Arsène Wenger’s Got a Headache

The criticism of Arsène for trying to force square pegs into round holes has frequently been levelled over recent seasons. Bendtner, Eboue and Arshavin in particular have all been deployed in areas that would not be their first choice let alone the Championship Managers among us. The reason for this has generally been a lack of depth in the squad exacerbated by the perennial injury problems that have depleted us so cruelly at vital times.

Now it would appear that Arsène has a headache of a different kind. The summer purchases coupled with the progression of quality players through the youth system has created a problem, a good problem to have but a problem nonetheless. As far as Sagna and Wilshere are concerned the problem is months away but in light of the coming 2 weeks of nail biting over the potential for injuries playing in meaningless internationals, I thought it would be interesting to ponder the alternatives.

Who are our best players in every position?
Well I think the answer at the top and tail of the team is obvious – RvP and Szczesny give Arsenal about the best polar opposites in the league. But elsewhere it is not so simple.

Centreback Partnership
Some supporters had been crying out for a tall physical presence at the back and then along came Per Mertesacker the 6ft 5in answer to our vulnerability from set pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I think the BFG is an excellent addition to the squad and has helped us keep in touch through this early critical period, but I think most would agree that his height is not the main attribute he possesses. No, it’s his positional play, reading of the game, timing of the tackle cool head and experience – but I wouldn’t mind betting that Kozzer has won more headers in the box when playing alongside Mert. The return of Vermaelen has been a huge shot in the arm and has reminded us all that he is a world class defender and our captain of the defence. For me the best CB pairing is TV and Koz but have your say by placing your vote below.

Now this is where it really does get difficult. Most Arsenal supporters would say that last season Sagna was the best right back in the league. He didn’t start this season so well and looked a yard or two off the pace, but a 90% Sagna is still better than most RBs and it seemed like an early hammer blow to our season when he was ruled out with a fractured leg.

But then there was the introduction of Carl Jenkinson to the first team. He was one of our early summer signings who at 19 was inexperienced to say the least having been on loan at a non league club previously. For me he has been a revelation. Like Jack, he’s an Arsenal supporter. He has amazing energy going forward and uncharacteristically for an Arsenal player, he can cross the ball. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not in the same class defensively as Sagna at this stage, but he is improving every game and has won the hearts of the supporters already. Sagna has to be my first choice RB for the big games, but Jenks is a real find and offers us more offensively so in a couple of years time who knows?

Gibbs or Santos? – now that is a much closer call. Gibbs has been threatening to become the new Cashley for a couple of seasons. His progress has been hampered by a worrying propensity to pick up injuries that hasn’t ever really let us see him have a decent run of games.

Santos is already dividing opinion. He’s all Brazillian, surging forward with gay abandon, super control spiced with clever tricks and finished with a sweet left foot and cool head in front of goal. He loves to go forward, its the gaping holes that he leaves behind that worry many. West Brom were poor on Saturday and Santos never really looked troubled but against stiffer opposition he may be undone. The hope is that he will adjust his game to put slightly more emphasis on the defensive side of his play, but I for one would not wish him to sacrifice his natural attacking game. Santos would be my first choice for LB.

The Midfield
Since The Boy Wonder’s place is not in question I shall consider the midfield to be the ‘5’ in a 4:5:1 formation – but you can call it 4:3:3 if it makes you happy. I have no hesitation on current form in saying that wide midfielders places are not in question, Theo and Gervinho have been excellent and are clearly Arsène’s first choice, but we still have very good options in Arshavin, the Ox and possibly Ryo in time.

The current best centre midfield 3 would appear to be Song, Ramsey and Arteta – but what happens when Jack is fit again?

It would appear that Song’s place in the side is safe so who would give way to accommodate our rising star? I actually think that Arteta has been more influential in the side recently than Song as he quietly gets on with his business and keeps the Wengerball machine running smoothly whereas Song is often noticed when he somehow magically manages to hold off multiple players and still emerge with the ball but I sometimes think he should not be in that position in the first place. Once again we are blessed with midfield options and squad rotation of the midfield 3 would help us stave off the customary end of season fatigue.

Which players would you prefer to see as our centre midfield three?

The Subs
I have made the presumption that everyone would agree that these are the only candidates for first choice in their positions but many would disagree. Is Arshavin more effective than Gervinho on the left? The Ox worth a try in place of Theo? Rosicky more reliable than Ramsey? Benny more attacking than Song? Diaby waiting in the wings to finally realise his potential? Coquelin worth a try for some games? – they may well all have to play their part in a typically long season. With the possible exception of strikers, we can now boast two quality players for every position on the pitch.

One thing is for sure, our new strength in depth makes us better equipped than for many years and the removal of large egos and homesick heroes from the dressing room should mean that rotation and competition for places makes us a stronger and more resilient squad this season.

You can see how opinion is divided in the polls by clicking on ‘View Results’ on the bottom left of each poll box.

Written by Rasp

192 Responses to Arsène Wenger’s Got a Headache

  1. Red Arse says:

    Morning Rasper, 🙂

    Really great Post. I will need to get back to you later, because there is a lot to think about there! 🙂

  2. Red Arse says:

    Dandan, re your 9:11 🙂

    Don’t change on my account. I am hardly the greatest blogger in the world and your story was excellent. 🙂

    I was never sure why, in the UK, the Brits liked their battered fish, and chips so much, but that was as a result of some dubious fish & chip shops I happened to visit, I suppose.

    I even went to J Sheekey in Covent Garden, which, as you will know, is famous for its fish, and I must have caught them on a bad day, because the fish was so putridly cooked they did not charge me or my guests for the rest of the meal. (I would rather have had a nice meal).

    Then I went, reluctantly, with some colleagues to a ‘proper’ sit down fish and chipper, and it all clicked. Absolutely wonderful.

    Now I try and go there at least once a week. The prices do not match your experience, but are very reasonable in that grilled Plaice, or Haddock in batter, with wonderful, naughty chips (fries) and a cup of tea costs only £9.99.

    I think I will have to go there today now! 🙂 (got to stop drooling) 🙂

  3. LB says:

    These posts are fun

    Nice one Rasp.

    The Sagna-Jenkinson choice is only surprising by just how one sided it is. The Santos-Gibbs choice is surprising for not being as one sided it should be; but, the really surprising one is how people are voting for the midfield which I can only assume must be sentiment driven rather than any real concern for balance and for who does what best.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Rasp, thanks for a fantastic post 🙂

    The best ‘interlull’ post I have ever read. I love the interactiveness of it, but the best part is your positive analysis of both about our options as well as the characteristics of our players. A great read, top stuff.

  5. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    I love chips but not the fish, being from the “east end” there`s only one food in my book, Pie & Mash ( though some like Jellied eels ), It`s a bit pricey nowadays but every time I come up for a match my first port of call is Kelly`s, Bethnal Green Road , I have 3 pies and double mash twice, as they dont have a plate big ehough for 6, yummy. Another favourite is a Salt beef Beigel from the top end of Brick Lane, they stick half a cow in it , generous indeed !. 🙂

  6. Rasp says:

    Morning LB,

    I was thinking of you when writing the bit about the central midfield three. I know you have strong views in this area and was wondering if you would have included any other players as options in that category?

    Morning TA, thanks. Yes it is a time filler for the interlull and hopefully will allow us to play CM without any negative undertones.

