Stone Cold Friday: On The Right Track

OK, it’s Friday and having had to put up with me for the past few weeks, it’s his turn. He’s Darius

Wednesday night provided one of the most bizarre footballing spectacles in recent times.  It wasn’t just the fact that Mancini plonked an expensively assembled aircraft carrier in front of goal.

It was more like ‘The night of long knives’ right across the league.  Wily old Woy looked a battered, bruised and beaten man; Chelsea couldn’t buy a win if they tried; Everton put the Spuds back in their cage; and Villa are staring at the prospect of match days out at unfamiliar lower league grounds.

Therein lies the story of Arsenal.  We fervently debate the merits of Arsenal’s vision, philosophy and approach to football.  We argue and counter-argue about the merits of organic growth vs. the merits of profligate cheque book management.

Our patience is tested as the inconsistency of development occasionally rears its ugly mug.  Our alleged plight is misleadingly portrayed in the media and footballing circles as a club – wait for this – who can’t hack it; who don’t have what it takes; who are also-rans run by an egocentric foreigner obsessed about doing things his way.

Wednesday night provided some tangible answers and visible proof of the shifting paradigm in football with Arsenal in the box seat.

It’s so easy to point a finger at Man City for engaging in the world’s most expensive exercise in anti-football; and it’s so easy to suggest that the onus was on Arsenal to gun down HMS Blue Moon, City’s aircraft carrier in front of goal.  But the more important issue here is the serious compliment that City paid to Arsenal.

Notwithstanding the fact that they had received a ruthless hiding from Arsenal at Eastlands; they had seen Chelsea being bitch slapped at the Emirates for trying to play football; and they had seen Arsenal annihilate Birmingham City at St. Andrews despite their use of violence and thuggery as an alternative tactic.

City knew that Arsenal would send them to the cleaners, and that has to be the best compliment from a team that has committed and spent the best part of a billion pounds in less than 3 years.  If ever there was justification that Arsenal’s approach to team development and our transfer policy, then look no further.

Not getting all 3 points was frustrating, but there is a bigger picture here.  It’s a picture that Arsenal has been drawing for the last 5 years or so.  It is a picture that has been fraught with obstacles, challenges and disappointment.  It has also been a picture that has kept Arsenal on a steady path of success.

We know it, we’ve believed in it.  The managers in the Premier League who understand what Arsenal is trying to do are desperate to emulate us.  It’s not just that times are hard and the kind of stupid money that has been spent on football is not available any more – they know that what Arsenal is doing makes business sense.

The rest are now warming up to the notion that Arsenal might actually be on to something.  Wednesday night was a good indicator of how far this team has come.  While we have sometimes been the architects of our own undoing, the context of the last few years has never been truly taken into account.

What has never been in doubt is the fact that we’re on the right track with lessons from previous campaigns being learnt.  What Wenger is doing with squad rotation is a prime example of learning about the limits of players in previous seasons.

But there are many more indicators of success including our ability to retain our key players, the maturity the players are constantly showing, and let’s not forget the total football being applied with panache.  And that’s just on the field.  Off the field, Arsenal is perhaps the best run and best managed football club in the world; a necessary foundation for long term success.

In contrast, we’ve seen the capitulation of Liverpool last season, a trend that has seen them permanently claim a stake in mid-table mediocrity.  Chelsea is fast following on the heels of Liverpool with the only surprise being that the cracks have taken this long to appear.

The red carpet that had been lined down the Kings Road for the procession of the media appointed Premier league champions only a month or two ago is fast being transported up the M62 to Manchester.  They don’t learn, do they?

For even Man United are living on borrowed time, surviving on the fumes of their reputation and goodwill.  They must be the luckiest bastards in town with the luck of the Irish buttering their side of the bread.  But surely, luck will only take you so far before it kills you.

We simply have to keep doing what we’re doing.  The team is playing well, and they’re enjoying their football.  On occasion here, I’ve stated how important it is for supporters, especially in the stadium on match days, to stand up and be counted.  The Chelsea game was amazing as the supporters became the proverbial 12th man, and true enough, some of the players expressed their gratitude on twitter.

I believe the next major hurdle in this journey is the Carling cup.  We have debated long and hard on here about the merits of the league cup vs. focussing on the Champions League and the Premier League.  The fact of the matter is that winning breed’s confidence and we need that confidence.

