The Weekly Arsenal

November 29, 2013

First of all an apology, I’m sorry but force of circumstances prevented me finishing the week before last’s news round-up, Peaches was kind enough to do it for me, and for failing to produce last week’s at all. Various situations have now been resolved so here goes with the next edition.

Friday:

A quick shufti at the morning papers revealed the most positive piece of news…“Walcott set to return from injury”. “He has not played even a reserve team game, but I will put him in the squad on Saturday,” said boss Arsene Wenger. “He’s completely fit again.”

Now that’s what I call good news! We’ve missed Theo’s pace and his ability to get behind defenders.

Both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were back in full training after interlull injury scares.

Wenger revealed that Tomas Rosicky had been ill and would be assessed later but could be in the squad. Remarkable news about Abou Diaby, he could be ready to play as soon as March. Whether or not that’s March 2014 was not made clear.

Saturday:

First vs Third at ThoF, a big raspberry to both Sky and BT Sport for not showing the game live. “I think I have proved a lot of people wrong”.

Aaron Ramsey speaking to Julian Wilson in the Telegraph revealed his quiet satisfaction at confounding his critics, chief among them being Piers Morgan who described Ramsey as an “utter liability”. “People are quick to jump on players who are not doing particularly well, I think I proved a lot of people wrong, hopefully made them look a bit silly because they knew what I was capable of before my leg break and then were quick to criticise”.

Arsene Wenger “I’m not against buying in January. I don’t say I never made a mistake – I certainly made some”.

Thierry Henry is training with Arsenal, our record goal scorer is maintaining his fitness levels during the MLS close season. Could he get into our present first team squad? If so could Arsene sign him on a short term loan deal in January? He’s done it before.

Sunday:

“Giroud double sends Arsenal four clear” The BBC’s headline says it all for me. Artur Boruc’s laughable attempt to dribble the ball around Giroud presented our striker with his first of the afternoon and a tug on Mert’s shirt was enough to bring a penalty which Olly put clinically past Saint’s Pole in goal.

There’s not much doubt that the doubters are being put firmly in their place and being served up large portions of Humble Pie. I’m lovin it!!!

Monday:

A quiet day on the Arsenal News front, no dramas, no contentious decisions to discuss, no pundits writing off our chances of trophies, no calls for the Owner, board of directors and manager to quit.

Speaking on http://www.arsenal.com Arsene Wenger said of Saturday’s victory “This win shows we are ready for a fight when it didn’t go as fluently as we wanted,” said Wenger. “That is the most pleasing thing. We were tested by being challenged for every single ball and we responded quite well.

“We always had the focus and I could never feel that we eased off. They made it very difficult for us.

“We could see a good togetherness to help each other out,” Wenger added. “We knew that we were sometimes in trouble and you felt that they were ready to fight for each other.

“That is the solidarity level that was needed. It’s very important.”

You just can’t argue with that.

Santi Cazorla issued a timely warning against complacency before Tuesday’s game with Marseille, speaking to the London Evening Standard he said:- “The main problem I see is everyone thinks it’s going to be an easy game for us to win, There is nothing at stake for Marseille because they have zero points but they are going to make things difficult for us. It may be tough and if we’re not careful we might slip up and then we might not be able to get through to the next round.

“We need to understand it’s a vital match, If we obtained a bad result then it would make things very complicated for us to go to Napoli and win there.”

One other tit-bit of news, not strictly Arsenal related, but I couldn’t resist it. Skinny chicken plucked, stuffed, trussed up and roasted after Hugo Lloris has an Artur Boruc moment.

Tuesday:

Team news ahead of the Marseille game was pretty positive, Arsene Wenger announced that :- “Everybody from Saturday is available and of course Flamini is available as well because he’s back from suspension”.

Naturally there was some speculation concerning how Marseille would approach the game, their record in the group, standing at played 4 lost 4, suggested they only had their pride to play for. As far as Arsenal were concerned it was vital that they should go all out for a win in order to avoid any Napoli Nerves in the final group match.

Ladbrokes were offering odds of 4 to 1 on for the home win, 5 to 1 against a draw and 9 to 1 against an away win. Meanwhile Borrussia Dortmund were 7 to 4 on to beat Napoli.

Wednesday:

The day dawned grey and damp but that was only the weather, Arsenal fans were rejoicing after another satisfying win in The Champions League, 2 – 0 against Marseille, a brace of goals by “Cracker” Jack Wilshere, the first after only thirty seconds, meant that even Ozil’s poor attempt from the penalty spot could be safely overlooked. Mersut later made up for his transgression by laying on the sweetest of passes for Jack to score his second.

It emerged that the Dozy Dane had been at it again, Bendtner was arrested in the early hours of Sunday, he was later charged with criminal damage after the door to the swimming pool, in the apartment block where he lives, was damaged. Bendtner was issued with a Police caution and released. Arsenal have “reminded” the 25 year old of his responsibilities.

Thursday:

Our former player and Assistant Manager Pat Rice has been admitted to hospital suffering from cancer. I’m sure all members of the Arsenal family will join me in wishing Pat a full and speedy recovery.

It was reported that the BFG was in talks with Arsenal over a contract extension. 27 year old Per Mertesacker who was close to an agreement on a contract that will keep him at the club until 2017 said. “I’m very delighted here with the club, especially after the first year was tough for me, a very tough challenge”. Sign da ting Merts.

It’s sad but true that some tabloids exist just to make trouble, when there is nothing detrimental to say about Arsenal they will pick on the slightest thing. According to that paragon of journalistic rectitude, The Mirror, Arsenal fans are outraged at Mathieu Flamini for cutting of the long sleeves of his shirt prior to the Marseille game. Shock! Horror! On the day when match fixing in the English (lower) Leagues rears it’s ugly head, this sorry excuse for a newspaper can only find a story about shirt sleeves to report.

That’s it for another week AAers thank you for your patience.

Norfolk Gooner


Vote for the Next Arsenal Manager

November 22, 2013

Having a few minutes free I start as I often do  to consider life after Mr Wenger. Who doesn’t?

The man has been a stalwart but even he will have to let go at some point. SAF was approaching his dotage when he retired and my hope is that Mr Wenger will retire in time to enjoy the evening of his life. He is approaching 65 and it would not surprise me if he refuses to sign a longterm contract. In which case, let’s play the “Manager Game” …….

