May 31st

This is a race against time blog as I try and get something down before the 30 minutes of wireless internet I just paid €5.95 from Vodafone runs out. What a fucking rip off. It means an odd time for the blog but what you do when you're stuck in a hotel in an industrial park in the middle of nowhere outside Berlin?

A bried round up of what's going on right now sees Sol Campbell crocked again after picking up an ankle injury playing a pointless match for England, Jens feels 'sure' he'll be number one next season, Edu is off to Valencia at last and Thierry Henry shares the European golden boot with former Man United misfit and now Spain's leading scorer Diego Forlan.

Sorry for the lack of links, I just don't have time. Follow the NewsNow link down on the right for more on all these stories. The same goes for those of you on the mailing list. If I can sort out some proper, and by that I mean not a fucking Vodafone rip off web access I'll try and sort it out. Finally, I guess we have to welcome West Ham back to the Premiership, not only for the 6 points each season, but for the return to the top flight for Arseblog's old blog chum Dead Kenny.

Right, time's almost up. I'd be get uploading this pag......


May 30th

Happy Bank Holiday Monday (for those of you in the UK). Naturally enough there's absolutely nothing for me to report this morning. I think Arseblogger knew in advance. Nevermind, he'll be back from rehab soon enough and he can deal with the dearth of stories.

Apparently Robinho has admitted that he's in talks with Arsenal. Seems pretty unlikely to me - I thought his going to Real Madrid was a done deal a long time ago.

And that's it. Really. And Arseblogger kind of reported that story yesterday.

It's the Championship play off final today so one of either West Ham or Preston North End will be in the Premiership next season, earning them some £20m. I don't really have any preference, but having been to Preston recently, I think I'd rather West Ham won.

Cheerio from me, Arsefans.


May 29th

Morning morning morning. A very quick round-up of the very few stories that are around today and then I have to pack a suitcase and stuff.

The Mirror and the News of the World are reporting that Ashley Cole, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea will face record fines for their meeting earlier in the season. Fining individuals is one thing, that's always going to hurt, but fining Chelsea is pointless. They have an unlimited amount of money so even if the fine is £500,000 it makes no difference to them whatsoever and is no kind of deterrent to them doing the same thing again in the future. I'd imagine that they'll pay Mourinho's fine as well. So the FA can join the list of FIFA and UEFA as a football body that is spineless and unwilling to upset the applecart in any way. Sure, they can dish out yellow cards to players who take their top off when they celebrate a goal but something that requires strong leadership and a bit of balls they're nowhere to be seen.

The Sunday Mirror also pick on the story we told you earlier in the week about Arsenal having scouts in Brazil. The consensus appears to be we're after wonderkid Robinho but who knows? We could be chasing some unknown bloke. A new Edu but this time with a top quality fake passport.

And this early that's about all there is to tell you. I won't be around for the next day or two and hopefully Tom will be here to keep things ticking over until I know more about the internet situation in the hotel that's going to be home for the next couple of weeks. Take it easy, adios, Auf Wiedersehen.


May 28th

Welcome to Saturday - the day of the week with the most 'aturday' in it. A quick round-up of what's going on for you before I start running around the house packing my bags and getting ready for my votage half-way a little bit across the world Europe.

Arsenal released 5 players yesterday. Frankie Simek, Jordan Fowler, Danny Karbatteryoon, Olafur-Ingu Skulason and Adam Birchall were not given new contracts when their current ones expired. Best of luck to all of them wherever they end up. Sol Campbell reveals how hurt and frustrated he was when Arsene Wenger told him the night before the cup final that he was going to be on the bench. Speaking on England's tour of America he said “We had a few words.” It's good that he was hurt, it shows he wants to play, and sometimes big players need something to keep up their motivation and desire later in their careers. When you've got real competition for places, as Sol does for his with Philppe Senderos, then it helps keep performances up. And speaking of Senderos - he'll be rewarded for his outstanding performances in the latter part of the season with a new deal. Arsene Wenger said "Philippe has been magnificent. We will talk about a new contract when we report back in July. Hopefully, it will be sorted out before the start of the season."

Can't argue with that, really. Liverpool are after long-time target, and someone who is still on the list, Shaun Wright-Phillips. That's us and Chelsea in the fight now and even though the player himself says he wants to stay at Man City given their financial situation a big bid would probably be too hard to refuse. Whether or not the price gets too high for us remains to be seen. The Sun links us with a £10m bid for Newcastle's Jermaine Jenas. I hope not. Tony Adams could join the coaching staff at Feynoord.

Finally, congratulations to long time arser and possesser of Popeye style forearms, Boghog, for claiming the landmark 250,000th arse. That's a lot of arses, you slackers. And that's it. We've got an evening kick-off in our match later. That's some type of football, at least. You're all invited to watch, the address is 301, Barcelona.


May 27th

So the first week of the close season draws to a .. erm..close. It's been tremendously exciting, I'm sure you'll agree, and I for one look forward to many more weeks like it.

