Villains to Heroes ….. it’s been worth the wait!

Be honest with yourselves fellow gooners – how many of you at the start of the season would had expected to be in with a real chance of winning the premiership and have the mouth-watering prospect of playing Barça in the quarter finals of the Champions League. Not many I would guess, and if you’re in the mood for confession, how many amongst us have expressed serious doubts (in some cases vitriolic character assassination) over some of our present squad? I have, I’m ashamed to admit.

Song, Eboué, Diaby, Bendtner and Denilson are 5 of the 6 that have come in for the most flak; I shall come to the 6th later.

These 5 players were bought for less than £10m and probably have a combined worth in excess of £50m and rising – not bad business! Let’s look at them one player at a time.

Alex Song: made his debut in September 2005, scored his first goal against pool in January 2007; later that month he went out on loan to Charlton Athletic until the end of the 2006/2007season. From 2008 onwards he has featured in the Carling Cup and been integrated into the first team. He is now first choice holding midfielder. This player has probably caused more disagreement amongst fans than any other, but the quality and consistency of his performances this season have won over even his harshest critics.

My verdict: I can honestly say, I always felt he needed time and would become a great player. I wouldn’t swap him for any player in the world in his position.

Can he get better? – YES

Emmanuel Eboué: joined Arsenal in 2005 for a fee rumoured to be £1.5m. In 2006 he became the first choice right back. In the 2007/2008 season, Arsène announced that he wanted to move EE into right midfield following the signing of Sagna. He has made himself unpopular with some fans due to occassional diving and ‘Drogba-esque’ protest for seemingly innocuous challenges. The low part of his career came when he was booed off the pitch by a section of fans in December 2007.  Since that day, with the sensitive management of AW, he has rebuilt his popularity with the fans (the other players have always loved him) and become a key player at both right back and in the midfield.

My verdict: I had my doubts about his ability to play in midfield but he’s proved me wrong.

Can he get better? – if  he can further reduce his ‘histrionics’ and work on his finishing – YES

Abou Diaby: signed for Arsenal in January 2006 for a fee believed to be in the region of £2m. He had an early setback to his career suffering a broken leg and a dislocated ankle in a match at Sunderland on 1 May 2006. He made his return to first team action as a 74th-minute substitute in Arsenal’s 6–3 victory at Liverpool in the League Cup at Anfield on 9 January 2007. Diaby made progress through the 2008/9 season but lacked consistency and his tendency to dwell on the ball and sloppy passing often let him down.

My verdict: Even at the start of the season I had a few doubts, but he has moved up a level and produced some scintillating performances. His defending is more assured, his reading of the game has improved and he looks very dangerous going forward.

Can he get better? – YES, I expect him to be a world class player in 2 years.

Denilson: errrrr….. next…. No, I jest. He’s come in for some serious abuse at times. If a player is picked for his side and does his best, we should not criticise. He’s not going to say to the manager “sorry boss, I don’t think I’m up to it” His apparently amazing stats have infuriated bloggers who don’t get the same picture watching him on the pitch. He was thrown in at the deep end when injuries gave Arsène few other choices, but he has a great shot and is not afraid to let loose and he works his socks off.

My verdict: with the current crop of players, he’d be a valuable ‘bench player’ for most games. Ramsey would have overtaken him in the pecking order for the midfield slot. He needs to improve his strength in the tackle.

Will he get better? – YES

Nicklas Bendtner: joined in the summer of 2004 and made his debut on 25 October 2005, in a League Cup match against Sunderland. His first prem appearance against Everton on 29 December 2007 was marred when he was sent off for two bookable offences. In the 2007/8 season he was very much 3rd choice striker behind Van Persie and Adebayor who he clearly didn’t get on with as was evident when they had a much publicised dust up in the 5:1 defeat to totnum. This season, he has become something of a cult figure, missing easy chances but never giving up. His work rate and self belief has seen him prove many critics wrong and his goals have come at important times.

My verdict: often has a poor first touch, not always pleasing to watch and obviously needs to improve his strike rate.

Can he get better? – YOU BET, I think he will be a £20m striker by the time he’s 25.

The aforementioned players have all been bought for very little money, had the unwavering support of the manager and battled through adversity, criticism from the media and periods of poor form to become the HEROES who have got us to this unlikely stage of the season………. which brings me to the 6th, and in my opinion most important ‘villain’ – Manuel Almunia.

I am no great fan of the affable Spaniard as a keeper. He lacks the authority to be world class. His poor communication, indecisiveness and propensity to ‘flap’ have made our defence look vulnerable and jittery at times. He is the only one of our regular first teamers not to have played for his national side at some level. But oddly, he has the opportunity to be the greatest hero of them all. He has started with the penalty save against Wham. Can he make up for the howler in conceding the 2nd goal at his near post in the 2006 CL final? Of all the players mentioned, he is the one we need to see step up and prove the detractors wrong (myself included) if we are to pursue the dream of a prem and CL double.

My verdict: I really want to be proved wrong. We need Manuel to play the best football of his life for the next 2 months.

Can he get better ….. can he?

202 Responses to Villains to Heroes ….. it’s been worth the wait!

  1. Irishgunner says:

    Nice post Rasp,

    Big thumbs up for Song and Diaby – they have been excellent.

