TGI Friday - Another busy week in the life of the Arsenal

Phew, another busy week in the life of the Arsenal and the long summer days when we dreamed of the football season returning are certainly in the dim and distant past now. Two games a week helps us settle back in nicely to our routine and before we know it it’s Friday again and, yes, a trip to Manchester United looms in the Premier League’s biggest game so far this season. Friday also means, of course, that it’s TGIF time and with FBK taking a well-earned rest on his holidays, it falls to me to bring you the feature no Gooner should miss with the weekend upon us.
When you’ve got qualification to the group stages over one of Britain’s biggest clubs, a player accused of diving to gain a penalty as the Arsenal dispatched Celtic to get through to the group stages and the draw for those stages, there are plenty of big issues to discuss today. The issue that has received most attention as got to be Eduardo going down in the box to gain a penalty against Celtic on Wednesday night at the Emirates in the 3-1 win over the Hoops which guaranteed us group stage qualification. Look, there is no getting away from the fact that he dived. He is not alone, though and if a Celtic player had gone down to easily and gained a spot-kick would the Scots be moaning quite so much as they are now? Of course not. Diving is a fact of the modern game and the wider issue that has to be addressed by the relevant authorities is how to stop it if that is at all possible. We have been sinned against in this area, with Baldy Rooney going down under no tackle whatsoever from Sol Campbell a few years ago at Old Trafford so we know only too well the frustration it can bring. But it’s a fact that players dive and I’ll wager a pound to a penny there will be dozens of similar incidents over the coming months, only a few of which will get the publicity that Eduardo’s 9.9 effort did. In short, I’ll take the penalty because these things go round in circles and we’ll take our luck when it comes because Lord knows we have suffered some bad luck over the past few seasons and you don’t have to remind Eduardo about that. The 5-1 win over two legs gave us qualification, of course, and when the draw came it probably couldn’t have gone any better in terms of both the opponents and the travel involved. We can afford one hiccup against AZ Alkmaar, Standard Liege and Olympiakos but I can see three home wins and a couple of draws at least before we head for the final match in Greece in December and I hope this will be a dead rubber.
Insiders have had time to take on board our new service of providing a daily newspaper round-up and are slowly getting used to the fact that the reports we produce each morning aren’t our view but we are merely reporting what has been said concerning our great club. The endless tripe surrounding transfer speculation will stop to a degree once the deadline has come and gone and the stories contained with the nation’s papers thereafter will largely be about around matches and their consequences so the morning catch-up of all things tabloid should be far more palatable for all of you Gooners who have become weary of the redtop spin. Elsewhere this week as we touched on earlier the Eduardo dive prompted a healthy debate amongst Insiders who seemed to be divided into two camps: one was ‘yes, he dived but for the good of the cause and so what?’ which I firmly plonk myself in and the second elelment tried some how to argue that in fact it might have been a penalty as there was a bit of contact. The argument went back and forth and created a flurry of opinions which arsenalinsider is all about. Don’t be afraid to take our bloggers to task on any of the subjects covered and remember this is your site and we need and value your contributions.
“Having seen it again on television, it doesn’t look to be a penalty,” said Wenger. “I believe really that it was not a penalty but I’m not sure that the keeper didn’t touch him with his right knee.”
Given his alleged myopic tendencies in the past this surely has to be AW’s admission that, in fact, he DID see the Eduardo incident and conceded that it wasn’t a penalty. He did add the rider that Eduardo may have been touched, though. Good old Arsene! Remember the pre-season interview AW did with the Mail and the Times when he admitted that he did overlook incidents to protect his players/? Well he has obviously taken out a new leaf…for now! Not so sure that he won’t miss the odd controversial moment as the season unfolds and if it irks our rivals and helps our players feel confidence in their manger then so be it and fair play to him.
Take your pick from the boys who saw off Celtic midweek but I can’t help but wonder at the transformation in Emmanuel Eboue. His superb goal against the Hoops earns him the accolade for me and seemed to sum up a renewed confidence in his own ability and the restored relationship with the Emirates crowd. I think he will have an excellent season when he gets the chance to play in a side that throws up so much competition for places.
Has to be for idiotic self-publicist Gordon Smith, who is the little know chief executive of the Scottish FA but who obviously has ideas above his station by jumping on the bandwagon and trying to score publicity for his own cause by backing Celtic midfielder Massimo Donati’s calls for Eduardo to be banned. Do yourself a favour, pal, and trot off and deal with whatever teams you have north of the border other than Rangers and Celtic. Small time Charlie trying to make a name for yourself. Have the finger, big style.
Thanks this week go to Tommy Vermaelen whose arrival at the club from Ajax has, I believe, galvanised our team in so many ways. A fresh, strong, hard, eager, competitive character who isn’t in volved in petty squabbles but gets on with his job, offers vital encouragement to his team-mates and whose displays would appear to show that we won’t miss Kolo Toure half as much as we might have thought we would. Thanks you TV5! have a winning weekend and if you have spare tick et for OT tomorrow keep me in mind — I’ve given mine to a pal to drive me up there! Up the Gunners…

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