  7. Illybongani says:

    Really interesting post Rasp. I just can’t force myself to vote though. It’s a bit like Sophie’s Choice…how can I choose Aaron in front of Jack? And visa versa?

    Although I agree totally that, as things stand (we’re never far away from meltdown after a bad result that “affects zee confidence”), we have solid competition for places. But, (and like Red Arse) it’s a big but, the quality of the first choice XI is a million miles away from the 2004 group. Even my good lady who has little interest in the Gooners (but still asks how WE got on) said yesterday “I recorded a Classics game of Sky for you when WE drew at Spurs to win the league. I forgot what brilliant players we had, Pires, Ljungberg, Henry, Bergkamp…”

    Now if SHE’S noticing the difference then it must be true!

  8. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Sorry Rasp, my mind went onto food, but what a great post and love the interactive bit, more of it please, how about interactive player rating`s in the post match report.

  9. Rasp says:

    Thanks Illy, you can’t cop out 😛 Arsene has to make choices, remember that the players you leave out will get their chances, that is the whole point we can rest/rotate and still be strong.

    Hi glic, that’s a really good idea, we’ll put in a poll for readers to vote on their MotM after every game.

  10. We lost two of our three star players in the Summer. Fabregas was
    in my view a major loss, because of his vision, but Nasri was not.

    The other departures were players who were frankly very average and replaceable.

    What the club seems to have gained is a more hard working team
    who are willing to grind out results.

    There are still weaknesses in the squad. I do have concerns about
    the defensive qualities of our wing backs particularly when playing
    behind the likes of Walcott and Arshavin who are not exactly the
    world’s greatest tacklers.

    However, the priority for me must be to find adequate cover for
    Van Persie or someone who can play by his side and take over goalscoring duties. None of the current players in squad or out on loan are good enough in that department.

    Arsenal’s transfer policy needs to change. We have a decent squad, but I would like the club to go out occasionally into the market and buy selectively the ‘best’. That costs money. Spending
    £10-15 million buys you today squad players or young potential.

  11. dandan says:

    Fine article Rasp, married to a clever and entertaining challenge for us all. Are we beginning I wonder, to see that perhaps Mr Wenger additions were not the panic buys he was so roundly accused of, Indeed the fact that the choices are so difficult would seem to suggest they were not. Will be fascinated to see the final result

  12. Rasp says:

    Hi emstr,

    I understand what you’re saying. I think the wage demands of Hazard and probably even Goetz are out of our range although M’Villa may be affordable if you are looking at midfielders and may be viewed as a suitable deputy for Song. Ramsey does play some amazing Cesc-like through passes and could poossibly play a more advanced role to encourage that side of his game.

  13. As far as I’m concerned it’s impossible to say which is our best centre back pairing as we have yet to see Vermaelen and Meretesacker play together, while a decent understanding appears to be developing between the BFG and Koscielny, for that reason I think they must be first choice for the moment. Let’s wait and see how well Vermaelen has recovered.

    Full backs are easy, Jenkinson and Santos, Although if all four were fit it would be Sagna and Santos. Gibbs is to injury prone and erratic, he needs many more games to perfect his primary skills namely defending, Jenkinson needs more experience.

    I need more time to consider the mid-field, probably the rest of the season.

  14. Good Morning all
    Fab post Rasp, i struggled with the dilemmas so i guess the club has good options.
    Santos or Gibbs, i went with Gibbs sorry, Santos needs to lose a little weight and lay off the late night twittering for me. He will cost us goals in the big games, and Gibbo does have some attacking ability and he’s english. 🙂
    Vermaelen & Koskielny for me, a no brainer, for me Kozzer is going to be world class, he’s improved so much since his arrival. But Per is a good back up for either and i’m comfortable with that.
    Sagna or Jenks, gone with Sagna but in a year i think it could quite easily be Jenks, his improvement has been phenominal, it will only be a while until RVP starts latching on to some of those deadly crosses of his.
    Midfield for me is set in stone, when Jacks back, our new spanish peacock drops out, Jack & Rambo are the future.
    Its good to have options.
    Fascinating reads on Le Grove & Arseblog this morning on the medical facilities, where did your invite go Rasp???

  15. oz gunner says:

    @ RA & Illy

    8.12 onwards

    probably the best comments set of comments i’ve read, i was in tears laughing. Missed a cracking post of comments. If we win the champions league i’ll fly up and join in. Like most said why can’t we win it? get a good draw and we can do anything.

    @ Rasp

    cracking post, i love doing stuff like this, much appreciated.

    It is amazing how your opinion can shift when sentiment is involved. I thought ”I’ll go with jenks” just because i love how he goes about it, but sagna has been so good for us and very consistent, therefore he’s the obvious choice.

    Midfield trio is a bit trickier, i’d go with wilshere, ramsey, and song. Mainly because i’d go with wilshere in arteta’s role, with ramsey as the attacking midfielder! Wilshere i feel has the better pass (ramsey is still great), but ramsey is a better striker of the ball

    cheers rasp

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Rasp, the beauty of our current ‘headache’ (what is the opposite of headache, now that we are in a dizzying state of delightful options?) is that indeed we are now in a position where we can rest/rotate and still be strong. In fact, by resting and rotating on a small scale, we can keep our players longer fit and injury-free, yet the shape & quality of the team does not change dramatically. The one exception is RvP of course, and it would be interesting to see what fellow AA’ers suggest we should do – in terms of like for like replacement and/or changing the formation – if and when he would need to be rested/ gets injured.


    Excellent post Rasp. The great thing about your post is that it highlights that we do have depth to our squad. As for who should be in front of who, i say let them fight for there places.

    Cornwall, did you ever frequent the Venus Steak House in Bethnal Green in the early eighties. If you did i probably served you your steak. Hope you sorted me out with a tip.

  18. oz gunner says:

    @ Rasp

    i think M’Vila would be a big waste of money. 20million approximently for a backup to song, when we already have the very promising coq and frim.

    As kelsey said the other day it’d probably be a good idea to loan frimpong out so he gets more game time. At the moment its safe to say he’s behind coq so it’s a bit of a waste to be hanging around when he could be getting games elsewhere. Just like arsene has done with lansbury

  19. oz gunner says:

    @ TA

    i’m going to go with relief?

  20. Rasp says:

    Hi oz,

    I wouldn’t buy M’Vila either if we had £20m to spend, I’d buy a striker – although don’t press me on which one….. Arsene does like to collect midfielders though and I think he is considering recruiting another – maybe with Rosicky coming to the end of his contract.

  21. Rasp says:

    Hi tommy,

    Yes I read the stuff about the new medical centre – sounds very impressive. My invitation must have been lost in the post although maybe they thought they’d be preaching to the converted.

    I wonder if LG realise they have been recruited as part of Arsenal’s PR machine 🙄

  22. Rasp

    Yes there will always be players out of our budget with the likes of
    Real Madrid,Chelsea and Man City ready to pounce.

    However, we do need to raise the bar particularly when acquiring match winners. I do not agree with your statement about wages, but we will need to change framework. Other clubs are far less egalitarian than we appear to be.

    There are a lot of talented midfielders floating around at moment
    including the three you mention. I agree that M’Vila would be probably best option, because he is outstanding in defensive midfield and playing for club who are not in Champions League.
    Song is a very good player, but he does move as you suggest too
    often off station and that becomes particularly apparent towards end of games where we had in past a gaping hole in our midfield vulnerable to counterattack.