    Nikki B has been hindered by his injury, I thought he’d hit 15-20 goals in all competitions this season.

  2. pete smith says:

    Is this just an apology for slagging them off earlier in the season?

    I’m sure if we lose the league by a point, you will be slagging them off again!

  3. Rasputin says:

    Hi Irish,

    Good to hear from you. All the 5 players were bought post the Invincibles and it has taken 4-5 years to get them to this stage. We need to keep them now and reap the rewards for the next 4-5 years.

  4. Rasputin says:

    No Pete – read it again. It’s one blogger being big enough to admit that he had doubts – there are plenty out there who still slag these players off.

  5. Irishgunner says:

    Exactly Rasp – I think Diaby, Song and Bendtner are here for the long run, as for the other two I’m a bit iffy.

    Denilson is going to be challenging Diaby and Ramsey for his spot I think and Eboue will want to be a starter each game.

  6. Morning Irish – nice to see you 🙂

    Good post rasp – there have been plenty of times that I felt that the players weren’t rewarding AW’s faith in them. I don’t want it to come down to trusting Arsene in his choice of players – I also want these players to feel proud that they’re now delivering to a standard that might push us onto glory.

  7. Irishgunner says:

    Morning Peaches – just a quick pop in.

    I see we are challenging Vermaelen’s red card, it is only a one match ban but if we lose will it go up to two?

  8. denilson is the Spanish Inquisition

    interesting post but…

  9. Rasputin says:

    Hi peaches, somehow pete (obviously hard of thinking!!) construed the article as me being anti these players … if only he knew 😉

  10. Rasputin says:

    Morning RSD – still talking in riddles? do you publish a phrase book that will allow me to decipher your comments 😆

  11. Rasputin says:

    It’s possible, but I seriously doubt it Irish as the TV footage will show it to be an innocuous challenge. I expect the FA to uphold the one match ban to support the referee as they usually do.

  12. Irishgunner says:

    Not the end of the world I suppose a one match ban, so Silvestre and Campbell in the middle?? 😕

  13. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    I can safely say, i predicted pre season that the trophey will be paraded down to the Islington Town Hall in May, & after the odd hiccup along the way, my prediction is alive & well. Unfortunately, I won’t be there though 😦

  14. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning all, Maire I’d prefer to see Song in the middle with Sol, with Diaby playing the Song role in the middle 3(the other 2 being Cesc & Rosexy) and the front 3 being Ebway, Bendy and the Meerkat. I’d prefer Fish head only to be used in an emergency.

  15. brdgunner says:

    Support for our team is always good to see.


  16. Irishgunner says:

    I think we all would Chary but does Wenger?

  17. Rasputin says:

    Morning/evening GG,

    Did you also predict we’d win the league last season and the season before? 😛

  18. London says:

    Say ten hail Marys and one our Father and go in peace my son.

    Morning Rasp

    A very clever approach to a subject that has been the cause of so much division, superbly worded and refreshing honest at the same time.

    The fact up there that shocked me was that the whole lot cost around ten million, a staggeringly small number.

  19. Rasputin says:

    Exactly brdgunner – that was the message I was hoping to get across. We’ve bided our time, kept faith, made the books balance and now the manager, the team, the supporters can all be positive with good reason rather than hopeful with reservations.

  20. well what aw said after the game he was going blind over peter (aka song) sol partnership so would think it a starter.
    but lets hope ivan and the crew solicitors can get him off.

    riddle me this…

  21. London says:


    Is English your first language? It would explain a lot if it wasn’t.

  22. What about the so-called biggest villain to the once again greatest of them all.. again?

    Many blogs, supporters, pundits, hack journos are backtracking with swiftness right now.

  23. charybdis1966 says:

    Well that’s the 100 crore rupee question isn’t it Maire? Pending the result of todays appeal I’m not sure if Sol should be rested against Brum and saved for Barca. How about if our appeal is successful we play Sol/Verm on Saturday and Song/Verm on Wednesday? If Verm is still banned for Saturday I’d still go for Sol/Song at the back on Saturday and rest Sol as he may be a bit too slow for Barca – however maybe our need for Song in the middle against Barca is more pressing?
    Tricky selection posers for Wenger and for once I don’t envy his selection problems.

  24. Rasputin says:

    Morning London,

    Yes, and they’ve increased in value by a factor of five and most are several years off their peak. A lot of our players will be getting exposure in the WC, so we can expect the usual attacks from ‘big clubs’ trying to cream off our talent. The great thing is that with Chamakh coming on a free and with the possible exception of a new keeper, we won’t have to join in the cattle market to buy new players over the summer.

  25. Irishgunner says:

    Le problem Chary is that Song isn’t the quickest in the world either. I’d nearly go for Sol Wednesday night, purely because he is experienced in that area and because we’ll need Song in midfield to try and keep Barca somewhat quiet. As you said, the need for Song in the middle is more pressing.

