The time for stubborn thinking is over / How is Nasri getting a ban?

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So here we are again, for the second weekend running, rubbing our hands together after watching our nearest and dearest drop crucial points in unexpected fashion. Before I get into the what Santa provided us, I’d like to talk about Nasri.

Firstly, regardless of how stupid his stamp was, I’m glad he did it. For too long we’ve had a team of ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ teenagers in our squad and we’ve had zero edge on the pitch when it comes to fear factor. That little stamp caused a 22 man brawl and we more than stood our ground. I’m hoping that injected a little bit of belief into our squad that we don’t have to be top of the fair play league, and a bit of filth can give you an edge in a game.

I’m not quite sure how Nasri is facing a ban, I thought if the ref booked a player, he was immune from further punishment. However, this is Arsenal, I should have known better!

Onto our festive weekend…

I was sure that Manchester United were capable of maybe losing two points at Fulham, but all three? No way! They were emphatically beaten by the West Londoners who showed more heart and desire all over the park. Watching Scholes hit the tipping point of old age as he was dispossessed by Danny Murphy was a truly marvelous moment in part one of the ‘Collapse of the contenders’.

I don’t really feel I can include Liverpool in my dream weekend. They’re so far off the pace and have such a poor side at the moment, it really feels pointless putting text down about their loss at Pompey. However, watching Mascharano pick up a red after a disgusting challenge was funny, watching him hobble off injured at the same time was even funnier. The most enjoyable part of that game was listening to spoilt, under pressure Rafa bitch in the interview after. You can’t moan about not being supported by your board, then spunk 37mill on a centre midfielder who has managed 60 games in 3 seasons and a right back who has only ever been average at best. Ok, so I spoke a lot on that result, that can be part 2.

Part 3 of my weekend of job was watching the Chelsea match. I can categorically tell you that I didn’t believe for a second West Ham would even get a sniff today. Their form has been nothing short of diabolical of late, they didn’t have Carlton Cole in attack and they have been leaking goals for fun. How wrong was I? West Ham played fantastically well, carved out most of the chances and were only denied all three points because of a dodgy penalty decision by a very erratic referee.

So, if we win that bastard game in hand, we’ll move into second and we’ll only be two points off Chelsea. What a turn around.

Now, this is where the coach needs to be clever. We are where we are because of other teams dropping stupid points as well as us. Not because we’ve made some amazing improvement. We’ve never conceded so many goals in the opening games of the season and I don’t think we’ve ever been where we are on such a low points total.

Now is the time for the coach to go out and make that relevant signing. He now has the best opportunity since 2007 to go out there and make a real impact on the league. He doesn’t have a target man whose making an impact and lets be honest, it’s a lot to ask to expect Bendtner to come back and make that leap… he’s hardly been electric in front of goal thus far. Plus, whose to say he can maintain fitness anyway?

We’ve got a testing few weeks when a number of our players will be leaving the squad… lets not chuck away the season because the coach wants to prove a point about how right he was… because one thing I can guarantee, someone is going to kick on after Christmas… with the right signings, that can be us!

Show us that you really want to challenge for the league this year Arsene. A lot of teams are up shit creek with their finances and we know that you’ve still got a monster bounty tucked away in the Arsenal piggy bank. There’s no use saying there are no players available, beacause I’ve no doubt Mancini will find some. It doesn’t matter if they’re cup tied, if they’re top players, they’re not going to be league tied… that’s the trophy that matters, anything else is a bonus. Go out and do what you do best, purchase some proven talent and deliver the Gooner faithful some silverware!

See you in the comments Grovers!

P.S. Anyone read about Hughes paying 250k of his own money to purchase Bellamy? Sounds like a load of rubbish to me… Still, more believable than John Terry taking cash in brown paper bags so he could give it to a kids Charity…


Ahhh, what a messed up game we live in… Ratings and Review

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So first things first. Does it irritate anyone else that the league is so badly organised that we still have a game in hand dating back to September? Does it really take that long to squeeze the extra game in? It’s ridiculous… I hate looking at the league table talking about our position if we do happen to win our extra game.

Onto the match…


Eboue Gallas Vermaelen Silvestre

Diaby Song Denilson

Eduardo Arshavin Nasri

The team lined up pretty much as I had expected. Almunia has clearly turned into the undroppable keeper, which was unsurprising considering the excuse Wenger made for his Liverpool mistake. In midfield, I would have preferred to have seen Ramsey in there, but I could understand his omittance as he often goes missing if he’s played from the start… and up top, I couldn’t argue. Walcott rightly dropped after some atrocious performances… the rest of the players were all we had left!

Arsenal started off nervously, Diaby mis-timed a slide tackle which allowed Fagan to hit a low and hard shot at Almunia’s goal. Luckily it was wide of the post by a yard or so.

Our first chance came from Diaby. Eduardo played the ball to Nasri who neatly teed up the Frenchman, who hit a powerful shot at the leg of the Hull defender, out for a corner.

Eduardo and Nasri combined again when the Croatian found his team mate free in the box. The best the Frenchman could do was shoot at Myhil.