I have certain requirements; they must be Arsenal men, they must be under 50, they must be winners,and they must be comfortable with the press. So that rules out most chaps. But who could possibly take over?

Many of our ex-players have taken coaching badges over the past decade and as such can be considered.

1. Tony Adams. Don’t laugh. This is Mr. Arsenal we are talking about. He has PL and foreign managership experience, he has interesting views on Arsenal and football in general which could improve the club. He knows how to organise a defence and above all else TA is a winner. So why not? Well …..

2. Remi Garde. This little fellow is definitely in the frame. Currently manager of Lyons in France and a self-confessed Spurs hater. He has the experience and has already (according to the Redtops) been approached to be Director of Football at THOF.  He speaks fluent German as well so will be able to chat to our new signings.

3. Dennis. The people’s choice. Currently working at Ajax and doing his badges. Could DB10 really become an Arsenal manager? The flying is the first problem, then there is the doubt that he could ever be a Number One. I can easily see him as an assistant manager or a coach but The Big Man? Somehow I doubt it but it would be nice and he does look good in a suit!

4. TH14. Why not? The man is hugely intelligent, absolutely loves the club, has massive experience and an excellent understudying of tactics. A man motivator, brilliant with the media and a true Arsenal icon. Manager material? Why not?

5. Steve Bould. He certainly must be considered. He has been working his way through the manager ranks at Arsenal and now gets to learn from The Great Man. Has he the “nuts” for the job? Well, he would certainly command respect! Woe betide any player who dared diss him. He has done very well with the youth team and is well thought of by the club. Has he the gravitas to take over from AW? You decide.

6. Patrick Vieira. I have said for a few years that PV4 will manage Arsenal, he has everything we need; intelligence, leadership, the badges, media savvy, a love for The Arsenal and above all, he is a winner. It would be excellent if he could be the first black manager of a big PL club. Some say that his time at MC makes him a traitor and his criticism of some of our recent (last season) form was ill-judged but he is a man who speaks his mind and for that we should congratulate him – after all he was only saying what we all were!

7. Someone else. Now this is the most likely bet given the youth and inexperience of the above group.  It is likely that if AW retires next summer or in 2016/7, we will have another Bruce Rioch figure before the Arsenal man gets the gig. There isn’t anyone who comes to mind – Deschamps, Low, Klopp are unlikely to come – yes, I know, Klopp would be brilliant. OK …. just for you I will put him in the vote

8. Mr Klopp. Top bloke, superb at managing BD but who knows how he would fare in the PL.

So vote away …. you have 3 votes so we can get a clearer picture


Arsenal’s Greatest Forwards – Day 7

July 19, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we will end our quest for the greatest forwards to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite striker, this weeks posts will bring us bang up to date and there will be a vote on Saturday.

19. Thierry Henry: 1999-2012.

Thierry appeared in 377 games over a 13 year period and scored 228 goals.

Thierry was born and raised in Les Ulis suburb of Paris which, despite sometimes being seen as a tough neighbourhood, provided good football facilities. As a seven-year-old, he showed great potential, and was recruited by the local club CO Les Ulis. He joined US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club, so Henry moved to ES Viry-Châtillon and played there for two years.

In 1990, Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch Thierry, when he was just 13 years old, he scored all six goals in a 6–0 win. Catalano asked him to join Monaco without even having a trial first, later he joined Arsène Wenger’s Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, he signed professional forms and made his professional debut in August 1994. Although Wenger suspected that Thierry should be deployed as a striker, he put him on the left wing because he believed that his pace, natural ball control and skill would be more effective against full-backs than centre-backs. He was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996, and in the 1996–97 season when Monaco won the Ligue 1 title. By his third season, he had received his first cap for the national team, and was part of the winning team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He continued to impress during his tenure with Monaco, and in his five seasons he scored 20 league goals in 105 appearances.henry arsenal

Thierry left Monaco in January 1999 and moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus for £10.5 million. He played on the wing, but found it difficult playing in an unfamiliar position against the Serie A defensive discipline, and scored just three goals in 16 appearances. Unsettled in Italy, he transferred from Juventus in August 1999 to Arsenal for an estimated fee of £11 million, reuniting with his former manager Arsène Wenger.  It was at Arsenal that he made his name as a world-class footballer. Brought in as a replacement for fellow French forward Nicolas Anelka, Thierry was immediately moulded into a striker by Wenger, a move that would pay rich dividends in years to come. However, doubts were raised about his ability to adapt to the quick and physical English game when he failed to score in his first eight games. After several difficult months in England he conceded that he had to “be re-taught everything about the art of striking”. These doubts were dispelled when he ended his first season at Arsenal with an impressive goal tally of 26. Arsenal finished second in the league behind Manchester United, and lost in the UEFA Cup Final against Turkish side Galatasaray. Despite recording fewer goals and assists than his first season, his second season with Arsenal proved to be a breakthrough, as he became the club’s top goal scorer. Armed with one of the league’s best attacks, Arsenal closed in quickly on perennial rivals Manchester United for the league title.

Success finally arrived during the 2001–02 season. Arsenal finished seven points above Liverpool to win the league title, and defeated Chelsea 2–0 in the FA Cup Final. Thierry became the league’s top goal-scorer and netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club. 2002–03 proved to be another productive season for him, as he scored 32 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists, remarkable returns for a striker. In doing so, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph, where he was man-of-the-match in the Final.  Even though Arsenal failed to retain their Premier League crown, he was named both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year. His rising status as one of the world’s best footballers was affirmed when he emerged runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award

In the 2003–04 season Thierry was again instrumental in Arsenal’s exceptionally successful campaign; together with team mates the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès, he ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten, claiming the league title in the process. He was named as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, for the second year running. With 39 goals scored in all competitions, he led the league in goals scored and won the European Golden Boot.

In the 2004–05 season he maintained his reputation as one of Europe’s most feared strikers as he led the league in scoring, and with 31 goals in all competitions, he was the co-recipient (with Diego Forlán) of the European Golden Boot. In mid-2005 Thierry became the Arsenal Captain. The 2005–06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Thierry on 17 October 2005, he became the club’s top goal-scorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright’s record of 185 goals. On 1 February 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham United, bringing his league goal tally up to 151, breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin’s league goals record. He scored his 100th league goal at Highbury, a feat unparalleled in the history of the club, and a unique achievement in the Premier League. He completed the season as the league’s top goal-scorer, and for the third time in his career, he was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year.

