september 30th

09.14 - Ahead of tonight's game against Locomotiv Moscow, Arsene Wenger has hailed Robert Pires as 'one of the greatest players I have ever worked with', and has backed the floppy haired genius top come good after a couple of games on the bench. "Sometimes when you have a rest for a few games, though, you can come back sharp again.I think he will bounce back very quickly."

Thierry Henry knows the importance of this game to Arsenal, especially as we haven't been able to click into a groove in terms of the football we're playing. "We need to learn how to be strong in the important moments. Last season in Europe, when we didn’t look like scoring, we didn’t. When we looked like we were going to concede a goal, we did."

Great quote from Kolo Toure "I am not frightened of facing anyone because I am a good defender. I can’t be Ronaldo but I can be a Sol Campbell, I’m definite about that." Despite some confusion over Thierry Henry's background, Lee Dixon writes some good stuff in the Telegraph about our man from the Ivory Coast.

Because of injury we're going to see some of our youth players on the bench tonight. Jeremie Aliadiere, David Bentley and Justin Hoyte will all make the bench tonight. There were some whispers that Bentley could start the game, but I don't see that happening. Arsene Wenger said "We’ve brought everyone we have left and we will have a few new faces on the bench. I have great faith in the young players.”

Giovanni van Bronckhorst says he wants to stay with Barcelona longer than the year long loan. Erm...ok then. Bye Gio.

Ahead of starting a new job tomorrow, I have to go get a haircut today, so I can look mean, thuggish and intimidating. Or just less like a wooly haired cunt. Later.

september 29th

09.47 - Sol Campbell is out of the Champions League game against Locomotiv Moscow. He's still unable to play after the death of his father. Martin Keown should have recovered from his kick on the fibula to play alongside Kolo Toure. Ashley Cole is also expected to make the trip, but Patrick Vieira and Freddie Ljungberg are both out.

On a slow day I experience a sudden surge of goodwill towards Paul Ince of all people as he calls Mark Lawrenson a 'prick'.

On a slow day I notice that we're being linked with Cardiff City defender Danny Gabbidon, who looks like he's been left out in the sun too long.

Ian Wright has criticised the club for their treatment of ex-star Paul Davis. "All Paul Davis wanted to do was give something back to football, but instead he has been shit on. Paul Davis is more qualified than Liam Brady. He's got more experience, won more medals and got more badges than Liam. In actual fact, Paul Davis should have been interviewing Liam Brady, not the other way round."

I'm not sure Wrighty's there, to be honest. LB7 seems to be doing a good job with the academy and to criticise him for having less medals than Davis seems trivial and misguided.

Ok, that'll do. Everything's going to change over today. Fingers crossed it all goes well.

september 28th

10.41 - Quick Sunday round-up, I've written enough crap this week.

Sol Campbell, who we're hopeful of having back for the Champions League game during the week, has claimed Arsenal's behaviour at Old Trafford last Sunday was simply a reaction to Manchester United's players. "We responded to what was going on out there and all I'll say is that Manchester United certainly played their part in what happened."

Gary Lineker says Arsenal were 'childish, but not malicious' in the Telegraph, while Paul Wilson in the Observer asks questions of the referee. Demento says the FA would be throwing the book at Patrick Vieira if it wasn't for Roy Keane. Jens Lehmann on being flattened by Quinton Fortune.

Former striker Alan Smith, who upset many Arsenal fans with his unusually caustic comments after the Old Trafford game, has been banned from the Arsenal training ground. According to Nigel Winterburn on Talksport "A number of the players at the club were very upset by his comments, and he has been banned from the training ground."

The draw for the Carling (League, Milk, Rumbleows, Worthington, Coca-Cola) cup was made yesterday, and Arsenal will play first Division Rotherham at Highbury.

Better late than never, Leopold returns.

Right, that'll do. More server shennanigans today. Hurrah.

september 27th

09.59 - *Boilk*

Last night's game showed all the right battling qualities from Arsenal, and even though I was as pissed as George Best at the end of it, it was a game to remember.

We went ahead after not so Titus Bramble kicked thin air to allow Thierry Henry to tap in at the far post. Then we lost Vieira to injury and immediately conceded an equaliser to that cunt who always scores against us, Laurent Robert.

Into the second half we went ahead again through a thumping header and a first Highbury goal from Gilberto, the kind he normally hits against the bar, only to conede another equaliser to Olivier Bernard's cracking left foot shot.

Then Jermaine Jenas thought he was playing basketball, penalty to Arsenal and up stepped Thierry Henry, unconcerned about his miss against Inter Milan and he dinked it down the middle as a flailing Shay Given went the wrong way. I danced.

