Rambo Strikes Late

A late winner away from home, three points and climbing to the top of our group – what more could we have asked for last night?

The match itself, whilst not a total doozy, wasn’t a shining example of European football at it’s best so I’m not going to try to force anyone to re-live it through written word. Instead lets focus on the Television coverage and a few of our players…

Saving the savage ‘slagging-off’ for last lets start with the players –

Aaron Ramsey – The young Welshman has come in for a little criticism of late which I think has been harsh, but not totally without merit. At no point has Rambo lifted up Andrey Arshavin’s blanket and asked ‘Can I hide under here with you?‘. The Welsh skipper keeps going and gives his all in every game he plays for club and country. I know I keep saying it but with the Spaniard gone and Jack out injured  a lot is being asked of Ramsey this season. I was thrilled that he got the winner right at the death after coming on in place of Andrey Arshavin in the 78th minute (The Russian had given another outstanding impression of the invisible character portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the film Hollow Man) Given that the chance came so late on Ramsey showed great composure to put the ball past Steve Mandanda and win the game, had the chance fallen to someone else we may have been cursing at the final whistle rather than celebrating. That brings me on nicely to…

Theo Walcott – It’s not happening is it? At times it happens, but then for the majority of the time it fails to happen and we all forget those rare occasions when it does happen. There were few clear-cut openings in front of the L’OM goal aside from the one that produced the winner, but the best of the rest fell to Theo and he chocked. For someone who repeatedly states a desire to be played down the middle he really doesn’t do his chances of being picked to play there much good when he wastes the kind of opportunities like last nights or  the one against Bolton last month. I saw some people were asking yesterday why there was so much surprise around AOC’s omission form the 18 man squad, well in my view it’s because the Ox should be there putting pressure on Theo because no one else is. I suggested in yesterday’s post that he should have been replaced by Gervinho and may have been more effective coming from the bench late on but it seems the Arsene still won’t listen to me. At the moment it’s almost taken for granted that Walcott will start out on the right, I’m not sure how much of a fight he is having to put up in order to keep his place – seemingly none. I think the biggest problem is he either has it in him and shows that on a regular basis or the times when he has looked mustard will just start to look like a fluke. It’s all a little similar to Ashavin really and at a time when we’re maybe lacking a bit of creativity from midfield and we’re failing to provide sufficient support for Van Persie up front we can hardly afford to carry one player let alone two.  But it’s not impossible for a player to take the bull by the horns and show a marked improvement, look at…

Carl Jankinson – I was delighted by Jenk’s performance at right back last night. There were suggestions prior to the game that the youngster should be dropped to the bench and a centre half take his place on the right but you’ve got to play players in their best positions and not only that but you could clearly see that after completing the game against Sunderland on Sunday, and admirably so, Jenkinson grew in strength as the game went on last night and it was a real disappointment to see him leave the field with a knee injury in the 62nd minute. We’ll wait to see what the reports are on the extent of that injury today but I really do hope he’ll be fit to face Stoke on Sunday, the more he plays the better he’ll become. He is improving as a defender but you’ve also got to applaud his crossing, we saw it out in Asia in pre season and he delivered again in that department last night – as Arse2Mouse Tweeted last night why not see if he can be as prolific with his delivery from corners? Fair play to Johan Djourou also, he did well when he came on in place of Jenks. If the former Charlton lad is out of this weekends clash with SCRFC then the Swiss would be my choice to deputise because frankly…

Laurent Koscielny is far too good a centre half to be fannying about as a makeshift right back. The Frenchman was absolutely outstanding last night, our best player by a country mile and certainly the Man of the Match. Again he is a player who has come in for criticism at times and again I’ve considered that criticism to be harsh and in the main totally unfounded. The £10m we paid Lorient in 2010 looks an absolute bargain, especially when you consider that from before we signed him and up until this summer we were being urged by many to spend £15m and upwards on Jagielka or Cahill. I know which player I would rather have and as I said in a post a while back, I believe that Kozzer and Vermaelen can forge an outstanding partnership at the heart of our defence. Last night was Koscielny’s 54th game for the Gunners and in truth not even Arsene could have envisioned that a guy who just three seasons ago was playing in the French second division would have clocked up so many Arsenal appearances in such a short time. He has formed a solid partnership with Per Mertesacker, who was also on fine form again last night, and it will be harsh on the big German if he is relegated to the bench once Vermaelen returns but it would be even harsher on Koscielny. The level of performance he produced last night should come as no surprise to anyone, yes he is prone to the odd mistake but which player isn’t? It reminds me a bit of Martin Keown, rightly regarded as an Arsenal legend now it took a while for the defender to be given the plaudits he deserved upon his return to Highbury.