    A second striker is a must and that will cost a lot of money.

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Oz, I don’t think ‘relief’ is strong enough: it’s too neutral. Headache –> Relief –> ?

  24. oz gunner says:

    @ Rasp

    that is true, but with the plethora or DM’s (and if rosicky goes) then an attacking midfield should be a priority along with another central striker (as you said). However, the optimist in me is still hoping bendtner will come back and fill that void for us!

  25. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi RA, did I read that right – you might be going to the Fulham game and paying a visit to the Tavern as well? That would be great! 🙂

  26. Rasp says:

    Thanks emstr,

    I think the first thing we have to do is to secure RvP on a new contract paying him the wages he deserves (still well below what city would offer). Since it appears we are only breaking even thanks to the sale of property (coming to an end in 2012) and profit on player sales, the likelihood of us paying big wages to a star name seems remote.

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    Right, I am off for a while. I fancy a coffee and a slice of something naughty in town 🙂

  28. oz gunner says:

    @ TA

    exultation, jubilation, gladness, happiness, joy, merriment, triumph (wheres RA when you need him, or sharkespeare!)

    personally i’d go with ‘utter jubilation’ at the moment. You are right relief isn’t good enough for this team.

  29. Rasp says:

    Its interesting that Wilshere/Arteta/Song is winning the midfield vote.

    Since we lost arguably our two most creative midfielders, it appears we are using the wings to greater effect rather than trying to work everything through a congested midfield.

    I think out of the 4 options, Ramsey and Jack are probably the most likely to deliver the ‘killer pass’ so presumably most see them playing in the advanced role.

  30. chas says:

    Brilliant post, Rasp. Most interesting.

    On a side note, I was looking into doing a footballers’ hairstyles picture quiz for some mates and came across this. Can anyone name him without googling?

  31. evonne says:

    Rasp – formidable analysis of the options we have, it makes me smile – that’s all on the back of disasterous transfers this summer. Wenger f**ed up again, lost best players, bought cheap unknowns.

    Ha bloody ha. The man is a genius!!

    Wilshere/Arteta/Song – drop Ramsey?? No way! But then again you cannot drop Song, so who?? I guess they’ll be rotated


    Chas, ha ha…John Dempsey.

  33. Rasp

    Our total wage bill is not significantly smaller than Man Utd, but they appear to pay Rooney significantly higher wages than rest of team.
    We forget that Arsenal signed Campbell several years ago on a £100,000 per week contract when average thresholds were well below £50,0000 pw.

    Van Persie is an absolute must. We need to demonstrate that we can hold onto our best players. On this occasion I would hold the
    player to his contract. He will then be 30 and with his medical history becomes less attractive in transfer market.

    For me Arsenal needs to demonstrate that our best players can end their careers at club and not be ships passing in the night.


    Regarding the midfield 4. Mr wenger has already said that only Song can play his role and that Ramsey can not play the deeper role. He called Arteta an inbetween player and compared him with jack. The question is then when Jack comes back, does he replace Arteta in the inbetween role or Ramsey in the offensive role.

    Either way you look at it, Jack and Ramsey will be the premeirships answer to Xavi and Iniesta so logicaly speaking Arsenal will take over Barcas position as the worlds best team very soon.

  35. gunnern5 says:

    Rasp, well done, that’s the best and most thought provoking post that I’ve read on AA.

    Clearly the most difficult choice for me is the midfield, we
    have an over abundance of talent but only one seasoned veteran.

    I like the possibility of Ramsey, Wilshere and Song but would be loathe to leave Arteta out – it gives AW the perfect reason for rotating his squad.

    And to make his dilemma just a little tougher we also have the following thirteen players to throw into the mix.

    Arshavin,Benayoun,Chamakh,Diaby,Djourou,Frimpong,Gervinho,Miyaichi,Oxlade-Chamberlain, Park, Rosicky,Squillaci and last but not least Walcott.

  36. Fatgingergooner says:

    Interesting to hear someone say that Ramsey/Wilshire will be the next Xavi/Iniesta. Wouldn’t that be a dream.

    I think that Arteta has a massive role to play this season and I can understand why he would be chosen by most as first choice. He has experience and class and keeps the midfield ticking over effortlessly. He also works much harder defensively than Ramsey and holds his position better than both Wilshire and Ramsey, making us more solid against the dreaded counter attack.

    With Wilshire coming back from what is now a long term injury, this seasons first choice must be Arteta, Song and Ramsey. But there is no doubt that Arteta is simply keeping the position warm for the future king of the Emirates, Jack Wilshire.

  37. gunnern5

    I think that quite a few of the players listed will be offloaded in next one or two years.

    Of those listed by you I can see a long term future for Oxlade-Chamberlain and possibly Walcott and Frimpong.

    Wenger tends to keep squad players only if they are happy to stay
    on that basis. Once they express a wish to leave eg Bendtner or come to end of their contracts they are offloaded.

  38. harry says:

    Rasp, awesome post, you should do more!!

    In middle of much work, so will comment later, but i did notice that you wrote theo and excellent in the same sentence!!

  39. chas says:

    TMHT, well done.
    Are you an expert in footballers who are follicularly-challenged?

  40. gunnern5 says:


    I agree that quite a few of our current 1st team squad may not be here next season, but I disagree with those you feel have a long term future.

    I would add, Djourou, Diaby, Park, Gervinho and Miyaichi.

    We also have Campbell, Bendtner, Denilson, Lansbury and Vela out on loan, of whom Campbell and Lansbury look promising.

    By the way the reason we paid Sol 100k a week was that he was a free transfer.

  41. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Sorry never used the Venus Steak House,I`m just a pie & mash addict, but sometimes used Pellicci`s.



    Thanks. Yes, the comb over has always fascinated me, just wish it would come back into fashion.



    You missed out, the Venus done the best Steak in London. Place was full of gangsters, coppers, boxers and there molls. They all loved there mum though of course.

  44. Rasp says:

    Hi GN5, thanks. I wasn’t sure I should give my choices in the post as I didn’t want to infuence others but then I thought it would be cowardly not to give my opinion.

    The only place I didn’t express a preference was for the best midfield 3 as I simply don’t know at this stage. It would seem logical that Ramsey and Jack would interchange but really they are both too good to be left on the bench. I really like the way Arteta had settled in and I would consider him as interchangeable with Song for some games – but then what do I know? 🙂

  45. Rasp says:

    Hi harry,

    I do think Theo has been excellent in his last two appearances. He shaded it compared to Gervinho against Brom IMO. A player like Theo has to take risks, but if only one in six of his darting runs creates a goalscoring opportunity then that’s a good return. I want to see him go for it more and not worry if it doesn’t always pay off – and I think that is what he has been doing and is why his assists are so impressive.

  46. gunnern5 says:

    Rasp, AW certainly has an issue in picking his best eleven but even with our best eleven picked I still doubt that they are, currently, good enough to overturn the likes of Man C, Man U. Barcelona or Real Madrid.

    I like our new found grit and the way that the new recruits are settling in but I still have this gnawing doubt about our overall ability – maybe fortune will be on our side and we will overachieve this season – I sure hope so…….

  47. Illybongani says:

    Rasp – I agree, if one of his six darting runs creates a chance then it IS a good return. Trouble is those six runs happen over two or three games far too often, meaning too many poor performances. I wonder if he would have had so many chances if he’d been bought for pennies from some obscure African country? Oooh…how controversial.

