him a few quid more, so he's shown that loyalty is not one of his strong points before. Would I like to see him at Arsenal? No, he's too small, his teeth are funny and he's just as likely to turn around and bugger off somewhere else when the mood takes him. I hope he ends up at Tottenham.
Speaking of which, Hoddle faces a player revolt after announcing a rigorous end of season training schedule. One player said "A lot of the squad are very unhappy. The manager calls it an end-of-season warm-down but nobody has any enthusiasm for it." More here, and it makes for fun reading.
Silly transfer rumour of the day - Planet Football has us linked with giant Togo striker, Emmanuel Adebayor. Riiiiight.
That's it. I'm off to get a haircut. "Numero dos, por favor."
08.54 - Hmmm....it could be a case of Cup Final blues for Oleg Luzhny and Ray Parlour as they both picked up knocks during yesterday's mauling of Sunderland. With the greatest of respect to our Ukrainian warhorse, it shows how poor our defensive cover is when we're sitting here willing him, a right back, to be fit for the Cup Final so we can avoid the dreaded Igors.
Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal can retain the title next season once we "redress our defensive performances." Amen to that.
There's a nice interview with Thierry Henry in the Guardian. "The game against Bolton was exactly what I said about our season. We were dominating. Injuries. Lost it. Our season was against Bolton." Stupid Bolton. I hate them, their manager, their fans, their fans' families, colleagues of their fans families...etc.
Slightly worrying from that article was this though "As Henry spoke, the day's editions of L'Equipe were landing on the streets of north London. L'Equipe's cover on Friday featured a picture of Patrick Vieira beneath a headline that said: "What future for Vieira?" Inside Vieira spoke of his frustrated passion at watching last Wednesday's Real Madrid-Juventus match. The article mentioned that David Trezeguet was persistently talking up Juventus to Vieira."
Stupid Trezeguet. He should shut his beaky mouth, the stick-insect cunt. If you want to play with Vieira, come to Arsenal. If not shut the fuck up. Didn't see Juventus do much in the Champions League for the last few seasons. One season in the semi-finals and you think you're the business again? Eat shit. I hate Juventus anyway. I hate them, their manager, their fans, their fans' families, colleagues of their fans families, their local pizza parlour owner called Giuseppe...cunts to a man/woman/child/he-she.
Do teams still make FA Cup songs? Are Arsenal's cup final suits really going to be red with a white trim? What the holy fuck am I going to write about all summer when there's no football? All ponderiffic questions to mull over today.
Here's a list of the 100 worst Britons. Check out number 7...heh. Some ideas for 'the list' there. And who the fuck is Jade Goody? Finally, if you think I write a load of shit, check out this New York Times reporter who spent 5 years just making stuff up. (Registration may be required for that link) Good work, Sir.
Arsenal's players have gone hat-trick crazy, with Freddie Ljungberg scoring his first for the club today. Thierry Henry gave Arsenal the lead after just 7 minutes, and then went on to set up all 3 of Freddie's goals. Nice scoring ahead of the cup final, and a nice response from Freddie to Jermaine Pennant's threesome against Southampton.
Unfortunately for him, Ruud van Nistelrooy was awarded yet another penalty by Mike Riley, the Dutchman's 25 league goals (9 penalties) win him the golden boot. That's something like the 7th penalty Riley has awarded United this season - maybe it's just coincidence, but it must be some kind of record.
Poor old Dead Kenny will be crying himself to sleep with some Indie favourites tonight as a 2-2 draw with Birmingham and a Bolton win means West Ham are relegated. I know he's very sick and all that, but I don't think with the squad they have, The Hammers would have gone down if they'd had someone better than Glenn Roeder in charge. Anyway, at least this gives us a chance of revenge against Bolton and I'd love to relegate those cunts on the last day of next season.
Arsenal's chances of signing John Terry or William Gallas may have disappeared as Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1 today. The disappointment of that was tempered by seeing our boggly-eyed friend look on as his team miss out on those lovely Champions League millions and get ready for the UEFA Cup next season. Looks like it'll have to be Mexes. Oh well.