We'll start this morning with the news that Robinho, who seemed set for Real Madrid in the summer, has said he wants to stay with Santos rather than move to Europe at this stage. You might ask why this is relevant to Arsenal but I'm told that we had some pretty senior representation at Sunday's game between Santos and Athetico Mineiro (Gilberto's old club). The player has also attracted interest from Chelsea and Barcelona so there could be quite a battle to sign him underway. More when we get it.

Ashley Cole feels Arsenal still play the most attractive football despite Chelsea winning the league. Can't really argue with that but maybe next season we might need to swap a bit of that attractiveness for some Keownosity when needed. he also reveals he was affected by the furore surrounding his controversial meeting with Chelsea. After being frozen out Robert Pires wants to play for France again and he feels his performances on the pitch merit a recall to his national squad. We've also been linked with a player with an old fashioned name - Lincoln City have apparently turned down a £100,000 bid from Arsenal for Jack Hobbs. Arsene Wenger will turn his attention to other targets like Alf Littlecock, Reg Edwards and Archie Weatherspoon.

And that, my friends, is just about that. There may be some strangeness in the blog for the coming weeks. I have to go to a strange, terrible land for about two weeks but provided the place I'm staying has some kind of internet access I should be able to update relatively normally, although maybe a bit earlier than usual. If I can't Tom will do his usual sterling work and step up for me. You don't have to be nice to him this time though.

So our first football free weekend. What are you going to do to fill the gap, so to speak?


May 26th

Now, regular readers will know I'm not much of a Liverpool fan but hats off to them for their win last night. Coming back from three down against Milan was something special. It made my brother happy and when I rang him after Shevchenko missed his penalty all he could say was "YAAAAAY!", the big goon. I can take a couple of positives from last night:

1 - If a team with Djimi Traore in it can win the Champions League it gives hope to the rest of us.
2 - It's made Manchester United's season even more miserable. They must be choking. No league, no FA Cup, their most hated rivals win the CL and their club now has more debt than your average African nation. I can hear the gnashing of teeth from here. The only good thing from their point of view is that they'll have Bono petitioning for them at the UN.

Anyway, if Liverpool fans get too much for you today gently remind them that today is the 16th St Michael's Day, the day we won the league at Anfield in the dying seconds to leave Steve McMahon gutted and poor old Johnny Aldridge crying into his 'tache. Clips, soundbites and more on Arseweb's Anfield '89 page.

Right, moving onto things Arsenal Ronaldinho says he wants Thierry Henry at Barcelona. What would be lovely now if Thierry said we want Ronaldninho at Arsenal. Of course they want him, there isn't a team in the world that wouldn't, and there are some very strong rumours that they have already made a substantial bid for him which was flatly turned down by the Arsenal board.

And speaking of the board our old friend Mihir Bose knows exactly what's going at boardroom level. You can find his take on the Ashley Cole story here. His info just stinks of Barnett, doesn't it? The consistency of his articles is something to be commended though. If there's even the slightest hint of trouble or a problem he's in there like a shot. Remember all his articles about how we weren't going to get funding for the new stadium, how AW was going to leave because of it, how it was all presented as fact even though it was little more than idle speculation? Aye, me too. He's a shit-stirrer and a Tottenham fan and I suggest you take his articles as seriously as you would take Lee Bowyer as a role model for young footballers.

Sol Campbell will captain England on their pointless tour of the US. The big fella needs to get some games under his belt even though it's the end of the season and get himself back on the road to full fitness ahead of the new campaign. Edu could be on the way to Atletico Madrid according to reports in Spain. First very tenuous link to a goalkeeper of silly season sees us linked with Portugal's penalty taking hero, Ricardo. It barely measures on the truthometer.

It's been a while but we have a new column from Safety, entitled: "Four pots, bucket seats and go faster stripes!"

And that's about the size of it for now.


May 25th

Ok, as promised here's my season review. It just looks at the good things, the not so good things, and some other crap too. I've tried to cover all the main talking points but seeing as my brain is not so slowly turning to mush I'm sure there's stuff I've forgotten. There's little or no news anyway this morning so this should fill the gap. So without further ado:

THE GOOD

The young players - I suppose the most obvious positive this season, apart from winning the FA Cup, was the emergence of the young players.

Some might say that Cesc Fabregas only got a run in the team because of injuries, and that's probably true to an extent, but he took his chance when it arrived and became a fixture in the side for the rest of the season. He's an incredibly talented player and his passing, at such a young age, is unbelievable at times. The same with Philippe Senderos - he'd long been lauded as the next Tony Adams but he missed his entire first season with a serious injury but when his time came he kept Sol Campbell out of the team, something people would have thought impossible.

He looks like the centre-half we've been looking for since Adams left and Keown's decline and departure. After seeing him in just a dozen or so games Real Madrid want him but he's ours and he's going to be a legend.

Robin van Persie took a little bit of time to get into the swing of things but he's now beginning to look like the real thing. Mathieu Flamini showed that he's capable of holding his own as well and his energy will be important next season. Add to them the already established Gael Clichy, David Bentley coming back from Norwich and the other supporting cast members who did so well in the Carling Cup (Quincy, Djourou etc) and there's a solid base of very good young players who will have gained a lot from this season and will be better next time around.