  48. Rasp says:

    I agree with that GN5. My sights are trained on top 4 and CL for next season at this stage and so in reality I am only comparing us with the likes of totnum, pool and the chavs. I do think we have what it takes to finish above them if we can maintain better consistency which was a problem when we had more flair but less grit.

  49. goonermichael says:

    Great post. I really enjoyed voting.

  50. Rasp says:

    Illy, I agree. I have been a critic of Theo for precisely that reason, but I have to give him credit when deserved. If he can turn 2 good games in a row into eight then we may be able to say that we at last have the Theo we all hoped would emerge one day.

    Its a lot to do with confidence with him and the presence of experienced players like RvP, Arteta, BFG and TV must give him a greater sense of team strength and that can only be good.

  51. ryan says:

    maybe in the midfield u can consider playing song,ramsey,willshere and arteta all at once,arteta playing on the wing in theos position

  52. Gary says:

    Aaron Ramsey is the most underrated player at Arsenal at the moment. Just watch all the goals from October and look at his contribution – not allways the assist, but often a crucial pass. Jack Wilshere has some catching up to do.

  53. Rasp says:

    Hi Gary, Ramsey definitely poses a greater goal threat than Jack and tends to play in the more advanced role of the two. He does also have the ability to make unbelievable passes – but then so does Jack.

    What we don’t see often enough at this stage is either of them ‘running’ the game although Ramsey has done it for Wales and Wilshere was arguably our best player against Barca. I like it that they can both rise to the big occasion, it means they have the temperament to go to the very top.

  54. chas says:

    Not sure if this has been re-posted as the RHWP requested, so here it is….

    Gooner In Exile says:
    November 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm
    Just a little suggestion that you may like to add your signature to this worthy petition:

    No public funding for Spuds stadium. Get signing

  55. Red Arse says:


    Pie and Mash? 🙂

    Is it any old pie? steak pie? pork pie? mince pie? 4+20 Black Bird pie?

  56. Illybongani says:

    there is another option available to our congested midfield…play Jack in the Messi role. Although he hasn’t scored many goals so far, he has that low centre of gravity that helps him twist and turn defenders inside out. Technically perfect, I think he could play the role alongside (behind?) RVP. And I’ve seen him score some belters in his younger days.

    And I guess he’s got the next 15 years with us to perfect the role!

  57. LB says:

    Ahhh, I like this, there is plenty to disagree with.

    Rasp has said it but I get the impression that others agree that Ramsey and Wilshere are interchangeable.

    How, why, absolutely not, they play totally different positions.

    Ramsey is a goal scorer he plays the old Cesc role and although it will take some time to fill that gap he is doing just fine.

    Wilshere is far more defensive minded if he were a bit taller I reckon he could rotate with Song but his size is such that he cannot sheild the defence on his own which makes Alex playing along side him an absolute necessity.

    Hopefully people will see that Wilshere cannot interchange with Ramsey; we would simply lose far to much, Rosicky is a better choice and to those who still think that Wilshere could interchange with Ramsey I accuse you of sentimentality when pragmatism is needed.

    Given that Ramsey and Wilshere are not interchangeable the fascinating question for me to pose is this: if both Arteta and Wilshere were fit who would you pick to play against Norwich, the choice of Song and Ramsey is a given.

  58. Arteta is good defensively too due to his days in Everton. This means he will be used instead of Ramsey in the tough away fixtures like Stoke, Sunderland among others. The same can be said about Per instead of Kos.
    At home, Wilshere, Ramsey and Song should be the starting midfield with Kos and Verm as the starting CBs.

  59. Rasp says:

    Hi LB,

    Do you think that Ramsey and Wilshere play in different positions because that is their natural game or because the team requires this of them. My comment @ 1:04 kinda argues against the two being interchangeable, I’d just find it hard to drop either Song or Arteta so maybe pragmatism must rule.


    Lets not forget that Wilshere and Ramsey are still very young. As time goes on they will become physicaly stronger and obviously gain the experience. I wonder if you went back a few years ago if people thought it possible to play Xavi and Ineiesta in the same team. Another option could end up been the OX. When Mr Wenger was asked to compare the OX with Wallcot he basicaly said that he expected the Ox to play in a more central midfield positon and Theo to end up at front. Our only problem is keeping these boys and benefiting from there peak years, if we can, we will dominate.

  61. LB says:

    Well your not being much fun today, agreeing with me just like that lol

    I didn’t see your 1.04

    We are not on the up for no reason, with Cesc leaving we have lost something in the creativity department but we have gained in the experience department with the addition of Arteta.

    There best midfield for me without any shadow of a doubt is:

    Song, Arteta

    The will be plenty of opportunities in the future for Jack.

  62. Rasp says:

    😆 LB, so in answer to my question to you earlier, I assume you don’t consider any of the other potential central midfield candidates (Benny, Rosicky, Frimpong, Coquelin) worthy of consideration for inclusion in the ‘best first eleven’ at this stage?

  63. Rasp says:

    OMG chas, I’d forgotten he was that good – I’m gonna have to rethink this.

  64. Fatgingergooner says:

    Wenger has given himself a good problem by signing Arteta and having 4 candidates for the 3 starting midfield roles, but the cynic in me so thinks that he has given himself a get out of jail free card due to the fact that the big 30 will be ticking over soon for Arteta. We all know AW’s policy with the older players and it gives him an easy excuse to get Wilshire back in the side.

    I have to say though that with CL duties and Domestic cup runs, modern football is all about the squad and having depth can only be a good thing

  65. Red Arse says:

    I suspect that all contemporary midfield footballers have to have all round skills in these ultra competitive days.

    That is to say, they must be capable of both defensive and offensive roles, suited to the teams needs, at any particular time during a game, or dependent on the role required subject to the quality of the opposition.

    That said, the individual player’s balance of those abilities is fundamentally based on his physique, skills and whether they are better suited, naturally, and temperamentally to a more defensive or offensive role.

    Having watched our Jack playing thru the youth teams since he was about thirteen years of age, I have to admit I shake my head in bewilderment that anyone could gainsay his natural creative ability as an immensely talented attack minded player providing goal scoring opportunities for others.

    Rambo, on the other hand, is a talented player, capable of scoring goals with terrific shooting technique, but is physically more robust than Jack and capable of playing ‘in the hole’ behind RVP, or defending like a demon along side Song, in front of the defense, and frustrating the opposition, when required.

    As with all “who should play? and where?” questions, timing is all important. Both jack and Rambo are relative fledglings in their early 20s, whereas Arteta at 29 is a much more experienced campaigner.

    In the short-term, it is probable that AW will want Arteta to play as a steadying influence alongside Jack and Song to make use of his ‘old head’.
    In the mid to long-term Rambo will play more regularly in place of Arteta, but, as has already been posited by some astute AA’ers, rotation will become much more common and practical with the wealth of talent available to us, in all positions.

  66. dandan says:

    Rasp. I must admit to being a little surprised that you would consider leaving the multi-talented Jack out of the side, after all he is the player the next England side will be built around. I f any one doubts the superb attacking technique of Jack then watch this. TH14 must have gloried in working with so fine a pupil.

  67. Rasp says:

    Hi dandan, as I said earlier I just can’t decide. I may consider the heinous crime of leaving Song out in favour of Arteta against sides that will allow us to play football.

  68. dandan says:

    I am with you on that one Rasp, I do believe that is how we will finish up. This season will answer many questions I feel.