The Carling cup is well within our reach, but it’s by no means a guarantee.  We will have to work hard and fight for it and we will not win it if we expect to turn up and roll Ipswich or the eventual finalists.  The team will have to earn the right to win their first trophy.  What’s more important though is that such a win is a milestone that will provide the mother of all psychological boosts to the team.

Meanwhile – the FA cup looms large and it’s a time to sit back and enjoy the football.

Posted on January 7, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 122 Comments.

  1. First? Great post as usual Darius!

  2. Hear, hear. Everyone would benefit from taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, which you have so eloquently outlined above. A copy to every furious Arsenal blogger and fatuous ‘red top’ hack in the land, please.

  3. The squad depth meants that nomatter what, we can actually produce a team that should beat ledds first team…. no disrespect intended!

    Agree Darius, we are definitely on the right track and we will get there! City were really saved by the bar!

  4. Welcome back Darius. Gr8 post (as usual). It seem’s Arsenal,and indeed Arsene’s vision on d way club should b run,and d way it should play is becoming very clear 4 all 2 c. It’s now left 4 d players 2 show dat d faith being shown on dem all is nt wasted. Their level of commitment has never bn in doubt(Arshavin???),all dey nid 2 do is 2 start applying more belief 2 their play. D league is winnable,so is d carling cup,FA,& CL.
    Bt we need 2 start wit leeds 2morow

  5. Wonderfully said Darius! You’re absolutely right, The Arsenal is indeed one of, if not THE best run club in the world.
    The surrender of ManCity to play football at the Emirates was actually a huge compliment to us. They acknowledged our superiority before the game began by strangling their own ambition. That we missed out on the full 3 points is just unlucky. Actually, this reminded me of Mourinho’s Inter visiting Barcelona last spring. He knew Barca was superior and grinded out the result to advance in the CL.

    In fact, there is a striking similarity with Arsenal and Barcelona. I respect Barca for their approach to football and their wise use of their youth academy. In those regards, I think that Arsenal is even better than them.

    Anyways, I think you’re spot-on with your post and what can I say:

  6. Darius,
    Spot on as usual..

  7. Great post as usual Darius. I just read that Lawrie Sanchez has come out and gone on record as saying that Liverpool are no longer considered a big club. A bit harsh but again the type of knee-jerk reaction you yourself alluded to re: the red carpet now heading to Manchester. In as much as I too was frustrated by how Citeh settled for a draw, I think we are doing the team a slight disservice as our defending was superb!!! Everyone hustled and any time we did lose the ball we almost always got it right back. They did not have 1 single shot on target!!! Our midfield was outstanding, even if Lil Jack faded near the end. Dam but he is good isn’t he? Jack Russel is more like it, snapping at their heels every time they did try and string a few passes together!! Anyways off to see if Leeds have any injury news. Fingers X 🙂

  8. Great post.

  9. Agreed that the way Man City came and played at the Emirates was a compliment to the gooners but I dont think we should get ahead of ourselves. We are just in a rich vein of form and Mancini noticed this so set his team up to combat us, aswell as them having injuries to key players. If we had lost 3 on the bounce im sure he would have thought differently.

    Im a firm advocate of Wenger but think we should judge the merits of the team at teh end of the season. One things for sure is that everything is up for grabs this year and were competitive in all areas which is beautiful to see after a few years of some painful moments.

    Lets beat Leeds, then smash Ipswich and crack on in the League. COYRRG!

  10. Well said, DS.

    At least this can’t happen again…

    “1991 Fourth Round: Leeds 1-2 Arsenal (fourth replay)

    This marathon FA Cup Fourth Round tie between the two sides was a major reason for the FA’s abolition of multiple replays at the end of the 1990-91 season. After drawing the initial game 0-0, a replay at Elland Road ended 1-1, and a third replay at Highbury finished 0-0 – the last two games both including extra time”
    …two goals in five and a half hours football! That’s like being a City fan. Thank God for Arsene Wenger.

    Apparently Leeds are bringing around 10,000 down on Saturday. That’ll get our lot up for it. The ground will be rocking.

  11. Great post Darius.

    Team Vs Leeds:
    Eboue Squilly Kos Gibbs
    Rosicky Nasri
    Arsh Bendy

    I know, lots of changes but you and I both know thats enough quality to get a positive result.

