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Friday, December 19, 2008

A post from Frank Stubbs

Waiting for your return flight is always a good opportunity to gather your thoughts and Porto's airport was the latest. To be honest, although it has been yet another successful chapter in our continued European tour off the pitch, it was definitely our most disappointing for quite some time on it.

I like Porto as a city. The layout flanking both sides of the River Douro is hugely picturesque and graced with a huge amount of character. In a city known for its Winter rain, having two days of glorious sunshine to enjoy made it all the more pleasant.

Our plans in fact were totally easy due to this good fortune, enjoying a short river trip and hours of good food and drink on the sundrenched river bank over both Tuesday and Wednesday as the match approached.

As far as football is concerned however, the city couldn't have been much worse. Two trips and no goals!

Until our hosts scored I thought we did ok. Nothing better than 'ok' mind you with Aaron Ramsey's strike our only attempt worth mentioning for all our possession.

Porto's first goal probably summed up our whole performance overall. A totally free header from a corner, very simple and very disappointing.

It is difficult to get too downbeat about it because we knew we were through before a ball was kicked but the manner of our defeat was certainly deflating for all those that had spent huge amounts of money to be there in support.

Thursday it poured down all day and it felt very apt. A port lodge tour and another stupendous lunch certainly lifted the spirits!

We are through to the last 16 and at the end of the day that and only that is what we set out to do. We can now put the competition to bed for a couple of months and concentrate totally on domestic matters.

That started with the long trip to Boro.

The desperately early start and a journey graced with much darkness and quite dreadful weather meant it was fairly subdued for most of it, however a good hearty brekkie and a couple of pre-match liveners certainly lifted the spirits as the usual wave of pre-match optimism spread across us!

Once again many match reports and much opinion has been written about our performance but analysing it as a whole, for me it really was a game that we should have won.

Nobody can criticise the players' effort on this occasion, everyone for me gave 100% from start to finish. Conceding an equaliser was cruel and totally against the run of play, with the opening twenty minutes or so seeing us create a number of chances.

Apart from a short period after their goal, when our hosts played just as any team does after receiving such a boost, we dominated for long periods without getting that little break to give us the three points our performance deserved.

Disappointed not to get maximum points but for me, not with our performance on the day.

To increase the Christmas feelings for our party it was off to the annual event that is the Quo gig at Wembley Arena, us attending on this occasion totally being as a result of the early kick-off!

Surely it can be the only positive however, for a lunchtime kick-off in Boro!!

Other results show how competitive this league of ours has become I feel and our away point looks all the more like one gained rather than two lost.

Our next two league encounters however, are both six pointers!

Lovely jubbly!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dont expect much from Wenger Because:

He said in The Sun: “I come from a little village of farmers where I was educated that when you earn £100 you do not spend £100.

“For me when you earn £100 and you spend £110 it is like cheating. A club must live within its own resources, not artificially supported.”

However, recent economic developments may see several of the Premier League's big boys tighten their belts over the holidays. Chelsea, for one, have hinted that they might not do any buying at all.

And Wenger reckons the rest of England would do well to follow in the Blues' footsteps, and that it will only be a matter of time before the bubble bursts.

He added: “The economic crisis will force many clubs to rethink the way they are run. It seems too many believe football exists in a bubble, away from the financial crisis!

“Football depends heavily on the financial markets, sponsorship and television rights, all of which are suffering right now.

“Clubs will be affected, wages will come down, transfer fees must come down and there will be a bit of calm with the exception of clubs like Manchester City.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gallas & Bendtner to be given the boot!

William Gallas and Nicklas Bendtner have both been linked with a move out of Arsenal when the transfer window opens next month with Arsene Wenger reportedly planning to 'freshen up his squad after a disappointing start to the season'.

Despite the Arsenal manager insisting only last week that he wants Gallas to remain at the club, The Times claims that the Frenchman, stripped of the captaincy last month in the wake of his public criticism of his team-mates, could depart for Italy.

'Claudio Ranieri, the Juventus coach, knows Gallas well and signed him for £6.2 million from Marseilles while in charge of Chelsea in 2001. AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain have also expressed an interest in the 31-year-old, but Arsenal would prefer to do business with the Turin club,' it claims.

Bendtner has been in woeful form of late, repeatedly conceding possession during Wednesday night's defeat against Porto a week after his profligacy enabled Burnley to knock a young Arsenal side out of the Carling Cup.

According to the newspaper, 'West Bromwich Albion want to sign Bendtner on loan until the end of the season but the 20-year-old Denmark forward is reluctant to move to a team who are bottom of the table. Tony Mowbray, the West Brom manager, stepped up his interest in Bendtner this week after finding out that Ishmael Miller has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury.

'Bendtner made a name for himself with 11 league goals while on loan at Birmingham City during the 2006-07 season, but his recent performances and attitude have put his future at the club in doubt.'

Source: http://www.football365.com

Friday, November 21, 2008

Should Gallas be removed as Captain? Have your say.

Stating as fact that William Gallas' recent comments were made "in a misguided effort to deflect attention away from his captaincy" is unacceptably poor journalism, and any decent writer or intelligent reader ought to know that conjecture like this should always be kept out of news articles and confined to opinion pieces.

Any publisher that allows such blatant mixing of opinion and news is cheating its readers and showing contempt for journalistic standards, and while this is only after all a website about football, I still expect better. You should be on your guard against any temptation to do this if you have any respect for your readers or for yourselves as journalists.

You're right, mind you.
Andrew Ward, London

Arsenal Fans Have Had Enough Of Gallas
Monkey Steve asked whether Mailboxers can think of worst captains than Arsenal's William Gallas.

I cannot imagine that there has ever been anyone worse than this egocentric, responsibility-shirking, tactically-challenged, past-his-best apology for a leader.

As an Arsenal fan I am in equal parts ashamed and horrified that he has kept the armband for so long and if it is not taken from him now, I fear for our beloved club and the young players who deserve so much more from their captain.
A Woeful Gooner

...I never write in to 365 but this latest outburst by Gallas must surely be the straw that breaks the camels back when it comes to his captaincy. He has never been a consistently good player for Arsenal, let alone a good captain.

This is the latest in a long line of attacks on his own side, and quite frankly we, the fans, are sick of it. He is never positive, is the first to criticise his own team-mates, and doesn't even perform to his own very high standards.

A captain doesn't seek to shift responsibility to the other players in his side, as this latest outburst from Gallas has done. He is obviously trying to make other players the scapegoats. I hate John Terry, but his actions last night speak volumes of why he is the Chelsea captain and why Gallas was demoted down the ranks and subsequently sold.

Last night, in his post match interview, Terry took full responsibility for his mistake, admitted he was wrong and should have done better, and took all the pressure of Scott Carson, which may just spare him a second international exodus. Terry took one on the chin, accepted responsibility, and behaved in general as the captain should.

Compare this with his old accomplice Gallas. Arsenal's first 3 conceded goals this season were all from corners and were all scored by men Gallas should have been marking. Was Captain Bill's response one of responsibility and leadership. No, just like on the pitch, he sought to blame other individuals and in the press afterwards stated how certain members of the team had to defend better. Gallas clearly spends more time speaking to the press than his own team-mates.

Much has been made of Arsenal's problems, and I for one, do wholeheartedly believe that the team had no unity, no leader and no heart. The matches against Fulham, Sunderland and Stoke were some of the worst of the Wenger reign. As the two figureheads of the club, the manager and the captain, have to hold their hands up high and say that there is no collective desire in this team. (Even more so Wenger for persevering with Gallas for a second season, his choice of captain directly relating to the lack of brotherhood and teamwork on the pitch).

Would Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Ray Parlour, Dennis Bergkamp or Patrick Vieira ever have behaved in the way Gallas has done, NO. Whatsmore, with anyone of those players in the team you could be sure that any of our young players wouldn't dream of, let alone consider, stepping out of line or showing any signs of disrespect. Wenger has taken the best team in the world, a side which was invincible, and replaced them with a group of individual players with no particular allegiance to the club, whose best hopes of silverware is the Carling Cup. All of this to supposedly save money, yet we have the second highest wage bill in the prem?!

Not only should Gallas be stripped of the captaincy, he should be dropped. Bring in the 'real' Captain, Kolo Toure(someone who was around with the all conquering Arsenal legends of 04), partner him with Djourou at the back and see what happens. It surely can't be as bad as the 9 goals in 4 games conceded by Gallas and Silvestre. (Chelsea and Untied rejects who are apparently still good enough for Arsenal though).

I hate to be so negative but the club has become a joke, and its choice of Captain is the punch line. They need to re-install some figures at the club that represent Arsenal and can actually galvanise some unity and respect. Why Keown was never made permanent defensive coach after guiding a back four of Eboue, Toure, Senderos and Flamini to the best ever defensive record in the Champions League remains a mystery.

It's been said before but Wenger needs to buy a clear, proven, experienced quality centre back and defensive midfielder in January. I don't have much hope as aside from Campbell and Toure, Wenger has never signed a decent centre back. Can you imagine any of Stephanovs, Tavlaridis, Luzhny, Cygan, Senderos or Song ever playing for ManUre, Chelsea or Liverpool. Not a chance. Its dark days to be an Arsenal fan, and while Gallas is captain and his team of whiners and individuals carry on as they have been, the situation doesn't look like improving.
Cal, AFC, London

...I'll cut to the point. Gallas needs to go - both as our captain and as an Arsenal player. I'd say sell him in the January transfer window.

He is NOT captain material and given the way he has acted thus far, stripping him of the captaincy but keeping him on the playing roster will only create more trouble.

Willy (or cock, take your pick) will just bitch and moan about it for all eternity and screw the team even more than he already has. Just admit you were wrong Arsene and fix the problem before the rot spreads.
Matt Wright, Gunner in Aus

A Picture That Paints A Thousand Complaints
Ignoring the "did he/-didn't he say those moronic things" aspect of the debate over Gallas, I just wanted to draw everyone's attention to the picture that you have on your site in relation to Captain Numpty. I believe its the shot of him stropping at the end of the Brum game last year. Look at him. Look at his kit. Its pristine. Spotless.

