Losing my Religion

What an absolute bullshitty cunt-box of a performance.

Frankly, I am absolutely astounded at the reasons Le Boss has put up as excuses for as abject a display as we have seen this season. This reeked of the dark days of last season when the likes of Hull City put us to the sword. This time though, there were no excuses such as a wafer thin squad to hide behind. No, the squad lacked motivation. WHAT???? I can think of 50 or 60,000 odd reasons which should serve as motivation to play at 10%, not even mentioning professional pride (oops I just did mention it).

Let's see who was missing shall we? RVP, Gibbs, Clichy, Bendtner, Diaby. Not forgetting Djourou who wouldn't have got a look in anyway.

So, who did we have to choose from? Arshavin, Cesc, Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott, Eduardo. In my book, that SHOULD have been more than enough to have dispatched Sunderland without breaking sweat. But what went wrong then? In my opinion, we have too many identikit attacking players - out of the aforementioned 6, how many are 6ft plus and able to "get amongst the opposition"?? Still we are waiting on a Plan B.... if we are unable to pass our way through the most sardine-like of defenses, our only viable alternative is for our fullbacks (and let's be honest and say NONE of our fullbacks can really cross a ball!) swinging the ball over for Eduardo to leap, Salmon-like, above centre halves a foot taller than him. Err. Perhaps not eh??
Aside from Bendtner, do we have a forward that can hold the ball up?? The answer is a resounding no. The lads just didn't turn up, and can't take being told when they get it wrong.

For an example, look at the teams reaction when the one player, Arshavin, who has the balls to call the youngsters to task, next scores. As in the Wolves game when he plundered the 4th - who celebrated with him?? No one. That's 'cos these coseted, spoilt, young millionaires are not used to criticism - constructive or otherwise. They certainly don't get it from Le Boss, who is highly unlikely to want to draw attention to the deficiencies of his own pet project.

I don't want to be too unfair on Sunderland - they had a gameplan, which was, shockhorror - stifle our midfield - and - fucking surprise - it worked! They have actually really improved and points gained vs the Mancs & Scousers show that Steve Bruce might be onto something. Mind you, he is only biding his time until Purple nose drops off his perch and he can be installed as the new Prince of Darkness. He's never shown a shred of loyalty at any job he's had, so don't kid yourselves Mackems - he won't start with you. 7 managers jobs in 11 years would appear to back that up. And he was only sacked from one of them.

So, instead of making up ground on the Chavs and instilling some hesitancy in them ahead of Sunday, we are now in a position where anything less than a win will pretty much end our title hopes for another season. And we had to witness Sp*rs thwacking 9 past Wigan, another United stroll, and that c*nt Adebayor add to his goal tally. Not a great weekend. United lost 4 games on their way to the title last year, we have lost 3 after a dozen games.

With that rant out of the way, and before I combust taking half the street with me, let's have a sneaky look at Standard Liege at home on Tuesday....

Of course there will still be no RVP, and we can only hope that Eduardo can grow into the role, but following Le Boss' comments about Vela today it would appear that he is in with a shout of playing. I'm not sure I agree with the comparisons to Robbie Fowler mind.... a coke sniffing cheat who utterly, unequivocally failed to fulfill his potential, I'd much rather the comparison be with Ian Rush if we're sticking to Liverpool players, but but I think I see what he meant. No pressure Carlos!

I don't think Liege could beat Sunderland frankly, and despite a labored performance out there in coming from 2 down to win 3-2, I see us getting back to winning ways, and rather convincingly too. I hear Gibbs has made a recovery (not sure if he used the Horse placenta though), and although I was pleased to see Traore get a game ahead of Fishface, the young Frenchman didn't really cover himself in glory against Sunderland.

I expect to see Arshavin star tonight, along with Theo and either Eduardo or Vela up top. The midfield, I predict, will be Song, Cesc, and Denilson, with Rosicky, Nasri, Ramsay et al lining up on the bench. I understand that Little Jack is fit again.... what price a starring cameo role for the young Tyro???

That's your lot my Gooner friends, keep the faith, we are still in the hunt for 3 trophies anyway!!

Clockender

Weekend Roundup: It's Character That Counts

Bon Jour, mon Arsamis. It was a god-awful weekend on several levels, footballistically speaking anyway. Apart from the football (our result, along with those of the Chavs, Mancs, and fucking Sp*rs), I enjoyed myself very much, having a lovely pheasant dinner on Saturday prepared by a classically trained French chef, with copious amounts of alcohol to wash it down with. Anyway, it's a short holiday week here in America, and I'm not feeling particularly bloggity given the subject matter, but I soldier on for the benefit of our lovely readers here at the Modern Gooner.

As far as the Arsenal result, it was fair considering how we played. There was very little urgency in the whole of the squad, and I would single out only two players on the Arsenal side who performed up to snuff, Alex Song and Bacary Sagna. Both players were consistently involved in play on both ends of the pitch and were rock-solid and often spectacular, winning the ball, cool in possession, distributing well and even creating chances. Well done to the both of them.

The same cannot be said for the rest of the team. For a front three of Eduardo, Rosicky and Nasri, all three were very quiet, and none could put away chances that were created. In the first half, Rosicky had possibly the best chance of the match go right to the 'keeper, and Eduardo with plenty of space and time on the ball in the box, managed to play a lobbed ball to Song that floated wide and out of reach. In midfield, Cesc worked hard but saw little in the way of results, while Ramsey failed to match the exquisite form he showed for Wales against Scotland. Oddly enough, the presence of Diaby would have been welcome if only for his physicality and height.

Sagna as mentioned was terrific, and neither Gallas nor Vermaelen was really below par, though were again unable to deal with the set piece that led to Bent's winning goal. This isn't so much to criticize the defensive pairing that they've struck, which has been quite good. But on the whole, defending the set piece is the one glaring weakness with this side, and from which we are most likely to concede goals. Armand Traore, who was pressed into service at left fullback due to the injuries to Clichy and then Gibbs, was below par, although for a young player who has received limited playing time in that or any position, this is to be expected, and forgiven.

In goal, Manuel Almunia was generally solid, but when it counted, was again a letdown. As the ball pinged around the box, he seemed glued to one spot, and when it fell to Bent's feet directly in front of goal, he reacted slowly and for some reason played the man, not the ball, resulting in an easy goal for Bent and as it turned out, an unexpected three points for Sunderland.

Arsene's choice of substitutes was obvious given the need for attacking in the second half. Arshavin came on for Ramsey but could add little, his best chance a sliding attempt on goal reminiscent of his strike against Atletico in the Emirates Cup, in this case remaining outside the post. Later, the newly returned Vela and Walcott switched in for Eduardo and Rosicky. The addition of Vela made an immediate impact, Arsenal becoming more of an attacking force and the Mexican superstar looking dangerous up front. Theo's impact was also felt, but largely due to his poor performance. It was as if someone had switched out his brain for Diaby's during the internationals, his passes ending as bridges to nowhere that would make Sarah Palin jealous, and otherwise thinking he could dribble through two defenders and cheaply giving away possession. It was as poor a performance by an Arsenal substitute as Eboue had against Wigan last season, leading to the Ivorian's booing-off. Based on Saturday, Theo will need to work awfully hard on his football if he is to become the difference maker we all hope he can be.

The officiating by Alan Wiley wasn't awful (I'll not pull a Fergie and demand a fitness test for the man), but he did miss a clear penalty in the late stages of the match, when Vela, in possession of the ball, was taken down in the box. I won't even fault Wiley personally, as I feel it must be pointed out that following Eduardo-gate, it's almost as if the FA have ordered referees to overlook penalties going Arsenal's way. "Brett," you might ask, "surely you're not insinuating that there's some sort of conspiracy in English football?" Well believe it or not, but I am, and I am serious.

All this is to take nothing from Sunderland, who bossed us around in midfield and generally outworked us all game. Particularly outstanding was the workrate of Lorik Cana, who captained the Black Cats and never once let an Arsenal player rest on the ball. We saw Wolves keep that sort of work up for about 20-25 minutes and then fall apart; Sunderland and Cana (who may or may not be famed Australian actor Eric Bana). While Arsenal controlled the match throughout the first half, Sunderland earned three points on the day, just as Arsenal did not do enough to win or even draw.

Separated at birth?
This sort of result has become typical for this Arsenal team: a loss away from home to a "lesser" team when facing some sort of hardship (in this case, the injury to van Persie). It's a lack of character in the side, and it's no longer something we can point out as due to youthfulness. It's the lack of iron in the will, of character, that plagues this side, and in my eyes it is in this way that we feel the absence of Robin. We need to know that when the chips are down, the squad, or at least members of the squad, won't give in but will buckle down and grind out a result. So far, we've not seen much of that, apart from away at Fulham and Liege. As I said in the Preview, Sunderland are not some poor team managed by sad-sack Roy Keane. They've beaten us, they've beaten Liverpool and they would have beaten United if not for the humidor-effect of Old Trafford on referees.

Of course there was much more football apart from Arsenal, even if it doesn't command my attention nearly as much. Let's look at how embarassingly poorly I did in predicting the results...