  12. Well I think we should all thank Cardiff for ending Leeds 12 game unbeaten run as I would rather meet them coming off a loss, a slight knock to their confidence hopefully. Also our very own Sanchez Watt has been given the green light by Arsenal to play against us if he recovers from a head injury in time. They say he is 50/50.

  13. Some Arsenal fans seemed in reverance of City’s ability to ‘hang on for a point’ the other night, and wished Arsenal could do the same. In case they didn’t notice, measures were taken to ensure we didn’t lose that game. Arsene shackled Gael Clichy who clearly wanted to bomb on in the final minutes but wasn’t allowed to, and Koscielny was told to step the line back too. We still went for it in those last minutes, but we we were never going to get beaten. So admire that, not the hanging on for dear life we saw at the other end – an alert linesman away from being torn apart.

  14. Yep too true. One major point raised there is the fact that we retain our stars as long as WE want THEM. Players only leave when Wenger values the transfer fee higher than there contribution. I for one can’t think of a single high profile case he has been wrong.

    It infuriates the pundits that we don’t loose the likes of Fabregas, Vieira, Henry and soon Nasri until Wenger is good and ready. If these players had been at another club and the set up involved, they would all have been lost in the first season that the rumours got started.

    Great post Darius.

  15. Big fan of that team, PIRESAHOLIC. I would think maybe Fabregas might play instead of Nasri who was a slight doubt yesterday. I could be completely wrong but I get the idea Fabregas could do with more games right now – rather than less? I’m thinking of AW mentioning the hesitancy in his game being more mental than to do with the hamstring. Also for selfish reasons – I’d love to see him lead us out. It would send a message to Leeds right from the off (i.e. they’d shit themselves).

    It looks a good game for Craig Eastmond too though. So maybe both will be rested and Rosicky will run the show?

    I’d also like to see JET involved at some point.

  16. @ LimparAssist – I fully agree, great point. There is a huge difference in solidifying your defense right at the end, especially when one of your defenders has been sent off, then doing so from the beginning!!

  17. Gotta love the versatility of Bendtner. Lots of his goals came cutting in from the right last season… this season; cutting in from the left.

  18. I agree Limpar. Great team PIRES. But I always would have room for the young guns in the cup teams. Jet, Eastmond and hopefully a good stint for Vela before he goes on loan. How about Miquel also, he’s not on loan is he? Would be interested to see him get some time.

  19. It’s all very well coming it large now Darius having cursed our season before Christmas by saying that we were second at New Year.

    Sheer muppetry.

  20. Agree with most of PIRESAHOLIC’s line up with Eastmond in for Nasri..

  21. Nice one Darius.

    I agree with Limpar’s team with Cesc in it. He does need more time to get back to his best, that’s for sure. I would also like to see Miquel play and JET as I haven’t seen much of them (particularly Miquel).

    Very confident for the 2nd half of the season. More than I’ve been in years. I think we’re going to win at least 2 trophies this year. The League Cup, and one or two of the other 3 competitions. FA and League most likely imo, but Europe is equally conquerable this year. If we can play like we did against Chavs, Birmingham and Citeh (any other day that’d have been 3 points), we can nail Barca. We weren’t the team we are this year when we last played them – not by a long shot. Providing we have our best players fit this time, it’s game on. We will probably witness the best technical football in the worlover those 2 legs.

    Getting ahead of myself – Leeds first, then a Roy Keane-less Ipswich. We’ll just have to nail them under Paul Jewell instead. Oh well…

  22. Heya, els. Yeah, I really like the look of Miquel. Captain of the Reserves says a lot. You can tell he’s a popular boy and a good leader from the way the team celebrate with him when they score. It’s a long game though isn’t it – learning to be an Arsenal centreback? From what I’ve seen he’s excellent on the ball, good in the air… but you’ve got to learn how to run around like a blue-arsed fly to be an Arsenal centreback… only one way to find out if he’s got that I suppose – through him in at the deep end.

    Hello, Consolsbob. I was awoken in the early hours of this morning by the Barmy Army – jumping up behind Jimmy Anderson as he caught Peter Siddle hauling out to the boundary. I’d fallen asleep in the rain break. Great stuff.

