Well. It looks like we might finally have had some luck on the injury front. Scans have shown no broken bones for Thomas Vermaelen, who limped off injured at Villa Park on Wednesday night. For that small mercy, thanks. The Verminator has been outstanding for us this season. Aside from being an excellent central defender with a great attitude and leadership ability (he’s recently been appointed captain of the Belgian national team), he’s chipped in with some important goals this season. An unexpected bonus. The outstanding signing of the season in the Premier League for my money.
The draw at Villa Park was slightly disappointing as we did enough to win, even hitting the woodwork. I blogged before the current critical sequence of four League games against Villa, Yoonited, Chelsea and Liverpool that we needed ten points out of twelve, including all three at the Bridge to really stay in the title hunt. I still think that’s right. I wouldn’t completely rule out hoisting the trophy in May if we don’t reach that mark but it would be VERY, very hard. Even if we do win the next three games, the title won’t be completely in our hands. We’d still be two points behind Chelsea assuming they win their current game in hand and match our results. It would set us up for a real title chase though.
I still don’t think we’re quite good enough to win the League. I’d so love to be proved wrong mind. What we are is a better, more mature side than we were last season. Some Gooners have lost patience. This is opinion is reflected on some Arsenal blogs, occasionally in quite strident terms. Some of the Gooner Nation are frustrated that we haven’t flashed the cash in the winter transfer window. It’s just conceivable that we might sign a player or two before the window slams shut until the summer but I very much doubt it. Don’t completely rule it out though as Arsčne has a habit of occasionally pulling a rabbit out of the hat. My working assumption is that he’ll go with the squad we have however.
I’m not one of those Gooners who Wenger/board critics label, somewhat insultingly, AKB’s (Arsčne Knows Best). I have previously been flamed on this blog for criticising our Great Helmsman in the past. I do know that he knows far more about football than I do however. His spat with shareholders at last summer’s question and answer session shows that he does have a very top-down hierarchical view of supporters which I don’t agree with. Match-going Gooners copper up a lot of money to support the club. We’re all entitled to an opinion. Whilst Arsčne isn’t perfect (whom amongst us is?) there’s nobody I’d rather have at the controls. If he decided to jack it in tomorrow and retire or go elsewhere he’d immediately enter the club pantheon as one of two great managers who has fundamentally changed and improved the club, alongside Herbert Chapman.
Even if we don’t win one of the two competitions we’re still in this season, if we continue as we are we’re well capable of a runners-up or third place spot in the League which would give us a thirteenth consecutive season at Europe’s top table in the Champions League and avoid the need to enter the play-off round of that competition at the start of next season. This would be a)  progress and b)  a real bonus in a World Cup year.
Don’t get me wrong. I want silverware this season big style. I’m not writing us off at all. I just think we’ve still got a way to go to conquer the heights achieved by Barcelona with their La Liga/Copa del Rey/Champions League Treble and subsequent World Club Champions crown. That’s where I want us to be. I do think we’re getting there though, playing the game in a style which is simply delicious when we’re firing on all cylinders.
Now we need to hone in all our attention on the visit of Yoonited to the Grove on Sunday. We need to let the air out of their tyres after the euphoria of beating parvenu Citeh in the Carling Cup semi-final. Old Trafford is far from a happy place at the moment with a mounting supporter insurrection against the financial cancer on the club that is the Glazer family. I and a large number of others – including many United fans – said this is exactly what would happen when this family of leaches took over in 2005. The Glazers completely mugged off then sports minister Richard Caborn who was daft enough to believe what they told him.
Such verbal assurances were, as Sam Goldwyn once famously said, not worth the paper they were written on. When will we learn that rich people will do or say anything in their perpetual quest to make themselves even richer at the expense of the rest of us? As things stand the Glazer regime will drain off over half a BILLION pounds (£565 million to be exact) from the Old Trafford coffers in the next seven years, an average of £80 million.  If you’ve seen highlights of the Yoonited v Citeh game you might be wondering why so many United fans were making like Norwich City fans and wearing green and gold rather than red. This is part of a campaign being promoted by the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust and the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association called “Green & Gold Until They Die Or Go”. The colours come from the original kit of Newton Heath FC, a team of railway workers and the direct predecessor the Manchester United. Think Dial Square FC in Arsenalese.
Demand for Newton Heath shirts from The Old-Fashioned Football Shirt Company (TOFFS) by Yoonited fans has caused a big back-log of orders apparently. Whilst my first reaction to any problems at Old Trafford is to laugh, I for one fully back the Yoonited fans in their campaign. We all know we’ve got our own barbarians at the gates at Arsenal. My message to them is, “Bugger off! We neither need nor want you!”

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