october 31st

Oh Monday, how I hate thee. If thou werst a football player verily thou wouldst be the offspring of that hideous cunt Drogba and yon fat head Rooney. Getting up in the morning is truly a pain in the hoop.

Not a huge amount going on. Sol Campbell has denied emailing some Sp*rs bloke I've never heard of saying he had his eyes on the ball the whole time while some Sp*rs bloke I've never heard of has been arrested for abusing Sol, not in a Wexford priest way though, in the tunnel after the game. Sp*rs boss Martin Jol reckons Sol's elbows were deliberate. Little known fact about Martin Jol - one day he was trampolining and astromers kept thinking they'd discovered a new moon.

Meanwhile Jose Mourinho reckons Arsene Wenger is a sick voyeur because he's always talking about Chelsea. I think what's more accurate is that people keep asking him about Chelsea and AW has never been the sort of person not to give his opinion on something when asked - apart from an Arsenal red card. Maybe he should refuse to answer questions but then that would be one less thing for Moaninho to waffle on about the loudmouthed cunt.

Given the day that's in it how about a real Hallowe'en scare? Are you sure? Ok then, this could be one of the most horrific things I have ever seen (apart from Didier Drogba's hideous cunt face the hideous cunt faced cunt). Thankfully it's most unlikely though.

With Sparta Prague ahead this week here's a great interview with Philippe Senderos. You've just got to love the guy. In a very footballing way, of course.

And that's your week kicked off. Watch out for witches and ghouls and werewolves and vampires. And especially watch out for enormous hideous Predator looking jammy, diving, cheating cunts.

october 30th

A game of two halves at White Hart Lane yesterday. Wanky Sp*rs had the best of the first one and took the lead through Ledley King when he was left totally unmarked to plant a header past Jens Lehmann. Carrick had powerful drive fizz wide and Jens made a fantastic fingertip save from Jermaine Jenas.

Pires and Clichy celebrate Arsenal's equaliser

At half-time we brought on Robert Pires for Flamini and things turned around somewhat. Jens had to make another smart save from Jermaine Defoe - all the Arsenal nearlys reminding Arsene Wenger what he could have bought. And that included Paul Robinson who made a couple of good saves from Robin van Persie when he came on.

Then on 77 minutes Robinson fumbled a cross, perhaps thinking of his post-game meat pie, and it fell to Robert Pires. He made a very difficulty finish look very easy, squeezing the ball between three or four Sp*rs defenders and the near post. He has an amazing record at White Hart Lane. He's scored 8 in 10 and on each of his last 5 visits and yesterday's goal came on his 32nd birthday. And it just adds to the enigma - I don't think there's anyone, Bob included, who wouldn't say his form this season has been poor but so often he scores in big games or scores important goals. If this brings a little renaissance to his season then I'm all for it. Commenting on leaving him on the bench the boss said "If he was left out today it was more down to the fact that I wanted the midfield to be potentially stronger. Maybe if he had started he wouldn't have scored."

I assume by stronger he means physically because when Pires came on we certainly played better and one fantastic pass to Robin van Persie deserved a goal. And speaking of van Persie he's got to start games. He looked a real threat when he came on, forcing saves from Robinson and getting involved in a number of other dangerous moments. I understand the boss's need for experience but with the greatest of respect Dennis never has as many chances and poor José looks he's never going to score again. I think with a good run in the side Robin could easily get 15-20 goals this season. I hope he gets a chance against Sparta Prague.

In all a good point even if Arsene Wenger thought we'd have won it if the game had gone on longer. As usual there were some unsavoury moments with Sol Campbell gettng involved with a fan at the final whistle and Jens Lehmann being hit on the head with conker thrown from the crowd. They eat conkers here in Spain and would be appalled at the waste but it's something the FA need to look at seriously. It's happened to Thierry at Chelsea and now Jens. There seems to be the temptation to brush these kinds of incidents under the carpet but they should be making a point of cracking down on them before somebody really does get hurt. It happened at Highbury too with some clueless twat throwing a coin at Jamie Carragher so I'm not just saying this because it's Sp*rs. Fines don't work as they're just too small to make a difference. Close parts of the ground and threaten a points deduction if it happens again. As much as we all have our rivalrys most of us should be better than that.