  23. great write up darius & yep they’re aptly named the red devils-luck of the devil & plenty of help to get out of jail from their old friends”the men in black”-convinced old red nose has sold his soul to beezlebub!our day will come & it’s getting v.close,can almost touch it…

  24. Or, throw him in….

  25. What’s Miquel’s style? Never seen him in action, but heard great things… Is he a Kos style all action defender or more of a Squillachi jockeying type? Big and powerful?

  26. Hello, Geo, sorry… I’ve only seen him in a couple of games but I think the Squillaci comparison probably isn’t a million miles away. More about reading the game and good positioning than legging it around. And he’s definitely big and powerful. I’m not sure how old he is actually… 19 maybe?

  27. Nice, cheers Limpar.
    Really looking forward to seeing him and the other future stars coming into the first team, like Jack this year. With him, Gibbs, JET etc it just seems like there’s going to be an endless supply of quality talent… And they can all fuck off if everyone still thinks we don’t do anything for english football.


  28. LOL Consols – 2nd at Christmas?

    So the boys crushed the Aussies – you must be smiling from Plymouth to Exetor.

    Question: What do you call an Australian with a bottle of champagne?
    Answer: A waiter.

    The boys did really well though – and next they need to conquer India.

  29. What do you call an Australian centurion?

  30. I’ll tell you… a bowler.

  31. Yeah Limpar, it’s a long road from the young guns to first team action. In all the Wenger years we only have Johan who has come close. For a defender to wait till mid twenties (usually) before being ready to claim a starting place it’s a long time not to get your head turned here and there. As you say throw him in and give him a little deserved pat on the back. I have heard about Keown similarities to Miquel’s style play, but wouldn’t like to say too much until I got a good look at him play.

  32. Limpar @ 11.32

    Or a myth…

  33. Darius elegant post and well written. It neatly sums up how many at ACLF feel about the Arsenal project. Not long ago every doomer and his dog was screetching that Wenger should go. It was once blasphemous to mention Song as an Arsenal player, Eboue was booed by his own fans, Denilson, Fabiansky,Almunia,Clicy, Bendtner faced the ire of the doomers. Even Nasri last year was seen as nothing but a poncy frenchie while some even went as far as saying Cesc can fcuk of to BBB! The myopic doomers led down the alley by the equally blinded media intoxicated on the Nescafe pseudo-success of the likes of Chelsea held up Arsenal as the great pantomimes of English football. Some went further with their xenophobic bile and labelled Arsene Wenger as the greatest peril to have faced emerging English talent. Now the same hypocrates are rubbing their eyes in disblief following the comprehensive destruction of Chelsea and the schooling of Man City. Song is suddenly the best defensive midfielder in the galaxy, Nasri is no longer French, he’s just simply awesome. And Le Groan gets fewer and fewer posters as they have nothing to rant about. Well the best thing is that this team can only get better. The standard has been set and anyone whether coming from the youth team or a new face knows the benchmark has been set. We can now afford to buy shrewdly and for once it looks the habitual exodus of influential players every summer is a thing of the past. We have promising youngsters in JET,Frimpong,Chuks,Afobe,Yennaris, Coqueline,Sunu. Gibbs ,Rammsey and Wilshere are already first teamers. The future is red and white, the future is Arsenal. It will not be long when England will line up with 5-7 regular Arsenal players!

  34. Great post Runebreaker. Can’t argue with that.

  35. I haven’t seen Miquel play so i would really like to see him play against Leeds. Apparently Miquel see himself as a Pique type of CB so could be interesting to see him play.

    I would go with this line-up:

    Eboue Squillaci Miquel Gibbs
    ——-Eastmond Denilson
    Bendtner Chamakh Arshavin

    I cannot choose between cesc, nasri or Rosicky because for me it depends a lot on fitness level and injury status

  36. gunnerluc,

    I feel TR7 will start with Cesc on the bench.. Nasri has a slight knock, so He’ll not be in the squad..

  37. I like your use of the capital H IndianGooner! Intentional?

  38. I think Miquel is 17

  39. indianGooner that’s what I was implying with the fitness and injury status. For me if Nasri recover from the knock or if cesc is fine in term of fitness they would get the go ahead otherwise I see little Mozart pulling the strings.

  40. I’d like to see Cesc get some more game time to be honest. This is the type of game where he can continue to regain match sharpness while not having to exert himself too much. I think Rosicky will definitely play against Ipswich and will probably captain the side. Nasri should be rested imo.