The boys showed great spirit, something Arsene Wenger was quick to point out after the game. "At the end we were really down to eight players and we still won it. It shows a lot about the spirit and togetherness of the team." Thierry Henry summed it up saying " play with 10 men is never easy against Newcastle who looked sharp and it was just important to win today no matter what."

Arsenal were like the walking wounded at the end. As well as Vieira, Ashley Cole and Freddie Ljungberg picked up injuries, and having made all our substitutions, poor Freddie had to hop around and try and make himself a nuisance in some way. Martin Keown also took a 'big kick on the fibula' according to AW. All those players are now doubtful for the trip to Moscow next week.

Bobby Robson meanwhile did nothing but moan after the game. What's that about learning how to lose properly, Bobby Hundreds?

Right, today I have to battle my considerable hangover and try and move Arseblog to my new server, if you notice any strange goings-on, do let me know.

september 26th

07.36 - So Arsene Wenger apologised yesterday for the behaviour of the Arsenal players after Sunday's game at Old Trafford. "We over-reacted on the penalty and after the final whistle, and I apologise for that. I'm sorry if we offended anyone and it will not happen again."

Great, so that's that then? No chance. Quite rightly in my opinion, the Arsenal manager went on to criticise the media and the FA for hyping this incident out of all proportion. "I have been in English football for seven years now and I have witnessed situations that were 10 times worse that were not punished. That doesn't mean we were right but it does mean that some people get away with some things they shouldn't get away with. Frankly, it's laughable."

On being asked to explain his comments about Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wenger said "I said what I said and I will defend that. I have heard other managers call our players cheats and they've never had to explain themselves to the FA."

What's also nice to see is that Arsenal will bring up van Nistelrooy's history of foul play against Arsenal to make their point. Not to try and get our players off the hook, but to illustrate that the playing field is not level. The FA cup game last season saw Ruud take out Martin Keown, then go into a challenge elbow first on Lauren. The night we won the league at Old Trafford, he clearly punched Fredie Ljungberg in the stomach. Despite Arsenal fans repeatedly asking the FA to look at this incident they never have, nor have they ever provided an adequate explanation as to why they refuse to look at it. AW said "I will give you a tape of what he did on Lauren, what he did on Keown and what he did on Fredrik Ljungberg."

I'm glad he's apologised for the behaviour of the players, but equally I'm glad he hasn't just sat back and allowed himself, the club and our players to be fucked over by the FA. Nobody could claim what happened at Old Trafford was violent, yet with the help of Sky the FA have managed to charge 6 of our players. But then this - a 15 man brawl in which the managers of Preston and Bradford were involved - gets only 2 charges. There's something wrong there. The Arsenal manager has also indicated that the players would all face the charges at the same time even though that could see all six banned at the same time. "We are a team and, while we acknowledge that we've done wrong, that still means we must stick together and fight for our players."

Good stuff from the boss. Yes, we were wrong, but we weren't that wrong. I'm so happy he's said what he's said. He'll get crucified in the media for it probably, but he's right to say it. Of course, you know who can hardly wait to stick the knife in again. A perfect example of somebody with their own agenda. Just calling the events of Sunday 'sickening, brutish and disgusting' doesn't make it so. A bit of pushing, a bit of name calling, and that's it. If that's what some people consider sickening and disgusting then they don't get out much. Or they have another reason to keep going on and on about it, but that would be just conjecture and speculation. I'm sure Mr Lawton will spend days castigating the next players that dives, the next player that commits an outrageously bad tackle, the next club whose players get a bit too passionate in these days of bland, safe superstars like Owen and Shearer and Beckham.

People look back on the 70s and 80s in tennis when you had great characters like Connors, McEnroe, Nastase, Vitas Gueralitis, and recall the bad behaviour with a whistful smile, and bemoan the fact that the game is now filled with the likes of Sampras, Ferrero, Federer, Roddick, Safin etc - great players but without personality, boring. No fighting, no arguing with the officials, no displays of emotion - even Rusedski nearly became interesting with the kind of outburst that McEnroe would give you twice a set. Football is a passionate game, FIFA, UEFA, The FA, Sky etc have blandified it (like that word) with rule changes that make it a yellow card offence to take your shirt off in celebration of a goal. Premiership referees hand out yellow cards in a desperate attempt to maintain discipline when talking to players like adults and not treating them as school kids would be a far better long term solution.

Anyway, the point is this, I'd much rather Arsenal showed a bit of passion, a bit of life, some character rather than becoming a team full of faceless stooges. I played football for years, I know that if we played against our biggest rivals and the player on their team that we hated the most missed a dodgy penalty in the last minute, we'd have reacted just the same. The difference is their lot probably would have had a go back, like they should. Take that away from the game and you've got netball on a big fucking pitch.