The football - The way we've played in some games has been just awesome. The pace, style and flourish we've been lucky to see shouldn't be forgotten just because we didn't win the league. A common soundbite regarding Arsenal is that we always try to score 'the perfect goal'. But you know what? Quite often we do. Intricate one-touch passing, clever tricks and cool finishes. It's been fabulous to watch. No game more so that the 5-3 against Boro - probably the most enjoyable Arsenal game of the season for me. 1-0 up, 3-1, 5-3 up. Amazing. Although coming a close second was the North London derby at White Hart Lane and mad Spurs bloke in front of us in the pub.

The record - It's been overlooked a bit but until the game at Old Trafford we hadn't been beaten for 49 Premiership games. Yes, that defeat knocked the stuffing out of us but people shouldn't forget what a magnificent achievement that was and it's worth congratulating the players and manager for it again.

The goals - Some crackers to remember this season. Vieira v Everton - the way you imagine an Arsenal goal from this team to be. Great build-up, stylish finish. Reyes v Boro, Henry's backheel against Charlton, his goals against Palace at home, van Persie against Southampton in the last minute and his two against Blackburn, Sol against Portsmouth, Bob's free kick against Liverpool, Cesc becoming our youngest scorer in Europe with a great goal against Roseborg, the list goes on...

THE NOT SO GOOD

Ashley Cole - we'll get the findings of the commission on June 1st but the facts are that one of our players went to meet the manager and chairman of our main title rivals to discuss a transfer. He did it just days before we played Manchester United in the league. They all got caught red handed.

I've written a lot about this and I believe Cole's agent to be the driving force behind it all. We hear stories about how Arsenal and Barnett had agreed a deal in principal only for Arsenal to suddenly subtract £5,000 from the initial offer. Rubbish. Cole's new contract would have more than doubled his £27,000 a week wages and last week Peter Hill-Wood confirmed that Cole wanted his current deal tripled. It's a nonsense to think Arsenal would act this way over a player who grew up an Arsenal fan, who is one of the only English players in the team, who is a product of the youth system and who is, on his day, probably the best left back in the world.

I believe Barnett thought about Chelsea, saw pound signs and was the one who set up the meeting. The commission will clarify that.

I've already expressed in previous posts my disdain for this restriction of trade defence that Cole and Barnett played. What is inescapable though is that Cole still went to the meeting. He was prepared, mid-season and just days before an important game, to go and meet another club. Not to talk about his pop star girlfriend or fast cars or the weather. There's only one reason he went to that meeting and it was to talk about a transfer and how much money Chelsea would pay him. Out of order and he's stained his reputation with a lot of Arsenal fans.

You have to ask - when does £60,000 a week, and that is what he was offered, become not enough to sign for the club you supposedly love? When you can get £100,000+ at Chelsea and your agent is thinking about the increase in his wages when you increase yours, I suppose. I think he has to sign a new deal this summer or we have to sell him. Based on some recent information I think he will sign a new deal, hopefully he'll have learned a valuable lesson and we can all move on. A final question that occurs is did Cole think his behaviour was nothing for people to get too stressed about based on what he's seen his captain do more than once?

Europe - Again we 'fail' in Europe but we went through the group stage unbeaten, people seem to forget that. It was two decidedly uncharacteristic mistakes from Kolo Toure in Munich which cost us the tie against Bayern and the 1-0 win at home was not enough. Some people have the Champions League as this kind of Holy Grail that we have to win to be a great team. I don't subscribe to that at all and Arsenal's so-called failure in Europe is a self-perpetuating myth really. I accept we haven't done as well as we might have but that doesn't make us a bad team or a team not worthy of greatness. Last season's unbeaten run was far more of an achievement than winning the CL, in my opinion.

This season we went out at the same time as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Barcelona while supposedly lesser teams like Liverpool and PSV went much further. All the Champions League is now is a European FA Cup. Any team can win it because it's knock-out football. It's not a measure of the who's the best team in Europe anymore. It's no longer a tournament for champions, it's an overblown TV extravaganza, which while I'd like to see us win it some day, is not something I can bring myself to get overly disappointed about when we lose.

I'd also like to see us do better next season so some people might just shut the fuck up about it.

The kit - Back in March 2004, before we won the league, I said this: "If we manage to win the league this season, you can put money on us losing it against next season if we’re playing in a blue kit."

One of the reasons we didn't retain the league was because we were wearing a blue kit. Some of you might think that's rubbish, I happen to believe it's a factor. Can we please never, ever have a blue away kit again? Thanks. Next season's poxy tribute kit is a load of shite as well but at least it's not blue.

THE PLAYERS

José Antonio Reyes - A difficult one this. When he's good he's really, really good but when he's bad he's anonymous. He started the season so well and just couldn't stop scoring. Then it began to get cold and his form went out the window. We had the radio hoax, the stories in Marca, the Aragones incident and the player himself has struggled to adapt to life in England. His troubled personal life last season was certainly a factor in his performances. Towards the end of the season he picked himself again and started scoring but what we need more than anything is consistency from him.

He's obviously a very talented player but we certainly haven't seen the best of him. I believe he'll be with us next season but he's got to repay the faith shown in him by the manager, his team-mates and the fans with a more concentrated campaign next time around.