He has just been captaining a top of the table side againtst some relegation battlers away from home, in a game where Brum were putting it about and Arsenal had to come from behind. And he's the skipper.

And at the end of the game he has less stains on his clobber than I do after eating me dinner. If ever one wanted a great visual on this talented but soft and workshy Arsenal team, then look to the "leader."
Mark "and hes wearing Dennis' shirt. Utter sacrilege". Johnson

Carrick: Rubbish
Michael Carrick is absolutely pants. He is masquerading as a 'passing' midfielder yet he only ever passes to his keeper or his center backs. Xavi is the best passing midfielder around (witness Euro Championship or La Liga), that's hows it done.To say he is similar to Scholes is a huge insult to Scholes. He rarely scores or gets an assist like Scholes has done his whole career (not so much in the latter days).

Someone even refered to him as a deep lying playmaker. When I think of a deep lying playmaker I think of Fernando Redondo. Redondo or Carrick? It's like comparing Maradona with Paul Dickov. He's not good enough for United or any other Champions League team.

Which brings me to another point: how bitter is Terry Butcher? Yes, Maradona used his hand to score a goal, get over it. Maybe he's more bitter due to the fact that he was beaten twice for that goal. Clown.

That's probably all.
Mox (not going to be published cuz I slagged off two Englishmen) Carlos

The Carrick Contradiction
I really can't believe the sudden love-in with Michael Carrick following one (admittedly very good) display for England against an understrength and underperforming Germany side.

Now I'm not blinkered to see the strengths the guy possesses. I will even go as far as to say that he has been a good (albeit wildly overpriced) purchase for Man Utd, the reason being that, given time on the ball, he's as good as anyone at crafting passes and making things tick. He also possesses an excellent football brain.

My biggest gripe with Michael Carrick though is that he is a completely different player against good and bad opposition (which is why he's been a good signing for Utd). When the team is on top, he's great - acting as a fulcrum at the heart of the midfield to keep play flowing and open up new angles of attack for his teammates. Put him up against top class players though and the man completely disappears.

Two games played in quick succession sum up Michael Carrick for me. The first is Man Utd destroying Roma at home 7-1 in the CL, where he was magnificent, scoring and setting up goals for fun. United were great, he was better. Roma, quite simply, were dog (they let the pensioner Larsson score ffs).

A few weeks later the same side ran up against a Milan team packed with experienced and quality midfielders. People will argue that the whole of United's eleven that day were shocking, but my point is that Carrick is the man United needed to turn to that day to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and haul them back into contention. Instead he misplaced more passes and missed more tackles than anyone.

I challenged a Man U supporting friend of mine to name a big game in which Carrick has excelled and beyond the Roma one, he was unable to cite one example. I on the other hand can think of several in which he has disappeared. The man simply doesn't make the grade at the highest level and will continue to be found wanting against top quality opposition (though hopefully only in a United shirt and not an England one).
Matt Houston, London

Scholes: Not Average
Loathe as I am to come to the defence of a Man Utd player, particularly one who has always tormented my own team, I think Neil Raines may have got a bit carried away when he described Scholes "very, very, average" for England.

14 goals from 66 caps is a good return and it would probably have been better but for his unhappy stints out on the left wing.
Ben Smith

...Can I just counter the idea that playing Carrick and Barry is somehow better than playing Scholes at his best. I have often found myself angry at the way England fans criticise Scholes for his England performances, without ever watching him pull the strings for Man Utd.

The reason for this is that when Scholes was banging them in from the edge of the box for United, they were playing with two strikers, in Yorke/Cole or Sheringham or Solskjaer, and two wingers in Giggs and Kanchelskis/Ronaldo/a.n.other. What this meant was that the back four were effectively kept busy, so Scholes could find the space for his brilliance to shine.

England, on the other hand, never had wingers, we had Beckham who wanted to be a central midfielder and Joe Cole or another right footed winger on the left who would always cut inside. What this meant was that the back four could sit narrow and one was normally free to pick up Scholes. Late runs into the box are often missed by midfielders but not by a spare centre back or full back.

Scholes was a victim of England's lack of wingers and formation, he is still and always has been a class player.
Paul Milton, Southampton

More Rubbish Cups
All this talk about the worst cup competition of all time is silly and a pointless waste of time...mostly because it's dancing around the real worst cup competition of all time, the British Cup Winners Challenge Cup of 1987/88, St Mirren v Coventry City, a fixture oozing glamour, and a cup so pointless, it still doesn't have a winner.

They played one leg out of two, abandoned it due to a lack of interest, and gave up...

Anyone fancy organising a second leg to settle the dispute that rages on to this day?
Michael Connolly

...In yesterday's mailbox, Ian Hueston of Dublin stated that 'Man Yoo also won the trophy the only time a 3rd place play off match for the FA Cup was played between the two losing semi finalists'. Sorry, I don't think that's true. I recall Wolves beating Arsenal 3-1 at Highbury, probably in August 1973, in the FA Cup 3rd place match. I even recall there being highlights on ITV the following afternoon.

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the Texaco Cup in this list of crap tournaments, although to be fair, I don't think it was actually that crap. The first one was held in 1970-1, and, oddly enough I remember this because Wolves won the trophy the first time it was held. I think the idea was that it was a dry run for a possible British cup, so there were teams from England Scotland and Ireland (without looking it up, I'm sure Wolves beat Derry City in one of the earlier rounds), and included the highest placed teams that hadn't qualified for Europe.

The final was a two-legged match between Wolves and Hearts. Wolves won the first leg 3-1 at Tynecastle, but Hearts could only win 1-0 at Molineux in the return (on the same night Arsenal won at Spurs to win the first leg of their first Cup and League double, trivia fans!).

I'm sure the tournament lasted for more than one season, but the following season Wolves qualified for the UEFA Cup, so probably wouldn't have defended the title.
Paul Quinton, just realising how sad I can sound sometimes, Wolverhampton

Thanks to f365 for this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

All your rants!!

Losing The Faith On Wenger
If Wenger thinks he will win anything with Diaby, Denilson, Song , he really needs to go. Cream over the youth products all you want. If Wenger loves unearthing starlets, let him become a f**k*ng scout!

Most fans pay £40 + a game in the hope that their team wins a match, or a league, not so the profits of a club are secure! If we don't qualify for the CL, which I think we won't, finally, finally, someone may have the balls and turn around to him and say, 'you f**k*d up...now what? You gonna spend some money on a complete player?'

Our defence hasn't been up to scratch for ages and he has done nothing to remedy that. Our defensive midfield was weakened and he did nothing. People forget about Gilberto and we have missed him so much. Giving the captaincy to Gallas instead of him was disgusting and Wenger should be ashamed of how he treated one of the most professional players we have had. Fabregas will leave, I can guarantee it, his apathy and poor form this season has been evident for all to see, as will Adebayor, and then what? We could get £60 mill for those two, and then what? I know, service some of that debt, because we won't be in the CL and that money will need to be replaced.

To my fellow Arsenal fans, get used to not competing at all, I fear barren days ahead.
John 'utterly disillusioned' Matrix

Arsenal Lack Leadership In The Stands
I've been an Arsenal season ticket holder since the move to the Emirates, at a cost of £3,500 over 3 years. In return I've seen some incredible world class games, but also a lot of frustrating games, and this season is looking like there's going to be a number of fairly meaningless games (obviously I'm hoping for a good run in the Champions League).

I chip in with the singing, shout 'come on lads' a few times, stand up to show my hatred of Tottenham etc. etc. but I do often find myself sitting quietly and well-behaved like those around me for long stretches in some games. Sorry fellow gooners, but most of you do the same. We need leadership not just on the pitch, but in the stands as well.

In fact I missed the Villa game on Saturday and passed my ticket on to someone else. After 3 home games in two weeks unfortunately the missus demanded my attention for a saturday afternoon. Again, sorry guys, I guess I should take some share of responsibility for our poor performance against Villa. I'll do my best to get to every single game remaining this season (although I have to miss one over Christmas).

But after reading some of the mails yesterday and this morning I was wondering if I myself was falling into the category of fans no longer wanted at the stadium, and if so I will consider my position for the greater good of the team. Otherwise, f**k off and stop your bitching, we're in this together, scumbags.
John Davies

Letting The Side Down
We now find ourselves in a mutually acrimonious viscious spiral:

- The team falters due to inherent weaknesses.

- The fans, enraged behave in a terrible and unprecedented way - but towards the team, as I suppose the only outlet for their ire. (How many players have been frequently booed this season - Bendtner, Adebayor, Eboue, the whole team? Booing has been present almost every other game.It is absolutely disgusting in my view, and I am ashamed that our Arsenal supporters relationship with our own players has come to this.)

- The team personnel already with fragile belief and love in the arsenal project and the badge really do lose any remaining vestiges of love, performances drop further, and players cannot wait to get out.

- All is destroyed.

I implore all Arsenal Fans. I share your pain, but on no account boo the team. Even more so if they are spineless, do we need to get behind them to give them heart. It is not any players fault that he is on the pitch, so any annoyance at his percieved lack of quality should not be directed at him.

Angus Hulme

A Red-Letter Day
I was getting ready to write an angry tirade against Darren Hoare just now, until I read the last lines of his email. It's true there are probably loads of Red Members like myself, waiting to get the next level of membership so I can get to more games.

I supported Arsenal as a kid and was a Junior Gunner (most clubs have an equivalent) but I then moved further away from London and even abroad for a while, hence I didn't continue paying every year. But back in the day (pre/early Wenger) it was still possible to get tickets without being a member). Now I live in the Westcountry and it's not exactly easy to get to every game. I'm lucky if there is a ticket for a game on a day I can make, and I can afford it at the time. It's not just the tickets, but then the travelling down there.

