LANDMARK DAY! WOOO HOOO!

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Today is a special day for Le Grove and the Grovers who frequent the site!

After nearly 3 years of posting on a daily basis, we’ve hit a landmark figure!

Yes, today is our 1000th post!

It’s been an exciting journey for Geoff and I. All we wanted when we started out was a place to blog, inspired by Eastlower’s reluctance to post everyday, Geoff’s disgust at the vitriol he’d face if he dared question the manager and my nerd skills in setting up a blog.

It was tough in the begining, I remember celebrating the first day we got more than ten comments, the day we celebrated 100 hits and the day we breached a 1000 comments! To date, we’ve had 7million odd hits and 600,000 comments. For a site that posts one article a day, those are staggering figures.

We never expected this…

So, today is a big day for us and we wanted to thank you all for making the site such a pleasure to run.  We’ve made many friends along the way both in the flesh and online. I hope we can count on your support for the next 1000 posts and I look forward to meeting many more of you along the way.

I hope you understand how much we appreciate your daily input. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s always great to hear intelligent opinion from both the right and the left wing of Arsenal Supporters. We set the post up so you the fan could have an opinion not get one and if that means you don’t like what’s happening you can say it without getting abused by the blog bullies.

Without you, the site would be just another Arsenal blog…

So, as a present, I sorted out a fixture in Wigan… sorry, it was the best I could do. I’ve also arranged for Arsenal to put in an outrageously good performance and for Robin Van Persie to score two goals!

I tried to get you a marquee signing… it’s just a shame our 1000th post didn’t drop in the transfer window… maybe next time eh?

Injury news is looking pretty bad. No Gallas, Vermaelen, Song, Arshavin, Cesc, Denilson or JD. I think we’re going to have to suffer a day with Silvestre at the back with Campbell which is a shame. Maybe talk of moving Sagna into the middle isn’t so crazy? I’m sure he could handle Wigan and I’m comfortable with Eboue in at right back against weaker opposition.

In the middle of the park, it may be Eastmond, Nasri and Diaby. At least Eastmond puts himself about and has a bit of North London grit to his game. Or it could be Rosicky, Nasri and Diaby, or maybe even Merida, Nasri and Diaby, either way it will feature Nasri and Diaby

Up top it will be interesting. Robin will take his place up front as expected, but where does that leave Nik? Does he play Robin out wide with Nik in the middle, Nik out wide with Robin in the middle… or does he drop Nik and play Robin central with Eduardo and Walcott either side?

I’m not sure… seeing Nik out wide is like watching a fish up a tree (to quote Merse).

Anyway, the pressure is off… Wigan are all over the place this year, so I expect a big win.

Keep and eye on their Brazillian striker Roddysomethingorother. He’s a very good player and just the type of signing I could see us making. He’s fast, powerful, holds the ball up well and he can shoot. He’s been linked via the Inde.

After the Chav loss we are sort of back in the mix, that would have been great had we not lost to the spuds, so I’m not too excited, I would however at least like to finish 3rd. The thought of Spurs being in the Champions league fills me with horror, but then so does the thought of Adebayor and Kolo being in it, thing is, if we don’t beat Wigan we could be in that little battle.

So it’s important we get back to our winning ways and watching Robin back in action filled me with love, I just wish our manager was told by Pat Rice that 67 minutes subs aren’t mandatory. Sometimes you can bring them on earlier when things aren’t going to plan.

Finally, spare a thought to all those poor people that are stranded out in Spain, in the rain, it’s not fun and there no end in sight, Geoff is one of them and says watching the television for news of what’s happening is like watching the last few days of the transfer window!

Talking of which, we are being linked to Joe Hart, I would, I think had we had a half decent keeper this season we would be at least 9 points better off. Think about that over your fry up this morning.

Finally Alex Song says Fabregas has promised his team mates he will still be at Arsenal next season, he says Cesc loves Arsenal too much and talk of Barca is just cobblers, Alex you just earned yourself another 10 credit points from Geoff, thanks for sharing that with us, I so hope it’s true.

Right, enjoy your day!