I’m not going to go into so much detail with every player, I thought they all performed well last night so I’ll just say briefly that…

Mickey Arteta put in another dogged shift in midfield, I know he has always had that in his locker but you have to give credit to him, he may have thought, as many did, that he was going to shoulder the creative burden this season but he is yet to be afforded much of an opportunity for that in the short time he has been at the club but has dug in and performed the task assigned to him as well as you could ask. Tommy Rosicky continued his renaissance, it’ll be interesting to see where he starts Sundays game and despite the early and needless booking Alex Song had another good game in the heart of our midfield. RVP gave his usual committed skippers performance but in truth didn’t get much support up front, Szszesny was rarely called into action but was ready and alert when he was and lastly Andy Santos blew hot and cold in my opinion. The Brazilian in him comes out during those surging sorties into the opposition half but as a defender he has yet to float my boat and at this moment in time Kieran Gibbs, when fit obviously, would be my choice for that birth.

So in summary we got what you want from a Champions League away game – three points. The bonus is another clean sheet, topping the group (for now) and keeping our good run going. Despite our flaws five wins out of six is good going by any standards and if we can take advantage of our extra days rest and put Stoke to the sword on Sunday then things will continue to look brighter.

So finally I’ll say a quick word about ITV’s coverage last night – Shocking.

Actually that is maybe a little unfair, it’s the hosting, the punditry and the commentary that are shocking.

About thirty seconds in Martin O’Neill took the opportunity to reaffirm the fact he doesn’t like Arsene Wenger. Clive Tyldesley told us it was the first time Wenger had managed an Arsenal side on native soil since 2002 thus clearly neglecting the 2006 Champions League final, which he no doubt commented on, was held in Paris before Adrian Chiles rounded things off by suggesting that after a last gasp one nil win Arsenal fans will start to think our team is better than it is…

Great stuff ITV Sport you have once again proved to the nation why you are the television equivalent of John Terry…

Thanks for reading.

 Paul.

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Bolton Preview

Well there is bad news to start the day off with. Late last night it was revealed by the Arsenal that Jack Wilshere will have to undergo surgery on his right ankle and will be out for a period of “months”. The player himself used his Twitter page to confirm the news and suggest that he hopes to return to action around Christmas time.

This is no doubt a massive blow for the team and young Jack, the bone hasn’t healed whilst in the protective boot he has been wearing for the last month or so and the club have decided that now is the time to take further action in the shape of surgery. It’s very disappointing news but we have to think of Jack’s long term future and this needs to be dealt with correctly and if this operation proves to be just that then it’s surely for the best.

Considering that Jack has only played one full season of first team football with the Gunners, after a brief loan spell at today’s opponents Bolton, we’ve really missed his tenacity in midfield this season. The sooner we can have that desire and drive back in the side the better and I wish Jack well in his continued recovery. At least it gives him more time to listen to the whole Michael Bolton back catalogue.

So, today see’s Owen Coyle’s Bolton Wanderers visit the Emirates.

In league terms the Trotters are having a sorrier time of things then we are at the moment (just), in fact their poor run of form can be traced back to our previous encounter at the Reebok at the end of last season.

Tamir Cohen’s last-minute header, which was celebrated with emotional scenes as the defender revealed a t-shirt commemorating his late father Avi, left the gunners nine points behind leaders and eventual champions Manchester United with four games left to play while Bolton were themselves flying high in eighth place and seemingly pushing to end the season with Europa League football to look forward to. That victory, which all but ended our title chances, was somewhat of a bright spot for Bolton in their end of season darkness. Their previous fixture had seen them go down five goals to zero against Stoke City Rugby Football Club in their FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley and Coyle’s sides final five league games, which followed that win against us, all ended in defeats.

While the opening game of this season saw the Lancashire side get back to winning ways with a 4-0 hammering of newly promoted Queens Park Rangers they have since seen their league form continue in the same vein as it ended last season. Four defeats in four, including a home defeat at the hands of Norwich City last weekend, has seen the sweet taste of victory being confined to the Carling Cup – the second round elimination of Macclesfield and Tuesday nights 0-2 victory at Villa Park.

So in their last fourteen games since, and including, that FA Cup humiliation the Trotters have won only four times and have been beaten in the other ten games scoring eighteen goals and conceding thirty-two in the process. That run looks like this – LWLLLLLWLWLLLW.

At any other time you would look at that and expect Bolton to arrive in London tomorrow and be little more than cannon fodder for the gunners but as we all know our own form is hardly that of a side you would back to win the contest.

