Stone Cold Friday: He Who Dares Rodney, He Who Dares.

He was known as “The Raffles of Peckham”. He was a gentleman safe-cracker. He was a conisiour of fine wines, gourmet of foreign quisine, big art lover, snappy dresser, and big-time charmer. Now he’s simply called Darius

It’s often said that one of the worst things that can happen is letting a good crisis go to waste.  The headline writers certainly think we’re in crisis seeing that Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas are crocked and won’t make it for the Carling Cup final.  It’s a body blow they say, one that has rocked Arsenal.

One of the best lessons ever unleashed on an unsuspecting crowd was during the semi-final of the 1995 Rugby World cup between the New Zealand All Blacks and England.  It was the misguided focus on a certain Jonah Lomu who uncannily had a Fabregas-esque impact on the All Blacks.  Rory Underwood had his hands full in the first place, but England opted to dedicate another man to police mark Lomu alongside Underwood – and it did the trick.  Pretty much stopped the explosive winger for most part.

What England forgot was that all the other 14 All Blacks players on the pitch were capable of annihilating anyone in the world who dared accept the challenge of the ‘Hakka’.  In truth, they really didn’t need Lomu; he was the classic decoy.  England were humiliated and given a master class in how to play Rugby.

Cesc is very important to Arsenal and a peak at the stats bears this fact.  Without him though, the team must rise to the challenge and complete the job they have been sent to Wembley to do.  Even if there was a small chance of playing him, my take would be that it’s not worth the risk.  A much fitter Cesc is required for the home straight.

The captain can most certainly serve the purpose of being our decoy, one who gives false hope to an unsuspecting enemy lying in wait.  Lest we forget, Samir Nasri might have something to say to those who dare scoff at the suggestion that he has been the best player in England this season.

Robin Van Persie will also want to remind us all why he has been the most lethal striker in the world since the beginning of the year, with an added incentive of being the stand-in captain at a cup final.

While it’s important to get the “haven’t won a trophy in half a decade” monkey off our collective backs; what’s more important for the team and the fans is that this milestone is crossed so as to cement our belief in what this team is capable of.

Not that we’re likely to hear the last of the trophy drought nonsense – Neil Ashton of that blasted red rag has already confirmed live on air that if Arsenal do indeed win the Carling Cup, the narrative will change to “but they haven’t won a major trophy since 2005”.

Make no mistake, Birmingham are not going to roll over, let us tickle them on the belly, pat them on their heads and send them back up the motorway.  Their last trip to a league cup final against Liverpool 10 years ago is something they want to wipe out of the history of the club and Arsenal is fair game to them.

Mike Riley – the cynical and baffling referee chief is already on a mission this season to show us that he has power and is willing to use it.  How else would you explain the sheer impunity of giving Peter Walton the same fixture as he did last season where Walton’s incompetence gave Stoke the licence to ‘get in our face’s and for Shawcross to assault Aaron Ramsey.

Clearly, he knows that Birmingham has a history with Arsenal and goes ahead and hands Mike Dean – the same referee who managed the game which Martin Taylor hacked off Eduardo’s ankle.

The team must focus and put the game way beyond the match officials and way beyond Birmingham City.  It will be good for the world to experience our brand of Wengerball at a cup final but that is not necessary in my view.

The object of the exercise here is to win the game.  It matters not whether it’s a scrappy win; or whether we pass them to death; or whether we wear them down for 75 minutes and then lick them to submission; or whether we smash and grab the game.  The players know that they must deliver.

A lot has been said about the possibility of Arsenal winning a historic quadruple.  Some may think that it’s a task too far, and to them it must be said – “Ye of little faith”.  He who dares wins.

We have to believe that we’re the best and we have to have that confidence.  Sunday is a good start and an opportunity to knock off the list of available trophies this season.  It’s been a long time coming and we have had to be patient.

We have no divine right to win at Wembley – but we have the team, we have the attitude, we have the desire and we have the hunger.  Many have suggested that this season, Wenger has prioritized the league cup and played a really strong team all through the competition.

What most of them fail to recognize is that the vision is coming to fruition, and the strength of the team is a culmination of years of work with our young players who are now mature well beyond their peers.  As the other teams are only now catching up with the concept of using the Carling Cup for developing their squad, they’re clearly only playing catch-up to what Arsenal has been doing for years.

Wenger was derided and fingers were pointed at Arsenal for not taking the Carling Cup seriously – and would you believe it, most clubs are now doing what Arsenal started years ago, and we’re bearing the fruits of this endeavour, long before others will catch up with our visionary development path.

The opportunity to win the first cup for this team is nigh.  And it will be just one of many to come.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on February 25, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 177 Comments.

  1. Diaby/Song/Wilshere is midfield please.

    Nasri/RvP/AA up front.

    Does not look too shabby does it?

  2. The Undeservables will do it on Sunday Darius.

    I have no doubts.

    Bollocks to Riley, the little toad.

  3. Agree, Darius.. The use of CC during the past 5years or so to develop the young ones is finally paying off.. The squad depth is the best I’ve ever seen at a club.. Interesting point though is the way plundits and media have taken on this.. When we’re using the CC, ‘Arsenal have devalued the competition’ and now that we’re playing the fringe and out-of-form players, ‘Arsenal have prioritized the Carling Cup over others’. It is a complete opposite view when ManUre or other clubs do it..

  4. Who cares what the media think or say? I certainly don’t.

  5. *Note to Finsbury.

    I agree about the one bouncer per over rule. The powers that be have made the mistake of thining that it’s great batting that makes for the most exciting cricket. It’s not, it’s great bowling.

    That’s why one day and, in particular, 20-20, cricket can be so dull with it’s emphasis on saving runs rather than taking wickets.

    As regards laptops. I remember a story Gooch told about the Essex dressing room at the end of a season with winter and unemployment beckoning. He asked Emburey what he planned to do until the nest season.

    ” I thought I’d do somethig with computers”, he replied.

    “What you gonna do Ern, paint ’em?. Said the future laptop batting analyst.

  6. Nice one Darius.

    @ GA
    I would like to start with Rosicky in midfield, given his form’s getting better.
    And the fact that Diaby might be a bit rusty.

  7. cbob,
    Agree.. Bowling makes a cricket game more interesting than batting.. The 20-20 has indeed made test matches more interesting and I’ve lost interest in the 20-20 format and ODI to some extent..

  8. Konkani – Yeah, it is definately an option. I just think Diaby has greater impact on games these days. Also he will give us a bit more of a physical pressence there against a team which will no doubt try and “get into us”.