So another Premiership season is over. One that promised much for Arsenal, but in the end was one of the most painful I can remember for a while. It's one thing not winning the Championship, it's another losing it from a fairly commanding position. Still, I'm confident lessons will be learned, the squad will be strengthened in the right places this summer and we'll begin the fight for the title in good shape come August.
Now, it's FA Cup final week. Let's hope we can finish off the season in style in Cardiff.
09.19 - And the transfer stories season is well and truly underway.
Today, Patrick Vieira is linked with a move to Juventus - this old chestnut - after he says "My dearest wish is to stay with Arsenal but I do want to win trophies." However, he goes on to say "This season there was a breakdown after we were knocked out of the Champions League. I am talking with the manager. I know the club are after a few players."
In one article The Sun reckons we could be after Monaco keeper Flavio Roma, Auxerre central defender Philip Mexes and Valencia striker John Carew. While in another, they reckon John Terry is set to give two fingers to Papa Smurf and leave Chelsea for Arsenal in an £8m deal. Planet Football has us linked with Turkish 'star' Ergun, who's a 31 year old left sided player. I would love to see John Terry come over to us - I think it's important we keep an English core to the team, and when Tony Adams says he's the best English defender out there, you have to take notice.
There's an interesting interview with new Swiss wonderkid Philippe Senderos over on Sporting Life. He says "Wenger told me that I'll be part of the first team - maybe not immediately in the first 11, but at least as a substitute. It will be hard work, but I am going there to grow into a world-class player, which means putting the effort in."
It's not often you get this much hype and expectation with a young defender. We've had all the talk about Pennant and Aliaidiere for a long time, but this kid could be something special, especially when you look at the queue of clubs that were after him. Let's just hope people's expectations aren't too high and he gets time to settle in. This is a player for the future, a long term solution, not a quick fix.
Ray Parlour will captain Arsenal's FA Cup team next Saturday, that's according to The Mirror - while Jermaine Pennant talks about his future and the warning he got from AW after his recent 'ill' behaviour. Right, that's yer lot for today. Sun is shining, the beach is calling today I think. Have a good one.
08.53 - So, this is going to the final weekend of the league season. Where did the time go? Is it just me of did the season fly by?
We've got Sunderland away on Sunday, then the cup final. Then that's it. No more football for 3 months. No World Cups or European Championships to ease the boredom. It's going to be a long, long summer. No doubt full to brim of transfer rumours - like the one which links Arsenal with Turkish keeper Rustu. Apparently AW's first choice is Paul Robinson, but the fact that he'd cost £8m and is probably going to that lot oop there means he's going to pursue the war-painted Turk.
Rustu himself has batted his eye-lashes at the Gunners saying “I want to play for one of the biggest clubs and it is possible that this will be Arsenal.”
If you find any nice pieces of transfer gossip, hear it on the radio, hear if from the friend of a friend, you can spread your rumour far and wide by posting it on our new transfer rumours forum. Please make sure to read the rules of the particular forum before posting anything though. And don't forget you can vote in the player of the season poll as well - votes for that close on the day of the Cup Final.
This is a nice piece in The Times which brilliantly highlights the tabloid hackery and made-up nonsense some football journos produce.
Now, we're don't have a lot of time for Tim Sherwood round these parts, but I'll tell you what, he's gone up in my estimation when I read this. Sp*rs fans hailed the appointment of Glenn Hoddle as the return of the Messiah, and Messiah he is. He should change his name to Brian, the clueless twat. Sherwood says "Hoddle's motto is 'If you can't convince the players, just confuse them'. He would hold team meetings, ask the players for their opinion and then tell them they were all wrong."
He goes on to say "His biggest fault is he has absolutely no man-management skills." That and the fact he couldn't manage his way out of a wet paper bag. I hope he stays at Sp*rs forever. No doubt our Spud hating pal will take more time to dissect this, but it really does make me smile reading about that. Light years Sp*rs fans, light years. And 42 real years of course.