  26. tommystout says:

    morning peeps…. and good post mate, im way proud of these boys and how they are developing imagine how arsene feels.
    Very nervous about us challenging the red card from saturday, has he got no choice with the barca match being so close to brum on saturday!
    we have to have sol & verm for barca, verm and song for brum!
    good post on the telegraph and the arsenal way this morning –

  27. Alfa says:

    great piece, very thorough and puts into context what we’ve all come to realise. Nikki B is the best prospect of all for me, I can see him becoming a regular 25 goal a season striker and capable of scoring against anyone. And we’ll have Chamakh and RvP next season. And we already score more goals than anyone.

    What about Theo? I like him but don’t people have the same doubts?

  28. london i was born nw5 on the camden road
    and lived nw5 for 30 years but then i never got a
    o-level in english they thought i was to thick to take it

  29. dandan says:


  30. Rasputin says:

    Morning Alfa,

    We’d already done a piece on Theo so I left him out. I think (probably because he’s English), he hasn’t come in for the same extreme criticism as the others.

  31. charybdis1966 says:

    I’m coming round to your way of thinking re. Barca at home Maire, we should really have Song in the middle 3 (with Cesc & maybe Nasri) and then maybe Theo, Rosexy/Arshgavin and Bendy up top. Oddly enough, we have options for our front 6 in so many more ways than I thought.
    Maybe we should start Nasri in the home leg and replace him with Arshavin in the away?
    As for Brum away we’ll need our most physical, tough players so a midfield 3 of Diaby, Song & Cesc with Eboue, Bendy and Rosexy up top(Theo to come off the bench and possibly the Meerkat as Rosexy won’t play the full 90)?

  32. Alfa says:

    Rasp, morning, fair enough. It’s more a case of he hasn’t done anything yet rather than what he’s done was bad.

    RSD, I like your blog, it’s even more entertaining than your posts.

  33. dandan says:

    Nice to see a big man put his apology in writing, Well done Rasp, very articulate and well argued Personally I had doubts about Denilsons passing he gave the ball away a lot. Eboue was always going to be a player, but his diving and constant Drogba imitations made me ashamed he was an Arsenal player. The booing, though a in principle a bad way to treat our own player has proved a catalyst, the young man heard it, took it to heart, mended his ways and is now a Bona Fide and respected wearer of the Arsenal shirt.

    RSD when will you be for real, really

  34. Irishgunner says:

    Off again folks – laters.

  35. we do our bit to help The Arsenal

  36. dandan you’ve out riddled me ??????????

  37. Irishgunner says:

    Chary – I’d go for Rosicky to start against Barca, we need someone who’ll get stuck in and fight for the ball as well as someone who can attack which Rosicky can do.

    Nasri could do it on the left but I don’t see Wenger leaving Arshavin on the bench. Definitely Nikki B in the middle – they aren’t too clever under high balls.

  38. tommystout says:

    after we’ve given birmC a right pasting (pleeeeeezzz) at the weekend, how many of us are gonna be cheering young jack on against manu saturday evening? His mobile will be rife with best wishes from his gooner team mates! He could really do us a favour!

  39. what did you want to talk about then dandan?

  40. London says:

    I can’t see us getting that Vermaelen red card decision over turned so I would go for Song and Silvestre at the back on Saturday: it’s a right foot left foot thing and save Sol and Vermaelen, once again right foot left foot, for the Barça game.

  41. Alfa says:

    See you all later.

  42. dandan says:

    And a sniper in the stands to mark Lionel M. perhaps.LOL

  43. ros says:

    well i believed coz i had a bet and kept the faith its been up and down but it has for everyone i was worried when vp got injured and benders was out thats when it was hardest to face chavs and manks with no striker we would have won those games with those players Come on you Reds

  44. “Correctamundo!” london
    but would be nice to rest tv on weekend
    but i can see him getting off it was so soft

  45. Rasputin says:

    Morning dandan,

    I fall into the category of ‘having had my doubts’ about a couple of players, definitely not ‘vitriolic character assassination’!!. I’m not apologising to anyone, I’m inviting others to be similarly honest and join in with the catharsis.

  46. Rasputin says:

    Morning ros, we were the better team when we lost 2:1 to the mancs at the start of the season and as you say, who knows how the other games would have ended if we’d had RVP to spearhead the attack?

  47. oduye tomwest says:

    if da rd card apeal doesn’t favour,sylveste/song suld pair. nasri/faregas/diaby in midfeild & eboue/bendtnar/ashavin in attack. rosicky4ashavin,theo4 eboue(cos he’l be needed in da 2nd half tactical reasons against barca)& eduardo 4 bendtnar cos we need all of dem fit.

  48. charybdis1966 says:

    Raspers – for my confessional catharsis I have to say I was bitterly disappointed in Diaby and Almunia earlier this season; while I still have my doubts about Moonie, Diaby has stuffed my doubting words down my throat – and well done to the lad!
    Denilson still has some work to do to get back into my good books but I can tone down my criticism of him in view of his telling contributions lately.
    In all honesty I was never on Eboue’s back – I always had a soft spot for him even during his darkest hour.

  49. Livers says:

    Morning all, great post Rasp!

    I remember seeing Song at Fulham away and the crowd was on his back and even Henry had his arm around him as he trudged off… He never re-appeared for the second half and I for one thought that was it for him. He went on loan to Charlton and my Charlton mates (I drink in Greenwich) thought he was an outstanding player which I couldn’t get my head around…. Now I believe he’s becoming one..