But I don't doubt that with the next level of membership it'll be easier to get tickets so, he has a point when he says the more passionate Red members will be able to get to more games. Frankly, I'll suffer the dent in the wallet if it means I can get to more games and I don't just mean going to watch other big four teams - I'll just as happily shout myself hoarse watching us against anyone (and have done before!).

Of course, the next problem when I get there, is being told to shut up and sit down when trying to start a chant......but just so you know, there are genuine fans out there on the waiting list so when the plastic ones give up and go and support Chelsea - we'll be there to replace them!
M (supported arsenal before we became 'Gooners') Green

...Whilst not wanting to get drawn into pointless bickering (for shame) I do take some issue with Darren Hoare's ridiculous idea this morning that the reason for the good atmosphere at Arsenal vs. Manchester United and the subsequent Ashburton atmosphere void at the Villa match was the fact that Silver Members (one below season ticket level) bothered to attend the United game and that those pesky Red Members, who apparently "have no idea what it's like to really support the club", couldn't get a ticket.

A reasonable argument at first glance perhaps, but undermined somewhat by the fact that the reason tickets were more easily available to us lowly Red Members for the Villa game was that many of the sainted Silver Members decided to give the game a miss, presumably on the basis that it's 'only Villa'. Now that's "supporting a team" eh Darren?

I'm sure you can draw your own parallels between a group of fans only bothering to turn up for the big games and the Arsenal players' recent attitudes on the pitch.

I would note also the excellent atmosphere at many of our home Carling Cup matches this season, where ticket sales generally ended up going not only to Red members but, Yee Gods!, to the general public, who, using Darren's idea that the lower level of member you are the less you know how to support a team and make noise, would surely not have a clue at all what to do at a game.

There are many issues with the crowd at the Arsenal; too many day-trippers, too many early leavers, over-zealous stewarding - let's not turn this into a tedious "my member(ship) is bigger than yours'" game.
Michael (Red Member) Evans

...You whinge at The Gunners' so called "Red" member fans (the ones on a waiting list for games) for not creating enough atmosphere because "most of these people do not attend games on a regular basis and therefore have no idea what it's like to really support the club".

At the same time you applaud the real fans, the "Silver" members, who only attend the "more prestigious fixtures, leaving out the so-called 'lesser fixtures' because of the ticket prices". So, in your opinion, the true Gunners fans are the ones who cherry pick which matches they want to see, whilst the fans who are left to scrape the barrel are fair weather supporters?
Stephen Smith

Blame The Club For The Lack Of Atmosphere
While I agree with my fellow Arsenal fans in the mailbox complaining about the lack of atmosphere at home games, I don't blame the non-singing fans, I blame the money grabbing club. The passionate (and dare I say real) fans can no longer afford to go. Whilst I sing my heart out when I'm there, I can only afford to go a couple of times a year.

Look at the Carling Cup games where the prices are dropped, and you see that the Emirates actually can produce an amazing atmosphere, and it's not just because the kids do well. Last year I went to our Carling Cup game against Sp*rs, and despite us being crap (we managed to squeak a 1-1 draw), the atmosphere was the best I had experienced at the new ground.

The only way to fix this is for Arsenal Football Club to stop being greedy, and cut the price of standard home tickets to around £20. There may be a reduction in revenue, but since we don't spend any money on new players, that doesn't really matter, does it?
Adonis (I'm too upset to think of anything funny to put in here) Stevenson, London

And All Of Arsenal's Other Problems
Can we all please f**k off about the crowd noise at the Emirates.
I go every week and it is not as bad as it is made out to be. And, yes I chant.

Focus on the problems at hand please. I am not going to say Wenger has to go, but he does need to be made more accountable, and not be allowed to "spin" his way out trouble. There are problems at the Emirates, and I for one am questioning why a CEO can't be appointed. My belief (or conspiracy theory) is that none of the candidates are willing to become another "yes man" to Wenger.

David Dein has never been replaced and he was the only one who would question Wenger. He also took care of the contract negotiations, which is now mostly under Wenger's remit. His decision to sell to Usmanov though was a terrible one and made his position untenable.

Wenger's singlemindeness towards his vision is amazing and I truly respect that, but he needs help. Martin Keown would be a huge plus.

And the slating that Denilson gets is not justified. Generally, he has played better than Cesc this season (although a 70% Cesc is still a better player than most players at 100%). The problem is that he is not a great partner to Fabregas. Not Denilson's fault, but Wenger's.

Hleb is missed tremendously, but primarily for his ball retaining abilities and ability to move the ball up the pitch, rather than his fannying about in the box (although he was instrumental in our offense as well). This added a huge element to our defensive capabilities. Flamini is missed for his tenacity, leadership and ball winning abilities, which is exactly what Cesc needs next to him right now.

How the hell we have the second highest wage bill is beyond me, especially given we lost Helb and Flamini due to not being able to meet their wage demands. It's tragic that it is almost getting to the point where I am more interested in my dream team than in Arsenal.
David, London, Gooner

Fabregas Has Had Enough
Cesc isn't tired, he just doesn't want to play for AFC anymore and I for one don't blame him. Every year the team gets turned on its head, his footballing partners go and get replaced with younger, less experienced players who don't have the same rapport with him. He wants to win and he knows he can't do that under Wenger, the man's gone nuts. He's a brilliant manager who has lost the plot.

If he'd been sensible he would have acquired Given, Alonso and Villa in the transfer window, all of them up for grabs and all affordable. Cesc would be happy and firing and Arsenal would not have dropped any points. Given behind Sagna, Gallas, Silvestre and Clichy is a quality back 5. Alonso would partner well with Cesc, he'd know where he stood.

When Cesc plays badly so does the whole team - just look at Fulham, Hull, Sunderland, Stoke, Villa etc. I think Arsenal fans are in for a rough ride and I wouldn't expect the beautiful game this season...
Benjamin Ford

Unhappy With Newcastl;e Fans As Well
To the f**k wit sitting 3 rows behind me in the Leazes End at St. James' on Saturday, take your support elsewhere you c**k. To abuse the club's greatest ever keeper and claim he was at fault for both goals against Wigan, costing us the match, had to be the most ridiculous, full of s**t statement I'd ever heard.

So congratulations at being even more cringeworthy than the t**t who ran on the pitch to have a pop a Kinnear, but was so slow he didn't get within 50 meters of him.
Tom (I censor my own email) Charteris

Finally, A Mention Of Villa
In this Morning's Mailbox, all the talk was of how poor Arsenal were, but lets have a bit of credit for the Villa!

Coming of the back of two Premier League defeats, and a squad struggling to cope with the demands of European football, I think most Villans were expecting us to get turned over in a pretty bad way.

But Credit to O'Neill, he dropper Reo-Coker ( which was overdue), set his team out perfectly, and seems to be getting the best out of Gabby Agbonlahor, who a month ago looked the laziest footballer on the planet, but has shown willing in recent games and deserves his England place.

We scored 2 goals, missed a penalty, and were unfortunate not to be ahead at half time ( ask Wenger, he said so himself). Our defence stood firm ( Laursen is a classier version of Terry), and we fully deserved our victory. So lets have a bit of credit where it is due.

Also, 4 Villa players in the England squad is almost unheard of in modern times, but each of them deserves it, and if Ashley Young doesn't get in ahead of that twat Downing then Capello needs his head looking at.

Up the Villa!
Adam Hall ( waiting for the inevitable 4-0 drubbing by Man Utd on Saturday), AVFC

Petrov Has Made The Difference
You may remember a few months ago, a few mentalists were talking about the world ending when they started up the Hadron Collider in CERN, but nothing happened.

Well I have news for you all. The world did end as we know it and we are currently living in a new, alternative universe which is exactly the same as the old one except for one key difference.

Since that fateful day in September, Stillian Petrov is now good.
He has been injured of late, and the results against Newcastle and Middlesbrough are no coincidence where we were poor. He returned to the team on Sat, and we promptly spank the Arsenal.

People talk about Gabby, and Barry and Young, but Petrov is the key to our season. If he stays fit, then maybe, just maybe we can push for 4th.
Phil, AVFC (I am actually from Brum, you know)

Dowd Not Fit For Purpose?
Watching the two games yesterday highlighted one thing for me: The difference in referees: Steve Bennett is fit and able to get close to the play as he can keep up constantly with the breaks.

In the aftermath of the Hull v Manchester City game yesterday Stephen Ireland et al were loathe to hammer Phil Dowd as he is 'a nice fella' but the second half was a constant stop-start affair for one reason: Dowd can't run!

He was waddling around and when either team broke on a quick counter-attack he started to try and sprint and then would blow for the slightest perceived infringement.

I thought they had fitness tests?
Ian (G) G

Another Believer In The Anti-Liverpool Conspiracy
I am not a paranoid Liverpool fan otherwise I could've stopped myself writing in. Don't give a monkeys if Gerrard is injured or not, ridiculous time for a friendly (didn't England play Germany at Wembley in the last 12 months or so anyway?) and as has been pointed out Ferguson has been pulling this trick for years.

All I'll say about the Ferdinand/Rooney pull outs is look at United's next three matches: Villa, Villarreal and Citeh all away all big games, a slip up in any of them and they could see Chelsea disappear further over the horizon (i'd say LFC as well but I'm not hexing anything) and finish 2nd in their Champions League group giving the possibility of a tougher test in the 1st knockout round after Xmas - if it were your club's interests the phrase "it makes sense" would probably spring to mind even if it does smack of underhandedness (is that a word?).

But most big clubs in Europe try this on and to be fair Rafa and Ferguson have let several other big name players play for their countries this week, so in this specific case we should only be asking why Capello is singling out Gerrard. Could it be that United still have several players Capello may view as important to his future plans for England whilst Liverpool only has Gerrard thus he feels he has less to lose by cajoling us more than them?