Since that late and currently familiar capitulation we’ve managed to win only five of our own fourteen games in all competitions. We’ve picked up four draws and been beaten no less than six times. In this period we’ve found the back of the net on nineteen occasions yet we’ve been forced to pick the ball out of the back of our own goal on no less than twenty-six, meaning our run only appears marginally better than this weeks opposition due to the addition of the letter ‘D’ – LWLLDDWLWLWDLW.

What is clear is that whilst both sides have the ability to score goals we both also have a penchant for letting them in too, so on paper we should maybe expect this to be a high scoring encounter which would make for another great game for the neutral in which we compete.

The team news is pretty much as expected, Yossi Benayoun is out with the ‘strain’ which he alluded to in his Tweet on Thursday (turns out it’s a thigh strain, not an eye strain from reading without sufficient light) and Johan Djourou misses out with a hamstring injury. Arsene Wenger has suggested that they may both be back for the North London Derby on October 2nd but will defiantly miss the Champions League clash with Olympiacos on Wednesday as well as this afternoons fixture.

Tommy Rosicky is back in the squad whilst Bacary Sagna & Aaron Ramsey both came through fitness tests yesterday morning so are likely to start.

It will be interesting to see who takes up the left back position, using our last two fixtures as a barometer I wouldn’t say there is much between Andy Santos and Kieran Gibbs who have each had a game to in which to state their case. I suspect Wenger might go with the Brazilian but I wouldn’t be confidant enough to put money on it.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may have done enough to win himself a place on the bench after his performance in the win over Shrewsbury earlier this week, similarly I think Franny Coquelin’s performance in the same game will see him take us a place amongst the subs ahead of Frimmers.

Other than that I would have thought it will be very much as we were against Blackburn Rovers last weekend but with Theo coming in for Andrey Arshavin.

My line up would be –

Szczesny – Sagna – Mertz – Kozzer – Andy Santos – Song – Mickey – Rambo – Gervinho – Theo – RVP.

Subs: Fabianski – Iggy – Gibbs – Franny – Arshavin – AOC – Chamakh.

I think we’ll see a home win and the collection of three much-needed points, but I’m not sure it’ll be an easy victory. One thing I will guarantee is that Kevin Davies will be booked – the lumbering forward has collected a total of eleven bookings in games against us, that is more than any player against any one side in Premier League history.

I’m really looking forward to the game, it’s a traditional three o’clock kick off and that always sits well with me. Enjoy it wherever you’re watching and if you happen to be up in the North Bank sat next to a guy who clearly needs a shave then chances are it’ll either be me or a tramp who has somehow managed to get into the ground.

Thanks for reading

Paul.

Shrewsbury Town Preview

So tonight see’s our reintroduction to the Carling Cup. Whilst this seasons competition is now at the third round stage this is our first participation since last years final and we all know what happened there don’t we.

Since our late capitulation against Birmingham City, who this season are gracing the Championship, our form has resembled that of a side destined to partake in a relegation scrap. Remember that as we kicked off at Wembley we were still right in the title race, still in the FA Cup and despite facing a trip to the Nou Camp still in with a chance of progressing to the quarter finals of the Champions League thanks to an outstanding 2-1 victory over Barcelona in our first leg tie. Our form in ALL competitions since that final has looked like this –

P – 22. W – 6. D – 8. L – 8. F – 31. A – 38. – WDLLDDWDDLWLLDDWLWLWDL

It’s certainly not pretty is it.

So yesterday saw a lot of discussion about the kind of side we should field against League Two opponents Shrewsbury Town in this evenings game.

Many Gooners have been calling for the side that was beaten by Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Saturday to be utilised again tonight for seemingly two reasons – A) Some kind of punishment for the woeful second half performance up in Lancashire & 2) Giving the side a taste of victory which will help them kick on in the league.

To be honest I can see the merits in both these arguments but have to say that ultimately I disagree with both. Firstly, putting a team out in what would be the footballing equivalent of the village stocks surely gains no real purpose. The players will not respond to what would be perceived as public shaming and I can’t imagine it would make le gaffer very popular. Also it just isn’t the Fenchman’s way of doing things is it, in fact I was pretty surprised that he has come out and spoken in, what is for him, critical terms in the wake of Saturdays shambles. It isn’t very often that Wenger speaks in this way publically and maybe it’s something we should welcome? He certainly hasn’t hung anyone out to dry or pointed fingers at individuals but maybe a sharp little poke of the stick like this can help focus the players a little more, the opposite hasn’t seemed to achieved that. It certainly isn’t the answer to the problems, far from it, but it’s maybe a form of accountability?