    Diaby, always thought he just needed a run in the side but injuries always curtailed him..

    Eboue, I just love the guy and was a little surprised when his African colleagues left that he didn’t go. Glad he hasn’t as he brings power and enthusiasm to the side when needed. Often been better than Sagna at right back too in some games..

    Bendtner is frustrating at times but one of the reasons I’d prefer to have kept him instead of BarnDoor. Whilst Ade was far the better player he looked like he couldn’t really give a monkeys whilst Bendtner was trying his hardest all the time. He’s 21-22… where was Drogba at that age ?

    Denilson……..I’m still unsure. Just a player to me who “does a job” which involves not losing it and playing it simple, although his defending needs to improve..

    Almunia was one of ou most consistant players last year and I’m not sure if the niggling injuries and the death of his Mother-In-Law affected his game more. I’m sure a healthy Almunia in goal would not have spilled those goals at Upton Park….Although yes I think there is better out there..

  50. dandan says:

    My post was meant as a compliment Rasp, You used the phrase I am ashamed to say, I construed that as an apology,

    I should also add that I have consistently questioned our goalkeepers credentials and have to confess that this is one area where I have trouble justifying Mr Wenger’s judgement.

    Lets hope the penalty save marks the start of a 15 game purple patch for the Tapas man.

  51. good post livers

  52. second that dandan

  53. Good point Livers about Almunia starting the season a different man.

  54. Rasputin says:

    I know dandan, no worries, you are the gentleman of the blogworld!

    You can never predict the reaction to a post – I had expected some new bloggers to come on and say .. nah, Eboue is rubbish, or Denilson is s**t, but instead I’ve had a few who have thought I’m anti-Arsenal???

  55. Livers says:

    Rasp, you don’t need to justify yourself mate. Most times when people just vent they are checking newsnow and just come and go and probably do the same on most articles. The posters who read previous articles will know what’s what 🙂

    I think this blog is getting past the stage of explaining ourselves to the “Of course you did” brigade

  56. would say shit rasp but good squad players and they denilson “the The Spanish Inquisition” is learning
    i expect him to be the new HM next season when billy goes and song to move back with tv

  57. When we get all excited about Wengerball we only really talk about how offensive the players are and so whats a goalie for? The idea is that we always score more than the opposition so does it matter that the guy between the sticks is a bit flakey and flappy?

    Is this how AW views it too?

  58. would=wouldn’t

  59. Livers says:

    Peaches 🙂 To be honest and shoot me down with a feather but I can’t remember the last time Almunia was at fault for a goal conceded ?

    I think the problem is, with a better keeper would they have saved the ones Almunia didn’t and I’m not sure either if they would or wouldn’t… I think that’s how Wenger sees it.

    Look at Almunia when we lost 4-2 at home to Man Utd at Highbury… he was terrible and flaky. Look at him pre August and I’m sure no-one thought we needed a keeper… I believe he’s back to his best, whether that’s good enough is another question.

    IF we beat Barca, look for Almunia to be a hero in the semi and lose it for us in the final… ala Seaman and Mad Jens 😉

  60. Rasputin says:

    Thanks Livers,

    I just feel that Almunia makes the defence look nervy. The CB’s should know instinctively whether the keeper is likely to be coming for a certain ball or not – I don’t think they have that faith/understanding with Al.

  61. Livers says:

    I kind of agree Rasp… Maybe the defence make Almunia nervous too……you couldn’t blame him either for that..Burnley at home for example

  62. Big Raddy says:

    Fine post Rasp.

    I often think of football in rock music terms. Not everyone can be the lead singer or lead guitarist.

    Denilson is our bass player. Gets the job done without being in the spotlight, but is ready to step up for a solo when called upon!!

  63. thats a really pretty analogy BR

  64. I was just being controversal 😉 – rasp is right when he says that Almunia makes the defence look nervy and when we play at home not only the defence become nervy the supporters are nervy too.

    On saturday I wasn’t worried when Wham took their corners – Sol is an organiser and we haven’t had that confidence for a while. Maybe Sol’s glare is more scary that Gallas’ and Almunia is finding his bottle.

  65. Big Raddy says:

    A point in Almunia’s favour is that he has become the clear first choice keeper. Perish the thought of the run in should he pick up an injury!

  66. Livers – have you got something in mind for an avatar and I’ll set it up for you. A player?

  67. Livers says:

    Keep that in your head Raddy… Christ!

  68. Rasputin says:

    Good point Raddy, I totally agree. Sometimes I think we have too many midfield generals! I often harp about ‘balance’ in the team and the ‘workers’ are every bit as important to the equation as the more creative players.

  69. Big Raddy says:

    Arshavin has said he was breathless during the Wham game, indicating that he needs a rest.

    How about this for a conspiracy theory…..

    AA is leaving for Spain in summer which is why AW has signed (?) Chamakh.

  70. Big Raddy says:

    Life is getting in the way of A2.

    Back later…..