  41. Geo,
    Ya.. I usually do.. No big reasons..

  42. Not many people about today…

    Zabaleta appeal successful,19528,11679_6640086,00.html

  43. lol indiangooner – I thought you were referring to Nasri as a godlike figure tbh..!

  44. @gunnerluc
    Eboue Squillaci Miquel Gibbs
    ——-Eastmond Denilson
    Bendtner Chamakh Arshavin

    is not a team I’d like to see play tomorrow. We tried Eastmond against Shakhtar and he was awful. As for Miquel … I too would love to see him given chance, but in the Emirates’ Cup not against Leeds.

    As for Nasri and Cesc. I very much doubt they’ll feature, though I’d love to see either Cesc or Wilshere start.

    Two things.

    One. We have a full and proper squad … and
    Two. They all want to play. Be given a chance. Show what they can do and push for the first-choice lineup stroke bench.

    It’ll also depend on who’s fit and able. If any/all of Diaby, Ramsey, and Gibbs are ready then they will probably feature … if not then who AW puts out (inc the bench) will show how seriously he’s taking the FA Cup this year.

    I’d expect a lineup not too far from the one against Wigan, but with Szczesny given his customary go.

    Szczesny, Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Gibbs or Clichy
    then Denilson
    one of Diaby Ramsey or Wilshere
    Rosicky (Cesc’s role, captain)
    and Bendtner Chamakh Arshavin

    But what I’d like is Arshavin to be given Cesc’s spot and Vela a chance on the left. Rosicky then plays alongside Denilson with everybody else on the bench with Fabianski.

    PS … It’s so nice that Roy Keane’s been sacked ahead of Wednesday … it couldn’t have happened to a more malicious thug.

  45. talia – Wenger has said he’s resting the following:

    Koscielny, Nasri, Wilshere, and RvP. Diaby’s out again so wont feature.
    Ramsey, Vela and Gibbs are all back in the squad.

  46. gunnerluc | January 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm |

    I think that’s the starting 11 that I’d like to see. Rosciky should play as we can’t risk Cesc’s hamstrings from excessive games and nasri simply has to be rested after his recent exertions.

    My prediction: Arsenal 4 Leeds Utd 1


    If we do start with Chamahk and Bendtner up front, I think Gibbs and Eboue could be critical in supplying crosses. Our best two aerial threats will need supply.

  47. Seeing as he’s resting Kos for this one, and I’d be surprised if he risked Djourou again, I wonder if he is going to play Miquel..? Who else would play there? Surely Song needs a rest too…

  48. Geo,

    I think it will still be too early for Ramsey to make the starting 11 but I’d love to see him coming on at some point for Eastmond

  49. I agree Dgob, I very much doubt he’ll start. Great to have in the squad again! Welcome back Aaron 🙂

    I hope Eastmond plays too, another with game time needed at this level. We have the quality to be able to field the youngsters without too many problems. Leeds will make it tough, but I can’t see any further than an Arsenal win.

  50. Sczesny

    Eboue Squillaci Djourou Gibbs

    Cesc Denilson Rosicky

    Arshavin Chamakh Bendtner

    Bench: Wookash, Miquel, Vela, Ramsey, Eastmond, Song, Walcott

  51. I hope no one has forgotten the giant-killing status of Leeds! We shouldnt take this lightly as if we are playing a team coming to the Emirates to lose. They are aware we are under pressure at home and that we wont be playing our first Eleven so they are going to go at us with the usual high balls and rough tactics. I hope to see Arshavin, Vela and Chamakh involved upfront to quickly cut short their ambitions and if we get an early goal, they are going to come out and play, giving us an opportunity to put a few goals away. No joking here! When we are 3 goals up we can take out the top guns and play the lads like JET. Its not a walk in the park and its not really the same team, the second string have to build their own momentum just like they did in the CC. Wenger don’t blow it!

  52. Geo,
    I like all the Arsenal players and kinda respect them.. So maybe that is why..

  53. Snap to that Limpar! I did the same.

    I seee that both Darius and yourself are Radio 2 listeners, at least I heard both those jokes on their this morning.

    I also liked the ” Rolf Harris, Jason Donovan, (er, that’s it,) your boys have taken one hell of a beating!”

    Great days. Like I told Ateeb several months ago, just keep kicking them while they are down.