Goalkeeper - This position became a bit of a bug-bear during the season.

Jens made a couple of errors, like any goalkeeper (and I happen to think his mistakes have been blown out of proportion and he's a better keeper than he's given credit for), and Arsene brought in Manuel Almunia who was, by all accounts, sensational in training almost every single day.

Unfortunately his training form didn't carry over to the big match occasion and he looked all at sea culminating in a poor performance against Manchester United. The rest seemed to do Jens good and since he's been back in the side his form has been outstanding. He's made saves, he's looked much more solid and both he and Manuel have been heroes in FA Cup penalty shoot-outs this season. There are still doubts over his temperament though and there will no doubt be massive speculation linking us with all kinds of keepers this summer.

The problem is finding somebody though. Everyone says we need a 'world class' young keeper like Petr Cech but I don't see too many of them around, do you? If there is an obvious candidate, somebody who is available and who will improve the squad then I think we'll buy a keeper.

If not then there's no point buying a keeper for the sake of it and people shouldn't be too disheartened if we start next season with Jens in goal. If he plays as well as he's been playing since his return to the side then nobody can have any complaints. What is hard though is people expecting the 'perfect' keeper, one who won't make mistakes, because that keeper does not exist. Lots of names have been bandied about already. Timo Hildebrand from Stuttgart, Andreas Isaakson from Rennes, Carlos Kameni from Espanyol. No doubt there'll be more, like Abiatti, Frey, Given and there's some talk of a young Spanish keeper to come in but I don't know much more than that.

Bergkamp - I thought this would be his last season but he's got another one. That doesn't mean, as some people think, that we won't sign a striker this summer. I believe that's one area that we'll definitely bring somebody in but Arsene Wenger obviously feels Dennis has something to contribute next season. He certainly won't have made a decision based on sentimentality or simply because it's Dennis. How long he'll have an impact next season is anybody's guess. He might go the way of Zola and fade after Christmas or he might be part and parcel of things when we win everything next May. He'll get a testimonial at the end of the season and who's to say he doesn't deserve it?

Thierry - for getting within 4 goals of WWW's record he deserves a mention. For his amazing consistency and goalscoring he deserves a mention. He also deserves a mention because we showed we can win without him and the people who call us a one-man team couldn't be more wrong.

Highlights: Cesc, Senderos, FA Cup win for us, FA Cup heartbreak for United, Rio's tears, Highbury in January, meeting lots of Arsebloggers. You people are all right, so you are.

Lowlights: Manchester United at Old Trafford and Higbury, the blip after we lost the record, the people who expect us to win every game and bleat about sacking the manager when we struggle for a bit instead of supporting the team.

Summary: Obviously any season when you don't win the league is a bit disappointing but when you look at our points total and the number of goals we scored there's no need for the doom and gloom that emanates from certain fans. We've regained a solidity in defence that we needed, we've got great young talent coming through and we've won a trophy. Not a bad season by any other standards but when you go through a season unbeaten it's always going to be very hard to match it. To me the future is bright.

I'm happy with what we've done this season, I have to say. Some of you know, and others not, that I lost somebody very close to me this season and it might sound like a cliché but it does put things in perspective. Football is a game. A great game and one we all love, one we're passionate about, but it's not more important than a matter of life and death, Mr Shankley, it's just not. Enjoy this team we've got at the moment, they're fucking brilliant and we might not see their like again in the future.

Now, let the transfer speculation begin like a fox. It's all I've got to write about for the next two months.


May 24th

Ok, so all the cup final news is done and dusted and everyone is concentrating on the Champions League final tomorrow night. That review of the season I promised is still a work in progress so you'll have to be patient. Not that it's worth waiting for or anything.

There are a few bits and pieces to talk about this morning. Tony Adams is now working in a scouting role for Arsenal it seems. Apparently he's been in Holland looking at striker Dirk Kuyt who has scored 29 goals this season. However, you only need to look at Kezman to see how big the leap from goalscoring machine in Holland to half-decent Premiership player is.

Gilberto is looking for a new deal. The Brazilian says "I only have one year left but I am confident it will be sorted out because I love the club and I want to stay. I am confident there will be no problems with me. My situation is easy - I want to stay where I am."

Of course we're losing another Brazilian this summer as Edu leaves the club. I was told there was a nice moment on the plane back from Cardiff when Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell and Thiery Henry all took to the intercom and made a little speech about how much everyone was going to miss Edu and wished him luck at whatever team he was going to join, followed by Edu saying a brief thanks and how much he loved being part of this Arsenal team. Glasses (plastic) were raised and cheers were cheered. I hope he does well wherever he goes. Good luck, Edu.

Not much else happening really. The transfer speculation is really going to kick in over the next couple of weeks although the players and the manager are now off on their holidays so I doubt any signings will happen for a little while. We should run a book. I'll put €10 at 4-1 on June 18th.


May 23rd

Well, I hope you're all recovered from the weekend's celebrations. I'm still a little bit wrecked I have to say but never mind. Lots of little stories around this morning following the cup win so I'm going to go through them as quickly and briefly as I can.

