Fight For Third & Quick Fire Loans On Pre-Match Friday

No Big Al this morning so you’ll have to make do with a hungover self.

Andrey Arshavin was a player who would have offered a different outlet in this weekend’s match against Chelsea. Talking in the Russian media – and allowing for Google Translate’s slack-jawed M.O. – the Arsenal loanee said,

I suffered different problems at Arsenal. I lost the confidence of the coach. I wasn’t sure why. But I wasn’t getting the chances to play.

I’m now with Zenit – and again after the Euros. After the Euros, I will study my future, think about it. And I would like to talk to Wenger before I make any decision.

The suspicion is that will be quite a short conversation. Personally, I cannot envisage him returning to Arsenal on a permanent basis and reading between the lines, neither does he. As for Wenger’s confidence being drained, that will have been fed by the inconsistency of Arshavin’s performance. Yet to find consistency, he needed to play regularly; a vicious footballing circle. In a sense, his four goals at Anfield became something of a millstone; when you have that level of performance so early in your club career, the expectations rise. Subsequent falls from grace tend to be harder than others sustain.

Arshavin was an archetypal Arsenal flair player with his career at the club following a path well trodden by the likes of George, Marinello, Petrovic, Nicholas and Limpar. It seems that it will end in the same way also.

Those that remain at the club are focussing on finishing the season by winning the remaining games. All the while the original Franchise FC – credit to the AISA History booklets by Tony Attwood and Andy Kelly for observing that Chelsea were formed specifically to play in the Football League and have no history prior to this – are in the Champions League, third place is the only position that guarantees Champions League football; it would be a tense night for the fourth placed side were Chelsea to continue with their recent run of good form in the Camp Nou.

Arsène believes the QPR and Wigan results were as more to do with the mental attitude of the players than anything else,

We had a little blip twice I believe for mental reasons. Maybe subconsciously we thought, ‘Ok, maybe that would be a little bit easier’ and if you do not keep a clean sheet against these teams then you put yourself in trouble. 

You give any team in the world a two-goal advantage and it is difficult. Many times we have come back but not always.

I don’t know [how many more wins we need], we just want to win the next one. I believe our target is just that. We have to think that we have been on a great run, we have a fantastic opportunity but we also just need to focus on the next game and win it.

Every team suffers from complacency, twice in two weeks is disturbing but not quite a trend. As with QPR, following the Wigan defeat with a big match is ideal; the players know that their attitude has to be spot on to win, especially as their opponents will be bouyant after their last couple of non-league competition results.

Whether there was complacency I am not entirely sure but it is often a convenient peg upon which to hang a poor performance. I felt that the performance against Wigan was one of those nights where mentally the players were off-key but not through the arrogance that often manifests as part of complacency but what could be described as fatigue, the adrenalin of the win over Manchester City was fed by the visit to Wolves. Had the Wigan match taken place on the Saturday rather than Monday night, that euphoria might well have remained. As it was, the inevitable low after those highs took a toll on the team.

This weekend offers the chance to put matters right. If you didn’t believe me about third, the manager concurs,

Only the third place guarantees you to be in the Champions League anyway.

That destiny is still in Arsenal’s hands, albeit the grip a little looser than last week. ’til Tomorrow.


Posted on April 20, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 108 Comments.

  1. Silver?

  2. Aw crap. The above was supposed to be a link to Arshavin’s goal for Zenit. A nice goal it was. Though there were only about two defencers in the box. No buses? Meh.

  3. The final nail in the coffin for AA, then. Sad – as you say, once you hit that vicious circle of losing form and not getting it back due to lack of playing time it must be incredibly hard to get it back, especially if you didn’t have a long history of playing in the EPL in the first place.