  71. Morning Raddy – take those words back straight away

  72. Snap Livers 😉

  73. Rasputin says:

    I’d settle for that if we make a quick £6m profit on AA, keep Vela and buy a CB or keeper 😛

  74. Livers says:

    Rasp, AA should have been subbed first on Sat he was 2 bob, probably his worst game for us and by being breathless would explain not running at all…

    He must have little lungs but I’d rest him for Birmingham anyway..

  75. Livers says:

    Sorry Peaches, I just haven’t had time to try it and my work computer appears limited…

    I’ll have a think and mail you if that’s ok

  76. charybdis1966 says:

    I’ve just noticed the title of this post reminds me of one of my favourite episodes of Only fools, the one where Del Boy and Rodders dress up as batman & Robin.
    “I don’t want to dressup as a Zoon, Del!”

  77. dandan says:

    Sends Peaches a Bunch of Roses and a Handkerchief, because he has felt AA is not permanent for some time.

  78. Thanks dandan but it was Raddys other comment about Almunia getting an injury that I was more concerned that he’d aired in public.

    It must be a bloke thing cos although I can see that AA is a huge talent and can obviously change a game with a canny run and a goal from nothing he often doesn’t work hard enough for the team and so I don’t love him as much as some of you others do.

  79. AA does snub wenger when he comes off the pitch so could be some truth and nb reading something when aa first turned up that aw told him to do something and he thought it was stupid and the whole squad apparently turn their heads cos no one had done that before.
    i hope he dont go cos what i’ve seen of chamkakakaka he looks no more than a squad player
    and AA is according to stats the 13 best player in the world

  80. Livers says:

    Peaches, he was on the verge of being barracked by some of the crowd on Sat and any more lazy displays now we’re coming up to crunch time won’t be tolerated.

    Exactly the reason I stated above about Nikky B and Adebarndoor…. I prefer the person who wants to improve and work hard to someone who thinks he’s got it all and can’t be bothered..

    I hope he proves me wrong next few weeks..

  81. Livers says:

    You and your stats RSD 😉

  82. anyone have anymore news on rooneys knee is just inflammation or are they gona have to operate
    what a shame that would be lol

  83. livers your stato

  84. by the way why livers?

  85. Livers says:

    Why what RSD ?

  86. the name livers?
    is due to location or something?

  87. Livers says:

    All my mates call me Livers…..part of my surname and a place in California 😉

  88. that romero guy from AZ is a brilliant keeper, he did not really display as much in the games against us.. but i have seen him play for the argie in qualifying.. he is going to be a proper world class keeper.

    i still rate fab as the future arse no 1.. i think he has just lost all confidence since the cup semi last season.

    still yet to see a better goalkeeping display than the one he put up in the carling cup last season.

  89. Livers says:

    Disagree Stringfellow Hawke, our Polish keeper in this years Carling Cup played v W Brom played v well

  90. the pole in goal is doing well in brentford i hear good things but i dont know if he could be our iker

  91. Big Raddy says:

    The Pole in Goal”. V.Good

  92. Livers says:

    He’ll be down at Millwall soon so will keep tabs on him

  93. had chat with some bee’s the other day they all rate him but just reacon he aint ready yet

  94. chesney is the raved about pole right now, but needs 2 season.

    fabinski may just be the pole in our goal next season.

  95. tommystout says:

    hope that countdown to the title in the side bar aint too acurate cos i have manu down for 86 pts

  96. tommystout says:

    i hope that countdown to the title in the side bar aint too acurate cos i have manu down for 86 pts

  97. Rasputin says:

    Hi tommy,

    Rooney’s nursing an ongoing knee injury. They were lucky to get the 3 points against pool. I reckon they’ll finish on 82/83 points. I fully expect it to come down to the last game of the season.

  98. tommystout says:

    i do hope that countdown to the title in the side bar aint too acurate cos i have manu down for 86 pts

  99. Livers says:

    Don’t worry Tommy I have Arsenal on 88 🙂

  100. tommystout says:

    apologies for duplicates, some servers somewhere or other must be playing up

  101. tommystout says:

    hi rasp, hoping myself for mr wilshire to agrevate roony’s knee a little more on saturday!

  102. Rasputin says:

    If we get the 84 I predict in the table – we’ll win the prem, I bet your house on it Livers 😛

  103. tommystout says:

    yeah livers thats the spirit 🙂

  104. Rasputin says:

    We could just get John Terry to drive his car into him.

  105. tommystout says:

    come third april i think we’ll be wanting chelsea to stuff manu

  106. tommystout says:

    i read on another site that djorou is back in training but similarly to VP wont be rushed back!

  107. tommystout says:

    is djorou right footed or left?

  108. Livers says:

    Hope so Rasp……Tommy, I agree also

  109. Livers says:

    Djourou is right footed but not expected back for a few weeks

  110. tommystout says:

    He will be TV’s long term partner then!

  111. Livers says:

    Yeah, we’ll obviously not buy anyone 😉

  112. clockendjim says:

    Good timing for such an important point to make. I have always had little patience with the Arsene Knows Best brigade because they are blind to the obvious mistakes he is making such as not signing a striker and defender (more long term than Sol) in January.
    However with all the above players coming good, I must say Arsene certainly knows better than most of us Gooners most of the time.
    The only question mark I would put against any of the above is Almunia. He has improved lately, but no way is he in the top class of keepers like Given, Reina, Friedel etc; in fact virtually every PL team right down to the bottom ones have a better No.1 than us which I just cannot understand.
    Probably too late now, but we should have gone for Joe Hart right at the beginning of the season.