Patrick Vieira has urged José and Ashley Cole to stay with the club next season. Both have had a difficult time but for different reasons and it's something I'll touch on in my review of the season which should appear tomorrow if I can get my head around everything in time. The boss says that Sol will be back in the team for next season and that he didn't play him in the cup final because he'd been out for too long. He also spoke about the goalkeeping situation, again that's something I'll talk about tomorrow, but with Jens suspended for the first two European games of the season it's left things up in the air a bit. Despite our lacklustre insipid characterless anemic shite performance in Cardiff on Saturday Philippe Senderos believes Arsenal play the best football in England. Luckily for us Arsene Wenger is not planning on using that system on a regular basis and the Standard repeats the story that the boss will have money to spend this summer.

Robin van Persie reveals Edu was set to take a penalty in the shoot-out but hadn't been on the pitch long enough and didn't feel right. It was van Persie's first penalty in professional football. I didn't notice at the time but José was not allowed go up with the team when the cup was presented after being sent off in the dying moments of the game. Arsenal have promised him he'll get a medal. It seems very harsh that a player should be denied the celebrations after playing almost 120 minutes of football. Dennis Bergkamp, as you all by now, is staying another year.

Get your FA Cup winners 2005 wallpaper featuring Jens making the vital penalty save and some snapshots from the game. Download here (1024x768) and (1280x800). Cheers to Ricey for finding the big pics.

That's all the stories rounded-up, more or less. United fans are still gutted. Shortly after the game I rang a friend of mine back in Dublin. He answered the phone with "I was waiting for you to call, you cunt." That's revenge for all the texts this season, Walsh!

So now we're into the summer, no football, and of course, endless transfer speculation. That's something that can wait for another day though. We've got months to talk about who we're going to sign but already there are a host of names linked with the club: Shay Given, Timo Hildebrand, Andreas Isaakson, Sebastian Frey (it wouldn't be summer without him), Shaun Wright-Phillips, Alexander Hleb and David Beckham are the first in what's going to be a long list. For now the players will be off on their holidays recharging their batteries for next season when we win everything. Oh yes.

[/season]


May 22nd

I woke up on the sofa this morning at 6.30am - my neck hurts, along with the rest of my aching body which was battered last night with beer and mojitos. Celebrating cup final wins is fun! Poor Mrs Blogs didn't have such a good evening but that's what you get for supporting the dark side. heh.

So, the game itself. Manchester United fans must feel like we did in 2001 when Liverpool stole the cup from us. We played a very strange 4-5-1 system with Dennis Bergkamp as a lone striker and I have to say it's probably the worst I've seen Arsenal play in years. We were fucking crap.

We had nothing to offer going forward and United made all the chances in the first half with Gazza Wayne Rooney bringing the best out of Jens Lehmann who made two outstanding saves one of which saw Rio Ferdinand have a goal disallowed for being a fucking horrible cunt.

I thought we might change things a bit in the second half and we did bring Freddie on but the system stayed the same. We still created next to nothing and United always looked more likely to score. Rooney hit the post, some other stuff happened, we brought on van Persie late in the day and then it went to extra time.

Extra-time was pretty uneventful until José Antonio Reyes became only the second person in cup final history to get sent off. He and Kevin Moran can share the glory over a jug of sangria one day.

So it was penalties and any Arsenal fan would have been touching cloth at that point because of our record in shoot-outs. As it turned out we needn't have worried because our five penalty takers took fantastic kicks. After the first penalties had been scored up stepped Paul Scholes. He might be a short ginger cunt but you'd expect him to score. Jens Lehmann had other ideas though and he pulled off a brilliant save. It was the only kick United would miss but it cost them the cup.

Lauren had scored our first and the subsequent takers, van Persie, Freddie and Ashley Cole all stuck theirs away. Roy Keane scored which meant it went to the final kick and it was up to the captain to take the penalty which would win the cup for us.

Patrick Vieira tucked away his penalty without problems to give Arsenal the cup and to make Rio and little Ronaldo cry like the bitches they are.

Freddie drank a bottle of champagne on his own as the team walked around celebrating with the fans, the drunkard, but that's normal for Swedes if my experience of those fuckers is anything to go by. But great celebrations from the team, especially as they knew we'd pulled it out of the fire. On performance there's no way we deserved to win that final but as we all know performance means nothing unless you put the ball in the back of the net and United couldn't do that. How it must hurt them this morning to look back on yesterday and see us as the winners. How we must laugh at their hurt.

Any cup final win is special, it gives you that warm glow inside, but this one was up there with the best. It was an unforgettable game, an insipid Arsenal performance playing a type of football I hope I never see us play again but we beat United, who have been a thorn in our side this season and that's what makes it memorable. It's great to see young guys like Cesc, van Persie and Philippe Senderos pick up their first piece of silverware. It's nice that the others can add this medal to their collections. Nice to see Edu sign off with a win however it came about. And how must Jens Lehmann feel? Out of the team at the turn of the year and you have to doff your cap to the boss because that little shake-up obviously worked. His form since he came back into the team has been brilliant. He made some great saves yesterday and he saved the Scholes penalty which, when it boils down to it, was the difference between the two sides and won us the cup. Well done, Jens!