    I think the QPR/Wigan games were exactly that – come downs from recent previous highs; I can remember earlier seasons just a few years ago where we were beating all the top sides but killing ourselves on a mediocre diet of draws and shock defeats to lower placed opposition …

    Chel$ki are there for the taking tomorrow and I can’t wait to get to the ground for this one. Our own players know they need to put in a shift but the Chavs’ hearts and minds will already be halfway to Spain. The only real caveat to that is the loss of Arteta who has become central to our play. Here’s a guy who I’ve admired for years at Everton coming into the side and hitting the ground running. In the light of Cesc’s own recent comments, I now wonder how much better we’d have been these last five years with Arteta tutoring Cesc in the role …

    I don’t see Chel$ki having a hope in hell of beating Borgalona (nice remodelling, from one of yesterday’s posts!); the home side will spend all night flinging themselves to the ground and half of the time it will be in the Chav penalty box so expect a hat trick of penalties, at the very least.

    And Chel$ki won’t have any grounds for complaint as Drogba spent what felt like hours on the ground in the first leg.

    Still getting over the nausea induced by TalkShite’s ‘debate’ on Drogba’s role in that match with the station seriously arguing that Drogba was to be admired for his relentless gamesmanship on the grounds that ‘everybody’ is doing it these days.

    So I’m looking forward to trashing Adrian Durrum’s house in this summer’s riots knowing that he won’t mind, ‘cos “everyone’s doing it …”


  4. pedantic george

    Well,Yogi got up this morning and with no post forthcoming from Al ,has had to hurriedly prepare one.This must have put him in a bad mood and he has decided to wreak havoc with my day.He may as well have called at my home ,and when I answered the door ,kicked me firmly in the bollocks.
    My summer was to be saved by me holding the belief that Andrei would be back.But no!My hopes have been dismissed with “The suspicion is that will be quite a short conversation”.
    Bollocks,is all I have to say.

  5. I’ll provide you with the cocktails, arsenalandrew!
    The other vicious circle is the one YW alluded to. And the one that’s really interested me over the last couple of months. And that is the “momentum” vicious circle. WOuld we benefit from having fresher legs for each of the fewer matches played. Or would the loss of intensity have a negative effect. It’s clear that the intensity is crucial. A vicious circle that mid-table teams are stuck in. We need that intensity. (I know – I do!) and that points to the need for a slightly stronger squad than current. But only slightly. Too big a squad (like City) and the intensity goes again. Gah!
    I cannot wait for tomorrow’s game. I expect a frustrating match. But I’m hoping for an angry Arsenal, and an angry Theo especially.

  6. And an angry george!

  7. Poor George. You should read the comments about your little Russian in Arseblognews. Yogi is mild in comparison.
    Gawd….my stomach is already in knots as tomorrow draws closer. 3rd is all I care about.

  8. Has something changed in WordPress or is YW in migration? I posted with my shortened moniker without the heavy hand of the wordpressers.

  9. PG

    >Bollocks,is all I have to say.

    Indeed. Shame really for I have a lot of time for Arshavin and not a shortage of sympathy. The barracking against United was unwarranted but appears to have tainted the manager’s opinion (finally) of the player.

  10. Very unfair on Limpar? And if the George referred to Charlie even more so imho.

  11. lower cases rule this morning!

  12. I got fed up listening to Naill Quinn in the Wigan game who kept telling us that ‘Wigan playwer x or y did really well to earn that free kick there’. He meant by cheating.

    Ex pros seem full of admiration for cheating. Awful attitude. Savage is another one.

  13. AA could have brought something into tomorrow’s game but maybe not much given the form he had and that’s another reason why the fans area rallying around AOC given some of his outstanding perfomances so far

    On wednesday night we saw exactly how frustrating it can be when playing a smaller side happy to take a draw and putting 10 men behind the ball.Its no coincedence that the goals scored on both nights came against the run of play from similar if not the same position.What is different however is that Arsenal were playing at home to Wigan while Barca were away at Chelsea,talking of which both goalkeepers got the plaudits.

    Chelsea will approach this game like wigan did “let them have all the possesion then we hit on the break” that’s why AW has asked for focus from the players.With some luck on our side we should be able to convert the chances Barca missed or those we created against wigan

    AOC ,Diaby and Coquelin are available.Are they ready?Maybe.

  14. i hope with all my heart that aaron ramsey scores the winner tomorrow.

  15. 11:24 and 11:26 YW. I do have my WordPress password saved on my browser but they were never happy with plain old “shotta.”