With option two, giving the side a taste of victory, again it doesn’t really float my boat. No disrespect to Shrewsbury Town but if it takes a victory over the side from the fourth tier of English Football to inspire our best players then we’ve got serious problems, also why should we should we allow back slapping and self-congratulation for something that we would expect to see? Imagine we send out the strongest possible eleven players we have available and they struggle against the Shrews, never mind how the media et al would react, how would we react? I imagine we would soon be hearing about protests before Saturdays home game against Bolton and the sale of black scarves would sky-rocket.

On the whole I think it’s the perfect time to play a mix of players who are considered ‘first team’ and some of those who are on the fringes of being such.

I said yesterday that I would like to see a line up of – Fabianski – Jenks – Djourou – Mertz – Andy Santos – Frimmers – Benny – AOC – Ryo – Chamakh – Ju.

I would include our most recent defensive signings because whilst they may both be international footballers there is no doubt they are still adapting to English football and personally I think it would be more beneficial for the German & Brazilian then Kozzer & Gibbs. The XI named above is made up of players who have and/or will make first team appearances this term, be it due to injuries, suspensions or form and whilst some of the younger lads should certainly be included in the match day squad for games like this and indeed on the bench I think we need to be giving game time to those who are going to need it most.

I’m not ruling my select XI out but according to Jamie Sanderson at Young Guns Blog Wenger is set to name the following line up – Fabianski – Jenkinson – Djourou – Miquel – Gibbs – Oxlade-Chamberlain – Frimpong – Coquelin – Benayoun – Chamakh – Park.

So not too dissimilar to my projected line up and certainly a side I would be happy to see take the field tonight as those players who differ from my selection are equally as deserving of a run out and equally as likely to make in roads on the first team this season.

Jamie Suggests that we’ll see the likes of Daniel Boateng, Nico Yennaris, Chuks Aneke, Oguzhan Ozyakup, Sanchez Watt & Emi Martinez on the bench tonight with Ryo joinig them due to his lack of fitness.

I have to say I’m hugely excited about seeing Ryo and AOC this evening, I know that over the past fifteen years we’ve seen many exciting prospects come through our ranks, often through this competition, some have disappeared into the football wilderness, some have moved on to other clubs and some have become first choice players but these two have such a buzz about them. We certainly shouldn’t be heaping too much pressure on the youngsters at this stage but if they can hit the heights as many are predicting then we could be in for a treat.

I won’t lie, I know little about Shrewsbury Town aside from Joe Hart played there. Apparently they’re flying in league two and their danger man is Marvin Morgan who has bagged seven goals so far this season, so he may well be one to watch.

I know there will be many empty seats tonight and the crowd will have a lot of families and young supporters but despite all the negativity currently surrounding the club and the disappointment we’re dealing with this is still a great chance to get behind a group of players who cold be pivotal to us in the longterm and I hope we can get behind them and give them the support they need and see the Gunners march through to the fourth round.

Thanks for reading.

Paul. (Follow @Up_TheArsenal on Twitter)

This is a low – Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal

Regular readers of this blog will know that, for the most part, I’m always positive when it comes to the Arsenal, I like to think that I can be pragmatic in defeat and always back the team to bounce back from any adversity, but after the defeat at Ewood Park today I’m finding it hard to pick myself up off the floor and focus on anything positive.

Blackburn Rovers – a side who are owned by a poultry company, a side who before today had managed to win just five of their last twenty-five Premier League matches since boss Steve Kean replaced Sam Allerdyce – started the day with a protest against their much maligned manager and ended it above us in the Premier League standings (albeit on the same points tally of 4)

We can point to the fact that Rovers were gifted two own goals by the Gunners and that they should have had another chalked off for off-side, you can say that Olsson should have been dismissed for diving, especially as it came only moments after he’d had his name taken by the ref. You can say we should have had a penalty right at the death when Theo Walcott was taken out by Paul Robinson, but frankly what would be the point? Come the arse end of the season there will be clubs fighting for survival all with stories of hardship & woe – how decisions had gone against them, how luck had cheated them and how they had been professional and given their all. The truth is that at the seasons end the table won’t lie, teams will finish where they deserve to finish. For the most part score lines don’t lie either. This one didn’t & if you want to talk about relegation form then ours is rife with the stench if we go back to last season *Before you throw your toys out the pram, I am not suggesting we’ll be relegated. Merely pointing out that we’re currently going the right way about it.

The Blackburn goals came from our own slack defending, negligent as the lino may have been for Yakubu’s second (Rovers third) and unlucky as it may seem to concede two own goals against a side with all the fire power of a wet lettuce leaf, we’ve only ourselves to blame.

