Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas to everyone this fine and festive morning!

There’s not much news from our end today, this post is more an opportunity to thank all of you guys for logging on everyday, come rain or shine, come spanking or huge victory. I want to thank those who have made the site an amazing place to chat football every morning. Truly, without you, and the world class writing (jokes) we serve up, we’d just be another Arsenal blog clogging up Newsnow everyday.

Next year shall bring many exciting things. We have a podcast booked in for definite. That’ll launch in the new year or maybe even before. Geoff will likely be able to spend a bit more time blogging, bring a bit of ying to my yang. We’re also on schedule to hit a mid-January redesign target. Don’t worry, the move won’t be as chaotic as the last one. We’ll make sure we run the new site parallel and we’ll open it up to your suggestions for amendments. Either way, the user experience is key to this design, so you won’t be disappointed. I’ll also be starting work on a 3 part autobiography and Geoff is working on his first perfume range… Scent of a French Bear.

Other than that, we’ll just keep on writing until you’re bored. So once again, a massive thanks to everyone who reads and posts on the site, a big thank you to all the new friends I made this year from AST and various publications and thank you to all the people who follow us on the other social networks. It’s been a fantastic 2011 from a site perspective, let’s hope 2012 can be the year we have a fantastic year on the pitch.

Here’s hoping!

Merry Christmas, catch you all bright and early tomorrow morning!

P.S A Ligue one enthusiast posted the below piece on Gourcuff… thanks Pierre!

I am a Lyon/Arsenal supporter and I thought I’d give some feedback re; Gourcuff.

There is a lot of whining about Gourcuff but that’s who Arsenal are going to get. Wenger has wanted him since he was 17!

Don’t believe me? Read Wenger’s own blog on Eurosport only 3 or so months ago !

Wenger regularly drools over Gourcuff in the French press, he’s compared him to Platini and Zidane often.

You also forget that he’s a close friend of his father and the same footballing philosophy is shared among the three.

Gourcuff’s failure at Lyon is due to several reasons, firstly, Lyon do not play a short passing game conducive to Gourcuff’s ability, the side is too dependent upon individuals and the collective play is almost zero. Secondly, Lyon wanted to capitalise on Gourcuff financially through merchandise and marketing, even creating a brand called “YG29″ – hence when he joined Lyon he had a special presentation with 20,000 supporters – this put enormous pressure on him – the boy doesn’t have a bad attitude, he’s introverted, quiet, shy and also a mega nerd. Thirdly, under Claude Puel, Gourcuff was often used as a defensive midfielder because Lisandro Lopez wanted to play with Gomis. The same has happened under Remi Garde.

Gourcuff also has suffered enormous abuse from the French press much like Robert Pires at Marseille (hence Pires is a huge supporter of Gourcuff joining Arsenal). Wenger took Pires from Marseille and rekindled his career. The French press abuse him because he’s different and an interesting target – he’s highly educated, an intellectual of sorts, doesn’t believe in ‘bling bling’, night clubs, etc – he’s often voted the most ‘liked’ footballer in France because he sets a good example for youngsters! (regarded as the ‘perfect son’).

Wenger is going to get an absolute bargain here – you can forget about Goetze. No player in France received as much comparisons as Gourcuff to Zidane or even Platini – put under proper conditions at Arsenal, he will once again reach these heights.

Also don’t forget, Zidane had never achieved as much as Gourcuff at this age, Zidane won the world cup at 25! His career blossomed from there, prior to that he was nothing and Aime Jacquet was even lambasted for selecting him in the 98 French side! Gourcuff will achieve great things with Arsenal under Wenger!

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Thierry Henry, is this the right move? | Gourcuff deal | Arsenal kid set to stay

by & filed under News Review.

Merry Christmas eve, one and all, even the poor folk of religions that don’t celebrate Christmas. Not that I’m religious. My religion is consumerism, and tomorrow is my day, and what a day it’ll be. Starting this evening, with a bucket load of beer and a pub so packed it’d make an Indian train feel spacier than a New York penthouse flat.

In today’s festive news, Arsene Wenger is talking about bringing king Thierry back for a few months. He’s the ideal solution says the coach, but he’ll need Christmas day to think about it as the question hasn’t been raised by either party so far.

Yeah right.

I feel sorry for Arsene’s family this Christmas. Not only do they have to put up with gifts from last years January sales, gifts Wenger thought had potential (like MySpace store credit), they’ll now have to deal with him sitting in his thinking room all day mulling an obvious decision.

Now, I can appreciate that for most Arsenal fans, this is a totally emotional decision. We’re not thinking straight about this, all we’re thinking about is him coming in, showing the form he used to, then taking off in 2 months time. Now, that might happen, but we have to be realistic. He’s a fantastic player, he’s still far more capable that Park and Chamakh, but for me, if we can, we should still be looking around Europe to see if there are any other players available that are younger and ready for the move. Patching up a creeking squad with players who were once great isn’t moving us forward.

Still, we’ll know in 7 days either way…

“The 1st of January is the vital date for us. I will make a decision in the next seven days on players. I promise.”

People keep saying players aren’t available in January. Again, I’m not sure why people think this is true. Sure, top players in England aren’t available this time of year, but around the rest of Europe where plenty of clubs can’t afford to pay salaries, there are sure to be players available. The only time players aren’t about is if you’re not interested. Now, the simple facts are that we need a striker, which may be taken care off, we need someone else to shoulder the creative burden, which could be Gotze. Or, more likely, it could be Gourcuff.

