Moments Of Clarity: Third, Appeals And Squad Strength

Chelsea’s qualification for the Champions League final has provided clarity to a situation that was long suspected to have existed; Arsenal must finish third this season otherwise there is an uncomfortable wait for the final whistle in Munich. You would hope that the match will be over long before that with Bayern highly motivated to lift the trophy in front of their own fans. That this might cause more pressure than they can bear is a real danger, stifling the Germans even more than the Chelsea midfield and defence will try to do.

For Arsenal, it is a tricky situation. Barring a massive turn around in their goal difference, Newcastle need to accumulate more points over their remaining four fixtures. It is by no means certain that this will be the case with only their final opponents Everton, having nothing to play for. That is not to say Arsenal’s matches are no less difficult. Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion have proved obdurate opponents on their own grounds in recent years with the only victories over each coming two seasons ago. The ground is generally a tricky one for the bigger clubs, not just Arsenal. Each season sees the top six leave with a general record of on average a win or two, a defeat and three or four draws between them. The defeat has already happened this season so Arsenal have the chance to keep up with history this weekend. A point would not generally be such a bad result yet now the context is seen only with the results of others.

What is clear is that third is the only guarantee of entering the Champions League next season; the squad and manager have spoken frequently that this is their target, how their destiny is in their own hands so now is the time to prove it. Nobody said it would be easy and true to Arsenal traditions, they are going about achieving their targets the hard way.

Winning the Champions League is something of a holy grail for the manager and any chance of success will be tempered by his three match ban. That he has chosen not to appeal the harshness of the penalty is interesting: an exasperation with Uefa that any appeal is likely to fail or equally as likely, an admission of guilt? I wonder if those who opine that all players should have their suspensions wiped for finals will join me in noting that managers should not be banned as it generally serves little or no purpose.

Has for example, a team ever lost because the manager was not on the bench? I cannot think of one. Or even that Arsène will stop picking on defenceless referees, an endangered species only trying to do their honest nights work. I’m not holding out any hope of either scenario being taken up.

There is a familiar feeling about the end of this season, not just in the inconsistencies of recent performances. Next year will be better. It will, Wojciech Szczesny says so,

When you play for this Club you want to win trophies. This Club deserves trophies and we didn’t get any this year so it’s always disappointing. I think the quality is there. We all know it – we have the quality to fight for trophies in Europe and this country. It’s just consistency that has been a bit of a problem for us this year. But the team’s getting more experienced and hopefully we’ve got the experience to win trophies next year.

I think if you look over the last couple of months we’re probably one of the best teams in the Premier League. So we’ve got three games to go and we need to win all three and we’ll finish third.

I am not quite sure what else the Pole is supposed to say. Arguing that the squad needs to be improved further before any title challenge can be made is not going to endear himself to manager or team-mate alike. I am not going to indulge in fantasy football manager here, my views have not changed over the years: every single squad needs changes each summer, every squad can be improved. To believe otherwise is delusional and ignores the realities of football.

The manager will not want a repeat of last summer. A valid point was raised earlier this week in response to the piece on Robin van Persie: Arsenal may hold onto him even if he signals he is not going to renew his contract as it makes it more straightforward to sign a replacement with the Dutchman already confirmed as leaving the club. At that level, the players want to know there is a relative cast-iron guarantee of first XI football not that they are competing with the best player in the world (at the moment). Fragile egos and all that.

A big improvement in the consistency that Szczesny speaks of, would come through fitness being retained through the season. How Arsène would love Jack Wilshere to be fit now, easing the absence of Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott. A squad player such as Denilson would be a decent addition. The Brazilian would be a good fit into the side now in these circumstances. This season’s fluctuating form has not just been down to injuries, the mishandled transfer window was a lesson that the club has learned from hopefully. However, the injuries do not help sustain form or improve it where needed. With a plateau coming in the top six teams – many of a similar level whilst Newcastle showing teams can break into the European placings – it is vital that Arsenal stay ahead of their competitors whilst bridging the gap to the top two.

Elsewhere, Nicklas Bendtner does not feel that he wants to prolong his stay in the North East nor is he overly keen on staying at Arsenal. Potentially a good centre forward, the Dane is proving outstanding at burning his bridges. Carlos Vela is more circumspect about his future, preferring to stay in Spain with Real Betis interested, as well as current club Real Sociedad, but if he has to come back to England, he will. Very reluctantly, it has to be said. Meanwhile Jan Vertonghen‘s flabber has been well and truly gasted by the lack of reciprocal Arsenal love and realises that he might not be leaving for anywhere soon at all. So much so that he is backtracking faster than most of us can move forwards. Perhaps he ought to phone young Bendtner and offer a tip or two?

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on April 26, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 162 Comments.

  1. First!

  2. Good, 9gerianGunner. Now read the post!

    And when you’ve done that, go and read about Arsenal’s first ever FA Cup final triumph at:

    http://afchistory.wordpress.com/

  3. Yogi. I wish it was Newcastle that was the major worry. Looking at the fixtures left, it’s that lot up the road that worry me more. That would be a fate worse than death!

  4. YW what you say is true Arsenal has to finish 3rd even without chelsea winning the champions league as this takes away pressure of the qualifiers and makes it easier for potential transfers to take place because many players are lured by the prospect of champions league football before signing for clubs.

