Taking it up the Barce…

May 27, 2010

Yesterday saw things get a little more interesting, just a little, mind, on the Tantric Cesc saga. Cesc himself said in an interview that he is more loved at Arsenal than anywhere else and that is probably true, too. If he moves back to Barcelona he won’t find that same love from the fans. He will just be another cog in the tapping up machine that is Barselona. There is a link to a video of said interview in yesterday’s blog. It’s not the best quality in the world, but is adequate.

 

Watching his interview, it was refreshing to see the respect he has and openly showed for the club in comparison to, say, Adebayor. Night and day. It’s a measure of both his love for the club and also a measure of the man. Whatever the outcome may be, Cesc wants it to be as clean and painless as possible. We will never know exactly what was said in that conversation between Arsene and Cesc at Colney a week or so ago, but our captain is doing everything in the right way, even if his bastardo suitors are not.

 

Later in the day, word came through that Barcelona had made an enquiry but had been, rightly, told to go f*ck themselves. I think the whole world knows that they are interested in him so, if you are that bloody interested then make a proper f*cking bid and quit fannying around. Cunt-faced bastardos. Apologies for the swearing, but that’s the beauty or writing for your own blog and not a newspaper.

 

The player himself said that his future is in Arsene’s hands. Thank f*ck it isn’t in Fabianski’s. So, you can read into it what you will. Either it is in Arsene’s hands because ‘Arsene knows,’ or it is in his hands because Cesc has said he wants to go and Arsene is left to do the deal between the clubs. I prefer to think it is the former. It could also mean that Cesc has said that he will stay on the condition that Arsene gets the finger out and uses that newly freed hand to also get the cheque-book out and sign some proper players in order to make us competitive again.

 

Away from the Tantric Cesc saga there isn’t really a lot going on. Things are beginning to ratchet up in terms of World Cup coverage, leaving the transfer mill a bit bereft of interesting Arsenal-related stories. There must be something wrong on Fleet Street as it has been at least 48hrs since I have seen us linked with the likes of Frey, Melo, Tourezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

 

The Daily Shite Mail links us with some centre-half called Laurent Koscielny. The bad news is that he has Polish roots, hopefully from a different bloodline than Luckarse. But, I have never heard of him before so that means there is probably an 80% chance that we will sign him.

 

Sagna has taken a leaf out of Barselona’s book by saying that Pape Malickou Diakhate, the Dinamo Kiev centre-half we have previously been linked with, would be a great signing for us. He says he is very dangerous at set-pieces, I’m hoping he means in terms of taking both ball and man while making a clearance.

 

That’s about all there is for today. A shorter post than yesterday, but I’m sure you’ll be relieved about that.

 

Talk to you tomorrow. I’m going to sit and bask for a moment in the glory that is Arsenal telling Barcelona to go fuck themselves. Enjoying it while it lasts. Maybe today’s title should have been ‘giving’ instead of ‘taking,’ but I think you got the point.

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A chance to rebound.

May 10, 2009

Today sees us take on Chelsea at the Emirates in a game which gives us the perfect chance to rebound from the crushing disappointment of our exit from the Champions League. However, Chelsea will also be looking to do exactly the same and their exit from the competition must have been much more psychologically crushing than ours due to the manner of their exit.

 

The boss has said that he will stick with Gibbs for today’s game and i hope that he does because he is certainly a better prospect at left-back than Silvestre.

 

At the back we should therefore line up with Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou and Gibbs. In midfield, I expect Song, Cesc and Nasri to play in the middle, with Song taking up the more defensive role thus leaving Cesc and Nasri more freedom to get forward. Walcott and possibly Van Persie may operate on the flanks, with Bendtner up front. Well, I hope that he starts with Bendtner up front as the young Dane will have a bit of a point to prove to the fans after his mid-week escapades. Though, it is more likely that Adebayor will start up front.

 

I think that Vela and Ramsey will get some playing time today, too. At this stage, I think it is important to give players like Ramsey, Vela and possibly Wilshere some proper first-team playing time ahead of next season.

 

Let’s hope that Arshavin can overcome his illness to play some part in today’s game.

 

In the Guardian today, Amy Lawrence talks about how Drogba is just the kind of player that Arsenal need. While he is a loathsome, diving cunt that I would hate to ever see wearing an Arsenal shirt, a player of similar stature and ability would be great for us. We need strikers that are willing to put themselves about and work hard for the team.