Paranoid point number 2. Andy Gray, just get used to it / ignore him. Ridiculous that he's still allowed to do Liverpool games so often really (don't mind the odd one who hates us - Alan Smith - who only pop up now and again), but ever since he climaxed over Gerrard's stunner v Olympiakos in 2004-05 his attitude towards Liverpool has constantly been "negatively slanted" to say the least.

Either way with the amount of former Reds in the media (whether they're positive about us or not) no other fans are going to voice sympathy for us even if the man's faults and bias are blindingly obvious to all and sundry.
Rob "that Friday night in November brings back all the childhood teasing that has scarred me for life" Pudsey

Putting Paul C In His Place
Just a quick one in reply to the "I don't watch England anymore" dimwitted Paul C... it is Capello himself who wants to check on Gerrard and not "The F.A" as you suggest, and I'm pretty sure that when the Paul Scholes incident that you refer to took place, Capello was not "our" nations manager.

I to continue with the proving your lack of intelligence to the football365 community you actually suggest that the equally dimwitted Mascherano "paid the price" for United and Chelsea's wrongdoings, I have to say that is quite possibly the most idiotic sentence I have read in my entire life.

And with your mardy arse 5 year old rant of "I'm never watching another international match ever again. I haven't watched one since the Euro Final, and from now on I shall watch none at all, irregardless of its 'importance", you are exactly the type of "fan" that our national team does not need, good riddance!!!
Stuart Harkness, Knutsford, ENGLAND..... super England!

...Paul C (cos I'm not witty enough to think of a hilarious sign-off line!), Dublin - have a word with yourself mate. We're criticised often enough (sometimes justifiably, in my view) for our moaning and self-pitying ways - we don't need tools like you wading in with your ridiculous conspiracy theories.

Sentences such as, 'if one club in the entire planet has suffered more from international football than any other surely it's Liverpool' just make it easy for people to knock us. You're either a Manc pretending to be a Pool fan or you need to chill out a little, maybe stop drinking quite so much on a Monday morning and try and control that temper of yours.
Rob (was Capello standing on the grassy knowl?), LFC

Who's In Charge?
So John Terry was made England captain after Scolari made a phonecall to Capello advising him to do so, and now we have a 20 year old who's never played for Chelsea somehow getting a callup?

My question is this: Why is Scolari running the England team?
Andy Wilson

Defending Gomes
Stephen Marshall writes, in his usual knee-jerk fashion, that Gomes is utterly useless and should therefore be replaced, but not by his immediate understudy. No, that would be a bad move because he is a geriatric 'dwarf'; not sure when being over 6ft made you a midget, but I shall bow to his clearly superior knowledge.

Now Stephen, exactly why is it you wish to see Alnwick in goal? Is it because he's been so impressive in all his loan spells? Is it because of the manner in which he commands his box, and grasps firmly onto any cross sent within 5 metres of him? Or is it because you are just picking a name off the squad list, and deciding that he's great, despite no top-flight manager ever seeing such qualities, nor, for that matter, any of those loan clubs making the move permanent. Now why is that?

Perhaps Mr Marshall is a scout and has seen many of Alnwick's appearances, and thus knows more than anyone else possibly could. Perhaps he's a member of the Alnwick family (or even a co-star in Ben's film career), sticking up for one of his own. Or perhaps, just perhaps, he's become far too desperate to see his name on the monitor, and thus writes self-contradictory, short-termist letters that are just perfect for the mailbox.

Mr Marshall, does the damage you refer to include the myriad of remarkable saves made by Gomes over recent weeks? The sheer number of points saved thanks to the man who is a shot-stopper beyond compare? Or do you not watch games in full, preferring instead to refer to MotD and their delighted mocking of the hapless Heurelho? The man has been playing with broken ribs, he's been taking a battering from all and sundry, and he's been part of a team that - up until a few weeks ago - was looking absolutely pathetic.

During our miserable start, it was his work that prevented us being mauled on many an occasion. Yet you want to drop him for Ben bloody Alnwick? Are you actually an idiot, or just doing a damn good impression?
Terry Hayden

Rubbish Cup Competitions - A Final Wordþ
A brief Scottish interlude...

Surely the Anglo-Scottish cup is worthy of a mention. My team, St Mirren seemed to always end up playing Bristol city in the final, winning it once even. Nowadays we just get gubbed on a regular basis by the likes of Motherwell, but if ever a final word was required on this and other diddy cups, this snippet from wikipedia says it all:

'In the 1987-1988 season an attempt was made to revive the competition as the Anglo Scottish Challenge Cup; however after a poor attendance for the first leg game between Coventry and St.Mirren, the competition was shelved, with the second leg never played'.
Stephen O

Courtesy of football 365.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Star Gazing

After watching the side - minus Nicklas Bendtner for Jay Simpson - that beat Sheffield United 6-0 a month ago dismantle Wigan 3-0, Arsene Wenger has hailed his latest crop of Carling Cup wonderkids as his best yet. Here's the lowdown on the 11 for the future...

Lukasz Fabianski
The 23-year-old Polish goalkeeper was the oldest Arsenal player on the pitch last night.
It is rare for goalkeepers to reach their peak - both in terms of power and appreciation - before the age of 25, so Fabianski is already ahead of his time. Promoted to be Manuel Almunia's deputy following Jens Lehmann's summer departure, Arsene Wenger says the Pole is on the brink of a first-team breakthrough and is likely to keep Fabianski active over the coming months: "I am convinced that with only one goalkeeper you do not have a chance in a season like ours." A better shot-stopper than Almunia, only his decision-making remains suspect.

Gavin Hoyte
The 18-year-old right-back younger brother of Middlesbrough's Justin Hoyte
Recognised as a better player than his brother, there is no reason why not. At the very least, a Premier League career, as with Hoyte Senior, should await. "He had an outstanding game," eulogised Wenger in his post-match press conference. Currently the captain of Arsenal's reserves, Hoyte is unlikely to dislodge Bacary Sagna but could provide satisfactory cover.

Johan Djourou
21-year-old centre-half who spent the first half of last season at Birmingham.
If he were to make it with Arsenal, it would probably have happened by now - Djourou made his Arsenal debut as long ago as 2004. Regressed during his stint with Birmingham, Djourou seems to have lost Wenger's confidence ever since. A decent player but probably one who is too lapse-prone to be a regular starter in a Big Four team.

Alex Song
21-year-old Cameroonian who can play either at centre-half or in midfield.
Song's future looked bleak after a disastrous first-team debut at Fulham two years ago - he was substituted at half-time - but the African has found a niche for himself in the seniors' squad as the only player suitable for the midfield anchor role. Demonstrated his versatility on Tuesday with an outstanding display in defence to subdue Amr Zaki.

Kieran Gibbs
19-year-old full-back or winger who spent a chunk of last season on loan at Norwich.
Wenger is a fan but Gibbs' way into the first team, if he continues at left-back, is not only blocked by Gael Clichy but also the unforgotten 19-year-old Armand Traore (currently on loan at Portsmouth). Another player who surely have a long career in the top flight - but not necessarily in a red-and-white shirt.

Jack Wilshere
16-year-old who played from the right of midfield against Wigan despite being predominantly left-footed.
This boy could be special. The jewel in the crown of Arsenal's Academy, Wilshere was even on the substitutes' bench this weekend against Manchester United. Similar in style to Joe Cole, Wenger believes the youngster - so young that he couldn't drink the champagne awarded for his man-of-the-match display - has "the same potential" as Cesc Fabregas. A terrific prospect - and an English one. Tomas Rosicky's latest (but sadly predictable) setback means Wilshere might even make a few first-team appearances this season.

Aaron Ramsey
17-year-old Welsh midfielder bought by Arsenal for £5m in the summer.
Ramsey is set to make his full Welsh debut next week and looks to be Fabregas' replacement-in-waiting. On this evidence, however, he will be pushing for a first-team spot next season. An awesome talent.

Mark Randall
19-year-old English midfielder born in Milton Keynes.
The only disappointment in the victory over Wigan was the number of misplaced passes and unnecessary flicks made by Randall. A lot of work is still to be done before his future is secured.

Fran Merida
18-year-old Spaniard who spent three months on loan with Real Sociedad at the start of the year.
Overshadowed on Tuesday by Ramsey and Wilshere, Merida still provided enough cute touches to explain why Wenger rates him so highly and such a fuss was made when Arsenal poached the then 15-year-old from Barcelona. Not yet ready for first-team action, expect Merida to go on loan again in the new year - but don't forget about him either.

Jay Simpson
19-year-old Tottenham-born striker who won the PFA's Fans' League One player of the year award for 2008 after scoring eight times while on loan at Millwall last season.
At any other club, the buccaneering Simpson would be regarded as a star in the making, although that discrepancy is in part made by the impression that he is not the sort of striker Wenger prefers. Nonetheless, even before his excellent two-goal performance against Wigan, the Frenchman made no secret of his admiration: "At the moment it is too early to say if he has a future, but I think so yes." At the very least, a lucrative career in the top flight should await.

Carlos Vela
19-year-old Mexican bought by Arsenal as long ago as November 2005 for a fee of just £125,000.
Wenger has hailed Vela as the best finisher at the club and his two stunning chips against Sheffield United and Wigan demonstrated precisely why. Already on the verge of a first-team breakthrough, Vela will surely be provided with a few opportunities to impress before the season is out. Claims that Arsenal lack strength in depth seem laughable given that this youngster is currently only their fifth-choice striker.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Official Match Report - Arsenal Vs Man Utd

By Richard Clarke

This game began the afternoon in incessant rain and ended in bright, brilliant sunlight.

Ditto Arsenal’s season.

At his pre-match press conference, Arsène Wenger had faced an inquisition about his side’s title chances and you got the feeling the obituaries would have been written had they slumped to a weak defeat against the champions.

In the end, they came away with a hard-fought and thoroughly deserved victory that could breathe new life into Arsenal’s season.

Samir Nasri got both goals. The first came in the 22nd minute via a deflection, the second via superb Arsenal passing just after half time.

