Arsène Changes Philosophy As Injuries Don’t Take Their Toll. Yet.

The death of Gary Speed this weekend has put matters into perspective, there has been a genuine affection in the words of those who knew him which speaks volumes for the character of the man. My thoughts are with his family. Is it a forlorn hope that the media will respect their wishes at this time?

This morning’s Arsenal talk is of tanks being empty, the weakness of the squad exposed by Fulham being able to take a point on Saturday. There have been defeats which have been greeted with less sensationalism. There has been a smidgen of an over-reaction to this as journalists scrabble around for a new crisis to engulf a club, a manager. Chelsea’s win over Wolves denied them the joy of hauling Villas-Boas over the coals and we have long known that any criticism of Alex Ferguson will not be brokered. By the media. I mean, they cannot even get Steve Bruce or Kean sacked. That’s how bad it has got.

So Arsenal are engulfed in crisis.

And this with the visit of Manchester City to The Emirates this weekend. Arguably, City’s draw at Anfield was the better 1-1 of the two clubs’ results this weekend. The resultant reportage hints at the goodwill being stored up for the bad spell(s) which will follow.

Not for the first time this season – nor the last you suspect – The Gunners are being cast as underdog. Reports at the weekend suggest that City will be looking to offload 20 professionals next Summer to cut their horrendously high wages bill. Presumably that will include the likes of Adebayor. Wenger had a point about the loan costs of top flight clubs should not be subsidised although there is an element of hypocrisy as I’m sure that Stevenage are not paying for all of the wage costs of Freeman and Aneke.

For Wenger, fitness is the issue. Having fielded relatively strong sides last and this season, can he afford not to do the same this week. Does he have any alternative? He is not too sure,

I will change my philosophy a little bit. We have red alerts on a few players but I will pick as strong as possible a team as I can. What is important is to keep our run going because every win makes us stronger. We come from a position so deep that every two points dropped is not good mathematically for us. But I must say the spirit in the squad is so good that I’m confident we will improve even more.

The lessons of Jack Wilshere’s injury have, it seems, been learned. Wenger admits to playing the youngster when “red alerts” were making him wonder if there was a glitch in the software. By the time he realised that the usual IT fix of rebooting the PC was not going to solve anything, Wilshere was being rebooted following surgery.

The new medical centre is beginning to pick up trade once more with Theo tweaking a hamstring. Robin van Persie is reaching the limit of his games per season whilst Abou Diaby, it seems, has suffered a ‘muscular discomfort‘ which, well, I cannot even bothered to joke about.

The depth of the squad though is not as bad as you are led to believe, simply that Arsenal do not have a state-sponsored benefactor who can afford to write off several hundred million pounds every year. The board and Kroenke may be pinning their hopes on FPP bailing them out in terms of competitiveness but it is not going to happen. There are so many holes in the rules that the only certainty is no smaller clubs will breakthrough and no clubs with the financial clout of City will fail to meet them.

Wenger did retain his sense of humour though,

It’s always more important to support our team than to be negative with the players from Man City.

No, Arsène, that sentence ended at the word “negative“…

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on November 28, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 208 Comments.

  1. We all need to wake up to the reality that we will not win every game this season.There will be points dropped but the fewer the better.It wasn’t a bad weekend overall for Arsenal considering the other results.If I have any twinge of regret its that Spurs appear to have been the big winners (Chelsea? no.More losses coming their way).
    We play City in the Carling cup.As far as I’m concerned,key players need to be rested completely or started from the bench.Priority really should be clinching a champions league berth by the end of the season.

  2. I can’t believe Diaby has another “tweak”. Jesus, the man is made of balsa wood. Hopefully Theo is not too badly injured, he is in good form at the moment. I can’ imagine he would have been involved tomorrow any though.

  3. Where’s everyone else??? And thanks for the post Yogi.

  4. Gunman – “We all need to wake up to the reality that we will not win every game this season




  5. It’s been a tedious week for Arsenal from the Dortmund game and playing a very resilient Fulham side at home.I was going through our first team squad and found that we really have depth in our squad. I am going name the following players who should be eligible for tomorrow’s against City viz; Fabianski, Mannone, Kolscieny, Djouriou, Ignasi, Squillacci, Yennaris, Benayoiun, Rosicky, Coquelin, Frimpong, Arshavin, Diaby(i hope he is fit) AOC, Park, Chamack and Gervinho( was rested against fulham). From these players, Arsene should be able to pick a formidable team to face the high flying Man City.This will allow the likes of Van \persie, Ramsey<Vermalean, Arteta, Walcott, santos, Mertesacker, Song, and Sczersny some time to rest ahead of the away game at Wigan. Gervinho can be substituted in the second half. The remaining five players on the bench should players from the reserve team.Guns out!!

  6. Bit of a flat performance from the fecking boys on Sat – Fulham are a decent outfit and it was never going to be easy. Still think we did enough to win the game.

    Shame it took Gervinhos introduction to spark some life into our attacking play.

    A wing forward and a striker must be a priority this January.

  7. Where is Rosicky? Still injured?

    Ramsey looks shattered in the last few games and could do with a break. If Diaby is injured again maybe Benayoun could come in? Out of all our players he looks like the one that needs a break.

  8. Goonerandy@ 9:43am;I stand by my comments.Even the invincibles had draws I believe? Its a tough league and even City will not finish the season unbeaten.There will be draws and the occasional loss but we need to win as many games as possible and hope our rivals drop points.I would love for us to win every single game,believe me.

  9. Gunman – Heh, I was just messing around mate. I have accepted that we will not win every game. 🙂

  10. “I can’t believe Diaby has another “tweak”. Jesus, the man is made of balsa wood.”

    For crying out loud g-a, the man just returned from ankle surgery and rehab. He is a human being, not a machine. Even machines have run-in time. 9 months after surgery my hand is less than 50% and I am still in therapy.
    Lay off the tabloid sensationalism, please.

  11. Great post. Always wonder how you keep going. I’ve always wanted to start a blog – not about sport – and have never got started!

  12. Shotta – “Lay off the tabloid sensationalism, please

    Amazing that you could go from me being a little peeved he has picked yet another injury to mentioning the above. I have not even read any tabloids (nor do I). Can’t you honestly understand why people are at their wits end with his injury issues? He played barely tens mins. I undstand all about rehab after having an ACL op myself, but if he cannot ever manage even a few mins without getting injured again how will he ever get back to full match fitness?

  13. FFS Shotta, the man hasn’t kicked a ball in anger all season, makes a couple of sub appearances and is injured again . . it’s a fucking joke!!!!!!

  14. I am interested in the suggestion that Tommy V needs a rest for the Citeh game – why ?

    He still needs games to get his full fitness and mental sharpness back. The ease with which the carthorse Zamora turned past him on Saturday suggests to me it is game time that Tommy needs.

  15. We need to rest some of our first team players,if it means being kicked out of d cc by shitey,so be it,the race for a top four spot dis season is shaping up to be the toughest the epl has ever witnessed and I believe a top four finish should be rated above d cc,as a fan,if u were to choose btw winning d cc(which isn’t sure even if we beat shitey)and finishing outside a cl spot or no trophy again ds season n qualifying for d cl,what will ur choice be?

  16. I would definately rest TV5. He has only just come back from injury, and we can’t afford to lose him again as he is our most important defender. Kos had a rest at the weekend so he can play against City.

  17. I am totally with you Goonerandy

  18. I appreciate TV has just come back from injury Andy – and what I would like to see now is a repeat of his first season with us where he played from August til Easter. He was perfectly fit, turned out every week, no problem.

    Why is it seemingly impossible for players to play 20 games in a row ?

  19. anicoll5 – I am with you there. Players do seem to need more breaks nowadays. Maybe because of the pace of todays game? Who knows? I know what you are saying about TV5, but I was thinking that becasue of his long lay off the odd rest maybe a good idea. Arsene won’t get many chances to rest him, so I was thinking he should make the most out of this one.

    I don’t think he has looked off the pace since his return, so game time does not seem to be an issue.

  20. I’m hoping Arsene’s comments indicate that we will play a B team. Djourou (and/or Koscielny) and Arshavin are the biggest names I’d expect to see on the team sheet.

  21. I reckon:



    Le Coq
    Benayoun (or Diaby if fit)


  22. hope diaby and arshavin plays.

    and arteta, TV, ramsey, song, RVP all get a rest.