Liverpool v Man City
Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Man City
Reality: HEY, I GOT ONE!
Man City continue their train ride to Dropped Point by way of Drawsville. Maybe if Their squad had focused on Liverpool instead of Arsenal, they'd have found a way to win.

Birmingham v Fulham
Prediction: Brum 1-1 Fulham
Reality: Brummies 1-0 Fulham
Birmingham used their home advantage to the fullest, crazy-ass Lee Bowyer providing all the goals necessary to get by Fulham.

Burnley v Aston VillaPrediction: Burnley 1-3 Villa
Reality: Burnley 1-1 Villa
Big performance by Burnley, who scored an early goal but were unlucky not to hang on for another big upset win. Unless you're a Villa fan (this week), you've got to feel good for the Clarets.

Chelsea v Wolves
Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Wolves
Reality: Chelsea 4-0 Wolves
Not much more to be said here. Chelsea are an exceedingly strong side, and Wolves are exceedingly weak.

Hull City v West Ham
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Hammers
Reality: Hull 3-3 Hammers
Good result for the casual football fan, being that 6 goals were scored, but not much for fans of either side, seeing as neither was able to gain ground on a relegation rival.

Man Utd v Everton
Prediction: Bolton 1-1 Blackburn
Reality: Bolton 0-2 Blackburn
Blackburn pull their heads out of their asses first and claim the points. I really have no time for either of these clubs.

Tottenham v Wigan
Prediction: Spuds 2-1 Wigan
Reality: Ugh. Spuds 9-1 Wigan
In the one result I wanted to be a misprint, the Totts roll NINE FUCKING GOALS on the eminently pathetic Wigan Athletic. All of their defenders should be burned at the stake for allowing this to happen. Tottenham should be burned at the stake on general principle.

Stoke City v Portsmouth
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Pompey
Reality: Stoke 1-0 Pompey
Ricardo Fuller scores against his old club in what was the most boring match that I saw this weekend. At one point, when I looked up and saw that only 32 minutes had gone by, it felt as though it had been on for four damned hours.

Arsenal's loss and wins for Chelsea and United put us firmly in third, 8 points back of Chelsea going into Sunday's showdown at the Grove. The goose-egg against Sunderland makes this match all the more important for us. A loss puts us 11 points adrift, and even at this relatively early point in the season, that's a huge hill to climb. A win reduces our deficit to 5 points, and the crucial match-in-hand comes into play, potentially meaning just 2 points back. A draw leaves us largely in the same place, but leaves ground for United to gain on us.

No, we won't have last year's hero at the Bridge, RVP, back for this one. But what we do have is a squad of players who ought to be good and pissed off after the 4-1 thrashing they took at the Chavs' hands in the spring, and a Chelsea team that has looked very good at times but quite vulnerable at others. We would be especially lucky if they were to be missing Drogba and Lumpard as well as Cashley for this contest, especially considering our state with injuries right now. Who needs this one the most? Without question, it is Arsenal.

Who wants it the most? That we won't find out until Sunday.

There's a relatively meaningless match tomorrow versus Standard Liege at home, and being that we've already qualified for the knockout stages, I would expect a Carling Cup-type of squad to start. It would be wonderful to get a win and begin to banish the Sunderland match a bit, but the most important thing is to get through the match without injuries, and I think Arsene will select the side accordingly.

Not much else to say today. Let's roll on with the kids for a win tomorrow. COME ON YOU REDS!!!

And, as always, you stay classy, Gooner nation.

- B, a Gooner.

Equine Porn, Le Main De Dieu & it's not very light in Sunderland...

Following what has appeared to be the longest interlull in the history of long, crap international breaks, we have Sunderland away.

Before I go on to preview that, a few words about the inate shite-ness of international friendlies and their continued ability to rob us of in-form players.. RVP in Belgrade getting Horse placenta rubbed on his ankle ligaments (are you telling me NO-ONE in Holland has ever done that sort of thing in porn??), Kieran Gibbs with a suspected fractured metatarsal - turns out it's only bruising! How often will these meaningless friendlies cost us?? Why can't Arsene start pulling players out of these citing "knocks" a la Purple Nose... just asked Ryan Giggs!

Finally, Thierry in new "Cheatgate" storm; I really fail to see what the fuss is on this one - if it had been Gerrard, Flumpard, or Shrek doing this the media would have been calling for immediate canonisation followed by sainthood, and possible deification! I am only glad he's no longer playing for Arsenal as I'm sure a 5 match ban for cheating would have followed (have we been awarded a penalty since Eduardo's tumble vs Celtic by the way??!!

As it is, there is more chance of Rooney winning the Nobel prize for literature than there is the Irish getting a replay.... I'm sure Blatter, Platini (***spits***) et al were, shall we say, not too disappointed with the final result...
Talking of Purple nose.... his touchline ban kicks in in time for the potentially tricky visit of Everton... no wait, wait... the FA have cited a little known clause in the rule book called "the Ferguson ruling" that says the ban doesn't start until 14 days after the disciplinary hearing which means he will be in the stands for.... the visit to Pompey and the Carling Cup time vs The Spuds!!! Well that's ok then, consider that more than adequate punishment for his persistent criticism of refs that sometimes fail to toe the Man Utd line. I'm sure that's a lesson well learned and he won't do it again.

So Sunderland away today.... the ironically named Stadium of Light has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for us one way or another in previous seasons, and we are well overdue a spanking win with no broken legs or sendings off, although with another of Fergusons Sith apprentices in charge I'm pretty sure we will see a rupture or sprain come final whistle. And if any of you Star Wars geeks want to remind me that the Sith can only have one apprentice I will retort with the fact that Ferguson makes his own rules. Even in Galaxies that are far, far away.

No RVP, Gibbs, Diaby, Denilson, and of course Bendtner or Clichy, but Vela and Walcott are in the squad, leaving us with fishface at left back I suspect. Or Eboue of course. I think the rest of the side pretty much picks itself - I think Eduardo will come into the middle and am really hoping to see Arshavin, Rosicky, and Fabregas play 90 minutes together. That is a combination that excites me more than seeing 2 lesbians massaging each other with Horse placentas frankly.

Sunderland have Cana fit (who a lot of Gooners were hoping we would sign in the summer - personally I know nothing about him so am interested in seeing if he's the real deal or not). No Kenwyne Jones is potentially a bonus for us - he's an awkward lump in the mould of Adebayor, except of course he's not a greedy, money-grabbing cunt and can stay on-side.

I'm going for a 2-nil win for the Arsenal.

Anyway, that's enough from me. I'm about to don my painting gear and put the finishing touches to my kitchen. It's only taken me 13 months to get this far.... I REALLY shouldn't spend so much time blogging!!!

Keep it red'n'white my brothers.

Clockender.

Weekend Preview: REVENGE OF THE WEEKEND PREVIEW!!!

Greetings and salutations fellow Gooners and Goonerettes, and a warm round of indifference to fans of other teams. At long last, the international break has ended and we can get back to real football.

Before I begin, this blog is about Arsenal, the English Premier League and European CLUB football. This is neither a FIFA blog, nor a France blog, nor an Ireland blog, so I will not be responding to any comments on those topics. I will state for the record that Henry cheated, I still love him because of all he did for Arsenal, and the blowup over this whole thing has been reactionary and out of proportion. This is another glaring example that video review is long overdue. Finally, if you are a fan of both Arsenal and Ireland, you have my condolences, but let's move on. This has NOTHING TO DO with what Henry did with Arsenal, and letting this cloud your memories of him as a Gooner legend is the height of foolishness. So fuck FIFA, fuck France, fuck Ireland, Fuck Platini and Blatter. I'm an American, but I bleed the red and white. Chelsea can have the blue, and fuck them too. If you want to read a more thoughtful account of this whole debacle from an Irish Arsenal fan, I direct you to Arseblog's post from yesterday.

Ok, now that all that's out of the way, Arsenal, as you've all heard by now, come back from this particular international break stung even worse by the everpresent injury bug than is even usual for us. A tackle in the box on Robin van Persie by Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, which would have been considered harsh-but-fair in any real competition, caused a rather severe ankle injury for RVP. When I say "real competition," I mean just that. This was a MEANINGLESS FRIENDLY between Holland and Italy, two teams that had already qualified for the World Cup. Now, that this match was completely unnecessary is beside my point. When the term "friendly" is used to describe a match, shouldn't this be treated as an exhibition?

The outcome of this match had zero bearing on Anything. The participants in said exhibition should conduct themselves accordingly, should they not? To what end do Chiellini and Italy truly benefit by making a semi-rash challenge and thereby denying a goal? Were the goal scored, would the player or the Italian FA lose face, and if so, does that justify the outcome? I just can't see the logic behind playing an exhibition match with the same intensity as one would a competitive fixture. There is no discernible benefit from winning or losing such a match, yet the risks (injury, suspension, fatigue) are all entirely the same. Perhaps it is a matter of perception; therefore, I will henceforth no longer use "Friendly" to descibe these shitshows. I will only use the term "Exhibition." I implore you all to do the same.