    Dropping 8points in 3 recent matches means that Newcastle are close behind.We have the points they have the game in hand.The game against Stoke would be massive assuming Newcastle’s continues.My concern is more about the players who have had major injuries in their careers’, how they would cope against a brutal Stoke side.With the fluency of our passing we shouldn’t have much problems if they are chasing the ball.

    Talking of transfers,its always good to make useful additions to the squad knowing as the past years have proved that we always have injuries during crucial periods.These signings would be better if the players signed can play other positions as well as their natural positions.For example Coquelin has been employed as a defensive midfielder and full back, filling 2 gaps at once.These are the kind of players we need.It would also make sense if the signings were to become the signing of the season far from it for Park and Chamakh who like Wilshere seem to be out since the beginning of the season.

    I hope AW doesn’t hesitate to sign the next world best as their agents always come back to say we were the 1st interested club but lost out due to delay and indecision

    Consistency is achieved when you have match winners in the squad and can easily change anyone who is not perfoming.

  5. gf60

    Really? The worrying bit, not the fate etc.

  6. Assuming the fight for 3rd was actually the fight for the EPL and we were in the driver’s seat with rivals this close behind 3 wins would not be too much to ask.Any extra leg in the team would be welcomed.

  7. Question, if Arsenal finishes 3rd and chelsea wins the Champions Legue, who will play the qualifiers?

  8. Like many, I dread the thought of the drama of the last 3 games. The twistss and turns are not over yet, and as they say, the fat lady hasn’t even run her bath yet and she’s nowhere near leaving home for the theatre.

    Be that as it may, I’m still confident that Arsenal will make it 3rd, albeit giving a few of us suspected cardiac arrests. I mentioned up in here a few days ago that Chelsea will take the path of least resistance to the Champions league party next year by trying to win the final. Getting 4th place the conventional way seems unlikely as they will run out of games.

    I’m still nauseated by the media love in for the way Chelsea parked an aircraft carrier in front of goal and its being lauded as the best football ever seen on the planet. All the “ex” somethings are crawling from the woodwork to share their 2 pennies worth on TV studios and on radio – clearly prostituting themselves out there as “experts” of the Chelsea game and top analysts when it comes to giving an opinion.

    Even Avram Grant has been drafted in to give an opinion about how to beat an opponent in a Champions league final.

    I was thinking though, Chelsea really are a disgrace to professionalism in the way they shafted AVB by effectively downing tools. The minute AVB was fired, the fuckers started playing better.

  9. The Sun is claiming Wilshere will turn down the Olympics in order to focus on getting fit for
    Arsenal – no quotes to back it up mind.
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/4279381/Jack-Wilshere-will-snub-Olympics-to-get-fit-with-Arsenal.html

  10. Ridiclulous request that all suspension be forgiven for the final. In that case why have any yellow cards at all or red cards for the matter. Might as well let the players carry guns into the pitch.
    As for Arsene’s suspension, he knows he cannot win against those dictators,unless one is fromBarca,Chelski or RM. They had their employees suspension reduced or otherwise upon appeal. A case in point of Drogba and Ballack a few years ago. Their threatening behavior was appalling. Even though the ref was the guilty of partiality, they got away with lighter sentences. Another case was Henri’s questioning Graham Poll afetr the Newcastle match and got 3 match suspension, whereas, Rooney F”””” Poll throughout the game, and he and Poll walked away happily. Perhaps Poll loves a good F”””””””.

  11. As for Bendybus – he can do one.

    I’d happily see him offloaded for free; if it meant losing his wage bill, never having to think about him again or listen to him whinge about my club who paid him so very well and have him so many chances. It would be a step backwards to welcome him back in the fold – I don’t get the feeling he will be missed by many at either club.

    That said I’d be delighted for him to end up playing for another rubbish football lower-table outfit, preferably with a Nazi, authoritarian, officious manager. Liverpool for example.

    THEN he’d know how good he had it under Arsene.

    By contrast I’d be happy for Vela and/or Denilson to return, but I’m sure they want to play regularly (they’d be squad players for us) and both feel more suited to continental lifestyle/football.

  12. “Might as well let the players carry guns into the pitch.”

    KC – thanks for that laugh – you seem to have grasped the idea very clearly and responded in a sensible, commensurate fashion. Lol.

  13. YW, Re: Jack, do you think The Sun is using you as the source? The only one I am aware of that called it yesterday was you.

  14. Darius what planet are you on this is a results based business and Chelsea got the result. Barca (the best team in the world) couldn’t hold on to or improve a lead against 10 men.
    As I said yesterday third place is in our hands and if we don’t get it we have no one to blame but ourselves so lets stop all this sanctimonious hand wringing bullshit and cheer Arsenal on to third place. If the team take the attitudes displayed on here to Stoke or any other pitch they might as well stay on the coach.
    Come on the Arsenal

  15. Good post – and there’s a reason the business end of the season is known as the business end of the season! There are even fewer gimmes than the rest of the year, usually plenty of fatigue and injuries to deal with and a tidal wave of fan based expectation, to boot.

    We’re not too badly placed with Arteta’s loss probably being the main worry.

    But if we are feeling the pressure how must the Spuds, Chavs and Geordies be feeling; at least we are in pole position …

  16. It would be very hard to argue that winning the CL isn’t more of an achievment than finishing 4th in your league, so should the worst happen, we could have little to complain about.

    The bottom line is, we have got ourselves in a good position to finish 3rd, and it is now up to the squad to be professional and get us over the line.

    If we don’t we only have ourselves to blame.

    The Stoke game on Saturday is massive, they have nothing to play for, but we all know how they raise their ‘game’ against us, and love putting one over on the southern softies.