  23. Post-Europe games are often iffy, and flat, just like this. Tiredness and coming down from on high … ness. I thought our quality was OK, we did enough to unpick the multiple locks, except score two. A draw is not to be under-estimated. Whatever sour lemons some people like to eat is more to do with desiring 5th or 4th instantly, as if the season end is nigh, but the realities are that it was going to be tougher breaking into the top 4, than shimmying up from 17th to 7th.

    We are within stone throwing distance, with just over one third of the season gone (13 of 38 games), and going into the second third with the immediate objective of top four; my guess is that will take 12 more games to achieve, and then let’s see who’s where.

    Elsewhere, I was fascinated. Was that Liverpool I saw doing a tactical Napoli, aka a tacticapoli, Downing et al running at them through the middle and from the flanks as fast as their legs could? I sense draws galore for Citeh, at least I hope so, if it is not their lot in life it damn well should be. They fielded a strong typically cautious side.

    Arshavin looked minimalist, out of mojo, so obviously trying, but not enough of his clever toys came out. Arteta wondered what the hell he was thinking when he thought it would be “great” to get lots of European as well as EPL games. He looked shattered. Song played when it mattered. Santos flattered. The team seemed a bit battered, but took the game to Fulham to the death and earned their draw.

  24. I guess that Arsene will follow your thinking to be honest regarding TV Andy – I do however think that while physical fitness wise Tommy looks fine the mental sharpness you only get, and keep sharp, from playing – and a long lay off blunts it – still may have a few games to go

  25. Arsenal in crisis again!!!!!!!!!

    5 wins 1 draw and champion’s league qualification against arguably one of German’s finest teams( with a game in hand).

    games like Saturday’s happen at least we didn’t lose.

    top 4 rather than silverware any day.

  26. And give credit where due, TV’s goals were exquisitely placed.

    It worries me when Arsene says there are “red alerts” on some players. Red? Not, orange. Not “some alerts” or “a few concerns”. Arsene, do not use them, I beg of you. Send in the territorials.

  27. The next three games actually give us some room for rotation. Carling Cup, followed by Wigan away in the league, then our final group game in the CL. Although we’re most likely to see our strongest team at Wigan I reckon we could take a few calculated risks. While I do have a soft spot for Wigan, they definitely aren’t a team we should be too worried about. They tend to play open.

  28. I’m confused by this statement of ‘red alerts’…….and our managers ‘explanation’ for the team’s lack of form v. Fulham.

    Recently, Arsene claimed we had a strong 25 player roster……yet he continues to follow old habits – playing the same pecking order.

    Why has Benayoun seen so little playing time? and Chamakh? and Frimpong? and even when Rosicky was available?

    Look at the past 4 seasons. When March, April, May comes around key players are not available for the home stretch.

    I have to wonder, what is the point for Park, Ryo, Ox being on the roster.

    How can a manager of 30 years experience not realize his own doing?

    Ok…..enough of the hang-over of disappointment for lost points, but for the past 12 matches, my expectations have been raised (which is my own undoing).

  29. I’d been told about this before, but always thought it was apocryphal – delighted to find out it actually happened.

  30. Diabys ankle surgery is a such a smokescreen

    He constantly has minor muscle pulls, twangs, calves, groin, hamstring. Its standard.

    I am not suprised in the absolute slightest that he has suffered a minor set back. He hasnt completed a pre season for nearly 3 years, so is always playing catch up in the season, where constant and regular breakdowns show he is having difficulty with it, and there really doesnt seem to be any signs of his terrible record abating.

    Let him try get fit this year, if he spends more time with the physio we need to cut our losses and fill the squad space with someone who has a tangible impact on the field, and not in distant memories of some ethusiastic fans.

    We have paid him handsomly for nearly 7 years, he has had multiple chances to get fit and earn a first team place, so discarding of him this summer isnt brutual. Its a necessary evil.

  31. Just Another Luke

    Arsesession | November 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    “Recently, Arsene claimed we had a strong 25 player roster……yet he continues to follow old habits – playing the same pecking order.

    Why has Benayoun seen so little playing time? and Chamakh? and Frimpong? and even when Rosicky was available?”

    The way I see it is this. When we had such a poor start, the margin for error is less and hence Wenger (or any other manager) would have less incentive to tinker with a winning team in the premier league.

  32. JAL

    But we must must must avoid the scenario of last season where we had a very clear first 11, and then a bench full of players who didnt believe they could hold down a starting berth.

  33. Luke, I guess you are the same person who maybe two years ago would’ve said that we should cut our losses on RVP. Thank god it’s Arsene and not you making the decisions.

  34. Markus

    “While I do have a soft spot for Wigan, they definitely aren’t a team we should be too worried about. They tend to play open.”

    Wigan shouldnt be taken lightly, they have been our bogey team for years, they always reserve their best games for us, i can remember in the recent past them getting shock results against us.

  35. Looking forward to the CC game. Will be interesting who Wenger puts out. I hope that Chamakh starts at CF and Park and AA on the wings. We are going to need them to be productive at some point and all need playing time. We need to use the senior players who have not been on the pitch very much to give us the best chance. Benayoun, Rosicky etc. Miquel should start at LB instead of Santos. We don’t have a legitimate back up for Santos until Gibbs is healthy. CC and the FA cups will be our chance to get some silverware this year. If we get thru this game I think we will have a great shot at winning this competition.

  36. Well, I made it to my first match at the Emirates on Saturday. What a place!! I was so impressed with the facilities, the pitch, the sheer size of the place and the wholly Arsenal feel about the place.

    The main thing i took from the match was that the whole team looked tired. Physically as well as mentally. If we had the energy to play like we did for the last 10 minutes for a little longer, we would have got the winner without doubt. Their goal came against the run of play too. The highlights probably did us an injustice as we were in control for almost the whole game.

    Ramsey was not his usual self, he seemed to be trying a bit too much, one too many touches, slightly too extravagant passes – probably most of which would have been pulled off if he was 100% fit. But he looked very tired indeed.

    Arteta was harrying and hustling, but again didn’t quite have the legs to join the attacks after winning the ball back.

    RvP showed glimpses of why he’s recognised as one of the best, managing to keep the ball when it looked impossible. Very good link up play too.

    TV5 was great, with constant pressure on the dirty, moaning Zamora, winning most of the duels, especially in the air.

    Mertersacker was very good, composed and positioned impeccably. Very good passing.

    Djourou had a good game, but needs to try not to drift too close to the centre backs (but being a CB, it is only natural).

    Song was very good again, very controlled and sat back for the majority of the game. Slotted into CB with ease.

    Theo was looking dangerous in spells, some good battling runs, and some excellent final balls. Great assist.

    Arsh was very poor. He drifted inside too often, meaning Santos didn’t have an outlet when charging forward, often needing to turn back or inside. It didn’t help that the crowd (particularly where i sat) were giving him stick at every opportunity. I told a couple of people around me to show him some more support. They didn’t like that… In real time, his goal definitely looked onside. Fair play to the linesman for seeing it correctly though.

    Gervinho was looking so dangerous when he came on, defenders didnt have a clue what to do with him. He instantly made us look like scoring. Shame it didn’t bring us the win.

    Diaby looked better than i expected, and again, defenders didnt know what he was going to do. One criticism would be that he slowed play down too much a couple of times (but this is top be expected until his full return).

    But my man of the match was definitely Santos. He was brilliant to watch. His defensive duties were dealt with easily, getting perfectly timed standing tackles in throughout the game, then turning it into attack in an instant. Almost skinned 2 defenders with a fabulous 360 turn in their box. His passing was spot on. The defence seemed to know exactly when to go over and cover for him, so some good communication going on back there too. He put in some excellent crosses too.

    Chezney was good, rarely troubled. Couldn’t have done anything about the goal.

    All in all, it was a great experience. Shame about the result. But hey, others will be dropping many points from here till May, so don’t worry Gooners. We will be up there.

    I did love the fact that we had RvP, Chamakh, Arsh, Theo, Gervinho all on at the end, going for the win. We had no-one in our half for quite some time… Shame it didn’t come off.