  9. The higher we rise, the more they will try to hit us – ‘they’ being the media, the opposing clubs, the referees and the administration. We’ve already established, through this very blog, that all these interest groups have definable reasons for knocking The Arsenal so lets just accept it, deal with it and move on.

    And you are so right to say we have to have a special confidence to win stuff – the confidence of champions certainly but also the confidence of a club to rise above the crap lying around the footballing pastures we are obliged to plough.

    I think your All Blacks comparison is valid and a point well made; let’s hope the Brummies DO get side-tracked on Cesc-Watch cos Jack and the boys won’t hesitate to destroy them given even half a chance.

    Am I the only person to find Riley’s apparent continued involvement more than a little irksome; for me, The Strife was probably the worst referee of his generation, an officious, unthinking little git with a poor feel for the game and how it should be played and governed. Jeez, the blood pressure rises just writing his name.

    Let’s find something else to write about – ROLL ON SUNDAY!

  10. If batsmen could play bouncers properly then there would be no need for the rule, in all forms of the game apart from one-dayers and Twenty20 at least. If the batsmen could just leave the short ball alone and say “if you want to get me out then bowl at the stumps” there would be no use for bouncers to be used repeatedly.

    I think if you didn’t have the rule in the one day forms of the game then the bowlers could just bowl short making it almost impossible to score which would kill the shorter versions. Some may think that’s not the worst thing that could happen though.

  11. Sure, Diaby’s got presence and good control too.
    But, it’ll be a bit early to expect him to fulfill that role.

  12. Just got back from the game. Very enjoyable though I am glad that RvP did not play. Shawcross was practicing his ‘robust’ tackles again and very nearly did for Andrei in the second half. Still his mum was on the sideline with Pulis, both dressed as refuse engineers with company caps. If he had broken down in tears they were both to hand which must have been reassuring for the lad. I hope Cesc and Theo can make it for the Barcelona game. I have a sneaking suspicion they will.

    What the fuck is a conisiour?

  13. I think if Diaby starts they will target him too, trying to force another newcastle red onto him. Hes a great player, they know that, hes had injury troubles, they know that, he does not like when oponets do dangerous,leg breaking tackles on him. they know that, plus they also know that the ref may be leanient on hard tackles and that they are more lickley to get Diaby sent off than be sent off themselves. Its actually worth the risk. So agree i think maybe Rosicky should start.

  14. Sorry… that’s a rather pointless clip of Jack Wilshere and Manu Eboue playing darts. It’s quite funny but I’d only click on it if you are more than just slightly bored.

  15. IndianGunner, the Arsenal club photographer has chosen your favourite picture as photo of the month for February… the bundle after Kos’s winner against Everton. Brilliant photo. I think Eboue follows play up and down the pitch just waiting to pile in on moments like that. What a hero.

  16. I despair above the officiating of the EPL in general and us in particular. Yet, what can we do? I think the best line up for the final will involve

    Song/Nasri/Wilshere;

    Rosicky/RvP/Arshavin.

    Nasri playing as Cesc’s replacement just beyond the front man. I think he’s happier there and offers an increased likelihood of scoring. I’m not certain how well Diaby fills the role of front man and so Rosicky gets the nod for me. Nevertheless, I’d have no worries if Diaby starts in place of Thomas.

  17. LA,
    that photo stood out for me than any other celebration I’ve ever seen.. The emotions were running high and the players wanted to say ‘Fuck U’ to the ref in the best possible way for the way he handled the game.. Is there a link for a high resolution photo of the same?? I haven’t found a big one yet..

  18. We can’t not start players because other team “will try and get them sent off”. If Diaby is fit enough I hope he starts, and I also hope he has learnt from the Newcastle sending off (and I am sure him will have done). Still, if Rosicky starts it is no bad thing. He is an excellent player.

    The main reason I want Diaby to start is to give us a bit of variety in the team. Nasri/Wilshere/AA are all capable of doing what Rosicky can offer.

  19. Dgob – The options are endless. Diaby could play in the Cesc role (he has done before), but he could just as easily sit deeper and push Wilshere further forward. I would have thought if Rosicky does play, he will be the one to stay central whilst Nasri goes back to the left.

    All good options though, and all better than anything Birmingham will be able to muster.

  20. Song/Nasri/Wilshire
    Bendtner/RVP/AA

    that will be the front six.

    Rosicky is not the player he was and Diaby hasnt had any game time

    Birmingham are no more than average.A win by two goes for us

  21. There’s a double page spread of it in the March edition of the Arsenal magazine, IG.

  22. Dgob – indeed, ‘what can we do’ about refereeing standards?

    Quite honestly, nothing much will change until technology is introduced in a measured structured fashion as has been developed in Cricket, Rugby and Tennis.

    It’s something I feel very strongly about because I’m sure that as refereeing standards continue to plummet, with those standards go the game’s integrity and ultimately, the support.

    Agree also, Goonerandy – you can’t possibly not play certain players due to fear of targetting; by that mentality despots such as Hitler would just walk all over you because you were too scared to stand up to him. Oh, that’ s right, the French did just that didn’t they and never recovered their integrity as a nation or their reputation.

    If we genuinely think a particular player is likely to be targeted we have to target them back but twice as bad so they don’t think about doing it again.

    Don’t bow down to bullies.

  23. A midfield of Wilshere-Song-Rosicky would be my choice simply because Diaby’s coming back after another injury. But I have a sneaky feeling that we might see Diaby in the middle and Rosicky out wide with Arsh on the bench.
    What about the keeper guys. Does our current no. 2 get a game or is it Szczesny.
    @Konkani Gooner – Thanks for your reply on yesterday’s blog. The only reason I asked was because it’s my language too.

  24. LA,
    Oh!! Wish I can find such a big pic online.. Or find the march issue of Arsenal Magazine in SA…

  25. Well that’s true Block4.

    However, if batsmen can’t play short stuff or learn to leave it alone, why should administrators bring in a law to take that weapon out of the bowlers armoury?

    They don’t make a law saying that batsmen can’t attempt to smash the ball at short silly leg do they?

  26. Kelvin – Would not be my choice, but I reckon you are right and that is what we will see.

    Zama – Szchezny.

  27. The mood when we played bbb was one of defiance,against it was nonchalant,with the visit of Stoke it was with good cause one of apprehension and trepidition. With Birmingham looming overwhelmingly the mood is one of expectation,with 5 years of angst to unleash I would say the loonies are in for hiding!

