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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?