We have finally learned to be men, January is the test, it’s in our hands.

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I have been a staunch advocate of buying ready made players this season, and the previous two, Arsene has always believed in his squad, the game at the Reebok proved that at last we seemed to have learned how to stand up to the bully boys of the English Premier league and in some cases, ala Tomas Rosicky have showed we can give it back!

I feared at one point the ref would send one of our boys off, someone said yesterday we haven’t had a player sent off for 46 games, I don’t know whether that’s true, but I thought it may happen on Sunday.

If we can continue this run against the contending teams I may be thinking I was wrong, I would be delighted to say that, I really would because funny enough, I support Arsenal, that’s why I write an Arsenal blog. With Villa and Chelsea away and Man U and Liverpool at home in the next month, we’ll find out, if we can get through that intact, the run in is relatively easy.

Someone also suggested we mark referees as well as players, well I’ll start that ball rolling, I’ll give that twat a 1, and he only got that because he allowed our goals to stand.

I was really impressed with the way we kept to our game plan, no matter how many times we got kicked, we got up, dusted ourselves down and got on with it, there was no hiding place out there, the boys had become men.

Eastmond I thought did really well, he made some timely tackles and could well be the competition for Song we so badly need, Arsene, give him the time you afforded your other youngsters, this kid has what it takes.

We lose Merida tomorrow but we gain Theo, you all know I think Theo will become an Arsenal great, he has been unlucky so far, but he knows that time is running out and I believe he’ll respond, if he plays, I have him down for a goal or two.

Nikki B will be back for the Villa game and we sorely need height, I thought Eduardo was great and linked up well with Cesc and Arshavin, expect more from him too.

Manuel at last looked more solid, he needs to work on his kicking, and when he gets a back pass he should step on it first, then kick it, that will help.

So a 2 nil win on Wednesday will put us top of the pile, the number one, at last!

Before you all think I am making a U turn, don’t, I still believe we need ready mades and had we bought 3 players in the summer, we might be 10 points clear by now, it’s still not too late to sign a striker, we need one, because if Bendtner gets injured again and I would say that’s 80/20 in favour of, then we are screwed.

Pedro tells me Galindo’s age is the subject of a fib, that he’s 20 and not 17, if that’s true, it means he’s in trouble because he was too old in the recent tourno he was in, me I’m happy if he’s 20, we have way too many kids and an older one may well make a change, and if we bought him as a 20 year old, the fee would have been more.

I mean, who hasn’t lied about their age before? I know I have! Arsene you’ve said in the past you never look at their passports, well don’t start now, if he’s good enough, he’s good enough.

So onto tomorrow boss, more of the same please, you’ve done the hard bit at Bolton, let’s finish the job off now and go top, now that would be something, oh and then go out and buy a top, top striker, it’s in our grasp now, please don’t blow it for the sake of a few shillings, we have the money from the sale of Kolo and Ade, let’s use it!

Have a great day Grovers, I can’t wait for tomorrow!


We’re buying… / If Bolton can’t beat you, they’ll kick, scratch and pull your hair.

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A two part post this week as I wont be about much…

Finance

Firstly, may I just clear up some confusion from the other days post about the financial situation. It seems a lot of AKB’s have been getting extremely damp at the prospect of Le Grove admitting that Wenger’s transfer policy has been the right one. If you thought that was the jist of the post, you’re incorrect.

I was actually praising the board, like I have always done since the site began. They are the architects of our business model. They’ve created a surplus of cash almost every year we’ve been at the new ground. Which I thought deserved a little praise in light of the mess that’s going on around us. I wasn’t saying that Arsene Wenger’s no spending policy was admirable. There is a difference. If we’d bought x-player last January for £15mill, would it have bankrupted us, or would it have just reduced our profit by £15mill to £20mill? Exactly my point… pretty much what we’ve always said on Le Grove. If you’ve got it, don’t be afraid to spend it.

Leeds United business model monster sporting an iphone

There is a middle ground in this argument, something many people can’t seem to grasp. If you spend within your means, you’ll be ok, the ‘Leeds United business model monster’ wont come and eat Arsenal FC while it sleeps. Ignore all the folk that spread word round the internet that Le Grove demands £50million signings, because it’s simply not true (We demand £60million signings!). Geoff and I are both commercially aware. Geoff runs an advertising agency that has turned a substantial profit year in year out for plenty of years and I’ve restructured my debt with a consolidation loan from Ocean Finance… twice. We know what we’re talking about.