    I’m addicted now though, hopefully going to the Manure game in Jan for my birthday..! Fingers crossed…

  37. JAL

    “The way I see it is this. When we had such a poor start, the margin for error is less and hence Wenger (or any other manager) would have less incentive to tinker with a winning team in the premier league.”

    agree – that is one perspective; but it has it’s consequences that will surface eventually,
    evident by the fulham performance. And so you give players one match break and throw them back into servitude……with greater red alerts becoming reality.

    Look at the past 12 matches and their frequency – and who were are starting 3 mid-fielders?

    The season will involve 60 matches.

    In those 12 matches, Benayoun, Rosicky, Frimpong/Coq could have been rotated each match:
    Benayoun – Song – Arteta;
    Ramsey – Arteta – Coq;
    Rosicky – Song – Frim;

    front line:
    RvP – Theo – Gervinho;
    RvP – Arshavin – Gervinho;
    Chamakh – Gervinho – Theo;
    Ryo – RvP – Arshavin

    With as little playing time as Benayoun, Rosicky,Chamakh, Park, Coq, Frim, Ox, Ryo, have had to date, how can fans or manager expect them to step on the pitch now ( Nov 29th) and maintain a level of performance that will deliver results?

    Training sessions do not fine tune your skills for actually match play.

    Got to run……but I’m very excited for the City match and who the manager starts.

  38. Sorry for the long post btw..!

  39. I agree with your report Geo though i think you and everyone else is a bit harsh on Arshavin.

  40. Evil, no I wasnt. Because when RVP was having his achilles tendon snapped, missing 6 months, then coming back to full fitness without a blemish, Diaby was struggling to stay fit for 5 matches on the bounce.

    In addition, its much much easier to take a percieved risk with RVP because, when fit, he constantly delivers. That is not the case with Abou.

    Personally, I think Wenger will struggle to shift Diaby due to his wages. I would explore a loan to PSG or Italy, let him get confident and fit in a slower, less physical league, then see if he is ready to play for us.

  41. Good lad Geo! Shame you didnt get to witness a victory on your maiden voyage

    Atmosphere for United is always rocking.

  42. “Wenger had a point about the loan costs of top flight clubs should not be subsidised although there is an element of hypocrisy as I’m sure that Stevenage are not paying for all of the wage costs of Freeman and Aneke.”

    I don’t think it’s the same thing at all Yogi. Paying part of the salary of a teenager in a lower team helps the lower league team financially and gives them a well trained, hungry youngster to contribute to their games and gives the opportunity for the youngster to gain experience and develop their game in a real match setting where points count.

    Subsidising a PL team, which is fighting at the top of the league seems like unfair competition to me. Spurs are benefitting from resources, which are not their own. Meanwhile city are able to strengthen a team, which is capable of taking points off their rivals, without those same resources being able to be used against them. I don’t think loans should be allowed between clubs in the same division.

    Shotta, i agree completely. I wonder if he’ll be saying the same thing if JW has a few niggles on his return from injury?

  43. Firstlady, I was trying to see the good side of Arsh’s game, and don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t totally off, but he was the worst player on the day imo. At the start, his passing was good and crisp, some very nice one touch passes that surprised the defence, but as the game wore on, espcially his dribbling, became predictable. I was standing up for him though, to all the haters i was sitting near..! I tried! Hope he regains some form soon. More starts (like against Citeh & Olymiakos) will do him good.

    Cheers Luke – it was a shame, but i enjoyed it massively nonetheless. I really hope i get to go to that one, the alternative is seeing Swansea away around that time… I know which i’d prefer! Absolutely loved it when we scored and the few minutes after that, the sense of us grabbing the win filling the stadium. Awesome. Can’t imagine what it’ll be like when it’s against the big boys…

  44. “How can a manager of 30 years experience not realize his own doing?”


    Luke give it up with the lets cut him loose shit on Diaby.

    Arshavin was not any worse than everyone else bar Theo.
    But as he is this years whipping boy I expect the sheep to dig him out.And they have not let me down.

  45. I am exploring sending Luke “on loan” to Le Grove.
    But they say they cant stomach his incessant moaning about Diaby.The suggested I try “Arsenal Action”

  46. I don’t think Harry would ever take a player on loan unless it was completely above board!

  47. Ok George, he was fecking brilliant. Unstoppable. Impeccable.


    I’m all for supporting our players and will argue the point for them at every opportunity. But I’m not going to lie about what I saw. I felt a bit cheeky speaking out against the season ticket holders who were berating him, as it was my first visit, but i did it anyway… I don’t want to get into an argument with you about it, as I know you won’t give in, but he wasn’t playing well. I happen to think he’s a fantastic player, and a great bloke from what i’ve seen and read, but he didn’t play well on Saturday, which was a shame. I would have loved to have seen an in-form Arsh in the flesh. It’s better to be honest about these things than have your stance and stick to it, even if deep down you know it to be false… imo. defintely. ;-p

  48. Geo ,did I say he was good?
    He was below par.As were all the others.
    He ,more than anyone else need he game to be played a pace.So as to benefit from his quicker thinking.But WTF,the little fat lazy cunt should just fuck of back to Russia,he is not fit to wear the shirt and never has been .

    See I can be prick as well.

  49. George, Arshavin by his own very admission has been poor this season. He has lost some of his pace, and our manager hasnt a clue on how to get the best out of him – of course his 65 minute cameos out of position every other week are going to get less spectacular.

  50. “I’m addicted now though, hopefully going to the Manure game in Jan for my birthday..! Fingers crossed…”

    I’m glad you enjoyed it Geo and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you to! There is nothing better than watching The Arsenal live in the home of football!

  51. Hardy har! That was an excellent quip there George, bravo!

    “But WTF,the little fat lazy cunt should just fuck of back to Russia,he is not fit to wear the shirt and never has been .”

    And how you managed to interpret my comment in this way is beyond me… Oh, of course, we’re talking about Arshavin. My bad. What a prick I am.

  52. I had to be stealthy and listen to the match on radio, so I really only have what the commentator said about Arshavin to go on. He said Arshavin was lucky to still be on the pitch after our first few subs.

    Still hope he gets to start against City. He won’t improve his form on the bench.

  53. I think the Fulham result was a very good point for us and if not for the og we would of got 3 points!

    Fulham and Jol, are no mugs and will take points off the teams currently above us at this very early stage.

    Plenty of plus points regarding how strong are bench is and that squad players can come in and the team still looks balanced and solid. Last season our team looked as though they didn’t know each other when changes were made. Now the opposition dread when we make subs because they have an impact.

    Arshavin, looked pissed and very up for until his batteries went flat but, game time will sort that out so now we have Gervinho, (who I would always like to start) and Arshavin who can play right across the middle if need be.

    What did some expect? We just beat the German champions and pool took points off city and those above are in the cross airs.

    Deal with city then, although I do watching them play, tear Wigan limb from limb.

  54. “Ok George, he was fecking brilliant. Unstoppable. Impeccable.


    So that was not you starting the sarcasm.?
    Must have been me misinterpreting things then .So sorry.

  55. Cheers Passenal 🙂 I really hope it comes through. My bro has a few contacts so it’s looking likely… He’s been to every home game so far, so hopefully I’ll be joining him..!

  56. What commentator that and more importantly, who does he work for and affiliate himself with?

    Arshavin, was alright considering he’s been out for time. When he was a regular I was all for dropping him because he just looked a bit which is fine but, too often not tracking back leaving others exposed. Maybe that’s why he got dropped and maybe he knows that himself and is now coming for Gervinho’s slot. At least I’m hoping he’s thinking along them lines.

    On his day he is world class no doubt.

  57. Arshavin, can’t be called chubby or fat any more. Didn’t anybody else noticed he’s shed a couple pounds?

    Wenger, said “he’s putting the work in on the training ground” and it looks like it too so I believe he will find it again when we least expect it.

  58. A bit of sarcasm to make a point, responded to with a very childish insult…

    Sorry George, I should learn not to bother getting into these things with you when it comes to Arsh. Your reality of anything to do with him is clouded by your inability to look at the situation objectively. I can be as blinkered and rose-tinted as many here, but I was merely reporting on what I saw on the day. I wasn’t attacking him, I was saying it as i saw it. Sorry if it isn’t what you wanted to hear. I am by no means a sheep, either (another insult you directed at me).