Dennis Bergkamp is out of tonight's game against Newcastle with a leg injury. AW says "He has a kick on his fibula and he has no feeling there." I wonder is it's anything to do with this...

Good news on the stadium front, it's being reported that the finances are all pretty much in place and an announcement is expected at the club's AGM on October 3rd. Don't do it Luca. Always had lots of time for this guy, I really wouldn't like to have to start hating him.

Right, last day in work. A few pints afterwards, then home for cake and football.

september 25th

07.33 - So as you know by now, The FA have charged 6 Arsenal players after the Old Trafford non-fight. You know, where nobody punched anybody and the worst you could say about it is that some Arsenal players were involved in over-enthusiastic teasing of Ruud van Nistelrooy and there were a couple of pushes that wouldn't have knocked down a brittle-boned Granny.

Jens Lehmann, Lauren, Ashley Cole, Martin Keown, Ray Parlour and Patrick Vieira have been hit with various charges including Improper Conduct, Violent Conduct, Conduct unbecoming of an officer, Unstable Conduct, Grumpy Conduct, Leaping around Conduct and Forgetting your Manners conduct. It seems almost certain that we'll lose Keown, Parlour and Lauren to bans, Vieira already serves a one match ban for his sending off, and Lehmann and Cole will probably receive fines.

Arsenal Football Club have been charged with failing to properly control their players, and seeing as how the club already has a suspended fine (to the best of my knowledge) there's likely to be a dent made in the Highbury coffers. The club also released a statement from the Board of Directors. "The Club demands high standards both on and off the field and the Board believes these were not met last Sunday. Arsène Wenger has already addressed the players on this issue."

As well as that, Arsene Wenger has been asked to explain his remarks about Ruud van Nistelrooy after the game. How difficult is that going to be?

The FA: "Mr Wenger, why did you call Ruud a diver and a cheat?"

Arsene Wenger: "Well, basically it's because he's a diver and a cheat."

There were a couple of token charges for 2 or 3 United players, but quite frankly I couldn't give a fish's tit about them. I'm not even going to go into a rant about the FA, because it's just going to mean I repeat stuff I've said here plenty of times before. Bottom line for me is that this is a monstrous over-reaction to the hype created by Sky and The Sun and all the other parts of Rupert Murdoch's media empire that have a significant shareholding in Manchester United - as has been pointed out elsewhere. It's in their interests to replay Arsenal's misdemeanours while conveniently forgetting those of other clubs, especially Manchester United. Arsenal fans know what I'm talking about. What happened at Old Trafford has only been such big news because it involved Arsenal and United and we were the villains of the piece.

Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and the players charged have 14 days in which to respond.

Yesterday, I made this and posted it on the Arseblog forum, and on the arses. Chris over at Arsenal World put it in his news headlines. One regular Arseblog reader sent it to the Independent for their view and got this response: "It would be absolutely hilarious if I hadn't had to spend almost my entire day replying to readers to tell them that it's a spoof and not actually written by James Lawton.
Chris Maume
Sports News Editor.

Robert Pires wants his place in the team back. "I was disappointed not to be in the team [on Saunday] but it was a tactical decision by the manager and you have to respect that." Brazilian left-back Juan has returned to the club after being on loan at Milwall.

Last two days in my current job. I sense they're going to be full of hard work and productivity.

september 24th

09.01 - He's at it again. James Lawton reports that the FA were desperately unhappy at not being able to charge Robert Pires with 'bringing the game into disrepute' for his 'dive' against Portsmouth the other week.

It seems the FA were hampered by their own rules. The referee had seen and dealt with the incident, therefore video evidence couldn't be used. I find this kind of surprising, as simple things like the rules have never stopped the FA before. Dennis Bergkamp was cited for a 'stamp' on a Blackburn player ast season despite the refereee quite clearly seeing the incident and awarding a free kick to Blackburn.

Still, after consulting with lawyers (allegedly, this could be another one of Lawton's un-named and most likely made up sources), it was decided that they couldn't punish Pires. This whole thing is ludicrous now. It's a witch hunt and Lawton is doing his utmost to ensure Salem style justice for Arsenal and our players. That he can't let the Pires thing lie, despite the fact that countless other players are guilty of deceptions just as bad, if not worse, clearly shows Lawton has an axe to grind with Arsenal, despite the sports editor of the Independent's stock reply to the Arsenal fans who wrote to complain. If the FA are going to charge every player with disrepute for making the most of a challenge, they're going to be very busy.

One of the first things they teach you in journalism school is that you should report the facts, and report them in an unbiased, impartial fashion. You shouldn't be seen to be for or against a particular person, entity, company etc, no matter what the circumstances.

