Saturday round-up and West Brom preview.

September 25, 2010

Today sees us take on West Brom at the Emirates. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT and coverage will begin on J-Sports Plus at 22:54 JST.

 

The manager revealed that both Diaby and Rosicky are doubts for the game and were set to undergo fitness tests yesterday. As of yet, I haven’t heard anything with regards to the results of said tests. Though I think that we can assume that Diaby won’t make the game as he has a history of taking time to recover from injury. Perhaps Rosicky will make the bench. Squillaci missed the Spuds game with a muscular problem and he may make the team today. Eboue is also struggling to be fit due to a knee problem. I would be fairly certain that Gibbs will not be involved in the match day squad as there is no point in taking any kind of risk with him. He will probably be back for the game against Chavski, even though the manager has said that he has a chance to be involved in the Champions League game in midweek.

 

That should see us line up with Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Denilson, Arshavin, Vela and Chamakh. That’s assuming a worse case scenario in that only Squillaci shakes off the ‘small’ injury he had. I think that if we didn’t have so many players carrying small injuries, that Wilshere would certainly have been rested for this game, but I don’t think that we can afford to rest him considering that Cesc is definitely out and there may be a small question mark over Rosicky and Nasri. Though Nasri said after the Spuds game that he should be okay. Who the third man in central midfield will be will depend a lot on the outcome of the fitness tests, otherwise it will go to Wilshere, or one of JET, Eastmond or Lansbury or Nasri.

 

The team needs to re-focus quickly for this game as it is a game in which we must get all three points. We are already playing catch-up on Chavski and cannot allow them to get any further ahead before our against them next Sunday.

 

Yesterday, following the announcement to the club’s finances, there was the inevitable outcry as to why we don’t spend money and that Arsenal has gone from a football club to a business. However, I think that much of the criticism has been grossly unfair on both the manager and the club. Given the number of rich benefactors that have entered the game, had Arsenal stayed at Highbury they would now be dead in the water as they just wouldn’t be able to, or have any future chance to, compete financially. Therefore, the move to the Emirates was vital in order to secure the long-term future of the club, without the need for rich investors. In order to make this move work, the club had to put itself into a scary amount of debt and for this to work we had to embark on a youth development oriented approach to the future. Financial prudence had to be exercised.

 

This approach was accepted in the beginning by most, if not all, fans as we all knew that it was what was needed. However, over time, some quarters became more and more angry and disillusioned with the club and its seeming reluctance to spend. What sometimes has gotten lost in the argument is that in the beginning the money just wasn’t there to invest and then in the more recent years, although the money has been available the manager has not wanted to buy a player that would block the progress of the young players that he had spent the last four, five or six years developing. The manager himself said as much himself in Matt Law’s article in the Daily Express:

“We make a profit because we don’t spend – simple as that. What is unbelievable is that people reproach me for making a profit, but nobody says a word about those who lose money.

I manage in a safe way, but it looks like we are in a business where the quality is to lose money. You know I have the wrong reputation. I’m not scared to spend money, but the job of a manager is not to spend as much money as possible.

To get Chamakh for free – instead of getting credit I get accused for getting him for free. ‘Why did you not spend £20m for him?’ If I bought him two years ago for £20m, then it’s OK. But when you get him for free it’s, ‘Oh, Wenger didn’t spend money again’.”

 

The manager really must feel like he just can’t win. If he spends money and buys players he will either get stick from the fans for bankrupting the club or from the media for fielding a team of foreigners. Likewise, when he is financially prudent and tries to bring through young talent, he gets killed for turning the club into a business and being reluctant to spend. It seems that no matter what he does he will get castigated by someone, so I prefer he continues with the policy he has now.

 

In the same article, the manager went on to defend his youth oriented policy:

“I am reproached for not buying players but, for example, if I buy players Jack Wilshere doesn’t come through, so you cannot have everything. I have a development policy to educate the players and the most difficult thing is to stand up for the policy and play them.

I’ll give you one day the list of those players at the top level who have made careers with me. You will be absolutely astonished – nobody else in the world has made so many careers.