In a surprise move Arsenal sold Thierry to Barcelona on 25 June 2007, for €24 million.

Henry left Arsenal as the club’s leading all-time league goal-scorer with 174 goals and leading all-time goal-scorer in Europe with 42 goals; in July 2008, Arsenal fans voted him as Arsenal’s greatest player ever in Arsenal.com’s Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players poll.

Following his time with Barcelona, he signed a four-year deal for a reported €6.8 (£4.6) million per season, with the Red Bulls of the MLS.

After training with Arsenal during the MLS off-season, Thierry re-signed for the club on a two-month loan deal on 6 January 2012. This was to provide cover for players participating in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. He made his second Arsenal debut as a substitute against Leeds United in the FA Cup third round and scored the only goal. In his last league game on loan, he scored the winning goal in stoppage time in a 2–1 win against Sunderland. 

Awards and honours:

Monaco:

Ligue 1 (1): 1996–97

Trophée des champions (1): 1997

Arsenal:

Premier League titles: 2001–02, 2003–04

FA Cup: 2002, 2003, 2005

FA Community Shield: 2002, 2004

Barcelona:

La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10

Copa del Rey: 2008–09

Supercopa de España: 2009

UEFA Champions League: 2008–09

UEFA Super Cup: 2009

FIFA Club World Cup: 2009

New York Red Bulls:

MLS Eastern Conference: 2010

National:

1998 FIFA World Cup

UEFA Euro 2000

FIFA Confederations Cup2003

Individual:

UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year (1): 1996–97

PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2): 2002–03, 2003–04

PFA Team of the Year (6): 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06

FWA Footballer of the Year (3): 2002–03, 2003–04, 2005–06

Premier League Golden Boot (4): 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06.

Golden Boot Landmark Award 10 (1): 2004–05

Golden Boot Landmark Award 20 (1): 2004–05

Premier League Player of the Month (4): April 2000, September 2002, January 2004, April 2004

Goal of the Season (1): 2002–03

UEFA Team of the Year (5): 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006

MLS Best XI (2): 2011, 2012

MLS Player of the Month (1): March 2012

Onze d’Or (2): 2003, 2006

European Golden Boot (2): 2003–04, 2004–05

French Player of the Year (5): 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

IFFHS World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year (1): 2003

FIFA FIF Pro World XI (1): 2006

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): Germany 2006

FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball (1): France 2003

FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Shoe (1): France 2003

UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament (1): 2000

FIFA 100: 2004

English Football Hall of Fame: 2008

A statue of Thierry statue stands outside the Emirates Stadium honouring him as one of Arsenal’s all time greatest legends.

20. Robin van-Persie: 2004-2012 

Robin played in 278 games over an 8 year period and scored 132 goals.

Robin was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The son of two artists, he was encouraged to follow in his parents’ footsteps, but he preferred football.

He joined Dutch side SBV Excelsior’s youth squad at the age of 14 years, but left at the age of 15 and signed for Feyenoord. He was quickly promoted into the first team due to injury problems among the squad, and made his debut for the club at 17, which was the first of 15 total starts. He received the KNVB Best Young Talent award at the end of the 2001–02 season and then signed a professional three-and-a-half-year contract the following season. Clashes with his manager Bert van Marwijk saw him demoted to the reserve squad, he finished his tumultuous debut season on the first team, making a total of 28 appearances and scoring eight goals, in addition to finishing runner-up in the KNVB Cup. Feyenoord unsuccessfully attempted to extend his contract during the off-season. His deteriorating relationship with van Marwijk led to his spending most of the 2003–04 season on the bench. He again played 28 matches, but finished with two fewer goals than the previous season.

On 17 May 2004, Robin signed a four-year deal with Arsenal for £2.75 million, just over half of Feyenoord’s original asking price of £5 million. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, who planned to convert him from a left winger to a centre forward, said of his new acquisition, “He can play on the left side of midfield, as a creative player behind the main strikers or as a target man. Robin spent most of his time on the bench during earlier parts of the 2004–05 season, and made his competitive debut on 27 October by scoring Arsenal’s opening goal in a 2–1 League Cup win over Manchester City. He was sent off for the first time, in an Arsenal shirt, on 26 February against Southampton, following a lunge at left back Graeme Le Saux, for which Wenger was seen yelling an obscenity at him from the sidelines. He then later lambasted him in the press stating “I do not support Van Persie today” Telegraph sportswriter Clive White described Van Persie in his match report as “21 going on nine.” He was consequently benched for a number of games, starting with Arsenal’s FA Cup replay against Sheffield United, and he was reintroduced into the squad only after Henry was out with a calf injury, his return to the first team saw him score twice in a FA Cup semi-final win over Blackburn Rovers. The rest of his season was cut short by injury, and he finished with ten goals in 41 appearances in all competitions. Robin’s good form at the start of the 2005–06 season earned him the Player of the Month award for November 2005 after eight goals in eight starts, and he was rewarded with a five-year contract extension until 2011. Two days after signing the contract, however, he was once again hit by injury when an opponent stepped on his foot and broke his toe during an FA Cup match.

The beginning of the 2006–07 season included an airborne volley against Charlton Athletic that Arsene called “the goal of a lifetime” and he was later named BBC Sport’s Goal of the Month for September, and he capped off the calendar year by being named the 2006 Rotterdam Sportsman of the Year. His season, however, ended early for the second time in his career on 21 January, when he fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. After the departure of Thierry Henry he assumed the role as Arsenal’s main striker. Following a streak of seven goals in ten regular-season games, he was sidelined for two months with a knee injury suffered on international duty. He made his comeback in Arsenal’s Champions League group stage on 12 December and made his Premier League return in the win against Chelsea over the weekend. However, he picked up a recurrent injury that kept him sidelined until January when he played 45 minutes in a League Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur. He was withdrawn at half-time following another injury scare and featured sporadically throughout the rest of the campaign. The following season (2008–09) he was named as the Arsenal.com Player of the Season. With only one year remaining of his contract, it was announced in July that he had signed a new long-term contract with his club, stating, “My heart is with Arsenal and I just can’t picture myself in a different shirt.”