Finally for today, a portable toilet equipped with internet access means a whole new realm of possibilities for bloggers. There's a very obvious joke here about so many of them talking shit, but I'm just too lazy to think it out. Feel free to drop one in the arses....er....
What a shame we couldn't have done this against Leeds, or Bolton for that matter. Arsene Wenger certainly regrets it, but it's all water under the bridge now.
We should focus on the postitive, and the big one from last night was a hat-trick on his full league debut for Jermaine Pennant. The last Arsenal player to do that was a certain Ian Wright. AW said "It's great for Jermaine. He's not a typical goalscorer but he took his chances well and showed that he has the technical level to be there."
His lack of opportunities have led to questions about his application, never his talent but the boss says "I believe he has gone through a difficult period, where he's still growing up mentally and has not completely settled yet. It's important that the club helps him during this period to find a real stability in his life."
Well done Jermaine, let's see plenty more of that next season. He is cup-tied for the FA Cup final though, Strachan will be relieved. 3 goals from Le Bob too, and didn't he enjoy them. His third was a quite outrageous 30 yard chip over Paul Jones - and let's get it straight here, Bob has to stay. He's a legend, a truly great player and more important to the team and the way we play than a lot of players. It was left to Arsene Wenger to add a touch of homo-eroticism to the night by saying of his two hat-trick stars "I don't know who gets the match ball. They'll have to toss for it."
Thierry Henry looked slighty desolate at the end of the game last night, probably because he thought his chance of winning the golden boot was gone. Despite setting up 3 of Arsenal's goals, he failed to get on the scoresheet, but his 17 assists this season are a new Premiership record. When you take his goal tally plus assists into account, it silences those who were those screaming for van Nistelrooy to be given the Player of the Year awards because he's scored 8 more penalties than Thierry.
However, all is not lost on the golden boot front. According to AW he will play against Sunderland. "I want to give Thierry a chance to get the golden boot."
Finally, well done to this bloke who managed to win money after betting that Arsenal would win the title. Sometime back in March Paddy Power bookmakers paid out on Arsenal winning the league, the daft cunts. The daft jinxing us cunts. Enjoy that cash fella.
08.59 - I was going to write something about AW's claims that Arsenal are still the best team in England. I wanted to say something about how the league table doesn't lie, but I wanted to qualify that by saying how if AW believes that and is saying that, then maybe it's a way of keeping the players up for the Cup Final when we've got two meaningless games inbetween. I dunno. I find it very difficult to be critical of him when I think about what he's done for the club, but as has been pointed out elsewhere, a more gracious appreciation of United's achievement would certainly give him the moral high ground, if nothing else.
We know too well how often the press distort his comments - one of the things Arsenal fans have been bombarded with is this 'We'll go the whole season unbeaten' quote. Of course, he never actually said that. He was probably too honest with a reporter who asked him if it was his ambition to go through the season unbeaten, to which he replied positively. Isn't it every manager's ambition, no matter what division their team is in, from the Conference to the Sunday League pub teams, to go all season without losing a game?
In fact, I remember after United did the treble, Roy Keane said something very similar, unprompted as well. He said the next challenge for United was to go a whole season unbeaten. Fair enough - he was called ambitious and a great leader. When Arsene Wenger says it, he's arrogant. It's a fine line. Obviously I reckon we're the best. I'm an Arsenal fan, you don't expect me to say any different do you? What I will say is that United have been better than us for the last 3 months of the season and they deserve their title - and that's the end of my graciousness now.
Despite the gulf in finances, it seems Arsenal will battle it out with United over the signature of defender Philippe Mexes. Fergie has been after the French starlet for 5 years now - AW is set to nip in and steal him from under his big red nose. And Arsenal defence will get another fillip with another Philippe, with the player all the big clubs were after, Philippe Senderos joining on June 1st. Wenger talks about Matthew Upson here, and reveals that youngsters Ryan Garry and Jermaine Pennant will play against Southampton tonight.
Patrick Vieira is staying report all the websites this morning. He says "It's worth reiterating how happy I am here at Arsenal and how committed I am to the team. I'm looking forward to sitting down with the boss and reflecting on this season and talking about how we can use these experiences to plot a successful 2003-04."
