Arseblog: Sunday 14th April 2002

April 14th

21.50 – Middlesboro 0-1 Arsenal (Festa o.g)

Not exactly a classic by any means, but it certainly had me on the edge of my seat. First things first, well done to Boro who played better than I thought they could and just didn’t let us play our own game.

They had some good chances and Richard Wright made an excellent save from Dean ‘face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle’ Windass, and some kid called Wilkshire put one wide when he should have done better. We had a couple of half chances ourselves, but never quite got any momentum going.

Then we got a corner, Henry whipped it in, and Uncle Festa stuck an unstoppable volley past his own keeper. Then Oleg got injured and wheeled off like Stephen Hawkins, Sol Campbell did his hamstring in, and various Boro players decided to see how often they could split Martin Keown’s head open.

Wiltord had the worst game I’ve seen him have for a long time. The kind of game that makes you realise why you thought he was crap not so long ago, but he’s done his bit this season and he wasn’t the only one to have an off day. However, he was the only one to stick the ball over the bar from 6 yards out with only the keeper to beat when a blind monkey with a club foot could have scored. Vieira moved back to central defence when Sol went off, Ray Parlour came on and got his customary yellow card, and Kanu came on with obvious instructions to hold the ball in the corners.

But we hung on and went through even though that was our poorest performance for some time. Yes, we were lucky with the goal, but considering our injury list this season and the two picked up in this game, I think we deserved that bit of good fortune.

Once again though, a fine victory is spoiled by injuries to two important players. Campbell has been outstanding, and it looks like he could be out for 3 weeks with a pulled hamstring, and Oleg, whose performances have been good enough to forget that we’ve been without Lauren/Dixon/Cole for so many games this season. The casualty list is so long, we should change our name to 4077 Arsenal.

Still though, it’s another cup final and hopefully we can put the memories of last season’s robbery to rest this time. Night gooners.

09.20 – Urrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggghaaaaaaaaaa – sorry, just stretching.

Timing. If your boss was in a foul mood one day, you wouldn’t go ask him for a raise would you? If your girlfriend or boyfriend was ill, you wouldn’t ask them for sexual favours. So why the fuck has Marc Roget chosen today to release a statement to say that Patrick Vieira is going to reject Arsenal’s offer of a new contract? He says that Arsenal have only offered a one year extension to his contract and that’s not good enough.

For one thing, I can’t understand why Arsenal would only offer a one year extension. Given the new transfer system, it makes sense to offer as long a deal as possible. And as for the timing, Roget has surpassed himself in his ability to infuriate Arsenal fans. If anyone sees him at the game today, can I suggest that you greet him with a winning smile, introduce yourself and then kick him in the bollix.

Silvinho speaks to Soccernet here. At one point he says “I don’t stay in touch with anyone there.” That’s a shame, because he always struck me as being a very likable and popular bloke, and the rumours that he was sold because his passport was false continue. However, he goes onto say “As everyone knows, it wasn’t my problem but it was really difficult to stay there. I had to leave but it was because I couldn’t stay on the bench at Arsenal – nothing else.” It’s also a pity that the Arsenal fans never got a chance to say goodbye and thanks for the great memories. He scored some fantastic goals in his time at the club and proved himself to be an excellent player.

There’s another Edu interview, this time with Arsenal fan Amy Lawrence, in the Guardian.

Right, I’m gonna go get the newspapers and wait for the match. There will be a post match update, so talk to you later.

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