Arsenal were looking a little clueless again. If in doubt, hit the wings and fire high balls into the box seemed to be the preferred tactic again.

The game needed a spark and sure enough, Nasri was on hand to provide it in the form of a 200lbs firework. A freekick was awarded after a challenge on Hunt. As the ref had his back to Nasri, the Frenchman cheekily stamped on Garcia’s foot. Hunt hit the deck like he’d been floored by Tyson, Barmby came flying over shoving Nasri in the face… que carnage. After a few minutes of handbags, the ref consulted his linesman and awarded Nasri and Hunt a yellow card each. Lucky Nasri! He’ll now avoid a video arbitration.

After the fight, Hull started getting silly. Zayyate challenged wildly on Vermaelen, then shortly after Barmby and the same player double teamed Diaby and conceded another freekick. Denilson stepped up and from 35 yards slotted it into the far left of the goal. A pearler of a free kick. Arsenal went in at half time 1-0 up!

As the players headed into the tunnel, the childish arguments continued. There were even some rumours that hood man Cesc was involved again! Kevin Keegan and Moritz Volz spoke about how soft the free kick was at half time but I couldn’t disagree more. Neither Hull player won the ball and I was unaware that double teaming a player to win possession was allowed. Stick to the Circus Kev…

Arsenal came out for the second half much better play wise. Eduardo turned on the edge of the box superbly to give himself acres of space… he shot wide. Shortly after the Crozillian gave Diaby the opportunity to shoot inside the box. The shot was crudely hand balled but the ref missed it.

The play moved up the other end, Fagan chased a ball in the box, tussled with Silvestre, fell over and claimed his shirt had been pulled. The ref; conned, pointed to the spot. What a joke. However, the punch line was in the penalty Geovanni took. He ran up slowly, Almunia stood his ground, to watch the Brazillian shoot close enough for Alto parry away. A crucial save from the Spaniard.

Arsenal went up the other end. Diaby did excellently out wide playing a clever one two with Song, the return pass went across the face of goal for the easiest of tap ins for Eduardo.

Fagan continued to do his best impression of Wayne Rooney, tearing around like an idiot, shouting and swearing at anyone who’d listen, crucially not picking up a yellow card.

Arsenal were cruising without really creating chances. The coach brought on Rambo for the superb Nasri.

The final goal of the game came from Diaby. He played another one two, this time with Arshavin who patiently waited for the perfect return ball. Diaby strongly held off the challenge and banged it into the top corner.

Walcott managed to get a few minutes on the pitch and went close when he lobbed wide. Ramsey also blazed the ball just over after a superb move. Joe Royle seemed to think the result was flattering… I can only think he’d confused the last word of that sentence with comfortable.

All the ‘poor performance’ talk at full time from the commentary team riled me a bit. I thought we played fine. It wasn’t vintage, but arguing 3-0 was undeserved was picking holes for the sake of it. The female presenter interviewer for ESPN made a class A tit of herself interviewing Arsene at the end… it was quite funny watching Arsene’s face everytime a poor question came out of her mouth. Talking of Wenger, Wrighty7 has his own opinion on what will happen if our coach heads to City.

So in conclusion, a very good performance from everyone on the pitch today. We go into Christmas in a very strong position with a number of other teams. The Villa game now holds extra importance as they seem to be sneeking up the table grinding out good results along the way. It was a pretty crazy day today, Almunia saved a penalty, Diaby had a blinder, Nasri was tough in midfield, Silvestre looked great, Man U lost heavily as did Liverpool… madness!

One can’t help but think United deserved that after Wolves played a reserve team against them last week. If we do eventually win out game in hand, we take second. Today I’ll mostly be backing West Ham and of course, Burnley!


Almunia: Wouldn’t have got a game if they’d let me be selecter for the day. Still, I wont let that statement get in the way of telling you he had a solid game between the sticks and he that he kept a clean sheet… which included a penalty save. 7

Eboue: You know he’s had a good game when there are no key moments in a match that he’s involved in. Hull were pretty impotent for most of the day, so he didn’t have much to do. What he did do was well executed. 7

Gallas: A solid, yet quiet game at the back. 7

Vermaelen: The only difference between Gallas and the Verminator is the Belgian pushed forward when things are quiet. Again, a solid game. 7

Silvestre: It’s time to give up the auto-slag mind set people use on our favourite geriatric. He had a very good game today, even managing to get up top to join in some sparkling moves. 7.5

Diaby: After he started getting the ball from out of his feet a bit quicker, we saw glimpses into what Diaby could become. He was creative, strong, rangey in the tackle. He was involved in all of the goals and he showed what he could do with a bit of application. 8.5

Song: Powerful performance from the man who likes to call himself the first defender. Good passing, tough tackling and some real discipline (Bar the ruck!) today. I was very impressed. 8

Denilson: A guy I was sitting with pointed out that while Denilson doesn’t appear to do much in game, his main role is to hold the space out wide and link the play. When you look at it like that, you can’t argue that he does a good job. He’s not as crash bang as Rambo, but he holds onto the ball well and he has an eye for a pass. His freekick was very well executed and it stuck two fingers up at Wenger’s ‘don’t shoot from distance’ policy. 7.5