On 14 November 2009, he injured his ankle in an international friendly and was initially expected to be out for six weeks, but further tests showed that he would be out for five months. Before the start of the 2010–11 season, his squad number was changed to number 10. He made his 200th appearance in August but an ankle injury suffered in the game placed him on the sidelines once again. He returned as a substitute for Arsenal’s

0–1 defeat to Newcastle United on 7 November.

BSROn 1 January 2011, he scored his first goal of the season in a 3–0 away win over Birmingham City. On 15 January, he added two more goals to his tally in a comfortable 3–0 win over West Ham. This made him only the fourth Dutchman to reach 50 goals in England’s top division. Robin scored his first career hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Wigan Athletic on 22 January and two goals against Newcastle United in a 4–4 draw on 5 February. Continuing his fine form, he hit a brace the following week against Wolverhampton Wanderers scoring both Arsenal goals in a 2–0 win including a volley from inside the box. The ten goals he scored between 1 January and 12 February set a new Premier League record for most goals scored in the first two months of a calendar year.

He set the Emirates alight with a goal from an almost impossible angle in Arsenal’s fight back against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 which ended 2–1 in favour of the Gunners. On 27 February 2011, Van Persie captained Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in the League Cup final, scoring the first half equalizer for the Gunners. It was his first goal at Wembley and his first in a cup final for Arsenal. However, he was later taken off in the second half with a knee injury he picked up while scoring the goal. He was voted as the second best player of the 2010–11 season on Arsenal’s official website and also received the team’s Goal of the Season award for his audacious strike in the 2–1 victory over Barcelona in the Champions League.

Having been appointed vice-captain for the 2010–11 season, he was promoted to club captain at the start of the 2011–12 season. He finished the season as the top goal-scorer in the Premier League with 30 goals, and became Arsenal’s 8th all-time top scorer with 132 goals.

On 4 July 2012, he announced that he would not be signing a new contract with Arsenal.

Finally after a series of rumours he was transferred to Manchester United for a reported £22.5 million. Supporters of Manchester United voted Van Persie as the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for the 2012–13 season.

Written by GunnerN5 and complied by Gooner in Exile


#once a gooner always a gooner?

September 22, 2012

I often come across this hashtag on twitter about former Arsenal players. Usually it’s in reply to Cesc or Henry saying something complimentary about Arsenal. Personally I think Cesc should be #oncebarcaalwaysbarca but that’s just me. I’ve always wondered how Arsenal fans make up their minds about which former players deserve our support/love and which deserve our contempt and the ones we could say neutral. Here is a list. Make your own minds up

Dennis Bergkamp

Real name God. Finished his career at Arsenal after signing several 1 year rolling contracts. The most gifted Arsenal player in my limited experience.

My Verdict Always a gooner

Ian Wright

Ian was top scorer for the Arsenal until Thierry took his crown. Since he retired he likes to wind gooners up on talksh*te and says he’s a Millwall fan but I think his heart is in the right place.

My verdict Always a gooner

Tony Adams

“Mr Arsenal” Spent his entire career at Arsenal. Famously said “Remember the name on the front of the shirt and they’ll remember the name on the back”

My verdict Always a gooner

Patrick Vieira

He came from Senegal to play for Arsenal. He was a great player for us but I feel he’s tainted himself working (and tapping up our players) for the northern oilers.

My Verdict Traitor

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc came to us from the Barca academy when he was 16. It was inevitable that he would go back someday. I think his timing was all wrong. Whatever talent he naturally has, Wenger made him the player he is today (and he’s sitting on their bench)

My verdict Traitor

Ashley Hole

He was the best left back in a generation. Was offered 60K PW by Dein but the board objected and would only give him 55K famously making him swerve his car (if only) and go for a secret meeting with Maureen. Still can’t stop talking about us. I get the feeling he’s a bit bitter despite the trophies.

My verdict Traitor

Thierry Henry

Our all-time top scorer and Monarch. Like Cesc, he went to Barca but unlike the Spaniard he’d helped us to win trophies. He got the CL he wanted and dedicated it to Arsenal. Came back last winter and scored the winners against Sunderland and Leeds.

My verdict Always a gooner.

Robin van Persie

He was with us for 7 years, Spent a lot of time injured, had one season without injury and f***ed off. He grew up as an arsenal fan but the “little boy inside him” was screaming Manchester United.

My verdict Scum

There are plenty more but you get the idea:

Eduardo Always a gooner

Eboue Always a gooner

Freddie Always a gooner

Nasri traitor

Gilberto

Flamini

Lansbury

George Graham

Dixon

Seaman

What do you think?

Written by goonermichael


lastminutegoals.com

July 4, 2012

Watching live football always has that curious edge of nervous expectancy. Never knowing what will come next draws us back time and again. When events turn against us, we say that it was inevitable, we could see it coming, but when the footballing gods deem it is an Arsenal fan’s moment in the sunshine, nothing quite beats the thrill of an Arsenal goal in the final minutes of a game.

Sometimes even snatching a last minute draw from the jaws of defeat can turn a journey home or an extra drink in the pub from having a funereal air, to being one of relative jubilation. However, the goals which turn 1 point into 3 can produce such a surge of endorphins that the feeling lasts for days. The ultimate last minute winners have even bigger prizes dangling from their goal celebrations. Cups and championships won in the last seconds of a game can produce after effects which last a lifetime.

Here are a selection of ‘last minute’ goals for your enjoyment.

Thierry Henry v Sunderland 2012

We were at Lingfield racecourse for my nephew’s stag do and were suitably miffed when news came through of Mclean’s goal in the 70th minute. We were hopeful again when Rambo scored off both posts to equalise and ecstatic as Thierry rose like a kung fu master to stab the ball home in injury time…….

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Thomas Vermaelen v Newcastle 2012

The poetic justice of this goal being scored near the end of the time added on for Tim Krul’s persistent time-wasting makes this my favourite last minute goal of recent times……..

http://www.flickr.com/photos/27453474@N02/6977506871/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Kanu 1999 v Chelsea at the bridge.

Two nil down with 15 minutes to go, Nwankwo wrote his name into the Arsenal legends book with a hat trick to die for, including one of the best goals you’ll ever see. Take it away Martin Tyler….