So Robin van Persie, who has been on the form of his LIFE for Arsenal this season, especially lately, will miss out for at least six weeks. I can realistically hope for him to be back shortly after christmas, which would certainly prove to be a wonderful gift. But in the short-term, we are left a bit thin up front, with Bendtner already injured, and I assume having his meat-and-veggies nursed back to health by his hot-ass royal cougar girlfriend, Baroness Caroline Luel-Brockdorff.

Also, Carlos Vela is either hurt or has given up football to pursue a career as Zorro. The good news in that area of the pitch is that THEEEEEOOOOOOO is back and will be included in the sqaud this weekend for Sunderland away. I wouldn't expect him to start, but I could certainly see him coming on in the second half to terrorize a tired Sunderland defense with his pace, and build up some match fitness for Chelsea next weekend.

At the back, Arsenal look to have a few more troubles. Kieran Gibbs, who has deputized quite well for the injured Gael Clichy, picked up what appeared to be a broken metatarsal bone in his foot while on international duty. You may remember this is the same injury that RVP suffered three seasons ago against Manchester United that kept him out from January through the rest of the season. On a positive note, x-rays showed this to be merely a bad bruise on Gibbsy's foot, so he should be back later this month. In the short-term, however, Arsenal have three matches in the next 9 days, so Arsene is left to choose from among our few uninjured players to play left fullback. The most likely candidates are Silvestre and Armand Traore. Based on history, expect the more experienced Silvestre to get the start, despite Traore having by far the more pace and physical ability. Also, don't be surprised if Eboue and Senderos "Phil-in" for Sagna and Gallas, who played 120 minutes for France on Wednesday (am I still talking internationals? JEEBUS!).

In midfield, we can welcome back Denilson and his terrifying alter-ego, The Shadow, about whom a major motion picture is currently in the works.

I would expect to see Arsene trot out a starting XI of Almunia; Eboue, Gallas, Vermaelen, Silvestre; Song, Fabregas, Ramsey; Arshavin, Eduardo, Nasri. Perhaps not the strongest Arsenal side we've seen this season, but certainly capable of winning. I'm anxious to see what Eduardo can do given a run in the central stiker role. He's shown before how good a goalscorer he can be, and hopefully he's fit enough to display that fantastic form once again. We all know what Eddie's capable of when he's on form:


Plenty of other action in the league going on this weekend as we return to real football. Let's have a look at what's on tap:

Liverpool v Man City
Prediction:
Liverpool 2-2 Man City
Neither of these teams was on great form leading up to the break, so the trendy picks for winning the league and cracking the top-4, respectively, don't look so trendy right now. I'd pick City to win, but the Scousers are at home with their "famous atmosphere" *dismissive wanking motion*, and City can't seem to beat anybody. Additionally, Ade has apparently reverted to form, loping around lazily and missing golden opportunities in front of goal. You were warned, powder blue ball-sniffers.

Birmingham v Fulham
Prediction:
Brum 1-1 Fulham
Birmingham play better at home, but still have trouble scoring. Fulham also have trouble scoring. Frankly, I think predicting two goals in total for this match might be a bit hopeful.

Burnley v Aston Villa
Prediction:
Burnley 1-3 Villa
Villa have quietly put together another nice season. Meanwhile, Gareth Barry is getting paid more than he's worth. Poor Clarets... that's a Premier League dream that's dying. I'd certainly rather keep Burnley and their fans up than get back some crap team like Boro.

Chelsea v Wolves
Prediction:
Chelsea 3-1 Wolves
The Chelsea rentboys should stomp a mudhole in Mick McCarthy's team, at that mudhole they call Stamford Bridge. Hopefully Wolves will at least put up the fight against Chelsea that they did against Arsenal. Actually, seeing as we won by 3 at Molineux, forget I said that.

Hull City v West Ham
Prediction:
Hull 1-2 Hammers
Both of these sides are scrapping to get out of the relegation zone, and Hull should have the advantage being at home at the KC, but I just hate that orange-fake-tan-having, headset-wearing, Allardyce acolyte Phil Brown far too much to pick them. And Nevadas would be so much to poorer for West Ham's relegation that I have to root against that.

Man Utd v Everton
Prediction:
Man U 2-0 Everton
Everton have proven a real Jeckyll & Hyde team this season. They SHOULD be good enough to qualify for Europa Cup or whatever they're calling it these days. They just aren't. United shouldn't have much of a problem dispatching the Scouser Blue at Old Trafford.

Bolton v Blackburn
Prediction:
Bolton 1-1 Blackburn
Two crummy teams toil for a boring-ass draw. Enjoy this brief collection of Ralph Wiggum moments.

Tottenham v Wigan
Prediction:
Spuds 2-1 Wigan
What do you know, two MORE crummy teams! As shit as sp*rs are, they're at home and Wigan are that much worse. But I don't think Tottenham's stay in the top-4 will go on for much longer.

Stoke City v Portsmouth
Prediction:
Stoke 2-1 Pompey
Tony Pulis will go with his best weapon, Rory Delap's arms. Pompey will counter with their best weapon, uh... hmm... David James? Christ that's sad. The difference is Stoke's 'keeper and erstwhile member of metal band Dethklok, "Toki" Sorensen.

Hull City v Everton
Prediction:
Hull 1-2 Everton
Both these teams double their pleasure (and the misery of the viewing public, for Hull at least) with a second match this week. Everton look to get back on track in another away match. They SHOULD have enough to knock around Hull. And they should do just that. However, now that I wrote that, they'll probably beat United and lose to Hull. Jeckyll and Hyde, man.

Fulham v Blackburn
Prediction:
Fulham 1-0 Blackburn
Fulham are like a poor man's version of Arsenal under George Graham: Low-scoring, defensive, but reasonably successful. I don't see any Michael Thomas moments for them, but Blackburn are pretty terrible, so they ought to win this one.

Arsenal come back from an injury-riddled break to face a well-rested and talented Sunderland team at the Stadium of Light, which has to be one of the coolest names for a stadium that I've ever heard. Sunderland have been very good so far under the management of Steve Bruce, who persuaded the ownership to open the pursestrings again and brought in some talented players like Michael Turner, Lorik Cana, and leading goalscorer Darren Bent, all of whom have contributed this season alongside stalwarts such as Kenwyne Jones, Steed Malbranque, and Stephen Reid. This is a squad that drew with United at Old Trafford a few weeks prior, and could have won if not for a terrible call to send off Kieran Richardson with a second yellow. Sunderland do have the worst disciplinary record in the Premiership this season with 24 yellow cards and 2 reds, and fortunately for Arsenal, while Cana will return from his suspension, Turner and Jones will miss out on their own, meaning that Bent will have to do without his dynamic strike partner. And keep an eye on Jordan Sunderland; the young midfielder has looked awfully good every time I've seen him this season, and he's now getting a run of matches in the first team.

What can we expect? Well it's not ALL reputation when your team has the most bookings, and everyone's favorite tactic when playing Arsenal is to keep kicking them until they fall, so there'll be plenty of that. Arsenal will need to move the football around and keep the Black Cats chasing after it, and will need to play the possession game while relying on the skill of Cesc and others to create chances and put them away. The state of the back four, especially if Gallas misses out due to fatigue (FUCK YOU, RAYMOND DOMENECH!), is cause for concern, meaning that Vermaelen will need to be everywhere at once to make up for it, or try to play along with the similarly aggressive style of Phillipe "Swiss Tony" Senderos. But with Cesc and (hopefully) Ramsey pushing the attack and Song keeping the defense protected, Arsenal ought to have enough to take all three points, but it won't be easy. Remember, in this fixture last season, Arsenal only squeaked out with a point from an injury-time header by Cesc, and that Sunderland team was inferior to this one.

Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Arsenal.

Before we go, I need to recognize the fantastic play of our own Aaron Ramsey in Wales' 3-0 victory over Scotland over the break. Setting up two goals, he also scored a beauty. And keep an eye out for the typically skillful defensive play by United's Darren Fletcher:

That's all I've got for now. It'll be good to get back into the swing of things and making noise for the Arsenal while knocking back pints, so I hope to see plenty of you out at Nevadas. These are the times that try men's souls. Keep the faith y'all, and as always, you stay classy, Gooner Nation.

- B, a Gooner.

News From The Clockend

Been a very busy couple of days bloggers, so apologies for lack of posts. It's a good thing too, as at least now I've something to discuss!

On the shit news front, we learn today that the Bendy Dane is to undergo groin surgery (I've heard rumours of a hernia?), bad news for us as the lanky B52 has started the season well, adding competition to the front line as well as height to our front line not seen since A******r, not to mention a much better work ethic than the greedy Togan (for all of you out there that actively practice schadenfreude you'll be extremely pleased to know he has reverted to his minimal work-rate, inability to understand the offsite rule or hit a Cows arse with a handful of rice, and general all round cuntiness).