Cue tears from Rio, who was nowhere near the penalties the big cock, and little Ronaldo whose weak chin meant his salty tears of despair left puddles on the Cardiff turf. Quite hilarious to watch and there was some talk afterwards that Sir Alex refused to go up and get his medal because he was so pissed off. All I do is repeat the words of yesterday's post-match blog: Shove it up your holes, you cunts.

I'm not linking to anything this morning - if you want more reaction and articles follow the News Now link on the right hand side there. I'm going to get the Sunday papers, get a hair of the dog and a sandwich and sit in the sun and enjoy the fact we won the cup. And hope my head stops hurting.

Well done, boys. WE LOVE YOU ARSENAL, WE DO.....


May 21st

Well, we were pretty much shite the whole way through the game. Jens was our man of the match and we actually won a penalty shoot-out for once. Arsenal win the FA Cup. Congratulations to the players, the fans, the manager and everyone, and United - you can shove it up your hole, you cunts.

More tomorrow. There are mojitos to be drunk!


May 21st

So the waiting is almost almost over. It's cup final day at last and the nerves and butterflies can really kick in. There's been a lot of speculation about the team with reports yesterday suggesting Sol Campbell would miss out with Wenger prefering Kolo and Philippe Senderos in the centre of defence. That does go against what I was told but things change I suppose. The line-up, as I was led to believe, is as follows:

Jens - Lauren - Senderos - Sol - Cole - Cesc - Gilberto - Vieira - Pires - Bergkamp - Reyes.

Maybe something has happened to change that in the meantime but that's what I think it'll be. The only possible change is Kolo for Sol. Subs I suppose will be Manuel - Kolo - van Persie - Ljungberg - Edu.

A strong line-up and a strong bench with players who have the ability to come on and change things. In terms of the way we play we need another performance like the one at Old Trafford in 2002. I think United are going to be physical and we need to roll with the punches, so to speak, without getting intimidated or wound up to the point of retaliation. People have been overlooking the fact that there's some real talent in the United side, they can play football too.

We need Dennis to show up for 90 minutes against United, for too long he's been carrying the scars of the 99 semi-final. He needs to put that to bed once and for all. The manager has put a lot of faith in José, not just for today but the whole season. He stuck with him when things were going badly and he's got every right to expect a big performance from him today. The same with Ashley Cole, it can't have been easy for someone like Arsene Wenger who has always respected his contracts to see a player he brought through as a kid to fuck him and the club around like that. Payback time, Ashley. And Vieira - same thing, let's see this talking on the pitch captain. Lead by example today and we'll win, I have no doubt about it. The boys want this one, big time. They're going to be up for it.

It's the most eagerly awaited cup final for years and it's 26 years after 1979 which is the first Arsenal game I can really remember. There were a whole range of emotions that day and while the last 5 minutes made it memorable I'd be quite happy with an easy 2 or 3-0 win. I will be wearing the yellow and blue away shirt for good luck while Manchester United will be all in black which hopefully willl match their mood at the end of the game. There's going to be a big Arseblog contingent there - with banner and everything. If you see it try and get a photo.

Those of you going or already there - have a great day. The rest of us will suffer in front of the television with beers and burgers. Come on Arsenal!

COME ON YOU GOOOOOOOONERS!


May 20th

Good morning, arsechums. Just a day to go to the big match now and things are really beginning to get heated-up. Jens Lehmann, not known for his subtlety when speaking about somebody or something he's not fond of, has predicted United's approach to the game tomorrow will be physical. He says "If they want to try to play football like we play they will lose. They have to intimidate by tackles and with the physical side of the game. It's the only chance they have of keeping up with us."

He said afterwards that he has respect for their players but I don't think anyone really believes him. He also talks about how hard he worked to get back into the team after being dropped earlier in the season. Lauren insists the game won't be a battle though. Who to believe? The mad German or the Cameroonian with the stare that could melt your bollocks from 50 yards. José Antonio Reyes has been talking about how he feels much more at home at Arsenal now after the support he got from the players, fans and everyone at the club during his difficult spell. "I feel the most integrated I have done with the team but [after the phone hoax] more than anything, I was worried about the fans and it was incredible, they were very nice to me."

Freddie Ljungberg reveals he had all manner of tests for his latest hip injury, including one for cancer, which left the Swedish winger 'frightened'. He added "As you can guess it wasn't much fun." He feels much better after surgery though and he's likely to be on the bench tomorrow in Cardiff. Philippe Senderos looks likely to start though. Read more about him here.

Jose Mourinho is up for Manchester United, the filthy cunt. Can someone please pin that article in the Arsenal dressing room?

Ok, all week we've been running a competition to win the Senderos t-shirt from goalhanger.com. Thanks as always for all the entries and comments - the RNG did its thing just a couple of moments ago and the winner is: Mike Soteriou. Well done to you, I'll be in touch to get details. Remember you can buy the shirts as well so don't be too downhearted if you didn't win!

To those of you travelling down to Cardiff today have a safe trip. Have you got the butterflies yet? My stomach is getting a bit gurgly - although that could be last night's beer and shawarma. There's going to be an arseblog.com banner at Cardiff tomorrow - keep an eye out! Pictures taken on the day more than welcome.