  59. You see Geo.It was not directed at you .It was at the media.
    You post was quite reasonable ,I thought.
    That you should assume that your slight and fair criticism of Andrei was the reason for my post is entirely your fault and not mine.Simply a coincidence that my post shortly followed yours.
    “Arshavin was not any worse than everyone else bar Theo.
    But as he is this years whipping boy I expect the sheep to dig him out.And they have not let me down.”
    Was what I said.For that to apply to you ,you would have to have “dug ” him out .Which you did not.So it could not have been directed at you.Could it?
    I suggest you go back and read how things unfolded ,armed with this new information ,and try to see it from where I sit.

  60. Chill Geo. Chill George.
    I thought you two had it sorted one or two post before.
    You are the good guys. Unlike too many who are just itching to tear down a player who is presumed to be an easy target.
    I don’t know the motivation but I now call it “le-grovitis.

  61. By the way “le-grovitis”is a communicable disease that attacks remotely from behind a computer screen.

  62. ‘grief with the volume turned up’ is how one person described the pain of having a loved one take their own life. That is what Gary Speed’s family now face, especially his teenage children. There can be no more selfish an act than suicide, and to do it knowing that your body will be found hanging by wife or children is extraordinary. All of the great stuff that Gary achieved in his footballing life has now been stripped away. It means nothing. Horrible. What a ghastly way to go. One can only hope that whatever reason he thought he had has some sort of salving effect for those poor people…but I doubt it.

  63. Goonerton:

    Dropping points to Fulham is not a terrible result especially after playing a tough midweek game. However, ours was the only unexpected dropped points among the 4 teams that will probably be fighting for the 3rd and 4th spots. Spurs and Chelsea won, Liverpool outplayed and got a point off City and Newcastle got a completely unexpected point at OT. None of Spurs, Liverpool or Newcastle will have the fixture congestion we have in the next few months so its going to be tough to maintain momentum if we can’t rotate more effectively and it we drop points like that at home. Hopefully, we can regain the momentum of our run up the table starting next week.

  64. Geo – get yourself on the season ticket waiting list, the way this absolute bunch of jokers are playing you will have one in no time! 🙂

    I dropped 10,000 places this summer. Operation “remove the plastics” being perfectly executed by A Wenger!

  65. Frank, unless you have been subjected to such an act, brandishing it as selfish is ignorant, and very offensive.

  66. Luke .Offensive to who?
    Frank is right.Unless you have had a total breakdown and are unable to think ,then it is a hugely selfish thing to do.

  67. George – fair enough, and apologies for the sarcasm. Misinterpretation can easily happen when having to read and type things quickly at work..! Shotta is right, we should chill. Fuck le-groveitis. It sounds terrible.

    Luke, I would love to but I am not in a financial position to do it at the mo, and am going traveling next year (hence my lack of funds – save save save!). I am just so chuffed that I’ve managed to get there before we go away, but now I’ve got the bug and will strive to go to as many as possible before we leave. I have to wangle it with the missus though, she’s a tree hugging hippy, not an Arse-loving Gooner… I’ll have to work my magic! Glad to hear the plastics are being fazed out though, there were a few where i was sitting (East Upper).

  68. The thing is with Andrey, is that you can see he is trying the right things – the right passes, the right movement’s, they just aren’t coming off for him at the moment.

    As a result, it is easy for the press and Doomer’s to simplify it (because it is the only way they know) and to call him shit.

    It takes a brave player to keep trying the risky passes and movements when they know they are not coming off rather than take the safe option every time, and the little man should be applauded for that.

    He is the first to admit he is not currently in the greatest form, and hasn’t been for a while, but he is still one of the players that we have who can create something from nothing.

    Even when not performing at his best he still creates chances and chips in with goals, which makes the current critiscism a little baffling.

  69. Fair analysis Matt.

    As I said George, unless you have been subjected to such an act, then y our perception of what is selfish is ignorant. Lets leave it there shall we.

  70. I don’t believe that Frank has been offensive in any way.

    Nobody could deny that Gary Speed seemed a thouroughly decent guy, and depression is clearly a very complex illness, but hanging oneself is undeniably a selfish act.

    For any family to have to find that is truly horrific.

    Anyway, I would suggest Football is a topic that is likley to be far less offensive to anyone, so maybe we should all stick to that.

  71. Haha good luck with that Geo! – Where you travelling?

    I long for the days of spending 3 months island hoping in Thailand!

    Was there for the Chelsea / United double cup defeat, so managed to deal with the pain well!

    Love NZ south island too – truely amazing place. But then, I ruddy love Lord of the Rings, and was closer to a tree hugging hippy at the stage in my life than a mad Gooner…….

  72. Luke ,
    I can assure you I have been subjected to such an act.
    A young lad who my wife and I had adopted and who I loved very much did just that.So please don’t presume to know more on the subject that I do.I can promise you that you don’t.
    And Frank was spot on.

  73. We need to be getting something positive from AA. Right now Chamakh has been out of form for over a year, Park has hardly played and AA has not given us any real positive contribution this season. Something needs to change if we are going to keep up the fight for the rest of this season. Right now we can’t effective rotate any of the front 3 players. Fingers crossed that no one gets injured. Hope our scouts are out looking for some help in January.

  74. I didn’t know George. Lets just leave this ok? I apologise if I caused you offence.

  75. “It takes a brave player to keep trying the risky passes and movements when they know they are not coming off rather than take the safe option every time, and the little man should be applauded for that.”

    Well said Matt, I agree.

    Luke – that sounds great, hopefully we’ll get as far as NZ!

    We’re going to India first, then hoping to head up into Tibet, but I’m under the impression it’s quite tricky for foreigners, and would need a guide wherever we go there. Then after that, head down and across into South East Asia, a tiny bit of Thailand (avoiding tourist bits as much as poss), then down into Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, then eventually down into Indonesia and down into NZ… We have no plans for returning at this stage. I’m doing the first couple of FA coaching badges along with a Tefl Course so hopefully (using my community development charity experience) I can find a way of combining these skills along the way… I really can’t wait, but in the meantime we’ve got to button down the hatches and save as much as possible. Any spare money i have will go towards getting to the Emirates!

  76. Everyone needs to ‘dial it down’ on the Speed situation – the truth is we have absolutely no idea what was going on in Speed’s head. Suicide on any basic level is ‘a selfish act’ but nobody can every truly know what is going on inside someone else’s skin – it is quite possible he was unable to think outside of himself – to externalise his actions.

    Bottom line, regardless of who has the most experience of other people’s depressions/suicide or whatever, it means nothing in this instance. You are not Gary Speed and never have been. No matter how distasteful it seems to right thinking individuals to do it how he did and in the way he did – it does not give you give you the right to judge.

    None of us have any ‘true’ insight on this and it would better, and infinitely preferable, if the subject was left alone rather than moralised about as though we have something important to add .

  77. I agree with Jonny.

  78. Me too – Let’s stick to football.

  79. “None of us have any ‘true’ insight on this”
    On Speed ,no,perhaps you are right Jonny.But it was not about Speed in particular.
    I don’t like being told what I can speak about however.Still ,if that your ruling ,I will abide by it.

    Luke ,Fair enough,Of course you did not know.

  80. Geo, yeah Thailand is a bit pump these days, few years ago, nuggets like Koh Lanta, Koh Tao where perfect. Nowhere near the macdonalds eating, pint drinking, pompey supporting pikeys who have ruined some of the most beautiful islands!

    Never been to India – supposed to be incredible.

    Latin America is the next big venture for me and the lady. Just had a few pals come back from thier third stint of backpacking (f**kers) full of utter praise and some pretty decent stories!

  81. Everyone does have the right to ‘judge’, Johnny. Certainly in terms of expressing an opinion. We all of course also have the right to judge those who would judge. Which you have done.

  82. “Latin America is the next big venture for me and the lady. Just had a few pals come back from thier third stint of backpacking (f**kers) full of utter praise and some pretty decent stories!”

    Totally agree re Thailand. And yes! Latin America is where i’d have liked to go this time, but we thought it would be better to gain some experience and nous in some slightly less dodgy countries first. South America is top of my list that’s for sure. See what happens after our Asia experience..!

  83. Right, off home, have a good one all. Peace.

  84. You are right of course Frank, but some subjects are better left alone, or dealt with in a very careful manner.

    I am actually off now. Cheers.

  85. I think you are right about picking the CC squad. It really needs to be about giving the first teamers who aren’t getting playing opportunities a chance to get sharp.