  113. Big Raddy says:

    The Spuds could win the league for us. Lie down for us at the Shithole.

    Then they have the Chavs at home and MU away, all in 11 days (assuming they beat Fulham in the FAC)

  114. charybdis1966 says:

    TommyS – when you say TV I think of what I used to listen to Radio 1 in my youth of a Friday evening “It’s TV on the radio, Thomas the Vance on the Friday night rock show”….good times.

    It’s been so long since Johan’s played I can’t remember if he’s any good or not. I think he’s better than average IIRC ?

  115. Rasputin says:

    Hi clockendjim,

    We are in total agreement. Roy Keane is not a great manager, but when he took over at Sunderland he bought the best keeper he could get (Craig Gordon) because he knew that a good/bad keeper can make a difference of +/- 12 points over the course of a season.

    I think we’d have 6 more points and be sitting pretty at the top of the prem if we’d bought Given. Having said that, Almunia has my total support and as I said in the article – he can be the biggest hero of them all and hopefully prove me wrong.

  116. Big Raddy says:

    ClockendJim. I don’t think you will find many Gooners disagreeing with you.

    It is clear that Almunia is not good enough for this team. Not because he is a poor GK but because he cannot inspire confidence in his Back 4.

    In AW’s defence, he has supposedly signed a striker and tried to buy a CB. Though I never know if AW isn’t just winding us up when players go elsewhere. AW said he tried to sign Smalling but SAF wanted him more – those are the breaks (if true).

    That Chamakh wanted to see out his contract and stay with Bordeaux until summer was a timing problem. I am sure AW would have liked him to sign in Jan.

  117. Big Raddy says:

    🙂 Chary. The late and much missed Tommy Vance. Introduced me to Montrose and Van Halen, Plus many more. God Rest His Soul.

    But I am a Whispering Bob Harris man now.

  118. Livers says:

    We should have made the Joe Hart deal a part of Adebarndoor going the other way.. I agree CEJ..

    I think Wenger’s been stung on the Richard Wrights of the world and is a bit wary……

  119. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. Those 2 mistakes by Fabianski at Porto will be very costly in the long term. I thought Fab2 was going to be the Real Thing, but his confidence may have taken a battering it will never recover from – at least at Arsenal.

  120. Br, that’s a very sweeping statement… that may have been the case if those goals cost us the tie.. but in the end, the team saved him in the 2nd leg.

    He is being heavily underrated imvho.

  121. charybdis1966 says:

    I went to his remembrance concert at the Royal Albert a few years back Radders, Tommy Daltrey was there as the host, a big Gooner if I’m not mistaken.

    TV was the only guy playing my sort of music on the radio back in the 80’s – he was single handedly holding back the tide of disco/soul crap on the radio.

  122. sky say gallas back for barca

  123. charybdis1966 says:

    For the home or away game RsD ?

  124. charybdis1966 says:

    If that’s true(I mean if Sky have got it right) then that’s great news for us. The thought of Fish head playing against Messi and Iniesta was sending shivers down my spine.

  125. you think aw dropped him till he sign the contract

  126. charybdis1966 says:

    There is a theory going round that it was a “strategic” injury – one that goes once he signed. It’s very possible but we’ll never know.

  127. tommystout says:

    chary – Tommy Vance wow what a voice havent thought of him for a long time, i had many a night in my youth listening to the rock show on hiss and crackle meium wave wireless…

  128. tv ban is not overturned either

  129. tommystout says:

    just heard that too RSD! bummer

  130. tommystout says:

    RSD where did you see Gallas back for Barca… havent heard that one yet!

  131. Livers says:

    Not heard the Gallas back for Barca one though..

  132. tommystout says:

    if gallas aint back for barca then its gotta be
    sagna silvester song clichy
    diaby cesc denilson
    rosicky bendtner arshavin

    think sol has to be rested…

  133. tommystout says:

    that was my thoughts on the birmingham game!

  134. charybdis1966 says:

    TommyS – if it was raining on a Friday night the Dave Murray guitar solos would fade out on Medium Wave – none of your digital radio back then. I’d have to take the radio to bed with me as it was on so late and past my bed time !

    Pity about TV’s ban not being over turned but didn’t hold out much hope for it anyway.

  135. was a rt from ole gooner but he seems defo prob not online yet sky take a while to put things on web

  136. tommystout says:

    yeah i think that would have been arsenes thought – worth a try but unlikely.
    anwyay think fish man is gonna get a game somehow or other.

    as for the friday rock show, all i remember is that 50 a day voice of TV, and flicking it off when i heard my parents coming up stairs LOL.

  137. tommystout says:

    praying you are right RSD 🙂

  138. SSN have said “potentially he could be back for barca game”

    wow, from maybe being out for the season, to being back in a week 😆

    if it’s touch and go, he should be saved for the return leg

  139. shame sol deserved a run out v barca
    but willbe great to have billy and his evil stares back

  140. Livers says:

    Stringfellow, I’m with you here saved for the 2nd game. With no match practice and 6 weeks out he will probably be short.. stick him on the bench and give him 45 v Wolves on the Sat in preparation for Barca

  141. Rasputin says:

    I hate to say I told you so 🙄 , but the TV appeal has been rejected and the 1 match ban remains.