Good news is seeing Sp*rs spending £150m+ on players in the last 12 months, which included Peter Crouch - there's no accounting for taste (unless you're 'Arry who has an insatiable appetite for moola of course!), but still being unable to beat The Arsenal. Oh, and Sp*rs new ground will be "better than ours" according to Daniel Levy. The prick.
Even better news is the slow motion implosion of Liverpool..... 1 win in 9..... I wonder if Ngog will be totally vilified by the collective media of the World a la Eduardo... no probably not, as, far from being jingo-istic anti foreign players, the media, FA, and referees association are institutionally anti-Arsenal. They have a great opportunity to prove me wrong.... I won't be holding my breath though.

Great result for the boys on Saturday.... a year or even 2 years ago we may well have dropped points somewhere like Molineaux... it shows how far the team has come when we had such strength we were able to leave Nasri, Rosicky, and Song on the bench. I have to say, being forced to miss the last 15 minutes (fireworks party in the local park), I was totally unsurprised to learn we had conceded late on though, this time the Verminator losing his man who just happened to be waiting for the ball on the 6 yard line! It is looking like we are really not worried about the loss of a late goal as we seem to be hellbent on being 3 or 4 up by then anyway. A bit of a worry when we come up against a decent team mind...

Things are bubbling along nicely ahead of the Chav game on the 29th - we have Sunderland away in the league and the northern Chavs in the Carling Cup before then, but I have to say Sundays result was not the ideal one for me. The ideal result would have included broken legs for Vidic, Rooney, Gary Neville, Phil Neville (I know he doesn't play for ManUSA anymore but he is STILL a cock of the highest order), Terry, Drogba (came close with his comedy epileptic fit mind) Cashley, Flumpard, well you get my point anyway...

Talking of shitcunt Scottish footballers with acne, a quick word piece of advice to Darren Fletcher:
A) "Mr Wenger" never mentioned you by name, so why the paranoia? You on the whisky like purple nose??
B) What he did say was 2, yes 2 months ago.... taken you some time to work out how to blame someone you thick Jock twat???
C) You're a shit footballer who is on the pitch to foul people. Period. Don't be surprised when the opposition act out their retribution on you and referees start booking you.
D) Try Clearasil acne treatment. You should be able to afford the amount you need. Spotty cunt.

Right folks, that's about it from me, I'm off home to knock the wife about until she cooks me something featuring copious amounts of animal products and irons my work shirts (not at the same time, could get messy).

Up the Arse!!

Clockender

Weekend Roundup: The Importance of Being Song & I'd Rather Be Lucky AND Good

Hello again to the Gooner faithful and to well-mannered enemies as well. I hope you all had a delightful weekend and enjoyed the football and the weather alike. I imagine the United supporters are feeling more injured than they ought, and the Chelsea fans a bit more chuffed than they ought. Of course the Chavs likely won't know I'm insulting them a bit, seeing as Chavs can't read.

In the most important match of the weekend that didn't feature a pack of bastards, Arsenal traveled to Molineux to take on Mick McCarthy and his lowly Wolverhampton Wolve-ish Wanderers of Anaheim. I arrived at Nevadas with a crippling hangover sustained in an impromptu party at my house on Friday, and began to drink in earnest. The squad was largely first choice, Eduardo added to the front three, Sagna rejoining the back four, with a surprise start for Aaron Ramsey in midfield; surprising in that it was not Diaby he replaced but holding midfielder extraordinaire, Alex Song. I must admit, my greatest fear going into this one was that Arsenal would shoot themselves in the collective foot as we have seen so many times by taking the points for granted, and with Arsene shuffling the lineup so this fear was exacerbated, although tolerable with Jack slinging me the sweet, sweet alcohol.

It looked as though my fears would be realized over the first 20 minutes or so of the match; Wolves players were all over, harrying the ball, moving well without it, and putting together some decent attacks. In fact, if Wolves had had a more polished finisher in the side, they might've scored on one or two occasions in the early going. The Gunner midfield looked toothless, as neither Ramsey nor Diaby looked capable/willing to dispossess Wolves or mind the back four; basically, no one was doing all of the things that Alex Song does so capably every match, and it showed. Without the young Cameroonian (is that the right word? Cameroonite? Camerooner? I like Camerooner) doing all of the vital little things, the 4-3-3 formation looked less flowing and more disastrous than it has.

While Ramsey at least looked decent in possession and appeared to hustle, Diaby did what has become, sadly, expected from his shifts in the side: gave the ball away cheaply, dribbled into cul-de-sacs, and disappeared in defense, where he was most needed. Anyone who still holds out hope that Abou can effectively replace Song when the latter leaves on ACN duty ought not hold their breath. Not surprisingly, when Diaby was felled by an injury (and god help me but I wasn't exactly weeping when it happened), Arsene gave the side the player it needed and subbed on Song. And lo and behold, just like that Arsenal's fortunes began to look up, the midfield and defense solidified, and the attack began to flow. Within a few minutes of Song's introduction, the deadlock was broken in the Gunners' favor, when a curling corner kick came to the onrushing Eduardo, who was muscled out by Wolves defender Ronald "Zubar" Zubar, who succeded in knocking the ball into his own net. Drinks flowed, Gooners cheered, beer was spilled and consumed in equal measure.

A few minutes later, Fabregas dug a ball out of our defensive half and slung a long pass to Ramsey, who with Eduardo was 2-on-1 with lone Wolves defender Jody Craddock. Ramsey passed to Eduardo on the left, who should have given it back to Ramsey, as the Welshman would have been 1-on-1 with the keeper. Instead, Eddie attempted to chip Wolves 'keeper Wayne Hennessey, who was hardly far enough off his line for it. As luck would have it, Eddie's chip was well done, but got a bit of help with a deflection off of Craddock's dome-piece that seemed to just flight the ball over Hennessey and into the net. A risky operation on Eduardo's part, but sometimes great skill creates its own great luck. In the first 20 minutes, prior to the introduction of Song (which freed up the superb Ramsey), I would've taken a 2-0 scoreline and been very happy.

Two-nil up, and I received a text from Gareth, watching I imagine at the Tollington, reading "One more goal and the game is over." I didn't have long to wait before this proved prophetic, and the third goal was vintage Arsenal. Sagna dispossessed his man in defense and clipped a ball to Cesc running up the right. Cesc dished it back to Sagna, and The Blonde-braided One slipped back outside as Cesc cut in. Bacary put a lovely cross into the box to Robin van Persie, who showed as deft a touch as you'll see this season as he laid it onto the foot of the onrushing Fabregas to finish. I really can't say enough about that goal, it was pure brilliance. 3-0 to the Arsenal, the drinks and the songs were flowing, and that was how we came to halftime.

There was more to come in the second half, although it was a bit more relaxed. Arsenal did string some more attacks together, one finally panning out. Arshavin powered a shot at goal from the left that was parried out for a corner by the much-troubled Hennessey. The ensuing corner was punched by the keeper to the top of the box, where a competent defensive team might've cleared it. Instead, Arshavin pounced on it and drilled a low shot into the left corner to score. 4-nil, and a celebratory round of vodka shots was ordered and consumed.

While it would have been nice to finish with another clean sheet, and while some will be moaning about how we always concede, Craddock's late goal to pull one back for Wolves was well-earned. He slipped from the Belgianator's sights, and hammered home a nearly unstoppable header from close range, so well done to him. I'll not say that this is symptomatic of our lack of defensive focus, as I find it hard to believe one's focus would remain the same while 4-0 up on relegation-bound Wolves as it would be when slightly ahead of or even with a top club. 4-1 is a good result away from home, even against a side the calibre of Wolves.


Watch More Football Highlights at MySoccerPlace.net


And now a recap of the rest of the action this weekend:

Aston Villa v Bolton
PREDICTION: Villa 3-1 Bolton; REALITY: Villa 5-1 Bolton
Well, at least Bolton got a goal. This one was pure domination. However... I mean, come on, it WAS Bolton...

Blackburn v Portsmouth
PREDICTION: Really? I have to pick this? My prediction is they both suck; REALITY: Blackburn 3-1 Portsmouth... And yes, they did both suck.

Man City v Burnley
PREDICTION: Citeh 3-0 Burnley; REALITY: Citeh 3-3 Burnley
GOOD ON YOU, CLARETS!!! Everyone loves an underdog, and everyone especially loves an underdog that steals points from those sky-blue, pie-eating fucktards. Better still, the first rumblings of discontent from Shitty Fans have begun with regards to Adebuywhore's lazy loping around the pitch. You get what you paid for, suckers...

Tottenham v Sunderland
PREDICTION: Scum 1-1 Sunderland; REALITY: Scum 2-0 Sunderland
Surprising result, as I thought Sunderland started the brighter, but were simply outplayed down the stretch. Would have been lovely if Bent had come back to score against Spuds at Shite Hart Lane, though.

Hull City v Stoke City
PREDICTION: Hull 0-1 Stoke; REALITY: Hull 2-1 Stoke
Shocking, this... can we PLEASE just get Hull and their cockbag manager relegated already? Stupid Stoke, can't do anything right...