Given that, it's very difficult to describe Lawton as a journalist. He's an opinionist, a 'sports writer', a columnist preaching to readers who have a right to expect more, blinded by his dislike of Arsenal football club. He's like a celebrity writing an opinion column for the tabloids. He's the Ulrika Jonsson of the sports pages. I can spend as much time talking about Arsenal as I want. This is my site, I'm an Arsenal fan, and I'll be the first to admit that what I write is biased and I make no apologies for that. What excuse does a national newspaper have to allow such bilious tripe on its pages, day after day after day?

As it stands, Arsenal could be without the entire back 4 for some games, with Lehmann, Keown, Lauren and Ashley Cole all facing charges, with Sol Campbell awaiting the FA's verdict for his flick at Eric DumbanDumba during the Community Shield in August. I have confidence in Kolo though, he can play all 4 positions, keep goal and do it with a smile.

Paddy Crerand says he'd have 'lumped' Martin Keown. Yeah, right. Nice gag from Arsenal Shorts.

Away from the furore of Sunday comes the news that Arsene Wenger is tempted to give Jeremie Aliadiere a chance in the first team. He's moved up the pecking order now what Francis Jeffers has been shipped out and the young French striker has impressed the Arsenal boss. "Aliadiere is tempting. Since he has come back in August, he has got close to the level where we want him to be. I think he has a big chance now." We could see him on Friday against Newcastle.

Tony Adams is in line to take over at Reading, according to The Sun.

Right, it's a day off special for me today. Of couse that just means I get to do nothing all day at home, instead of at work, but still...

september 23rd

07.39 - And so it rumbles on. The world and his mother have an opinion on what happened at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Arsenal's actions were 'indefensible' according to Andy Gray. "It's very difficult to have any sympathy for their behaviour at certain moments during the game. It was un-called for and you simply can't defend the indefensible."

PFA Chief Gordon Taylor said the incident was 'not acceptable and has to be addressed.' He goes on to say about the players "They're role models for all the youngsters who play on the local parks, and it's these high profile players who should set the right standards."

I assume that comment was meant for all players, and not just Arsenal's. The FA also released a statement saying "The FA will be looking at various aspects of player behaviour during the match and in the scenes following the final whistle and will make a further statement as soon as this process is complete."

Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood said "We were guilty of stupid behaviour. The players concerned were rather silly when you would hope they would show more intelligence. All I can say in our defence is we are not a dirty side and nobody was hurt."

Kenny Sansom reckons the punishment for Arsenal will be severe. "I think there will be fines for the players involved and points docked - I do think it is that bad." With all due respect Kenny, that's bollocks. I think fines are inevitable, certainly for the football club. I think we might see bans for Keown and Lauren, but there was nothing serious enough to warrant docking Arsenal points. I agree, however entertaining it was in the heat of passion at the final whistle, that the Arsenal players shouldn't have got involved the way they did. However, I understand why they did, and the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion by the media. More crap from James Lawton who laments Arsenal's behaviour while a 'bewildered' Ruud van Nistelrooy was on the receiving end. No question as to why it was van Nistelrooy who was singled out. The reaction to the penalty miss would not have been the same if any other United player had missed it. Arsenal and Ruud have history.

Maybe Arsenal won't have won any make-new-friends awards, but there are fans of teams up and down the country who will raise a smile at the long awaited exposure of Ruud van Nistelrooy as football's biggest cheat. A diver, sly kicking/punching, cheat. And it's not just Arsenal fans who think that. Patrick Vieira accused the Dutchman of stamping on him in the challenge that provoked Vieira's 2nd yellow card. "if you see what happened he jumped on me and tried to stamp on me. Van Nistelrooy just destroyed the game by reacting the way he did." The Arsenal captain was eventually led away Roy Keane for who Vieira had some positive words. "There is a big respect between between him and myself. I know him really well as a player. We are both competitive and maybe I would do the same for him."

And there's the difference. We've all seen Keane and Vieira push each other to the boundaries of fair play over the last 7 seasons. They've fought, clashed heads, tackled hard, but there is a mutual respect between them for the way they play the game. There can be no respect for the way van Nistelrooy plays the game. A great striker, but a lousy sportsman. It was noticable that other United players were conspicuously absent when it did kick off a bit at the fnal whistle. When the players got back to the dressing rooms after the game it all kicked off again as van Nistelrooy baited Paddy saying he had 'no class'. According to eye-witness reports Vieira had to be restrained and told van Nistelrooy he'd find out what is was like to be really hurt. No doubt that will end up in the FA's report too.