Manchester United had ample possession and their build-up play was expert. However they spurned the chances they created. Their only goal came 45 seconds from the end of normal time via Rafael’s volley when they were going for broke.

This time it was Arsenal who picked the pocket of a side who had played the beautiful game...well... beautifully.

Of course, one great game cannot make a season. Arsenal’s three points here only replaces the ones lost so badly at Stoke last week.

But with everyone looking for Wenger’s team to respond, this had been an emphatic answer.

Ahead of the game, Wenger knew he had five players out but he was due to make late calls over the fitness of another five.

In the end, Manuel Almunia (sickness) Bacary Sagna (ankle), Theo Walcott (shoulder), Mikael Silvestre (broken nose) and William Gallas (hamstring) were declared fit and started the game.

Only Emmanuel Adebayor (ankle), Emmanuel Eboue (knee), Robin van Persie (suspended), Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) and Eduardo (broken leg) missed out.

Wenger brought in Abou Diaby to play just behind Nicklas Bendtner with Nasri and Walcott supplying width either side of Cesc Fabregas and Denilson in central midfield.

The back four was all-French, so Kolo Toure was left on the bench.

This is always a massive game but after Arsenal’s recent problems it appeared to have taken on seismic proportions. Given it was November, the points would not be decisive but Wenger’s men needed to make a statement of intent in the title race.

It would be a pivotal afternoon.

It nearly started in the worst possible fashion for Arsenal. With only 90 seconds Silvestre played a weak back pass to Almunia, who under pressure from Wayne Rooney, came out to collect with his hands. Anderson took the resulting free-kick from inside the area but the wall deflected it to Michael Carrick on the edge of the area. His bobbling shot wandered inches wide.

Manchester United had started with all the swagger we expected. They had the ball in the net in the eighth minute when Ronaldo crossed low from the right and Ji-Sung Park’s dummy allowed Rooney to shoot. Almunia palmed the ball out to Dimitar Berbatov who slotted home. Fortunately for Arsenal the Bulgarian had strayed offside.

By now the light shower of the morning had turned into a downpour. And Arsenal would have their fans singing in the rain.

In the 11th minute, Bendtner slammed a header just over from Clichy’s left-wing cross. Five minutes later Nasri sent over a similar opportunity but neither Diaby nor Bendtner could crane their heads enough to connect.

Perhaps Arsenal’s best chance before the goal came on the quarter-hour when Van de Sar’s weak punch fell to Diaby but his snap-shot was deflected wide.

The all-important strike would come a couple of minutes later but, not before Rooney had shot after an ominously incisive Manchester United side.

The goal began when Patrice Evra fouled Sagna on the right-hand byline. Fabregas clipped it over to the far post where a clearance from Nemanja Vidic fell to Nasri. The Frenchman bought a lottery ticket by firing a low shot into the congested area. His numbers came up when the ball flicked off Gary Neville’s leg and flew past Van der Sar.

It was just what Arsenal needed but the job was nowhere near done. Park’s low shot forced the best out of Almunia and the visitors continued to pressure.

Eight minutes before the break Diaby steamrollered through only to be brought down by Michael Carrick. Howard Webb did not give a foul and replays proved he had been incorrect.

Right in front of us Arsenal were rebuilding the confidence that had been undermined in the past 10 days. They sustained pressure before the break and might have added to their lead when Walcott miskicked an effort just wide from Clichy’s cross.

This was fast becoming a throwback to Arsenal v Manchester United games a decade ago. It was helter-skelter and packed with incident.

Sagna, Gallas and Evra were all booked just before the break. You could see more yellow cards after the interval.

It was that kind of game.

And the opening few minutes of the second half suggested it just might be Arsenal’s day.

Around 90 seconds in, the home side passed and passed and passed until Fabregas fed Nasri on the edge of the area. The Frenchman lashed the ball home with relish.

The 21-year-old ran towards the touchline before being engulfed by his team-mates. It was a moment of unbridled joy.

However it was nearly shortlived. Park found Ronaldo at the far post and the winger’s sidefoot volley flew inches wide. A crucial moment.

While 1-0 was wonderful and 2-0 was terrific, neither had ended the argument. The visitors were on the attack for most of the afternoon, that said Almunia had not been overworked.

Diaby barged past Van der Sar to send a header just over but by now Arsenal were mostly working on the counter-attack. Manchester United were pushing forward in search of a lifeline.

Midway through the half Almunia needed lengthy treatment after Carrick, without malice, had caught him in the head when the ball ran loose from a corner.

By now Ferguson was searching for inspiration via his substitutes. Rafael, Ryan Giggs and Carlos Tevez were all on with 15 minutes left.

Although Manchester United were still pressing, Arsenal had a major shout for a penalty in the 74th minute when Vidic appeared to haul over Nasri as the French winger closed in on a hat-trick chance.

With 10 minutes left, Wenger made his own substitutions with Alex Song replacing Walcott and Fabianski coming on for the struggling Almunia.

The Pole had only caretaking to do really before picking the ball out of his net with 45 seconds left. Manchester United now had defenders in the area and one of them, Rafael, plundered a volley from just outside.

That came seconds before the fourth official announced six minutes of injury time.

It was time to scrap for Arsenal’s season. In fact the home side would have the better chances, especially when Bendtner dribbled through and swivelled a shot over the bar.

The whistle blew soon afterwards.

Arsenal were back. But had they ever really gone away?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

J Ramos - a true gunner.

Just a short note to thank Ramos for his incredible work at spurs. Thanks for taking them down. What more can we ask for? I knew he would turn out to be a true gunner. Thanks!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why Ashley Cole was booed.

PRETTY blonde Aimee Walton told last night of her “wild” sex romp with Ashley Cole — then admitted: “It was a big mistake, I feel so sorry for Cheryl.”

Aimee, 22, revealed the Chelsea and England defender cheated on pop star wife Cheryl after a night out drinking with pals.

In revelations that shatter Cole’s image as a happily married man who rarely drinks, mum-of-one Aimee told how he:

CHATTED up girls as he downed vodka cocktails;

SLAPPED her bottom so hard his platinum wedding ring left a mark;

VOMITED in a girl’s car — then said she should feel “privileged”;

MADE absurd claims that Girls Aloud singer Cheryl “didn’t mind” him cheating as long as he kept it secret, and

INTERRUPTED their sex session to be sick again.

Aimee said: “He’s wild — really rude in bed. He knew exactly what he was doing and was pretty good, despite not being very big.


The sex session took place at a posh flat belonging to one of Cole’s pals in the Princess Park Manor complex in Friern Barnet, North London.

It is the same complex where Cole met and lived with Cheryl, 24, before their fairytale marriage in the summer of 2006.

Cole’s fall from grace — which is likely to sicken wife Cheryl and infuriate his Chelsea boss Avram Grant — came a few hours after the Blues beat Sunderland 2-0 on December 8.

He went out drinking with pals, who were planning to watch boxer Ricky Hatton’s world title fight on TV later that night.

Aimee and a friend were drinking at the CC club in Piccadilly, central London, when a pal of Cole’s asked them if they wanted to join the star in the VIP lounge.

Chelsea fan Aimee said: “Ashley was already drunk and couldn’t keep his eyes off me, but he wouldn’t come and chat.

“He was wearing jeans, a grey T-shirt and he kept putting on a baseball cap.

“I was wearing a short black dress with white stars on.

“I knew who he was but have never been that impressed with footballers — we were just enjoying the free drinks. But at the end of the night one of Ashley’s mates just came up to me and said, ‘Ashley wants you to go home with him’.

“He said he’d get a car but my friend was driving so we offered to give him a ride.” Swaying Cole was eager to say yes.

Aimee, from Morden, South London, went on: “As we were walking out of the club I asked Ashley about Cheryl but he clammed up.

“I remember thinking I was going home with a married man and that his wife was one of the most famous singers in the country.

“I asked him if he would get in trouble with Cheryl and he just said, absurdly, ‘She knows what I do. I just can’t get found out’.

“I was really shocked by that — it showed he couldn’t care less about breaking his marriage vows.

“He just kept saying to me, ‘Please don’t tell anyone, I’ll get in so much trouble’. Then he started apologising for what he was about to do.

“He slapped my backside so hard his wedding ring left an imprint. He tried to hold my hand but I could feel the ring and felt so bad I pushed it away.”


Cole then joined Aimee in the back seat of her pal’s Vauxhall Astra while his friend CJ sat in the passenger seat. Two of Cole’s other friends got a separate cab back to the flat.

Aimee — who has a 19-month-old son — said: “During the ride he was slurring his words and was a right mess. Then he just threw up everywhere.

“My friend was going mad but he just smiled and said to me, ‘She should be privileged Ashley Cole was sick in her car.’ His T-shirt was covered in sick and he took it off. I remember being really disturbed by how violently ill he was.”

Once at the flat, Cole’s pals Johnny, CJ and a third man continued drinking downstairs, waiting for the early morning Hatton fight — while the England star led Aimee to a bedroom.

She said: “When you walk into the flat there’s a staircase straight ahead of you and a toilet on the right.

“Ashley said he needed a drink and we went to the toilet to get some tissue to wipe sick off his arm.

“He then tried to find the kitchen but wandered into what looked like an entertainment room.

“He then got a glass of water from the kitchen and asked me to take him up to bed.

“There was a tiny landing at the top of the stairs with a bedroom on the right and another on the left — he took me into the one on the right. He begged me to tuck him into bed.

“I was a bit drunk and knew he was married and felt bad because I knew what was going to happen.

“I went to the toilet and when I returned he was sitting in his boxer shorts on the bed.


“For a footballer, I didn’t think he was in great shape. His legs weren’t that big and he wasn’t completely toned up top.

“He asked me to lie down next to him and before long his hands were all over me.

“We started having sex but it wasn’t long before he said he felt sick again.

“Then he just rolled over and vomited on the floor, all over the cream carpet. It was disgusting.”