West Ham v Everton
PREDICTION: West Ham 1-1 Everton; REALITY: West Ham 1-2 Everton
Well it was never going to be easy for Generalissimo Gianfranco Zola's men, but being at home I thought they could've pulled this one out. They'll look to regroup after the Internazzzzzzzz...

Wigan v Fulham
PREDICTION: Wigan 1-2 Fulham; REALITY: Wigan 1-1 Fulham
Woy Hodgson's side is pretty good at preventing other sides from scoring, and less good at the scoring part themselves. That sort of lends itself to draws.

Chelsea v Man Utd
PREDICTION: Chavs 1-1 Uniturd; REALITY: Chavs 1-0 Uniturd
More on this in a bit...

Liverpool v Birmingham
PREDICTION: Liverpool 4-0 Birmingham; REALITY: Liverpool 2-2 Birmingham
And the countdown to Rafa's departure for Spain begins... now.

The "Match of the Week," Chelsea v Man U, turned out to be a real snoozefest, and very little of the match was good, open football. Defensive and plodding, the sides were only separated by a headed goal from John "Coke Classic" Terry... Wes Brown claimed, not without reason, in retrospect, that Drogba fouled him during the play, meaning the goal should've been waved off. The always rational Wayne Rooney was booked for his well-reasoned and thought out dissent for the ref's decision, shockingly. Still, Chavski got the lone goal and United never really looked threatening. Additionally, Drogba's pitiful playacting saw him earlier given a deserved yellow card, after minimal contact saw him flopping on the ground like he was simulating an epileptic fit or a fish drowning. Absolutely pathetic... is there a single quality about the cunt that's even a little redeeming? I can't think of one.

United fans are going to want to jump off a bridge, and Chelsea fans are going to crown themselves champions already. Both would be wrong. Man U isn't THAT BAD and Chelsea isn't THAT GOOD. There was very little separating the sides. Chelsea have a 5-point gap open at the top, with Arsenal second on goal difference, and holding a match in hand. Against Bolton. So really only 2 points back. 'Cause it's Bolton, you see.

Anyway, we're staring down the barrel of another International Break, and I've got ZERO interest in that, other than Arsenal players coming back healthy, so Gooners, cross your fingers, toes, arms, legs and whatever else you can without seriously injuring yourself that our boys all come back unharmed and ready to rain darkness down on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. No Weekend Preview coming up until next Friday, so enjoy the week, weekend and subsequent week, and if you find yourself going mad without Arsenal, just relax, breathe deeply, and chant this mantra: Arsene Knows...

Until next time, you stay classy, Gooner nation...

- B, a Gooner

London N5 Calling...The Kids, Dutchies and Real-Life Interruptions...

In group therapy sharing style, hello everyone..my name is Gareth Baldwin, I live in the fine N5 post code of Islington, North London and I am a Gooner. Those who know me would say that’s an understatement. I’m a massive Gooner, the picture above from my building roof where I live should prove my credentials...stadium in the background should be familiar..

So, this is my second ever experience of blogging after one bit of writing for The Online Gooner Fanzine but I’m hoping to give a little insight into the ups and downs of an arsenal gameday in this blog from London. I’m incredibly lucky to have been a season ticket holder at Highbury, there for the last game ever and now a silver member at Ashburton Grove (I don’t use the E*****es term) meaning I get to go to any game I can. With this blog hopefully I can give a little insight into a game day from a foggy London town perspective. You can read match reports, I don’t want to give another recital of the game..just what it was like to be there (or not be there as this first blog hits on)

So, let’s start at the beginning..

Home v Liverpool – Carling Cup (28th Oct ’09)


Carling cup games are a must see now, period. The fact it’s £10 to get into the lower tier is a great reason to go but the best reason is the buzz and excitement that’s palpable when the kids are playing. The buzz, the optimism, the sheer enjoyment that hangs round the stadium really does refresh you. The fact that we’re lucky to have so many young gifted players means this is a must see. The fact that many season ticket holders decide not too go means blocks normally full when tickets go on sale are available. This always means I go for block 5 or 6 lower tier where REDaction sit. If you’re not familiar with these guys and the good work they do for fans, see for yourselves.

This means 90 mins of standing and chanting, continuously. In short it’s great fun, about as close to get as you will probably get to a terrace feel in a modern stadium like ours. Even after Insua scored his own screamer after Fran’s left foot rocket we sang, we shouted and saw Nik B score in front of us for the win. Arsene gave us a wave after the obligatory round of ‘Arsene, give us a wave, Arsene Arsene give us a wave’..but Pat Rice never waves.

We won, we played well but even if we lost you always come out of these games with a smile on your face as it puts the fun back into football. I think we left with ‘the kids are alright’ playing over the tannoy system…

Home v Sp**s – Premier league (31st Oct ’09)


OK, let’s get this confession out in the open from the start…

I…WASN’T…THERE

I know, it hurt and this is why even being so close to the stadium on a daily basis doesn’t mean you’ll be at the game. Something called real life got in the way. Rather than find myself in the pub (hello to everyone at ‘The Tollington’) at 11am preparing accordingly for the 12.45 kick off I found myself on a motorway heading north away from London for a wedding. Want t know the most ironic thing, it was a Sp**s fan getting married!

So picture this, leaving home at 9am to meet friends for the drive out of London then 12.30 arriving at the venue and finding there was not a strong enough mobile reception to get live updates from my iPhone…damn you countryside!

1pm - Ceremony starts, friends on text alert had not sent me anything..how were we doing I wondered.

1.25pm – Ceremony ends, check phone, no texts, what’s going on…

1.30pm ish – Outside drinking free champagne, phone then goes crazy..1 nil! Shout over to groom and raise glass of champagne bfore downing it.

1.31pm ish still – Phone goes crazy again, txts describe Cesc wonder goal..phone connection just about get’s me ESPN’s description of Cesc dic*ing al over Sp**s. Shout update to groom, groom family disappointed to see I’m telling the truth. More champagne is drunk, fists are pumped in the air. This is going to be a good day.

Lot’s more free champagne later…

2pm ish – More texts, RVP’s goal…game over and I’m pretty as a result I drank a bottle of champagne on my own.

This is one of those times and one of those games where if someone offered me the 3 nil result to shut up Sp**s but the catch was I couldn’t be there then you have to take one for the team. My not being there meant 11 hours of free food and alcohol, which made it all the easier though (thanks to Seb and Lisa for that).

Sometimes you miss the great results but feel like even though you were elsewhere you did your bit. Sometimes you’re there at the big games and do your bit (v Man U champs league semi final 2nd leg for example..I stayed for the duration) but the result goes against you. That’s the life of a football fan…

Home v AZAlkmaar –Champs League (4th Nov ’09)


This was the first champs league game proper I had made. I was there for Celtic at home right by where the Eddy/Boruc penalty box incident occurred but we all know Boruc dived in on Eddy with the look of a madman in his eyes…but that wasn’t a REAL champs league tie. I missed Olympiacos as I was away on holiday at the time in Spain but watching with a cold beer in Spanish October heat had it’s perks!

Match day ‘preparation’ is key as any football fan knows. We all have our little superstitions, places we go, people we go to games with, places to sit etc. I’m no different and happy to admit I’m a creature of habit on game days. Weekend or weekday match will at some point mean pre or post match pub at least..but usually it’s both. Drinking establishment of choice is ‘The Tollington’ and if you’re in town for a game me and others thoroughly recommend the pub.

After enough beer, the game was tight at first but the man, el capitan, senor Fabregas squeezed in a near post shot. Followed shortly later by Sami shimmying to drop his marker and score his first champs league goal and our second on the night then Cesc again and Abou to wrap it up. Shame we couldn’t keep them from scoring but 4-1 will do!

Back to the pub to celebrate being one point away from champs league knock out round qualification...

Away v Wolves – Premier League (7th Nov ’09)


It may surprise some to hear getting away tickets to see the Arsenal can be as hard as getting home tickets...I kid you not. I’ve made a few away games over the years, Wigan away last season in April with 5,000 Gooners for a 4-1 win being the last occasion. I fancied this one, 2 hour train ride north or a drive about the same length on a Saturday afternoon...game on.

There is a but though, for all the stick we get about not being loud fans at home we have a very good travelling support, shown by the fact you need to be a season ticket holder and have been to 25 away games in the last 3 years to get away ticket for Sp**s and Man U for example. Wolves almost made it to where I could buy tickets at silver membership...then it sold out.

So this is the choice, my sofa for the game or to The Tollington? Beer in the fridge or beer from the bar? Me cooking pizza or having dinner cooked for me potentially? No brainer really...had to be the pub. This is one of the great things about living around the club daily. When you’re away from home and on the TV then home fan friendly pubs will always be packed with Gooners. Wolves away was no exception, the atmosphere was good but certainly not at the Nevada Smiths level.

Catching the game with my old flatmate Alex we saw a cagey opening period but then happily watch us sucker punch Wolves twice in the opening half then the sublime one touch layoff from RVP to Cesc to kill the game at 3 nil. Andrey rounded things off nicely for the fourth.