Thierry Henry v Man U 2007

To my mind this goal was the first big moment to happen at the Emirates. A goal of such simple beauty and Ferguson’s reaction to it at the end of this makes me laugh every time I see it….

Ray Kennedy v spuds 1971

50,000 in the ground, 50,000 left outside, Shite Hart Lane was red and white for the night in May 1971. My old man and older bro tried to take my younger brother and me to the Lane that night. We only got to the end of the Paxton Road before they decided it was too dangerous for us to continue. This would definitely be my older brother’s main Arsenal regret, as it was such a terrible disappointment to miss the first time we won the League at the sh*thole. At least it wasn’t the last…….

Alan Sunderland v Man U FA cup final 1979

I can remember sinking to my knees on the Wembley terraces after Manyoo’s spawny equaliser only to stand up just in time to witness one of the those ‘hair standing up on the back of your neck’ moments never to be forgotten for the rest of my life……

Micky Thomas v Liverpool 1989

DidIt’s non-Edith Piaf post yesterday summed up one man’s wish to have seen this moment in the flesh. Presumably this would be most Gunners’ favourite last-minute, spine-tingling goal because there was so much riding on it………..

What’s your favourite last-minute Arsenal goal and why?

Written by chas


What’s Your Highlight of the Season?

May 17, 2012

Having watched a video of some spuds struggling to find a highlight to their ‘best ever team’ season, I started to ponder which were the highlights of my Arsenal season. As I went back through the games, I realised that, even though this was a big dipper of a ride, with lurching troughs and exultant peaks, there were so many truly memorable moments this season I could have chosen.

5-3 at the Bridge
A game with so many highlights, but the king of the chavs munching turf for our 4th goal sticks out for me. This clip doesn’t show the goal perfectly but I love Cashley in the foreground and the Gooner faithful in the background.

Best away fans
When Dortmund came to town their fans really put on a show. The North Bank upper tier always used to bounce on big nights. This was the first time I’d felt the upper tier at the Grove bouncing. What a phenomenal atmosphere and a great footballing occasion.

Biggest away victory plus Sir Chez sings
It was my third away trip to the pie-eaters in three seasons. We’d seen two successive comebacks by the opposition in the previous two trips. Four goals, two in each half, a clean sheet, “He scores when he wants” for the first time and Szcz leading “We’re by far the greatest team” at the end of the game. What more could you want?

Arsenal’s goal of the season?
The sublime technique of Mr van Persie unlocked the door of the Everton bus and provided the perfect present on our 125th birthday

Benny’s winner at Villa
After coming on as sub with less than 10 minutes to go, Yossi snatched a crucial 2 points for the Gunners with his stooping header.

The Return of the King
Thierry returned home in January and produced two moments of such magical timing, they left our hearts aglow. First was the exquisite Henryesque ‘open up the body’ finish on his comeback against Leeds in the FA Cup.

The second was his athletic winner from an Arshavin cross at the Stadium of Light which provided another crucial 2 points and started a run of 4 league matches where we came from behind.

Mashing the spuds
Quite simply this was one of the top 5 games I have ever been lucky enough to witness. Two nil down to the N17 pondlife, the knuckle-draggers tempted fate singing, “Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay” and “Your season’s over”. Five glorious red and white goals later they weren’t singing anything with most of them half way up the Seven Sisters Road before the final whistle. The turning point of the season without a doubt.  Enjoy.

A Krul joke
Thomas Vermaelen’s winner deep into injury time caused by Tim Krul’s persistent time-wasting was the perfect answer from the footballing gods to petty gamesmanship. Another exquisite capture of 2 vital points right at the death.  “Cam on Theo, do summink Theo”

The cleanest strike of a football you could ever see
When Mikel’s boot connected with the back of the football against Villa, the red and white angels carried it with speeding wings past Shay Given. This was my favourite goal of the season.

Arsenal do the Poznan
Arteta again gave us a season highlight with his late strike to dispose of the Oilers at the Grove.

The new Home of Football has seemed more like home this season than at any time since the move from Highbury. Even the Upper Tier were doing the Poznan. Great moments like this help to cement the stadium in the hearts of the supporters. Joyous stuff.

I’m sure we’ve all had moments of great joy and excitement during this season that will live long in our memories. These are some of mine without even mentioning another glorious last day St. Totteringham’s. What’re yours?

Written by chas


Tutto L’Amore che Ho: Forza Arsenal

February 15, 2012

What an exciting and challenging game we can anticipate tonight. A return to the scene of the European recognition  of Fabregas’s genius (sorry GM!). That night is etched in the memory alongside so many other astonishing and unexpected Arsenal victories – win this and we may get a repeat of the TH inspired win in the Bernabeu!

Having won our group we could have drawn an easier opponent because let us be clear, this is not going to be easy. Milan are a much better and younger side than the one vanquished by our heroes in 2008; they are top of Serie A. Unfortunately, their injury crisis  (13 players out in their recent win at Udinese) is rapidly improving, Nesta, Pato, Flamini, Prince-Boateng and Van Bommel return to the squad. Style of play? Allegri has said this of AC Milan’s approach “You can’t always dine on lobster and caviar, sometimes you have to have a ham sandwich”.  Cantona-esque!

I would like to concentrate on just two of Milan’s pantheon of superstars, Ibrahimovic and Van Bommel.

Van Bommel is one hard Dutchman. I remember a Highbury night watching him kick lumps out of our lads when playing for PSV (2004 1-0). He was without doubt the dirtiest player I had seen and it was a miracle he stayed on the pitch. After that night I followed his career with interest because I felt he would be a fine replacement for PV4. Sadly, he moved to Barca where he won a CL winners medal and later moved  on to become the first non-German captain of Bayern Munich. At 32 he moved to Milan and has been an integral part of Max Allegri’s squad.  70 Dutch caps, a league winner in 4 countries, WC finalist, CL winner – one could say he has had a successful career.  Should he play tonight I hope Aaron is wearing extra shin and ankle protection!

Zlatan Ibrahimovich is one of the world’s great players. A man who has never received the respect he deserves from the British press. Scorer of some of the most spectacular goals ever scored (check out Youtube) the Swede has a phenomenal record – at the moment, Ibra is on a run of 8 successive League title wins in 3 countries with 5 different clubs! I think it would be prudent to have a little wager on AC winning the Scudetto this season. During his time at Barca he was the world’s highest paid footballer on €28m a year. Barca paid €70m for him and sold him 18 months later for €24m – which makes the Torres deal look sweet.