    I’d go with something like:
    Djourou Koscielny Squillaci/Vermaelen (if he isn’t in the red) Miquel
    Coquelin Rosicky Benayoun
    Park Chamakh Arshavin

    I think Gervinho could come on as a sub again but the rest of the bench would be younger players like the Ox, Yennaris, Frimpong, Mannone,

    We are likely to see a team with Dzeko, Nasri, Adam Johnson, De Jong, Zabaleta, Kolo Toure, Kolarov, Savic, Hargreaves and either Milner or Yaya, if Mancini opts for a relatively strong second team.

    It should be interesting. At home, I’d give us a pretty decent chance, but the main pont is that Arshavin and a couple other players who will still be very important for our chances this season can try to play themselves back into form.

  86. I meant Bill was right on the CC team.

  87. Careful manner, Geo? Suicide is hardly taboo, and this particular suicide is highly topical and football related. Even more so because arguably the most enthusiastic group of football addicts come from an age group which is most vulnerable when it comes to tragically taking their own lives.

  88. Agree with Limestone. Although I would put Miquel at LB. Its going to be a tough game and someone like AA or Chamakh really has to step up and score.

  89. I didn’t see Arshavin or Rosicky in those pictures, but I hope they will both start tomorrow. I also hope Diaby recovers as he would be great for that game as well.

  90. Bill, I have Miquel in at LB, just as you suggested earlier. So it looks like we are in agreement on the team sheet. I could put the Ox in and pick between Park and Chamakh or I would bring AA into the centre in a 4231. But the issue there is that he might play better there but it is unllikely that AW will continue to use him there very often. He needs to re-find his form on the left side of the front three to be ready for when Gervinho goes off to the ACN.

  91. Yes it is topical and football related, and I can’t tell anyone what to do, but I think we can at least agree this is not going to lead to anything good. It’s a dark and touchy subject – perhaps especially so for some people – surely it is kinder and more sensible to move on?

    Suicide should be discussed but this isn’t the forum and I have little doubt we will hear more than enough of it anyway and all form (or bolster) our own beliefs.

    I’m outta here to meet my dad, who is currently dying slowly and incrementally from MND – I’m hoping suicide remains far from the conversation agenda for the evening.

    See ya later…

  92. Is Rosicky fit? Was he on Saturday? If he was, I’d have played him v. Fulham and certainly want him starting tomorrow.

    I believe it isn’t worth playing Diaby if his cameo v. Fulham has given him a slight strain. I’d want him to rest up and be ready to come off the bench v. Wigan and perhaps do the same away to Olympiakos. Maybe he’d be ready for a start then, which would be great because Ramsey, Song and Arteta have played a great deal.

  93. And Ramsey, in particular, looks tired and loses some of his effectiveness and defensive commitment when that happens. We have to be very careful with him. He is only 20 and lost a season to injury. We don’t want him to be overplayed.

  94. Well Well Well.

    Haven’t had the chance to get online after Saturday – but it was great to meeting up with Bob and Yogi, and shame on you Johnny, Muppet, Maria, Spy and Matt for sitting right next to us – even talking to us and giving Irish and Limestone ammunition. Hope to catch up with you all next time.

  95. I was suspicious that perhaps my comment’s were not frequent enough, or perhaps not intelligent or decipherable enough to warrant an audience with the inner circle of ACLF Darius.

    Or perhaps you guys felt the initiation ceremony was beyond a man of my skills?

  96. Limestone:

    I agree about AA. He is one of our most senior players with a huge international reputation and the captain of a major international squad and I think our highest paid player. He has got to step it up no matter where he plays. I doubt the boss will put him in the center of mid field. Hope Ox starts on the bench.

  97. Actually Matt – time just flew by and Yogi, Bob and I just chatted along with our mates until we broke off to go to the game. Though Yogi mentioned a couple of times that he’d got a text from you or something.

    Jonny should be more ashamed as he and his mate Chris actually talked to us.

  98. He is a senior player and a hugely talented one. It has been up and down for him the last few seasons and so far he hasn’t really achieved consistently the level his quality, experience, and status would lead us to expect for some reason. But I still believe he can and must make a big difference this season if we are to have a good one. Consider the absolute quality of his goal versus Barcelona at the Emirates last season. We need to see that sort of brilliance from him more often. If he doesn’t recapture that form we could see much more of Park, Benayoun, Rosicky, or the Ox playing in the front three when Theo is rested and Gervinho goes to the ACN. I’d rather see Arshavin as a senior player who has been here a few years showing the way.

  99. Well I was slightly hungover following a night at Brixton Academy, so perhaps I should of made more of an effort hunting people down!

    Next time!

    Glad you guys got to hook up for a beer or 3, It was good to meet the other guys, if not a little weird, kind of like a slightly surreal dating site without the date, fear of rejection and worry of not having anything in common.

  100. JD-G,

    I don’t believe that your comments or attentions are warranted. We need to focus on the players on the field. It is simply none of our f…ing business about the players who are not fielded (be that through injury, illness or fatigue).

    This is where I wholly support Shotta and differ from a number. The concern with an injured player such as Diaby smacks of spite. I say this because either one is arguing that he is good and therefore his injuries deprive and sadden us!! Or else, you are arguing that he should just be ejected because he is constantly injured and not worth waitiing for.

    The problem with the first perspective seems to me to be that we need to assume to know more than Arsene and the staff at our ‘multi-million pound’ medical facility. No, not likely even for those of us with a medical background (be it as patient or doctor!).

    The problem with the second perspective is, well, that it would take a moron to miss the ability of Diaby (not to mention his potential after a run of fitness).

    I do not want to run into another tedious dialogue about the merits etc but cannot understand the negativity and pessimism!

  101. It was a little weird in anticipation but not in execution Matt. Just arsenal fans talking about Arsenal.

    It was Maria i was worried about!

  102. On the contrary Matt, we all have the most important thing in common – that’s Arsenal.

    I do get the weird, nervous ‘what will the others think of me’ thingy though – but to be honest, I think that feeling very quickly disappears.

    It’s a shame my Scouser mate declined to wear the floral red and white bonnet, but we’ll have to force something on him next time.

    I must say he was in awe of the Emirates constantly reminding me that it was the best stadium in the country and probably Europe. He spent more time admiring the pitch and his surroundings, taking photos and occasionally watching the game.

    Ironically, most people seemed to think we were slow and lathergic, but he kept telling me Arsenal were moving that ball at lightning speed and its not what you see on TV or MOTD highlights. It was almost like we converted him to Wengerball.

  103. I definitely agree with Bob – when we met, and same for Yogi too, it was like we’d known each other for years, and our familiarity and respect for each other on ACLF just naturally extended in person.

  104. My comment was slightly tongue in cheek, it was all fine, and good to meet the guys.

    All good Bob, Jonny mentioned he considered bringing Pastie’s based on your recipe, but had decided against it.

    I think Maria was OK, although I didn’t see any sandwiches being offered around, which was a disappointment!

  105. Right – time for the Gym – have a good evening all.

  106. There is an obvious statement I could make about Gary Speed, in the light of the experience you have just related, Johnny. But I won’t make it. Suffice to say that I am sure that your dad finds you a great support. Take care.

  107. Clerkenwell Gooner

    Can’t see Ignasi Miquel in those training pics – is he injured? Hope he plays tomorrow, saw him against Shrewsbury, when he was great.

    Diaby would be good, too, his style is so deceptive – those long, loping steps, and he’s suddenly in the penalty area. Reckon he takes only four strides from the half-way line.

    Hope also that Aaron isn’t too discombobulated by all the stuff around the unforeseen death of the Wales manager. He’s been through a lot, that kid Ramsey. Badly broken leg, then his good mate, Nik Bendtner, goes to the bastard team that did it, on loan. Cesc and Na$ri leave in what turns out to be a devastating summer, plus Jack and Diaby get crocked and are out for months. The makeshift replacements for an entire midfield, Arteta and Chel$ki loanee Yossi, only turn up after the season has started. And now this, the death of someone who had appointed him captain of his national side, tasked him with leading it to World Cup qualification. It’s a lot for a young head to get itself round. Hope Aaron is getting support from the club. I think I’d be quite upset by now if I were him.

  108. …and that goes for Jonny too.

  109. You take care also, George

  110. I think that’s an interesting and perhaps a more radical take on suicide.

  111. Limestone @ 5:09:

    Agreed. I had not even thought about Gervinho away for ACN. Squad is very thin up front if AA does not regain his form.