    7 points should be enough, so a draw wouldn’t be the end of the world, but we don’t really want to have to go to WBA on the last day needing a win, so a victory on Saturday would be more than welcome.

  17. Our situation does indeed have the virtue of simplicity. It’s third or nothing and we have to win every game to be sure. (And Robin has to win the golden boot as well, please.)

    Who are these “delusional” people who don’t think our team could be improved? I’m not sure they exist. There will be improvements to the squad – we try to do that every year, so why should this year be any different? (We even know already who one of the new players is.) There is no side on the planet which has every eventuality covered. Barca are the most successful team in the world, but they can’t cope with every situation. Building a team is a constant drive towards unattainable perfection, so every manager will be looking for improvements, or plugging gaps – including the manager who wins the league, and regardless of what his club spent in the previous year. But when the season starts, the public hankering after new players and wishing current players out of the door should end. That’s the key.
    The statement that the squad can be improved is not a contradiction of the statement that we are good enough to win the league. (The second statement may or may not be true, but there is no contradiction between them.) What is very pleasing is that the side now seems to have a solid core and a better balance between young and experienced players, and in the variety of types of players. Both team spirit, and the mentality of players in key positions have improved.

    Until the publication of the book the manager is threatening/promising to write, none of us will know what went on behind the scenes last summer, but we do know what played out in public. I’d be interested to read in more detail about what you mean by saying we mishandled the transfer window.

    Arsene may have gone over the top about AC Milan’s pitch, he may have been rude – but he was telling the truth and a three-match ban is just UEFA flexing its muscles and making an example of him. It’s not worth appealing if their pride is at stake because they’ll just take it out on him/us at some other stage. People in power will forgive almost anything other than causing them to lose face.

  18. Buckagh,
    Yes you’re right. Football is a results based business. However we are talking about Chelsea here. A club with absolutely no shortage of resources. Isn’t it incumbent on those that have to give a show? One can forgive the likes of the Greek national side at Euro 2004 or Steaua Bucharest in the European Cup final in the 90’s for their negativity and poverty of ambition. They had limited resources and were seeking to maximise them. When this doesn’t apply to teams and clubs, I’m afraid it smacks of a smalltime mentality.

  19. I doubt a touch line ban for a manager has ever altered the result of a game.
    The threat of it may conceivably have deterred the occasional manager from shooting his mouth off in an embarrassing way in the future.

    We shall see.

  20. @ arsenalandrew
    It’s easier for them doing the chasing than for us being chased, but we have the experience and the belief. I knwo AW likes to call the PL campaign a marathon but this bit of it is like the last 15-20 metres of the 100 metres sprint – the winner is the athlete who a) loses speed least quickly b) holds his/her technique and c) keeps concentration. that’s got to be us, basically!

  21. Clockender
    I have to get some work done but will get back on this

  22. Buckagh,
    You and me both. The tyranny of economic necessity……

  23. pedantic george

    YW,
    I suspect some of the binned miserable feckers are sneaking in through the back door of wordpress fiasco
    .
    I think Jack will bend to Arsene’s will.

    If we keep RVP without him signing a renewal ,it doesn’t mean he cant stay at the end of next year.It just means he will get a big signing bonus ?.

    Someone told me the other day that there were mixed messages coming from his camp.
    Well that is to be expected.He must maintain a degree of uncertainty ,or else he will weaken he negotiating position.

    Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes and the Arshavin related gifts.ACLF is a wonderful place to make friends.

  24. pearce, is a racist bastard who needs to be slapped down a peg as he is well above racist station. He like the rest of the media hate Wenger because he is French.

    How the hell can you want to take a player who has been injured for his entire domestic season? wtf!?

    I believe Jack will be telling his the caveman that he ain’t going to no Team fking GB. What a joke. Last thing I heard is that Scotland are in the process of getting their own independence and Wales are doing the same. Go to Swansea, stand in a busy pub and talk about Team GB and see what happens to your face and ribs. Team GB what a fking joke that ain’t funny.

  25. Dennilson, may have improved for all we know and I am betting that is the case. Yes he had some awful games where side ways passing took on a whole new meaning but, I do recall him having a couple of solid games with some crunching tackles included. In fact iI would go as far as saying he likes a crunching tackle 1000xs more than Song does but, his speed was a major worry for me. I think e should be given the benefit though.

    As for bedtner…Please fk-off.

  26. “However we are talking about Chelsea here. A club with absolutely no shortage of resources. Isn’t it incumbent on those that have to give a show?”
    Ha! That’s the problem with Chelski. When they have tried to play expansive football it has failed. Mourinho’s departure was, in part, said to be to do with their turgid style of play not pleasing the owner.
    Scolari and AVB both tried to open the game up – but could not make it work with the players they had – neither were given time to build their own sides.
    Ancelotti meanwhile had Chelsea purring like a kitten at first, but that unravelled dramatically and when the results went far enough south that CL qualification was in danger the writing was on the wall.
    Roman doesn’t have the patience to allow good managers time to build a ‘new Chelsea’ and whilst they are stuck with some of the one-dimensional louts who form the bedrock of the team playing any other way than that which they are does not play to their strengths.
    Frankly, I find the whole thing very amusing.

  27. I trully think that the club will try and get some business done early.

    As for our quest for third, let us take it one game at a time. Let us try and get three points at stoke (which i think is imperative) and see how newcastle and spurs fare in their weekend and midweek games. Should they drop points, all that could be needed is a win against norwich.