So, still no away win but a bit more promise and boastful Sp*rs given a reminder than just because we haven't started so well that the balance of power in North London hasn't changed just yet. Have a good Sunday.

october 29th

All go this morning as the lads get ready for the big game against Sp*rs. Our North London rivals have started the season well and now everyone is talking about them being contenders for Europe, top 4 blah blah blah. Arsene Wenger said yesterday "The bottom line is winning trophies. In England people get on a wave and ignore the facts. We have to live with that. But the truth is what happens on the pitch."

What happens on the pitch today is going to be vital. We're without an away win this season and our results away from Highbury have been poor no question. Beating Sp*rs at the lane would give everyone a lift and give our position in the table a real lift too.

The bad is that Thierry is definitely out and the Mirror suggests that Robert Pires will be dropped as the midfield quartet will be Cesc, Gilberto, Flamini and the fit-again Freddie, who you would have to assume will play on the left. The returning José Antonio Reyes will play up front with Robin van Persie and he's got to start scoring goals this season. Wouldn't this be just the game to get himself off the mark?

The boss is confident though, saying "I have an unshakeable belief in my squad and I am totally confident that we will surprise a few people.”

Those would be the people who suggest that we'd never have lost the games we lost this season with Vieira (lazy speculation) and that we can't win without Thierry (see end of last season including the FA Cup final for more on that). It's going to be a young Arsenal team determined to show they've got what it takes against a Sp*rs side currently surfing a wave of goodwill and good form. It's going to be a very interesting game.

The Mirror article above also says Wenger confirmed his interest in Fernando Torres but were unable to provide a quote to back that up.

All the focus on the game today, as you'd imagine, so not much else going on. Here's to a good performance and a win. Or a crap performance and a win. Or a terrible performance and a win. Come on you Goooooooners.

october 28th

Some worrying injury news ahead of Saturday's North London derby with Arsene Wenger rating Thierry Henry's chances of playing at '30-70' against. It seems he's suffered a little bit of a set-back which the boss puts down to bringing him back a little bit too early. It's always a risk when you really need an important player to bring him back too soon. We saw that with Patrick Vieira in the past but maybe his presence got us back on track a bit and we can continue without him in the short term. With Robin van Persie finding his shooting boots again and José and Freddie back from injury it's not as if we don't have options.

José on the derby against the wanky Tottenham Hotsp*rs. “The North London derby is just like the Seville v Real Betis derby. Everybody in the area waits a whole year for the game and the whole build-up turns into a war of words between the two sets of supporters. I like derbies."

Staying with Thierry Arsenal Managing Director Keith Edelman is confident he'll stay with the club and lead us out at the new stadium while he also made it clear that there is money for the manager to spend. He was speaking about the 711 apartments that will be built on the Highbury site when we move to the new stadium and while that money is not going to be available to the manager as it's part of the finance for the stadium he insisted if the manager needed cash in January it would be there. He said "There are ample funds if the manager wants to spend them to strengthen and develop the squad and we would encourage him to do so. Our objective was to make sure that when we went into the new stadium there would be funds for the manager to strengthen the team."

I know some people have suspected, and sometimes suspected out-loud non-stop, that the board would not provide money for the manager to spend this summer which is why he chose the 'go with youth' strategy but that is not the case. There has been money there for some time and it's always been there if Arsene wanted to spend it. How he chooses to spend the club's money is always a debate. There are those who like that he doesn't spend big but makes big players while there are those who think a bit of Championship Manager spending is what we need. Perhaps a middle ground needs to be found but at the end of the day we're lucky to have a manager who doesn't waste our money by spending £7.5m on the likes of Seth Johnson or £5.5m on Bosko Balaban. Who? Exactly.