  112. I agree with bill, regarding squad being very thin. Especially considering, we sold Chamakh, Park, Chamberlain, Benayoun, and Arshavin in the summers. How will we replace Gervinhio, is beyond me! Maybe Diaby can play there is he stays fit.

  113. I must say, the game on Saturday developed serious urgency when Gervinho and Diaby came on.

    I think Diaby should be given a run in the next 3 games against City, Wigan and the Green Blacks. at least 200 minutes in those 3 games will give him a good ‘get back to match fitness’ stint that will give us options.

    Several times at the Saturday game, my Scouser friend kept asking who was No. 2 and who was No. 27 and why the hell didn’t they start the game. He actually gcaled Gervinho a “bad boy” for the simple reason that every time Gervinho had the ball, you got the feeling that something was going to happen.

    Diaby also gave us the unpredictability.

    But more and more, I tend to think that this season, our most influential player is Alex Song. Yes RVP bangs in the goals, but when you look at the stats, and when you see Song in the stadium and how much influence he has, he should be the first name on the team sheet

  114. “I think Maria was OK????”

    Bloody cheek, more like i was a sensation! Muppet will bear witness.

    I did say i would bring sandwiches BUT only if some of the ladies of ACLF made it to the meet up.

    Oh and Darius we are not interested in you lame excuses. This meet up of ACLF was a shambles. Never send a man to do a womans job, I say. The ACLF ladies should take over next years get together.

    Btw the way I am glad to see your well S-G. I heard about your illness and am glad you back and fiercer than ever!

  115. Thanks Bill, for the welcome back I did miss you too. Even though you did always drive me up the wall with you obsession will the defence. You were always the doomer i had the most hope for. hehe

  116. Exclusive first image of the architects design concept for Spurs new stadium

  117. Why don’t you put RvP AND Alex down on the teamsheet, Darius. Joint first. Whilst you are at it you could put Thomas Vermaelen down too. You could write one over the top of the other over the top of the other so that no-one knows which one you wrote first. Except a forensic handwriting expert of course but I don’t think that Arsenal has one of those on the staff.

  118. You are a star, Ateeb

  119. @Maria. I’ll have you know that I defended the fact that I knew you were a class act very fiercely. I’m not having you take my name in vain…LOL

    We actually suggested another get together in the new yeear – perhaps February to give folks time to recover from the Christmas spending and stuff. I would be more than happy for you or Fun or Passenal to take over the organizing so you don’t have to stand in front of smelly toilets looking for an even dodgier Jonny. I must admit, knowing that you guys were sat across the room from where we were is not even funny, especially if you consider Jonny actually talked to us (or his mate rather).

    And btw Jonny, you’re grasp of Swahili obscenities is first class. I’m impressed.

  120. @Frank – it might be better to add Tech 9 to that list and stamp all 4 names on the team sheet in a linear motion. The establishment might suggest you get a very good spine there – but I tend not to use the s word alot.

  121. Maria:

    Still sort of a doomer my obsession for defense has calmed now that we actually play defense.

    As i suspect is true of many of the men on the blog, I always had a virtual crush on you so seeing you back makes me smile. I only wish limpar had not left before I could tell him about my man crush for him. Oh well. May be I can tell him if he ever comes back. 😉😉

  122. Ateeb @ 6:42:

    Having bodies that we can put in those positions does not cure thinness. How many minutes of playing time and how many goals and assists have come from that group? Looks rather anorexic at least up to now.

  123. “As i suspect is true of many of the men on the blog, I always had a virtual crush on you”

    I have 3 pictures of Maria hanging on my wall. 1 in my wallet. Don’t ask how i got them.

  124. William – were you the dodgy guy at The Bailey taking photos of the young lovely lady in black and a pink scarf? Shame on you.

  125. I am so far taking a disproportionate amount of blame for the shambles that was Saturday! 🙂

    I am not ashamed!

    At the risk of getting banned – I’m going to cite a lack of proactive co-ordination from our esteemed leader as the root cause of the afternoons failings. 😀

    At least I rescued Maria!

  126. gary speeds death is a shocking loss to the football community..he was one of the most nicest guys and geniune pros the recent game has seen, not to mention he was a bloody good player and building a rep as a manager..and the media coverage will be long as it sticks to tributes and doesnt dig into the hows and whys and involve the stalking or tapping up of his familys phones then theres no problem..

  127. Will:

    My mental picture of Maria is Eva Mendes with Tina Turner legs. Limpar is a red headed little impish Irishman with a pint in his hand a smile on his face and a joke on the tip of his tongue.

  128. Limpar got caught with a 60″ plasma tv during the riots, that’s why we have not seen him in such a long time. Travelling around Europe my arse. More like trying to take a shower without getting probed is what he is doing!!

    Jonny – one day I will be in London and we will meet for a beer and when we do I shall spend the entire time laughing at the fact that you had the balls to do the same to LSG and I. And do not think I am forgetting about you C’bob, you old rabble rouser!

    And yes the Ladies of ACLF are hereby in charge of the next meet up!! If anyone has a problem with that feel free to take it up with Maria(welcome back you were missed!) FunGunner, FirstLady, TeamSpirit to name but a few.

    Just had a thought. Considering the minor failure in NYC between myself and LSG(his fault by the way) and the EPIC failure in London by too many to mention, I believe the Ladies should be assisted by our resident little Pedantic fucker, AKA George. His attention to detail is second to none and at least this way he is assured of actually getting an invite!! Simples!!

  129. About Gary Speed – a lot has been said about the sadness especially for the grieving family who are going through a very difficult and challenging time right in the galze of the public and the media.

    After the shock and grief, it will be time to ask the difficult questions that no one in the media is prepared to answer. It was only last week that Stan Collymore, a pundit who we all love to hate as a pundit, publicly confessed to a very serious bout of depression, an episode that has kept him away from work for well over a week now. Collymore has to be given a lot of respect for having courage to talk about a serious mental ilness that society goes out of the way to sweep under the carpet.

    It’s time for grieving now in the case of a top bloke, but it will be even more tragic if his death is in vain and the issue of mental health within sports and society in general is not addressed after such a high profile casualty.

  130. As usual, Irish with the common sense solutions. Irish, my iphone stopped working right before the trip so I couldn’t post at the Pig to let you know I had made it in from the airport. Next time, I’ll do better!

  131. So was that Maria in the little black number? Dark haired biddy.

  132. Irish gray:

    You are the closest thing we have to limpars humour now that he has been put away. Hope he is not getting buggered. 😞

  133. I suspect drinking at 7.30 am might have been part of your problem Irish.

    Mind you, we knocked back a few pretty quickly on Saturday.

  134. In addition to that, Darius, the “Secret Footballer” had an article in the Guardian last week about the issue and the new book about Robert Enke, about which there is a good article from Amy Lawrence in the same, just won a big literary prize. So hopefully this multi-media convergence will do some good toward changing sport culture in England to allow for more honest discussion of the issue and help for those who might need it.

  135. @Jonny – to be honest, the system broke down when your Pal Chris literally failed to connect that he was talking to Consols with you standing right behind him. When he asked Consols if he was Matt and Consols responded by saying no – then went on to say we were also looking for some friends, Chris should have joined the dots.

    If you were stood where you said and had a beeline to the door, you most definitely saw Yogi, Consols and myself all the time you were there.

    @Bill – Eva Mendez with Tina’s legs is a plot.

    @Irish, George will literally wear an ACLF hat I suspect or carry a sandwich board with all our names. The next meet up isn’t far off, possibly in late Jan, early Feb.

  136. C-bob, from the sound of it, Irish got started much earlier/later than that!

  137. as for the squad being thin..its not..
    not in defence and midfield anyway..weve had injuries all over the park in these positions and everyones pulled together and played there bollox off..we are pretty strong..
    they are just reaching fatigue levels now due to the determination in the league and the cl..
    topping our group with one game left and the accumulation of points in the league in the last few weeks is testament to how hard they have worked..
    we have missed jack, diaby, rosicky, sagna, jenks and gibbs recently achieving and maintaining this run… so options to rotate has been minimal really..but the players available have stepped up..

    upfront however we are looking thin..and the chance of rotation isnt minimal, we have the players to rotate they just aint performing like the rest of the squad has..unless its the first choice front three..

    i think wenger rested gervinho against fulham with the idea to play him, chamakh and arshavin tomorrow..whether thats still the case i dunno but whoever it is we need a peformance..especially with chamakh and arshavin..i think they owe us a performance..