  69. MickyDidIt89 says:

    73.89% of you are wrong about the midfield. Just saying 🙂
    Love the post and its interactivity. Its just like being in the Science Museum. Can’t stay.

  70. oz gunner says:

    it is amazing how when someone is injured how quickly people forget. Jack WILL walk into any team in the league, yes arteta is playing really well but jack is a cut above. I’d give arteta the edge in experience (obviously), but Jack wins in terms of defending and offensive passing.

    So for me it’s:

    Song Jack

    @ G5

    you seem to be forgetting someone…Coquelin. To me he is probably the most exciting youngster coming through (just behind Ox). 29mil for M’vila Pish Posh this bloke is going to be a star (guaranteed if he had the same amount of game time as yann m’vila there would be question marks over who would start for the french team).

  71. RockyLives says:

    Brilliant post Rasp – superb fun.

    In the four votes I was with the majority in two of them, middling in one and in a minority in one.

    Not saying which was which.

  72. RockyLives says:

    Agree about Coquelin.
    He is definitely Song’s understudy at the moment rather than Frimpong. Sending the Pong on loan would be a good move in my opinion, particularly if it’s to a EPL side.

  73. oz gunner says:

    @ Dandan

    i think i got excited when i first saw that goal a few seasons ago. Couldn’t wait to see him in the first team. I know he cops some flack for not scoring much (just like cesc used to), but when you see that you know he’s got it in him. We all remember cesc struggling to score, then next season he came out scoring for fun (i think when he, hleb and rosicky had that competition going). I think it’ll click for jack the very same way.

  74. oz gunner says:

    @ Rocky

    couldn’t agree more, as kelsey said the other day it’d be very beneficial for frimpong, as he needs minutes to fine tune that rawness he has. Something about the way coquelin plays that i love, his energy and tackling is a joy to see. It reminds me of how flamini went about his business. Coquelin and lansbury are two i really hope make it at arsenal


    Jack Wilshere is a one off, the kind of player to bring a smile to you face, just like Liam Brady. i love Ramsey but in the long term Jack will play in the more advanced role and be Arsenal and Englands best player.

  76. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky, I’m guessing you voted for Gibbs and the other category would be the midfield 3 although I can’t deduce which combo you would have preferred?

  77. Fatgingergooner says:

    What I find so interseting is the fact that only 5% of people are happy to stick with the current midfield option. This is a trio that has taken us out of the doom and gloom and into a period of real excitement. Whatever happened to if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!? What is even more suprising is that this vote is amongst a group of fans who only 2 months ago were really worried about where this club was heading. I’m very surprised that as a group we are so happy to alter a winning combination.

    What would have been interesting would be to get this vote on another blog ie LG, to see what reaction the ‘anti-Wenger’ group have had on this vote.

  78. Rasp says:

    Hi FGG – and koz and Mert are in last place as the CB pairing even though TV and Mert have never played together.

  79. oz gunner says:

    @ FGG

    they would not have voted but rather whinged that there was not a vote for ‘wenger out’ or ‘i hope we get relegated so i can say i told you so’

  80. RockyLives says:

    Rasp – I voted for Santos 🙂

    But you’re right – I’m in a minority in MF.

    It’s hilarious looking at all the Arsenal sites with their Pravda style reports on the new Arsenal medical facilities.

    I’m sure it’s a good thing for the club to do, and it reflects a willingness to engage with the fans etc, but… it really reminds me of news reports from journalists who have been invited to view North Korea’s excellent public housing system.

  81. Red Arse says:


    If you were to present this voting choice to the LG bloggers, you would be forced to have an additional option in each section “Wenger Out!”

    I am sure many of the bloggers on that site are individually just ordinary fans like us, for good or ill.
    It is amazing what the crowd mentality, coupled with a few malevolent rabble raisers can do to change the perspective of ‘normal’ peeps.

    On the other hand our site is populated by a more rabelaision type of individual ……. and long may it continue to be so! 🙂

  82. Rasp says:

    In that case Rocky, its possible we voted in exactly the same way – maybe we should divulge the truth over a pint before the Dortmund game 😛

  83. No public funding for Tottenham’s redevelopment plans. e pettion.


  84. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky, 🙂

    You are right, again, but it is quite a clever stroke that the PR department have pulled in selecting individuals to review the medical facilities. Those invited are so flattered it may help to change their attitudes and scatological comments!

    It’s the old “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer”.

    What I am tickled about by the voting, so far, is that the centre back choice of the majority is Kos and Verm. So what was all that angst shown by so many in the Summer when there was such an outcry for for a new super duper ‘English’ centre half?

    Arsene really did know best, it seems! 🙂

  85. chas says:

    TV5 and the BFG played against Marseille

  86. Red Arse says:


    Is there any facility for flipping back to the top of the Post. I cannot be arsed to keep scrolling up to look at the latest positions, not that they will change much – now that Micky has stopped multiple voting!! 🙂

  87. LB says:

    I’ve signed that three times already

  88. Rasp says:

    Hi RA, not that I know of. You can always open another AA in a separate window with the polling in view and flip between the two.

    Thanks chas, I’d forgotten that. TV and Mert are so professional I cannot conceive that they wouldn’t function well together, but it is still surprising when Koz and Mert have done so well that they’re in last position.

  89. chas says:

    Don’t you just grab the scroll bar slider, hold down left click button and stop the scrolling exactly where you want?

  90. Illybongani says:

    RA – just press the ‘Home’ button on your keyboard (assuming you’re using one)

  91. Right a real ponderer set by the Rasper and a very good post.

    Particularly loved the reference to Santos’ “gay abandon” which I assume is linked to his tweet post WBA.

    Now on to the debate, for me Sagna is still first choice, and on the left its Santos and I have voted as such.

    Centre backs leave me in a quandary but I thought who would I pick against Barca, and the answer is Kos and Verm.

    Midfield well I chickened it and voted other, only because there wasn’t an option that said “I’m glad I’ve not got to make the choice”.

    There is an argument for any three of the four being given games, and I believe Jack could play either role, Artetas or Ramseys. We also have Coq who can play Artetas or Songs role and Frimpong who can at the moment feel Songs role. That said Coq and Frim are a little behind the others. Then you have TR7 who can play in Arteta, Ramseys or a wide role, or Benny who can play wide or in Ramseys role. I believe Ramsey can also play deeper if necessary.

    The great thing about this post is it highlights why we are a better squad despite losing our best player, and a first team regular.

    Often fans compare our squad to ManUre they won the league lady year with one stand out attacker and one stand out defender and a great keeper. Take any other player out and there was an equally able player to fill the hole. Now look at our current squad would any of ManUres squad players improve it? (my answer is no) Would any of their first team (excl Evra, Vidic, and Rooney) improve it? (again my answer is no).