How do I know? First, make a list of the players who started their top-level careers at Arsenal. People like Djourou, Senderos, Clichy, Gibbs, Fabregas, Song, Ashley Cole. If you go all the way back through the names it is unbelievable the number of players who started at this club.

But I speak about me. When I go back to Monaco, the number of players that started with me – Petit and Thuram. When I arrived in England nearly all the Manchester United team had started there, but not recently.”

 

The Daily Mail somehow manage to get a big article today out of the fact that Wenger doesn’t generally share a drink with the opposing manager after a game. Quite why this is an actual story is beyond me. Why would ANYONE want to share a drink with the likes of Pulis or Allardyce? Now, I could envisage him sharing a drink with Ancelotti as he seems like a genuinely nice bloke. But, why would he want to share a post-game drink with two managers that have had nothing but bad things to say about him? Speaking on the matter Wenger told the official site:

“I’ve got nothing against it. When you play away from home you are in a hurry to catch the plane and you are playing three days later. Once I do my press, and my press can last quite a while, I have no time. Most of the time my assistant will go and have a drink.

 
I recognise that [can make me seem aloof] but there’s no bad feeling in that, I just feel after the game you stay on your own and you don’t want to disturb people. I’ve always had that philosophy, even in France. When I arrived here I didn’t know anyone. The managers all knew each other and played alongside each other but when you arrive from a foreign country you don’t know anyone.

I’m not shy, I didn’t even know this tradition existed before I came here. And it’s not that we have nothing in common – we love football and we both love to win. I’m always happy to meet people at the Emirates but away from home we want to get away as quickly as possible. After the game my mind is on the next game but sometimes other managers go quickly as well. When we are at home we always invite them in.”

 

That’s about all I have for today. I’m glad it’s Saturday and that Arsenal are live on TV again. No need to go chasing the stream today.

 

Have a good weekend. I’m off to debate (with myself) whether or not I should go out drinking in Tokyo/Yokohama tonight, or just have a chilled evening at home with cans of Kirin and shouting expletives at the TV.

Advertisements

Injury updates and a look towards the weekend.

September 23, 2010

As exclusively revealed here yesterday, the scan on Gibbs showed only bruising. We can consider ourselves very fortunate that he will only be out for a relatively short period of time as he is a player that is very important for us this season as we need him to keep up the pressure on Clichy to perform week-in-week-out. Although the injury was feared to be the second metatarsal, which is different to the one he broke before, another metatarsal break would have been a major blow for the player and his development. So, bullet dodged.

 

Hopefully another ten days of rest will sort Vermaelen out and he can make it back for the Chavski game.

 

Enough of the bad news and on to some better news on the injury front. I can reveal that Diaby, Walcott and Van Persie have all started running again and so they are slowly making their way back towards being available for selection. However, as of yet, no date has been set for the return of any of the three players. I suspect Diaby will be the first of those to return, though given his injury history that may be a wildly optimistic prediction. One way or another, the above three players and Fabregas should all be pretty fresh for our traditional hell month, November. I haven’t heard anything on the Bendtner injury front.

 

Looking ahead to the weekend and we will be taking on West Brom at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT, which means coverage will begin at the much more convenient time of  22:54 JST. I am really looking forward to being able to watch the game at a more sociable hour. The game will be shown live on J-Sports Plus, while at the same time J-Sports 2 will be showing Liverpool vs Sunderland. The early game between Man Shitty and Chavski will be shown live on J-Sports 2 from 20:39. Looks like it will be a decent evening of football for me.

 

The team selection for the weekend should see Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy play in defence. Midfield is likely to see Song, Denilson, Rosicky, Eboue, and Arshavin start with Chamakh again being the lone man up front. I think that Wilshere will be rested and Nasri may also be rested as there was a slight fitness worry over him at the end of the Spuds game.

 

The last thing we need is to take risks with the fitness of the players, so it would be prudent to exercise some caution with Nasri if there is any doubt at all over his fitness. Wilshere could also do with a little breather ahead of the Champions League and Chavski games next week. We should learn a little more about the possible weekend team selection over today and tomorrow as the manager’s weekly interview and press conference appear on ATVO.