  28. pedantic george

    Here is my prediction.If we finish 4th Chelsea will win the CL.
    One thing I have come to accept ,this last few years,If it can go wrong for The Arsenal,It will.

  29. Well done Chelsea, you did the job you are being paid for for two consecutive matches. And despite dropping out of the top 4 have achieved your minimum requirement of making the CL final and now Roman will not have your knackers chopped off. But can we please stop using the words hunger and desire when talking about them.

    This is hunger and desire:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/apr/16/borussia-dortmund-bundesliga-title?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

  30. And the nightmare continues

  31. Johnny Neale @10.38,
    Precisely. Chelsea are still Mourinho’s team, playing Mourinho’s football. No matter how many brown-nosing journalists seek to obfuscate Drogba’s diving, Terry’s cheating and Chelsea’s general footballing negativity through the prism of good old “English” (abstract) virtues such “Heart”, “Passion” and “Commitment” (because these can’t be true of Johnny Foreigner clubs like Bayern……) as opposed to those insidious Dago traits of technique and skill, anyone with a pair of eyes and a central nervous system hooking them up with the brain can see that they are essentially Stoke, or Birmingham (in the McLeish incarnation) with knobs on. Stoke and Birmingham have an excuse because they are small clubs from small towns with no money. Chelsea have every conceivable advantage but choos to do the easy thing in terms of their football. Such poverty of ambition……

  32. sorry if im being pedantic, pedantic george but if i remember rightly we have qualified every year so whats gone wrong there ha ha

  33. pedantic george

    Dr Nick,I don’t get your point.Please expand.

  34. Clerkenwell Gooner

    Wow. I am still gobsmacked after last night. Thought it was nailed-on for RM this year, La Décima and all that, so many world champions in that team, and with CRon’s record goal tally, plus the team’s La Liga record-breaking goal tally this season.

    This RM collapse almost as significant in its way as Barça caving to Chel$ki. Not that Neuer, Robben, Gomez, Schweinsteiger and the ghastly Ribéry (Franco-German version of Barton?) are not deserving, but apparently it’s a troubled team (Ribéry and Robben recent fisticuffs), and I really didn’t expect RM to be overhauled on their own pitch once they’d notched up a two-nil lead.

    Perhaps with four RM players risking exclusion from the CL final if they were to incur a further yellow, they had to play with the brakes on a little too firmly?

    Shame, as I would have liked to have seen RM-Chel$ki, if only to watch Mou’s head implode as Torres buried another freak goal. Boy’s got his confidence back, he’s going to be dangerous from now on. He can start by doing us a favor and taking Newcastle out of the running for 3rd.

  35. Great mediawatch article on the endless spin, lies and distorted world of Harry Redknapp http://www.football365.com/mediawatch/7706535/Mediawatch

  36. PG

    Don’t encourage them. And no, I didn’t get his point either.

  37. I don’t see any evidence or likelihood of Torres being dangerous form now on.

    On the contrary, he has looked as though is about to turn the corner on at least 3 occasions this season but then has slumped back into the usual malaise.

    He did naff all in that game – he didn’t come on till the last 10mins and latched onto a hoof upfield which he admittedly finished well. I suppose it’s possible the importance of the moment will buoy him but if he turns any more corners he’ll be back where he started…

  38. Nice post, YW. Re your comment about AW’s hopes for CL success being tempered by his suspension – are you suggesting it will have an effect? Seems like in your next paragraph, you are arguing it won’t (I agree with the latter). Sorry if I’m straying into Pedantic George’s territory… (speaking of whom, belated Happy Birthday!)

    I like to look at these last three matches as a dry-run for a title challenge next season. We are, effectively, in the same situation as Utd* and City: win our remaining three matches and we win (okay, they win the League; we only win the race for third place, albeit with the nice reward of CL qualification).

    If the team approaches these matches with the mindset of ‘it doesn’t really matter, it’s only third place’, it would be a big mistake. Instead, I hope they imagine that they are playing for the League title, with all the nerves and emotion that brings. The fact is the best teams usually find a way to win, regardless of injuries, form, quality of pitch, referee’s dodgy decision-making, etc. That is the priceless quality United have shown over the last few years; we need to prove we have it, too.

    * For United to win, they also need to overcome the goal-difference deficit.

  39. Can someone disable that steering wheel please? Torres starting to turn corners is the last thing we need. Chelsea are fully well on their way back to mediocrity, having Torres somehow find his feet and start to score regularly would prolong that process unnecessarily.

  40. Yogi.

    Great post. I think we will hold on to 3rd place. 7 points should be enough and in truth none of our last 3 opponents have a great motivating factor. None are in danger of relegation and none have a realistic chance for European football. We should take 3rd easily if we play well.

    I think this summer will be critical to our chances for next year. Coming off a terrible finish the season before and then seeing what happened in the summer was certainly a disaster for the squads confidence. Arsene is the face of the club and the only football person in upper management so the default position is that he was the one calling the shots. Either way it doesn’t matter because whomever was running the ship they lost control of the rudder and as you say hopefully that was a lesson learned and will not be repeated.

    I would love to see us strengthen the squad this summer adding podolski would be a nice start but i think we need at least one more attacking player. In reality we will finish the season 18 – 20 points behind the leaders. There were certainly some mitigating factors but that’s still a huge gap. Outside of RVP our front 4 attacking players have not scored enough. Theo has 8 league goals. Gerv has 4, AR and Ox have 2 each. Still lots of question marks. TR7 has been great but can his body hold up thru a long season with a congested fixture list? Defense looks pretty good personnel so that’s a plus. Hopefully we can resign RVP and get our other business done early.