Thank God it's Friday. My alarm clock was incorporated into my dream as a Siren's song, beautiful and alluring, instead of a ambulance siren which should have got me out of bed. The weeks' are flying by though, aren't they? Don't work too hard today. There's no point.

october 27th

Morning all. We'll start with Robin van Persie who may find himself on the bench again despite scoring two at the weekend. With Freddie and José back and the manager looking to balance experience with youth he may have to make his mark coming on as a sub and scoring a cracking winner. The boss is impressed with him though, saying "His performance shows he is improving, physically he looked very strong and very mature, he had a great performance.I was pleased with the way he used his body against Sunderland, that was his problem when he arrived here because it is not as physical as that in Holland."

Another of the Carling Cup squad who has ambitions of the first team is Swede Sebastian Larsson. He's always looked a useful player to me, certainly better than Song, and he wants a chance to play. He says "This is something I have waited for and now I have got to show the boss that I can play well against Premier League opposition."

Despite lots of talk about him in the last few days the boss has ruled out an imminent move for Mexican Carlos Vela. He'll go back to his club and Arsenal will keep tabs on his progress. Anyway, if we do make signings in January I think we need to focus less on players who have the potential to be great in a couple of years and bring in some players who are great now.

Former Arsenal manager George Swindin has died. He was 90 years old.

Not a lot more happening than that. How nice to see Chelsea get beaten last night even if it was only in the Carling Cup. Robert Huth cost them a goal and missed a penalty. He wins an all expenses paid trip to Siberia for the rest of his life, courtesy of Uncle Roman.

Till tomorrow.

october 26th

It's been a while since I listened to a game on the radio but there was coverage on the net last night of the Carling Cup game against Sunderland at a packed Stadium of Light. A goalless first half without too much incident was followed by a much more interesting second.

We took the lead through a 25 yard rocket from Emmanuel Eboue then Robin van Persie made it 2-0 with a cool penalty after Arturo Lupoli was fouled in the box. With four minutes to go van Persie (pic) got his second of the game to make it 3-0 and seal our path through to the next round. A good result considering the inexperience of the midfield quartet. Seb Larsson and Quincy have some first team experience while Rigobert Song II started his first game and Fabrice Muama got his reward for some impressive reserve and youth performances with his debut.

I do like van Persie though, I think he deserves a run up alongside Thierry for a while. The problem is though the balance of the squad is not quite right at the moment and the manager tries to balance that by playing experience when maybe the balance needs to be tipped the other way to be more effective. All in all a good night's football for Arsenal.

Young Mexican Carlos Vela believes moving to Arsenal would be good for his career. He's been training with the club, had Thierry Henry welcome him and his family, saw the Man City game and got a tour of the new stadium. He says "If my destiny is Arsenal then that would be very good for my career. I want to show everyone just how good the level of football is in Mexico."

His agent, being an agent, is more circumspect, saying "It has been a fuckin' excellent experience for Carlos at Arsenal so far. Arsenal would be a good club for him to join but we are going to listen to other proposals."

He's just touting for business. Chelea's name has been mentioned, naturally. We shall see what happens. Thierry is asked about racism in football and if that would stop him playing in a particular country. He says no. The headlines say "Thierry says Spain move is no problem." Arseblog says Zzzzzzz.

Arseblog also has to go to work. See yiz later.

october 25th

So it's the kids tonight as we begin our Carling Cup campaign. We've done quite well in recent seasons considering the inexperienced players we've put out and it's always nice for us fans to see some new faces and potential new first-teamers.

Tonight should see Kolo, Jens, Dennis, Thierry and Pires all rested. Who he's going to bring in I don't know but there's some talk Sol might start, Senderos should play, Eboue and Quincy too, and we'll probably see Lupoli and van Persie up front. In midfield Song might get a game with Cesc getting a rest.

Thierry says the young players need time to grow but admits that they need the experienced players to help bring them along. He said "I remember when I came into the France national team with David Trezeguet and we were 19. If we’d all been 19 in the squad, what would we have done? But it is easier when you have the likes of Laurent Blanc, Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly to help you improve."