    If we rotated last year with Cesc or Nasri there was a noticeable drop in quality, if we rotate this year (apart from RvP) we are not going to notice as much, and if we can find a way of winning with the current side then we have the recipe for winning when we rotate

  92. oz gunner says:

    sorry rasp, can you please change my vote for ‘best CB pairing’ to squidge and djourou. cheers for that

  93. TotalArsenal says:

    Re midfield positions. Let’s just assume the defence is now sorted and will become so strong we do not need a 4-2-3-1 system, with potentially two DM’s, but just one in most of the games we play. This could mean we will be playing a ‘Barca-like’ 4-1-2-3. With either Song or Ateta in the ‘1’, and either Arteta/Jack, or Arteta/Rambo, or even and ideally, Jack and Rambo in the ‘2’. I can also see a combination with Diaby and one of Rambo, Jack or Arteta work for us (and of course there is still Arshavin to consider). We would need to adhere to a constant pressing game and a high defensive line, but we have the players who can do that and are prepared to do it. Theo, Gervinho and RvP are the ideal ‘3’ for this as well. If and when RvP is not available, we could play Gervinho in his position and add either Ox or Arshavin or Ryo. Oh to be a Gooner! 🙂

  94. One important issue which should also be discussed is that an increasing number of the players in our squad are either home grown or british born.

    Such players tend to be more loyal than their continental counterparts and indeed Jack Wilshire has more or less confirmed that in his recent statements.

    What the club does need to do in the future is follow the Man United model with a solid base of players who will commit themselves to the club and not run off every time large amounts of money are being thrown at them.

    In the modern game a club with Arsenal’s commitments needs to
    have the equivalent of two strong teams so that players can be interchanged.

    That is apparent when you see that Manchester City can put out a
    different team for successive matches and their players are less prone to tiredness and injuries.

    Finally there have been a lot of adverse comments by so-called football pundits suggesting that our team now lacks quality. However, I would suggest that with possible exception of Man City
    our club is no longer significantly behind clubs such as Man Utd or

    The points difference has arisen when the club was subjected to
    uncertainty over sale of Fabregas and Nasri.

  95. chas says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your ‘who would I pick against Barca’ comment. The opposition is crucial to which combo you’d pick. I doubt anyone would pick Kos and TV5 against Stoke!

  96. chas says:

    Isn’t it great that we don’t know what the best first Xl is?

    Last season it became very clear just before Christmas which eleven players were in it. The trouble with that was that once it wasn’t available for selection, we started to wane.

  97. chas says:

    Like Rooney holding Manyoo to ransom until he got his massive pay hike, you mean?

  98. chas says:

    I saw this earlier and wondered if Yaya knew that it would only make Citeh more reviled.
    Yeah they can pay two teams of players enough money so that 11 of them don’t mind sitting on the bench every other week. So what, petrodoping is still wrong.

  99. chas says:

    Oooops, far too much chas.




    Thats very true, the team no longer picks itself and that can only be a good thing.

    Ime convinced if we can keep all our young players we have an unbelievable team in the making, i suppose this is the genius of Wenger. Our main rivals in england and europe have there best players at peak ages were as we have reletavive babies with the likes of Jack, Ox and Ramsey. if the good lord could grant our club one wish it must be that we keep hold of our players.

  101. Red Arse says:

    Chas and Illy, a big thank you. (I keep telling everyone I am dopey – won’t say which you two are!) 🙂

    A combination of the advice you gave me has enabled me to (a) notice a button – ‘home’ – that I never knew existed, and (b) by pressing ‘home’ I instantly get to the top of the page, and then by toggling with the left ‘button’ and pushing the cursor the ‘wrong’ way, I instantly get to the bottom of the page.

    You will both know that, of course, but this way we can share with the Rasper! 🙂

    GIE, you have left my head in a spin with all your ‘rotations’. The last time I felt this giddy was when I extended my middle finger and said to a crabby blonde “rotate” ….. she cracked me a good left hander.
    We went out for two years after that. She made me! 🙂

  102. Illybongani says:

    How about Hazard and Goetze in for £60m at Christmas, Arshavin out to Anzhi Macarenahehmacarena for £20m and call it quits. Now we’re cooking for next season.

  103. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    I`ve been outside doing some building work ,so only just seen your question. The pie is a mince meat pie,mash and liquor (sort of parsley sauce ), the traditional cockney meal for donkey`s years.

    Midfield : Jack and others ! 🙂

  104. Illybongani says:

    RA – you’re welcome. I don’t wish to overload you but try the ‘end’ button too. Magic will occur…

  105. Red Arse says:

    Thanks GLIC, 🙂

    Not that I totally understand, exactly.

    I have become accustomed to eating mince pies with custard at Xmas in the UK– not really big in the US — but I would draw the line at parsley sauce and mash (potatoes?).

  106. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Illy, either one of those two and we have the status quo restored IMO .

  107. Illybongani says:

    RA – proper pie n’ mash is minced BEEF pies, lumpy mash and parsley sauce. The parsley sauce should be made with eel juice. It used to be poor man’s food before you went in the shop – now it’s poor man’s food when you come out. It costs a bloody fortune.

  108. Red Arse says:

    Bloody hell, Illy, 🙂

    You are indeed a magician. There is an ‘end’ button!! 🙂 And it brings things back to the …….. end! Brilliant!

    Well …. I thought I knew everything, but it seems I knew fuck all. 🙂

  109. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Sorry RA, They are beef minced pies, not the Christmas one`s, should have explained better. 🙂
    Try googling it !

  110. Red Arse says:

    Illy, this is an education, indeed.

    So there is a savoury ‘minced’ pie, and a sweetmeat ‘mince’ pie. And people say we speak the same language!! 🙂

    The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know!

  111. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Brilliant. “Home” and “End”!!! Fantastic.
    No idea what all the “F” buttons do as well as ten others. “Prt Sc Sys Rq”???

  112. MickyDidIt89 says:

    What the hell is the “Alt Grrrr” button? Is there a link to a keyboard chart?
    I’m going looking.

  113. Illybongani says:

    Mickey – the F buttons are short for “Fuck all”

  114. Red Arse says:

    So it wasn’t just me then, Micky? 🙂

    GLIC, I should have googled “pie and mash” before asking, and not shown my ignorance. But I thought it was a leg pull 🙂

    I hope you won’t take offence, but after looking at the google pics, I am not too inclined to try it!!! 🙂

  115. Red Arse says:

    Micky, my ‘Alt Gr’ does what Illy says the ‘F’ buttons do. 🙂

  116. Illybongani says:

    RA – you have to try it at least once. It is lovely, but fatty as hell. I get mine from Hoxton market when visiting the Outlaw and take them home to sunny Barnet. Warm them up in the oven, liquor (the sauce) in the micro, make me own mash – Gor blimey Guvnor, luv a duck, pearly kings and queens – serves 4.

  117. MickyDidIt89 says:

    This is for us:
    The only one it does not show is an “Fn” button in blue between the left side Ctrl and Windows buttons.
    I’m about to push it for the first time. Could be goodbye and nice knowing you.

  118. chas says:

    Prt Sc is one of my favourites.
    You know when you right click on a photo to save it and it says that that option has been disabled, well Prt Sc comes into its own with a little help from a photo editor to trim it down.

  119. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Blue Fn does nothing.

  120. chas says:

    I’m jealous, I haven’t got a Blue Fn.

  121. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Which button makes Nigella come to life?

  122. chas says:

    Haha, I think you’d have to ask Nigella that question.

  123. LB says:

    Wow………..Home and End………………that really is magic.

    I used a mac once and they have spell check, meaning miss-spelt words are underlined in red.

  124. Gooner in Exile says:

    Macs still do that LB but after using too many computers set to US and normally posting on here quickly and not checking back it is no help!

  125. chas says:

    Have you tried clicking on my avatar?
    She gets even more voluptuous.

  126. LB says:

    By the way guys if you press the button that says “Delete” which is next to “End” I disappear…………lol.