 

Despite Arséne’s comments on Friday that the players don’t know what is best for the team, Almunia has again come out and voiced his dissatisfaction with how we have done this year and that things need to change.

 

The young players are internationals and have been playing for Arsenal for a long time. They have played many games. They should have the experience now.

“Everybody is concerned by what happened against United. We need to be criticised. We need to do some self-analysis because Arsenal is a big club and we are not here to lose. Four years without a trophy is a long time. It’s too much for the fans – they deserve something more from us. Every time a team is in a bad situation you need someone to find a big solution.”

 

He went on to say:

“We played crazy from the start. We played more with the heart than the head. United didn’t do that. Can we compete with them next season? I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens in the summer.”

 

He is right to say that this team need to be criticised, because they have been molly-coddled  a bit too much by the manager and they need to know that they have to start performing and delivering. They excuse of youth can not, and should not, be tolerated next season. This squad have been together for a few years now and the honeymoon period is now most certainly over. Time to deliver. It is a very big summer for the club in terms of transfer activity and maybe a look should also be taken at our coaching positions and maybe the assistant’s position, too. When I see Pat Rice sitting next to Arséne i just get images of Phil Neal sitting next to Graham Taylor in the infamous “Do I not like that!” documentary. He comes across very much as a ‘yes man’.

 

Reports in the Daily Star link us, yet again, with Fulham’s Brede Hangeland who I think would be a decent signing for us and could definitely strengthen our defence, given his performances for Fulham this season.

 

It appears that some tosser Portsmouth fan spat into Theo’s water bottle during the game at Fratton Park. Filthy bastard. That’s just not on, by all means shout abuse at someone, but spitting INTO a drink is out of order. I’m sure that the media won’t say much about it but, if they do, I am sure that Mark Bright will say that he’d rather get an elbow in the face, a broken arm, rib and leg and dislocated shoulder rather than have someone spit in his drink. We can but hope…

 

Even Alisher Usmanov is sticking his big fat oar in by saying that we need to invest heavily in the squad to catch up with ManUre. While despising the big fat Uzbek, I do agree that we must invest in this squad, but it need not necessarily be heavy investment as long as we get the right quality.

 

Reports in papers suggest that Wenger has between twenty and forty million to spend this season, but I imagine that this figure has been plucked right out of each journalist’s over-imaginative ass.

 

Lee Dixon has a good article in today’s Times and he is spot on with everything that he says. I must admit I like Yaya Toure and was impressed with him when he played for Barcelona against Yokohama Marinos (not the best of teams, I must admit) in a friendly a year or two ago.

 

Non-Arsenal related news, it was great to see Stoke beat Hull yesterday and with West Brom winning it sets up the possibility of Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Hull being the teams to be relegated. How great would that be?! Fingers crossed it’ll be ‘howay (with) the lads’ to the Championship next season.

 

If you don’t already, check out these other Arsenal blogs, they’re very good and offer well-balanced opinions. Arseblog; Gunnerblog; Goonerholic; East Lower.

 

** UPDATE: hahahahaha. Thankfully our players just have belt and gravity issues.

 

** UPDATE 2: The domain name for the site has now changed to http://thenorthbankblog.com

 

That’s all for today. Take it easy.


The wonder of you(th)?

May 6, 2009

Maybe. I’m not really sure what direction today’s post will take because in circumstances like these it would be very easy to over-react in one direction or the other. It’s gutting to go out of the competition, no doubt about it. However, I think that in times like these we need to focus on the positives.

 

The team have achieved much more this season than we ever thought they would. We all know that we should have signed defensive players in the summer, but we didn’t. So, having set out our stall for the season with a very young squad, it was always going to be a long, hard season. The team did get off to a shaky start, but from November they have been on a good run, Chelsea and ManUre games aside

 

We all know that our squad lacks experience and that had Arshavin been available we may have done better in the semi-final. But UEFA’s rules are a load of cock and the experience issue is something for the boss to analyse and address. One ray of hope is that this squad now has another season of football under its collectively young belt and therefore should be more able to handle the challenge of competing on all fronts next season. Whether or not this squad is capable of that is another thing, but you would have to look at a twenty-one game unbeaten run in the league as a sign that this team might, just might, be capable of something special given one or two top class new additions to the squad, along with perhaps selling and replacing one or two as well. Adebayor springs to mind on that one, but with Ancelotti probably leaving for Chelsea in the summer that move may not come to fruition. We can but hope.