We started so brightly and at points we looked a little like the Arsenal of old, knocking the ball about, rampaging down the right hand side and seemingly prepared to waste a decent chance rather than tee up a team mate. Indeed if you want to point fingers at anyone then Gervinho’s wastefulness when he could have played in Van Persie, who surely would have put us 1-3 up, just before the half time whistle, then that is the kind of mistake we should be looking at along with the sides inability to defend.

After the game Arsene Wenger suggested that we are still “defensively fragile” after Old Trafford, but three of the back four who started today’s game didn’t even step foot on the turf up in Manchester. In fact Mertesacker & Andy Santos were both employees of other clubs at the time of the United crushing after which we were told reinforcements such as the German & Brazilian would improve our defensive capabilities.

Well we may have dug in and scrapped it out in Dortmund earlier in the week and we may have hung on to a clean sheet against Swansea at the Emirates last Saturday but if evidence was needed to conclusively prove it is the coaching and tactical instructions being given to the players as much as any shortcomings on their part then this result is it.

Our defensive line for the first Blackburn goal was as wonky as a DIY haircut and replays showed that it was Andy Santos, making his full debut, who played Yakubu onside. I mentioned in yesterday’s blog the need for stability in our back line, seeing a group of players play week in week out rather than than the personnel carousel we’re used to. Ironic then that it was Santos, the only change to our back four from our last two games, who played the Nigerian on side, especially as Kieran Gibbs had started to find some form thanks to a run of games.

When the sides went in at half time I honestly felt that we would see the Gunners come out and dominate the second half, Rovers looked for all the world a team there for the taking and you would have laid money that Steve Kean would have been visiting the local job centre come Monday morning. But, as the second half got underway there seemed to have been a shift in belief, Rovers suddenly seemed to have a bit more fight and determination in them. Indeed it took them only four minutes to get back on level terms.

Yes it was a total fluke and no portion of blame should befall Alex Song, but this was yet another goal conceded from a set-piece, when will we learn to defend them?

I don’t know about you but from then on it looked to me like only one side would go on to win the game, and in the pouring rain Blackburn Rovers did just that.

The massacre of Old Trafford was hard to take and hurt like hell, but in many ways it wasn’t unexpected especially given the side and indeed the bench we had that afternoon. This, this is much harder to take in my opinion.

The team has been strengthened, we all know it could have been stronger still but a certain Frenchman decided he would rather have £50m in the bank then players on the pitch who can actually contribute something other than trite smiles and self congratulations for having a healthy bank balance, so we can’t put it down to a one off as we’ve done with the United result. Bar Jack Wilshere & Tommy Vermaelan this was the strongest possible squad we’ll have to work with this season unless signings are made in January, but as I’m attempting to point out it’s not just the playing staff who are to blame.

I said after Old Trafford, and it certainly wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction, that I felt that Arsene Wenger has taken our club as far as he is able. No one should ever doubt just how far that is or level any form of abuse at the Frenchman’s door – he deserves nothing but utter respect from anyone who calls themselves a Gooner. But sadly the man who revolutionised football in this country is in danger of looking for all the world lost in a game he helped create. Someone mentioned on Twitter that Wenger no longer looks as if he enjoys it and it got me to wondering when he last did?

I’ll never call for his dismissal or demand he resigns, I’ve far too much respect for the man and what he has done at our club but what he does need to do is relinquish some of the power he holds. Firstly he needs to hand over the coaching of the first team to someone else or at least bring new people in and allow them to have an input and offer fresh direction. Many people ask why Steve Bould hasn’t been promoted from the wonderful work he has been doing with our under 18’s, well if rumours are to be believed, and I’m led to believe that in this case they are, our former defensive stalwart was offered Pat Rice’s position when old Pat wanted to call time on the illustrious years of servitude he has given to the club. Bould supposedly turned the offer down because he was told he would have little to no tactical input or the ability to coach so opted to stay in the role he is in which led to Wenger begging his old bench buddy to give him one last season (much like he did Cesc last summer, look how that turned out)

Many voices, mine included, have called for Martin Keown to be given a defensive coaching role but that won’t happen for the same reasons Bouldy isn’t higher up the food chain at London Colney. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Keown has the capabilities and knowhow to fill that role and excel in it but there is a reason he is still sitting working for the beeb and not us. In fact, it’s just been pointed out to me that when we set a Champions League record for clean sheets Keown was working as a defensive coach at the club…

Rapid improvement is needed and if fresh ideas and instruction is what it takes to achieve those improvements then Wenger needs to swallow some of that pride and make these changes happen.