Manchester United and Liverpool aren’t on the skids because they’ve over spent on players, they are there because their owners underestimated the volatility of the financial markets. Pompey are in trouble because they spent what they didn’t have, West Ham are in trouble because they got into bed with an Icelandic banker and Kia Joorabchian.

Arsenal have avoided bother because we’ve got our debt structured incredibly well, built a great stadium and we’ve created larger revenue streams through gate receipts and an infrastructure designed to squeeze every last penny out of the global fanbase.

The board give Wenger a budget to spend each summer. He chooses not to spend it. Sure that adds to the already swollen coffers, but by doing that, he isn’t choosing between insolvency or survival, he’s making a choice to persist with what he has. Not because he has to, because he thinks the players he has are good enough. That decision is bearing fruit this season, it hasn’t for the last 4. Lest we not forget, last years campaign was saved by a record signing and this season has been vastly improved by another expensive purchase… combined total of £40mill if PHW is to be believed.

I still think we need a striker this window and if that smirky smile in Wenger’s post match interview didn’t give away a little about his intentions, well, my cat is a dog.

Match Report

Almunia

Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Traore

Eastmond Fabregas Diaby

Arshavin Eduardo Rosicky

Bolton opened the scoring with a 20 yard Klasnic screamer. Oh what? It was disallowed for offside? No one likes to see that do they!

Arsenal took a while to get into their stride. Bolton were chasing down every ball like a scouser who’d just seen someone drop a pound coin in the supermarket. They were aggressive and keen.

The next flash point in the match came when Cesc broke into the box, knocked the ball pass Jussi only to be chopped down by his trailing legs. A nailed on penalty if ever I did see one. Phil Dowd decided that type of challenge was acceptable… which set the tone for the rest of the game.

Eastmond started the move for the first goal when he played Diaby in. The lanky Frenchman jinked the ball to Cesc who played a neat one two with Eduardo which allowed the Spaniard to drill the ball home low into the bottom left corner. An intricate goal typical of this team.

It has to be noted that Almunia made some tidy saves, he had to be alert when Klasnic jinked the ball over Billy and flicked a shot to the right of him. There were some awkward break downs in communication. One incident resulted in what I can only describe as the Willy G death glare. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that outside a pub, no siree…

Traore was having a real stinker of a half with some terribly sloppy play. Disappointing considering how well he’s been doing lately. Eastmond performed admirably. His passing was, in the main, slick and attacking. His defending was youthfully naïve at times, but that’s surely to be expected.

One of my favourite moments of the match was watching Thomas Rosicky smash over Robinson after 3 Bolton players took it in turns to lump Diaby. Nothing more despicable that rotational fouling, nothing more beautiful than watching a more experienced player stick up for his buddy. Well played squire.

It was disappointing that a manager that created such a special brand of football at Burnley had to lower himself to Allardyce football. It was even more disappointing that the ref deemed their play fair. A machete attack probably would have needed 3 attempts to get a booking yesterday.

The second half started with Arsenal on the back foot again. Bolton whipped the balls into the box dangerously, exposing Traore time and time again. One cross nearly resulted in Gallas knocking it into his own net.

Matt Taylor was worryingly played through on goal, thankfully he’d been taking finishing tips from Adebayor. The Arsenal defence were beginning to creak, the next goal was going to be important. Clichy entered the field of play for the first time since breaking his back, I thought he was going to take over at left back, but he actually ended up on the wing which gave Traore the much needed cover. Great sub.

Merida was also brought on, which was strange. Geoff made a point that was interesting. Was he being played because he could be leaving? Who knows… what I can say is that Fab was afforded plenty of time on the ball, he ran into the box, released Eduardo, who found Merida at the back post where he brought the ball down and eased it into the far corner. Game over… 3 points in the bag.

So in conclusion, a super performance. Even better when you consider we had an unknown quantity taking control of the central midfield against our bogey team. It was great to see Cesc put in a MOTM performance in his first game back and even better to see he’s still got that goal scoring touch.

Arsenal didn’t get bullied despite repeated attempts which was also reassuring. However, the injury to Nasri and the depletion of the squad further makes you wonder how bad the situation has to get before the coach buys? I hope a loss isn’t a tipping point.