 

Looking at the Carling Cup this could be our best chance for years to go on and win it. Liverpool, Chavski, Everton and Man Shitty are all out and it would be nice if we could get a favourable draw in the next round. We all know that for any of the big teams, the Carling Cup is the lowest priority, however, this team needs to win something in order to instill that belief and winning attitude. They need silverware, regardless of how low of a priority that competition may be. They need to experience winning a final. They need to know that they can do it. If that happens, it could be the catalyst to start an era of dominance for this team. I know that that last sentence is a bit Myles-esque in its hyperbole, but I really think that once the first trophy comes more will quickly follow. Much like going out drinking at the weekend and needing to use the bathroom, this team needs to break the seal. This is a sentiment echoed by Rosicky in the Daily Express.

 

I have a feeling that Wenger’s team selection against Spuds revealed that he may be coming around to the same way of thinking. Outside factors such as the easing of the club’s debt may also mean that there doesn’t need to be such an emphasis on blooding youngsters in this competition as we are not as reliant on that for continued success as has previously been the case. Or, it could just be that we have seen many of these players playing in the Carling Cup for a number of years now and it doesn’t feel like we are playing a weakened team in that competition anymore. These players are, for the most part, ready for inclusion in the first team squad and so the fruits of previous Carling Cup campaigns are paying off. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. All that I know is that I would love to see this club win a trophy this season and if that trophy is the Carling Cup, so be it. We have to start somewhere.

 

Speaking to the official site following the Tottenham game, Rosicky revealed his admiration for Jack Wilshere and he basically echoes the thoughts and sentiments that all fans have for our emerging star:

“He is great talent. For his age he has a great brain and he has a great future. When he has got the ball he is very calm, that’s something that sometimes younger guys don’t have – they panic a little bit or something.

With him you don’t see that though – he is very comfortable with the ball. That’s the first quality you are looking for and he has got that. Obviously we want Cesc in our line-up but all players who started showed that they are ready.”

 

Even though I am Irish, the fact that Wilshere is an emerging English talent does make him a bit more special. I suppose it also helps that the emergence of the likes of Wilshere, Gibbs, Lansbury, JET and Eastmond gives the media one less thing to denigrate Arsenal for. All of these players have big futures in the game, hopefully that future is at Arsenal. The days of the media harping on about Arsenal not fielding any English players, not that that should make a difference anyway as it is about quality not nationality, should be at an end.

imageThe future?

 

That’s a longer post than I had expected to write, so I’d best just stop here. But before I go, check out John Cross’s article on tackling. It’s a good read.

 

Take it easy.


Le weekend.

August 27, 2010

Yesterday saw the draw for the Champions League league take place and it has left us with a hefty amount of travelling to do. I didn’t work out the distances myself however, courtesy of @Sebinho9 on Twitter, we are set to travel 3,181 miles, Chelsea 3,019 miles, ManUre 2,875 miles and Spuds will only have to travel 1,292 miles. So, in terms of travel, we got a pretty bad draw especially when you consider the games we have immediately after each group game.

 

We play the first game at home on September 15th to Braga and then travel to Sunderland the following weekend. Game two is away to Partizan on September 28th and is followed by a trip to Chelsea. Game three sees us take on Shakhtar at home on October 19th with a trip to Man Shitty that weekend. Game four is away to Shakhtar on November 3rd and is followed by a trip to Villa. Game five on November 23rd is away to Braga and is followed by a home game against Newcastle. The sixth, and final, group game is home to Partizan on December 12th and is followed by an away trip to ManUre.

 

So, as you can see, we have some really difficult games immediately after some long away trips in Europe and it is sure to test our squad to its limits. On paper, we should be able to top the group, but when you consider the games we have in the league after each tie, we are sure to rest some players for some of these games therefore making the topping of the group a little less straight forward than originally anticipated.