Yes, some of Arsenal's players were out of order over this, but as I said yesterday it's not like it was World War 3. There weren't any punches thrown, nobody was injured, it was just handbags. Heat of the moment stuff that should be dealt with as such. The FA will investigate the behaviour of the players, I hope they investigate van Nistelrooy and they really have to take a hard look at referee Steve Bennett's role in this. Without the imaginary last minute penalty, there wouldn't have been the fireworks at the end, and considering he was ref for the Community Shield, maybe he wasn't the best choice for this game. As much as the media want to portray it as such, it's not just Arsenal who are the villains here. Gary Neville threw a punch, nothing has been said of Quinton Fortune's body-check on Jens Lehmann. It's too easy to cast Arsenal as the forces of darkness, but then maybe we make it too easy for them.

Cast your mind back to May 8th 2002. Arsenal were on the receiving end of a kicking and punching Man Utd performance. We kept our heads down, played our football, won the game and won the league in their back yard. If every other club watching thinks they can wind us up, provoke us and niggle us to stop us playing football, they will. We have to prove that we can do it without reacting. As hard as it may be, we have to put some faith in the officials to protect us on field and not take the law into our own hands. We have to behave in a way that doesn't give bitter old hacks like Lawton the chance to highlight our misdemeanours and trot out his xenophobic, holier than thou claptrap while conveniently ignoring our opponents poor behaviour and other circumstances time and time again. It's a cliché, but we have to let our football do the talking from now on.

We're going to be under the spotlight for the rest of the season now, like it or not. Starting with this Friday's game against Newcastle. You reckon Lee Bowyer and Alan Shearer will have a few sly digs to see if they can wind our players up? Of course they will. We need to see a top class Arsenal performance both in footballing and disciplinary terms. The only way to keep them quiet is to give them nothing to write about, apart from football.

Now we just have wait for the FA to deal with this in their usual fair and even-handed manner.

september 22nd

07.34 - So Man Utd 0-0 Arsenal. The scoreline doesn't even come close to telling the story though.

Arsenal started with Parlour and Bergkamp replacing Wiltord and Pires, and in footballing terms were very disciplined for most of the game. Tactically Arsenal came not to lose, which is unusual for us as we usually try to win every game, but it worked. Martin Keown returned at the back in place of Sol, and K-Lo kept his place and was absolutely fantastic again. This boy has such a big heart and appetite for the game. It's a pleasure watching him, seeing him berate himself when he doesn't do something as well as he thinks he should. Just brilliant.

Anyway, the game all kicked off late in the second half. Vieira was cautioned for a foul on Quinton Fortune. Moments later there was a high ball, Ruud van Nistelrooy jumped in the air, kicked Vieira in the chest, landed on Paddy's back and when he landed the Arsenal captain made a half-kicking motion towards the Dutchman who jumped backwards as if there were rabid dogs trying to bite his bollocks off. Watching on Sky they showed how the referee would have seen it, and from there it looked worse than it was. Vieira never made contact with Ruud, but I presume he got his 2nd yellow for intent. After the game Arsene Wenger was interviewed about van Nistelrooy and basically called him a diver and a cheat. Which is what any non-United fan would tell you and it's about time somebody said it. Wenger said "I think van Nistelrooy does not help himself frankly. He is a great player but his attitude...he is always looking to dive."

He is a brilliant player, no question, a first class goalscorer, but a showman of the worst kind. Obviously Demento didn't agree and said "I can defend Ruud. I heard Arsene's comment about Ruud after the foul on Patrick. Vieira has reacted badly. Ruud has not dived. The referee had no option, no alternative. "

No, he didn't dive, but he managed to exaggerate no contact whatsoever. Patrick Vieira said "The ref got it wrong because of the reaction of Van Nistelrooy. If the referee had sent me off for kicking him I could accept that. I hope the referee will watch the incident and change his mind." Still, you don't need to make contact to get booked, or sent off. I remember Keane being sent off for throwing a punch at Shearer, and whatever the provocation, Paddy shouldn't have reacted. Ruud got what he wanted, a red card for the Arsenal man. And seeing as how the Vieira reaction was shown over and over and over again, AW's words are spot on "Patrick should not have reacted but you punish more the consequence than the source of the problem."

So with 10 man Arsenal hanging on gamely for a point, and tensions already boiling, referee Steve Bennet gave United a nothing penalty in injury time. Forlan tumbled beside Keown, Fortune - already on a yellow card - bodychecked Jens Lehmann to get the ball (haven't heard much about that since) and it was Ruud v Jens from 12 yards.

Gene Wilder did his usual trick of dancing along the goal line, Ruud sent him the wrong way with the spot kick but the ball cannoned back off the bar and the full time whistle went a couple of moments later. Justice well and truly served if you ask me. It was never a penalty in the first place, and if that cunt had scored in the last minute it would have been just too much.