Johan Cruyff on that penalty, Robert Pires says he panicked and the Sun runs a story about how Thierry wants to keep up the tricks. The Telegraph reports that we're lining up a £2.5m move for 17 year old Mexican Carlos Vela. He's training with the squad this week. Not sure how you get a work permit for a 17 year old Mexican though and as talented as he might be he's not going to address the balance of the squad at this moment in time.

Ok then, good luck to the youngsters tonight. Let's hope they don't find the plaintive bellowing of Mick McCarthy too distracting.

october 24th

Not a lot happening this morning, I have to say. Most of the stories revolve around the penalty fiasco but what more can we say about it? This article suggests Dennis Bergkamp had the good sense not to get involved and his hands on hips stance after it all went wrong spoke volumes. That said Dennis has endured his own penalty trauma so maybe he was having flashbacks or something.

Ian Wright says Arsenal must buy big to stop Thierry leaving. The former record goalscorer and wearer of dodgy hats said "It’s not about money with Thierry — he just wants to win the European Cup. I think he is going to wait until the end of the season and make his decision depending on where Arsenal finish and who they sign. They haven’t signed anyone yet — when are they going to sign someone?"

That is the $64,000 question. Saw Everton v Chelsea yesterday. Can someone tell Frank Lampard his jammy run of form has gone on a bit too long now and I might have admit he's a decent player? Nice to see that hideous cunt Drogba have a goal disallowed and for them to drop some points at last. Every little helps.

Right then, off to work I go, with some kind of quiche for lunch. Delish!

october 23rd

I didn't see any of yesterday's game yet so I can't really comment on what everyone is talking about. We won 1-0 with a Robert Pires penalty but the main talking point was the second penalty which, by all accounts, was a bit of a joke. Instead of shooting Pires tried to pass to Henry, all perfectly legal, but only scuffed the ball and ended up giving a free kick to Man City.

Afterwards Arsene Wenger expressed 'disbelief' at what had happened, saying "He decided to do that because he was a bit insecure about taking the second penalty because it has never happened to him and he was scared to miss it."

Well, if he was scared to miss it why didn't somebody else take it? There are plenty of players in the team who could have scored it. Anyway, he'd already scored one so what's the problem? A strange incident for sure and a waste of a goalscoring opportunity. If we had drawn that game 1-1 then it would have had some serious repercussions. I'll hopefully get a look at it later today and comment further.

Update: I've just seen it. Ridiculous is the best word I have for it. Stupid. But we got away with it. It's hardly the end of the world and we have the 3 points.

Thierry Henry said "I will now take the penalties - all of the time. I take all the blame, it was my idea. If it had worked it would have been a brilliant idea, but it did not work. I want to apologise to Arsenal fans because maybe it was not the right thing to do. It was not a lack of respect - maybe we should not have done it, but football is a game and it is entertainment."

PIres said "It was Thierry's idea, and something we had practised on the training ground. But I shouldn't have done it. It was the wrong game in which to try it and I have apologised to the manager and the other players."

True, it is a game but as a side we're struggling a bit at the moment and we should probably keep the Harlem Globetrotters stuff for the last minute of the Champions League final when we're 4-0 up against Chelski.

Amy Lawrence on Arsene Wenger. Interesting. The Sunday Mirror says Chelsea will try and buy Henry, that Roberto Carlos thinks Real Madrid will sign Ashley Cole to replace him and that we're keeping tabs on West Ham's midfielder Nigel Reo Hokey Cokey.

Not a lot else happening. Might update if there is.

october 22nd

Good morning Arsers, thanks be to Jebus it's the weekend. A lie-in is always good. Where to start though? There's lots going on. Most of it revolves around Thierry Henry. You can read a good piece by Henry Winter here. Read about a phone call he got from Ian Wright here. And he talks about Arsene Wenger here, saying "Arsène started my career and he restarted it". AW gave him his chance at Monaco then 'rescued' him from Juventus.

As well as that he showed the faith and belief in him that made him the player he is today. I love Thierry's quote about his difficult first few months when goalscoring looked like the last thing he was capable of. He said "At the beginning it seemed I would break the clock at the Clock End before I broke the scoring record of Wrighty."