  28. Against orient missing

  29. Orient

  30. @consolsbob, just to clarify, I don’t agree with the rule in test and championship matches, but I do in one-day and Twenty20. I don’t see any reason why the aministrators couldn’t apply the rule along those lines. There are rules in cricket that I don’t agree with, my main bug-bear at the moment being when a wide is called in a one-day match if the ball is bowled a millimetre outside leg. Aren’t the return creases there to be a guide on wides!?!?!???????

  31. arsenalandrew,

    I too would love to see the introduction of technology but doubt this will take place under Blatter’s reign. Even so, the introduction of such technology might not affect the clear bias which I feel we are subjected to. In order to do that , I think we’d need the introduction of a refereeing scorecard and table along with the necessary ability for team and/or third party contributions in these assessments. It’s doable but will need time and cultural change in football. Fingers crossed!

  32. Great post as usual Darius the Great. Been a hard time focusing on football the last few days as Kenya goes through yet another constitutional crisis and watching Qaddafi’s last days. Really want the burger out! But that monkey on the back. I want that cup so so so badly. Any cup will do for now. Then we can get choosy!

  33. Re Jonah Lomu in the ’95 WC semi v England and the comment that doubling -up the marking on him “pretty much stopped the winger for the most part.”

    …err Lomu scored 4 tries and single-handedly destroyed England!

  34. Zama,if our current no 2 plays Wenger should be sacked.

  35. Romford – Yeah, but apart from that he was rubbish 😉

  36. I agre with that Block4.

    It seems if the batsman smashes that ball, then it’s not a wide. If he swings and misses, then it is. Nonsense.

    Every rule change in modern time favours the batsmen.

  37. consolsbob, it seems that a lot of people nowadays can only see the value in batsmen smacking the ball into the crowd. A good contest between bat and ball seems to be seen as boring. One of the best passages of cricket I saw was Alan Donald working over Mike Atherton a few years ago when South Africa toured here. Not too many runs scored as I remember, but a riveting watch.

  38. On to the matter in hand, I think the team will be: Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy; Song, Wilshere, Diaby; Nasri, van Persie, Arshavin. There is no room for sentiment this time, the trophy needs to be delivered.

  39. Block 4 – I agree with that team.

    Arsh for Theo is an obvious one. The question is how to replace Cesc. Playing Nasri more centrally is the natural move – but then who do you play out wide? Not many options there.

    If Diaby comes in – does he play furthest up the pitch or does JW?

  40. Mike Atherton would average nigh on a century against today’s quicks.

  41. arsenalandrew – France have never regained their integrity or reputation as a nation …are you serious??? well i suppose that all germans are murderous rascists and all us brits are people-trafficking murderous rascists as well.

    drop the little englander stuff and dont judge nations by the actions of people who by and large arent even alive any more. britain would have been rolled over just as quickly if it hadnt been for 1.) the channel, and 2.) the americans & russians

  42. RomforPele, I would tend to play Diaby furthest up for the following reasons:
    1. Wilshere has been playing regularly where he is and has a defined role in the team. I would want to disrupt the team as little as possible.
    2. Diaby is a more powerful runner with the ball and could be released into space by Wilshere from slightly deeper to use that attribute.
    3. Diaby has a bit more of an eye for goal for now, we have seen some devastating shooting from him in the past and an ability to arrive in the box at the right time for cut-backs.
    4. I think Wilshere is more defensively astute than Diaby, he’s less likely to give the ball away in dangerous areas.

  43. Right on Jabbwerwocky, I was just about to post something very similar. None of that here please, arsenalandrew.

  44. Cup finals are curious affairs, a kind of ‘leveller’ of more minor gaps in skill with all the media razzmatazz, neutral venue, excitement and anticipation. A highly skilled player can miss a sitter, unbelievably, in a final; and any player with the right temperament can score his goal of a lifetime with all the adrenalin coursing through the system. It’s the reason FA Cup works (or used work even better) for the lower tier clubs; it’s their cup final.

    So Arsenal absolutely dare not write off or in any way or manner downplay the attributes of Birmingham. Could they win? Yes, of course they could, but they are more likely to start nervously, and we should score early if at all possible. On the other hand we might be the more nervous, the greater weight of expectation on our shoulders, as favourites.

    Therefore, team selection must and will take into account the collective psychology and temperament of players. Cool heads win such matches.

    A great shame Cesc is missing because he’s the right type for this. The team really selects itself and in my opinion Rosicky may take the place of Cesc because of his maturity, while Nasri will play upfield right and AA left. Is RvP fit? If so, fine and if not it is a straight decision Bendtner or Chamakh. I prefer Bendtner who has the greater potential to rise to the occasion, but may be the one to miss that sitter. It’ a judgement call really.

    What does Wenger say to the lads. Enjoy it, above all, 90+ minutes of concentration! I have a feeling this Arsenal has the right attitude and will throw that monkey back up a tree where it is happier anyway.

    Me nervous? Hell yes.

  45. This is a massive game let’s make no mistake about it – if we win, it lifts the monkey of our backs and gives us the momentum that could lead to the PL too.

    If we lose, we’ll be branded bottlers and it could derail everything.

    It’s the type of pressure big players thrive on – and thats why we need Cesc. But im confident that guys like Arsh and RvP have played in bigger games than this.

  46. twitpic.com/439l09

  47. Darius, a good rally cry but, comparisons with Lomu are a tad misplaced, As you say all the pre match focus was on Lomu and proved rightly so, as he quickly ran in three tries before we hardly had a point on the board and a 4th for good measure. He won the game about as single handed as a match can be.

    Still, let’s hope your sentiments are correct.

  48. We beat them pretty comfortably without Cesc and Theo back in October, and with a weaker team in far worse form than we are now. Diaby was dominant that day against their midfield, but elected to pass when he could have shot after driving runs towards their box. Nasri and Jack have really emerged since then, RvP’s blasted back from injury and our defence looks far more comfortable and settled. AA’s better now as well.

  49. It’s a cliche, but the PL’s not like it used to be; in the last couple of seasons every smaller side has gone into a match with a bigger club with the belief that they can get something. The results speak for themselves – this season especially.

    What I’m trying to say – in a clumsy way – is that the competitive nature of our league has prepared us for a match like this one, and we won’t be underestimating their desire to beat us.