  16. Back to their old ways as of 12:26.

  17. Yeah Quinn got on my tit’s too – I know they were the underdogs and all but his overblown praise for everything they did made him sound like a lunatic sycophant and card carrying Wiganophile.

  18. And I’m gunning for Theo, korihikage! He seems to be playing one game influential, one game not, at the moment, is Theo. I’d settle for an Aaron winner though. Obvs.
    Get angry Theo. Get angry!

  19. Quinn was not anti-Arsenal though, jonny. So for that alone, he was a breath of fresh air compared to Robson or Gale.

  20. pedantic george

    Theo when angry reminds me of a furious Bugs Bunny.Hardly a frightening sight.

  21. Ha! True. Better than a headless chicken I guess. And I’m sure it has a positive effect on his game!

  22. No but he went over the top.

    I recall Pleat doing the same thing when we outplayed Real Madrid years back – it was awful to listen to. Undermined the fact that we were a decent team and made it sound as though what we were doing was impudent and outrageous. It was condescending.

    Which is exactly how I would have felt if I was a Wigan supporter.

    Robson is different he works for our club – I fully expect him to show favour.

  23. pedantic george

    Jonny,you seem to be having a conversation with yourself.Are you alright?

  24. Aren’t we all, george.

  25. Far from it George (on both fronts) I was talking to Mingus.

  26. pedantic george

    Sorry ,Jonny,I am reeling with the Arshavin blow.

  27. I want to thank everyone for their helpful tips for my trip to Spain.

    George and Yogi

    I have found at a nearby Goodwill store a western duster. You know those long ankle length coats seen in spaghetti westerns. Today, I plan to sew in an additional 24 outside pocket and 18 inside pockets. Each pocket will be stuffed with pesatas and a small note : conseguir una vida (get a life)

  28. With tomorrow’s game in mind….How do you counter a counter-attacking team? What happens when two teams decide to not commit players forward, hoping to catch the other on the break? Or putting it another way…how can we tease Chelsea out of their predictable strategy and lure them to play in our half? l genuinely would like to know. I always had this belief that Wenger’s use of apparently poor centre-backs was a tactical ruse to encourage “park the bus” teams that they had a chance against us. In fact Senderos, Cygan etc…were not bad players. They were what became know in certain footballing circles as “bait defenders”
    If we try and play in their (congested) half, and move the ball around to create space for ourselves, and if that proves to be as frustrating as it did for Barcelona. And us versus Wigan….how do we draw these crabs out to play?

  29. pedantic george

    mingus you move up slowly and when they press ,retreat slowly back into you own half.Then all of a sudden .sprint forward,running with the ball while your team mates flood forward like a tide of rampaging Mongols.
    Anyway,that’s my theory.

  30. Lets fight for 3rd as if it is 1st.Gives an idea of how we would fare if we were 1st at this moment

  31. Mingus “What happens when two teams decide to not commit players forward”

    Watch Villa v Sunderland and you’ll find out. Actually with the exception of our match and maybe Bolton v Swansea I think this weekends action could be really dull.

  32. There seems an air of worry and negativity at this the business end of the season – bring it on I say. Games like tomorrow are there to be savoured.

    Even if we lose I still believe we can take fourth.

    I’d have settled for that 6 weeks ago and no mistake.

    I also think we have more than enough danger to ask Chelsea some very stiff questions indeed. It is they who should be afraid – there season is still most likely of all to end with nought, except perhaps the FA Cup. Oh and the exciting prospect of playing on Thursdays in the rubbish cup.

  33. We are tactical geniuses. Mine would be, we play it all in our half, including Robin, (an angry) Theo and Gervinho, who don’t cross the half way line. Chelsea won’t know what to do and one by one they lose their shape and venture forwards. Then all of a sudden we sprint forwards, running with the ball while team mates flood forwards like a tide of rampaging Mongols! Either that, or they leave us to have the ball unchallenged and it ends 0-0.