But Cole was not going to let that stop him scoring. Aimee said: “He had some mouthwash, then jumped back into bed.

“We started having sex again but his mates piled into the room.

“After they left we finally managed to get going again and tried several positions.

“Eventually he finished and collapsed on to my chest. He was panting and clearly had a good time.”

Aimee got up at 7.30am while Cole was asleep, and got a lift home with her pal.

Cole’s booze-fuelled romp with Aimee is the first time he has been caught cheating on Cheryl, who has enjoyed a string of top ten hits since Girls Aloud first burst on to the music scene back in 2002.

The footballer and his bride were paid a staggering £1.5million by OK! magazine for the rights to cover their glamorous wedding.

Cole and Cheryl were labelled the new Posh and Becks because of their huge marketing power. The couple posed in cringeworthy white outfits to promote the National Lottery, while Cole was paid an estimated £500,000 advance for his autobiography.

Cheryl has frequently spoken publicly of her love for her husband.

Last October she said: “We are really, really happy. We spend every minute together.


“He’s not into showbiz parties or flashy restaurants, he just likes staying home with me. He’s just an amazing, genuine man. I really want a baby and so does Ashley.”

The England left back, who was training with Chelsea this week, has since contacted Aimee to apologise for his behaviour.

But last night Aimee said: “He wanted to go on the pull and he chose me. I just hope Cheryl can see him now for the man he is — a cheat and a liar.”

# CHERYL'S pal has revealed that the Girls Aloud star is 'devastated' by news of Ashley's fling. The friend, who has spoken to Cheryl, told Heatworld: "She thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with him and have his babies. But now she's deciding what to do. She's absolutely devastated."

Friday, October 10, 2008

A 'Last Minute' Weekender!

As much as possible I try to write my thoughts in the period between games but on occasion the general things in life get in the way! The internationals giving us yet another early season fortnight's break however, mean I have more time available to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard!)

The Porto game was just what we all needed after the frustration of the weekend's result but despite the 4-0 scoreline, in the early stages it could have been different. I am not saying we deserved to be behind but our visitors at least matched the couple of chances on offer, a situation that on another night could have seen us go behind.

Once RVP slotted home our opener after great work from Ade however, the remainder of the evening was one of total domination.

With some great football on show, the extent of our victory by no means flattered us, in fact if we were to be ultra critical or even a little greedy, the only disappointment was the scoreline really should have been almost double figures.

All teams that reach the group stages of the Champions League get there on merit. Porto are a club who have dominated Portuguese football for a number of years and have won Europe's premier competition in recent times. Taking this all into consideration we really should be very happy with the drubbing we gave them.

In conclusion and in the more important broader scheme of things it also leaves us in a strong position in our group. A warm and sunny (hopefully!) Turkish capital hosts the next chapter.

Although I like to think there is some method in the madness of my social life, now and again there is nothing better than doing something totally on the spur of the moment.

Late on Friday afternoon a relatively low key weekend was ahead, apart from of course the long day trip that is an away game at Sunderland on the Saturday, but the remainder had been kind of set aside to do things around the house, as boring as they might seem!

A text from Sussex Gooner Ben telling me he was in Newcastle 'on the sauce' changed things completely. Re-arranging my fellow Sunderland away day travellers' lifts, a quick shower and a hastily packed bag and come 6pm I was on the motorway north east bound!

Admittedly, the thought of kipping on a hotel room floor for the weekend wasn't totally appealing but a kind offer nonetheless and surely by the time I needed some sleep, where I actually achieved it wouldn't be that important anyway!

There was the other aspect of Friday night traffic of course but despite the authorities in charge of this country's roadworks still thinking reducing the A1 down to one lane on at least three occasions is a sensible idea, just before 11pm I parked up in the Newcastle suburb of Jesmond ready to take in the night's offerings. Beats house stuff anyday!

Having met up with Ben and Martin, a couple of bars kept us amused to the early hours of the morning, especially if you are keen on ladies of the larger variety! It did make sure however, we awoke with a degree of matchday nausea. Taking in the hotel's full English brekkie without them actually knowing I wasn't a resident probably took the micky a little bit but the hangover needed easing and and hunger needed overcoming and when that is the situation little gets in the way!

The Great North Run was also happening at the weekend and seeing the junior and disabled athletes gathering on the Quayside for their races didn't altogether make me feel any healthier or fitter but we had another marathon to continue so it was onto the metro, destination Sunderland.

Pre-match refreshment soon has us back in fine fettle before we headed into the Stadium of Light for our latest Premier League encounter.

Every season there are tight, even dour matches, especially in the long league campaign. Certainly we lacked a little sharpness but in games like this, especially when you are away from home and your opponents put 10 behind the ball, sometimes you need a little bit of luck to go your way.

There were few chances throughout despite us totally dominating possession but in the second half we could and probably should have taken the three points. RVP had a great chance after an excellent ball from Nicky Bendtner but for me the 'goal' that wasn't is where we would all hope luck was on our side. TV replays have proved Theo kept the ball in and his cut back was buried by RVP. One-nil and I feel it is fair to say highly likely a match-winning incident.

For our hosts to score an absolute cracker with their only shot of the half was gutwrenching to say the least and laced with a huge amount of deja-vu.

You can react in one of two ways to that kind of situation and I think as fans we couldn't have felt much lower. For the players to pick themselves up and grab something from the game however, is probably the one big plus we can take from the day, Cesc's thumping header grabbing us a point that only time will tell how important it might be.

There wasn't an air of elation in the away end, maybe a little relief but our expectations are very high these days and it still felt like two points dropped rather than one gained when the final whistle blew a few seconds later.

The metro journey back to Newcastle gave us plenty of time to reflect however, before taking in our second night with the Geordies. Once again a number of bars played host (and some dodgy late night food if I remember rightly!) before hitting the sack (or the floor) to sleep off the excesses before the long drive south on Sunday afternoon.

Overall a thoroughly entertaining weekend, thanks again to Ben and Martin for use of their 'facilities', it's 'house'stuff' all the way now before Everton come to town!

Frank (Gunner Blogger)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Trip to Kiev (by Frank)

There was only one reason I decided to stay in the same hotel as last time I came to Kiev. Down in the basement was a quite fantastic club with a revolving bar and lots of people thoroughly letting their hair down. I don't know if we should blame it on the 'credit crunch' like every single other negative in life today seems to be but, whatever the reason, unfortunately the club has been closed down.

A slightly disappointing end to a long first Champions League day of this campaign but the way I feel this morning suggests we still managed to keep ourselves relatively entertained!

I can't say I particularly look forward to going to Blackburn. If the annual trip to Ewood Park was as perfect as on this occasion however, maybe I might change my tune.

Wearing my 'desperately trying to hang on to the summer' shorts was probably a gamble but after a perfect journey traffic wise, the glorious sunshine upon arrival made it another good decision.

Pre-match fare matched everything so far but entering the ground any of the impressive away following that had been to Blackburn before were well aware if we came away with anything more than a point it would be an excellent result.

To be honest it could have been four-all at half time! Yet another cracking Theo run created RVP's opener and the noise from the away end echoed into the Lancashire sky.

Our second could not have been scored at a better time and was just so Arsenal. You only have to listen to the pundits purring at its brilliance to know what a fantastic goal it was. The mood at half time could not have been better although we were all aware that our hosts had enjoyed their fair share of the game's chances.

I was a little surprised when Theo was replaced by Alex Song midway through the second half as at the time he looked so dangerous every time he had the ball.

Looking back however, we were going through a period where we kept giving the ball away, inviting unnecessary pressure. Alex totally nullified any threat from the moment he entered the field and Ade grabbed his hat-trick to complete a highly impressive 4-0 away win.

Decisions like that at exactly the right time and for exactly the right reason are why Mr Wenger is our manager and you and I are not!

Being back in Maidstone at a mate's 40th birthday bash before 10 o'clock completed an pretty much perfect away day. Hopefully just one of many this season.

And that brings me back to a wet and dreary Ukrainian capital city. The shorts will very much be staying in the bag as we try and get our first Champions League points on the board.

Before all that I'm off for a look round the city and perhaps a spot of lunch, taking in some local fare such as 'borsch'... or beetroot soup to you and I!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Reflection can take place in many locations but as I lay back in a dentist's chair early this morning, having just been told the tooth that has been giving me grief was going to have to come out, I didn't think that while the injections were going in and the pliers being attached I
would actually find time for that very activity. Believe me I can recommend it as briefly, at least, it took my mind off the job in hand!

As a result just simply speaking is a tad difficult right now so the wonders of e-mail are hugely beneficial both for these notes and my working day!

My thoughts as the dentist peered down surrounded two subjects, Theo's incredible hat-trick in Zagreb and memories of a quite stupendous weekender in Reykjavik as a result of an Arsenal-free weekend.

If I'm honest it is very difficult to put my finger on what Iceland, and in particular Reykjavik, is all about. That is not a critcism as I would recommend everybody should visit should you get the chance but Friday and Saturday nights at least can only be described as crazy!

Along with visiting such incredible places as the geysir region where scorching hot water gurgles and spurts out of the ground high into the sky and the Blue Lagoon, a huge hot thermal bath where the only thing that gets cold is your head, we took on a representative side at football.

A three on one situation in the dying seconds should have seen us come away with a 4-4 draw but after seriously mucking it up, our hosts raced up the other end to inflict a 5-3 defeat. It was a close run thing though and although disappointed in defeat, we were happy with those three crucial away goals and are confident we can overturn the deficit in the second leg, whenever that might be!

Weekend nightlife in Reyjavik is quite an experience. Drinks are very expensive and as a result the locals tend to stay at home until midnight and beyond before heading out already having enjoyed a few jars (to say the least!) As a result the streets are absolutely heaving with extremely 'merry' people until 7am or later. I'm sure many a tourist would have visited the city over the years and returned home claiming they had gone to bed by 11 o'clock because it was very quiet. Little did they know that come the early hours of the morning the place goes completely crazy!