I’m off to crack open an early morning celebratory Peroni!

Cheers!

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Get them both out / The new David Dein is here / Robin starts!

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So Peter Hill-wood has been at it again. Spouting his drivel in the press and upsetting people in the process.

This time he took it out to speak to the rags… probably the Daily Star. He had this to say:

“There was a private conversation that took place in the boardroom and assurances have been made at the highest possible level,” Hill-Wood said. “Arsenal do not expect those to be broken.

“I was not privy to the conversation, but was told about it. They said to us they are not interested [this summer]. It was a recent conversation, as recent as the time that they played us in the Champions League in fact as we got a bit upset because of all the media speculation.

“Subsequent to the conversation, if they are interested at any time in the future, they would come to us direct. However I’m not sure they are going to do that, because they told us they are pretty happy with what they have got and are pretty happy with their current players.”

So many things are wrong with that statement.

Firstly, how pathetically weak does that make Arsenal look? The equivalent of asking a good looking bloke not to hit on your wife when you go to the bar. Real men don’t worry about that type of nonsense… she’s with me and I’m pretty sure my offering is far superior to that chap… that would be how I’d think.

Not Arsenal, we resort to begging a club not to harass our players.

I think anyone with half a brain knew what was coming next… Tasty Burgerstain had this to say,

“If Barcelona think that he is necessary for the team, they will go for him, always respecting negotiations,”

“We have never said that we will not try to sign Cesc Fabregas. We will see what happens.”

So not only did we emasculate ourselves as a club by asking them not to bid, we were embarrassed further when Barca showed their contempt for our private requests.

Not content with that little snippet, Hill-Wood then thought it might be a good idea to give his opinion as to why Cesc should stay with us. Was it because London was the greatest City in Europe? No. Was it because he’ll never get fan adoration like he does at Arsenal? No. Was it the fact that Arsene has built as team around his leader? No.

“If you want my opinion, I’m not sure he would even get in their team. Do they need him? I’m not sure they do.”

Ahhh, the old, ‘He should stay because he’s not good enough for Barca’ line.

Way to win friends and influence people Peter.

Wenger doubts Hill-Wood said it. Well, if that’s the case, I’d expect the Arsenal legal team to get involved. I think in all likelihood Hill-Wood did say it. Although Wenger denies there was a meeting to discuss Cesc. I very much doubt even our worst tabloid would create a completely fictitious interview.

Someone at Arsenal needs to pull him to one side and give him a verbal dressing down. His comments border on gross misconduct and I really don’t know any fan who appreciates his input at the club. He is so out of touch he puts Prince Philip to shame. He needs to leave the club and let someone else take over his stressful job and his huge salary. If we end up losing our captain over his comments, I’ll be most annoyed.

Still, he did give one interesting interview.

‘We have got more money than we’ve had for a long, long time and we would like to spend it.

‘But we want to spend it sensibly.

Not sure how much I’ll read into that… those comments are part of the Arsenal de ja vu cycle to get people to renew their seats. It’s reassuring to know that if he does decide to spend the money he’s going to spend it wisely (Theo on £60k clearly being an example of the money not being spent wisely, Hill-Woods salary and expenses another).

Talking of Burgerstain, I’d heard rumblings that Arsenal were thinking of employing him to takeover in the director of football role. Well, I can put that rumour to bed. Apparently our Director of Football is a guy called Dick Laws. I don’t believe that’s his actual job title, but he’ll be taking over the David Dein role. Apparently he’s a very knowledgeable chap and he had a major part to play in bringing Gilberto and Vela to Arsenal. I believe he was our old South American scout. Anyway, he’s an American and apparently there’s a big buzz around his appointment and his plans for the club. He’ll take care of player transfers and contract negotiations.

If he can achieve half of what Dein managed, he’ll be a welcome addition to Arsenal.

Wenger has spoken about the need to recruit defensively. He said it will depend on how well JD comes back and whether Gallas re-signs. Here’s a tip Arsene. If it doesn’t look like JD is going to cut it, make the decision early in preseason. Let’s not find out when crunch time hits in an Eduardo / Vela style. Be ruthless this summer.