  34. yeah Mingus you got that right lets park the bus and we all play in our half with many players just jogging around

  35. F*ck sake, Mike C*nting Dean

  36. I was nausiated by Quinn’s repeated admiration for how wonderful Wigan were playing. Say it once, maybe twice, but not 10 times.

    Yes, Wigan did play well, but is was mainly defending against an attack to seemed to have not the slightest clue what to do, not for the first time. Wigan were fortunate to get the 2 goals, both of which had an element of luck in them.

    I thought the whole point of getting 3Gs and Ox was to exploit the wings and get behind the defence. With Santos there as well, they should have done that more. With Theo being so completely inneffective, why keep him on? He is always weak when teams sit back and double up on him.

    I think that Chel$ki will play very deep, practising for their rearguard action next week, maybe trying from a quick early goal and then sit back and let us come to them..

    WE simply must not give the ball away deep in their territopry so as to allow them to break away.

    I reackon that almost all the goals that we concede are either from crosses or breakways, which are both our achilles heel (or dud non-penatlies) .

    And please please let them shoot from the edge of the box whenever they get a sniff, and not continuosly try to thread balls thorugh a crowded area. The available players are simply not good enough to do that.

  37. Another great post yogi, even better considering you are hungover. Its been a very long time since I have had the displeasure of being hungover but I remember quite well and admire you for even putting something together. I have said it many times before but you should be a football writer. You would make the worlds best pundit. The only bad thing is that everyone here would hate you and Darius would question your upbringing and Shotta would call you names so may be you should stay where you are.

    We could certainly use AA given our injury situation but I think he was sent on loan to save money. I don’t know for sure but I am confident he is one of the top weekly wages in the club, probably making more then RVP right now. I miss the little Russian but if we use the money we might be paying him and give it to RVP this summer then AA will be doing the club a great service.

    The mental thingy is hard to understand. As Mingus points out we seem to play very well when we have “intensity” but when we don’t have the mental edge we let down. The bad thing about that is the mental intensity we had during that 7 game win streak is not sustainable through a whole season and living for that endorphin high that comes from that intensity means that the lows that follow are a recipe for inconsistency. The boss needs to figure out how to get these players to be successful on a more stable mental platform. The last several years have been a rollercoaster of exciting zeniths followed almost by gut wrenching nadirs and the latter have cost us dearly.

  38. AW please don’t attack for the 1st 90mins chelsea need it more

  39. Paulie Walnuts

    Third would be lovely but I` d take 4th place now if offered.

    I thought Quinn was describing Rorke`s Drift on Monday night what with all the `unselfish bravery` Wigan had on show.

    Arshavin – a real pity things wen`t downhill for him after such an explosive start. I`ll treasure some great memories of his talent & his ability to look up to just about everyone.

    Good luck to him in the future.

  40. Good afternoon ACLF,

    Just thought I’d stop by, partly because it is pouring down with rain outside and I needed some shelter. I have been thinking about our options for the game tomorrow and Arsene’s recent strategy against better teams.

    In tough battles we have used an extra midfield player instead of a wide forward but with Arteta injured and Yossi not being able to play, I am not so sure that Arsene will now go with two wide forwards.

    Does anyone think that Arsene would risk either Diaby or Coquelin to start alongside Song and Rosicky and then use Ramsey on the left? I know many will disagree with that and partly I do also but given our midfield balance is this an option?

    Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs/Santos
    —–Song Diaby/Coquelin
    Walcott van Persie Ramsey


  41. Yogi forgot to mention how much I liked Arsene’s comment that quoted in the post

    “If you do not keep a clean sheet against these teams then you put yourself trouble.”

    So I guess the key to consistent results is playing consistently good defense. Arsene really does know best.

  42. 1st match vs. Chelsea Sagna not available and Vermaelen and Rosicky came on late.

    Mean Lean
    our manager is very predictable: Ramsey for Arteta and Theo, RvP, Gervinho upfront.