Then I remembered why I wanted to be at the game...all I could hear was the away Gooners. They were drowning out the home fans. We’re great away from home right now, we’re even better at home but we still seem to switch off conceded again which was the one blot on the game at the pub. Perfection is still being chased...but we’re 2nd for now.

No more games till after another tedious international break...but Standard Liege and Chelsea at home to look forward to at the end of Nov.

Keep the Faith Gooners, Arsene Always Knows - GB

[Gareth is our newest contributor, and will be posting for us on a semi-regular basis going forward. Welcome aboard, GB!]

Weekend Preview: Arsenal Shooting Down Wolves Like Sarah Palin

Somewhat of a shorter Preview today... unfortunately, I can't comment much on the Alkmaar match, being that I was completely decimated by work throughout it... what can I say, I'm a Gooner, not a Scouser... we have jobs. Not that I'd have had much luck anyway, being that I couldn't find a good stream once throughout the match. And once I was able to watch and was able to find a decent stream, Alkmaar immediately got their consolation goal; this in itself was a bit of a gift from the ref, who should've called a handball in the box against Alkmaar, but waved play on out of what I can only think was mercy.

Otherwise, as I'm sure you know, Arsenal were simply brilliant. Arshavin picked up a hat-trick of assists, Cesc scored two more goals, Nasri netting his first in slick fashion, and Diaby netting the fourth, set up by some lovely play from Eduardo and Arshavin. I think the most positive thing I can take from the highlights of the match (below) is the return of the counter-attack to Arsenal's repertoire. Gooners will remember the Invincibles were among the most gifted counter-attacking sides in memory, and this has been an element of the game that has been missing from Arsenal's play for far too long.



Arsenal sit atop the group with 10 points, and a win in either of the next two group matches (home to Standard Oil--er, Liege; away to Olympiakos) will see the Gunners clinch top spot in the group. No less than I think we all hoped for after the draw, but Euro matches are never easy, so well done to the Gunners on their current showing in Europe so far. Maybe in the knockout stages we can face a German team...

Back at home in England, Arsenal face the daunting *giggle* *snicker* prospect of Wolves away. This Wolves squad is a typical Mick McCarthy side, in that they work hard, get promoted to the Premiership and are immediately relegated (at least that's where they're headed on current form). Now, I say these things and make light of Wolves' performance in the league this far, but lest we forget that many of us, including I would assume the Arsenal players, had a similar attitude going into a home match versus Premier League newcomers Hull City, and that result wasn't exactly pleasing, was it?

Still, in my own opinion, this appears to be a more mature, focused Arsenal side, and free of some of the distractions of last season (Ebooooouegate, Gallasgate, and the cloying dark cloud of Adebaywhore), and the players are coming off of consecutive confidence-inspiring wins, including a demoralizing, crushing 3-0 shutout of Spuds at the Grove. There's absolutely no reason Arsenal can't walk into the Molineux and own the place, and I expect that the boys will do just that.

It wouldn't be an Arsenal season without injury concerns, and this one is no different in that respect. Arsene will be without Bendtner (groin) and Clichy (stress fracture - back) for an undisclosed period, most likely over a month. These come in addition to existing injuries to Denilson, Vela and Traore. Clichy's left back spot should be in safe hands with the talented Kieran Gibbs deputizing, while Bendtner's absence is a blow, considering the Gunners lack another forward with Bendtner's power and directness. Not to mention height.

Still, hope remains with the return to fitness and first-team action of Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri, and both of these players will bring a creativity to their play that is above many of their peers. If we could get Nasri, Rosicky, Cesc and Arshavin playing together at their best... what a sight to behold that would be. Almost too beautiful to look upon...

My lack of time/laziness once again dictates that we will be without a celebrity for Celebrity Pick 'Em, so you're stuck with me again. I nearly got the nazi guy from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but apparently he's dead, proof that you just can't live without a face.

Aston Villa v Bolton
PREDICTION: Villa 3-1 Bolton
I've come to the conclusion that there's very little sense to picking Villa matches. It seems that in order to discourage sports-betting, Villa occasionally field a team of donkeys disguised as Villa. Throws everybody off. Oh, and Bolton suck.

Blackburn v Portsmouth
PREDICTION: Really? I have to pick this? My prediction is they both suck.
Really, it's a foolproof pick. No matter what the result, the guarantee that both teams suck as pretty much ensured.

Man City v Burnley
PREDICTION: Citeh 3-0 Burnley
Poor Burnley. Anyway, if you guys are gonna get relegated, would you mind doing a Martin Taylor on Adebayor? That would really help us out. KTHXBAI!

Tottenham v Sunderland
PREDICTION: Scum 1-1 Sunderland
Sunderland really should beat the spuds, but at Shite Hart Lane, I can't see them getting more than a point. Although that would be great.

Hull City v Stoke City
PREDICTION: Hull 0-1 Stoke
Phil Brown, fake tan, relegation. Stoke have one weapon and should be able to nick a goal and a win from the Tigers. RELEGATORS! Mount up.

West Ham v Everton
PREDICTION: West Ham 1-1 Everton
Hammers took that comeback against Arsenal to heart, and have really been on good form, clawing themselves out of the relegation zone for the time-being. Everton have been as inconsistent as Rush Limbaugh's bowel movements, so West Ham should be able to get a result if they keep playing with intensity.

Wigan v Fulham
PREDICTION: Wigan 1-2 Fulham
I probably shouldn't do this, since Fulham don't seem to do well when I pick them to win, but even at home, Wigan have been completely hit or miss. Mostly miss.

Chelsea v Man Utd
PREDICTION: Chavs 1-1 Uniturd
The Match of the Week... tough one to call, seeing as Chelsea have dropped a few points despite being the better side (on paper at least), while United have won a few despite being the inferior side. So I'll just split the difference.

Liverpool v Birmingham
PREDICTION: Liverpool 4-0 Birmingham
Seeing as Liverpool lost last week, it's time for a yo-yo result. They'll stomp the shit out of Birmingham so that all the pundits can claim them title contenders again, just so they can blow it again in their next match. If the Scouser fans out there are feeling a bit masochistic this season, it means you're paying for your ridiculous luck in previous seasons. Suck it up.

And now for something completely different: A picture of Maradona getting high:

And back to Wolves v Arsenal. Arsenal have the advantage in attack, midfield and defense, and I'm going to assume in goal. Arsenal have the stronger manager. Wolves will be at home, which basically means their fans have disadvantage in having more of them present to be disappointed. My only concern is that the Gunners may be looking past this team a bit, in the "we just have to show up to win" mode that we've seen so many times. Hopefully Capitan Cesc will keep everyone's eyes on the task at hand: beat Wolves, three points.

Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Wolves.

Not much more to say really. Lots of football this weekend, looks like some nice autumn weather in which to enjoy it. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!

Until next time, you stay classy, Gooner nation.

- B, a Gooner.

Champions League Preview: AZ Alkmaar

OK folks, initial squad news gives us little in the way of surprises apart from Rosicky being back in squad - I don't know about you but after hearing from Le Boss that he would be "a little short" for the West Sham game I had worries when he was not included in either the Liverpool or Spuds squads that we were on the verge of a serious relapse. Not such good news about Clichy - he will be out for a month or so (let's be honest, could be 3 months based on Arsene's past predictions!) with a suspected stress fracture in his back. Time for young Gibbs to step up, and maybe even Traore to challenge for the left back position. Gael has not had the best of times this season as has been universally acknowledged, but he remains our best choice and however good Gibbs or Traore can be, there is no substitute for your first choice.

Nasri is also in the squad, but we're also missing Bendtner & Theo - the latter being due back in time for the Chav game by my estimates. I'm expecting a strong starting line up tomorrow, although this will be partly nullified by the inclusion of Diaby, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Eboue given the chance to fuck up in midfield rather than Eduardo, and whilst Alkmaar came close to out-Arsenal-ing us 2 weeks ago, I see nothing more than a comfortable home win.

After that we have an on-paper easy trip to the Black Country to face Wolves. My head is telling me that we, again, should win comfortably, but after Stoke away last year I'm as nervous as a Turkey on Christmas Eve. Let's get tomorrows game out of the way first and see if our squad can get through it without any more long term injuries.

I'll touch on the Carling cup tie away to the Manc Chavs in another post, but I'm positively salivating at the prospect of RVP wreaking a terrible revenge on Greedy-bye-whore. Shame it's up there - we don't play them at home until the arse-end of the season.

A final word on our squad - all the doom-sayers out there who reckon it was paper thin at the start of the season.... when you look at who is currently or has been out injured already.... Vela, Denilson, Theo, Little Jack, Djourou, Fabianski, Bendtner - we have had the opportunity to see some squad players step up and really show their worth - Rosicky (ok, hardly a squad player but not exactly a first teamer for the last 2 years!), Ramsay, Gibbs, Merida. Now, exactly where else could we accommodate any more World class talent (apart from in Goal)????

The future REALLY is Red 'n' White....

Manana Amigos....

Clockender

Weekend Roundup: Little Cocks Can't Compare to Arsenal's Big Guns

An Open Letter to Robbie Keane

Dear sir or madam,

If you spent a little less time running your mouth and a little more time running around on the pitch, you and your Spurs would STILL get your asses handed to you by Arsenal, although in that case, we might have to go above first gear to do so. Thank you, and enjoy 10th place.