May 19th

So the Ashley Cole thing came to a conclusion yesterday but we won't know what decision the panel have come to until June 1st. At that stage Ashley will be off on his holidays and although Arsene Wenger says he wants to keep the player he suspects agent Jonathan Barnett is trying to secure a move away from Highbury. The boss said "I'm more concerned that the agent will try to move Ashley Cole than us not wanting to talk to his agent. On our side, we have no problem with speaking to him and signing a contract, but what the agent will want to do, I don't know."

He's not worried about this week affecting Cole ahead of the cup final though saying he's been playing with it on his shoulders for three months and that Ashley is a 'strong boy'. He owes us a big performance though. However, The Sun suggests some minuntes from a board meeting which were presented as evidence by Arsenal show we were trying to offload Cole before he ever met Chelsea. There are no details in their online edition though but someone will no doubt pick up on this during the day.

Better news surrounds José Antonio Reyes who, after publicly pledging his future to the club yesterday, has shaken off the knock he's been carrying and will start the game on Saturday. According to Arsene Wenger "Jose will play. I have decided to start him but where, I don’t know."

We interrupt this blog for an important message:

Sorry about that, where was I? Roy Keane thinks the final could be explosive while Patrick Vieira says he's prepared for anything United have to throw at us. Unless they throw Gary Neville which would be like someone shitting in their hand, vomiting on the shit, covering it with snot and hippo's afterbirth and then throwing at your head. Not good, let me tell you. Arsenal's hero of the 1979 final, Alan Sunderland, talks about that goal and life in Malta with his cockatiel called 'Rooney'. No, seriously. Demento, trusting soul that he is, believes Thierry's injury is just 'gamesmanship' and that he'll play in Cardiff. Arsene Wenger's response - "We're not liars." Gilberto has backed Jens Lehmann to be an important part of our cup final win, saying "Nobody at Arsenal ever lost faith in Jens. He has a strong personality and could be our match- winner against United."

Peter Hill-Wood on players, Highbury and Arsene Wenger...oh, and Dennis.

Last chance to win the Senderos t-shirt from goalhanger - see yesterday's blog for more details on how to enter and the Random Number Generator will do its thing tomorrow morning. And that's about it this morning.

[arseblogger exits to the left, looks for a moment at the sky, gives a little wave and smiles to himself.]


May 18th

The Ashley Cole hearing got underway yesterday and although the player spent hours at the meetings he wasn't called to give evidence, meaning he has to return today and miss another day of training. Present yesterday were David Dein, who was called to give evidence, as well as Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and chief executive Peter Kenyon. As feared Cole's defence is based on challenging the Premier League's rules as a restraint of trade. Arsene Wenger spoke previously about it claiming the man on the street is entitled to more protection than someone earning £30,000 a week whose just been offered a double-your-money contract but Cole's solicitor, Graeme Shear, was having none of it, saying "Mr Wenger is entitled to express his opinion, however misguided it may be; I am afraid in this case I believe it to be misguided."

I've said before I think it's a coward's defence with neither Cole or his agent, Jonathan Barnett, willing to take any responsibility for breaking the rules that they knew fine well were in place. Ashley Cole may not be one of the great minds of our generation but even he knew that going to meet Chelsea just days before our match against United was wrong. It's such a shame Gael Clichy is injured because if I was Arsene Wenger I'd have told Cole to go to the hearing then piss off for his holidays and give Clichy his spot for the cup final. It's not often I agree with Leopold Myles but when he says Cole has to choose between Arsenal and Barnett I think he's right. Chelsea's defence is that Barnett approached them about the meeting and more we hear about this bloke the more inclined I am to believe them. That doesn't mean what they did was right, they flaunted the rules as well, but when you're looking to apportion blame for this you'd have to think most of it lies with an agent greedy for money and willing to exploit his top client. The hearing continues today.

Ahead of the cup final and concentrating on the things we should be concentrating on, José Antonio Reyes says Arsenal are desperate to get revenge on Manchester United for the three defeats they've handed out to us this season and to bring home the cup. He says "Arsenal’s players want to win this match more than any other. I thought we would challenge more for the other trophies this season and now we only have the FA Cup left. Now, I hope to lift it because it is very important the club has a title."

He goes on to hint that his future may still lie at Highbury and says that he's enjoyed his first full Premiership season. I'm sure it's been a learning experience at the very least. Kenny Sansom reckons the midfield battle between Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane will be explosive after Vieira's comments yesterday. When you look at what Vieira said there really isn't much in it but it's been hyped up because it's cup final week. Let's just hope Paddy can do his talking on the pitch this time as well as off it.

Don't forget the t-shirt contest from our friends at goalhanger.com. You can win one of one of these quality Senderos t-shirts. To win just answer the following question: From which Swiss club did we sign big Phil? Was it a) Servette b) Smurfette c) Dynamo Zurich. Answers by email to senderos@arseblog.com and the winner will be announced on Friday.