  54. Steven
    According to all Leeds fan I spoke to and the guy who does the prediction on the BBC website, Leeds is not too keen on a cup run as they are in good position for promotion and consider this as their priority so it probably won’t be Leeds’ strongest XI.

    Out of the team I suggested only Eastmond and Miquel are not first teamers which is not such a big gamble. Bendtner, Arshavin, Rosicky, Squillaci and Gibbs will be keen to show that they can be first choice. Eboue will be his usual self, full of energy and with a positive attitude. Chamakh will be fresh and ready to start the second half of the season like he started the first. and Szczeny keen to show that his performance against Man U was no fluke and that Wenger can sell Almunia with no fear.

  55. Arsenal’s shirt sponsorship was this paid in one lump sum along with stadium naming rights?

  56. Bengalgooner,

    Yup.. Emirates payed 110million pounds for the shirt deal for 15years and naming rights for 25yrs.. not sure abt the figures but it is somewhere near..

  57. 15 years for the shirt deal seems like a very long time. Are you sure?

  58. Szchezzzny
    Eboue Squill Djourou/Miquel Gibbs
    Eastmond Denislon
    Bendy Chamakhattack Vela/Arshavin

    Subs – CF, TW, CV/AA, Kos, Song, JW

    Nordveit & Frimpong would have been nailed on starters for this one 😦

  59. gunnerluc,

    Sorry.. Got the figures wrong..

    “Arsenal Football Club has today signed the biggest club sponsorship agreement in English football history with Emirates Airline, in an agreement worth £100 million.

    The agreement provides the Dubai-based international airline with naming rights to Arsenal’s new £357 million stadium. The new 60,000 seat stadium will be known as Emirates Stadium with immediate effect and for the next 15 years.”

    In addition, Emirates will take over as the Club’s title sponsor – including ‘Fly Emirates’ shirt sponsorship – for eight years, starting from the 2006/07 season, the first playing season in the new Emirates Stadium.

  60. No worries mate!
    I knew retrospectively it did not look like such a great deal compared to what Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool got for their current deal but 15 years seemed like an awful lot.

  61. Id like to see this team against Leeds

    Eboue – Djourou – Squillaci – Gibbs
    —-Rosicky — Denilson—-
    –JET — Arshavin — Vela

  62. Then just a slight tweek for the Ipswich game

    Eboue – Kos – Squillaci – Gibbs
    —-Ramsey — Denilson—-
    –JET — Rosicky — Vela

  63. was wondering if anyone fancies a front 3 of Bendtner, Chamakh & JET??!!!

  64. mj – that’s an interesting suggestion! 3 tanks up front would scare the shit out of a lot of defences, that’s for sure…

  65. Na mj_gunner – i dont fancy B52 out wide, ditto Chamakh. Both play better from the centre with license to drift a bit wide or deep. Its a different job to patrol the wider positions amd have it as your starting position than it is to wander out there when you feel its of benefit. JET/Vela/AA23/Theo/Nasri/Rosicky and even RVP have the trickery to do it but B52 and Chamakh work better when central – IMO

  66. LOL Goe, although all of us know that it won’t happen..Vela is ahead in the order from JET n with Arshavin available, I doubt even Carlitos will start..

  67. lol mj – Would be fun though wouldn’t it!?

  68. Isn’t it amazing, though, Consolsbob, that Australia’s greatest painter and Australia’s greatest musician should be one and the same person?

  69. I said 3 tanks but it’s actually aircraft we’re talking about here:

    JET, NB52 & Chinookattack.

    Even Citeh’s anti-air ship with tesla coils couldn’t stop that barrage 😉

  70. He’s also their greatest lover, Pz.

  71. Rolf Harris the greatest lover???

  72. 😉 trust me.

  73. Greatest lover of pets in need!!

  74. I would have thought folks like Hugh Jackman or Guy Pearce of the LA Confidential legend would have a better chance of getting the panties off a Sheila…

  75. LOL Deise – wipe your mouth with soap. Are you saying Harris prefers animals?

  76. You’re sorley misguided there Darius. Those guys are nothing compared to the washboard-playing Casanova…

  77. When Rolf went on his now-infamous world tour with Bob Dylan, I remember there were some rather fanciful stories going around about his nocturnal habits. I wouldn’t give much credit to them myself, though.

  78. Sorry to interrupt, but Darius, ref to your earlier post, England have a long way to go before they can conquer India..