  43. pedantic george

    Mean Lean.too late you are(in my best Yoda voice)

    pedantic george | April 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm
    I think Le Coq and Diaby will share the duty .
    Song TR7 ans Coq to start.

    pedantic george | April 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    Le Coq Song
    Theo ,RVP,Ramsey

  44. PG, why are you reading my mind for? It’s just not on

  45. re: Arshavin, His goal against Barcelona. One of my all-time sporting moments. Replayed many times.
    I think Arshavin is/was just behind RvP in wages. Second highest paid player.
    Stewart Robson confidently predicts a 2-0 Arsenal win. stating that Chelsea’s squad players will feel down at not being Di Matteo’s CL choices and the rest will be tired.
    Coq is not ready. Diaby (much as I’d like him to start) will surely be on the bench.

  46. pedantic george

    I love Arshavin

  47. pedantic george

    I don’t know if I ever mentioned it.
    But I do

  48. Haha..Bill…of course that was your favourite line 😀

  49. George


    No more brilliant first time passes/finishes followed by that awesome smile then..

    Im still hoping he has a tournament and a half at the Euro’s and returns brim full of confidence wanting to prove just how wrong everyone were writing him off as an arsenal player

    Or in Yoda’s words..still hopeful I am

  50. Anirudh @ 3:08:

    I do have a thing about our team defense. :).

    Going to be very difficult to ever win trophies when we concede 2 goals to teams like QPR and Wigan. Hard to understand why we do things like that because on paper our defensive players are probably as good as any in the league. There must be an ON/OFF switch somewhere between their ears.

  51. Oddly, I think Arshavin was evolving into a much better two way player this year, doing far more defensive work. Even when he got skinned by Valencia in the “booing” game, he stuck with it and dispossessed Valencia at the 6 yard box. Let that sink in…Arshavin in his own 6 yard box. It wasn’t his fault no one was marking Welbeck.

    But the “lazy” narrative was too strong to overcome. He, like Theo or Gerv, was playing without a real fulllback; Vermaelen was worse at LB than Djourou was at RB. I’d take the Owl back in a heartbeat.

  52. Drogba’s out for tomorrow’s game; presume its a shoe in for Torres who won’t get any change out of Kos or The Verminator.

    Twisted his knee coming into land on one of his dives the other night …

    Now if only Young and Bale could follow suit.

  53. Paulie Walnuts

    Leonard v Hagler , Borg v McEnroe, Warne v Tendulkar – when all time greats meet it is a spectacle to behold.

    So how come Busquets v Drogba went unnoticed on Wednesday night ?

  54. Question. When you lads think about our starting line-up where does your head go first? Attack or Defence? If it was down to you would you approach selecting our starting 11 from an attacking or defensive mindset? Bill, I’m not sure you need to answer that one.

    I only ask because I tend to approach from a defensive perspective. The back 5 generally pick themselves, then I think about a solid pair in central midfield. Which is why I think I disagree with most people who say Ramsey will play in Arteta’s position. I think Rosicky will be the deeper of the two.

  55. Notoverthehill

    Yogi, I admire your disconcerting, dismaying and distressing a certain AA disciple, with the nostrums of a Cross person, translated via и ИА Ореанда-Новости back to the source “Daily Mirror”.

    PG, fear not, I am keeping tabs on AA

    Победители Кубка Лиги KFC встретятся с Андреем Аршавиным

    a min-football competition to be held in Samara!

    It is Cross getting his pants in a twist. There is nothing in the Russian press to support this garbage?

  56. Always feel a little dirty when I am happy that a player like Drogba is out of the line up but I think that significantly increases our odds of winning. In my mind he has been our single biggest nemesis over the last 6 years.

  57. My thoughts are that if Gervinho is healthy he must start. Ramsey on the left wing is fine for covering our left backs, but breaking down a defense that is well set up from the wing is not his game. I think we will have Song, Ramsey, and Rosicky in the middle, with Gervinho wide left.

    With Kos back in the lineup our defense should be fine. I also expect a big game from Theo. He likes to show up in big games against Chelsea.

  58. “In my mind he has been our single biggest nemesis over the last 6 years”

    Thought that was Howard Webb, Bill?

    Yeah, I said it.

  59. Ah yes! Coquelin is in the squad tool

  60. Jonny:

    How about Phil Dowd, or Mike Dean? They all hate us so how can you pick just one?