“you’ll never play for Arsenal”

In 2001 Mr Wenger tried to sign Zlatan from Malmo but he chose Ajax for a then record Swedish transfer fee. It beggers the question  - who would have been sacrificed for him? Not Henry, so it must have been Wiltord who was going to be shipped out. Ibra has attitude and may have clashed with Thierry but what a forward line that would have been.

My Team:

The loss of BFG is a major disappointment; he is made for games like tonight against a clever but not particularly pacy forward line. Fortunately, we have super replacements and TV is finally back in his natural position. It is ages since we have seen Gibbs get a run of games but he is a super player and a full International, he will not be embarrassed. I would start Arshavin ahead of the Ox, his experience and precision of passing will be important in what is likely to be a tight game.  Expect a big game from Ramsey.

Inventor from Milan: Step forward Enrico Forlanini (if he were still alive). Born in 1847 he developed the world’s first helicopter (powered by steam!) and went on to pioneer the hydrofoil. Milan City Airport is dedicated to Forlanini.

Here’s Looking at You, Kid

Thierry Henry has scored in his final FA Cup game, his final PL  home game, his final PL away game and tonight ……  you would bet against it.  Thierry, whatever happens tonight and in the future, You are The Man.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Our Bench Is Rubbish! Sunderland Report & Player Ratings

February 12, 2012

There was a point yesterday – just before Sunderland scored their freak goal – when I was thinking: we need to change this game from the bench, but who can we bring on? We have no quality on the bench!

Silly me.

All it took was one Ramsey pot shot, one sublime cross from Arshavin and one trademark Henry finish to prove that Arsène Wenger still knows what he’s doing.

All three had come on as substitutes and they undoubtedly secured the three points for us.

This was a very important win against an obdurate and well organised Sunderland who were the form team in the Premier League going into this fixture.

The performance was even better when you take into account the state of the pitch. It looked as if the Riders of Rohan had just charged over it (perhaps on their way to Stoke to find some Orcs).

We started with arguably our strongest available 11 (I say arguably because it’s a toss-up between Rosicky and Ramsey for the third midfield role) and right from the off we set a pattern that changed little throughout the game: we controlled the ball, Sunderland largely conceded the middle of the park and drew back to just outside their penalty area, we passed and probed but struggled to find a way through, Sunderland relied on occasional breaks and set pieces.

No doubt some will damn the team for our inability to conjure a way through the massed Black Cat ranks. Perhaps we missed a bit of Fabregas magic – expelliamus parkbussimus – but I prefer to credit the Sunderland defending.

They gave no space at all to Prince Robin, nor to our two wide men, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Every time any of those three got the ball there were at least two men on them.

Chances were few and far between, although Theo did manage to get away from his markers on one occasion and fire a low shot across goal, but it went past the far post.

Despite the lack of goal scoring opportunities our defence was looking solid (even from set pieces), while Song and Arteta were doing a great job of providing an extra shield in midfield and Tomas Rosicky was as busy as he was against Blackburn last weekend.

The one big scare was when Mertesacker slipped in the box while dealing with a speculative through ball.

For most players the ball would have bounced over their head and out for a goal kick, but for the BFG it arrived at chest height, so naturally he chested it down. But, as he did so, he caught his foot in one of the horse divots and stumbled.

The ball bounced up and onto his arm. It was certainly not deliberate and certainly not ‘hand to ball’ but you do see them given – particularly when the penalty would favour the home team. Full credit to the referee, Neil Swarbrick, for not being swayed by the Mackem hysteria.

By half time it was pretty obvious that this was going to be a tight affair and that one goal might nick it.

The second half started much the same as the first. Sunderland had a couple of decent low shots from around the edge of our area. Szczensy did well to save both (one down to his left, then a more difficult one down to his right that hit a mole hill just in front of him).

It was a credit to the lad that he was sharp and focused when called into action, having had little to do up to that point.

Up front we were still probing with all the effectiveness of a blind gynaecologist. Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain were becoming even more peripheral than they had been in the first half, and, on 66 minutes, Arsene decided to make a change, bringing off Oxo for Thierry Henry.

Within four minutes we were behind. A rare Sunderland attack was tidied up down our right flank with Sagna shepherding the ball back to Mertesacker, who was running towards his own goal and had the simple task of rolling the ball back to Szczesny or across the park to the unmarked Koscielny.

Unfortunately the BFG injured his ankle as he turned and went down as if shot.

McClean, for Sunderland, showed brightness to keep on running past the fallen German before shooting low across Szczensy into the far corner of the net. I have seen comments questioning whether Chezzer might have done better, but the shot was hit very hard and from close range. Not his fault.

However, it was a freak goal and I was cursing our terrible luck. From a completely innocuous situation, suddenly, we’re a goal down. I really do think it’s time Arsene started going to church.

Given how tight the Sunderland defence was, I was doubtful as to whether we could rescue a point, let alone all three.

Ramsey came on for Mertesacker (let’s wish him well and hope for a speedy recovery), with Song dropping back into the centre of defence. And it didn’t take long for young Aaron to make a mark. Just three minutes after the re-start Arteta had a shot from outside the area blocked, the ball cannoned to Ramsey and his low first time shot went in off both posts. Ramsey has his critics, but he never hides and never stops taking shots at goal. It was always only a matter of time before his luck turned for the better.

So, one-all with 15 minutes to go. Would we sit back or push on for all three?

This is Arsenal – of course we would push on for all three. Arshavin came on for Walcott on 86 and immediately looked more dangerous than had either Theo or Oxo (perhaps because the Mackems were tiring after there exertions all afternoon and following their extra time FA cup win on Wednesday night).

As the clock passed the 90 minute mark, our pocket Russian found himself on our left wing with two Sunderland defenders in front of him. He jinked one way then the other, then dinked in a beautiful cross with his right boot. Jinky-dinky loveliness.

And who was there to meet it in the six yard box? Cometh the hour, cometh the legend.

Thierry Henry, who up til that point had had very little influence in the game, ghosted between the Sunderland centre backs to volley the ball past Mignolet in the Black Cats goal.