  127. Red Arse says:

    Micky, that is a great link, but I am now convinced there is a lot to be said for ignorance after all!! 🙂

    Chas, your blue FN doo dah should be to the right of your ctrl button.

  128. dandan says:

    Micky press the fn button along with the f button on the top with the picture on and it will do as the picture shows. IE straight to email or home

  129. chas says:

    RA, I have a same coloured (i.e cream) button there with a windows flag on it, I suppose that must be it.

  130. dandan says:

    It may be yellow/gold not blue and is not the one with the windows sign on it

  131. evonne says:

    Sorry to barge in but what the hell is that on 17th November – Universidad de Chile v Arsenal??

  132. Red Arse says:

    With my new super powers, I have wizzed up to the top and checked the polls. It appears that Gibbs is beginning to close the gap on Sagna.

    Then I came back down ….. hey presto. That Illy, eh? The man is a genius!! 🙂

  133. Red Arse says:


    If you follow Micky’s link at 4:58, it will show you a model keyboard layout. Mine was a little differently placed (the keyboard that is) but you might get a better picture of the key buttons and bows! 🙂

  134. chas says:

    That’s the South American Arsenal de Sarandí, Evonne.

  135. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Pushed it and hey presto, you’ve gone. Best button ever. I can start an argument with you and whoosh, no more LB 🙂

  136. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Buttons ?, that is so old , I have a voice recognition computer, see, I just said that and hey presto. It gives me more time to admire myself in the mirror, whilst donning my mankini !, It was made here, in award winning Cornwall. 8)

  137. evonne says:

    South American Arsenal? Really, never knew about them. Are they any good?

  138. chas says:

    All of my keys are the same colour, apart from the ones I spilt tea on the other day.

  139. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Just stroked your avatar. Oh wow 🙂

  140. Rasp says:

    Make sure you don’t push the ‘insert’ button when you’re talking to him Micky – that would make his eyes water……..

  141. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rasp 🙂

  142. Red Arse says:

    The trouble with that, GLIC, as I have found, is that the ‘voice’ eventually become cocky and too big for its boots, and if you ask it to do something it tells you to fuck off and do it yourself!

    It’s the way the computers bring up their ‘voices’ — no manners!! 🙂

  143. Red Arse says:

    Micky, Rasper, — 🙂 🙂

    Your keys obviously belong to a PC PC. 🙂

  144. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    I thought you were talking about my “trouble and strife” for a second there. 🙂

  145. chas says:

    Here’s my footballers’ haircuts picture quiz if anyone’s interested.

  146. Red Arse says:

    Time for a bit more rubbish!

    This was a genuine Quiz on a BBC radio show:

    Host: What “K” could be described as the Islamic Bible?
    Contestant: Er …..
    Host: It’s got two syllables ……. Kor ….
    Contestant: Blimey?
    Host: Ha Ha Ha, no … it’s the past participle of run ….
    Contestant: (Silence)
    Host: OK try it another way … ‘Today, I run, yesterday, I …..
    Contestant: Walked?

  147. Red Arse says:

    It must be the way I tell them! 🙂

    Host: In which country would you spend shekels?
    Contestant: Holland?
    Host: Try the next letter of the alphabet
    Contestant: Iceland? Ireland?
    Host: It’s a bad line … did you say Israel?
    Contestant: No!

  148. Red Arse says:


    Your award winning trouble and strife, I take it? 🙂

  149. Red Arse says:

    Gone quiet, so I am going to play with my buttons.

    Now what did that ‘End’ – ‘Delete’ do?

  150. Gooner in Exile says:

    OK Chas going from left to right top to bottom:

    1.David James
    2.Glenn Hoddle
    3.Raul Meireless
    4.Jason Lee
    5. Ronaldo (the now fat one)
    6. Ruud Gullit
    7. Shay Given
    8. Bobby Charlton
    9. Puskas??
    10. Osvaldo Ardiles??
    11. Warren Barton
    12. Carlos Valderama
    13. Eto’o ??
    14. No Idea!
    15. Chris Waddle
    16. No Idea!
    17. Abel Xavier ??
    18 Marouane Chamakh

    Don’t know how we play this now I have given all my answers, guess its just a case of giving me a how many correct result.

  151. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Absolutely no way could that possibly be Valderrama end fourth row. No way 🙂

  152. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Great quizz.
    Bye for today.

  153. Hi all

    So pleased you’ve all had such fun today. I’ve voted in all the polls and seem to be in the majority but it’ll be interesting if Santos v Gibbs ends up closer than it is atm.

    Just found this in The Times

    A 29-year-old was arrested on suspicion of fraud today after allegations that Tottenham Hotspur spied on Olympics officials during their acrimonious bid to occupy the £486 million Olympic stadium after the London 2012 Games.

    News of the arrest came as Baroness Ford, the chairman of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), said all 14 members of her board had been snooped on by private investigators before their decision to award the stadium to rival bidder West Ham United.

    Revealing the bitterness surrounding a deal that eventually collapsed, she described the last 12 months as “not pleasant”.

    She told the London Assembly: “My board were put under surveillance by Tottenham Hotspur. The Metropolitan Police are now conducting an investigation into that surveillance. There has been all kinds of behaviour here that I could not have anticipated which, believe me, has not been pleasant in the last 12 months.”

    The Met said a man was arrested on suspicion after searches by detectives of residential and business premises in Sussex, a second private address in Sutton, South London, and a second business address in Westminster. The man is in custody at a Sussex police station.

    Tottenham denied the allegations and said they were consulting their lawyers.

    A statement from their lawyers said: “The club did not undertake, instruct or engage any party to conduct surveillance on any member of the OPLC Committee and we consider the making of this baseless accusation to be wholly inappropriate and irresponsible. We totally reject the accusation in the strongest possible terms.”

    It is the first time Ford has spoken in public since the collapse of the West Ham deal about the stadium bidding process, which has been mired in controversy since it began 18 months ago.

    West Ham, in partnership with Newham council, was selected as preferred bidder in February ahead of Tottenham but the deal was abandoned last month following an anonymous complaint to the European Commission. The complainant said a £40 million loan by the council amounted to state aid.

    The OPLC is about to launch a new tender process, which will specify that an athletics track must remain in the stadium for at least 99 years. West Ham is still the most likely long-term tenant after 2012.

    But the acrimony surrounding the deal illustrates the difficulty for the government in satisfying everyone about the best future use of a publicly-owned asset.

    Ford said she was braced for another legal challenge to whatever new decision was reached. Both Tottenham and Leyton Orient launched judicial reviews against the West Ham deal.

    “I am expecting the unexpected because that is what the last 12 months has taught me,” she said. “Our job now is to narrow as far as we possibly can the scope now for legitimate legal challenge in this next process – that is all that we can do. If people want then to be vexatious, frivolous and vindictive or whatever they want, they will do that.”

    Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Economic and Specialist Crime Command unit are looking into allegations that Tottenham used corporate investigators after it emerged that an OPLC director was paid £20,000 by West Ham for consultancy work during the bidding process. Karren Brady, the West Ham vice-chairman, also alleged that her phone had been hacked.

    A spokesman for the Met said: “We can confirm that West Ham Football Club and the Olympic Park Legacy Company have made allegations in respect of the unlawful obtaining of personal information. These allegations have been assessed and an investigation has now commenced.”