The trip was arranged as the result of one of the many international friendships that have come about between our own and other supporters clubs and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hilmur, Kristjan and Siggi (sorry if I have mucked up the spelling guys!) from the Iceland branch for their help and hospitality throughout our stay. We look forward to seeing you for the second leg!

I had lots to do last night and as a result I wasn't going to watch England's trip to Croatia. Indeed, if I'm honest with myself if it wasn't for the fact Theo was in the team I probably would have avoided it anyway. I am slightly embarrassed to say this (especially after witnessing the passion shown for their national side by our Icelandic hosts) but I really can take it or leave it when it comes to watching international football. Cheering on the likes of Lampard and Rooney when for the rest of the year they are doing everything in their power to beat my club side is just not my thing.

Watching 'one of our own' smash home three top quality strikes however, made my decision to sit in front of the TV one of my better ones! An awesome display and yet more evidence of hopefully what is to come from Theo.

Whether he will be in the team at Blackburn on Saturday remains to be seen. The vast majority of our squad have been playing all over the globe over the past couple of weeks and with three tough away games in a week, the full extent of our squad will be tested to the limit.

Before setting off on the first of three long journeys however, for now I am going to sit here and whinge a lot about the hole where my tooth used to be ;-(

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Strange happenings

With the transfer window now shut I find it very strange that Mr know it all, Arsene Wenger didn’t sign anyone. I wonder whether this is an early sign of him loosing the plot. Common sense should have prevailed; clearly we needed to bolster our weak midfield. Instead he thought otherwise and decided to stick with some unknown and inconsistent characters such as Denilson, Diaby and Ramsey, well just to name a few. With Arsene having been offered 30+ million pounds to spend on strengthening the squad I wasn’t expecting him to showcase his shrewd economics skills. Found that strange! Well what’s done is done and whatever happens, I will always be a gunner for life. Guess we all have to go behind the team and stop being cynical and start hoping that Arsene proves most of us wrong. Bizarrely, the Arabs at Man Shit say they want to take over the premier league, what the heck is that?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What they had to say after that poor display.

Stop Trying To Be A Businessman, Arsene...
With all the frustration of being an Arsenal fan I was thinking of some of the similarities between football and business and if so why Arsene Wenger should start getting his chequebook out pronto and signing some experienced players to complement the side.

As Arsenal is a business, Arsene will report into the board of directors who should be setting him his season's objectives i.e. challenge for the title, and allocating him an operating budget to attain that. Arsene should then be planning for the season and looking where he needs to invest his resources to deliver on his objectives, which being a business, Arsene then will be reviewed on his performance at season end by the directors.

Now my concern is that Arsene is trying to save and make money at every opportunity, at the detriment to the team. Ultimately it is not his responsibility to worry about the finances, the board should have control over that (Leeds are an example when they are not). He should be focussing solely on the team's performance and results. If in my job I go to my boss at the end of the year and tell him I didn't meet any objectives but I haven't spent any budget I am not going to get a pat on the back (more likely the boot).

My concern now is that Arsene is focussed on the complete running of the club when he should be focussing on team performance. If this is the case maybe it is time for him to move upstairs and let someone who has the hunger to win take over the running of the team.

Arsene has been a great manager and has transformed Arsenal Football Club. I just hope he won't be remembered for leaving the club in roughly the same league position as when he arrived.
Gareth Beynon

Has Wenger Lost The Plot?
For the first time I am starting to lose my patience with Arsene Wenger. He now believes that it doesn't matter if we get in another midfield player because we just need, belief, strength and personality. Well if personality is a key attribute, I wonder how the f*** Eboue got any where near the Arsenal first team, let alone the chance to play all manner of positions.

We lost out on trophies last season because of loads of different reasons but one of those reasons was lack of depth and maturity in the squad, which Wenger has already admitted. We had Flamini and Gilberto at that time and still looked a little light for cover, especially when Fabregas was not available. We've now lost both of those players and signed 17-year-old Ramsey as the only central replacement. It doesn't take a genius to work out that we have taken a massive step backwards in this department, which is the most important part of the team.

Last season there was not many games that Arsenal didn't play well and when we won our games, it was usually deserved by looking at the balance of play. This season, we have played three competitive games and looked awful in each of them. I still can't believe we won 2-0 away to FC Twente and we were very lucky to keep a 1-0 score line against WBA. The Fulham game just confirmed for me how desperately we do need a strong midfielder to come in and help Fabregas when he comes back.

I'm not one for negativity but there are simply no positives to look at in our latest performances. I've always backed Wenger but this time, I think he has lost the plot. If we don't get someone else in to help the top players we do have in the squad, then we can kiss goodbye to Fabregas, Van Persie, Adebayor and whoever else and I wouldn't blame them for leaving.
Paul Griffiths, London

...As an Arsenal fan, the last few seasons have caused me to become increasingly wary of phrases like "I'm happy with the squad" and "we'll only sign the right player" coming from Mr Wenger. It basically means "we won't be signing anyone".

We desperately need another central midfielder who has a physical presence about them. But no, it looks like we're going to start the season with Diaby (sicknote), Denilson (tidy, but a bit lightweight, also quite inconsistent), Eboue (can't shoot, dives, generally despicable) or Alex Song (inexperienced, a bit clumsy) as our central midfield partner for Fabregas. I suppose Toure could be considered an outside bet for the position as well if we hadn't just loaned Senderos to Milan for some reason.

For crying out loud Arsene, get the chequebook out and sign someone! I vaguely remember you saying something about how good the squad was last season as well and remind me how that turned out? And we've lost players since then!
Mark, Sheffield

Monday, August 18, 2008

fulham vs arsenal preview

i would rather predict than preview this upcoming game for one simple reason, judging from the game againist wba, we are too smart for these young teams. i forsee a 3-0, thats all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fabregas for captaincy, Wenger’s error, FC Twenty brief preview + New Poll

So, last weeks polls results reflect that most of you prefer Fabregas to be the captain. This makes me wonder why the professor is sticking with a man whom most of us has no trust in, William Gallas. After a series of blunders from him last season, surely we need a new captain this time around. His actions from last season proved how emotionally weak he is. If we need some silverware this season, then the right thing to do is to make Fab 04 the captain and Toure his deputy, how about that? Surely this doesn’t have to be about lenience or seniority.

Sorry but I have to be a bit critical of the manager here, I think he made a terrible mistake by selling Diarra to pompey last season. Diarra could have come in handy this season given the shallow depth of our midfield department after loosing Hleb, Flamini and Gilberto. As a manager I think Wenger should have played a big role in trying to convince Diarra to stay especially after seeing betrayal signs from those two fools Hleb and Flamini. Yes he could try and justify his actions by saying he bought Nasri & Ramsey. The latter has no experience of the English Premier League whatsoever something that worries me, which im sure concerns most gunners out there, as for Nasri we just have to wait and see how he adapts, by the way he already seems to be vulnerable to injuries, aint this another Ro-sick -y?.

As for Wednesday night’s qualifier I think we will pull through given the fact that the last time a Mclarens side faced Arsenal they lost 7-0. Without doubt I foresee a win, though it might not come easy. I believe Arsenal will prove to be too good for this very much unknown side

A Gunner in Brisbane suggested this week’s poll - Do you think that Jack Wilshere is ready for inclusion into the first team? Go ahead & Vote. Later!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Alonso, Wilshere, & Ade-Boo

So it seems like Xabi Alonso is going to be our last summer signing if the latest arsenal news reports in the press are anything to go by. For two reasons I believe he could turn out to be that missing piece of the puzzle we have all been looking for. First he has the experience that seems to be lacking in the squad. He can compliment young guns such as Fabregas, Jack and Theo in the middle of the park. Look he has won the champions league with Liverpool and Euro 08, on top of that he has adapted well to the English premier league, what more in terms of experience can we ask for?? Secondly, I have this gut feeling that he can form a formidable partnership with Cesc. They both speak English and Spanish well. Hence a magical Spanish connection is inevitable. After all if he does come through his mature talent will make us quickly forget about those two money loving cunt’s, Hleb & Flamini.

The inclusion of Jack into the team is something I have mixed feeling’s about. I am not too sure whether the young boy is really ready for the other side of the pool. Of course during pre season he has been outshining the big guns by displaying some brilliant form. That gets me to wonder whether he will be able to maintain it when he starts to play against some savages such as Essien and Martin Taylor. But wait Fabregas was seventeen and better than Keane so this definitely means that Jack can be sixteen and better than Ballack, sounds a bit too much but hey that’s what Im wishing for, im sure you do too.

I was happy to see Ade-Boo being booed at the other day when we played Juventus. Thought he deserved such reception. He must never be unpatriotic to the family. He tried to win back our hearts by kissing the club badge when he scored against Real, what a lame action! It will take more than that to win back our love and support. He has to prove himself on the field. If I was the club manager, I would play him with the reserves for the next three months. Yes it’s true, I have disappointed love. Im out!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thierry the greatest + our new signings (in brief)

After having run a poll on this blog, it seems like the results I got correlate with those that came from the official arsenal site. Thierry Henry is the greatest Gunner of all time, congratulations.

About our new signings in particular Ramsey, I say Arsene has unearthed relatively another unknown gem, having watched him the warm up games, I only see good talent. Carlos Vela is already proving to be a hit already, integrating well in to the team, im loving it. Samir Nasri, showed some good signs that he can outclass punks such as Scholes, Ballack & Lennon in the middle, I just can’t wait for the new season to start. Bicshoff I haven’t seen in arsenal colours, but arsene knows and in him we trust. Im out!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My short messages for Gilberto and Hleb

To hell with Alex Hleb who was signed from German side VfB Stuttgart in June 2005 and made a total of 129 appearances during his time with Arsenal, scoring an unimpressive 11 goals. I wish Alex the best of bad luck for the future. You shall not be missed at all. Hope you will find Barcelona noisier, fool.