 

Game one, we are at home and then travel to Sunderland, not too bad. Game two away to Partizan and then back for a game at Stamford Bridge isn’t ideal, but at least it is closer than Shakhtar and also Chelsea are just across London. Game three is home to Shakhtar and away to Man Shitty that weekend. Game four we are away to Shakhtar and then away to Villa, so you can see a bit of rotation for one of those games, if not both. Game five sees us travel to Braga and then home to Newcastle that weekend, again there will probably be some rotation for both of those games, especially when you consider that games four and five bookend the month of November, a month that traditionally marks the low point of our season in terms of both injuries and results. Finally game six, in December, is home to Partizan and followed by an away trip to ManUre. For the final game, we would be hoping to have already qualified and therefore be able to rest some of our key players ahead to the trip to Old Trafford.

 

Yesterday also saw the manager’s weekly press conference take place, a day earlier than usual, no doubt due to the fact that the Blackburn game is a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday. I am still waiting for it to appear on ATVO, but it seems that the manager was a bit vague with regard to the signing of any more players. He neither said we definitely would or definitely wouldn’t, he just said that, at the moment, there is nothing going on.

“We are where we are – we have four great keepers and it is important we give confidence to them for the next game. I do not rule it out but at the moment I say I am not in a position to sign anybody. At the moment, it is all dead.”

Read into that what you will. John Cross, who attended the press conference, will be appearing on today’s Arsecast, so maybe he will be able to shed some light on what the manager said ahead of the video being posted on ATVO.

 

The press conference did finally result in the official announcement of the signing of Sebastien Squillaci and hopefully he will add some quality and experience to our back line. The manager had the following to say about the player and transfer:

“We needed a centre-back of quality and experience and at the right price – he was all of that. He is a real defender and is good in the one against one, good in the air, and can score goals on set-pieces as well. I believe he will be suited to the English game. He will train with us on Friday morning but will not be involved on Saturday. I made a bid on the day Sevilla played in the Champions League, so he did not play as he was waiting for the transfer.”

 

Team news ahead of tomorrow is that only Bendtner, Ramsey and Nasri remain unavailable. Denilson has returned to the squad following his injury. I think it’s safe to assume that Almunia will continue in goal.

 

That’s about that for today. The boss has less than a week to get the finger out and sign a new keeper and, at this stage, I’d settle for Schwarzer ahead of signing nobody, though he would be far from my first choice. I’m still hoping that we sign Given before the transfer window closes. Who knows, maybe Warren Barton was right… The links to Pepe Reina seem to have gone quietly away just as quietly as they arrived.

 

Enjoy your Friday and take it easy.


The final Friday.

May 7, 2010

This is the final Friday of the season for The Arsenal and as of yet things have been a bit slow news-wise today. Things have also been a bit quiet on the official word front, in terms of a confirmation/denial of the Chamakh(alaka) Boom deal. But, I suppose no news is good news.

 

Since my last post, Spuds beat Man Shitty 1-0 thus securing a crack at the Champions League for them and putting a bit of pressure on us to get a result against Fulham this coming Sunday. Not that we didn’t want our team to go out and get a result against Fulham, regardless of the Spuds game, but to be in the situation where we need to get a result in order to absolutely guarantee automatic qualification for the Champions League just shows how poor we have been over the final month of the season.

 

It amazing how a few inept and lazy performances have done so much damage to our overall assessment of the team’s performances and progress over the season. There are still a lot of issues with this squad, the greatest of which being in defense, but the team is on the cusp of improving it’s league position this year and that isn’t something which should be overlooked. That said, I think the performances of the other teams around us have made us look a bit better than we actually were. Yes, we may finish third which would be an improvement, but in terms of overall quality I am not sure we have actually improved a great deal. Certainly with regard to injuries picked up, we have taken a step backwards this season, though not all of those could be legislated for.

 

This season has shown that players like Vela, Diaby, Silvestre and Eduardo are not up to the task of representing Arsenal. The jury is still out on Rosicky and I would like to see him get another season to see if he can regain some form when playing regularly with Cesc, Van Persie and Arshavin next season. I mean, who wouldn’t struggle for form when playing alongside mediocre players such as Denilson and Diaby, who can’t really be arsed giving their all.