Don't know about you, but I'd be happier if I heard him talking about the seasons to come. He stil has to sign a new deal, and le Boss has warned that the club need to find the money to keep players like Pires and Vieira. "Even if they love you a lot, you have to pay them the right price and that means the wage bill becomes higher. You can only keep the players if you do that." I think with a number of players likely to leave Highbury at the end of the season, and the focus on young long term signings and youth players coming through, there'll be a few extra quid to throw around for wages.
To understand how important Vieira is, listen to Thierry Henry who claims Arsenal are a one man team, and he's not talking about himself. "It has not been the same since Pat was no longer there. That is not an excuse. It is a fact that without him it is not Arsenal any more."
Speaking about Robert Pires, AW says "I do not need to convince Pires to stay. What has been reported is not the deep expression of how he feels." Good, keeping Bob is important. People seem to have overlooked he's our second highest scorer this season, despite only starting his campaign in October. Bob himself has spoken about the big game to come in Cardiff "We have to keep a smile and rally round for the FA Cup final. It is important that we do not end the season without a trophy."
Finally for today, you can vote in the Arseblog player of the season poll over on the forum - you will have to register to vote. Looks like a landslide for TH14 so far. The winner will be presented with a shiny golden arse, well, they won't actually - hmmmm, I wonder if we could get a trophy of an arse made somewhere? Any trophologists amongst us?
08.59 - Obviously when your main rivals win the title, there's a fair amount of banter and gloating goes on. I've had countless texts and emails from Man Utd supporting friends, which I will graciously accept because they know football, they've seen United lose in Cup Finals like in 1979, they've spent hundreds and thousands of pounds going to matches, they were there when they were shite. They had to put up with it from me in 89 and 91 and 98 and last year. Fair's fair.
What I can't abide though is clueless know-nothing cunts coming onto my site and deliberately acting the prick. Posting minging pornographic links for example. I have no problem with rival fans using the 'arses' or the forum. It's nice to get a bit of variety in the debate and if other fans want to come on here, have a bit of a laugh and talk about football, great. We're probably not going to agree on everything, but once it doesn't descend the petty kind of shite you'd expect from a 12 year old with his first PC, I'm cool with it. If you act like a cunt though, you'll get treated like a cunt.
Fair play to Gary Neville - " If people expect me to gloat at Arsenal’s expense, they will be sorely mistaken. When two boxers trade punches for 12 rounds, we salute the champion and respect the loser. In football, why can’t we similarly acknowledge two great teams?"
Can't say fairer than that really. John Sadler - you're old, boring and quite frankly, your kind of idle conjecture that passes for journalism is laughable.
AW says the main target for the summer is to keep the players we have. He says "I will not sell one of my top players to finance any other deals." Great - that's not say he couldn't sell the likes of Kanu or Gio van Bronckhorst for a few million, saving money on the wage bill at the same time. The Sun links us with Gallas or Terry, Rustu and surprisingly, Kevin Phillips - at the same time they have Man Utd's possible purchases listed as Paul Robinson, Patrick Kuivert, Damien Duff, Harry Kewell and Ronaldinho (who Bruce Rioch reckons Arsenal should move heaven and earth to sign). It's all speculation of course, but it shows the gulf in spending power when you look at the respective names.
Anyway, we're not going to get involved too much in transfer speculation before the season is over. There's still the Cup Final and a couple of league games to go. We're likely to see some of the kids play against Southampton tomorrow night, time for one or two to show what they're made of before next season.
We'll also be having an Arseblog end of season poll, more details on that soon.
08.56 - I still hate football, I'm avoiding all newspapers, football websites and TV channels until Wednesday at least, but I love Arsenal.
There's been plenty of reaction from Arsenal fans on the various forums the web serves up. Some of it knee-jerk, some of it immanently sensibile. It's normal.
Yes, losing the league hurts a lot. Losing it when it was ours for the taking hurts a lot. Losing it to Man Utd hurts, but then who else were we going to lose it to?