  41. I like the idea of that This is my Jam Website Jonny – I just joined it from seeing it on your TL.

    Cool idea.

  42. Interesting and unexpected match up for the CL final. I hope that Bayern pimp slaps Chelsea. Go figure why Eufa decided to have these 2 as finalists. Perhaps Bayern as a “home team” is a good story line, but Chelsea???, Barca would have made a lot more sense. I am sure there is some serious head scratching at the conspiracy theorists headquarters.

  43. Sorry to go off topic, but…

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/ladies-news/tickets-still-available-for-ladies-clash

    Got to be worth a fiver, surely, for anyone living in London.

  44. @ Evil | April 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Can someone disable that steering wheel please? Torres starting to turn corners is the last thing we need.

    At least not unless they’re playing Newcastle.

  45. In my post at 2:16, I forgot to mention we also need to settle the back up GK situation. We would do well to have an experienced and quality back up. Nothing could derail a season faster then Wojo getting hurt. I would love Fabianski to stay on as the back up forever. I still like him and suspect that if given the chance he could be a very good #1 for us. However, if I were him and Manu Almunia, I would certainly be looking for greener grass somewhere else.

  46. pedantic george

    Bill,what more could they do?
    Send a player off and award a penalty?
    Oh I forgot.They did,
    Short of the Ref scoring for Barca.he did all a good Eufa representative could do.

  47. George @ 3:20:

    I didn’t watch the game but wasn’t there a Barca goal that was called offsides. Surely more could have been done.

  48. pedantic george

    Bill it was flagged before the ball was put in.So that was a no no.

  49. third is certainly a must so is nine points from three games starting on saturday.

  50. pedantic george

    I am convinced 6 point will be ample.
    I would bet my scorpion supply on that.

  51. Matt – re This Is My Jam, I think has promise. It is still in beta at the moment, but has already picked up well over 10K followers – without any promotion. I think there is some work to be done to improve it but there is an interesting article about it here.

    http://www.nme.com/blog/index.php?blog=1&title=this_is_my_jam&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    Anywho, gimme a follow and I’ll follow you back. 🙂

    In terms of using it, I think it only starts to come into it’s own once you have followed a significant number of like-minded souls. This bit is tedious but once you have enough people to follow then you can start using it as a playlist to find good old and new tunes.

  52. Well lets get those 6 in the next 2 games and find out that way.

    Wouldn’t want to dent your ‘scorpion supply’ unnecessarily PG.

  53. George:

    Real vs. Barca would have easily been the most hyped and most watched and most advertising friendly money generating CL final in history. I’m sure it was a huge temptation. I guess now they can do whatever they want for the next few years and when anyone questions their integrity they can point to this year as evidence that everything is on the up and up.

  54. Well Vela’s definitely not coming back. Not the most helpful words, for your parent club getting the best deal Carlos!


    Vela has been a success in Spain notching 11 goals in 25 league games for Sociedad and although the 23-year-olds current deal expires at the end of next season, Vela has no desire to return to north London this summer.

    “Wenger is the one who must make the most important decision,” he said.

    “If he tells me I have to leave then I will look at my options. If he says I will stay then I will fight him.

    “My intention is not to return to Arsenal.

    “I don’t know if I’m going to stay here at Sociedad. I don’t know what will happen in my life next year.

    “My registration belongs to Arsenal and I can’t tell them to give me away as a gift to Sociedad because Im happy here. They will want something back after all those years.”

  55. @evil: Chelsea cannot catch us unless we drop points in 2 of 3 matches, which means we’ll have bigger problems than them. I’d love for Torres to score a hat trick against the Toons. Hell, I’ll take Na$ri scoring a hat trick against the Toons if it means we get 3rd.

  56. Your being followed Jonny, so I am relying on you for some rare, and not so rare, classics…

    I warn you now, you will get all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff from me.

    Looks like a great idea though – so would recommend anyone else who likes music to get on it – and follow Jonny and I of course!

  57. Jonny – the link takes me to some NME article but how do I follow you?

    A Dinosaur.

  58. YW,

    Good post at a rare AFC moment of quiet. Sorry to go back in time but can you shed a little more light on your comment concerning Jack yesterday. I know it’s late but I only just noticed it and I’m not altogether certain about the statistical details that “urged” an ignored need for his ommission:

    “That the youngster has missed this season is not down entirely to England; Wenger pursued his policy of including him even when his own GPS statistics urged caution.”?

  59. El Hadj Diouf

    “Who is Warnock? He’s nothing to me. He’s not Alex Ferguson, he’s not Arsene Wenger, he’s not Sam Allardyce or an important manager. I know he doesn’t like me, but it’s the same for me too – I don’t like him” – El Hadji Diouf , 13 January 2011.

    “I can’t stand him. He is not a good manager. Nobody has heard of him outside of this country so who cares what he thinks about me” – El Hadji Diouf, 26 November 2011.

    Diouf linked with move to Dirty Leeds – 26 April 2012

    “I have the utmost respect for Neil Warnock and I’d be delighted to help Leeds gain promotion to the Premier League” – El Hadji Diouf 27 April 2012

  60. Andrew you have to join up to This Is My Jam

    http://www.thisismyjam.com

    Whereby you can post your favourite song of the moment, for the delectations of others.