Meanwhile, Gilberto was due to arrive in Athens last night to undergo a medical and put pen to paper on a contract agreed by his representatives last week. To Gilberto I say thank you. You have been a true Gunner, we appreciate your time at the club, I salute you and we will miss you at the Emirates. I’m sure all the gooners out there understand what im trying to say here.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Arsenal Transfer Talk

Andrei Arshavin is said to have agreed to join Chelsea and is reported to be on his way to London for talks and medicals. Terrible mistake ryt thrrr, you should have come to work with papa Arsene Wenger. David Villa insists he is happy to stay at Valencia, bad news for Arsene Wenger and the rest of us Gooners. My view is that if he decides to stay at Valencia, Arsenal would still have very good options to go for. First would be the Germany striker Lukas Podolski, one of the stars of Euro 2008, who is set to have demanded a move from Bayern Munich. He is the kind of player we want at Emirates as he has a lil bit of experience to complement our bunch of kids.

My second choice would be Samuel Etoo, since he was given the green light at Barcelona, then I say we have a greater chance of signing him since he earlier on indicated his desire for being a gunner.

Other possible signings that we can make include Real Zaragoza's £7m-rated Argentine star Pablo Aimar, There is something for you to think about Arsene. I think he can fit in well if Mr Hleb decides to be a sell out like his other compatriot Flamini did. Heard that Manchester united are interested in signing £15m-rated Columbian scoring sensation Falcao as an alternative to Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov. How about we snatch the player from them like we did with Ramsey.

Finally to Adebayor I say, SHUT UP dude, you aint on the same level as Thierry Henry yet, how can you demand the same wages. If you decide to go very few gunners will miss you, instead more will be happy since selling you will be a bargain.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Some Nasty Arsenal Transfer News

There are some unsubstantiated reports out there claiming that our manager Arsene Wenger wants to leave Arsenal at the end of his term in 2011. Now that’s bull, coz we want Arsene to be our lifetime manager. There is no way that we can just let him go just like that to join Paris St Germain, Never, well hopefully.

Another rumor that made rounds today is that Wenger is emerging as a contender to replace Avram grant at Chelsea, well maybe in Roman’s dreams coz Arsene is staying with the Gunners. A source at the blues is quoted to have said "Wenger has now moved to the top of our list as we have missed out on everybody that we've contacted till now."…, "Wenger has the pedigree to do well at Chelsea and has had the world set alight with the beautiful football that Arsenal play so Mr. Abramovich wants him to lead our project for the next five seasons."
I think this is crap, PERIOD!!

Another intresting story that came out is that AC Milan are planning a raid on Arsenal with a reported £32m bid for striker Emmanuel Adebayor. To be honest if it turns out to be true, I will be happy. Look we bought the dude for about 7 million pounds in 2006 and since then the Togolese has been improving, netting an impressive 30 goals last season. but to say that the dude is worth 32 mil would be a lie, so I would be happy to see him go if we get that figure. THEN, we can go and do some proper shopping for some decent strikers like David Villa or Berbatov. Isnt that a better option.I guess so.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Latest Arsenal transfer news and romours.

Woke up early this moning and read all the latest arsenal transfer news or should i say romours about samir nasri and jibril. I found myself smiling thinking that these two will be at arsenal. But how long will that smile last? are these Arsenal transfer romours and news true? Only Arsene Wenger knows!!!

Such rumours have been on for more than a week now, with some Gooner sites out there even suggesting that it had been a done deal, Samir Nasri, that is. Basing on his past track record there is no doubt that he will be a good player. My only question is that will he be as valuable as Flamini was to Fab 04?

There's also renewed speculation that Lille's Jean Makoun is attracting interest from Arsenal..

What ever the case might turn out to be i hope that all the good names arsenal is being linked to in these transfer romours will end up at Emirates. As for now lets continue to speculate.

im out, Taffie...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May be next time Gunners

It pains me a lot to note that Man united and Chelsea will be playing in the champions league tonight. I believe had it not been of our spectators / defenders (in particular Senderos) they were busy admiring Torres terrorising them.. what a pity, we dont need such at Emirates next season..

anyway i have one wish for tonights game, that both Man united and Chelsea loose. Chelsea cant win it before us while Man united cant take a double...

Latest Arsenal News.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two reasons why Flamini left Arsenal.

1. the love of money, greedyness, unloyal and unappreciative to AW, Team mates and the fans. 2. might have felt wenger is a hypocrite (broke arsenals wage structure by giving henry a hefty wage and he thot to himself why not me). bottom line- useless punk

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Silly Season for Arsenal

Everton have come to Highbury on more than one occasion in recent times and been 'forced' to enjoy the party. On this occasion it proved to be one still graced with an element of emotion but nowhere near at the levels experienced in the past.

For me it was a shame our hosts came in search of just a point and I feel with nothing to play for or even requiring all three would have made for a far more interesting spectacle.
As a result Everton rarely ventured into our half and with our own team showing an understandable lack of urgency it was real 'end of season' fare. Saying that however, there was only one team that looked like taking the three points, especially in the second half, and time will tell if our visitors regret taking such a negative attitude into the game.

Indeed the phrase 'time will tell' can be used for a number of issues at the end of any season. For me, our best player on Sunday was Alex Song. In each of the games he has played at centre half this season he has done well and it will be interesting to see if he continues to grow and make the position his own.

So, our unbeaten home season comes to a close with a victory and of course the chance for us to say thanks and goodbye to one or two of our squad. If Jens goes, as looks extremely likely, it was fantastic to give him a fitting send-off. He will always be remembered for his part in the unbeaten season and for a good couple of years he was probably the best goalkeeper in the Premiership. He will be fondly remembered by all Gooners.

The news that Matt Flamini has gone is disappointing I feel, especially after a fantastic season that had seen him cement his place at the very heart of our midfield. Very few players over the years have left our great club and gone on to bigger and better things. Will he regret his decision? It's that 'time will tell' situation again.

With just the long trip up to Sunderland to complete the 38, that period is upon us where the best thing we can do is avoid the rumour-filled media. If I'm involved in one more conversation where someone says, "See such and such is off..." I will scream! "Says who?!" "It's in the paper this morning....."!

Taking a look at the kind of talent we have coming through in a testimonial down at Dorchester Town on Tuesday night, believe me, if players decide to leave, we'll be just fine.

Come on you mighty reds!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Final Knocking

With the amount of negativity in the air before a ball was even kicked this season, if we were told at that time we would have two league games left and still be in with a mathmatical chance of taking the title, I think it's safe to say we all would have been delighted to have taken it.

To have enjoyed a good lead however, and to play so well in some crucial games before coming away with nothing, I think we all know that for some reason it's just not been our season.
Although a little 'gung-ho' at times, our trip to Derby pretty much summed up our season on the playing front I feel.

From a supporting point of view I am disappointed the Rams have been relegated. Any trip to the Midlands beats the countless long journeys we have to the North, even in a midweek game I found myself tucked up in bed back in Kent before 1.00am. The atmosphere is good at Pride Park too and with pre-match proving smooth and enjoyable I will be extremely happy should they bounce straight back next year and rejoin us come the 2009/10 season.

Going forward on Monday night, at times our football was simply breathtaking. Don't get me wrong Derby are not bottom of the Premier League for no reason but in addition to the six goals we did grab we could have netted at least another dozen. The four-goal victory will certainly help our situation should Chelsea slip up in their final two games and we finish level on points with them, as unlikely as that is of course!

To concede another two goals however, is disappointing and for me perhaps highlights our weakness, certainly in the latter part of the season.Successful teams are built around a water-tight defence. In the last three months of the season we have really struggled to keep a clean sheet.

As a team, I'm sure Arsenal will learn from this season's experience in all departments and come back even hungrier to succeed next time round.
For now however, I fully intend to thoroughly enjoy our last home game of the season as Everton come to the Home of Football in search of points to secure European football at Goodison next season.

When we kick off we will already be aware if our unlikely (at this stage) Premier League dream is still alive but with Chelsea's match not taking place until Monday the game will be hugely important whatever has happened at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Whatever happens in the last two games I for one am very proud of the steps we have made this season.

Keep dreaming... you never know! ;-)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The home straight

An awful lot has been said about why Arsenal is not at the top of the league and why nothing but a miracle will now see us take the title. Many games have been played and analysed but for me, now emphasizes more then ever how desperately close we have come.

If had come away from Old Trafford last week with the result our performance deserved we would be sitting here just one point behind Utd and level with Chelsea with this weekend's match between the two still to come.

With three games to go the Gunners would well and truly be in with a great chance of taking the title. A situation like this makes me realise that much of the analysis we make, be it us fans or the media, is often total and utter rubbish!

Of course there are lots of 'ifs' and 'buts' with every match of every week of every season but with the Man Utd away game still being fresh in the mind we could argue if Rio Ferdinand's wild mis-kick had flown into the net instead of straight at his own goalkeeper to put us two-nil up the very situation I have described above could be reality.
So much for analysis for our so called 'failures'!

After recent weeks Reading at home was always going to be a bit flat. With our visitors however desperate for points, it could also have been one of those games that saw us drop further behind in the race for second spot.

A comfortable two goal victory could quite easily have been five or six without appearing to get out of third gear but it was definitely really pleasing to get three points under our belt after a period where this feels like a bit of a rarity!
Talking of things that don't seem to happen very often, we are now in late April and find ourselves with a free weekend. A chance maybe to do those weekend things that non football followers get up to, whatever they are, before heading up the M1 on Monday to take on Derby County.

Once again it is a game that we know we should win if we play to our ability and strengths. Paul Jewell however, is already building for next season and he will relish the chance of seeing his team competing with one of the country's top sides.
If Chelsea are to slip up this weekend we must take every advantage of the chance to keep fighting for that second spot. If they don't then it keeps that little 'miracle' alive for at least one more week!

Come on you reds!