Sincerely,
The Modern Gooner

First of all, let me say from all of us at TMG how thankful we are to Paul (aka Clockender) for providing two dynamite posts, and let me encourage you all to give them a read as well. Very good stuff and coming from a fellow Gooner who was on the scene of Spurs latest DVD filming, "42 Minutes..." As you'll see, we both recap the match on Saturday, but from differing perspectives, although equal in our excitement at the result.

It was another unbelievable weekend of football that we've just gone through. Especially unbelievable if you listened to the stream of excrement that poured forth from the mouths of the Spurs players and their chav manager before the match. Let's address their claims in order, shall we? Pikey Keane argued that the levels of the Arsenal and Tott squads were about even, with a slight edge going to Tottenham for their bench. Surely you jest, sir. As far as I could tell, the only thing level about those two sides on Saturday was the pitch they were playing on. Arsenal dicked around with the ball for 40 minutes without ever being seriously threatened, and that was before the goals started to come.

Spurs' own long-necked bugger Peter "Scarecrow" Crouch figured that since West Ham came back from 2-0 down, they could do the same if (when) they found themselves at a deficit. Eyes down here, ya gangly bastard: I know West Ham, I've seen West Ham, and you sir, are no West Ham. Tottenham Hotspur are among the greatest collections of underachieving, self-entitled douchers ever shat into existence. You also figured your boys could hold together at the back and all would go well. How'd that work out for you?

And so we come to Spurs' latest future ex-manager, Old Twitchy, 'Arry Redknapp himself. 'Arry reckoned that Spurs a) play fantastic football, just like Arsenal, and b) were coming to win the match on Saturday. Erroneous on both counts, dipshit. Unless I'm mistaken, and I'm not, no one is comparing a team playing fantastic football to Tottenham. You play the same, dull, "Hoof it upfield to the tall fucker" style that the worst teams in England play, it's just that your tall fucker is a taller fucker than most tall fuckers. And at no point did Spurs even resemble a team that was dedicated to winning. The fastest that Robbie Keane ran all day was to the touchline when he was finally substituted. The entire Spurs team looked helpless and flat all game, and I enjoyed every moment of it, topped only by our goals and the requisite shots of 'Arry's droopy face in a completely tragic reaction.

As I mentioned, Arsenal rarely looked like they had to move up a gear from "idle" to beat Spurs on Saturday. And I will admit that in spite of our great advantage in possession and a few lovely chances (including a Fabregas strike that looked so goal-bound that my premature celejacubration was stifled by Gomes' save), I was getting a bit concerned watching several players walking around without any real energy or urgency. A better team than Spurs (and let's face it, there are PLENTY of teams better than Spurs) can take advantage of a sleepwalking side, and that's how we looked for chunks of the first half. It was especially frustrating because the overwhelming thought in my mind was that a little effort would see the Spurs crumble.

At around the half-hour mark, Nicklas Bendtner pulled up with what appeared to be a groin injury and needed subbing off. Arsene introduced Eduardo, and a more potent substitution he could not have made. Eddie's pace, direction and overall attacking play seemed to energize the side into going forward, and it was after the Crozilian's introduction that we really started to see some chances be created. Quite a few were wasted, but after 42 minutes had passed, notorious Tottenham hater Robin van Persie latched onto a cross from Sagna (whose crossing is showing some definite improvement this season) and tapped it past Gomes at the near post. Van Persie went mad, the Emirates went mad, Nevada's went mad, and I can imagine all Gooners watching everywhere went mad in varying degrees.

What does not seem to vary much is the number of people who missed the second goal because they were still celebrating the first. I myself only turned around to see Cesc strike the ball past Gomes, went even more mental with the Nevada's crowd, and celebrated again when the replay was shown. Van Persie stepped in to win the ball after the restart, Fabregas pounced on it and produced a run as skillful as you will see this season, despite Droopy's grumblings to the contrary. El Capitan Catalan Fantastico split two white shirts with the ease of parting curtains, nutmegged the helpless Lead-legs King, and stroked a finish past Gomes into the lower left corner of the net. 2-0 to the Arsenal headed into halftime, the Totts well and thoroughly dejected, we Gooners elated, and all the more so because of the Totts aforementioned dejection. Let's have a look at Cesc's mastery:



Quite an indictment of both the Spurs' defense and Twitchy's description of Arsenal's scores as "Not a good goal among them." And there was more to come. We controlled the second half as we did the first. Eduardo had several chances in the second half, two of which I really felt should have been put away (and judging by Arsene's jacket-throwing reaction, I'm not alone), which would have added to the scoreline and compounded the Lilywhites' suffering (as well as the Gooners' footballing inebriation). The first of these was created by Fabregas' brilliant long ball past what Tottenham are calling a defense these days to the very feet of Eduardo, who had only the keeper to beat and instead shot directly into him.

This save must've gone to the visitors' heads however, as after a bad tackle by noted James Bond villain Essou-Yaphet-E-Kotto on Eddie, referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on while the Spurs stopped play to wait for a free kick. Sagna took advantage to catch them napping, slipping another cross into the box, past Gomes limp effort and finished by van Persie for the Dutch Master's second.

While Arsenal didn't manage another score, it wasn't for lack of chances. Cesc spotted Eduardo again, lobbing a long ball over the defense to put him one-on-one with the keeper, only to watch Eddie's finish dribble wide of goal to the left. Horrible... for all of the creative play that Eduardo added to the side, he was guilty of two terrible misses where he really should have done better. On the other hand, Cesc put in yet another masterful performance. He not only scored once (almost twice), he was again the creative engine that drove all of Arsenal's attacking play, ran all over the pitch tirelessly, dropped back in defense when necessary--basically, he did everything you would expect Captain Fantastic to do, only better. And then there was Manuel Almunia, who returned to the side after the world's worst chest infection to make some nice stops, and although was only ever really challenged once, from a set piece, he responded very nicely. Well done, and good to have you back, Manuel.

After the match of course I couldn't just leave, so several of us decided to remain at Nevada's to wind up the poor Chelsea supporters, when who should walk in the door but Roman Fucking Abramovich. Reactions were decidedly mixed. Some felt starstruck, some (Austin) went from zero to Murder in 6 seconds, and some just looked at this as a perfect time to wind up the Chavs in front of their Russian billionaire. True to form, the New York Blues (est. 200wheneverallthemoneycame A.D.) didn't make a peep for the first 20 minutes or so, in which time I had myself sang "John Terry's Mother is a Thief" (which has really become my favorite song to get under the Chelsea skin) and we had all sang every song we knew to dig at them. I expect they needed to hand out their song sheets. It must be difficult to remember songs when you only show up for one match in ten.

Anyway, I ended up leaving at halftime, Chelsea already having gone 1-0 up on Bolton, who had had a man sent off, and the rout was on. But Roman was good enough to let himself be photographed after the match with some of us Gooners, and hat's off to him for that, even if it was directly in front of our flag. I despise what he's done to football regarding transfers and creating a formulaic precedent for clubs like Man City to follow (Shit Team + Loads of Money = Shit Team + Trophy), but at least he's a football fan... which is more than I can really say for one of Arsenal's main investors, the rotund Uzbek oil magnate Usmanov, lurking on the periphery for his chance to bleed the club dry. Cheers to the Gooners who stuck around to show Roman what real football support sounds like as well.

Apparently there were quite a few other matches this weekend. Who knew? Anyway, let's briefly go over how badly I effed up my picks this time around:


Bolton v Chelsea - PREDICTION: Bolton 1-2 Chelsea
Reality: Bolton 0-4 Chelsea
Bolton never really stood a chance playing 10-men against a full-strength Chelsea team, did they?

Burnley v Hull City - PREDICTION: Burnley 2-1 Hull City
Reality: Burnley 2-0 Hull City
Phil Brown, allow me to be the first to buy you a Coca-Cola. And possibly the last, as there'll be no shortage of it in the Championship. Unless you quit, as expected.

Everton v Aston Villa - PREDICTION: Everton 1-3 Aston Villa
Reality: Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
Would the real Aston Villa please stand up?

Fulham v Liverpool - PREDICTION: Fulham 1-1 Liverpool
Reality: Holy Fuck, Fulham 3-1 Liverpool!
Liverpool are out of the title race. No, wait, they beat United, they're back in it! No, wait...

Portsmouth v Wigan - PREDICTION: Portsmouth 0-2 Wigan
Reality: Holy Fuck Again! Portsmouth 4-0 Wigan
Pompey win and get the Al Bundy-Polk High Football Award for scoring Four goals. Not in one season... in one game...

Stoke City v Wolves - PREDICTION: Stoke 1-0 Wolves
Reality: Stoke 2-2 Wolves
Four goals in any match involving Stoke is an aberration, as their affairs are generally low-scoring. But not beating Wolves on your own ground? Way to go, Professor Frink.