I liked Arsene’s comments about Cesc. The first one was this,

“I cannot see anybody with a competitive edge wanting to go to Spain. They have two good teams, but the number three is 27 points behind [Valencia are actually 24 points adrift of Barca after winning on Thursday night] and this weekend the players go on strike because they have not been paid [The strike has been called off]. It is a league which is in complete disarray.

I liked that just for the mistakes.

This one was more interesting,

“I don’t know why you want absolutely the best players who play in England to go to Spain. If you are really competitive, you stay in England. That is where the competition is and where the best players want to be.

“I have so many calls from Spanish players who want to join us and want to come here, I cannot understand your persistent campaign to get our best players away from England.”

So very true. The Spanish have incredibly loyal media. Wouldn’t it be nice if our media fought to keep our players here and tried their damnedest to unsettle Messi and co?

Later on in the day more press releases hit newsnow and they had an interesting goalkeeperish tone to them. Firstly, Arsene personally answered Le Grove about Hugo Lloris,

“He is under contract, so I don’t see why he should go,”

“Lyon don’t need money, they are a rich club.”

Kind of missing the point there, aren’t you Arsene? Plenty of rich clubs let their players go including us. That’s the type of answer we get fed about players after we’ve signed up for season tickets. You never hear other clubs complaining about contracts do you? If you’ve got a great club name and all these players are calling you up to join, contracts won’t be an issue. After all, you know all about how hard it is to keep a player when they want to leave.

If Lloris shows an interest in joining us, we should sign him… because it doesn’t sound like you’re particularly happy with your keeper!

“I never said that he [Almunia] will be my long-term No 1. I think he is a great goalkeeper and he is in competition with Fabianski.

Well, if he’ in competition with Fabianski and winning, it shows how very little you rate the Pole! This is good news, it sounds like we’re finally going to bomb out the worst goalkeeper in the Premiership. A group of chums and I, all of various footballing persuasions were debating that point yesterday. Is there a number one at any other club you’d say no to right now? We couldn’t think of one? The worst keeper, bar no one. Not good enough.

So, Wigan up tomorrow, I’ll have more on that game later. No Denilson though. We could be looking at Eastmond in the holding role, hopefully with JD slipping in next to Sol Campbell. More news tomorrow.

Whose looking forward to the first Robin start of the year? I am!

Catch you in the comments!

*Update: Later in the day, Wenger, in his own special way, confirmed PHW had in fact opened his big gob and said all those things.

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Guess who just went in the marmite pot? / Hear about the funny AFC call I had!

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PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

This blog may contain opinion that may not agree with project youth, Arsene Wenger or the gospel of Peter Hill-Wood. If you are a sheep and suffer from AKBism, it’s probably a good idea that you click this LINK and head back to a site that won’t offend.

How many top clubs have you managed?

If you’re free thinking, like a bit of debate, please feel free to continue reading this post… and maybe post a comment!

Geoff and I renewed our season tickets yesterday. It was a big ask, £2,600 each… but we knew if we didn’t, Wenger would break his frugal policy, sign 4 world class players and we’d have the greatest season of the last 5 years!

Geoff and I sitting on a laptop, cursing a bad feed wasn’t an situation we wanted to deal with!

So we didn’t…

I rang up and spoke to the lady on the phone, checked she’d received our details and I asked how the tickets were selling. She said they were doing really well which was fantastic for cash flow and I quote,

‘Hopefully that’ll mean we can buy some players’.

What a girl! It’s nice to know that real Gooners work at the club and they think the same as most of us!

I’m going to ignore the DVD pressing tart’s from down the road today. Let them have their moment in the sun. My boss put me in a good frame of mind yesterday, he said,

‘Pedro, you feel depressed now, but think about it. What would you rather be? An Arsenal fan, or a Spurs fan? When the dust has settled on that victory, they’ll still have to deal with the fact they are Spurs fans.’

You can’t argue with that. I’d prefer to live in a mud hut in the Sahara than wake up every day knowing the life choice I’d taken had lowered my expectations to such a level that winning one North London derby would cause me and my pals to petition for an open top parade around the crappiest parts of North London.