At the final whistle then it all kicked off a bit. Keown went jumping around like a madman, screaming and yelling in Ruud's face. Not particularly clever behaviour, probably the sort of thing we'd be best off not getting involved in, but I suppose when you've got the kind of history van Nistelrooy and Keown have, there's bound to be sparks. Lauren then pushed van Nistelrooy in the back, Parlour called him a 'fucking cunt' and there was a bit of handbags at the end. Nothing too serious though. No doubt there'll be some kind of FA investigation. Sir Alex said there would be so we can rest assured he'll be doing all he can, but it was just the kind of end to a game you'd expect between these two sides given the last 15 minutes. When a ref gives a controversial penalty after what the Arsenal players would consider a harsh sending off, it's no wonder tempers were a little flared.

Anyway, it was all really nothing. It was broken up quite quickly, no punches were thrown and compared to the 90/91 brawl this was just playschool stuff. However, I expect we'll be hearing about this all week long. The evil Arsenal empire against the whiter than white United who have never been in trouble for anything. The tabloids will have a field day with our 913th red card, James Lawton has already contributed his usual fair and balanced piece, but you know what? Fuck them. The Gunners showed the passion and spirit that was missing against Inter Milan, maybe it went a bit too far, but nobody was hurt and it is a man's game after all. We also saw the first signs that Jens Lehmann might be a bit of a character. Oh, and we're top of the league. Oh, and I just have to mention Kolo again. He's brill. Thumbs down to Alan Smith on Sky though, sell out.

Keown/Van Nistelrooy wallpaper.

Aren't those United fans a class act with their 'Sit down you paedophile' song?

Some bad news,Glenn Hoddle has been sacked by Spurs. As he was doing an absolutely shite job there, it's quite possible that somebody else will come in and do better. Oh well, it's still funny as Spurs fans were hailing him as the messiah for so long.

Ok, let the backlash begin....

september 21st

08.26 - "Our performance against Inter Milan was so bad that I couldn't sleep afterwards. How can you sleep when you know you haven't done your jobs, individually or as a team and disappointed so many fans?" - Robert Pires.

But the French boys don't care, of course. Some more good stuff in the Telegraph article linked above.

Amy Lawrence in the Observer speaking about Arsene Wenger and our promising young players. "He must soon start practising what he preaches regarding the young players. Arsenal punters have tired of watching Kanu lope on to try to save a game when exciting teenagers Jeremie Aliadiere and David Bentley wait in the wings."

I don't have anything in particular against Kanu, but she makes a good point. Bentley wasn't allowed go out on loan by Wenger and Pat Rice because they said he was needed at the club. Where exactly do we need him? Aliadiere will get his chance 'in the near future' according to Le Boss. Unlikely that it'll be today. Sooner or later he's got to bite the bullet on this one. Young players don't get a chance when the team is doing well because you don't change a winning team. They don't get a chance when things are going badly because you need experience to cope with hard times. So when do you play them?

Arsenal need Martin Keown according to some witless People hack. Ashley Cole talks about some of the criticism he's received over the last few weeks, " I've been battered over the last month and it has got me down. It's affected the way I've played and in a way it's killed me - my head has gone. I'm still young, I'm still learning, I've never said I'm the finished article or even believed that but it seems like people have built me up to run me down at the moment. I just wish people would give me a chance."

Poor Ash. Some of the stick he's got has been way over the top. Form is temporary, class is permanent. He'll sort it out.

Ok, I think I'll potter around for the day. I believe there's a game of football later. I might watch that.

september 20th

10.31 - On September 16th I reacted to a typically anti-Arsenal piece by James Lawton in the Independent. I accused him of singling out Robert Pires for criticism when other players, and I mentioned Ruud van Nistelrooy, Michael Owen, Christiano Ronaldo and Kevin Phillips, were guilty of offences just as blatant, if not more so.

It was interesting to read this. Almost a rebuttal.

He says of van Nistelrooy " the two years of his emergence in the Premiership as a relentless and extremely physical goalscorer his offences have been relatively slight. Certainly no one could attach to him the kind of atrocity committed by Pires against Pompey"

Tell that to Ipswich fans who saw van Nistelrooy throw himself to the ground between two defenders to win a penalty which gave Man United all 3 points in a game which helped condemn Ipswich to relegation. Pires may have dived, but unlike United's Dutch striker, he's never involved himself in the cowardly stamping and over the top challenges, nor has he ever punched a fellow professional in full view of the TV cameras (an incident overlooked as Arsenal winning the title at Old Trafford was punishment enough for the PLC). As for the Pires incident being an 'atrocity', get a grip. Schumacher on Battiston was an atrocity. Keane on Haaland was an atrocity. This is an atrocity. What Pires did, dozens of professionals will do this weekend, in leagues all over Europe. Roberto Carlos did it midweek in the Champions League. It's part of the game, not a nice part of the game, but part nonetheless.