We still look in desperate need of a striker. Eduardo went MIA today. If we had someone to aim crosses at and a player who could hold the ball up, I’d feel a lot more comfortable when we play teams that are contesting the league. Like I said earlier in the post, I think Wenger is tracking someone judging by his post match interview. When he’s out of the market, you get a definitive no… we didn’t get that today.

So, more importantly, if we win on Wednesday by two goals or more, we go top of the league!

Marvellous stuff, marvellous stuff indeed!

Ratings:

Almunia: He doesn’t have the trust of his defence, that’s for sure. However, bar a few indecisive non-communicative moments, he made some very neat saves. His distribution still looks a bit shaky, but he kept a clean sheet and handled well. 8

Traore: I’m a massive fan of our tooled up left back. However, today, he was very poor. So poor, they began to target him. It’ll be good to have Clichy back in the team for the run in. 5

Gallas: He is the silent assassin. He creeps up on attackers and you hardly notice his presence compared to the Verminator. He had a very good game today bar a few sloppy mistakes. 7.5

Vermalen: He’s creeping up the chart I have in my head for my favourite players. He is the opposite of Gallas, a beast of defending and a real threat going forward. I love him. There, I said it, are you happy? 8.5

Sagna: He’s returning to the solid dependable player of 2 years ago. If he were an airline, he’d be Ryanair. No frills, but gets the job done. 7

Cesc: A super return from the man Jamie Redknapp thinks has eyes in the back of his head (He still believes in Santa and the Leeds United Business model monster). He kept our football flowing with attacking prowess and defended like a little demon. A top game, well deserving of the MOTM award. It’s a shame that when Arsenal have a top foreign player, Sky have to resort to talking about when he is leaving. You’d think Sky would be keen to run more pro-prem-propaganda when it comes to its best assets. 9

Eastmond: Handled himself with professionalism today despite being targeted for a bit of rough treatment. Spends a little too much time on the ball sometimes which leads to mistakes, but ask yourself this… how many 19 year olds play in the centre of midfield for top Premiership teams… and come out victorious? Not many. 7

Rosicky: Full marks for kicking over one of Bolton’s thugs. I love the way his runs off the ball cause as many problems as his intelligent passing. A good return to action, lets hope he maintains fitness in light of the Nasri injury. 7.5

Eduardo: Looked a little lost out there today. He doesn’t have the physical presence to worry Premiership defenders, he’s better playing off a striker. Still, he had a few chances that were close and he set up Merida and Cesc. 7

Arshavin: Causes problems in his own special way. He dips in and out of games, but he certainly looks better out wide. Showed good strength today and worked hard. 7

Diaby: Another good game from the talented Frenchman… what’s going on?! He’s playing with consistency and purpose now, finally the potential is turning into product! What he did today that impressed me the most was to use his body weight to his full advantage. He wasn’t bullied at all. A very good game from my best friend. Have I told you that story before? 7.5

Just for Geoff…

Song: 9

See you in the comments!

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The way the results went, we need 3 points, nothing less.

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So the chavs and mancs won, that’s a shame, but to be honest with those fixtures, what did we expect.

The encouraging news was that Everton won as well, encouraging because that stopped the northern chavs in their tracks, and they made our lucky draw last week seem Ok, so maybe that was one point gained and not two dropped.

I wished we had that bloke Fellaini, where were our scouts when he sneaked in front of the radar? I thought we had the best scouting network?

Onto today, we face Owen Coyle again, well in the time he’s been there he couldn’t possibly have changed the way they play football, so unless their players all play out of their skin trying to impress their new boss, I can’t see us not winning this one comfortably, our passing and movement should dazzle them.

They will come at us so we need to be ready for that, but if we just play around them, we should score a hatful, I’m looking forward to playing them when I expect to win, I can’t remember that for a while, going to Bolton confident that is.

We have a great chance to widen the gap between us and those behind, we should take it and then we will see a top three emerging, lose this one and they’ll be a top two and 6 others.

This is in our hands, we have a great chance to make life easier and send out a message to the two above that we’re going nowhere, add to that we play Bolton again on Wednesday and we’ll be in second spot.

It’s in our hands, make the most of it boys, two easy games and we are right up there.

Isn’t it funny though, we play teams and they play like it was the cup final, the chavs play them and they roll over like cheap rent boys, I can’t understand it, perhaps beating us is better than beating the chavs or the mancs, so they try harder, Ok, so maybe that’s a compliment. Accepted!

I won’t comment on any new players because it’s pointless.

Have a great day Grovers, today could be moving day!

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