Since the final whistle blew I’ve seen a few Arsenal fans suggest that our expectations should have changed and this defeat shouldn’t be a surprise. Well I’ve never been the kind of fan who has high expectations, I think doing so only sets you up for a fall and a nose bag of disappointment. So my deflation and disappointment at this result, this performance, this start to the season and even towards the gaffer, are nothing to do with a delusional sense of expectation it’s just pure hurt. I’ve been a Gooner all my life, I grew up a stones throw from Highbury and I’ve seen us struggle in the past, but right now the ship is starting to look rudderless and when this has been the case in the past there has always been someone in a position of power at the club to take control and steer us in the right direction. Sadly at this moment in time, I’ve no idea who is there to do that right now and defeats like Old Trafford & defeats like today only serve to ram that home.

Thanks for reading

Paul

It’s New Start Eve…

Morning all,

Well it’s new start eve and I understand the club are busy pimping out the Emirates ready for tomorrows festivities when we’ll finally get to unwrap our presents before spending the afternoon feasting upon Swan.

I know it’s a cliché but all I really want from the day is three points and a bit of harmony, everyone to just get along (I’m looking in the direction of our cousins who insist upon wearing those black scarves) – Oh and also if it could be drummed into our players that nobody needs to receive any cards tomorrow, especially those that come with vouchers for a three match spa break.

Gunnersauraus is often accompanied by a helper imp

One rumour I can dismiss right now is that Peter Hill-Wood will be dressing up as Gunnersauraus and handing out presents to Junior Gunners. There are two reasons for this – A – PHW will be asleep in his chair by the time kick off comes after helping himself to three bottles of Sherry & B – The Gunnersaurus is of course real so there is no need for anyone to dress up…

"Where's the brandy?"

I’m assuming that by now you’ve all realised that there is little Arsenal news doing the rounds today and until Arsene has completed his pre match press conference that is pretty much the way it’s going to stay. Yeah I could go in to possible permutations of time line up and the like for tomorrow but then that would really kind of defeat the object of tomorrows post.

What we do have today are some good bits of player PR and some awful club PR and as I don’t want to end today’s post on a sour note, because frankly I’m too excited about tomorrow and don’t want to dampen that, so lets start with the bad PR.

Astonishingly Arsenal have unleashed a team of lawyers and pointed them in the direction of a hat shop in the Spanish city of Seville. Alicia Simon is being forced to change the name of her business after Arsenal took objection to the name ‘Arsenale’.

Now this shop sells hats, not silly hats related to Arsenal Football Club, not cheap imitations of hats sold officially by the club with a rogue ‘e’ tacked onto the end of the word ‘Arsenal’ just to try and slip under the radar like those Ralph Lauren shirts and their three legged horses. No, It just sells regular normal hats, the types of which they all wear in Spain I imagine…

I bet Eboue has one of these

You know, great big things that resemble fruit bowls and those little black ones that matadors wear and maybe a few sombreros for the tourists,  but none of them having any connotations with Arsenal Football Club.

It is an absolute PR disaster, and the fact the club have been pursuing this for four years does little but make it all the more lamentable. The reasons for the shops name are clear & as I said there is absolutely no suggestion that Alicia has been trying to surreptitiously make a living from the clubs recent on field successes or indeed lack of them.

One word sums it all up – Pathetic

I dream of Tony

Now to a bit of PR that has us all giddy as kippers (I’ve never understood that phrase but my wife uses it a lot) – Per Mertesacker, or ‘Mertz’ as I’m going to be referring to him as, has been speaking about his admiration for an Arsenal legend… Tony Adams.

In an interview with the Arsenal Player the German Centre half speaks of the admiration he has for our former captain and how, despite a lack of television broadcasts of the Gunners in Germany, Mr Arsenal was for him “The One”.

When I watched the interview yesterday and heard Mertz utter those words of affection I think for a brief moment I understood how women must feel when they watch films about two people who meet, don’t like each other, continue to bump into each other in a series of highly unlikely situations before settling down with other people then realising that they actually love each other after all, get together but then just when you think it’s all going to be ok they fall out before being reconciled right at the end. Those kind of films go on for hours and hours, this interview goes on for under two minutes.

Another bit of great PR from Mertz is the revelation, in the same interview, that he wasn’t given an Arsenal shirt by an aunt. No it’s better than that, he choose it himself. He walked into a sports store as a gangly ginger German child with visions of Tony Adams in his eyes, saw his (clearly less intelligent) brother foolishly pick the jersey of a much lesser side and with a heart full of pride selected the red & white of Arsenal as his choice.

I think I actually might love him a little bit!

Right that is your lot for today, head back this way tomorrow morning for an actual preview of tomorrows game.