    You follow other people who have similar tastes (in the same way one would Twitter) and in the process you build up an ever changing playlist of other people’s ‘Jams’.

  61. pedantic george

    Andrew,Goodness knows you dont want to be listening to Jonny’s taste in music.It is truly horrendous.

  62. George, I doubt you can even remember/name any of the music I like!

    Besides a put down from you probably serves as a ringing endorsement. 😉

  63. Jonny, quotes from the future. Amazing media coverage.

    Diouf claimed on 26 April he was very keen on moving to Leeds despite history between him and manager Neil Warnock, which previously involved Warnock calling him ‘lower than a sewer rat’ after an incident involving Jamie Mackie.

    LOL

  64. Heart-Breaking Quote Of The Day
    “A lot. I miss his happiness, even on the pitch” – Abou Diaby responds when asked if he misses Emmanuel Eboue.

  65. Markus – yeah – the full set of quotes were in the Mediawatch article I posted earlier –

    “For many years I’ve thought he is a gutter-type of boy and I was going to call him a sewer rat but that might be insulting the sewer rats. I think he’s the lowest of the low.

    “I can’t see him being at Blackburn much longer because I can’t see Steve Kean putting up with someone like that in the dressing room when he’s creating a new image. I think he’ll be the first to go. Good riddance. I hope he goes abroad. I won’t miss watching him. Sign him? I wouldn’t want to talk to him.”
    ————-
    And here’s what ‘Dioufy’ said in response: “This guy Warnock talks a lot of s*** and everyone knows he talks a lot of s***. He wants to put himself on the front page of the paper all the time but no one is interested in him. Every time we see him on TV he talks s***.

    “You see managers talking, like Ferguson, Wenger, Allardyce, Villas-Boas, and you listen. But this guy? What has he done in his life? Nobody knows him…

    “One day I will catch up with him and we’re going to talk. If I see him face-to-face, he’s going to know what I think about him.”

  66. Cheers Jonny – will give it a go; sounds like an excellent concept.

    I wonder if our ACLF resident broadcaster, Mr Black, S, will give it a go; the discs he spins on that there show of his are always well worth a listen (I like to think of them still ‘spinning discs’ down there in the West Country; not because they are in any way ‘backwards’ but they have an admirable reticence to always go with the flow).

    (Thanks also to PG for the auditory health warning!)

  67. Limestonegunner

    Good rundown, Bill. Right now I am a bit concerned about Stoke. While a point may be enough providing other results of close competition I’d like to see is take care of business at the Brittania and not leave us with everything to do in our last two games. Nothing would set us up better than stuffing them.

  68. Limestone:

    Stoke is always tough and I worry about them the most of our remaining 3 games. A draw would probably be adequate but they really have nothing to play for and we have a lot riding on these last 3 games. A loss to Stoke would really ramp up the pressure for good results in the last 2 games and I don’t want to go there. I would love to see us win the last 3 and finish the season on a high note. Hopefully it will carry in into next season.

  69. pedantic george

    Jonny,I certainly wont listen to it twice.

  70. @BILL

    I agree with you except I think that our players do understand the magnitude of what is at stake and that 9 points from our last 3 matches is vital and will also be a great stepping stone for next year. I do think that while Stoke will be tough, we will get the goals while still keeping a clean sheet. Remember doesn’t matter if we win 1-0 or 7-2 3 points is 3 points and our goal differential is enough to keep Newcastle at bay.

    All arms on deck, cannons loaded and raised, READY! AIM! FIRE!, only thing left standing at the Britiana is peter crouch and thats only cause he’s 9’2″.

  71. Limestonegunner

    There hasn’t been too much talk about the Stoke game as yet. With all the big CL matches, we’ve been distracted watching the drama. But hopefully the team is very focused and determined.

    Stoke away has become a bit of a special fixture–a culture clash mixed with bad blood between us. I think Stoke will be up for it regardless of their position in the table. We have to be on our guard and fully concentrated. It will be a pretty physical battle, as usual.

  72. jonnyneale | April 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Consider the source! Always treat translated material with caution.

  73. More Robin Van Persie

  74. And again:

  75. C:

    I have no doubt that our players understand the magnitude of the games. Holding a clean sheet will be tough because they always find some way to manufacture a scrappy goal against us but I think we will win either 2 – 1 or 3 – 1. A win would go a long way towards sealing 3rd place. We will miss Theo but it will be interesting to see who does play out wide. Yossi should be back in the starting 11 but who will start on the other side?

  76. & for those who might have missed it, the full PFA award presentation – This link is from Realsocialdad’s vid. library.

  77. @bill

    Yea i was just saying it doesn’t matter how we win as long as we win. I do think that Ox will play out wide and maybe Gervinho on the opposite side as I could potentially see Yossi playing centrally but either way whoever starts and plays we need 3 points.

  78. Thanks for that vid finsbury. That was shown in the US as far as I know. A well deserved award for RVP.
    I have a feeling that he will be treating us to a few more goals over the weekend.

    Whats up with the black Tuxedo jacket with brown trousers and shoes, Gullit?!

  79. was “not” shown…

  80. I hope RVP gets a couple of goals against Stoke. No way that anyone else deserves the Golden Boot.

  81. buckagh | April 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Darius what planet are you on this is a results based business and Chelsea got the result. Barca (the best team in the world) couldn’t
    hold on to or improve a lead against 10 men.
    …………………………. If the team take the attitudes displayed on here to Stoke or any other pitch they might as well stay on the coach.
    ————————-
    Very true man, your attitude sucks Mammoths balls.