  138. You tell ’em Darius!

  139. It was a 60″ LED TV – didn’t you pay attention when shopping with the GF?

  140. Chamakh worked hard for the time he was there on Saturday. I think with a run of games, and with Theo and Gervinho playing well, Chamakh will get back into the groove. Let’s not forget that his slump has coincided with RVP’s stellar run in the team – but as and when he was needed during the first half of last season, Chamakh literally carried the front line of the team and he did it very well.

    PS: Consols – I can’t wait to sample your cider. My time living in Torquay taught me the benefits of good ol’ fashioned west country cider. I remember being taken to some outback near Newton Abbot to a pub I was surprised even had a liqour licence – the sort of pub you don’t want to visit the cellar. It took me a while to recover from that episode – but I wouldn’t mind trying something you’ve brewed as long as you can’t dissolve a rat in it or something.

  141. JJ, the question is why has AW been reluctant to make more regular changes? I’d say the fact that RvP had to come off the bench to get a win on one occasion and the fact that we had so much ground to make up that it put extreme pressure on every league match we’ve had. But, if Chamakh or Park can’t get a game even when RvP is on a “red alert” when would we expect them to do so? And how are they going to get adjusted to the new league or recover form? That’s just an example. Take the rest of the front three: Gervinho and Walcott are starters but AA hasn’t found form in the chances he’s had and the Ox is not quite ready. Also, in midfield, only with the return of Diaby to full match fitness (and we aren’t there yet) will there be a player experienced at Arsenal and our way of playing capable of playing for Ramsey, Song, and Arteta besides Rosicky who has not been fit for several games. Benayoun is experienced but not with us and le Coq and Frimps are just getting used to first team football in the PL. I think AW doesn’t yet feel there are lots of great options behind our starters at the moment, though there are promising or quality players there. Those players need games but he doesn’t want to sacrifice league games to bring them up to speed.

    We are lucky we have the CC and a less crucial CL match ahead, and we should use them to develop the OX and give Chamakh, Park, Rosicky etc… games now so they are ready to play well when called upon in the league during the busy winter period before the CL knockouts.

    So I wouldn’t say it is “thin” but can you really characterize the squad as deep in those positions, particularly since two players in the front three (a starter and our first backup to RvP) will be away in January for 3 or more weeks away from Arsenal?

  142. In central defense we look deeper, though playing CB’s out wide (Djourou, Miquel) does put a bit more of a strain. I hope Santos stays healthy and I think he could use a rest tomorrow night. Obviously we have lots of decent backups behind WC in goal.

  143. Darius, I think Chamakh can play well but he obviously needs to play some games since confidence seems to be an issue. But even so, once he gets back in a groove he’ll be off to the ACN! So, frankly, I think Park needs the games more, as we may have to rely on him at some point to give RvP a rest in January.

    The only alternative to this that I see is letting Theo play centrally. I’d give it a try, in which case, I hope he gets a couple games there, maybe Olympiakos.

    Unfortunately, with the stakes so high and the competition for CL places so fierce right now, I just don’t see too many chances for that sort of experimentation in the league.

  144. Shame about Stan Collymore.

  145. Olympiakos are desperate for us to rotate because with Marseille and Dortmund being a tough gig, our game against the Green Blacks isn’t a coupon buster anymore – its within reach for them.

    Last time, our reserve team did very well against them – same fixture (Match day 6) 2 years ago, and it was only a rebound from Kyle Bartley’s clearance that landed favourably for their striker to slot past Fabianski. But otherwise, Ramsey run that game from start to finish.

    I think the Man City game, Wigan and Olympiakos is still a good run to give Arshavin, Diaby, Benayoun, Park and Chamakh some serious pitch time as they will be needed more as the fixtures start piling up. Song and RVP both need a rest – and so will Arteta. We also need to use Rosicky more when he’s available.

  146. C’bob – “I suspect drinking at 7.30 am might have been part of your problem Irish.” – It was, to be honest, more part of the solution than the problem, getting up at 6:30am was the problem!!

    MDGunner – Was it fuck!! They say ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. In Limpar’s case they would say ‘Don’t think what is in the box matches the picture on the box’ of whatever he is selling. Although I think we all know what he is ‘selling’ now. 🙂

    Darius – I am trying really hard to be in Dublin mid-January. If that does happen I will definitely be taking in a game at the Emirates. But I tell you now man I will NEVER take a sandwich from George. I like him a lot but I still think he is a serial killer at heart, would not put it past him to poison the sandwiches and then skip back to Blackburn!!

  147. If you must meet in a rammed pub before the game, go to the Auld Triangle on St Thomas Road just down from Fnsbury Park. It is my favourite if I come in that way, but also it is so small that all you have to do is shout out a few names and every one in the pub can hear you. As a contingency wear a shirt with Moopay on the back it should all work out fine.

  148. frank – The problem with shouting out a name or two in a small pub is that you are quickly told(or at least I was) to shut the fuck up or get the fuck out. Especially if you are the first one there of your group.

  149. No Bob, i’m wasn’t the the “biddy” wearing the little black dress, nice to see you’ve got ever female in the place imprinted into our memory though.

    Good day out for the pensioners it seems.

    Btw Jonny’s friend did look a little like he was away with the fairies, not so surprising he didn’t connect those dots.

    And yes Jonny, you are my hero. You rescued me, brought me a drink and made me laugh. Top man.

    Irish, thanks for the welcome back but can i say i read you post from yesterday and wanted to thank you for sharing. Thanks.

  150. Well, I heard that you were going to be there Frank…

  151. Frank heard AIC was going to be there….

  152. @Irish – the met Police are quite good with catching murderers especially since the train service to Blackburn is hit and miss. Didn’t you ever watch The Bill?

    George is fine, and I’m more worried about him bringing John Cross to the party as opposed to him serving dodgy sandwiches.

    @Frank – I suspect most pubs in and around Holloway road will be full anyway and it might be better to meet earlier further afield either around Caledonian road or the other side of Finsbury park.

    So Maria – pull your finger out and organize the next shindig before a home game that still has tickets.

  153. arshavin in full flow is/was world class and is/was a better player than theo and gervinho put together..
    but hes just not doing it anymore..maybe age has crept in i dunno but hes not the player he was and he hasnt been for a while..he doesnt scare defences like he used to..

    as for chamakh he has had the appearances..hes played about 50 times since hes been here and hes scored something like 2 goals in the last 30 so hes getting the gametime hes just not clinical enough..simple as that..had a honey moon period but hes out of his depth here really…

    which is why wenger has had to stick with the pretty much same front three..the ox and ryo have potential but are not ready, even though i would like to see more of the ox, but chamakh and arshavin havent been cutting it so although the options are there on paper wengers not getting the same results on the pitch like he has with the rest of the squad..

    we wont miss chamakhs contriution but we will miss gervinhos and i think we need to add one or two in jan even if arshavin steps up or not cos its looking thin now and it will look even thinner at the start of the year..

  154. I stood at the window and breathed on the pane. Wrote ACLF backwards in the vain hope that someone inside would buy me a drink, Bob.But got moved on as usual. Next time I will sit outside with my cap on the floor surrounded by stick men. Useless at drawing.

  155. Maria – I wonder what Consolsnel would think of this ‘biddy in a little black dress’? And as for Jonny’s friend being away with the fairies, well he was hanging out with Jonny so it kind of makes sense 🙂

  156. Funny enough Maria – Consols and I did discuss what you would do if Alex Ice Cream was there. Would you be as feisty as you are online?

  157. I would very much like to meet AIC, Maria. He seems a generous type.

  158. Would you be as feisty as you are online?

    I would Darius,I can promise you that much.Ask your new pal Akhil.

  159. Just arranging a meet between 10 people was problematic enough Frank, before we worry about long lost dissenters !

    There was a guy who looked like a commie, come to think of it. I’m sure McCarthy would have been in there. Cultured sort of looking. Was that YW ?

  160. I would quite like to meet him, you know.

    ACLF backwards? a man of many talents.

    It’s consolslel, Irish, consolslel, and she knows that I’m hers.