  61. Limestonegunner

    Markus–given the way formations are characterized (4-4-2, and so on), I always start with the defence, consider midfield and then look at the attackers, just as you describe. But I imagine some must think first about who gets into the attacking positions.

    Since our back line has been so interesting to consider this year with so many injuries and possible ways to put it together, the back five hasn’t been much of a given until Sagna and Gibbs returned and Mertesacker was injured.

    In this match, I think Santos and Gibbs could both play on the left. I don’t predict the boss goes for it but it is a possibility. I think you are right about Rosicky playing deeper but I don’t think that’s the best role for Rosicky, but the problem might be that Ramsey isn’t quite as disciplined and flexible at his age and experience whereas Rosicky can probably be trusted to stay back when needed. He is also a wonderful tackler. I am worried though that our attack will not be as dynamic right now with Rosicky deeper. So if that is how we play, I’d look to the wings for creativity and perhaps start the Ox. Ivanovic is out so the RB will be Bosingwa and I don’t think he will cause as many problems and is also quite vulnerable to a quick and tricky player. It will be Terry and Cahill at the back. With good service I back RvP to break the drought, so I go with the Ox. Again, however, I think AW will go with Gervinho’s experience.

  62. Phil Dowd, Mike Dean or Howard Webb. That’s like having to pick which one of your three sons is (secretly) your favourite!

  63. Limestonegunner

    I don’t think either Coquelin or Diaby will start. They aren’t ready for such an intense match for 90 minutes. Both might be on the bench but probably just Diaby along with either Gibbs or Santos, plus Fabianski, the Ox/Gervinho, Djourou and Chamakh (though if he wasn’t used when trailing Wigan and having difficulty playing through the middle when we could have used crosses and headers, I don’t know under what circumstances he will be).

  64. Limestonegunner

    If the Ox will do his defensive duties, I prefer him because he is in decent form, can cross from anywhere wide or cut inside while creating a good final pass or taking a decent shot. Gervinho is lacking confidence in shooting and doesn’t cross in such a variety of ways, but his movement with the ball is still very unbalancing for defenders. Plus Gervinho really puts a shift in patrolling the wing and helping his left back.

    So the question for this big game is do we want to try to score goals quickly and then bring on the better defender (either Gibbs/Santos or Gervinho) for the Ox at 65 or 70 minutes? Or, do we want to hold down Chelsea playing Gibbs and Santos together (I think not now because it is Bosingwa not physically imposing Ivanovic)? Or finally, have balance in both aspects with an experienced if not in form Gervinho?

  65. pedantic george

    I am not sure if Santos is any less creative than Gervinho.
    But which of Gervinho or Gibbs goes in-front of the other .They could just constantly switch.Yes ,I like it. I like it a lot.
    It will never happen though

  66. I like your thinking Limestonegunner. Tomas to be reliable. And O-C to provide the potency that will be lost by playing Tomas reliably further back.

  67. And GIbbs over Santos as Gibbs can cover a quick Sturridge/Torres break, a lot faster than Santos can.

  68. pedantic george

    ok my new team sheet.

    Sagna,Kos TV,Gibbs
    Song ,TR7

  69. I like it. It won’t do Gervinho’s confidence much good….but there’s always next season for that.

  70. Limestonegunner

    I like the point, Mingus, that Gibbs’ pace will be important vs. speedier Sturridge (and Torres with no power Drogba).

    Interesting one, George. But is the Ox ready for central attacking midfield? It might be less damaging defensively and he could switch around with Santos who likes to come inside. My thinking cap is on, though like you I don’t expect it even remotely likely!

  71. Limestonegunner

    George, I wish the Fans’ Forum were still on Friday–it would get me pumped and prepared for the game. Plus discussion would be more heavily on the upcoming game and less on dissecting the performance, which usually produces better calls and discussion.

    Plus, Friday afternoon I could feel like it was a reward in the afternoon after the work week, whereas Monday afternoon I am usually too busy to tune in.

    Can you use your pull to get it back to Fridays as one of the esteemed regular callers?!