    Dee Doocey, chairman of the Assembly’s economy, culture and sport committee said Tottenham’s behaviour was “appalling”. She said: “It almost beggars belief that this thing can happen. The idea that any board can be put under surveillance is absolutely disgraceful.”

  154. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. Super post and as many have said very good fun.

    I am surprised the midfield of AR, AS and JW wasn’t the most popular, IMO it has all we need for the next 5+ years.



    This is why i said yesterday that i would rather we win zip than sacrafice our vaules. How can any one sanction public funding for that mob.

  156. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    A little while back, someone mentioned along with me that, when watching Arsenalplayer, you could not see the whole pitch when on full screen, after countless messages left on the technical answer phone and a moan to Arsenal`s switchboard, they finally got back to me. They said they know of the problem and are trying to sort it out, and that they will inform all members about it by email. They did not say how long it will take though, how long`s a piece of string comes to mind !

  157. evonne says:

    Peaches – they are scum by name and scum by nature

  158. Big Raddy says:

    One of the haircuts is Taribo West (14), I think the last one is Ronaldo. Next to Tariibo is that chap who played at Liverpool and bought a Lordship …. Cisse, well it could be him.

  159. Big Raddy says:

    Peaches. Thank you for adding to my ammunition for the fights with my Spud family. N17 = Miscreants

  160. VCC says:

    Super post Rasp. Makes you realise what a mouthwatering second half to the season we might have.

  161. Just a remind you all, we are going to need lots of posts to keep us going over the next 10 days – so get typing 😀

  162. VCC says:

    Abel Xavier
    Warren Barton
    Jason Lee
    Mexican keeper Heguta
    Taribo West

  163. Gooner in Exile says:

    Peaches have you got one for tomorrow?

  164. Gooner in Exile says:

    To be fair Rasp missed a trick on this one he could have done over at least two or three parts 😀

  165. chas says:

    GIE 8
    VCC 11

    Thanks for giving it a go both of you.
    It’s always useful to know how hard it is.
    I’ll put the answers up tomorrow just in case anyone else wants a go.

  166. evonne says:

    GiE – indeed 🙂

  167. Hi GiE,

    We have a post from Double98 we can use tomorrow, but it would be nice to have yours for the day after – pretty please 😀

  168. Rasp says:


    How about writing us a piece on the way your fellow countrymen (goalkeepers) are regarded in Poland and their family history etc?

  169. evonne says:

    Rasp – in Polish? I cannot write in English, sorry 😦

  170. I’ll try Peaches..need to a bit more number crunching but then it’s yours.

  171. VCC says:

    chas. You tease, I Want to know before I go to bed.

  172. dandan says:

    Just put a post in if it is any use Rasp

  173. Rasp says:

    Thanks dandan, gratefully received 😛

    evonne, that’s ok, submit it in Polish, I’ll just use the google translator 😕

  174. 26may1989 says:

    Rasp, do I need to say how fabtabulous your post is, when it’s so obvious? Oh bugger it, well done, superb number.

    But as Chas spotted, it does of course create false dichotomies (or trichotomies in the case of the midfield permutations): the new CB and midfield combos give us different horses for different courses, e.g. two pacy CBs for Barca, BFG plus speedy CB for the Orcs. Which is excellent in terms of having a squad that has the best chance of dealing with everything that a season can throw at us.

    Interesting discussion re Wilshere. As ever on the topic of LJ, I disagree with London. Wilshere and Ramsey are interchangeable because they are different. Each is amazingly talented but (and?) they bring different qualities to the team. I love the way that Ramsey can unlock a defence with an early pass and is happy to take on a shot, and I love the way Wilshere runs with the ball and fools defenders with little dinks and one-twos.

    As with the CBs, the idea that we have a hard choice to make has little to do with Arsenal’s reality, especially with our fondness for an injury or two; we’ll need all of the principal central midfielders in Rasp’s pop quiz, and each one of them will get plenty of games. Diaby is a different issue but I’ll not get into that one right now.

    As others have said, the weakest aspect of the squad is up front. Maybe Park will settle in, or maybe even Chamakh will remember that he’s a good player. But right now it seems much more likely that we do need to strengthen up front. Much as I like Gibbs and Santos for their different qualities, there’s still something worrying at LB too.

    But all in all, I feel pretty good about the direction we’re heading. We’re going to have a bloody good crack at finishing in the top four, and looking at the squad lists and the table, why shouldn’t we think about having a crack at one or even both of United and Chelsea this year? I love the fact that we’ve been even more underrated than in previous years – how pissed off will all of those know-nothing pundits be if we end up having a decent season?!

  175. chas says:

    Here you go, VCC.
    Sorry if it’s too late.

  176. oz gunner says:

    @ RA and Glic

    the best way to start the day

    for the football

    The potato and mince one

    RA you don’t know what you’re missing out on in you don’t try one of Glic’s potato and mince pies. The men in oz can’t go a morning tea or watch a sport without one of them in their mitts. Sorry i’ll stop drooling now

  177. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Am I the only one to get Fellani, Beckham and the Lady Boy (please not MC)

    Ronaldo Brasil
    This one really bugs me as I can see the little fella?
    Warren Barton
    Ronaldo lady boy

  178. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Damn, just seen your answers.

  179. LB says:

    That is a bit like saying Song and Ramsey are interchangeable because they are so different, well, yes you could interchange them but I would suggest that by doing so the team would lose an awful lot in the attack department. Looking at things this way you could, of course, swap Wilshere and Ramsey! I hear that Van Persie is a good goal keeper………………….

  180. MickyDidIt89 says:

    That’s it LB,

  181. evonne says:

    that Micky…

    Kelsey – Adam Ant was on BBC news this morning, talking about his comeback and his bipolar. He looks good, bit fatter, but still handsome

  182. chas says:

    Your 9 was pretty good, Micky.
    Here are the original photos.

    We’re off to Uttoxeter races on Saturday which includes a beer festival at the course. Minibus out there, train back. The quiz was just a little amusement to pass the travelling time.

    I put Bobby Kerr in because one of the lads is a Mackem.
    I’ve made Venison, Kerr, Beckham and James a little easier for my mates’ version.

    My brother craftily arranged the trip in the interlull so we had something to do on a non-footballing weekend. Thanks for your input.

  183. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Thanks for the haircut quiz. I love stuff like that.

    Abel Xavier was tough …..

  184. Red Arse says:

    Morning Chas, 🙂

    I have never felt so useless trying that Quiz. I knew so few, I was not going to let on, but fair do’s to the other little genii who did very well.

    Micky, that delete button seems to work beautifully! 🙂

  185. chas says:

    Here’s another one I did a while back when we went on the Pennine real ale trail.

    Footballers when they were young

  186. Big Raddy says:

    I spent a happy afternoon at Uttoxeter with Terry McDermott who regaled us with football gossip – sadly by the beer got the better of me and I remember nothing of his stories.

    Nice racecourse though

  187. Big Raddy says:

    Apart from Ronaldinho those are very tough …

  188. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Loving these.
    I see Ronaldinho, Torres, Platini and Pele. The rest are all Rooney.

  189. chas says:

    Haha, the rest are all Rooney.

    Rooney is actually on there.

  190. Rasp says:

    Morning all,

    New post…….

    chas, I’ll copy your comment onto the new post.

  191. Mackay Stay says:

    Mackay Stay…

    […]Arsène Wenger’s Got a Headache « Arsenal Arsenal[…]…

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