Anyway, repression is better than depression.

So, who has found themselves in a thick, gloopy pot of iron rich Marmite?

Arshavin.

Can you believe it?

The impish genius from Russia has some how managed to work his way into the marmite pot!

Yep, the man who single-handedly injected the shot of creativity we needed to make the top 4 last year finds himself in the love / hate category. The man who scored 4 goals against Liverpool, the man who has treated us to delightful flashes of skill not witnessed since the days of Bergkamp, Henry and Pires, the man who is more entertaining than a night out with drinking with Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Eddy Murphy.

So how did this happen?

How could we do it to the little man?

Well, since the start of the season, the little man has demonstrated that what he lacks in height, he more than makes up for in mouth size. The gobby little Russian has been spouting alsorts of guff in the press… ranging from his opinions on politics to his opinion on Wenger’s transfer policies. The fans seem to generally be of the mind-set that they are allowed to moan about the state of the squad but if a player does, they’re being disloyal.

I know that earlier in the season I 100% backed the Russian because what he was saying was right… however, I wasn’t too impressed when he trapped off a few weeks ago after we’d worked our way through a tough fixture list and were still firmly in the race. No one minds a hearing a well thought out moan up, but not when it doesn’t bear any relevance to what’s going on in the real world.

How about on the football pitch?

Well, could those 4 goals be the worst 4 things to happen for him at Arsenal? The last player to do that was Baptista and we all know what happened to him. Since those goals crept in, he’s failed to ever reach the same heights form wise. Perhaps we expect too much from him? Perhaps we saw him as the second coming of Bobby forgetting he’s only in his first full season.

Well, how about we compare?

Arshavin 45 app, 17 goals, 11 assists

Pires: 51 app, 8 goals, 7 assists

Above is a direct comparison of the two in their first games for Arsenal, I don’t think it’d be outlandish to say Andrey has a far superior record. Factor in that Bobby was never asked to play as a lone striker and you start to see that the Russian has had to contend with a lot.

People have bandied about the laziness factor without actually presenting any factual evidence to back the theory. I can understand that he could be perceived as anti-hard-work but like someone mentioned, no more lazy than Nasri. Everyone conveniently forgets that he’s been playing injured this season. I also don’t remember Hleb getting this much flak and he had an appalling record for productivity… yet we all cooed over his ability to assist the assister!

Andrey Arshavin for all his flaws is a superb player. He has bundles of raw talent, he has more ability than most of our squad combined and we’re all moaning about him like he’s let the team down big time. Nik B misses a shot from 5 yards and we all defend him because he works hard, Arshavin smashes a few over the bar and he has to go!

The dissatisfaction is lost on me. We should be looking at ways to get the best from his talent, not talking about chopping a top player out of our squad. Arsenal have a fantastic record of dealing with players with suspect attitudes. I hope that my sources are wrong and he stays next season. I would hate to see him line up against us and I would hate to have to go through a summer waiting to replace him only to find out Wenger sees Mark Randall as his direct replacement becuase he’s sees the Englishman as the next George best.

Be careful what you wish for next time you say you wouldn’t mind seeing Arshavin leave.

You might find yourself green with envy when he’s lighting up another stadiums pitch on a regular basis.

P.S. Just to clarify, Le Grove has never called for Arsene to be sacked. I’ve seen the William Hill odds and they’re embarrassingly wrong! Firstly, Wenger probably won’t quit. Why quit a £4.9million job when everyone at board level backs you?

Secondly… Mourinho? Do me a favour! We wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole! He’s a loose cannon, Arsenal can’t manage that type of coach! If we ever recruited it’d be someone like Van Basten, Van Gaal or the restless Guardiola. Someone who’d enhance the brand, not decimate it!

Remember, it’s taken Chavski 3 years to get over the damage the special one inflicted on their reputation! A successful coach, but an intolerable press whore, a dull tactician and a narcissist… we could do better.

P.P.S. I have potentially 5 Wigan tickets, e-mail in if you’re interested.

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