  72. think AA’s time was up a while ago your right destiny is still in our hands but there can be no more blips.

  73. Mingus @ 5:52:

    “Phil Dowd, Mike Dean or Howard Webb. That’s like having to pick which one of your three sons is (secretly) your favourite!”

    Don’t you think that sentence would be better if you inserted the worst “least” in front of the word “favourite”?

  74. I love the idea Santos further forward and OX playing behind RVP. Having our main “creator” TR7 sitting deeper and 4 goal scorers further forward seems like a great idea and I hope we try it at some point. I doubt the boss will try either of those new ideas in this game. I suspect Rambo will replace Arteta, Gibbs at LB and Gerv in his usual left forward position.

  75. pedantic george

    Bill,I think you are right.Sadly.

  76. Limestonegunner

    Well, happily, if we win, George! Maybe experimentation ahead of such a big encounter isn’t such a great idea but makes for good tactical conversation.

    My one new thought is that RvP might be tired. Everyone has a dip at some point in the season and now he is having his; but perhaps it isn’t so strange that he’s played a full season with very few games off for a rest or through injury (pause, silent prayer with eyes upturned toward the inscrutable heavens!). His body can’t be used to this many games. Has he ever played so many in 18 months since December last season?

    With the Euros coming up, we might expect him to be a bit off the pace at the start of next season due to these rigours. All the more reason for others to continue to step up (Theo, chance for more Chelsea heroics!) and for another goal scorer over the summer.

  77. George:

    Not sad at all. May be more then any of you I would love to see us try new things and be much more tactically flexible. However, not in week 35. Chelsea will be mentally and physically knackered and there for the taking. Last thing we want is a screw up because someone misses an assignment. We have plenty of horsepower to beat this Chelsea team playing the way we know best. Save the major experimentation for preseason and early next year, me thinks

  78. Limestone:

    You are ahead of me again. You da man!!!

    Rangers have the best record in baseball, they have scored more runs and given up fewer runs then any other team so far. What fun. Back to back to back WS appearances only this time we win it in 5.

  79. Bill I like that idea (re The Ox) too.

    The kid has the right level of fearlessness – I get this feeling he will be one of these sportsmen who never really doubts himself much. I suspect he’ll go through the same lean spells as others but not lose confidence, and wobble, as some (most), obviously do.

    It’s a great thing to have.

    I used to be a pretty decent pool player, but I was mercurial beyond compare. On a hot streak, I could beat pretty much anything in front of me. But when the doubts crept in they were a nightmare to shake.

    I could lose to these mediocre players who just played steadily, consistently and had way less ability.

    As ever, it’s doubt and the over-thinking that kills you – some players just have a cold certainty to them – often that is better than sheer talent. Put the two together and you have the best in the world.

    To use cricket as an example, Mark Waugh had all of the talent but his brother Steve had all the belief and the mental toughness. Steve went on to be the captain and amass the greater run totals whilst Mark played beautiful innings and took plaudits for elegance.

    Given the choice you knew which one you’d most want in your team – in a pinch Steve would never blink.

  80. re: Favourite son.
    Bill, I tried (and clearly failed) to be darkly comic.

  81. Jonny:

    I really think Ox is going to be our next superstar player. I really hope he works very hard on learning to be a good header of the ball and ends up as a great goal scorer. Full credit to the boss for not throwing him in the frying pan this season. I suspect he was tempted. Although I know absolutely nothing about cricket players I like your analogy.

  82. pedantic george

    I would rather punch Steve than Mark.

  83. pedantic george

    I don’t like AOC ,I doubt he will amount to much more than deadwood and a drain on our resources.

  84. Mingus:

    You probably did not fail, Ask George, I am not very good at recognizing dark comedy. Duh.

  85. Jonny:

    Do you still play pool for fun or serious or have you given it up?

  86. Good spot that earlier:That TV5 was crap at FB.
    The thing that really dissolved my gr*t back in January was watching TV5 constantly push up ahead of AOC. I mean. What the funt was he doing? Did he think he was Andre bleedin’ Santos?