  50. The common consencus back home in NZ regarding the 95 Semi is the match was won when Underwood rather unwisely winked suggestively at Lomu during the Haka. But to claim Lomu won the match on his own does an enourmous disservice to rest of what was an excellent side, although personally believe the SA team where slightly better and did successfully nullify Lomu (there were allegations of food poisoning at the time) and so therefore deserved winners – not that I would be allowed to utter that sentence out loud in my home town
    Now if a Brum centre back would like to blow a kiss in the direction of RVP during the pre-match warm up and that fires him up all well and good – but IMHO the match won`t be won by individuals but by a good collective team effort. Our most beautiful goals are nearly always team goals not outstanding individual efforts (with obvious exceptions) .
    by the way Jonah is commonly refered to as “the big girlie winger” by many of the men in blacks fans

  51. I’m trying to lose the superstition out when it comes to following Arsenal, so I’m going to say this with slightly less trepidation than I might have done in the past –

    The difference between this season and others is that our injuries, when they have inevitably struck, have been minor; Nasri had two weeks out, and biting out nails over Cesc, but he’ll only miss two matches, one of which he wouldn’t have played in anyway. Theo looked serious, but he could be back for Barcelona; RvP’s already recovered. Ramsey’s not suffered any bumps to speak of in his recovery.

  52. So who’s drinking where on Sunday before the Final?

    YW

  53. YW,

    I was about to ask a similar question.

    Any ACLFers in the highbury corner area?

  54. Dusseldorf.

  55. @ OOU

    Admittedly, there have been no broken legs so far, but we have had serious and/or long-running injuries – Vermaelen, RvP, Diaby, Fabianski, Almnia, Frimpong – but it just hasn’t felt like it because we have not had to rush anyone back and we have always had an able deputy.

  56. goonerandy

    Bit out of my way. I was thinking more along the lines of around Wembley or somewhere convenient for that….but we’ll bear Dusseldorf in mind!

    YW

  57. YW, I’ll be at leaning over the back of the bar area of Book Cafe in Harare, as usual greeting the poets and dreadlocked musicians telling them they have more in common with Arsenal than they may think. And you?

    Arsenal T-shirts will be everywhere in town, we massively outnumber our rivals here, and we will greet each other with a smile and fist-to-fist.

    In time to get a seat, I’ll meander over to the football bar in the vicinity.
    It’ll be crushing, crashing, impossibly raucous and delirious, reaching a crescendo at kick-off with a massive cheer. There will be no Birmingham fan anywhere, unless a wandering innocent Brit happens along. He’ll be greeted with much good-hearted jokery and offered a seat (courtesy) a drink (generosity, in the hope he’ll respond in kind) and jokes at his expense. There will be many, many loud discussions, often to no one in particular, about matters of strategy, form, players, the ref, Nasri, AA, Jack and frequent disputes to clarify the pronounciation of Schwezewznzny.

  58. YW – The invite was there 🙂

  59. The fixture list from 5th April to 4th May is a joke.. Not one confirmed date yet.. When I read the article about the ‘live’ games on tv, It was like a software developer’s programme code with lots of ‘ifs’. Just read this article( http://www.goodplaya.com/blog/up-to-9-arsenal-games-in-a-month-and-not-a-date-for-one-of-them-a-total-joke/ ) on goodplaya.. The list is indeed a joke..

    April

    5/6 UEFA Champions League N Quarter-Final 1L

    10 Barclays Premier League A Blackpool 13:30
    (If we are involved in the Champions League Quarter Finals and are scheduled to play on Tuesday 12th April, this match is likely to revert to Saturday 9th April, kick off 12.45pm)

    12/13 UEFA Champions League N Quarter-Final 2L

    17 Sun Barclays Premier League H Liverpool 16:00
    (If we are involved in the FA Cup Semi Finals this match will be rearranged, date TBC)

    20 Wed Barclays Premier League A Tottenham Hotspur 19:45
    (If we are involved in the FA Cup Semi Finals, depending on the other Clubs involved in the Semi Finals, this match may be rearranged for Tuesday 19th April, kick off 7.45pm)

    24 Sun Barclays Premier League A Bolton Wanderers 16:00
    (If we are involved in the Champions League Semi Finals and are scheduled to play on Tuesday 26th April, this match will revert to Saturday 23rd April, kick off TBC)

    26/27 UEFA Champions League N Semi-Final 1L

    May

    01 Sun Barclays Premier League H Manchester United 14:05
    (If either Club are involved in the Champions League Semi Finals and are scheduled to play on Tuesday 3rd May, this match will revert to Saturday 30th April, kick off 12.45pm)

    3/4 UEFA Champions League N Semi-Final 2L

  60. Naah, the difference between this season and almost all the others is that it’s late February and we remain in contention for all 4 cups; some characters, who generally follow ‘convention’, are whispering Arsenal for the EPL, while others with crazy looks in their eyes are looking on with great anger.

  61. @ consolesbob :
    I totally agree that new rules always help batsmen.
    But i don’t think the bouncer rule should change, rather bowler friendly pitches should be prepared. It makes matches more interesting.
    The rule was mainly introduced because of the body-line tactics.

  62. You know, I’m even less coherent today because I had a drink at lunch. I really shouldn’t have said “the difference”, more “a difference between this season and others”.

  63. IG sadly thats the price you pay for being successful

  64. S’alright OOU, it’s Friday. I had a couple over lunch down the local and am having a difficult time reading anything or getting anything done this afternoon.
    Agree with pretty much everything everyone’s said today. Aside from the cricket – I haven’t the foggiest what you’re talking about.

  65. arsenalandrew

    Interesting take on WWII and the French… aren’t we forgetting your boy Neville Chamberlain and the Munich Agreement? I’m not French, but I am a historian sooooo yea the whole bashing them on that one doesnt really work to well…..

  66. Regarding GK, i expect Wojcieh to start, Almunia will feature in FA cup ties.

    @Zama : That’s great, yar.

  67. I’d love to see Rosicky in a Cup Final…

    – – – – – – – – – Szcezsney – – – – – – – –
    Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – Song – – – – Wilshere – – – – –
    Nasri – – – – Rosicky – – – – Arshavin
    – – – – – – – – – – – RVP – – – – – – – – – – –

  68. Fuck mcleish and fuck birmingham,and fuck jerome campbell,they together with pubis n stoke have barely made it out of the homo habilis stage.scottish managers drive me mad,fergie,moyes,mcleish all a bunch of wanking neanderthals.

  69. Steady one Runebreaker, remember GG?
    Have to say I agree with those who say Wenger is right not to let Cesc play unless he is 100% fit. If he did and had to come off, I wouldn’t want the team “to lose their way” like they did for a spell after he came off against Stoke.

