Bring Me The Ankles of Patrice Evra

Apologies all, for my lack of activity of late. It's easy to get wrapped up in the holiday season and all of the drinking and inherent laziness that it entails, but I've popped out of hiding for a bit to say hello and spout on our favorite topic, the Arsenal. No time for pics at the moment, so you're stuck with dreary old text. Consider it a time machine to the internet of the late 1990's.

Last weekend we hosted Fulham, always a difficult prospect with the generally tight defensive play they present, and doubly so considering our home form being patchy this season, at best. Still we were the favorites going in and we all expected the full three points. We got that much, despite some typically horrific defending allowing Kamara an equalizer that made it level at the half and induced long stretches of poor play leading up to the break, and after starting so brightly and taking the lead through the indomitable Nasri.

It was Nasri who also brought the winning strike and gave us the points. To be honest, I've now seen both of his goals in this one about 40 times, and they never get old. I personally thought his first, taking the ball from the right, faking out two defenders as he slid into a more central spot in front of goal and then unleashing a cannon strike past Schwarzer, was the goal of the season. Then I saw his second. RvP's typically cool pass set Nasri dancing through the heart of the Cottagers' defence, round the keeper (how many times is that now?), and though his touch took him to the goal line, he miraculously pirhouetted and finished over a diving defender quite coolly. He is in rare form, the best of his career at Arsenal and likely his life, and it's something special to see such a player doing absolutely everything right. And he's got a killer song, as well.

That win took us top of the table for the first time this season, as Man U(re) were postponed at Blackpool. While the good feelings carried for us, they were threatened to be derailed as we needed a win in our final Champions League group match at home against lowly Partizan Belgrade. It was a nervy affair Wednesday (although when isn't it with this team, really), and while we saw Robin van Persie score his first goal of the season on a typically gorgeous penalty, our defenders conspired to make things more difficult than they needed. A wretched Partizan side went forward with little promise but were given a break as Koscielny abandoned Squillaci on a missed challenge, leaving his mate to cover both the ball and the run. While Squillaci positioned well enough to hold both, Cleo's shot deflected off of him and over Fabianski, who could have otherwise made the save.

With the introduction of Theo Walcott for the ineffective Arshavin, we looked a bit more positive, and in the 73rd minute, Theo bagged the eventual winner, capitalising on a failed clearance and calmly sticking the ball into the side netting. Later the cake was iced when a decent interplay between Bendtner and Song on the edge of the area found Nasri, who sidestepped a defender and slotted home the third with apparent ease. 3-1 the final, and while it was good to qualify (despite finishing second and setting up a second round tie with one of Barca, Madrid, Bayern or Schalke), we certainly won't strike fear into anyone being as apparently ready to concede as we are. Arsene has been cavalier about defending at all, his quotes paiting the picture of a man who views goals against as either a fluke or just an occupational hazard. Bigger clubs will be licking their chops.

Which brings us to Monday's clash at Old Trafford with United. There is no greater Premier League fixture, in my opinion. It's not like your local rivalries, and while derbies with the Sp*rs and Chavs have hotted up more in recent seasons with the emergence of those teams as contenders (or in Sp*rs' case, as not as awful as they have been), this is the one we've looked forward to each season. Wenger and Fergie. Paddy and Keano. Keown and Van Horsetlefaace. Henry and Barthez. Freddie and All Of Those Cunts.

Let me make this plain: I hate Tottenham, I hate Chelsea, but I absolutely fucking DESPISE Manchester United. I abhor Fergie's mind games and his spiderveined fucking nose, I am disgusted by Gary Neville's Phantom of the Opera face, I am made physically ill by that diving cheat Rooney, and while I get along quite well with some of their fans outside of football, some of them have made me angry enough to take the life of a fellow human being on more than one occasion.

Yet for the last few seasons, apart from one home result, I have amped myself up for no real reason, as we haven't looked like beating United over 90 minutes. Luckily, we haven't played all that poorly at Old Trafford, or at least, we've played less poorly there than at home. We lost there early last season and felt hard done by due to some poor officiating (Fletcher should have seen red first half for hacking down Arshavin in the box, Rooney diving over Almunia for a penalty on a ball he'd never have gotten to, an abundance of Arsenal yellow cards, the last minute equaliser that was inexplicably ruled out, Wenger forced to go into the stands among the cretins who'd been calling him a pedophile for 90 minutes) and Diaby's brainless own goal. We drew there two seasons back on the day they won the Premier League, and lost a tightly contested 1-0 Champions League semifinal there before being demolished in the home leg.

I want to be confident going into this one, I do. But there are several factors preventing me from feeling bullish about this fixture. For one, there's no guarantee that we will be with the services of Cesc Fabregas due to his continual hamstring problems. True, it's not been his best season, and some have said that his absence has allowed Nasri to flourish, but he is our captain and certainly one of our best players, and only a fool would want to go to visit London's only Manchester team without Cesc in the fold. Still, risking him unnecessarily would be foolish as well, considering the lingering nature of hamstring problems (See: Rosicky, Tomas), and it's still only halfway through a long season.

For another, United have the in-form Nani going against our fine but mistake prone left fullback, Gael Clichy. In the home fixture last season, Clichy was dominated by the overlapping movement of Rooney and Nani on our left flank, and each United goal began on that side. Gael needs to do better if we want to avoid a similar outcome.

But it's not all doom and gloom. We are certainly capable of scoring goals, and United are very good at conceding them (almost as good as us!). The manager is spoiled for choice with his attacking options, and I think that given more time together, Van Persie and Chamakh could form a solid partnership with Nasri (or if Samir's in midfield, with Arshavin or Theo or whoever's hot at that moment). We do have Djourou back, so if we're lucky we'll have the Swiss in defence over the increasingly unreliable Koscielny. And we have the very solid Bacary Sagna against presumably the 140 year old Ryan Giggs, who is apparently composed entirely of bones, skin, and sawdust. We have an in-form 'keeper in Fabianski (please don't punish me for praising you, Lukasz).

If nothing else, we have Martin Keown mocking Ruud van Horsetlefaace for missing a penalty, we have Wiltord scoring the title-clincher at Old Trafford, we have oodles of goals from Freddie past the 30 Man U(re) 'keepers from Schmeichel to Van Der Sex.

Anyway, kickoff is likely at 2:45 pm EST, so if you're in New York, come down to the Blind Pig. If you're a New York Gooner and you have to work, call in sick. If you're a New York Gooner who has no sick days left, schedule a vacation day immediately. If you're out of vacation days, quit your job. I'm serious, this is that important.

As for the title of this article, I'm sure you've seen Evra running his mouth about Arsenal, and as much as he irks me, I'm not going to address it. I'd like to see Nasri or Theo break the twat's ankles with a lovely move, but if someone should happen to actually break his ankle(s), I won't lose any sleep. Provided that player isn't sent off for it.

Roll on Monday. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!!