He defends Michael Owen "Yes, a certain diving tendency has been noticed, but not of a blatant type." Tell that to the Argentinians. Please Mr Lawton, I dare you to go into a room full of Argentinian football fans and try and convince them Owen isn't a diver.

Kevin Phillips didn't dive, according to a 'professional view'. We're never told what professional view this was. Probably Lawton's proctologist. It was OK for Francis Lee to dive way-back-when because he made Maine Road 'rock with laughter.' Trying to tell us diving is a modern phenomenon, a plague carried by the French to the English league via Highbury is a nonsnse. It's always gone on in the game, it's only now when we have 20+ cameras at live games that we can see it from angles which might prove contact has been minimal, if there's been any at all.

If you want to go tit-for-tat Mr Lawton, please feel free. You can try and pass off your blatant anti-Arsenal scribblings with what you might perceive is a certain standing and credibility, but you don't fool us. Your agenda is transparent, biased and lacking in even the most basic journalistic integrity. You don't like Arsenal Football Club, you don't like Arsene Wenger, you don't like our players. Simple as that. And there's no harm in it. That's your choice, but when you choose to make those feelings so public, so often, you have to expect some backlash.

I know Arsenal fans that have stopped reading your newspaper because they're tired of the drivel you write. Your constant stream of scuttery shite is affecting your newspaper's circulation in a negative manner. I hope your editor reads this and does something about it. There are 91 other teams in the league, try and write something about one of them for a change. They're all guilty of something, and a man so bent on finding a negative story all the time should have a wealth of material there.

Just a reminder, if there's a paper not to buy today, it's the Independent. I look forward to his next article. I really, really do.

Article in the Daily Record - YOU'RE FRENCH IS LOUSY ARSENE. As lousy as your sub-editor's English. Twats. Le Boss has called for 'mental strength' ahead of tomorrow's game. I call for just 1 more goal than them. A really good interview with K-LO. You've got to love the guy "I want to show my best position and that is centre-half. Losing 3-0 did not help but I know if I keep going I will show people here that I am a defender. I have to work harder."

Thierry Henry says Arsenal have the desire to get a result at Old Trafford tomorrow, and raises an eyebrow at how many penalties Mike Riley gave Man United last season. "I’m not complaining about United getting those penalties. But if it had happened at Highbury, it would have been highlighted."

Ok, have a good Saturday. Till tomorrow.

september 19th

07.34 - Arsenal players have been talking the talk, before they have to walk the walk at Old Trafford on Sunday. They're going to run the run and kick the kick and tackle the tackle before winning the win. Oh yes.

Thierry Henry on Wednesday's Inter game - "It is a big disappointment but at the end of the day that's not the first time and it won't be the last. That's the way it is sometimes. You go through good and bad moments but you have to lift yourself up and try to show that was a mistake and try to perform."

Patrick Vieira can't wait until Sunday's Man United game saying "When you have a game like this you want the next match to be the next day so you can prove to everybody it was just one of the those days when everything went wrong."

Bob Wilson isn't confident about Arsenal playing Manchester United at the moment. He says "I don’t think it’s a good time for them to be going up to play Manchester United, not at all." He's worried that Arsene Wenger's failure/inability to bring in new players in teh summer will see Arsenal stagnate. "They needed someone who could excite the crowd and maybe add to what they already have at Highbury. There is nothing to fire them when they are in trouble."

Sol Campbell will miss the game on Sunday following the death of his father, who suffered a stroke on the eve of the Inter game. Martin Keown will play alongside K-Lo, and our best wishes and thoughts are with Sol at this time. Some things are even more important than football.

There's been a huge reaction among Arsenal fans to the defeat against Inter. Yes, I think there are certain things we need to work on, not everything in the garden is rosy. But it's not the apocalyptic disaster some people seem to think it is. There are 5 more games to play in the Champions League, we're top of the league, we've only lost one game this season. Do you think Manchester United fans vented such spleen when they lost 1-0 to Southampton? I doubt it. There were some boos to be heard at half-time on Wednesday. Wouldn't it be nice if more of the Highbury crowd got behind the team and tried to urge them on, rather than sitting, waiting to be entertained all the time, tutting and moaning when things go wrong?

Anyway, if experience has taught us anything, it's much better to have a bad patch - if you can even call it that - early in the season when you have time to put things right, rather than collapse late on when it's too late to do anything.

Jermaine Pennant wants to extend his stay at Leeds. "At the moment I'm happy and when you're happy you're playing well. I'm enjoying my time here and hopefully I can stay here a bit longer." I'm not sure it'll happen though. He's been sent out to get a taste of first team football, to give him experience he'll need to play for Arsenal. He might be the breath of fresh air the squad needs in a few weeks time.

Oooo, thank fuck it's Friday.

september 18th

08.45 - Well, that wasn't the start to the Champions League that we'd wanted.