  70. Steady “on”

  71. “Peek” not “Peak” – deduct one point.
    CBob – we used to sometimes hold company meetings in the boardroom or members’ bar at Essex CC ground in Chelmsford. It was difficult to concentrate on the agenda with Gooch practicing in the nets or being surrounded by famous players’ cricket bats. We later realised that it was a ploy by the MD to distract us from matters in hand.

  72. ZimPaul, I am surprised that Mugabe lets you watch EPL games.

  73. Jd gooner I do remember gg but everytime I hear him speak he always having a dig at aw,the football we play,he is always moaning n bitchin about.

  74. Anyone fancy pints in The junction (Highbury corner) on Sunday as I believe the pubs in Wembley are not open due to potential fan trouble

  75. Nice place to have a meeting if you have to have one MD!

    NJGooner.

    It’s bit simplistic to point the finger at Chamberlain for buying a bit more time to prepare for a war that he thought was inevitable. A war against the Germans then would have found France and Britain even less able to win than in 1940.

    If I wa samerican I might think that Britain held out for two years on her own in Europe before the USSR and, ahem, the US joined us. The first out of neccesity and the second because Hitler generously declared war on you.

    I like history too.

  76. MDG,
    Maybe Mugabe is an arsenal fan? 🙂

  77. Another chance for cup final tickets! http://www.johan-djourou.ch/jo/

  78. This game is huge for players like Robin and Tomas and Gael. I hope these three start and lift the cup together.

  79. I do agree that every time I hear George Graham on radio or TV – he’s actually moaning and bitching about Arsenal not buying the – wait for this – “one or two world class players” that they need to make this team a championship winning team.

    I was also disappointed with Martin Keown the last couple of times I’ve listened to him punditing as he has been of the opinion that Djourou is not up to scratch. As many said yesterday, Djourou has probably been the most influential defender in the league this season – and the performances prove it. The most telling aspect is that Arsenal hasn’t lost the last 28 games that Djourou has played and his absense has shown. He is a calm and confident CB who makes those around him play better – and you would have thought that Keown would appreciate this.

    There’s been too much negativity with this “Arsenal hasn’t got a strong defense” nonsense. With 11 games left, they’re really scraping the barrel with this one and the evidence shows it. They’re running out of games to try and justify this misguided truth seeing that we’re 1 point behind the leaders with a -2 goal difference.

    If Cesc is feeling bad about not making the final, maybe Wenger should just leave Cesc on the bench and bring him in as a substitute in stoppage time, making sure RVP quickly hands over the arm band to Cesc as he stands around the centre circle directing traffic. He doesn’t even have to touch the ball.

    @MD – it’s official – Mugabe is a Gooner – and that’s the only reason ZimPaul can get away with it.

  80. Neville Chamberlain is a case in point. If Wenger was a student of history he will know that appeasement, coupled with weak french defence will not win us any trophies. The effete frenchman surrounded by flunkies has formed a defence with holes like the swiss cheese gruyere. Hitler on the other hand specialised in Blitzkrieg for the purposes of Lebensraum. Wenger’s take on Lebensraum is to allow marauding attackers to occupy the penalty area. We will do well to learn the lessons of history in our quest for trophies. A couple of solid english backs, a goalkeeper and a defensive mid will keep the enemy out.

  81. LA @3.33pm

    To help anyone along, the answer is on his site.

    YW

  82. Any news on Thomas Vermaelen ?

  83. Good post today, Darius.

    I will be surprised if Van Persie doesn’t get at least one goal on Sunday.

  84. Apparently he might be on the bench for Barca, maybe back the next week. It was suggested that he might play in a reserve match next week… Can’t remember where i read this, but it was in today’s news.

  85. cheers Geo.

  86. C-Bob

    Thanks for the response! I relish any opportunity to chat history, and I must admit, I very much simplified my statements on the matter and just wanted to point out to Arsenal Andrew how relatively silly his statement was. And you are also correct in stating that it was the Brits who gave any hope to the world that Hitler could be halted. It pains me to think of the outcome had he had the continent as well as your isles. I’ve got to run but lets chat more about this!

    cheers

  87. No worries. Have a good one all. Catch up on Monday!

    COYG!!!!!!!!!!!!

  88. Yes, sorry, the answer is on the site.
    Here’s a clue: it means Mathilde’s House in French.

  89. The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K Dick is a decent alternate history yarn set on the supposition of Axis victory in the second world war.

  90. LA

    You don’t mean it’s

    Damn that white text…

    YW

  91. Yes, that’s it, YW – but shhhhhh.

  92. FRIIIIIDAAAAYY!!!
    CUP FINAL WEEKEND!!!
    ARRSENALL!!!!

  93. embed, ya cnut!

  94. LA

    You mean like that?

    YW

  95. Ah, the gatekeeper…

    Yes, that’s perfect. Thanks.

  96. Despite your best efforts YW, it seems as though UMG don’t want you doing that.

  97. Oh for fuck sake. YW, help me out? This one’s worth it…

  98. Oh and where’s Mr UMG now then…

  99. LA

    Remove “[youtube” and just post the share code. Seems to work consistently.

    YW

  100. YW, we always go for a few pints at the Wetherspoons at the O2 shopping centre just up from Finchley Road tube station. 15 mins from there to Wembley on the Met line.

  101. OK, ta. I think I’ve caused quite enough trouble for the time being though…

  102. Quick question.

    Who was the guy who used to end his posts with ‘With Arsene we rust’

    Anyone seen him anywhere?

  103. i’m feeling pretty awesome about this game. Plus i’m heading back home and i get to spend this weekend with my one arsenal buddy. Hopefully i’ll be somewhere in Chicago watching the game on sunday. but if not i’ll be sittin at my house yelling at the telly. c’mon you gooners! also i haven’t the slightest idea about how this cricket works, but it sounds like a combo of bowling and baseball. and i love me some baseball/bowling.

  104. Mr UMG is on lunch.

  105. My local Wetherspoons has a giant stalactite growing from the ceiling; in the corner, just above the bar. It’s been there since I was 16. Mildew or limescale or somewhere between the two. Noone ever talks about it, it’s just there; the elephant in the room.

    Very cheap drink though.

  106. It is a massive shame not to have Cesc for Sunday but I really would like to see how Song and Diaby play together in our slightly refined formation.

    Off the top of my head I cannot remember a game this season where the two have played behind the creative midfielder. Diaby played further up the pitch at Stamford Bridge.