Then the boss spoke about the contract situation, saying "Of course, we are scared we could lose him. But if he signs an extension to his contact tomorrow, he could still leave at the end of the season. If he says he wants to leave, then who can stop him?"

He also scotched some rumours that some people are happy to perpetrate, that the club would be happy to sell Henry because they'd make a lot of money. He said "I can understand the worry of the fans, I'm a fan as well. But I can't decide when he signs. We are not in a position where we look to make a profit, we want to keep our players."

And he's right. Players have enough power these days to move where they want when they want. Personally I don't see the fact that he wants to wait until the summer as negatively as others. In this AGM report on Arsenal World (sadly our contributor couldn't got this year - sorry Myles!) the boss admits the balance of the squad is wrong. He was planning around youth because he didn't think there'd be much money available with the new stadium project dominating the books. A player like Thierry doesn't become one of, if not the best players in the world without drive and ambition. There are lots of players who are as quick, who can hit the ball as well, but they lack the mentality which sets great players apart.

He wants to win things and he wants to see that for the final years of his career, and let's be honest the next contract he signs will be his last 'big' one and those years will be when he wants to win lots of titles and European trophies, that he's playing in a team capable of doing that. That's something the manager has to sort out by getting out his chequebook and using it to bring in real quality into the squad. There's also the draw of the new stadium. There's the fantastic relationship he has with the fans. Yes, there's talk of Barcelona but at this stage it's speculation and peple are so quick to believe every negative press story but don't give the same credence to anything positive.

Let's go back a few years when Roy Keane was in exactly the same position at Manchester United. His contract was running down. There was talk of him going to Bayern Munich. I remember reading they were offering him £80,000 a week. Now, his contract didn't have more than 18 months left. His contract had 6 months left. He let it run down until the January when he was entitled to talk to other clubs. I can't ever remember anyone questioning Roy Keane's committment to Manchester United. We all know he signed a new deal. Thierry has constantly declared his committment to Arsenal so why don't people believe him?

I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that he'll leave. I think the club, his relationship with Arsene Wenger, his relationship with the fans, his stature within the the Arsenal and the potential we'll have if the manager makes the right signings will convince him to stay.

But, as the man himself said, he's not going to talk about it until the end of the season and unless there's some new information then neither am I. It's already a much bigger issue than it should be in the press who are enjoying knocking us at every turn having lauded us as invincible not 12 months ago.

Safety has been busy at work and he's got a new article about Thierry called 186. Also back from spending 4 months being kept prisoner by a female news reader the newly escaped Leopold Mendacious brings you Arsene Wenger - Trawlerman on the real ANR.

There you go then. Too much writing this early on a Saturday morning. Man City later and my team has its third league game of the season. Bring it on.

october 21st

Don't you just love Fridays? The last day of the week and this Friday sees the release of the Pro Evolution Soccer 5. There's my weekend set up. Sorry Mrs Blogs.

Bits and pieces going on. As I pointed out the other day the press were eager to make a story out of Arsene Wenger saying selling Patrick Vieira was a mistake. He denies that, saying "Many times in our history we have lost big players and we have lost another one. I think we have to go on with what is in front of us and not look backwards."

Exactly. Forwards not backwards. Sideways not diagonal. It's easy. The boss has also slammed a France friendly against Martinique as 'scandalous and inexplicable' but says he was not expecting any better from the French federation. At the moment Thierry is the only first team member of the French squad but the last thing he needs is to fly around the world playing a meaningless match. If the international federations must play games like this they should be done off-season or better yet, never. Cunts.

Sol Campbell, Freddie Ljungberg and José will all miss the Man City game with their injuries. I hope Senderos comes back in defence ahead of Cygan.

The Mirror continues its campaign to paint the worst possible picture of the Thierry Henry contract situation. According to them he's constantly disillusioned, fed up and all sorts. When I don't have such a massive hangover I'll write something about it. Not today though. Meanwhile enjoy Goodplaya's run through what he consider's to be Thierry's top 10.