  79. LOL MJ – I hope it’s cricket we’re talking about.

    I think India will give England a run for their money in the summer tour.

  80. Now, that’s a good one, Darius; I think Indian National Football team doesn’t stand a chance against an Englad High School team! 😀

    Talking about cricket, I didn’t know we were touring your shores..hope it tuurns out to be a cracker!

  81. Geo @ 3:33pm good one! You sir, are on the ball!

    Anyway, Steve Irwin was Australia’s greatest lover of both animals and women. RIP to a great man.

  82. Geo | January 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    All the speed of Spud rolling uphill!

  83. Great post, great club! In a couple of years, at least half of the English national side will be Gunners.

  84. Ah yes, Steve Irwin – the Darwin of the Southern Hemisphere, as he is known in Australia. He was certainly Australia’s greatest scientist, but I’m not sure he was their greatest lover of women. Some took exception to his predilection for sticking his thumb where the sun don’t shine.

  85. Very true about Rolf Pz.

    Kylie doesn’t paint I suppose? So that would be her out of the equation.

  86. Watched the game again this morning and I still think we put the fear of god into City and that’s why they played the way they did. I think Mancini was prepared to hit us on the counter but never imagined that his team would walk away from the Emirates with zero shots on goal. That they reverted to turtle mode is a credit to our all around play.

  87. I think Wenger should send Nasri and Sagna to the Caribbean for a week of r & r. They deserve it since they’ve played the most games out of everyone in the squad.

  88. Wenger named manager of the decade by some international organisation that runs a yearly poll, and has him first having won the highest number of points over a decade.


  89. Darius – thanks for your insightful contribution. Look forward to your posts and perspective.
    Leeds match cannot be taken for granted (as mentioned above), but it is a time to give some a needed break, but probably be on back up call.

    In the big picture, this match and Ipswich are opportunities for Bendtner, Denilson, Gibbs, Eboue, Ramsey, Szczesny, and Squil to gain playing time and raise their form. Included is Arshavin as the past 2-1/2 months have been a poor streak of form to forget. Rosicky should captain…..and DJ will likely partner with Squil.

    Two comfortable wins would lay a good foundation when we return to league play.

  90. I reckon the front three will be Bendtner, Chamakh and Arshavin. They haven’t played a lot of football between them lately.

    If I were to guess the team:

    I don’t see too many changes for the Ipswich game either, from Wenger’s recent comments it might be too soon for Ramsey, probably Djourou and Fabregas get a rest for that one with Koscielny and Nasri coming in.

    Everybody has said that we need to take the cups more seriously this year and then they’re looking for Miquel and JET to start, you can’t have it both ways.

  91. Just when are the football establishment going to realise that Blatter is a prick, and kick the fucker into touch. He will not rest until European club football has been destroyed.What a complete arsehole….

  92. Sepp Blatter and his cronies were so eager to fill their pockets with Qatari lucre that the most evident problems of holding a football tournament in a desert in the middle of summer never even crossed their minds. Now Blatter has recommended the tournament be switched to January – for the good of the players, of course. What happened to the solar-powered air-conditioning systems that were going to keep the whole of the middle east at a comfortable 20 degrees for the duration of the competition? Perhaps the English FA should take the opportunity to inform Blatter that Qatar has a population of under 2 million, less than a dozen of whom are interested in football. I imagine Blatter will then suggest the Qatari World Cup be relocated to England.

    In other news today, Fifa withdrew an offer to Interpol’s Anti-Corruption chief to head their own new integrity unit at the last minute when the reference from his present employer praised him for his incorruptibility.

  93. Population of Doha is about 1m of which 300,oo are Qataris. Number of supporters attending WC competition on average approx 2m. Number of Qataris interested in football 11.

  94. Blatter quote from last week: “This committee will strengthen our credibility and give us a new image in terms of transparency.”

    Kind of funny that he is only talking about how they are perceived and not – god forbid – actually doing anything about corruption. It’s almost as if he was being honest and admitting that it is only a question of whitewashing…

  95. great post Darius.

    Watching things unfold up at Liverpool really makes you appreciate the stability at our club.

    And I’m very glad that the general consesnus is that we played very well on Wednesday because I thought we were brilliant. Thought the opening 10-15 minutes was some of the best football I’ve ever seen! So exciting! No other league like it in the world!


