Mind games from the mindless + Arsecast 180

*boilk* – stoopid delicious wine.

Arsene’s press conference took place yesterday, possibly because of the European draw taking place later on, and we can start with some team news ahead of tomorrow’s battle with Stoke. Wojscez©® may continue in goal as Fabianski has a hip injury. I have to say I’m not sure this is a bad thing at all. Stoke have had a go at Fabianski before, and come up trumps, but the younger of the Poles might just have the freshness and the ‘Get awayfrommeoryouwilldie-ness’ that’s required when they pack the box and Delap chucks one in.

Apart from that the only other news is that Nicklas Bendnter might miss out because his lady friend is about to give birth. I think we could do with him for this game. His height could well be important against the Frankenmutants. We’re not a particularly big team and he did score that fantastic header last year at their place. So come on Mrs Nick, pop that sprog out and let the new dad celebrate by heading Lennie’s head clean off his shoulders. Or a goal. Whichever.

Obviously much was made of the Shawcross incident. Arsene was asked if he forgives Lennie for breaking Ramsey’s leg like a twig. Rightly enough he said the only one who can forgive him is Ramsey himself. As expected he played down the incident saying it was in the past and that:

We do not have any preconceived ideas before the game happens on any individual. We want to win the game, focus on it and respect our opponent as we always do. I don’t think there is any need to add any fuel on it and just focus on playing football as we always do and respecting our opponents.

Which is just what you would expect the Arsenal manager to say. Relations between the two clubs have been frosty, at best, and Arsene is keen to focus on the football. Stoke, on the other hand, and Tony Pubis in particular, have been cranking things up again. The half-midget, baseball cap wearing, hyper-cretinous thundercunt said:

Arsenal have got more red cards than us this season, more yellows than us and committed more fouls and it would also be nice to tell the referee that before Saturday.

Perhaps he might send the referee some flowers and box of Milk Tray. You can see him all dressed in black, sneaking into the referee’s room at the Grove, and leaving his business card on top of the chocolates. What Pubis fails to note is that the number of cards has little or not bearing on anything. Stoke play a physical game and sometimes they go too far. As does every team. It’s just that Stoke seem to do it with a touch more frequency than others and then try and portray themselves as victims.

Their reaction to a comment by Arsene Wenger earlier in the season was to go squealing to the FA, writing letters (with joined up writing and everything) and declaring themselves thoroughly put upon. Now, Pubis is trying mind games by saying Arsene is under pressure. I think he might know that already you moss-eating flid.

As much as we try and calm it down Stoke are trying to, well, stoke things up. And I just have a feeling that this game could get very, very tasty on Saturday. I don’t know what it is exactly but words like ‘powder-keg’ and ‘simmering’ come to mind. The most important thing is to stay focussed on our football but it’s impossible to ignore the side issue which is that we hate them and they hate us. The managers can’t stand each other, I’m sure many of the Arsenal players have ‘feelings’ for Lennie, while their fans, who chanted songs at a stricken Ramsey really ought to be ground down and used to grit roads in these wintery conditions.

Anyway, more on the game itself tomorrow, with a full preview and possible teams etc etc.

Moving on and as January approaches transfer tittle-tattle will start. There are already doubts about the future of Manuel Almunia and despite the manager saying he’s not for sale (kind of) it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go. Arsene said yesterday he’d be speaking to Almunia but with Mannone out on loan we couldn’t sell a keeper because we need three. The obvious solution of course, is to bring Mannone back from loan.

However, let’s face it – after playing regularly the Italian won’t want to sit around and be number 3 at Arsenal. Almunia, when he recovers from injury, will hardly be keen on that role either. So, you just wonder if the best thing would be to promote someone else from within.

And a story from Germany, Schteve MacClaren is apparently lining up an £11m bid for Denilson. Blimey. That sort of money would be impossible to turn down if it were true. All the same I’m not sure weakening the squad mid-season is the right thing to do. For me he’s not a starter but he’s an experienced player who can still make a contribution to the campaign. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I realise, not particularly mine either, but we do have a tendency to pick up injuries and maintaining the overall squad strength should be paramount. Still, £11m, eh? It’d be an odd man who wasn’t tempted.

Also this morning the Champions League draw takes place. After UEFA do their usual bluff about how great they are and how Platini is all-wise and how football is blah blah blah we’ll find out who we’re going to get out of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Schalke and Bayern Munich. I know a lot of people are predicting Barcelona but my spider-senses are tingling and telling me it’s going to be Madrid. Wenger v Mourinho and all the juice that will entail. If I had anything left in my Paddy Power account I’d put money on it.

Update: And that’s why I have no money in my Paddy Power account. It’s Arsenal v Barcelona.

Right then, enough of that and on to this week’s Arsecast. I’m joined by GilbertoSilver from Gunnerblog to discuss United, Stoke and more, plus there’s Internet Joe, a little bit of politics and your chance to win a Savile Rogue scarf (remember: use arseblog as a check-out code and get 10% off. Someone you love would love a Savile Rogue scarf for christmas).

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too. To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (27mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://arseblog.com/podcasts/arsecast_episode180.mp3]

And that’s about that. Just a final reminder to please vote for Arseblog as Best Fan Site in the Soccerlens awards and if you felt disposed to vote for Three and In as Best New Site that would be just swell.

Have yourselves a good Friday, more tomorrow.

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