 

Of the four others mentioned above, I would expect Silvestre and Eduardo to depart in the summer but I don’t see Wenger letting Denilson or Diaby go. I quite like Diaby, he is capable of putting in great performances. The only problem is that he is even more capable of being a lazy sod that puts in some woeful performances.

 

Team news ahead of the Fulham game is a bit thin on the ground at the minute as ATVO still hasn’t put up the manager’s weekly interview in full yet, though today’s press conference should shed some more light on that matter a bit later. However, it would appear that Clichy is the only one of the players absent from the Blackburn debacle that has a chance of returning. It’s frustrating to not have Song for such an important game and it’s also disappointing for the player himself to not get the chance to play in the final home game of the season after having his best season for us. It seems likely that Arshavin and Van Persie will start. Let’s hope that Arshavin puts in a decent performance, he’ll need to be phenomenal if he wants to trick Barca into buying him in the summer…

 

I share Arseblogger’s incredulity at those that would like to see Spuds finish ahead of us in the league. How f*cking stupid is that? How in the name of f*ck would that help our cause in any way? If we finish fourth and then go out in the qualifiers, then you could forget any chance of splashing the cash next year. So those people need to get real and get behind OUR team, not those crowd of tossers down the road. We need automatic qualification for the Champions League, end of story.

 

My brother is heading to the game this weekend, so I’ll be crossing my fingers that he doesn’t jinx us and that we can take advantage of what will almost certainly be a weakened Fulham team. They will rest some players and those that will play will not want to pick up an injury, though there will also be some that try and play their way into their manager’s plans ahead of the Europa League final next Wednesday.

 

Anyway, that’s about that for today. A whole lot of nothing really. I’ll have more news, views and hopefully some concrete team news tomorrow. Time for a bit of Arsecast action (on the iPhone, nothing sleazy), check it out if you don’t already. Also, check out the ‘It’s Up For Grabs’ podcast with Alan Davies, too. Both are quality.


He is the Walrus, goo goo g’joob.

May 3, 2010

So today sees us take on that horrible walrus and his bunch of journeymen. I always hate games against his teams because they never have any interest in actually playing football against us, they just want to kick players. There’s also the fact that he deludes himself into thinking that he always outwits us tactically, which is a load of c*ck. Instructing your players to kick the other team off the field isn’t tactically outwitting anyone. Though, of course, it never gets labeled as that, instead it is called ‘committed’ or ‘getting in their faces’ which gives it the misleading notion of being a good trait for a team to possess. Let’s hope we blow them off the field today and stick it to their hateful manager.

 

I don’t expect the team to change much from the one that faced Wigan. The keeper and back four should be the same. In midfield, I think that we will line up with Diaby, Song and Nasri in the middle, as Denilson has been ruled out for the rest of the season. I would go with Walcott and Van Persie out wide and Bendtner up front in order to give us a bit more aerial presence.

 

Almunia is still ruled out with his phantom wrist injury and it’s quite possible that he has played his last game for the club. I like Almunia, he seems like a very nice guy but, to be honest, he isn’t the required standard to be the Arsenal no1.

 

I also expect Arshavin to be out for the remainder of the season, joining Vermaelen, Denilson and Gallas on the list of muscular injuries, which seem to be one of our fortes.

 

For the kicking journeymen, Emerton, Grella, Samba and Diouf may all return. So expect some spitting and kicking from the latter.

 

I heard a rumour that the pitch at Ewood Park hasn’t needed fertilizing since the walrus took over as manager as his players do enough sh*t-kicking on it for that not to be warranted.

 

I won’t comment on the Arshavin quotes until they have been verified one way or the other. Though I suspect it’s a bit of agitating by an agent looking for a payday rather than the player himself.

 

Right, that’s it for today. Come on you Reds!

 

(One final note, the ‘walrus’ moniker comes courtesy of Arseblog. If you haven’t already read that site, check it out. You should also check out Gunnerblog, Goonerholic and East Lower)


Another three points would be nice.