  142. Big Raddy says:

    Great if unconfirmed news about Willie G.

    Dave Murray is a local lad (to Arsenal) – born in Edmonton. Bet he has a season ticket in Club Level.

  143. Big Raddy says:

    I agree Livers. No way can he be thrown in the deep end without at least 45 mins first team play

  144. charybdis1966 says:

    Not so sure Radders, most of the Iron Maiden lads in the original line up were Hammers. Still it’d be nice if he was.

  145. Almost blagged myself into a box for the barca game 🙂

    Keep them crossed for me, should know for sure by end of play tommorow.

  146. just on the off chance any one got a silver extra for barca home?

  147. Big Raddy says:

    Walking distance to the ground Chary? Dave must have been a Gooner, but as you say the others were Hammers.

  148. Rasputin says:

    Lucky you SH, on your bike RSD 😆

    My ticket fairy will be F5ing online, and have the mob and landline going to try to just get a couple of seats together come thursday morning.

  149. Livers says:

    RealSocial, I probably can get you one mate

  150. Big Raddy says:

    I’m getting withdrawal symptoms even before I go on holiday.

    Two weeks in Italy devoid of Internet & TV !!

    I will have to get into a bar to watch the Barca game, but B’rum…. no chance.

  151. really livers email the site email and can put you in touch with a mate who wants

  152. London says:


    I think your wrong about the Brum game, you have got more chance of finding it in Italy than most people will have here. Go to Sky Italia online and look to see if the game is on, which it almost certainly will be, then find a hotel that has Sky and ask to watch it in the lounge or rent a room for two hours, they are as mad about calcio as we are so they will understand completely.

  153. Raddy – I can’t understand why you’re even going its not like they have better horseradish there 😉

  154. Rasputin says:


    I know you like a theory! Whilst researching EE for the post, I came across reports that suggested that he was bought by AW to play right midfield and was only moved to RB when Lauren got injured. Sagna was bought not to replace EE at RB, but to release him to play RM … what do you think?

  155. London says:

    Hi Rasp

    Well, now I would say it is plausable but about two months ago I would have called whoever wrote it completely mad.

  156. London says:


    Your on a mission today with that Gallas story 😉

  157. Rasputin says:

    Maybe by playing for so long at RB, somehow he lost his ‘midfielder’s instincts’ and it has taken this long to get them back?

  158. its news london had the tweet and then no story was annoy was all dont like talking with me stats

  159. think eboue needs space to run in too as the brain says that why he plays better as a fb

  160. London says:


    Re your 10:39 this morning. It’s been interesting to watch the response to your post today and have come to the conclusion that the mindset of the blogshire has completely changed. I am not sure the response that you anticipated still exists. We may be on the cusp of a new paradigm.

  161. there was a post today 😉

  162. better news is wazza’s knee are in bad shape

  163. kelsey says:

    just popped in. done my bit London so over to you. 😉

  164. London says:

    Hi Kelsey

    Your post has been like pass the parcel: whoever is holding it when the music stops has to write it.

  165. kelsey says:

    Oh by the way I have it on good authority that DD was at the game on Saturday. Can that be confirmed.

  166. dandan says:

    Evening Kelsey, will try and make some time to write tomorrow had poorly, grand children today

  167. dandan says:

    Mind you dentist first thing LOL

  168. Rasputin says:

    London, re: your 6:16,

    It is possible that there is a new ‘paradigm’ in terms of the way bloggers express themselves. I can think of one or two less generous explanations! Hopefully, as supporters we are all behind the team. There can be no changes of personnel until the summer so the team we have deserve our unreserved support. I think we have done well to get to this position but inevitably there will be those who will be quick to criticise in hindsight if we don’t win one of the coveted trophies.

  169. I’m sure there are still a few out there who aren’t going to hold their tongues if it starts to go horribly wrong at some point – its going to be very close this much we know.

    Spoke to a chav today who is pretty certain they have peaked – shame as we need them to take points off the mancs really.

    I’ll try and get Franchise on tomorrow – I didn’t see him at the game on Saturday, he only sits with me when he wants to moan 😉

  170. Livers says:

    RSD, has your mate got an email addy ? I’ve deffo got one spare..

    or who is he on the other webbo

  171. Rasputin says:

    Livers, if RSD doesn’t want your spare, I know a diehard gooner who’d snatch your arm off for it!

  172. Livers says:

    Ok, I’ll leave it til first thing in the morning before they go on sale obviously.

    But I have a mate not around and will have his spare silver so I can give the member number so they can pay for the ticket online……Providing they are memebers I guess ? Hhhm someone will need to be a silver member to use the additional silver won’t they ?

  173. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    No, I didn’t predict we’d win The Title last season coz of the loss of Hleb/Flamini; and the season before, coz I only started blogging in February of that ill fated season. But I knew the moment the penalty Clichy gave away was converted @ Birmingham, The Arsenal had lost The Title.