Eduardo: He plays in an unfamiliar wide position and does a good job. He created a few openings today and managed to bag a goal. His finishing still lacks the pre-injury confidence, but I’m sure it’ll come. 7.5

Arshavin: A pretty quiet game from the Russian. He doesn’t perform particularly well without Cesc or a pacey forward. He still holds the ball up well and he has the ability to pull a rabbit out the hat… sadly, not today. 7

Nasri: A super game from a player I gave a little bit of stick to last week. It was gutsy innings that combined skill with hard work and tough challenges. His range of passing was excellent today and for once, I was sad to see him leave the pitch! I was very proud of our Frenchman kick starting a brawl… loved it! 8

P.S. I watched Madrid destroy a very poor Zaragoza side yesterday. The finishing was out of this world and M.Diarra was excellent. If he’s on the market for 5mill, he’d certainly be worth a punt and he’d certainly suit the Premier league.

Also, I have no Villa tickets! Hand them over if they’re going spare… I have plenty of takers!


Academy kids versus known quality, what’s the difference in cost?

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I have often had this debate with fellow Arsenal fans, we develop our teams and the manager is rightly proud of that, but are we genuinely saving money by farming our teams?

Let’s look at some of our kids against some of our ready mades, let’s take three of each in Wengers era.

Ready mades

Nasri, Arshavin, Vermaelen total cost to buy say £33mil But ready to play and making and immediate impact on the team, paying back their investment from the off.

Paid for academy kids

Walcott, Ramsey, Denilson total cost £17 million, time taken to make the first team? Denilson 3 years, Theo 2 years and Ramsey still waiting. Are they making an impact? You judge, what are their salaries compared to the three above them? Not far off if Theo is on £60k a week. Add up there salaries for the years they take to make the first team and I suspect we could have bought three ready mades for the same price and not gone through the pain of watching them screw up in games.

True Academy kids that cost us nothing

Jack Wilshere, Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Henri Lansbury, now they did actually come through the ranks, I would like to see them used and given the chances Cesc was, remember when Cesc broke into the first team, he was Ok, but he didn’t look as good as Wilshere, and he didn’t get loaned out, so if the boss wants to perservere with kids, I would be happy if he did it with those three.

Early Wenger purchases

Henry, Pires and Freddie total cost £21.5 million, payback, ha, ha, you tell me! How long? 9 years and ready from day one. (well almost and there was a bunch of ‘player of the year’ and ‘golden boots’ in that little lot, not to mention second in ‘World player of the year’)

So to summise I think we need a few more ready mades, we have too many academy kids that are just not up to the fight, it wouldn’t take much to remedy.

Every successful Wenger team had a lot of bought players in it, even the invincibles had only two that were academy kids, Parlour and Cole, Parlour was a sub and Cole and Clichy swapped, you may say Clichy was a kid and he was, but he still cost us £200k from Cannes.

The same with the double winning side of 1998 and the double winning side of 2002 apart from Anelka (500k), most of them were signings, you see for me that’s what football is about, buying players, winning games, lifting trophies, we aren’t in property development and we aren’t a bank, football is an institution, fans spend the money, management buys players, teams win trophies.

If the clubs want to make a stand against spending vast sums and prudently running clubs then perhaps they should look at the offensive money they pay their players and staff.

How many of you lot could afford to buy your girlfriend a Ferrari at 21? How many of you lot could afford to buy a Ferrari period?

One of Arsenal’s greatest ever heroes, Charlie George, who scored the winner in the 1971 Cup final – that was the subject of my art ‘O’ level, he couldn’t have afforded a Ferrari at the peak of his career.

So what I’m saying is, if you want to champion not spending huge sums of money on players that could win us the league, start championing the huge sums that you are paying to average players that aren’t (winning us the league).

Onto today, 3 points and nothing else will do, and to be honest 3 points against Hull is nothing less than I would expect, we need to get a good performance in because Villa won’t be so easy, so I hope he fields a team today that has the next game in mind.

Never mind playing your favourites Arsene, try this side.


Eboue Gallas Vermaelen Traore

Ramsey Song Nasri


Walcott Vela

I said Fabianski because Almunia is really not very good, he has had too many chances and it’s way past time when even Wenger can see that.

I would put Eboue in for Sagna as I think Sagna has lost something and I would put Ramsey on because when he plays a good game, it’s better and more influential that Denilson and Diaby when they decide to have a good game.

Up top I have Arshavin in the hole, his preferred position and let Theo and Vela rip, up top.

I know many of you can give me the example of how Flamini turned out in his last season, and I agree, he did, but we had to suffer at least 3 shit years waiting for that one good season, all I’m saying is we shouldn’t have to wait, get someone in that’s good now. I’m sure Denilson and Diaby will come good one day, but playing them both at the same time now, well it doesn’t work does it.

Finally, all those great teams and trophy years, Wenger bought them, not me, he can do it again, even mix it up, and he still has January to do something, come on Arsene!

Have a great day today Grovers, I expect a big win today and a message for Martin O’Neil.