Got big problems with my ISP this morning so I'm having difficulties uploading the page. Is it working ok for everyone else?

october 20th

Some good news to start your morning and that's José's ribs. They're not fractured, as first feared, just badly bruised so he's not going to be out for as long as we thought. According to Arsenal.con his absence will be short term. Relative to what I don't know but good news nonetheless.

Thierry talks about breaking the record and how he was never even meant to travel to Prague with Nicklas Bendtner pencilled in as cover. He said "I was not meant to travel then I was not meant to play. I was not really ready to come on either to be honest. I said to the boss give me five minutes but he said you can’t because Jose has to come off straight away."

Glad he did though. He also, according to the article, took the intercom on the flight home to thank all his team-mates and he hasn't forgotten some of the older ones too, saying "In my six years at the Club I would like mention all my team-mates. People like Dennis, Patrick, Manu Petit and Marc Overmars. These are the guys who have given me the passes. All I have had to do is put the ball in the back of the net. This would not have happened that quickly without them.”

Yes, 'all' he had to do was put the ball in the back of the net. Bob Wilson on Thierry. And there's plenty more around the newsfeeds, go look. I'm too tired to put it into any context.

To commemorate Thierry's great achievement you can download a couple of wallpapers (cheers to Ricey for sourcing the pics). Thierry Henry 186 goal wallpaper in 1024x768 and 1280x800.

Not a lot else happening. The world has gone Thierry crazy.

october 19th

As poor as our league results have been we're 3 for 3 in the Champions League this season and last night's 2-0 win over Sparta Prague will be remembered for a long time. Not for the performance or the quality of the game, both were pretty average, but for Thierry Henry's 2 goals. The first, an absolute cracker just 5 minutes after replacing José Antonio Reyes, brought him level with Ian Wright and his second after 71 minutes made him Arsenal's leader goalscorer of all time. Ever!

Because he was injured going into the game there was no fanfare, no media hype, no pressure on him because nobody expected him to get more than half an hour anyway. He knew though, his team-mates knew, the travelling Arsenal fans knew, we all knew. We witnessed a bit of history last night and all we can do is send congratulations to Thierry. Thanks for 186 fantastic goals and like every Arsenal fan I hope he stays and puts the record so far out of reach that nobody will ever break it. It's a fantastic achievement from a player a lot of people wondered why we'd spent £10m on all those years ago. His importance to the team can be measured in his 30+ front page pictures on Arseblog, far more than any other player. Yes, that's how you know.

Henry breaks Wright's record

Afterwards he said "It sounds great to hear 'Thierry Henry, record goalscorer for Arsenal'. Wrighty was a great player and will always be a legend at Arsenal. To beat his record is tremendous. I wanted to do it at Highbury but if I get the chance to score, then I will take it."

Arsene Wenger said "It's an exceptional record. He's beaten it in a short time and he's not even a typical goalscorer. He's an all-round player, not a guy who lurks in the box. He'll not only have a place in the history of Arsenal but in the history of football. He's still just 28 and Ian Wright was 33 or 34 when he broke Cliff Bastin's record. Thierry has a lot of time in front of him and there is a lot more to come from him."

Hopefully he came through the game without aggravating his inury and stays fit for the rest of the season. His presence really gives everyone a boost. Not such good news about José though. It seems he has a fractured rib and having done exactly the same myself last season it could be anywhere from 3-5 weeks before he plays again - unless they give him one of those protector things I remember Freddie using a while back. We really are having a hard time with injuries though.

So we top the group with 9 points and anything from the next game against Sparta at home in a couple of weeks will see us through. Away from Europe the reserves kept up their good form with a 3-1 away win over Fulham. Mart Poom played in goal and Nicklas Bendtner notched another goal. No sign of Lupoli for this game though.

Right, that's it. Well done again to Thierry. Doesn't that first one against Southampton seem like a long time ago?

october 18th

Sparta Prague tonight and all of a sudden our squad doesn't look so threadbare. There's still no Sol Campbell but Robin van Persie and Gilberto are back. As is Thierry Henry. Ahead of schedule and maybe some people will think he's being risked ahead of time but I'm sure he wouldn't be rushed back for the sake of it when another injury setback would be disastrous when we could just wait if need be.

