Early Sp*rs news + Wenger’s 15 years

Good morning from Dublin where, after a few days of nice warm weather, the Gods have punished us with monsoon season. I could have sworn some bloke in a big boat was rounding up two of every animal last night.

Anyway, while we put away the sun-loungers and the tanning oils for another year, we can start to look ahead to the North London derby tomorrow. In terms of team news it looks like Theo Walcott, from the three that missed the midweek game, is most likely to be fit, but he’s got a test (along with Gervinho) tomorrow. Laurent Koscielny is out which means that Alex Song is likely to continue at centre-half alongside Per Mertesacker.

Sebastian Squillaci is fit again but not ‘match fit’ and this isn’t a game you would throw someone in having spent a couple of months out injured. Yossi Benayoun is fit again and will probably start ahead of Arshavin, for the simple fact he offers more effort and workrate which is always so vital in a game like this.

The importance of the fixture was made clear to Arsene, just a couple of days after he arrived at the club, 15 years and 1 day ago now. He said:

I knew after two days because when you see Pat Rice you realise the game is important. You see that people are becoming a bit more nervous when the derby comes. The players feel the importance of the games.

And with many suggesting, as they have done for some time now without providing any real evidence, that the balance of power in North London is shifting, Wenger said:

At the moment we have been in the Champions League for 14 years and that is all we can say. Tottenham is a good side, I agree, and we have to try to be better and that is what we try to do. But we are at the end of September and the season finishes in May. Don’t come to quick conclusions about teams – there is a long way to go.

We’ve only played 6 games this season, they’re only 2 points ahead of us, and if anyone thinks a big win over a team with 9 men is a statement of intent then they might just need to think again. There’s no doubt they’re going into this game with a bit more confidence than us. Their start to the season hasn’t been as troubled as ours, but then that’s true of every other team in the league, if you ask me. They’ll also be boosted by the last two North London derbies, coming from behind twice last season to win at our place and draw at theirs.

Yet the phrase, ‘form goes out the window’ is one you hear time and time again when it comes to a derby. And not just us v them. There are only three points at stake, the same as for any other game, but there’s so much more to it that teams in a funk can lift themselves out of it and perform against teams flying high. Teams of exceptional quality can find themselves pegged back by those of lesser ability, simply because pride and fight and character have so much say in how any game of football goes.

So while I’m always nervous about a game against Sp*rs I’m not any more nervous than usual. Once the message is drummed home on our training ground and in the away dressing room – We are the Arsenal and they are the cunts – I would hope that we’ll see a response from the players. We can preview this more tomorrow but that’s really what it comes down to.

Robert Pires tells Arsenal players that scoring against Sp*rs feels great. It’d be nice to see another thorn in their side emerge, and not one that developed a monster-ego and ended up playing for them like that big lanky twat who will run his hole off tomorrow and for a few more games and then decide he’s far too important for that and then stroll around like a big massive wankpistol who has consumed a bathtub full of sloth spunk.

Ahem. Moving on and it was Arsene’s 15th anniversary at the club yesterday and he said:

I am grateful and lucky to have spent so much time at this Club and I will try to do my best in the next game. The vision is to make this Club the best in the world, it is as simple as that. It is to carry through the values we think are important in the game.

Whatever you think of him, and whatever you think of where we are now, the reality is that where we are now seems so bad because of where he put us in the first place. Of course there was an Arsenal  before Wenger but he has provided a consistency of performance and … I won’t say success but league position … which no other manager ever has. I know some will say that finishing in the top four isn’t a trophy but the modern game has changed so much, with the Champions League and the status and money that brings, that finishing there season after season after season is hugely important for the club.

Of course I’d prefer to see us finish higher, and if you read regularly you’ll know I think he’s made mistakes and handled some things badly, but if we’re unhappy with how things are going it’s because Wenger set the standard very, very high and that shouldn’t be overlooked either.

The club’s financial results, to the year end May 2011, were released yesterday. Pore over them here if that’s your bag. We’ve made some profit, reduced the net debt, and we have money in the bank which should be invested back in the team. I think we’ve done enough ‘should haves’ and there’ll be plenty of time in December and January for people to talk about we should do with that cash.

Finally for this morning, and thanks to @Hollefreund for reminding me, what better way to start your Saturday than with a good old fashioned YARGH?!

Till tomorrow.

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