 

I don’t think that you can blame youth for last night’s defeat. I believe that we were very unlucky for the first goal as it was a slip from Gibbs which allowed Park to get his shot off. I felt desperately sorry for the lad and he never fully recovered after it and was substituted at half-time.

 

The second goal came soon afterwards when the referee gave a soft free-kick against Van Persie for an alleged foul on Ronaldo. However, it was no foul and even the NY Times said that Ronaldo won the free-kick ‘artfully’. In other words, he is a despicable, cheating cunt. The resulting free-kick, from a good thirty-five or forty yards out really should have been dealt with and saved by Almunia. But, it wasn’t and we were two goals down within eleven minutes.

 

That left us with the most gargantuan of tasks and I defy any team to come back and score four goals against the calibre of a team like ManUre in the semi-final of the Champions League. It was never going to happen and the two early goals killed our young team off. Though we didn’t concede the two goals because of youth. It was a combination of misfortune, bad refereeing and some poor goalkeeping. I don’t think that any team would have come back after such a bright start only to be hit by two sucker punches in such quick succession. We should remember that we did start brightly and it was looking like we would really make a good fight of getting back into the tie. That’s what makes it all the more disappointing.

 

So, I don’t want to be overly-negative today because there is plenty of time for finger pointing and arguing later. Today we should stand behind our team, give them the backing and support that they need. In the summer, we can discuss what needs to be done to make the squad more capable of making a sustained and consistent challenge for silverware.

 

Despite ending yet another year without a trophy, I believe that we are not far away from becoming a force to be reckoned with yet again.

 

I hope that the slip by Gibbs won’t have too big of a psychological impact on him and that he can bounce back quickly from it. It wasn’t the lads fault and he has the potential to be a better player for us than Clichy.

 

The most disappointing part of the evening was the fact that Almunia let Ronaldo’s free-kick in. I mean, it was hit from miles out and it didn’t move all that much as it travelled through the air. He really should have gotten his hands on it and kept it out. Yes, Ronaldo struck it well but it came from almost forty yards out! After that went in, we had no chance.

 

The referee certainly did us no favours either. Though, that said, he was more of a cunt to Darren Fletcher when he sent him off for something which wasn’t anywhere near to being a red card offence. You have to feel sorry for him that there is no appeal process for a red card. Just awarding the penalty would have been sufficient. If it was someone as cuntish as Ronaldo, I would be delighted with the red card. But, for me, he is one of their less hateful and cuntish players. Anyway, that’s for ManUre to worry about.

 

The penalty that Van Persie took was fantastic and no keeper would ever have saved it. He rifled it into the top corner, to the keepers left. A great finish, but it was too little too late.

 

As it now stands, that is our two biggest games of the seasons, two semi-finals, where we have failed to really make a good fist of it. Is that down purely to a lack of experience or a lack of intelligence, graft and overall quality. You would have to think that it’s a combination of all of those factors. Experience can easily be bought, likewise quality. However, the players need to learn that they have to work their arses off every time they step onto the field wearing the Arsenal jersey. It’s not enough to simply turn up. They must work. This season we have had a few too many players that have not pulled their weight, most notably Diaby and Adebayor.

 

Adebayor hasn’t been at the races since getting his new contract. We’ve been over him before and I have stated many times that I hope he is sold in the summer and a suitable replacement brought in. A swap for David Villa would be nice.

 

The Diaby situation is more frustrating. He clearly has heaps of talent. He is also a big guy, so he should be able to use his strength and size to impose himself on the game. However, his work ethic is virtually non-existent and he strolls around the field like he is in a five-a-side in PE class. He clearly doesn’t have the aptitude for defending, which is a disgrace for someone of his strength and size. He can’t play out on the wing. So, that just leaves the advanced role that Cesc now operates in. This may be the only role for him in this team as he can’t do anything else. Well, whether or not it is he can’t or he won’t is the key question here. Right now, it seems to be more of a ‘he won’t’ problem, because I feel that he could do it if he adopted a different work ethic. So, maybe it all just comes down to laziness. If that’s the case, then he should go too. also, we have never gotten a fully fit season out of him so it may be time to cut our losses and sell a player that spends most of his time in the treatment room, we have enough of those already.