  161. George – I can see you being a feisty one alright. I think I would enjoy a pint or three of the good stuff with you my friend. Not too sure about that Jonny fella though now that I think of it, by the sounds of things you can’t get a word in edge ways. That’s not good at all, at all.

  162. @George – how hard was it to find Akhil at the away pub when we visited Blackburn?

    He wanted me to go to the Tollington which is also a popular Arsenal pub on the other side of Holloway road, but if it was that hard at the Bailey, it was impossible to find anyone from the scenes outside the Tollington. I even wondered how long it takes to get a pint.

  163. C’bob – A thousand apologoes to the better half my man, what’s a simple typo amongst friends? Who, if history is anything to go by, shall probably never meet!? Or at least not knowingly at the time.

  164. @irish – you couldn’t get edgeways into that pub if you tried. Problem is Holloway road doesn’t do quiet pubs on Arsenal match days. Unless you want to cab it in and drink further afield.

  165. Btw Muppet rememeber when Jonny pointed at a guy with a white beard, was that Bob?

  166. Hmm.. I’ll be diplomatic here… I don’t remember that moment Maria. lol.

  167. Not to ruin what could potentially be years of hilarity and finger pointing but cannot those that are meeting simply take a quick snapshot with their cell phone and upload their photo to the blog so people know what they look like? Simples 🙂

  168. Irish – that’d be superb mate – please do get in touch if you make it over.

    There is also a slim chance that I might get across to NY next year. Depends on too many imponderables at the moment, not least my dad. I will just have to see how the year unfolds.

    I gave up trying to second guess the vicissitudes of life a long time ago.

  169. Yes, Darius I would tear into AIC as his the only person i’ve ever intensely disliked on ACLF.

    He was a dirty little parasite, has he been around lately.

    LA, told me First Lady was asking about me, tell her hi from me if you guys catch her first.

  170. Far too intelligent a thing to do Irishgray. Especially on match day.

  171. irish – Consols, Yogi and I simply exchanged numbers and called each other immediately we got in and were together within seconds. Simples. I don’t know what jonny, Muppet, maria and the others were up to oconsidering we were standing between them and the Jezebels at the bar.

  172. Jonny – I was curious from Saturday’s banter on the blog – who taught you such colourful Swahili curse words.

  173. Ogling the jezabels I suspect..until Maria arrived and knocked them into shape.

    Actually, I suspect that that is jonny in his avatar. Is it me in mine? Only one person knows.

  174. @Maria – now that fisty cuffs between you and AIC would be worth paying money for. We’ll also just tell the rest of the Arsenal supporters that he’s a filthy little Tottenham supporter who hates Arsenal.

  175. IG – Bascially, Muppet looked like Robert De Niro, Spy a mature Brad Pitt, Jonny – Paul Walker and Matt was just “OK”.

    Good times.

  176. Well I am from north London D, so I know how to fight dirty, My shank will remain in my purse, only until he starts on Arsene that is.

  177. If 2 people with mobile phones ,in the same pub,cant meet up then ACLF’ers are not as smart as I thought they were.
    It is incompetence on a laughable scale.

  178. Muppet forever modest.

  179. Actually George – I used my mobile phone to get hold of the 2 people I had numbers for. Very simple and competent.

    I suspect the rest came looking for folks in a red and white shirt or scarf.

  180. All this talk has built up quite a thirst!! I’m off to the pub. If you are interested in meeting up for a pint or three it is Soldier McGee’s on 83rd and Amsterdam Ave. Just ask the bartenders to point me out to ya!! COYG!!!

  181. Darius ,So you are not a right Charlie .What is the excuse for the others?

  182. Invisibles record safe for a while longer. Huddersfield lost after 43 games unbeaten (although being beaten in the play-offs doesn’t seem to count for some reason)

  183. @Irish, therein lies the rub, they already had my photo!

    Call me old fashioned but, since mobile phones became the norm, I’ve always found mobile phone numbers are pretty useful when meeting people. 😉

    @Maria – aw thanks – it was my pleasure.

    Chris sometimes gives that impression, but the truth couldn’t be further – he’s a sharp mind and as type this he is currently beavering away at an essay on “Animals, Politics & Justice: Rawlsian Libereralism and the Plight of Non-Humans”.

    At the moment you met him he was very excited about going back to The Emirates. So much so
    he bidded for, and won, an Arsenal 92 away shirt (yellow with chevrons) whilst we were in the pub. Amazing stuff from a Leeds supporter!

  184. Actually George I was the first there and text Matt and met
    Maria I love you

  185. Love you to Spy.

    I was only joking about your friend Jonny, you could totally tell. A young Gordon Brown. lol

  186. George – my ‘excuse’ is that the ‘organiser’ gave me the following assurances –

    “Identifying the group will be easy. Look for anyone who is nervously glancing around the room looking like they are looking for people they don’t know. Failing that, shaven-headed 40-something yob-lite in a grey coat with an altogether more respectable looking friend sort of sums me up”


  187. It did sum up Yogi and his mate actually. His mate must have been the tallest man in the place. We seemed to be a taller goup than most others.

  188. For some reason, I thought the pub would be slightly less busy than it was. A doorman outside on a Saturday afternoon shattered that myth.

    Time did fly by though and if it wasn’t for Yogi advising that our next pint should be at the Emirates, we probably would have continued drinking.

  189. A toady pict politician with a glass-eye and a smile like dead-man’s crevice – I’ve no doubt Chris will be delighted Maria. Lol.

  190. Can’t leave you out Johnnie, ur great fun had a chat with Chris and he is a good guy.

  191. Lots of pundits hailing Lucas of Liverpool. He had a strong game but you don’t see anything like the acclaim for Song who is as good defensively and offers so much more in attack. Just as well. Song is up for a contract renewal and hopefully he flies under the radar and stays with us.

  192. Well I did get you Paul Walker description right. lol

  193. Thanks Spy – backatcha. I think, as Darius put it earlier rather sweetly, there is a decent sense of familiarity and trust amongst the ACLF group – any strangeness of the situation quickly evaporated – making it more of a pity that we ballsed the meeting up a little.

    Hey-ho, gives us more anticipation and impetus to get it right next time.

  194. I had absolutely no idea who he was Maria, I just looked it up – methinks you might need to have a word with your optician! Nonetheless, I’m going to take you at face (and oh! What a face) value and assume you actually meant every word. 😀

  195. Mawkish. This Gary Speed thing. Seems the thing to do is to to get yourself onto the main sports show and explain to the world how upset you are. Funny way to behave. Nothing good is going to come out of this.

  196. Whilst ACLFers were busy playing Where’s Wally in The Bailey, Gary Speed was figuring out how to kill himself after Match of the Day. No warning signs whatsoever. Seems hardly plausible.

  197. I know that there is sometimes a sense of euphoria once the decision has been made, and maybe there are reasons why you would want to be found by your spouse, but even the possibility of being found by your own early teenage children? Very unusual. Risks? Games? Chemicals? Guilt? Hopelessness? I think that it is important for people at large to know, because there really is something to be learned.

  198. For instance iit is not OK to suggest that people suffering from clinical depression are likely to take their own lives. In fact it is almost never the case.

  199. When it is a loved one who does it it leaves you questioning and blaming yourself.No matter whether you could have effected the outcome or not.
    You really do feel you let them down .And nothing anyone says makes that feeling go away.

  200. I am sorry, George.

  201. You’re the(italics) star, Frank. Ha ha.

  202. Jonny @ 9:26pm – “Irish – that’d be superb mate – please do get in touch if you make it over.

    There is also a slim chance that I might get across to NY next year. Depends on too many imponderables at the moment, not least my dad. I will just have to see how the year unfolds.

    I gave up trying to second guess the vicissitudes of life a long time ago.”

    I apologise for not seeing this earlier. I will of course make sure to get in touch with you and any other ACLFer if I do make it to London. If on the other hand you make it this side of the pond first, we will have to slum it at The Blind Pig with the rest of the Gooners over here 🙂

    My sympathies with regards to your Father Jonny. The Girlfriend’s Dad has a very severe form of Alzheimer’s and recently had to be placed in a full-care facility as he is very frail. It is a very challenging and emotionally draining situation for all involved. I admit it has brought both of us and her immediate family closer together but I know we would all much rather have the distance back if it meant her Dad could be his old self again. Stay strong my friend.

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