    And what’s this chitter chatter about playing AOC in midfield? What? I mean apart from his Da, and let’s be honest what does he know, who else has been making that suggestion? Back in the depths of Winter I read many expert treatise about how the Ox should be unleashed upon the wing. ; )
    I guess the prospect of Two wide forwards + The Ox + RVP did not excite everybody as much as at it excited me and gr*tloads of others. I don’t think tomorrow is the game for it. It may be while before it happens. If it happens. I don’t know much in truth.

    We do know that Theo has locked down A.Cole in recent games, and prior to that A.Cole supplied the most recent winners for Gazprom-upon-Chelsea. RVP will start. So. What to do with the opposing RB? We shall see. It’s not a decision that’ll decide the game. The game will be decided by the players on the pitch. And hopefully they can ignore Mike Dream like they did last time. I mean, if they can do it once, they should be able do it in every game right? I sure am glad that clubs and players pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to who might be reffing a game as it is obviously of no consequence.

  87. Bill, occasionally for fun these days, but English 8 ball rather than the fat pocket heavy 9-ball you guys play. I do love the game – always have.

    The rhythm, when it clicks, is a great feeling.

  88. pedantic george

    nobody bit

  89. George:

    That was so outraeous that even I didn’t take it seriously.

  90. I took it for a cry for help.

    AA means something different in this context.

    George has a lot of steps to go – still in denial.

  91. pedantic george

    Bill,you know I like a bit of mischief.

    Jonny,you know my heart still bleeds for the little wizard.

  92. pedantic george

    For all our team speculation ,for me the only question is Gibbs or Santos .I think the rest will be Arsene’s usual and predictable choices

  93. George:

    Agree. Suspect he will go with Gibbs depending on his fitness.

  94. I hope Gibbs is back in for Santos.

  95. I actualy get better the more pissed i get when i play pool., i’m hopeless sober.

  96. Couldn’t play pool sober or pissed but confused the hell out everyone by becoming a genius player for that short period in between sobriety and total faculty collapse. If I’d only been able to maintain that precise level of partial toxication I would have been able to take on the entire world.

    And then fighting it.

  97. Limestonegunner

    Bill for your sake I do hope te rangers make it and win this time.

    I predicted a lineup of the usuals a couple days ago. But it is fun to talk lineups and delve deeper into an appreciation of our players’ qualities and their ways of combining.

  98. I thought bar billiards would be more your thing Andrew, or Bat and Trap.

    I used to love playing that on a sunny evening at the back of the pub.

  99. Lol Andrew.

    “Total Faculty Collapse” – great name for a band.

    I imagine their first track would be called ‘Brief Moment as a Deity’.

    I identify strongly with this ‘alcohol to ‘pool wizard’ ratio’. There is definitely a ‘golden section’ of intoxication, where the shackles of doubt are briefly shed, and one operates more through instinct and the ‘eye of clarity’.

    It’s an interesting area of study. The Swedes found that most people are actually significantly better drivers after a pint (2 units of alcohol) than they are sober. Reaction times and awareness improved. The drop off after that was quite severe however.

    Personally I have found my optimum is somewhere between the end of the 2nd pint and halfway through the third.

    I do like Duke’s deluded belief of playing better getting better the drunker he is – many people assert this. Mind you they are usually drunk at the time.

    And wrong.

  100. I just looked up Bat & Trap – that sounds ace.

    I’d be all over that.

  101. And the same Swedish researchers studied Paul Merson’s on-pitch performances with strikingly similar conclusions!

    We’ll need our 12th man on-board and in fine voice today. I’m not particularly in favour of giving the crowd what they want,(especially the self-entitlement moaners) but if playing Oxlade-Chamberlain from the start is a crowd pleaser and as a result unleashes the “12th man” then that could have positive effect all round.


  102. Tight game as expected, I think its fair to say Gibbs or Sagna will hold the key to goals..

  103. I’m only focussing on the positives – 1 point is better than none, LK6 is back, AR16 started a little tentative but you could see how his passing improved as his confidence grew and VAD2 is not an apparition that was really him on the pitch in an Arsenal shirt!

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