Oh, ok ok – You can have one present now, but that’s your lot! Theo & Gibbs should be fit for tomorrows game & Frimpong is back from suspension… well that’s what it says here

Yes I know it’s only a little thing, I’m saving your big present until the morning. Now go on, the sooner you go to sleep the sooner it’ll be time to have it. You little scamps…

Deadline Day

Who will be unveiled?

Here it is, transfer deadline day – the day that Sky Sports news presenters and reporters go into overdrive and old Bollock Face spends so long stopping to talk to reporters from his car window that he forgets to do any deals until last two hours of the window.

'arry should have watched the road

It’s all very needless hyperbole really but who gives a French Fig about that, it quite simply is brilliant stuff isn’t it? From the agony of being linked to every player to have ever graced a treatment room to the hilarity of Neil Warnock throwing good money after bad on Armand Traore, SWP & Anton Ferdinand (C’mon Neil, seriously?)

And of course you should never forget the utter bullshit stories spoon feed to us via a continuous yellow strip at the bottom of our television screens just to keep us hooked.

You can shove your reality TV & all singing all dancing crap of the world competitions up your hole, this is my twice a year fix of trash TV and time when I give an utter shite about clubs and players I wouldn’t normally give an utter shite about – I’m not too proud to admit that.

What always makes the transfer window even more gripping and entertaining for me is when Arsenal decide to take the plunge and sign some players, and not just teenagers that nobody has ever heard of but actual players that you’ve seen on the telly and stuff – real footballers with real football careers and international caps.

Well since Sunday that is exactly what we’ve been getting.

Ju

So far the club have confirmed the signing of South Korean Striker Chu Young Park who prefers to be known as Ju and will have J.Y.Park on his shirt. I’ve no idea why players can’t just have their actual names on their shirts anymore but to be fair as long as Ju does the bizzo on the pitch he can have ‘Paul Savill is a Tosser’ above the number 9 for all I care.

We stole him from under the noses of Lille and paid Monaco £3m for his services. It’s very much a short term deal because he’ll have to return to his homeland in 2013 to undertake national service, unless he does something spectacular like score a hat trick in the Champions League final which may earn him a pass.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about him and if I’ve seen him play I don’t remember it but I like the attitude he has so far portrayed and what he has had to say for himself –

“I will do my best, I will never give up, I will show my heart, I will give everything and hope the fans will support me”

 

Traore looks so happy to be there

Armand Traore has joined QPR on a three year deal – I’ve wasted enough time talking about the Senegalese left back on this blog so until he plays against us and either has a total shocker or the best game of his life this is the last mention of him.

Ze German

German International Per Mertesacker was given leave from the national teams camp yesterday to hold talks and undergo a medical at London Colney after we agreed a deal with Werder Bremen for the big mans services. It seems that everything has been agreed by all parties and the club will announce the signing at some point today.

So no complaining now – He is six foot six, has 75 international caps, has played in two world cups and a European championship and has considerable experience in European competition. Not at all bad for £8m

We’ve been linked with him since he was still at school (or so it seems) and on paper he looks like the type of defender we’ve all been calling for (Apart from the not being English thing).

Also a great dancer

Andre Santos – the Brazilian left back looks set to join us from Fenerbache and with he who I’m not mentioning again off to Loftus Road and Kieran Gibbs still locked in the Flump room for safe keeping it is certainly a position we needed to fill.

Like Mertesacker, Santos has considerable experience at International & European level and should give us some much needed stability at left back – unless he gets sent off or injured during his first game…

So that is three in and one out since Sunday, oh yes – almost forgot. Joel Campbell looks set to spend next season on loan with French side Lorient after unsurprisingly failing to gain a work permit. Anyway as I was saying..

That is three in and one out so far and we still have more than twelve hours to go until the window closes and we are certainly expected to make further additions to the squad. Who they will be is anyone’s guess right now but we all know that a creative midfielder is a must. A deal for Gary Cahill appears likely and unlikely in equal measure because reports keep changing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come off, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it not.

The impossible dream?

We keep hearing that there will be a signing of epic proportions that will blow us away and I am living in a dream world where it will either be Franck Ribery or Wesley Sneijder.

The other impossible dream

Yes I do know how unlikely it is to see either of those deals come off but If after all these years I still believe me and Kylie have a chance (Don’t tell the wife) I’m sure as damn it not giving up this dream just yet.

So we just keep wondering who else will come in, who else will go out? Bendtner to Stoke? Chamakh out on loan? Almunia to Lidl? Squillaci lost in the Hampton Court Maze? WE JUST DON’T KNOW PEOPLE!

Follow us on Twitter for updates and ridiculous Tweets through out the day.

Thanks for reading

Paul.