    Imagine how tough it would be for the opposition if they had Song and Diaby on form, they would physically and technically dominate many a midfield.

    I would also love Jack to have the chains taken off a little and let him be the creative hub of the midfield. His ability to drop his shoulder and run past the opposition is a joy and now that he is more confident in his game maybe the Wembley stage would see him shine.

    Having said all this, Wenger could easily just slot Nasri into Cesc’s position and play Bendtner as a wide right player to add height and power which would make my point erm.. pointless.

  107. Yogi, Darius or anyone knowledgeable in these things. How many players are eligible for a medal on Sunday, 18 or 25?

  108. And usually pretty good at stocking local brews. At least, they do down ‘ere in Wiltshire.
    A bit odd having a stalactite in your drinking establishment though.

  109. Yogi – Will be in Baltimore having a few pints in Slainte Irish pub, drop on down mate if you are in the area!!

    As for the cricket convo going on, love it!! Not the game you understand just that I needed a nap and reading that just put me right out for half an hour 🙂

    Cant wait for Sunday!! Have warned the girlfriend, Saturday is date night but Sunday is Arsenal. If we win it is a session, a celebration if you will. If we lose it will be a session, a commiseration if you will. Either way getting drunk, just hope that when I wake up nursing a very bad hangover on Monday, I will at least have a stupid grin on my face knowing that we have for the first time under Arsene won the League Cup!!!! COYG!!!

  110. KG

    Only those on the pitch and the bench get medals.

    YW

  111. Mean Lean @4.43

    Can’t remember but it’s not really a surprise he’s gone.

    YW

  112. Thanks Yogi. Seems rather unfair though. Cesc and Theo must be feeling rather rotten!

  113. Yeah YW,

    I wonder what these people are actually thinking now, when they have invested so much time in having a go at the manager and players, where do they turn to at times like this?

    Our situation must be killing them.

  114. The largest Wetherspoons in the country is in Exeter of course – The Imperial. Or The Impy as it’s often affectionately known (affectionately can’t possibly be the right word).

    I did have one rather wonderful experience there; basking in the sunshine of the large glass ceiling, drinking sunkissed daytime beers, when a peacock – magnificent, full plummage – stepped in through a low, open sash window immediately in front of me, and strutted casually toward the bar. I thought – “If this peacock orders lunch… I’ve had one too many”. Fortunately for me – though not for the peacock – he was chased out through the frontdoor as soon as laid eyes on.

    I once met a Shetland pony in a John Snow’s in Old Soho too, but that’s another story.

  115. When I lived in Woodsie, Queens NY years ago we had a Stalagmite in our local. Word was that it had been there for over 20 years, growing each year. it exuded a musty, stale odor and was known upon occasion to ” spring a leak ” for no apparent reason. It was a well known fact that avoiding any and all eye contact was the best way to deal with it. I am sure it had a name (most things do) but it has been almost 12 years now and it escapes me. Every now and then a sort of grunting sound would come from it as if it was trying to communicate, at which point the bartender would simply put a fresh beer in front of it, the sound would then die out and we would carry on as if nothing happened.

  116. ML, the poster was called Spectrum – and I promise I didn’t look that up in the archives!

  117. The boss has finally said what I’ve been believing for some time… More so over the past couple of months.

    “For me there are two characteristics of this team – the great bond and the great determination, great focus,” said the manager.

    “They have all been educated together and they have the advantage of a team that has grown together.

    “It is a pleasure to work with them and it is not down to me to come out on who shouts, who doesn’t shout, who laughs or doesn’t laugh.

    “I feel it is a team that is very young but very hungry, very focused, very respectful. I wouldn’t say there are any individuals shouting more than others but there is a common understanding, a common bond, that comes out.”

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-the-two-characteristics-of-this-team

  118. We shouldn’t forget that the Red Army actually was absolutely crucial to victory against the Nazis and some might justly say that it won that war (and at physical costs to the Soviet Union that dwarfed those of the other allies–12 million dead). I think the world (that is the vast majority of peoples living outside of North America and Western Europe) was greatly inspired by the sacrifices and heroism of the Soviets in combating the spectre of fascism, a world-wide effort that began bravely in Spain and territories like Ethiopia and Libya (against Mussolini’s Italy) and which the governments of Western Europe and North America joined rather much later. The ironies were not lost on black soldiers sent to combat Nazism and its ideology of racial superiority when they had to eat at separate lunch counters in the US south or on sub-Saharan and North African colonial troops who helped liberate France but faced racism and political suppression under French colonial rule. There is a very nice film about this latter experience (Indigenes/ Days of Glory, 2006).

    As the great Caribbean poet and writer Aime Cesaire points out in his Discours sur le colonialisme, the great crime of Hitler was that he “applied to Europe the colonialist procedures which until then had been exclusively reserved for the Arabs of Algeria, the coolies of India, and the blacks of Africa.” I don’t think we can afford parochial views of history, least of all about WWII and its consequences globally.

  119. That’s uncanny, irishgray. I think maybe they’re related.

  120. LA – There was a rumor it was married once……

  121. Anytime NJGooner.

    It’s at times like this that I wish I was still living in London. Meeting up a a pub tonight, tomorrow lunchtime and the evening to discuss the game and then a few at lunchtime before setting off for the ground.

    Maybe a few post match as well.

    I am very jealous my friends.

  122. Ohhhhh yeah!

  123. Sixtay – Awesome video mate!! 🙂

  124. I actually got that Dick book out of the library this week Limpar.

    I read it years ago and thought it was time to read it again. Alternative history – always a winner.

    Limestone, the Soviets certainly played a major role in defeating the Nazi’s. Their sacrifices were huge, maybe 20 Million dead. I think that to say that they fought because of some anti fascist crusade does not really work. Yes, fascism and communism were the ideologies of choice in much of Europe in the 20’s and 30’s, not least in Weimar Germany. Yes, the Soviets did send some old armament to the Republicans in Spain -and a few Commisars too.

    That’s the explanation I think. Stalin was doing his utmost to spread his form of Communism, and his power, in Europe and beyond. He didn’t hesitate to annex half of Poland after Germany invaded in 1939 and sign a ‘Non- Aggression Pact’ with the Nazi’s and supply them with much of their raw materials with which they fought. Only when Hitler invaded Russia did he start to fight the Germans.