Finally for today we've tracked Leopold down for some pre-cup final thoughts. According to his agent "Turns out he’s wanted by Interpol, and has gone into hiding in Whitechapel under the pseudonym of J Ripper. Thinks he’ll escape attention that way." Anyway you can read Why Arsenal will dance like Fred Astaire on the real ANR. Till tomorrow.


May 17th

Oh well, the bad news we all feared came yesterday. Thierry Henry will miss the cup final after aggravating an achilles injury during the 7-0 romp against Everton. The announcement was made on Arsenal.con yesterday and the whole of the Gooner world wept knowing there's no possible way we can beat anyone, let alone Manchester United, without him. We might as well not bother turning up. Coaches to Cardiff and hotel reservations have been cancelled and there's a white flag flying from the top of Highbury as we speak.

My hole. Of course we'll miss Thierry but we can't get too downhearted about it. We have plenty of quality up front and we've shown in recent weeks that we can win games without him. All going well for José I'd imagine he'll be starting up front with Dennis Bergkamp and we'll have super-sub Robin van Persie to come on and score the three winning goals later in the game. Speaking to The Sun Thierry said "This is the biggest match I've missed in my career. It's a major disappointment but the team can still win. I've had a problem with my Achilles since the start of the season. But it's not just one, both of them are causing me pain and I am just not fit to play. I need a rest. I have played a lot this season and I'd like to think I've given my all. I just can't go on."

If anyone in the team deserves a rest it's Thierry so let's hope he gets himself back to 100% before the start of next season. In other news Patrick Vieira has pledged his future to Arsenal saying he's happy at the club and has no intention of moving. Given that it's cup final I'm biting my lip here but I figure you all know why. He also talks about playing United and Roy Keane and harks back to the tunnel incident at Highbury earlier in the season, saying "There is a lot of passion because the rivalry between the clubs is really high. I think it's exciting - Manchester-Arsenal is like Barcelona-Real Madrid, it's like Milan-Internazionale. As a player you look forward to it."

The hearing into the Ashley Cole affair begins today and Cole's agent Jonathan Barnett has slammed the club for releasing details of his extortionate demands when it came to renewing Cole's contract. He said "I don't respond to fairy-tales. It is completely irresponsible journalism. It is just scandalous what people are allowed to write without even checking their facts."

Maybe it's just me but that looks like he's responding. Barnett is in for a tough time with Chelsea set to say it was he who initiated the meeting and Arsenal adding credence to that by saying he was motivated to do so because of the club's refusal to meet his demands. Barnett's job is to make as much money for his client, and therefore himself, as possible so he's going to have a hard time convincing anyone he wasn't running around with ££ signs in his eyes. Hopefully Cole won't be too distracted ahead of Saturday's game.

Ok, finally for today another giveaway from the blog that just keeps on scabbing prizes off people to give to you. This time my chums at goalhanger.com have provided one of these fab Senderos t-shirts. To win just answer the following question: From which Swiss club did we sign big Phil? Was it a) Servette b) Smurfette c) Dynamo Zurich. Answers by email to senderos@arseblog.com and the winner will be announced on Friday.

Serious thunder and lightning here for the last 8 hours. Mental. I'm off on a wee day-trip. Till later.


May 16th

So final day defeat at the hands of Birmingham was hardly the ideal preparation for the cup final but it might not be the worst thing in the world to have happened. With all eyes on the relegation scrap there was nowhere to see the match but Arsene Wenger blamed a lack of focus saying players had Saturday's game on their minds.

Freddie Ljungberg came through the game without any real reaction to his hip injury and he'll be likely to start in Cardiff but there are genuine concerns about Thierry Henry. He suffered a reaction to his groin injury after his 45 minutes against Everton and although there's a chance he could be fit there's a very real possibility that he could miss the game. AW "It's very difficult to assess Thierry. He had a slight reaction on Wednesday night and I will see what the position is on Wednesday or Thursday."

Speaking about Saturday's game the boss said Arsenal will try and play football and that United's tactics are no concern to him. I'd imagine United will again take the very physical approach to the game which, to be fair, has served them, if not the ankles of our players, well in recent encounters. He said "We will try to play football, as we always do, and try to bring the trophy home. I am confident that we can achieve it. How our opponents approach the game is not my responsibility - I'm not speculating about that."

Ashley Cole's agent wanted Arsenal to pay him £750,000 for his part in arranging Ashley Cole's new contract. According to Steve Stammers, who seems to be the journalist Arsenal use when they want to let something slip accidentally on purpose, talks about Cole's contract were going well until Jonathan Barnett made his demands. The board unanimously rejected his request and quite rightly. Why should Arsenal pay that cunt? He's Ashley Cole's agent so if he wants to be paid he should talk to his client. Arsenal will submit this as evidence as part of the hearing into the Colegate affair this week.

Charlie George talks about the 1971 cup final and more. "As soon as I hit it I knew it was in. Big Larry Lloyd always says he got a nick on it but I didn't see the ball deviate at all. And if Clemence had got to it, it would have broke his hand."

There'll be lots of build-up this week to Saturday and while I do have something to say about the season in general I'll leave it till after the cup final. Tomorrow there'll be a chance to win a Senderos t-shirt from goalhanger too. Stay tuned, arsefans.


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