The Frenchman seems like a cheaper alternative to Gotze, but every week that passes seems another week he’s closer to one of the power houses making an offer. Gourcuff seems much more our cup of tea. A player who comes with a reputation as a bit of a bad boy. A player perhaps lacking the motivation to fulfill his potential and a player who has huge talent ready to burst in the right environment.

I remember watching him a few seasons ago when he was on fire at Bordeaux. He was incredible. He has superb technique, he is built like Kaka and he glides across the pitch in the same way. He really did look that package back then and I see no reason why at 25 he couldn’t look the business once more. Arsenal rescued Marc Overmars, we did the same for Paddy and we did the same Thierry. Even Adebayor, Robert Pires and Hleb came to us on the back of bad news.

I’m still holding out for Podolski… that would be nice eh?

In other news, I’ll be kick starting a Le Grove podcast next week with Alex Fynn. He wrote the book, Arsenal – The making of a modern super club. He has close ties with everyone at Arsenal, even Gunnersaurus, so he’ll be able to give you some fascinating insight into how the club is running, what David Dein is up to, why Peter Hill-wood talks to the Daily Star and pretty much anything you want to know about the clubs finances and inner workings.

If you have any questions you’d like to put forward, let me know and I’ll drop them down on my state of the art iPad and take them along with me.

On the injury news, there’s finally been some good news in the media. That’s the news that Bacary Sagna is back in training. He played a practice match in front of the Junior Gunners yesterday. As you’ll remember, I told you he was back in training last week. No, seriously, don’t thank me, it’s just part of my job.

If he’s back at the end of January, like I also told you, that’ll be bloody amazing news. Not so amazing news is that Gibbs has to have surgery again, putting him out of action for another 4 weeks with an option for a another 4 followed by a 2 week set back.

Finally, Francis Coquelin has been offered a pay rise and maybe the chance to go out on loan this January. Good news for the versatile midfielder, he’s looked very solid for most of his outings this season and I’ve no doubt we have a bit of a player on our hands!

Right, that’s your lot. Enjoy your evening and have a great time whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re doing it!

See you on Christmas day for a prerecorded broadcast to the nation!

Oh, and topic for the day, if Arsene was your secret Santa, what would you buy him for Christmas?

P.S. If you want something social mediarish, here’s how Christmas would look if Twitter planned it

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Wolves moved | Roddy and Tiote linked to Arsenal | Robin Van Title

by & filed under News Review.

Welcome to Friday, some of you will be in work, most of you won’t. I hope everyone had a marvelous evening yesterday. As you can imagine, news at the moment is at a bit of a premium. I think everyone slows down a but in the build up to Christmas, even the newsnow transfer story merchants!

Last night Spurs and Chelsea fought out a 1-1 draw which kind of sat perfectly for us. We’re within touching distance of the both of them and at the moment, that’s a good place to be because I’m still not sure which of those two will last the pace. It certainly drove home the importance of that last gasp Yossi goal the other night. What a relief those three points were!

Talking of Yossi, it’s great to read the additional praise he’s been receiving from the captain and the coach. Robin said…

“It was really good for Yossi scoring because he has been training unbelievably – trust me, he is absolutely unbelievable,”

I think the Israeli will have an important part to play over the next few months. He’s a hard worker and boasts superb technique on the ball that will no doubt unlock more defences as the season draws on. For me, he’s definitely a superior option off the bench compared to Rosicky and Arshavin. I’m surprised he’s given so little game time really. Before he joined I described him as Alex Hleb with end product, I still go with that, we just need to see a bit more product!

The captain also noted that we shouldn’t rule ourselves out of the title race.

“Anything can happen in this league. Results early on [show that]. Our result against Man United was a surprise, our result away at Chelsea was a big surprise, and Manchester City winning 6-1 away at United too. Anything is possible.

Personally I’d say that the chances of us sustaining a credible title challenge are slim with the squad we currently have. However, if Wenger spends some of those magic beans in January, well, there’s no telling where we could be! We still have 2 new signings in Sagna and Jack to return, then we also have the new signing of Santos to return. That’s three new signings we don’t need to pay for. If we could pick up a striker and a creative midfielder, we could have a really strong finish.

All ifs and buts I appreciate. I just think this January is a massive opportunity. For once, we’re not buying to pull ourselves out of a mess. We’re buying to kick on. I hope Arsene can see that.

In other fixture led news, the Wolves game has been postponed a day. Basically, the real reason is because I couldn’t go boxing day so I demanded the club move it. They’ve obliged, so sorry if that affected anyone’s plans!

In other news Rodallega is the latest name to be linked with the vacant number two striker role. He’s a tidy player. Big, awkward with an ok finish. He doesn’t really have the wow factor, but I guess he’d do as a back up. I’m not sure Wigan would entertain flogging him whilst they’re involved in a survival struggle.

Newcastle’s Tiote has also been linked with a move to us. I can’t remember who told me, but someone did say that his agent is desperate to land him a move to us. Apparently we’re his favourite club or something like that. He’s a good player, very strong and if we did need midfield cover, he’d be a nice option. Again, I’m not sure if Wenger will be in the market for that sort of midfielder with Coquelin and Frimpong waiting in the ranks!

Right, that’s all I have for you today, enjoy Christmas Eve Eve!

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