In the wake of the disappointment, let's not forget the good stuff, the fucking brilliant stuff the lads have served up for us this season. Some of the most fantastic football any Arsenal fan has been privileged to see. Leeds away, PSV away, Roma away...countless performances when we played with such tempo and skill.
We've scored fantastic goals, passed the ball beautifully and played some of the most wonderful, inventive, attacking football for 90% of the season. However, we've struggled defensively this season and we just don't have the strength in depth to cope with the injuries and suspensions we've picked-up along the way.
Remember too what an achievement it is for our club and players to have been this competitive for so long when financially we're light years behind our biggest rivals. Ferguson can go out and spend £30m on a defender, AW has to scrape together £2m for our purchase.
Given the financial restrictions he suffers in the transfer market, do not underestimate the impact Arsene Wenger has on the side and how they play football. If he'd had a transfer kitty half the size of Man Utd's, I think we'd have won the league. He didn't - we didn't properly replace experienced players like Dixon and most importantly Tony Adams (but then how do you replace Tony Adams?) - he had to sell Richard Wright for £4.5m and then spend a total of £6.5m on Gilberto and Cygan. £2m spending money to retain a title, not a lot. And he nearly did it.
Some people will criticise the decision to sell Matthew Upson, I was amongst them, but AW has earned the right to make those decisions. He's won the double twice and we've haven't finished outside the top 2 in 6 seasons. He's a legend, long may he reign.
Let's also not forget that Man Utd's form has been outstanding. They haven't lost a game since Dec 26th, they've taken teams apart lately and Ruud van Nistelrooy - much as you might dislike him - has been scoring for fun. If Arsenal had gone on an unbeaten run like that, the way we did last year and in 1998, we'd have been shouting from the rooftops how good we were. They've been fucking brilliant, we haven't been at our best in recent weeks, they deserve the title. The table doesn't lie. Any talk of us handing them the title or them getting special treatment from the FA or them winning by default is shite and does Arsenal fans no credit. We'll have it back next year though Mancs.
And before we got too down-hearted and gloomy, there's still the FA Cup to play for this season. It may not be as prestigious and important as the title, but I want to win it more than ever now. The players deserve something this season, let's get behind them until the end of the season, bring home some silverware and we can take it from there.
09.49 - After Arsenal's Champions League game against Valencia, Patrick Vieira complained that UEFA were not doing enough to stamp out racism. In order to send just the right message to the football world, UEFA have decided to fine Valencia £9,250 (Stg), which is about 2 days wages for for ONE of their first team players.
Oh, and they've also fined Paddy £2,000 for criticising UEFA. The utter cunts. They have of course been added to The List. I think the days of punishing players, clubs and managers with fines must come to an end. Earlier in the week, Alex Fergson was fined £4,600 for saying the Champions League draw was 'fixed'. IN all seriousness, what difference does that make to him? What difference does a £9,250 fine make to Valencia? What difference did a £14,000 make to PSV? The answer of course is 'fuck all'.
It's the equivalent of you or I having to pay a 20p parking fine. If they really want to punish somebody, they have to ban them from matches, make them play matches behind closed doors, make them play matches wearing burberry lounge slippers - something, anything that might be effective. Making millionaires pay tiny fines just isn't going to work. Anyway, at the end of it all UEFA are cunts. So are the FA, FIFA and UB40.
AW says he will have money to spend in the summer despite the worrying financial figures of the last few days. He says "I know what I want to do and I know who I want to go for, and I know that the money will be available for what I want to do."
Speculation will hit fever pitch once the season ends, but for the moment, there's still a league title to be decided. Arsenal have got a full team out injured practically, the boss says "My memory isn't good enough to list all the injuries. Between injuries, suspensions and tiredness we have a coachful of players." Oleg Luznhy could play in central defence, Kolo Toure at right back and Giovanni van Bronckhorst could come into midfield to replace the jet-lagged and already knackered Gilberto.
United take on Chalrton this morning, and perhaps the curse of the Manager of the Month award for Demento, coupled with the player of the month award for van Nistelrooy could cause an upset of some kind. Yeah, I know....I'm still dreaming.