You can take away the speed, you can take away the stamina, you can take away some of the strength, but you can’t take away the class. A striker’s goal from a born winner. The celebrations among the Arsenal players were a joy to watch. Henry clearly means a lot to these lads, and they to him.

We never looked in trouble after that and at the end it was three points well earned and well deserved.

Player Ratings

Szczesny: Not too much to do but made two very good saves in the second half. 7.5

Sagna: Great to have him back. Unflappable and unbeatable at the back, and contributed a lot going forward. 8.5

Koscielny: He got caught in possession a couple of times but was generally the strong, reliable defender we have come to know and love. 7.5

Mertesacker: Was having a superb game until his unfortunate injury. We need him back quickly because, in my opinion at least, our strongest pairing at the back will be the BFG with one of Koscielny and Vermaelen. 8.5

Vermaelen: Didn’t put a foot wrong but is not able to support the attack as well as an orthodox left back would. 8

Arteta: Another fine game, controlling the ball from deep, covering our defence and instigating forward moves. He is our metronome. 8

Song: A real warrior’s performance from Alex. He misplaced a few through balls when looking for defence-splitters, but after his success against Blackburn last week you can’t blame him for trying. And his all round work breaking up Sunderland moves and powering us forward was exemplary. Can’t be blamed at all for Sunderland’s goal (sorry Peaches). 8.5

Rosicky: Finding some form at last. Was very combative, if a little wasteful with his passing at times. 7

Oxlade-Chamberlain: It’s not going to be a fairy tale every week at this stage of his career.  Had a couple of decent runs but was effectively marked out of the game. 6

Walcott: He saw more of the ball than Oxo but did little with it. Games like this, with banked lines of defenders sitting deep, are not the forum for him to shine. 6

Robin van Persie: Didn’t get much of a look-in. One second half header could have been dangerous but looped straight into Mignolet’s arms. Nevertheless, the fact that he had two or three players marking him at all times undoubtedly helped other players to find space at times. 7

Subs

Henry: Did nothing for 25 minutes then scored the winning goal. I’m making him man of the match partly for sentimental reasons and partly because he made the most valuable single contribution on the day. 9 MoTM

Ramsey: A brilliant cameo from Aaron. He was everywhere in his 22 minutes and scored the goal that brought us back into the game. The many critics will, in time, have enough egg on their face to make an omelet the size of Wales. 8

Arshavin: Little Andrei looked energetic and direct when he came on and provided a beautiful cross for Thierry’s winner. Perhaps he has reached rock bottom (in the Man Utd game) and is coming out the other side. I really hope so. 8

RockyLives


Invincibles versus VanPersibles: How Many of Today’s Team Would Get in the 2004 Vintage?

January 18, 2012

First off, I accept that this is a pretty unfair comparison.

To rank any Arsenal team from any era against the most feted group of Gunners ever to have worn the sacred cannon is clearly destined to be a mismatch.

It’s a bit like comparing Dan Brown with Charles Dickens, or Boyzone with the Beatles.

But I have noticed a few comments recently (including yesterday from Chary) alleging that, for several years now, we have been replacing good players with new players of slightly lower quality, and then replacing those ones with slightly lower quality again and so on. A kind of downward inflation.

We may not now be in the worst of times, but it made me wonder how far we have fallen since the greatest of times. How close would any of the current first team get to starting in the Arsenal eleven of 2003/4?

I am taking as our current First XI (with everyone fit):

.

Our first choice first team from 2003/4 was:

So let’s do the Head-to-Head.

Szczesny or Lehmann

No contest. Mad he may have been, but Jens Lehmann was the best ‘keeper in the Premiership that season. Szczesny will turn into a great player, but he is still learning his trade and, inevitably, makes costly mistakes. Lehmann.

Sagna or Lauren

Tough call this one. Sagna has been one of our most consistent players of recent years. Ralph was equally consistent during the unbeaten season.  They are both no-nonsense, uncomplicated defenders capable of focusing fully for the whole game. I’m going to shade this one Sagna’s way because he is a bit more dynamic getting forward. Sagna.

Koscielny or Toure

If Koscielny keeps progressing it may not be too long before he can eclipse Kolo Toure. But for now, Kolo’s athleticism, speed and strength win the day. Toure.

Vermaelen or Campbell

Again very close, but Campbell was the rock upon which our Invincibles defence was built. A double wardrobe with a Ferrari engine, Campbell must have been a nightmare to play against. Campbell.

Santos or Cole

Santos may become an Arsenal great, but right now this is a no-contest. The greedy Chav wins hands down. Cole.

Song or Gilberto

Alex Song is a more gifted all-round footballer, but for protecting the defence against all comers it has to be the Invincible Invisible Wall. He wasn’t spectacular, but, boy, did he know his job. Gilberto.

Vieira or Wilshere

Bad luck Jack. Against most midfielders who have played for Arsenal you might have won this one, but I’m afraid no-one can displace the unmatchable Paddy V. Vieira.

Arteta or Pires

OK, OK… this is where the exercise breaks down a bit because a 4-3-3 is different from a 4-4-2. Let’s just say that, good though Arteta is (and his absence on Sunday helped reinforce his importance), it has to be Le Bob. Pires.

Walcott or Ljungberg

Freddie was never the most gifted of players, but his intelligence made him one of the most effective wide men in the business, always arriving in the box at the right moment and choosing the right option. Sadly, when it comes to footballing intelligence and taking the right option, Theo does not rate so highly. Ljungberg.

Van Persie or Bergkamp

Two Dutch Masters. Bergkamp played ‘in the hole’ – a position in which Robin would also possibly thrive. But even after his goal scoring exploits of the last year, RvP cannot displace the greatest player ever to have pulled on the famous red and white. Bergkamp.

Gervinho or Henry

Close call, this one. OK, just kidding. Henry.

So there we have it. From our current first team only Sagna, by my reckoning, would have a chance of being a starter in our Invincible eleven (and even that is a close call).

What does this tell us?

That the years of being a bit boracic because of the stadium build have led to us downgrading the quality of our players, as Chary and others suggest?

That we are currently an unambitious club unwilling to spend on world class players the like of which we had in 2003/4?

That football has changed so much since 2004 (when it was really a toss up between us and Manchester Utd for the title each year) that we will never again be able to achieve such dominance because of the arrival of the sugar daddy clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City?