  82. Bill

    I know you Yanks like your bad guys to wear black hats and your good guys white, but please. Does everything have to be sooooo simplistic for you to understand it? Because the chavs beat barca that disporves there is any dodginess in the game?

    You still don’t get it.

    Time for you to saddle up and mosey off into the sunset pardner. 🙂

  83. so i guess that rampant diving is a core facet of the CL experience 🙂

  84. Dexter, Bill is trying to convince himself.

  85. Don’t know if anyone here has ever watched athletic bilbao – they knocked out man shite in the europa league, they are one of the most entertaining teams i have ever watched, along with arsenal of course, and for me this is what football is all about, forget the money, players or rivalry but the entertainment value cannot be quantified, i know trophies bring pristege but what is it worth when you achieve such success through oil money with a style of play that most have originated from the jungle and practiced by clubs like chelsea? The answer is NOTHING.
    Watching this bilbao team has reminded me why i fell in luv with football in the first, cheers to those beautiful bastards, salute!

  86. Correction, must have, fucking brain freeze guys.

  87. No Wiz you had brain freeze when joining the clueless mob in slating Theo. but i agree with you about Bilbao they are a great team and great to watch. can now see where barca got their style from the cheating theiving barstards!!

  88. I aint forgotten that shizzle either Dukeyg…. Not sure about the dude myself.

    Think George’s suspicions are right about a few new uns on here.

  89. “Man City have controversially tabled a £30 million offer for Howard Webb but Sir Alex Ferguson said he is going nowhere.”

  90. “Have you seen Andy Carroll’s new goal celebration? No, nobody has.”

  91. “Torres recently lost his telesales job as he kept missing the targets”

  92. Dukegoonem, yeah, your right about the similarities between barca and bilbao style of play, you may already know but guardiola worked under bilbao’s coach ”El Loco”, the only difference between both clubs is that bilbao’s coach plays at a higher tempo, think arsenal at their absolute best, its a treat to watch.

  93. dex,

    yeah i suppose george can be considered part of the old guard now!!!

    i’m still trying to work out how a martial artist black belt 10th dan kung fu master can get pickpocketed twice in barca!!!

  94. nice ones Paul.

  95. Haha! Nice one PaulN

    DukeG

    Yeah, I think George’s black belt is in Origami myself.

  96. Dexter, get over the theo gibes man, i would love it if he becomes world class, just love *in my keegan voice*

  97. This game on Saturday is nerve wracking… Understatement! I am a nervous wreck over it, we HAVE to win, even tho a draw is probably good enough in the big scheme of things. But due to the Wigan fuck up, 3 points is a must.

    Even though I dreamt it would end up a 3 all draw.

  98. pedantic george

    It was two people in the party of 4 Duke.
    My Wife lost her purse and my mate his Camera and phone.
    Had they tried it on me they would still have been sewing their arms back on.

  99. Khalifha

    It aint for me to get over anything. You are the one with the problem. You are on probation as far as I am concerned. Don’t trust you man, your shit stinks. prove me wrong, or fuck off.

    No offence.

  100. … Or you could have made them a lovely swan out of a napkin George. 🙂

  101. Dexter, after last night I’m hoping your dream has already come true – right score, wrong teams!

  102. Me too Pass, me too!

  103. pedantic george

    Dexter,write your own material and stop stealing mine

  104. Limestonegunner

    Thanks Fins for all three videos. Delightful and the awards ceremony was great to see too. Highlights: he thanks Arsenal and calls it a massive, massive club, that it was a dream to come play at Arsenal, that there are such great teammates at a club like Arsenal. For RvP it is Arsenal, Arsenal, and a little bit more Arsenal.

    Wonderful representative of our club. I’m very proud to have a captain and player like him.

  105. Dex @ 9:04:

    Why so serious, just having a bit of fun.

    TBH, You are correct that one bad call or even a series of bad calls or results proves nothing but you and lots of others quickly forget that when a call or a result goes the other way. Imagine how many comments there would have been about the dodginess in the game if Barca and Real had won.

  106. Dexter, your so scary man, you got me shitting bricks here, fcukturd.
    No offence mate.

  107. George

    You wish your stuff was on a par with my comedy dynamite man.

  108. Khalifha

    Yep, you are a tool. I just mean in terms of your posts, I aint threatening you with anything other than me not takin anything you say seriously. Your posts are reminiscent of a few doomers who try and make out they aint.

  109. Bill

    You think that was serious? Boy, you ARE a bit simple then! 🙂

  110. Bill

    I didnt see any of the CL semi’s mate. I thought the chavs had a good chance as barca have been in a bit of a slump, by their recent standards for a while now.

  111. nice to know you got your back covered george, the wife can look after her own a.!!!

  112. pedantic george

    Putting a smiley face at the end of a post does not make it funny.
    Dex.Trojan horses some of them.Do you think?

  113. Yeah DukeG, you know she wears the trousers man, mainly due to the fact George hasnt been able to fit into a pair of strides since 1978.

  114. Yeah I do PG.

  115. pedantic george

    Duke,she should have taken classes instead of living off my blood sweat and tears.
    Lazy bitch.

  116. I don’t think either vela or Bendtner will play for us again, TBH.

  117. Team for Saturday;

    Szczesny
    Sagna Koscielny Vermealen Santos
    Song Rosicky
    Benayoun Ramsey Chamberlain
    RvP

    Kinda picks itself really, at the moment, I suppose.