October 3, 2009

Greetings from a rainy Yokohama. The weather has been a bit rubbish over the past day or two, but still warm so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

 

The midweek Champions League game saw us dominate and beat Olympiakos 2-0 with goals from Robin Van Persie and Arshavin and assists coming from Eduardo and Cesc respectively. The Arshavin goal, although clearly offside, was a great finish.

 

Thursday saw Wenger become the longest serving manager in the club’s history and it is fitting that the man who has brought about the greatest seismic shift in the fortunes of the club and the quality of football that it plays should go down in history as our longest serving manager. Clubs that change their manager at the drop of a hat should take note; faith and longevity breads improvement and success.

 

This weekend sees us taking on Blackburn and that cunt Big Fat Sam. He couldn’t even bring himself to pay the boss any kind of meaningful compliment on his achievement. At least Fergusmoan gave the boss a better compliment. So, let’s hope that we stuff those cunts on Sunday.

 

Eduardo and Almunia are out of the game tomorrow, as are Denilson, Djourou, Nasri and Fabianski. However, Bendtner should recover from his car accident last Sunday and Walcott is in contention for a return to action. Arshavin has alluded to a niggling knee injury and let’s hope that is doesn’t escalate and keep him out of the side.

 

Elsewhere, Cesc says that the boss is a god, Xavi says that Cesc should zzzzzzzzzz. there has also been some talk that someday Henry will return to Arsenal in some capacity and I for one would love to see that happen. He was, and still is, a true Arsenal legend and for him to still watch reserve and youth games on Arsenal TV while in Barcelona shows that he still has a strong love for the club. Hopefully he can come back in some capacity after he hangs up his boots at Barca.

 

That’s about that for today. Take it easy.


The biggest of challenges for the biggest of occasions.

May 5, 2009

Today is the day that we play what is undoubtedly or biggest games since the Champions League final in 2006. There is no real need to say what this means to the fans, the players and the staff. We all know how big this game is. This is the first truly huge night of football to be played at the Emirates.

 

It’s going to be an early start in order to watch this one live, another 03:45 kick-off, but luckily tomorrow is a national holiday, so all is good.

 

Early team news indicates that both Silvestre and Van Persie will be fit, so I expect us to start in a 4-4-2 formation with Van Persie playing in attack alongside Adebayor. Let’s hope that having Van Persie alongside him again will inspire the Togolese to get his finger out and actually try working for the team for a change.

 

That should leave us starting with Walcott and Nasri out wide and Song partnering Cesc in the middle. At the back, I expect that the boss will play Sagna, Toure, Silvestre and Gibbs, though I really hope that Djourou starts in place of Silvestre. Obviously, Almunia will be in goal.

 

It’s important that we start this game with a positive formation as we need to go at them, without taking undue risk, because we don’t have a defence good enough to absorb any kind of real sustained pressure without conceding. I think we all know that it will be ‘game over ball burst’ if ManUre get an all-important away goal tonight. With that in mind, the players will need to use their heads and not take any big risks.

 

The boss can use the memory of Anfield 1989 to give the players the belief that they can achieve a two goal win over ManUre. Though if the game finishes 1-0 to us and then goes to penalties I would fancy us to go through after our shoot-out exploits against Roma earlier in the competition.

 

I an excited, nervous and terrified all at the same time and i must admit it’s a great feeling. These are the games that we wait/hope to see our team involved in each year and they don’t come much bigger than a Champions League semi-final against the holders at your home ground.

 

Alex Fergusmoan himself admits that this game is the biggest one between our two teams:

“There’s no question this is the biggest game. The challenges and the clashes we’ve had with Arsenal in the past do not reach the proportion of Tuesday night.”

 

Cesc has, yet again, pledged his future to the club and it’s great to hear. However, I think that we all know that, in this day and age, players can quickly change their minds, but until that happens it is great to hear. We all know he will return back to Barcelona someday, but let’s hope that it won’t be for a good many years yet.