Or that, back in 2004, we were just incredibly, freakishly lucky to have several of the best players in the world all playing together, supported by ruthlessly professional team mates and a winning ethic that enabled us to steamroller all opposition?

Have we fallen so far because of self-inflicted mistakes, or is it just the swings and roundabouts of football, in which success is difficult to achieve and sometimes difficult to understand, while failure is an ever-present possibility (just look at Liverpool and the Spuds) for which everyone claims to know the reason and whom to blame?

What do you think?

RockyLives


Seven days on and still reliving the return of King Henry

January 17, 2012

We’re a bit in the doldrums here at Arsenal Arsenal. At the moment we’re still numb from the defeat on Sunday and finding it hard to be upbeat and forward thinking. Our twin posts today are in celebration of the return of Thierry Henry. Hopefully our bloggers will come out from behind the sofa and remember the positives of this season so far, but don’t let that stop you commenting on where we go from here.

Written by Total Arsenal

On Monday 9th January 2012, we, the Gooners, witnessed a truly special moment. The return of King Henry to the Home of Football was not just a joyous occasion, it was also magical; even a near-spiritual, transcendental experience for all those present at The Emirates and, to a lesser extent, to those who watched the game in pubs or at home. What made it all the more special was Henry’s response to the occasion: he, himself, wanted this return so much, but just like us had not believed it possible anymore. From an unknown player he had grown into a legend at Arsenal, to then become an ex-player and transform in a fan for life. This fan was given the unique opportunity to play for the club he had fallen in love with. For TH14/12 this meant the world.

On these rare moments, when a pivotal part of the glorious Arsenal past is brought back into the future, and we are being allowed – against all expectations – to experience it once again in its full intensity, we all know we are witnessing/taking part in something truly special.

The scene was set beautifully for Thierry. Arsenal were struggling to break down a stubborn Leeds to such an extent that the return of Henry was not just a luxury Arsene could afford itself – no, it had become a necessity. We needed a shot in the arm, a spark to lift the place and that is exactly what he gave us that night.

What followed next will be remembered by every Gooner for decades to come. Thierry’s goal was a good goal, but by itself not a great goal. What made it a great goal is totally down to its historical value. It was a trademark Henry goal, showing us all again how important it is for a player to move in the right positions, and what it means for a striker to make a great first touch in the box. He basically took on the ball in such a way that he used his right foot like a hockey stick: at the same time as he touched the ball with his foot he allowed his body to move ever so slightly away from the ball, in order to line himself up perfectly for a deadly second touch. He sat himself up with the best possible angle to place his diagonal shot, low and precise, past the keeper and in the corner of the goal.

At that moment in time I literally pinched myself, thinking this is too bizarre to be true, that I must be dreaming. I had never expected to see one of my three greatest Arsenal heroes back playing real football for us. To see him score such a quintessential TH14 goal, the only goal on a dull night, was simply magical.

When something truly special happens, people will express themselves in heartfelt superlatives. To prove just that, here are some of the comments from fellow AA’ers:

Peaches: Thierry ……. ahhhh Thierry, he just loves playing for Arsenal and we just love having him back. How fantastic for those youngsters to play and train alongside him for the next few weeks. Almost too good to be true and I was there.’…. ‘We can discuss formations and players good and bad points for eternity but tonight one man and his song and our song raised the roof at The Emirates and made thousands of gooners very happy. He’s really special our Thierry Henry, be in no doubt ………

MickyDidIt89: ‘We [Micky and his son] watched the game. First half…dull, but the conversation kept coming. “Just imagine Dad, 0-0, maybe 1-1 and Thierry comes on to score the winner”. Later I put him to bed, kissed him goodnight and turned off the light. As I closed the door I heard a whisper: “Dad….can’t wait to tell my friends at school tomorrow that I saw Thierry come on and score the winner for The Arsenal”.
Best part for me? Not TH, not the win but being with my Son the moment he experienced his first real piece of Arsenal Magic.’

Chas: ‘I’ve never seen excitement like that in an Emirates upper tier crowd. People on their feet singing and dancing, it really was the second coming……A bizarre night at the football, as if it was scripted, yet pulsing with an expectant excitement.’

VCC: ‘Needless to say we had a ball last night down our local, high fives all round after The King scored.’

Big Raddy: ‘Does it get better than that moment? To be treasured forever.’

SharkeySure: ‘A living eulogy !!!!!’

TMHT: ‘Thierry and Arsenal is like a fairytale. Wonderful stuff.’

FGG: ‘I’ve died and gone to heaven!’

Seven days on from that fantastic evening, our feet have been put firmly back on the ground again. However tough the next few months MIGHT be though, nobody will be able to take that great night, in which we witnessed the temporary return of the King, away from us. A night we will remember for decades to come – a modern day fairytale.

Written by Illybongani

On Monday night the Emirates stadium witnessed the rebirth of one of football’s all-time greats – Thierry Henry. Almost 5 years since he left for greener grass in Spain the mercurial goal machine returned home to visit his family after travelling round a bit to see the world.

When the loan deal was first mooted a few eyebrows were raised; was it just Arsène being tight and not bothering to put is short arms in his long pockets again? Was it just a sentimental grab for a handful of straw that would only sully a reputation cast in bronze on the plaza outside the stadium? Or was it another shrewd piece of business by the Professor to fill in gaps left by Chamakh and Gervinho who have gone off to the African Nations Cup?

Well we found out on Monday night didn’t we? If he doesn’t score another goal in his 6-week home visit then it will all have been worth it. Someone needs to get on Wikipedia and update that scoring record.

Thierry coming home was like having sex with your ex-wife…you know it used to be good, she knew what turned you on and almost always delivered – but after a long break, she’s put on a few pounds and has a few wrinkles. But, heh, maybe she’s learned some new tricks since the break up! Well she managed to give me a semi on Monday!

Well it wasn’t a new trick, it was the same old stuff that he delivered year after year. Clinical with passion. But this time it felt so much more special. But yet it showed just how far backwards we have gone since he left. The poor performance of the rest of the team against an even poorer Leeds left a sour taste in the mouth.

Isn’t it time we divorced Chamakh and Arshavin on the grounds of diminished ability? And maybe it’s time to end the trial separation of Thierry and us? We forgive you darling – now come home where you belong.



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