    From then on he fought a war that no democracy could have, sacrificing civilians and soldiers alike in astonishing numbers. He broke Hitler’s back alright but this was no ideological victory. Ask the Poles or the Hungarians or even the families of thiose Soviet soldiers captured in huge numbers early in the war who were sent to Siberia on their repatriation.

  125. Does anyone realize we have 19 (yes…no type there, that’s 1 & 9) players currently on loan?

    I’m sure that’s some kind of record!

  126. LA/YW

    WOWOWOWOWOW

    did one of my single favorite songs of all time, Holy Ghost, just get posted on this blog?!?!?!? Am I dreaming??!?!?!??!? For all the music videos that get posted on here, I’ve recognized maybe 3, and now Holy Ghost pops up? Unbeliveable!

    I still remember with clear detail the first time I heard that song. Driving in my friends car, and when the first conga drum break a little in to the song started I freaked, my response was “This is the kind of music I want to listen to”

    Hats off! And here I was lamenting your collectively terrible music taste!

  127. Imagine the poor Poles and their choice (or lack of it) – Country Joe or Uncle Adolf? The modern equivalent I suppose would be living n Manchester and having to decide between supporting United or City.

  128. I think it was NAGA GUNNER, with the ‘in Arsene we rust’ shite…

  129. Limestone/Cbob

    Nice. very nice.

    The Non-Aggression Pact between Hitler and Stalin has always intrigued me. Surely both men were cunning enough to know that in the not too distant future their paths would have to cross.

    Aside from the ridiculous casualty numbers (includes confirmed deaths, injuries, POW, MIA) Stalin’s mere engagement of Hitler and the creation of a 2 front war was the beginning of the end of Hitler’s military infallability and what allowed US & British (ok……. the Canadians and Australians too) operations to have the success they experienced. Stalingrad in particular… they fought their for over a year. Just as the final assault on the Black Gate in Lord of the Rings Return of the King distracted Sauron’s gaze enough for Frodo and Sam to reach Mt. Doom, so did the engagement of Hitler in Eastern Europe offer Allied troops the necessary distractions.

    I’ve read accounts describing Russian soldiers charging at enemy lines unarmed or with a single clip of ammunition. Remarkable. Not to mention the war efforts affect on the Soviet civilian population in terms of food and other necessities being available.

    The telling differences between the United States’ collective perception of WWII and most European nations perceptions of it is firmly rooted in the complete lack of civilian casualties suffered by the USA. The difference between the perceptions of WWI is even more stark.

  130. Also Cbob

    “It’s at times like this that I wish I was still living in London. Meeting up a a pub tonight, tomorrow lunchtime and the evening to discuss the game and then a few at lunchtime before setting off for the ground.

    Maybe a few post match as well.”

    This is what I dream about everytime I drift off into la-la land! IF ONLY!!!

  131. Consolsbob, I wouldn’t disagree at all with your cautions about Stalin and his motivations. Good points all. So, I wouldn’t make a hero of him and the Soviets. But I also wouldn’t make a hero of Churchill, Roosevelt and Britain/US either. I would celebrate the brave people who really did struggle against fascism, racism, and colonialism. And I just wanted to remember that it was a long war that didn’t begin with the Battle of Britain or, for many, end on VE day but when they freed themselves from colonial rule, often from the Allies themselves.

  132. NJ, nice Lord of the Rings tie in!–I imagine Tolkien might have had some contemporary events on his mind, as much as he tried to suggest that it didn’t inform his classic.

  133. Check this video out, absolutely hilarious!! But what is even more amazing is right near the end there is a header on goal which looks like it might just loop into the top right corner but then something truly astonishing happens, have never seen anything like it in football before.

  134. I completely agree with the cricket discussion; totally a batsman’s game these days. In fact, the ‘free hit’ never made sense to me.

    —–

    Rosicky to start in the Cesc role, ahead of Diaby!

  135. An old work colleague who fought in WWII told me that the Russian war tactic was to send three waves against the enemy – firstly the regular army, then the rabble of conscripted, poor and mostly illiterate rural militia (to rape and pillage) and the military police to shoot the aforementioned rabble.

  136. Limpar Assist @ 3:58pm,

    I’m a Philip K. Dick admirer and you’ve just inspired me to reread ‘TMitHC’. Do Androids Dream… and Blade Runner still figure highly in my sci-fi fav’s: I was once actually paid to teach these as part of a course to Science undergraduates at the University of Sussex.

    Happy days

  137. really enjoyed the chat about ww2 earlier..
    thanksfor your views guys..i was never any good at school but i enjoyed my history…
    everyone has a point i think..
    hitlers demise was down to a number of factors really..
    yes the english do have alot to thank the usa and the russians for…if japan wouldnt have pissed the americans off and the nazis werent dumb enough to try take on russia as well in a two pronged attack in the fucking snow the war certainly wouldnt have ended as soon as it did..
    but i have to echo a point cbob brought up…to suggest england would have been steam rolled if it werent for the superpowers is a tad OTT..we defended this island for years without any help…if we wouldnt have held out as long as we did europe would have been taken and the war would have been over in a flash
    and the french didnt lay down either in my opinion..they were quickly steamrolled yes but germany was a machine… most of europe were steamrolled, but they never gave up and they fought from within..the french resistance did their bit as much as anyone…

  138. now back to football 😉
    nice post..but are wrong about lomu..he beat us up…
    but we do have enough in the tank without cesc
    nasri jack AA all have the skeleton key to unlock any defence and although cesc is our captain, rvp is the key man for me..
    i would have been more concerned if he was out to be honest..

  139. enjoy the game wherever you guys are in the world. I will also be cheering for Wigan on saturday to do us a huge favor.

  140. manutd are fucking dire and cant buy a goal away from home..
    wigan will be tricky for them although it seems an easy 3 points it aint..and now the extra pressure is on cos with us 1 point up their arses they will have to win..i think theyve only won something like 2 in 8 away from OT…
    with big games too against chelsea and liverpool and CL fergie might be tempted to rotate..
    a weakened manu is a midtable team so wigan have every chance of turning them over or at least holding them to a draw..

  141. I really don’t have much to say about Sunday other than: “Let Arsenal play their usual game which has entertained me for so many years.” I have no interest in the media that does not recognize an unusual occurrence in the Football World; with a formulation that is more than just exceptional, Wenger has persisted with a team that has entertained like no other.

    It is nice to hear that Diaby will be in the side on Sunday and under usual circumstances he would offer a considerable amount to the team. Diaby, however, has been out with injury and red card suspension. He will barely be match-fit. He requires a few games to get his engines up and running. It seems, therefore, that Rosicky will start ahead of Diaby. And, what about the young Welsh lad, Ramsey. He has been playing games for Cardiff, and Wenger might give him a shot during the game. Just having Ramsey in the lineup increases my enthusiasm.