He's unlikely to start though with the boss saying "I don't think I will start him but if the game allows I will give him part of it. Ideally I'd like to play him for 30 minutes and then play him against Manchester City."

Good to have him back though and hopefully we'll be 17-0 up with a half an hour to go so he can have an easy run-out. Away from the match the boss hit back at claims by goalkeeper Graham Stack that Arsenal was full of cliques and the team spirit was not as good as it used to be. He said "I think it’s a very unfair and unjustified comment by someone who hasn’t been part of the first team squad at Arsenal for 24 months. He’s not one of my players, he’s left the club. I don’t give any credit to these comments."

You can't get much more caustic than that. However, it is a shame the way so many players who leave have a little pop at a club which has given them a fanstastic footballing education without which their chances of a career in the game would have been considerably less. Stack's comments were unnecessary and also refuted by Kolo Toure who said "There is a fantastic atmosphere between all the players. That is Arsenal. We all come together."

Gotta love Kolo. AW has also spoken about the league campaign. He says "At the moment, I look a bit lonely and in the minority of one but I have great belief we will turn things around. I've listened to what everyone has been saying about us - but I don't agree with what they have to say" - and as for new players in January, he says "It depends on who is on the market in January. I will not buy just for numbers but only if the right quality is available."

As much as we alll want new players in the squad he's right though. Whoever he buys has got to be quality and often those players are not available in the January window and maybe less so in a World Cup year. And check out all the headlines this morning such as "Wenger I may have erred" in relation to the Patrick Vieira sale. When you read the quotes from him though he says "I don't think it was a mistake." A fantastic example of the press making the story they want rather than reporting the story that's there. Wankers.

Anyway, let's concentrate on tonight. Three points would go a long way to ensure qualification from the group and take some of the pressure off the players. We did well away in Amsterdam so hopefully our away day woes are only Premiership based at the moment. I fancy us, although I think it will be tight. 15-1 Arsenal. Oh yes.

october 17th

Monday morning and not much has happened since Saturday's defeat against West Brom. The team will be preparing for their trip to Prague and we await injury news. I read somewhere, but I can't find it now, that the boss said that Gilberto might be the only one of the players out to be back for tomorrow's Champions League game. Obviously we'll wait for confirmation but if Robin van Persie doesn't make it then we're short up front with Dennis Bergkamp not playing. If that was the case I'd love to see Lupoli or Bendtner get a chance up front ahead of Quincy (who has never convinced me he's worth a place ahead of the two goal machines and who might even get a chance in midfield with Freddie out).

There's some guff in the papers this morning about Sp*rs being better than us all of a sudden. Jermaine Jenas has been mouthing as has manager Martin Jol. Go find it for yourselves, I'm not linking to it.

Ray Parlour - "Next season you will see a big change again. Arsene Wenger is a fantastic manager - he knows what he is doing and I'm sure he has got a plan. I've never played under a better manager than Arsene and it doesn't make you a bad manager overnight if you have a few bad results"

Thank you, Ray. Other than that nothing to report. No doubt we'll get more news from the injury list later on. Now, it's off to work I go.

october 16th

Twice in recent memory this Arsenal side has gone through a campaign without losing away. This time around we can't win away for love nor money. I didn't see the game, only the goals, but we had plenty of chances apparently. We weren't helped by losing Freddie Ljungberg who joins the mile long injury list with a hamstring strain that will keep him out for 2-3 weeks.

Having taken the lead with Philippe Senderos' first goal for the club they equalised through old boy Kanu, isn't it always the way, and on 76 minutes Darren Carter hit a rocket of a winner.

Afterwards the boss put the defeat down to a lack of maturity and experience. He said "I feel overall we played well with a good spirit but we were punished, a little bit lack of luck but as well a great performance from Kirkland and mainly I feel a lack of maturity. We had a little bit too much inexperience to take advantage of the situation we created."