We had a bright enough start, but then it all fell apart. Lauren was hopeless for the first two goals, Gilberto made a schoolboy error for the third and the game was over and done with by half-time. There's no way back from 3 down against a team as defensively excellent as Inter Milan.

You can point to Thierry Henry's missed penalty at 2-0 - Toldo's save was exactly the same as his one against Kanu a few seasons back - maybe it would have been a different game if he scored, but if my auntie had balls she'd be my uncle. At this level you've got to take your chances. Inter did, we failed miserably.

In general it was a pretty poor team performance, we never got going, and even at 3-0 down I expected us to go all guns blazing at the Italians in the second half, but it never happened. Thierry tried, Ash tried, K-Lo was good and made some excellent tackles and Freddie looked busy, but the rest had a collective off night they'll want to forget in a hurry. Sol in particular seems to be really struggling at the moment, but given how well he's played since he joined us, and the fact that his father is seriously ill, it's hard to say anything bad about the big guy. He'll find his form again. AW has some work to do on the defence though. Is there a job for Tony Adams there?

I'm a little concerned that all the players we have out on loan are removing the element of competition for places. Does it matter how shit Lauren plays when he knows he's going to play the next game because there is nobody else to play right back? Will it be too late when Volz and Pennant come back, or should they be at the club now breathing down the necks of first team players who might have become just a touch complacent?

Still, I'd much rather lose the first Champions League game and have time to put things right than play reasonably well all the way through and fuck it up at the final hurdle, like we've done in the past. We were out-played and out-classed by a very good Inter Milan side. As much as you want to criticise and moan about the way we played, you have to give credit to them for not letting us play our game. Of course, that asks questions of why we don't seem to have any kind of Plan B, but that's for another day.

Arsene Wenger said after the game "Inter played well but they were not unbeatable and the difference between the two teams was not 3-0." I know what he's trying to say there, but I'm not sure I agree. They were good value for their win, and it could have been more but for the post and a couple of fantastic, leaping salmon, saving tackles from K-Lo. With Manchester United coming up on Sunday, AW said "We must not become desperate. We have lost one game at home but there are still five to play and we are top of the Premier League. We must show character and spirit against Manchester United."

There's been lots of lively discussion about the game over on the forums, feel free to join up and add your tuppence (2ç for those of you in Euroland) worth. Also, it appears the 'come oooooon you gooooooners' call to arms only lasted a couple of games. Any suggestions for a new one?

"I like to move it - move it...".....naaaaah.

september 17th

07.35 - When's the last time you said 'Good morning' to somebody and really meant it? Thought so.

Patrick Vieira has been talking ahead of Arsenal's opening Champions League game against Inter Milan tonight. The skipper says "Sometimes when we are winning, we keep trying to play too much football. We need to have the instinct of killers...when we get one chance, we score and then the game is over."

Champions League....

It's not really been the Arsenal way over the past few seasons though. The familiar 1-0 to the Arsenal chant is much more likely to be sung temporarily during a match and rarely in celebration of a result. There's a lot of pressure on Arsenal to do well in the Champions League now. For a team with this kind of talent, we've underachieved a bit. No more learning curves. Time to deliver. We're now seeded 5th in the Champions League - not quite sure how - and for players like Vieira, Henry and Pires who have won almost everything else in the game, the Champions League remains the holy grail.

I've said in the past here I think our players seem to have a mental block in the Champions League, and fail to perform properly in crunch games. Vieira agrees "I think success in Europe is a mental thing more than anything else. We have performed really well in past seasons, but maybe we were not at our best in the big games."

We've done pretty well against Italian teams at Highbury over the last couple of seasons, let's hope we keep it up tonight. Jaques Cousteau reckons we need to defend better. He says "We are incabable of shutting up shop. We don’t know how to hang on to a result." But Bob is confident too, "It would be fabulous to win the Champions League because we would go down in legend at this great club. The advantage we have this season, I think, is that although some critics say the club was too prudent in the transfer market I believe that stability in the squad is an undeniable advantage."

Arsene Wenger says refs should only give 'obvious penalties', and give the benefit of the doubt to the defender when it looks dodgy. "I can understand that it is difficult for the referees to see without using slow-motion replays, but the element of doubt should be the other way around."

Steve Bennett will referee Arsenal's game with Man United this weekend. Some people seem to have a problem with him after his Charity Community Shield performance, but he managed to get shot of Jeffers for us, so he's not all bad. Even AW doesn't mind. He says "I have no suspicion about any referee before a game. Once I start that, I would not be able to sleep well any more."

hahahahaha - two chances, mate, and slim just left town.

Arsenal v Inter Milan. KO 7.45 (GMT). Come ooooooooon you gooooooooooooners.




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