 

“How many times have I said this. My future belongs to Arsenal and I want to be at Arsenal. I see my future here. I do not have to tell anyone to be relaxed or more confident that I am staying. My name has been linked with other clubs for four years and I am still here. That should tell you something. If I had not come to Arsenal when I was 16, I would probably not be playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League or have had the opportunity to play in a Champions League final [against Barcelona in 2006. I am really grateful to what Arsenal have done for me. Now, it is up to me and all the Arsenal players who were brought here when they were young to achieve things for the club that believed in us and the fans who supported us. It is up to us to pay them back. For most of the players it could be the most important games of their career. We want to make history and we want to go through.”

 

He’s the club captain and I hope that he will lift many trophies for us before his time in England is done. It’s good to hear him talk about the players owing the club a lot for making them the players that they are.

 

The boss is bullish about our chances tonight and I truly hope he is right. It would be amazing if this team were to reach the final our Europe’s premier competition.

 

“I’m very confident the team will produce a magnificent performance. We play at home, where we have a strong record in the Champions League. For many people we are super-outsiders but I personally believe we will do it. If I had said in November that we will be in the semi-finals of the Champions League and FA Cup and go 21 games unbeaten — as we have in the Premier League — you’d have called an ambulance! I feel very proud of this team because they have been through difficult periods and shown great mental strength. And they have faced much more adversity than all the other teams I have had here. The progress this team has made since the start of the season has been remarkable.”

 

I wouldn’t only disagree with one part of his statement and that is that it hasn’t so much been a progression since the start of the season as one since November 22nd after we suffered that humiliating defeat by Man City. No Arsenal fan, not even the most ardent would ever have predicted that we would secure fourth spot in the league with three games remaining but also reach the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League as well as having a decent Carling Cup run. So kudos must be given to all involved in the club for keeping their heads and turning things around.

 

To think that we have achieved this despite multiple long-term injuries and a shortage of quality players in defensive areas makes it all the more remarkable. Of course, we still need to improve and tweak the squad in the summer, but we should all be happy that this team has salvaged some pride and respect from a season that looked doomed to abject failure just six months ago.

 

The boss also tries admirably to defend Adebayor but to be honest it doesn’t really wash with me and it is clear to all that he needs to return to the kind of form that he showed for us last season.

 

“I can understand the criticism Adebayor got at United. But I watched carefully that game again and he put a lot more effort in, more than people think — and he was really isolated. We didn’t give him enough support on the night. He works hard in training, he’s focused and he wants to do well.”

 

Congratulations must go to the Arsenal ladies who defeated Sunderland ladies 2-1 to bring home yet another FA Cup for Vic Akers and the ladies. That’s thirty one trophies in twenty two years for Akers and the ladies. What a record!

 

In other news, Marc Overmars broke his leg in the last minute of a game at the weekend. Let’s hope that he makes a speedy and full recovery.

 

So, that’s about that. There are now twelve hours until kick-off and I will be looking into adjusting the angle of my TV so that I can watch the game from the comfort of the throne should things be going down to the wire. I have my lucky Cesc jersey sitting waiting to be worn. I would have it on right now, but i don’t want any of it’s lucky charms to wear off before kick-off.

 

One thing we must all remember is that if we progress tonight, we still have a lot of work to do before winning anything. Likewise, should we lose, we must strive to keep our heads and not lose the plot calling for the manager’s head. To achieve what we have this season and to have progressed so much since the end of November should constitute quite a successful season, all things considered. Twenty one games unbeaten in the league is quite an achievement and has been done largely unnoticed by the mass media, just the way I like it.

 

The performances of Cesc, Nasri, Walcott, Van Persie and Adebayor will be absolutely vital for our chances tonight. Let’s hope we get big performances from all.

 

Okay, time to go and stock up on toilet paper, snacks and ginger ale. No beer for me tonight. I want to remain focussed and able to aim my rage and hatred in a more controlled way at Ronaldo and co.

 

‘til tomorrow. Let’s hope we get the performance that we all crave tonight. I would love a 3-1 to the Arsenal with our third goal coming in the 5th minute of injury time due to a deflection off Ronaldo. That would be sweet. But, any victory that would put us through will do.

 

Come on you REEEEEEEEEEEDS!!!!!!!!!