 

Yesterday’s result now leaves us with just three games to play this season, the first being at home to Chelsea this coming Sunday, away to ManUre Saturday 16th (a chance to extract revenge there) and finally home to Stoke on Sunday 24th.

 

Gunnerblog has a good summation of the situation here.

 

So, barring a Chelsea collapse, or season is done and maybe it’s time to give some more playing time to the likes of Ramsey and Vela. Perhaps Wilshere might get a look-in as a substitute, though more than likely he won’t feature again until pre-season.

 

Right, that’s it for today. Time for dinner.

 

Take it easy and keep the faith.


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!!!!!!!!!


We were very lucky.

April 30, 2009

This is going to be an uber-short post as I have just returned home after working for fourteen hours and am knackered.

 

One thing I have to say is, 03:45 is no time to be getting up to watch a football game on a work-night. Second, it’s infuriating when you roll out of bed at said hour to watch that fucking performance that we put on last night. I won’t go into it in any detail as it will just make me angry all over again, but Arseblogger has done a good job of summing it up, so please check his post out.

 

There were one or two good performances last night, notably from Almunia who singlehandedly kept us in the tie. Gibbs did well considering that that big lazy cunt Diaby gave him no help at all. What Arsene sees in him is beyond me. Yes, he has a lot of skill but if he isn’t prepared to work his arse off and get stuck in, then he is absolutely no addition to this squad, let alone the starting eleven. It may as well have been me out there last night for all the use Diaby was. To describe his performance as useless, lazy and abject is being kind. The same goes for Adebayor and I hope that Diaby doesn’t start the second leg, because if he does and he plays like that again it is bye bye to any chance of silverware this year.

 

I’ve voiced my disgust for Adebayor’s laziness on previous posts and so I won’t go into it again. Suffice to say, I really hope Milan come in for him in the summer. For every decent game he has had this season, he has had fifteen woeful ones. That’s Michael Owen kind of statistics, enough said.

 

Somehow we came off the field at only 1-0, so on the face of things it was a great result, considering the ‘performance’.

 

The thing that worries me is that the players not only believe Wenger’s words about them deserving to win something, but that the feel they have a divine right to silverware without the need to work for it. Well, last night should have showed them that that isn’t the case…..if the games against hull, Stoke and man City haven’t already gotten that message across.

 

Bottom line, we were woeful and that kind of performance isn’t acceptable. The whole fucking team should be dropped, if possible, for the weekend league game so that they have no fucking excuses at all for not putting a great performance in at the Emirates next Tuesday.

 

Right, that’s it. Am knackered and there’s no point in talking much more about what we are all already thinking and feeling about last night.

 

Luckily, it’s all to play for next week. Thankfully. Have a good one, we can take solace in just being one goal down.


D-day, part one.

April 29, 2009

Today is the day for our players to stand up and be counted. We need a big performance from them at Old Trafford tonight, no doubt about it.

 

At the manager’s press conference yesterday he said that both Gibbs (ankle) and Silvestre (back) will undergo checks this morning and let’s hope that they both come through them, but that Silvestre takes up his place on the bench and not just because he said this.

 

Looking at the BBC website today, it appears that ManUre are making plans for a homecoming parade should they win the Champions League and this should be printed out and stuck up on the wall of the dressing room to motivate the players, not that they should need it, to go out onto the field and stick it to those bunch of presumptuous cunts.

 

There was uncertainty surrounding the availability of Carlos Vela after it emerged that the club was requested to tell him so stay at home, away from training on Monday, but he’ll join up with the match day squad. If he does have swine flu, let’s hope we get him a job of handing out the oranges and Jaffa cakes in the ManUre dressing room at half-time.

 

The game is receiving a fair amount of media hype due to it being the only all-English tie. I hope that the game will live up to it’s billing, in terms of entertainment. One thing I know is it’s going to be a stressful ninety minutes.

 

Abou Diaby lined up alongside the manager at yesterday’s press conference looking like a black Ming the Merciless and let’s hope that, if he does play, he gets medieval with the ManUre midfield and defence.