Fingers crossed anyway.
09.22 - Well, as feared, Patrick Vieira is out for the season. His knee is nowhere near ready and a summer of rest is in order for the captain. It should give him plenty of time to sign a new contract though. Well, that's if Arsenal can afford to offer him one...
In today's Telegraph, there's an article by Mihir Bose, who has previously run exposés on the likes of Terry Venables and his shady dealings. It's a worrying read, some of the main points being :
Arsenal's debts could reach £60m by the end of the season
Arsenal have put basically everything they own 'in hock' to Barclays bank, including Highbury, the London Colney training ground and parts of Ashburton Grove
Arsenal are still paying money for the transfers of Henry, van Bronckhorst, and possibly Wiltord
Wages account for 70% of the club's income
It's all a bit scary really, and considering the fact that the club now have little choice but to proceed with the Ashburton Grove project now, skimping and saving will be the order of the day for some time. If this report is accurate, it's much easier to understand Peter Hill-Wood's comments about the wage bill, which quite frankly looks unsustainable.
"Arsenal are faced with a choice. They need a new, bigger stadium but the cost of that will be borne by the team."
Some good news though, Freddie Ljungberg may well be fit for the Southampton game, while Edu has made a speedy recovery from his knee injury and could play against Leeds if needed. More congratulations to Thierry Henry as he completed his own personal double by picking up the Football Writers Player of the Year award.
Right, I'm off to hang around with me mates Davey "Danger" Dein and Danny "Double Danger" Fiszman - we might go scrumping in a few orchards or pull off an enormous armed robbery netting ourselves millions in gold bullion ....or something. Laters....
08.59 - Welcome to a brand new month here on Arseblog, and all you socialist workers have yourselves a great day today, ya hear.
We'll start today with some financial news. Arsenal have announced losses of £9.75m - which is an improvement on the last set of figures when we posted a loss of £15m. Obviously there's lots going on with the new stadium (now due to be made out of balsa wood, old toilet rolls and sticky back plastic), and the club's turnover has actually increased 28% to £43.6m.
Still, it looks as if a summer spending spree is pretty much out of the question, and more significantly, Chairman Peter Hill-Wood is talking about having to cut the wage bill further. He says "In our 2002 annual report, I referred to the control and potential future reduction of our player-wage bill and this remains an objective. However, it is one we can only progress, in the light of market conditions, as new players arrive or existing contracts come up for renewal."
It means that players will have to leave in the summer. The Guardian speculates that Kanu will almost certainly go, Dennis Bergkamp may not get the new contract he's looking for, and Ray Parlour and Francis Jeffers' positions may be under threat. I would imagine players like Oleg, DS1, Keown and Gio van Bronckhorst will have an anxious summer as well - there's £120,000 a week saved right there.
Certainly there must be the temptation to clear out a few of the high earners and let some of the kids come through - not only because it would freshen up the squad, but because their wages would be tiny compared to some of the senior players. Anyway, we'll see - but the latest figures show the financial gulf between us and Man Utd whose turnover was recently announced at £165m+. It looks like the only way for AW to buy is to sell, and once all the football is done and dusted, we'll take a look at who could go and at what price.
Thierry Henry scored two and Robert Pires one during France's 5-0 win over Egypt. I have no idea if they played the whole game, half a game or what. Knowing the French FA, they probably played 90 minutes, then 30 minutes extra time to raise a bit more cash.
Leeds United keeper Paul Robinson will reject any move to Arsenal during the summer because his two dogs would hate it in London. That's according to The Sun. Apparently the two boxers sat him down and expressed their fervent desire to stay 'oop Norf'. He'll play for Man United next season I bet.
Interesting or favour currying old crap from a Chelsea fan? Finally for today, the BBC is doing a feature on the worst football kits ever - and number 9 features Anders Limpar in the 1991 away monstrosity. I know there was a site which had pics of the old Arsenal kits, but I just can't find it - there was a mostly green away kit at one stage if I remember correctly. *Bleeurrgh*