  96. …get the fucking arsehole out. Cost to remove him approx £8000.

  97. And this Qatar stuff really is embarassing. I mean its quite pathetic. I imagine AW had a hard time not answering questions about Blatter and a winter WC with “IS HE FUC*ING KIDDING ME?!?!?!”

    It’s like we all know how corrupt FIFA is, but these sort of tacit admissions really stick in my craw..

  98. Frank,

    Sepp will only leave after he destroys the credibility of Football in general.. FIFA’s credibility have gone down a lot in the last few years.. His recent comments support this argument than the one he says..

  99. “Zabaleta appeal successful”

    I wonder how much that cost City? Small change probably

  100. Just thought you guys might enjoy this video, some of the funnier moments in the beautiful game 🙂

  101. In fairness Passenal, Sagna didn’t do a whole lot other than push his head against Zabaletas, and Zabaleta did even less than that. By the letter of the law Sagnas reaction merited the red whereas Zabaletas didnt, as he stood off a bit. Both gettin a yellow would have been the common sense decision but there you go. The FA not backing the ref by overturning the red is the surprise for me here.

  102. Could somebody pretty-please-with-knobs-on direct me to a site with up-to-date PL statistics? Trying to find stats on our goal conversion rate in comparison to other PL teams but everything I’ve googled is either useless or old.

  103. @FinnGun These guys are pretty up to date and are usually very reliable but am not sure if they will have the info you want.

  104. Great post Darius: I know lots of people will argue that trophies are not important but it is the way that sports teams are judged. Myself and everyone else on this blog really think we are on the brink. Lets hope they can make the breakthrough this year and get a boat load of silverware in the next 4 or 5 years. That would be a lot of fun.

    Limpars post at 9:57 also good stuff.

    We have the deepest squad in the PL and we need to use it in the next 2 games. We need to rest some key people but with our depth I do not think its time to be throwing Miquel the mix. His time will come. The silverware does not matter crowd will argue but I think we should go for all that we can get this year. Winning a couple of trophies can not hurt our confidence over the long term. The need to prioritize that was present in previous years is not here this year because of our depth. 4 – 0 over Leeds with Vela on a brace. NB52 and AA also scoring.

  105. @irishgray, not the info I wanted but thanks anyway.

    The Cesc interview is good stuff. Really look forward to seeing Aaron tomorrow…

  106. AW has just been named World’s Best Manager 2001-2010
    Daily Mail has the article

  107. That he is Irishgray!

  108. Well obviously we here at ACLF knew it Paul N but now the ignorant masses around the world know it too!! 🙂

  109. thanks for the cesc interview Paul N. Loved it!

  110. True dat!

  111. Denilson is shite.

  112. hahaha Muppet, a truly informative comment.

  113. THE HACKS

    Hack 1: We did predict the demise of chelsea didn’t we ?

    Hack 2: Of course, we all knew once they got rid of all those players in the summer that it was the end. Their squad would be too thin.

    Hack 1: err.. but what about when all predicted a chelsea title win by a country mile ? In several broadcasts of the Sunday Supplement.

    Hack 2: well…err.. that was with err.. a caveat

    Hack 1: A caveat ?

    Hack 2: Well.. yes… a caveat..err… injuries you know. Sort of.. chelsea will win it but for an act of god… err… injuries… errr… help me out here

    Hack 1: Well… err.. didn’t we all say it would be Man U ?

    Hack 2: Well… yes.. that must be it.. it was Man U that we tipped..

    Hack 1: Yes… yes… Man U for the title.

    Hack 2: Country mile.

    Hack 1: So we are clear now ?

    Hack 2: Yes.. we are clear…

    Hack 1: Story straight ?

    Hack 2: Story is straight.

  114. Great post Darius. HMS Blue Moon – LMAO

  115. Daily Fail can just f*ck off. Such a disgraceful website. Just reading the headlines for their article about Wenger makes my blood boil. I hope they go bankrupt.

  116. FinnGunn
    Here you go – down the bottom you’ll find the shots/conversion rate. We have the best ratio in the league at the moment.,19528,11096_2705370,00.html

  117. Ha! A numpty on another site said we probably have the worst. That’ll larn him. Thanks Fungunner!

  118. YW,

    Where’s today’s post? Have to set off for the game and need refreshment first!

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