Arsene Wenger’s got a magic hat right?

What are the chances of Arsene bringing in three new players today?

None you say – well that is very disappointing because right now we could certainly bloody do with him producing the footballing equivalent of pulling a rabbit (or three) out of a hat.

Liverpool visit the grove tomorrow & according to Kenny Dalglish their only absentees will be Gerrard & Johnson.

If we take a look at who will be missing for the Gunners tomorrow it really highlights just how thin on the ground we are –

Jack Wilshere – He’ll miss the game tomorrow, the return leg in Udine on Wednesday & is rated 50/50 for the showdown with Manchester United which follows it.

Kieran Gibbs – Still suffering from that hamstring injury he picked up on Tuesday night, the left back is currently cocooned in bubble wrap & is being kept in a room made entirely of flumps somewhere deep beneath the Emirates and is expected to be let out in about 10 – 12 days.

Armand Traore – Our deputy left back has a groin problem, picked up during reserve duties at Underhill on Monday night, and is a doubt for the match tomorrow.

Johan Djourou – The Swiss centre half who has loaned last seasons haircut to Alex Song apparently has a chance of being fit for tomorrow despite only lasting a mere nine minutes after coming on as a sub against Udinese on Tuesday. If he does play tomorrow then I will seriously doubt if their was any truth in the reports that he had a minor hamstring problem & just assume that he really needed to have a poo.

Yes we can all see you Alex

Alex Song – The good news with Song is that he isn’t injured, well apart from that small section of his brain that thought it was a good idea to stamp on Joey Barton last Saturday which has earned him a three match domestic ban beginning tomorrow. Now obviously I know that many of you are thinking “Stamping on Joey Barton is a bad idea?” and that your whole objective view on the universe and our very existence may now be in doubt but let me assure you that, yes, it is a good idea to stamp on Joey Barton – just not when your being filmed & the pictures are being beamed across the globe.

Eating may cause injury

Tomas Rosicky – Another doubt for the game against the Scally’s, the Czech midfielder suffered a thigh injury earlier this week. Apparently he got himself a KFC bargain bucket and whilst taking a bite from said thigh, which was of course covered in a delicious blend of secret herbs & spices, every bone in his body disintegrated and he has had to spend the later part of this week being rebuilt, again, by that medical droid who gives Luke Skywalker a robot hand.

Gervinho – Like Alex Song the Ivorian is banned for our next three domestic matches & like Song this is due to assaulting Joey Barton. To be honest I can not defend the man with the M&M shaped head at all, the way he struck Barton with all the malice, intent & power of a two-year old plucking a daffodil from the earth was disgraceful. All please note that if ever presented with the opportunity to strike Joey Barton you need to make a better fist of it than Gervinho did (pun intended)

Samir Nasri – Well on the one hand the Frenchman’s move to Man City is incomplete so you would imagine that as he is still an Arsenal player and is desperate for us to respect him that he’ll do the decent thing and pull on the red & white tomorrow and go out in a real blaze of glory. Leaving us all thinking “You know what, the way he single handedly destroyed those scousers, I don’t mind him moving to City and earing seventy-five times the amount of money my Grandad earnt in seventy-nine years working twenty-three hour days down the docks, in just a single day. He’s earned my respect and I wish him well. In fact I’m doing a leaving card & having a whip round for him so he has a bit of walking around money when he gets up to Manchester, you know to see him right until he gets that first pay packet, there’s fifty-odd-thousand of us putting twenty quid in each“. On the other hand he is indeed still an Arsenal player tomorrow it’s more likely that he’ll turn up at the grove being carried on a golden throne, wearing t-shirt which says “Fuck you” & throwing peanut shells at AOC from club level and screaming “I AM NASRI” at the top of his voice.

Allergic to peanuts?

So as you can see our choices are a little limited & it would be no surprise to one of Ryo & Chambo start the game, in fact Theo may stub his toe on his writing bureu today and be out for six months so both of them could start along with Carl Jenkison at left back – best we stick Theo in with Gibbo for safe keeping just in case.

I know that in many ways this has not been the sensible, intelligent & insightful post you have come to expect from me and that there are serious issues I could have dealt with but there is so much tension around everything and everyone related to the club right now that I thought I would just try & have a bit of a laugh. Plus I’m off to a wedding tomorrow in Ludlow & at best will only get to see the first half of the match (tears don’t damage iPads right?) and I need to cheer myself up!

So tomorrow & Sundays blogs may come to you a little more rough & ready as I may have to attempt blogging via my iPhone, whilst in a bad mood and/or hung over state.

C’mon Arsene, what you got in that hat ‘eh?

Thanks for reading.

Paul

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