    But, you did ask “how many of you at the start of the season would have expected to be in with a real chance of winning the premiership” & I am on record as saying the trophy would be paraded down to Islington Town Hall in May. In fact it also is on record @ AR that you would buy me a beer on that day, but, unfortunately, I won’t be there.

  174. i want the spare he posts as Gooner1971

    hope your being good and selling at face

  175. livers he wants them
    as long as you are selling for faceish

  176. Big Raddy says:


    If we win the title I will send you one of our outrageously expensive Danish lagers !

  177. is scary taking the ferry to kopenhagen now days used be like a channel cruise

  178. you going to barca away?

  179. Rasputin says:

    Morning GG,

    Good answer – I just wanted to determine if you were an eternal optimist or highly skilled football analyst 😛

  180. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    So our little Russian is at it again.Because he has his own website,he thinks he can spout out all the time. Mr.Arshavin you are employed by Arsenal FC and you are directly the responsibility of our manager.Do your talking on the field.You are undoubtedly a talent, but we have a team game plan which you should fit into, not the team revolve around you. You are nearly 29, wanted to go to Barca,then Spurs before you joined us. Be proud to wear the Arsenal shirt or bugger off.We have had enough of mercenaries lately. This is not the first time you appear to be unhappy the way the club is run, so I can’t really believe anymore that your remarks have been misquoted in translation.

  181. kelsey says:

    Andrey Arshavin insists Arsenal’s challenge for success depends on the manager’s will to add to his squad.

    The Russian ace has also highlighted last summer’s lack of many recruits despite the exits of Toure and Adebayor as a setback in the Gunners’ ambitions.

    “I am still of the opinion that to win trophies Arsenal needs more players.” Arshavin said.

    “There is the simple fact that last summer we sold two players and bought only one. So there is an obvious deficit of at least one. Then we lost Van Persie, Gibbs and Ramsey for a long time. So for me it is natural we need new players.”

    The 28-year-old is calling for a number of signings to add a quality of “diversity” and “experience” to the squad if Arsenal are to mount serious assaults for trophies.

    “Without the variety of players we have less diversity in attack. That allows our opponents to read our combinations more easily. Finally, it results in less ball possession for us and our defence comes under more pressure.” he said.

    “The Premier League is very interesting, at least as long as we continue fighting to win it. But without new experienced players, real stars, it will be difficult to achieve success.

    “Ideally we need three or four such experienced players and then among our youths there should be guys who are not only good at playing football but have real character.”

  182. kelsey says:

    The above is a post in itself which I am sure will have divided opinions amongst us.

  183. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    I would assume from the AA23 comments that he sees this Club can do better, maybe become a 4 in a row type monster, with a couple of CL titles in there as well. Maybe he has a vision 😆

  184. Big Raddy says:

    Perhaps AA23 has forgotten that players cannot be signed outside the transfer window.

    AR was injured in Feb.

    & Chamakh will bring diversity….

    As you say Kelsey – do your talking on the pitch.

  185. Big Raddy says:

    RsD.Never taken the ferry. Always fly.

    But I understand it is a Booze Cruise….

  186. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    BR, with respect to the beer
    Tak 😛

  187. Rasputin says:

    I am confused as to the motivation for AA’s continual moans to the press. The worst connotation would be that he is deliberately being disruptive in order to make it an easy decision for AW if we get an offer for him in the summer. If he truly believes some of our players are not good enough, then that must be damaging to squad morale. Apart from the keeper – who does he think is substandard? The other alternative is that he’s a little gobshite … shame he’s such a brilliant player 😦

  188. dont you think aa get lost in translation he is russian after all and they have a very different way of talking over there.
    eg it takes a very long time before a russian would ever call you his friend
    prob goes back to communism and that if someone was your friend then they you would go down with them so would always ask a russian to explain aa comments from the russian

  189. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    When The Arsenal win The Title, The Club has no time to rest on its laurals, new players need to be brought in to strengthen the squad so that we can win back to backs. Winning a 2nd so quickly won’t just happen. With AA23, I reckon he is just making copy to get people to read his bloke. A bit of “look @ me” stuff. But if a double fixture against Barcalonely can’t get the boy enthused then, maybe a better version of him needs to be brought in 🙂 if you know what I mean.

  190. Rasputin says:

    You are probably right GG. I think AA brings a bit of magic to the side. I remember the first game at home after he signed, almost every other shirt had Arshavin on the back. I think it is more to do with his personailty and ‘Russian’ way of looking at things. I commented right from the start that he always runs off the pitch an dstraight down the tunnel at the end of games. Far from being an egomniac, he actually seems to shun adolation.

  191. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    If he blows the catalans away, there will be no place for him to hide in North London. He will receive popstar status 😆

  192. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Anyway don’t worry about AA23, 2 more comments & it will be AA200

  193. come on in russia he’s the biggest thing since fresh bread
    give over
    the size of country make him a absolute superstar
    so the russian people have a right to know
    if we wazza played for a country that size he would be trying to put two words to together
    like hummmmmmmmmmmmm

  194. charybdis1966 says:

    200 ?

  195. […] alluded to how important certain players were going to be in the run-in. You can read it again here not too hard to guess where Rasputin’s vote is going to […]

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