 

Arshavin’s agent is at it already and he is quite the shit-stirring cunt. I wish he would bugger off, or that a player tells his agent to go fuck himself when he starts this kind of shit shit stirring in the media. It’s uncalled for and most unwelcome. The player just arrived three months ago, so for his agent to be starting this already is bang out of order and I hope he ends up rotting away in a faeces stained gulag cell.

 

Theo wants to be scarier than Cristiano Ronaldo. Let’s hope that, in the process, he doesn’t also don the cheatiness and cuntiness of Ronaldo.

 

Both managers are in a bullish mood about their prospects but I feel that we have a psychological edge over ManUre in this tie. Recent form shows that we are a team on a fast rise and so this should ensure that we go into this game with confidence. One thing is for sure, we can’t go there and sit back. Nor can they. Neither team is built around that style of play and I’ll be surprised if there are less than two goals in this game. I fancy it to finish 2-1. Fingers crossed it will be 2-1 to The Arsenal.

 

The BBC has plenty of match facts here and let’s hope that we get the better of our first European tie against ManUre.

 

Non-game related news and it seems that Rosicky is back in training, even though the manager does not want to try and rush him back this season. Let’s hope that he can continue his training without any more little setbacks and that he will be fully fit for the start of pre-season.

 

The tension and excitement is well and truly taking hold now and I can’t wait for the game. There’s a nervous tension gripping me and I hope that this team can reach many more big games like these so this feeling can be repeated. It’s games like this that make all of the hard times seem worthwhile.

 

Cross all appendages for a good result tonight. I’ve a feeling we’ll be talking about Cesc and Walcott tomorrow.

 

Come on you Reds!!!!


Welcome to The North Bank! It’s a big weekend for The Arse…

March 21, 2009

Being a Gooner in Japan isn’t easy. Kick-off times generally clash with the last train home, thus making watching The Arse in the pub a bit difficult. Though we tend to get almost every Arsenal game shown live on cable/satellite, so I can’t really complain too much because the option is there to watch the game in the confines of my own apartment.

Anyway, looking forward to today’s game, it really is a game where we need to take all three points and make the most of Villa’s loss of form and our continued unbeaten run. It really is due to Villa’s recent collapse that we have regained fourth spot and not our own unbeaten run as, while we remain unbeaten, our form hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire.

Team news indicates a probable return in goal for Almunia and Eduardo will also be involved in the squad, although he probably won’t start. So, I expect us to start with Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas and Clichy at the back. The midfield line-up will depend on whether Wenger goes with a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1. Should he go with 4-4-2, I’d expect to see Arshavin, Denilson, Song and Nasri start with Van Persie and Bendtner up front. Though Diaby may start in place of Song, but if you consider that Song seems to be The Golden Child, I think it is fairly certain that he’ll get the nod.

A 4-5-1, would probably see us line up with Arshavin wide right, Van Persie wide left, Denilson, Song and Nasri in the middle with Bendtner up front by himself.

Expect to see Eboue to make his obligatory appearance at some stage too. Though, to be fair, he has been doing better in the last few games he has appeared in.

The loss of Walcott to injury, again, is a massive blow for the team as he really does offer us something that no other player in our squad can. However, at this stage we can just cross all appendages that his injury isn’t as serious as we all fear it may be. If he is out for the five weeks, as hypothesised by Wenger at yesterday’s press conference, then it really is a big blow for our aspirations. However, with the return of Fabregas, Adebayor and, potentially, Rosicky these players may help to offset the loss of Theo.

Early Newcastle team news seems to suggest that Owen will be dropped in order for them to play a defensive 4-5-1 with Martins leading the line. This is a shame as they would have been less of a threat with Owen in the starting line-up. Hehehe.

Elsewhere, we’ll be hoping for Spuds to do us a favour by getting an unlikely result against a resurgent Chelsea. I suppose a draw in the Liverpool v Villa game would be the best result for us, assuming we win today, in order to put light between ourselves and Villa and while also gaining ground on third place. A result for Portsmouth against Everton would also be welcome as it would, if nothing else, sicken Moyes.

Oh, given that week that’s in it, it would be a gross dereliction of duty if I weren’t to say that I hope Wigan stuff Hull in tomorrow’s early kick-off. Phil Brown really is a despicable, lying piece of sh*t.

Anyway, there are still a few hours until kick-off which gives me plenty of time to go out and get some cans of beer in for the game.

Right then, that’s your lot for today. Come on you Reds!!!