Sunderland v West Ham - PREDICTION: Sunderland 2-1 West Ham
Reality: Sunderland 2-2 West Ham
Hammers fight back for another crucial point from a good team. Now if only they could get a result against the shit teams they've been playing down to... Anyway, here's something you Hammers may appreciate.

Man Utd v Blackburn - PREDICTION: Man Utd 4-1 Blackburn
Reality: Man Utd 2-0 Blackburn
Man Utd = Good team. Blackburn Rovers = Shit team.

Birmingham v Man City - PREDICTION: Birmingham 1-3 Man City
Reality: Holy Fuck Part III! Birmingham 0-0 Man City
Just as an announcement, Adebaycuntmuppet has not scored since his header against us. Fuck Citeh. As an aside, Fuck Birmingham and their moronic fans and Martin Taylor in the ear with a hot iron stick.

Also this week, West Ham hosts Aston Villa, so perhaps the Irons can find a way to scrap a point out of this one as well. Much as I love giving the Hammers shit, Nevada's would be the poorer for them being relegated. Plus they're John Cleese's favorite team, and if you can't support John Cleese, you're too stupid to breathe.

Arsenal have another Champions League group stage match this Wednesday, hosting A-Zed Alkmaaaaaar. The Gunners will be looking to banish the memory of their last meeting with the Dutchies, in which Zed equalized in the dying moments to snatch a point and deny the Arsenal all three. Look for a side similar to that fielded Saturday against Spurs, minus Bendtner, who will be ruled out due to injury. The home crowd behind our boys, I'm expecting a win, and be able to announce the demise of A Zed.

That's all I've got time for right now fellers. NYC Gooners, enjoy the fall weather and the sunshine while it lasts... stupid daylight savings time. before you go, check out this clip; it's as honest and refreshing a take from Premiership managers as you're ever going to see, including Twitchy and our own LEGEND, Arsene.



And as always, you stay classy, Gooner nation...

- B, a Gooner

Dig the New Breed

Following the modern classic that was Arsenal Youth vs Liverpool, we had the small matter of the North London derby, hosting none other than the perennial top 4 gatecrashers. Some interesting team selection from Twitcher brought Rat boy Bentley back into the side at the expense of the injured Lennon, with one time Arsenal target Bassong partnering Ledley King at the heart of the defence for the Spuds, with Woodgate and Dawson covering from the REALLY strong bench.

No real surprises in Arsenals team selection - Almunia's return was an absolute given considering the injury sustained to Fabianski vs Liverpool and the in-experience of Mannone which in recent weeks has arguably cost us goals vs West Ham, Birmingham, and Blackburn, with Bendtner coming into the side in place of Eboue, probably for his aerial qualities.

Early sparring aside, the only real surprise was the lack of any card activity from ref Clattenburg - surely Bentley should have been booked for either or both of his indiscretions commited within the first 8 minutes?? I suspect that had these transgressions occurred later on in the game and spaced by more than 2 minutes he may well have been in line for an early bath.

Apart from seeing Bentley try to re-create last years goal of the season contender (and see it go woefully high and wide) to be honest, Sp*rs fans didn't have a lot else to shout about. Palacios and Huddlestone (thank God HE wasn't on the bench..... I hear those benches are a nightmare to have reinforced with titanium) were clearly tasked with nullifying the Arsenal midfield, and they made a reasonable fist of it. Diaby was his usual... errr.... crap self (sorry for the poorly thought out adjective, my mind goes blanker than Gordon Ramsays testicles when I think of what Diaby brings to the team, other than abject crapness of course), and Song huffed and puffed without looking particularly stretched. Fabregas had the best chance of the first half hour, forcing a great one handed save from the Sp*rs keeper, Gomez. Arshavin was predictably low key as well - he really doesn't look happy at the moment... must be all the income tax he's paying...

The game exlpoded into life on 43 mins, RVP poking home from Saganas low cross. Gomes really should have done better, but who cares eh? Whilst we were wilding celebrating (and I MEAN wildly) Spurs kicked off. Now, normally, a team is at it's most vulnerable when they have just scored, concentration levels dip with the euphoria of going 1 up against your nearest (geographically only of course) rivals. Someone forgot to tell Fabregas though..... cue RVP winning the ball back straight from the kick off, passing to Fab4, and the skipper embarking on a mazy run into the heart of Sp*rs territory. A couple of half hearted challenges were easily navigated, leaving the skipper with only Gomes to beat from 18 yards.... Cesc spanked the ball home, and despite Gomes' going the right way, we were in dreamland!!! YYEEESSSSSSS!!!!!!

To be honest, I was still shouting like a Tourettes sufferer on speed when half time came 2 minutes later or so, and I made the best possible use of the half time interval. Piss, beer, smoke, and several abusive text messages to Sp*rs fans that have paradoxically become friends over the years.

The second hlaf was spent biting my nails in the certainty that Spurs would re-group and we would inevitably concede (as usual), but as luck would have it, my cuticles were saved by a great piece of refereeing by the near faultless Clattenburg in allowing lpay to continue after Eduardo was fouled in the niside right position. Sagna, again, whipped the ball in low, and King & Gomes stole the ball away from the advancing Van Persie.
Hold on a minute.... the ball has slipped through.... it's off Van Persie.... GOAL....3-0!!!
Unbelievable stuff! Thanks Ledley and Huerelho for that early Christmas present!

Cue a stream of Sp*rs fans exiting the stadium, no doubt to either smash up the toilet facilities or to beat up a few "shirts" outside. Tossers.

After the ecstacy, the agony..... of Eduardo failing to score when clean through, not once but twice.... of Diaby thumping a header wide when scoring would've been easier, of Fabregas unlucky not to have claimed his second when Ramsay misplaced a simple square ball, and still time for Eduardo to aim a free header straight at the keeper. 3-0 it finished, could realistically been 5 with only one chance of note for Sp*rs (the Spanish waiter keeping out Rat Boy Bentley's vicious free kick), and yet more bragging rights for the red side of north London. I make that 16 years since the Spuds beat us on home turf (May 1993 I seem to remember the last time, a few days before the FA cup final we played a weakened side featuring legends such as Scott Marshall, Paul Dickov, and Mark Flatts and were unsurprisingly beaten 3-1 - still, we did win the FA cup though...) And to close just a quick word of thanks to Robbie Keane for providing the team with all the motivation they needed to up their game. Stronger squad than Arsenal Robbie??? Better luck next year Robbie - ever thought of trying some lucky heather????

Thrills, Spills, and Bellyache....

Where do I start?? OK, let's keep this chronological... starting with the Mickey Mousers.... irrefutable proof, if any were needed, that Liverpool will NOT be in the hunt for much in the way of silverware come May was last week's 2-1 Carling Cup win at THOF.

I spent a lot of time (too much in fact) on Wednesday morning trawling the blogosphere via NewsNow and reading various conflicting reports and player ratings. Personally I thought Bendtner had a decent game, and I think there will be a lot more to come from him. Bearing in mind his age, he's racked up 50-odd games for the Arse, and some 20-odd goals. I think he's gonna be a top drawer player by the time he hits 25, and I guess that's where we hit a snag.

According to some bloggers, the future is rosier than an orchard of roses viewed through rose tinted specs, myself included in fact. But lets not delude ourselves here. Does anyone think Kerrea Gilbert is as good a back up at right back as Ebooooue?? Demented calls for Eastmond to be given a chance in the first team. You must be kidding right? The kid - and he really is a kid - would wilt quicker than aforementioned roses in a 200 degree oven! A fine prospect perhaps, but 3+ seasons away from being a 1st teamer - if ever.



Randall will be a premiership quality midfielder when he learns how long to keep the ball - I doubt that will be with Arsenal though. Watt - another good prospect, very lightweight, and, let's be honest - can you see him displacing any of our current plethora of forwards?? He will go the way of Jay Simpson (who is scoring for fun down at Loftus Road), spend some time out on loan somewhere like Watford, and who knows? Maybe we'll see him sporting the number 10 shirt and taking the piss out of Spurs centre halves in season 2012-13. There are, to be fair, some REAL players coming through, ready now, who shouldn't be held back for too much longer.... Merida, Vela, Wilshere, Lansbury, but who are these guys gonna replace? Fabregas (22), Nasri (21), Walcott (20).....err.... you get my point.

Out of the 4 mentioned above, I will bet my left nut that they will not all be here in 3 years time, they will simply run out of patience and continually being told that Diaby, Denilson, and Eboue are all ahead of them. Scary thought, eh? You only have to look at the Arsenal (recent) history books..... Bentley, Pennant, Sidwell, Diarra, all left 'cos they weren't getting playing time. Gilberto in his last season kept Diarra out, and Ljungberg in his last 2 or 3 (when we all knew his legs had gone) kept out Bentley and Pennant. Mind you, that pair of cunts have hardly set the World on fire since they left us have they? But that's another story! I've not really left much room to discuss the game.... do yourself a favour, look it up on NewsNow.... just make sure your Boss isn't watching! Ciao for (news) now... ClockEnder

Coming Next - The Sperz back four wish Arsenal a Merry Christmas....