And with the injuries mounting, particularly to the experienced players, this looks like something we're going to have to suffer for the coming weeks unless the players learn very quickly from games like this. Of course the young players were always going to have matches where things didn't go well and the lack of experience would show but, while there are no easy games in the Premiership, West Brom is one you'd look at the fixture list and think anything less than 3 points would be a disappointment. No points at all is not something that you'd consider and that's not being arrogant or anything, just realistic.

Wenger looks happy

But what to do? When we've got our first XI fit I think we've got a very good team. Where we're suffering is the lack of depth to the squad and an injury list that nobody could have foreseen. Hleb out for two months meaning there's no pressure for Robert Pires to improve his increasingly limp performances, Freddie out so our right back goes to right midfield and a true rookie comes in at right back meaning we had two inexperienced full backs in the back four yesterday, Thierry's out and the goals have dried up, Robin van Persie who always looks like scoring is out and José who works so hard and tries for the whole 90 minutes just hasn't been able to contribute in the goalscoring department. Some defensive mistakes go unpunished, this season every tiny error we make seems to end up being a goal for the opposition.

My opinion is the problems we're having are 50% down to a lack of personnel and 50% down to bad luck. Yes, I think we need to improve the squad in January but I think we're just plain unlucky at times as well. I don't think it's as bad as some people think. I think when we get our players fit again we'll consolidate and results will improve. We need to start scoring goals though.

As well as that the manager has got to think long and hard about how far he wants to take the experiment with youth. For my part I was quite happy to go with his decisions this summer despite the fact I wanted us to bring in players. He's been manager for 9 years, we've never finished below second, he has earned the right to our support because we know that he's always had the best interests of the club in mind. He felt giving these players experience this season would stand us in good stead in the seasons to come and I'm sure he still feels that. The players will learn from days like yesterday. What is obvious though is that the balance is wrong and that some of the more experienced players aren't doing enough to help counteract that.

Come January I think he needs to be active in the transfer market. He needs to spend some of the money everyone knows is there. The squad needs some fresh faces. People need competition for places. I love Cesc Fabregas, I think he's an exceptional talent, but he knows at 18 that he's going to start every game. Now, I'm not suggesting for one second that he's culpable or that he's been slack in any way, I'm just saying that some competition in midfield will give everybody - Cesc, Gilberto, Flamini - that little bit of edge.

Giving young players a chance is admirable and it's something I support, as regular readers will know. But, at the end of the day, the best players will play no matter how old they are. If we add to the squad and the young players push for their places and take their chances when they're given then that's all right with me as well. We have a lot to live up to this season. This is the last one at Highbury, we're moving to the Grove next summer and that stadium without Champions League football just doesn't bear thinking about. When we're looking to renew the contract of probably the world's best striker next summer we simply have to be able to offer Champions League football. That's why in January, if the manager buys, he can consider the players he purchases as long term investments, not only in the team, but the club in general.

It's not all doom and gloom though. There's still a long way to go this season and I do believe there's enough quality in the squad for results to improve in the coming weeks. It means working hard though, it means experienced players helping the young players, it means some of them need to get their heads up and not just go through the motions because they're near the end of their careers. It means we as supporters have a role to play as well. The 38,500 at Highbury can help. Yesterday I watched the first half of Chelsea against Bolton. At half-time Chelsea were 1-0 down and as they went off the pitch there was a ripple of boos. Not too many, but enough. This is a team that's won 8 on the trot and their 'fans' booed them because they were losing at half-time. Don't be like them.

Yes, Arsene Wenger has set high standards for this club over the years and watching us fall below those standards is not easy. I'm not suggesting that everyone sing and dance and hold hands and have some kind of love-in for the team. The internet is a great place for everyone to vent their spleen and armchair manage but at the games we need to get behind the team. What good will boos do? The players and the manager are intelligent people. More than anyone they realise they shortcomings and the last thing they need, especially the younger ones, is more pressure. The pressure should come from within. The pressure should be competition for places and from the manager.

Over to you, Arsene.




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