  118. Limestonegunner

    Pep might announce he is leaving Barca tomorrow. Soon Cesc is going to be scapegoated and may wish he never left Arsenal. Perhaps the bad karma of his recruitment is catching up with that club.

  119. Demolition Diaby to come on at some point. And score the bleeding winner too!

  120. Limestone

    Where did you here that about Pep man? I think you may well be right about cesc, he will be blamed for making the boss have to change his tactics to fit him in, well, if twats like Balague have anything to do with it.

  121. Dexter, doomer?, really?, this is the only blog i read without bitch slapping myself for thinking it would any good, i find that very insulting because of the amount of respect i have for wenger you a.hole, besides the theo gibe was just some frustration spilling over, i could not bottle it up anymore, it may have come across a your usual legrove rant but it was far from it.

  122. Looking ahead, am very confident of us getting the three points at jurasik park, why? Law of averages , stupid. Stoke have drawn with man united and chelsea, beaten liverpool and spu*s there, we are bound to win there, What!! You don’t believe my theory, lets just wait and see.

  123. Again with the insults.

    New arrival, spews some bile slating an Arsenal player. gets pulled up about it. Changes tune dramatically and goes over the top with positivity. But over time that same negative shite pokes through, till the true colours are unravelled. oh and insults a plenty along the way.

    Yep, you fit the bill 100% so far.

  124. Lalalala, am not listening, lalala ignoring annoying self righteous prick.

  125. pedantic george

    Who do you think is in the horse Dex?

  126. pedantic george

    khalifha.
    How to make friends and influence people?

    Where is our resident fence sitting soldier these days?

  127. ooh i dunno george, how about you man?

  128. Dex:

    I have been called lots of things by you and many others, but simple is a new one. I will add it to the collection. 🙂

    Barca are having a mental letdown this season but even with that I did not think Chelsea had a chance at the Nou Camp. When you win as much as Barca has its hard to maintain the same edge for a prolonged period of time. Pep leaving would be a surprise but things go stale after a while even for the best managers and sometimes a change just for the sake of a change is needed. Arsene and Fergie’s are much more of an exception rather then the rule.

  129. George

    Which one mate?

  130. Bill

    Ha! As far as I can recall, I’ve called you a chav fane…. can’t think of any other names dude!!??

  131. Pedantic george, what can i say, its just my talent.

  132. You got some serious competition George. Not sure we have room for 2 boring unfunny cunts on here though? SMILEY FACE!

  133. pedantic george

    😦

  134. grinning face flipping the bird!!

  135. Cheers Limestone, just read it. There ain’t no quotes though, i guess it could be true? Maybe he will leave and then… Take the England job!!!

  136. How do you do that one DukeyG?

  137. Dex:

    All the names I have been called and the people who do it run together after a while. Limpar was always the most creative and I miss him. Thats all part of the fun. 🙂

  138. Fukin el, pepe has won 14 trophies in 4 years,ok 4 of them are mickey mousers but cesc wont have anyone saying that..

  139. Limestonegunner

    Let’s keep it clean boys! And btw, shouldn’t it be spelled khalifah, if you must transliterate the “h” for the ta’ marbutah?

  140. we could be here all night if we listed all the names george has been called by fellow bloggers.

  141. 14??? 3 La Ligas and 2 CLs man. What else? Those 5 are well impressive, just curious to know what other trophies are counted in that lot man?

  142. Limestonegunner

    Quotes? That’s so old media, my man! You’re right that it is somewhat speculative but you don’t have to have quotes for it to be reported properly.

    The only quote that will matter is Pep’s if he has anything to say tomorrow. We shall see.

  143. pedantic george

    Yes ,lets not forget ,I am the victim here

  144. Limestonegunner

    Pep for England! Nice one, Dex. Haven’t heard anything more outlandish in a while.

  145. Er erm, untold arsenal were running some sort of arsenal awards , there was a category that had to do with breakthrough star for next season – long story short, the winner was coquelein
    The nominees were
    Santos
    Coquelain
    Diaby
    Jenkinson
    Miyaichi.
    Who will make the biggest impact next season?

  146. sorry thats 13 trophies…3 la ligas, 2 cl, 1 lana del ray, 3 supercopas, 2 uefa super cups, 2 fifa world club cups.

  147. Limestone;

    Well the report said Pep wanted to take a break from football, so the England manager’s job should be perfect!

  148. Limestonegunner

    When victims become killers….!!

  149. Cheers Duke. So that’s 5 real trophies then!

    Liked the lana Dela Rey trophy though!

  150. Limestonegunner

    LOL!, break from football indeed!

  151. Dex,

    we count the emirates cup dont we!!!

  152. And the double RvP won too!

  153. yep maybe we should lay on an open top bus for rvp??

  154. Limestone, i just like the “fha” far better

  155. We won’t need a bus mate…. Just a convertible Mini!

  156. Intrigued by the discussion of who should play out wide on Saturday. Britannia Ground doesn’t have an “out wide” does it? Tactical selection would be Szcz, 6 mid-fielders and a troup of armoured tanks.

  157. pedantic george

    Duke and Dex .Tag team extraordinaire.”The miserable twin”perhaps”?

  158. “Breaking: Rangers have just announced a new TV deal. From next season their games will be shown on the History Channel.”

  159. Finally get a chance to pop in and what do you know, Paul-N ends off the days rants with a howler 🙂 well played lad, well played!

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