    What a spectacular recovery Aaron has made from an injury that left his foot hanging from his leg a few short months ago. You might recall Aaron was one of the pioneering few who had the new surgery for broken legs without the use of a cast. Virtually, standing on his leg a very short time after the surgery. My hat is tipped to the medical community for allowing a young, promising life to persist in the career of his dreams, and to
    Aaron for working in such a diligent manner to overcome his dreadful injury.

  142. @Irishgray 4:54 pm

    That Irish pub in Baltimore – could it by any chance be the James Joyce?

  143. I know it went tits at the end…but what a season. Let’s go 4 better this year.

  144. Two Owls, I think Ramsey will play Saturday for Cardiff before rejoining our squad for the FA replay next week. I hope he plays then and provides us some good games down the stretch.

  145. Block 4

    That’s not a bad shout – is anyone else up for an ACLF meet-up beforehand?

    YW

  146. I’m impressed that we’ve all got through today without mentioning that 25th February 2011 is the tenth anniversary of the 6-1 drubbing at Old Trafford.

    YW

  147. Wow this was the line up against Chelsea fr the league Cup final at Millenuim Stadium in 2007!
    Almunia, Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Traore (Eboue 66), Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby (Hleb 68), Aliadiere (Adebayor 80), Julio Baptista.
    Subs Not Used: Poom, Djourou.

  148. Not many survivors left, is Traore on loan or did we sell him?

  149. Remi

    At the moment he’s on loan. Actually for 4 years ago, it emphasises the ‘growing’ together. Of the 16, 7 are still at the club.

    YW

  150. If we play like we did that day we should surely beat Birmingham.
    For the first half hour I dont think Ch*lsea touched the ball.

    Come on you Gunners!

  151. I shan’t be joining you for drinks YW but hope those who go have a pleasant time.
    I shall be having a large cup of tea at home. And of course an egg in the lucky egg cup.

  152. Arsene deserves a medal for putting up with those press conferences. I cannot believe the ignorant pointless questions that he gets asked yet answers with such patience. Judging by the quality of the questions I cannot see why John Cross was moaning about a missed press conference the other day since we learn nothing from them and the hacks just twist any quotes they get to suit their own agendas or make things up anyway. Not only do they ask stupid
    questions, they ask them over and over again! Complete waste of precious oxygen.

  153. YW,

    I would up for it – but would it feel right without ZP, Shotto, Paul N, Gunner4ever, Gadget and even Bill haha

    Oh and will JonJon be invited??

    Missing Traore too, his to hot for the dire Italian league let’s hope he gets back quickly!

  154. Haha Monsieur Wenger is a very patient man. The repeat questioning pissing me off though like different voice will fool Arsene into revealing the ‘truth’!!

  155. God Maria imagine a meet and Bill turned up?? 40 minutes later when he’d finished explaining to the barman the difference between bacon fries and pork scratchings and how much safer it would be to stock just one real ale rather four given the danger of exceeding the sell by date the pub would have emptied.

  156. And yes I would live to be one of Gaddiffis female bodyguards

  157. Maria

    If that is your aspiration, whatever you say goes…

    YW

  158. Passenal, I just watched the press conference as well and noted the absurdities. Here is a spot where the history discussion we were having earlier and Arsenal football come together: Question: “So if you need a Churchillian speech at half time, who would come out with it?” Wenger (after a suspenseful pause): “Churchill!”
    Like history and its parochial heroic myths, English football culture and its media representatives assume there simply has to be a static formula, in this case, of stock cartoon-like characters and personalities in the locker room. A shouter or two, a dj, someone quiet in the corner… These guys should read some more complicated novels and put down the comic books. Why can’t they understand that perhaps what makes Arsenal special and potentially successful is that the players are treated as more complex individuals with many aspects of their personalities to be expressed through their experience of football? Parochial views obscure the more interesting and complex reality. But you have to open your mind a little bit and drop some comfortable presuppositions and sense of privilege. This is why Arsene Wenger is such a great manager and such a fantastic interview as well–he always, always has something very interesting or challenging to say.

  159. Limestonegunner, it’s like pearls before swine! They really are so ignorant, I was insulted by their questions let alone how Arsene must feel. They really could not come up with anything better than the usual trite soundbites. And as for the question about ‘how Cesc is feeling’? Really? Do you have to ask that question? How do you think he might be feeling? Of course he is jumping for joy as it was his fondest wish that he should be injured for his greatest moment so far as Arsenal captain! Morons!

  160. Bradys right foot

    Had a bit of strange conversation with two other gooners tonight. They were discussing who our best player has been so far this season. I sat quietly as they mentioned Cesc, Nasri, RVP and JD yet no mention of the player who has clearly been our most consistent performer this year. Infact i’d go as far as to say he’s the best right back in Europe, Sagna. When I pointed out Bacarys contribution my fellow gooners both agreed. Sometimes we don’t appreciate how good we actually are.

  161. I like Diaby as Cesc’s substitute. With little Jack pinging the ball around, Song bringing it out of the defensive midfield and Diaby having a free role, this could be the monster midfield. The idea of Diaby linking up with Nasri, Van Persie and Arshavin is magnificent.

    Squid with Djourou isn’t half bad. The Stoke victory should discourage anyone saying that Squillaci is rubbish.

  162. If someone asked me who I thought our best player was I’d say it is Alex Song. His responsibilities on the pitch are such that he has to be ever vigilant of our defence yet he scores marvellous goals.

    Against Barcelona he was fantastic. He was playing with a yellow and still had the werewithall to mark Messi out of the game. Not an easy task. For me, I think he’s the best DM on the planet at the moment.

    I believe he’s the best DM in the world at the moment.

  163. @Gainsbourg

    Agreed! Only one Song!

  164. If someone asked me who I thought our ‘best’ player was, I’d have to answer honestly:

    “Szczesney
    Sagna/Kos/Djourou/Vermaelen/Clichy/Gibbs
    Song/Cesc/Diaby/Wilshere/Rosicky/Denilson/Ramsey
    Walcott/Nasri/RvP/Arshavin/Chamakh/Bendtner…

    Each at different times and in different matches. It is a super squad.”

  165. Apoligies,

    Forgot: “His Majesty Eboue/Fabianski/Squil”

  166. “Apologies”:~)

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