TGIF: Xmas 2008

AH: Good morning all and welcome to the Christmas TGIF. It’s going to be a hectic 2009 with the sad news about our captain; but if we win today, just maybe, we can move forward with renewed and realistic hope. In the absence of our TGIF captain fantastic, FTK and I will be trading the banter today.
FTK: Without doubt, the loss of Cesc is the only big issue. He has decided not to have surgery, which is a good decision. I was pleased to run the exclusive of the club’s statement, but to be honest when I got the news, I felt so depressed. But this will not affect us in the same way as the Eduardo injury of last year. I believe that other players will now raise their game and we could see the best yet of Alex Song. There are players who will be moving out on loan and players that will be sold in the January window. We now have to set our sights on ManU and keeping close to them. Starting with a win today at Villa Park. All eyes are on the opening of the transfer window in less than 5 days!
AH: FTK I would be a liar if I said that the speculation over transfers didn’t excite me, but to be frank whilst I am sure there will be arrivals I suspect they will be underwhelming in the short term. Most importantly though, I doubt they will have an immeadiate impact on performances. If this team can win the league – that remains my goal and I think you are right in highlighting manure, finish above them you will win the league – depends entirely upon what we have now. Can we keep a core of players fit? Crucially, can we stop conceding stupid goals at the rate of 1 a game? For all the premature defeatism, no one has pulled away form the pack as yet. If we can keep the gap at 8 points today the schedule is favourable for the next 3 months.
FTK:  It’s been around the entrails of the Lady Nina share story and the confirmation by Usmanov that he is absolutely broke and cannot afford to mount a bid for her shares. My inside sources indicate that a very wealthy arab is sniffing around the possibility of taking Lady Nina’s shares, but Danny Fiszman would like Stan Kroenke to increase his shareholding so as to secure the Board’s in built majority. I am looking forward to Ivan Gazidis making sure that we secure the transfer targets of Arsene Wenger. I expect their to be around £20 million spent plus we shall get £5 million from the Real Madrid purchase of Lassana Diarra. The club is hoping that Amaury Bischoff will be our secret weapon and raise his game accordingly. He is very close to getting into the squad for the FA Cup game against Plymouth
AH:  Personally dude I feel in limbo on the ownership issue. Firstly that will play itself out way above our heads and behind closed doors, so I wont stress as it does no good. I am also less reactionary in my hostility to any sort of buyout, there are of course nightmare scenarios, but there might also be very inoffensive changes in the power structure that it would be foolish to fight purely on prejudice.
What I still cannot fathom is the sugestion that we are a poorly run club: Arsenal remain the model for every aspirational club in the country. From the stadium, through the boardoom, to the pitch things are done the proper way. Just as John Terry being a degenerate clogger who cant score form 12 yards didn’t make Avram Grant a shit coach, 3 games lost we should have won this year doesn’t make us a shambles. I saw someone on here recently criticising the time it took to find Gazzidis, but as PHW said, better the right man. The sad fact is that even from our own, every possible perception is negative, even without the time to view results.

“I have no regrets, not at all,” said Wenger. “We had a midfield with Hleb, Fabregas, Flamini and Rosicky. He was behind them and didn’t accept it. What can you do?
“He was told when he arrived you have to be patient. I told him that in front of his agent on the final day [of the transfer window].
“In addition we had Gilberto, captain of the Brazilian team, and we had Denilson and Song too so there was a congestion there.
“We felt that Gilberto and Flamini could leave but, at the last minute, both stayed. So I said that, if you come, you will have to be patient.
“Remember that was August 31 [2007], we were top of the League and the team was functioning well.”

AH: The change in the space of a year from an over-crowded midfield containing some of the best young talent in the country to a situation now with only Song, Denilson, and Diaby is drastic. No one honestly knows where the balance lies between misforune, mismanagement, or the simple vaguaries of chance. The fact now though is that we need our U21 midfield to do what it did against Chelsea and Utd; that is to be the best by beating the best. Personally I think our problem lies in defensive solidity, as you say boss: success starts at the back.
FTK: A lot of Gooners are giving Le Boss unfair stick over the loss of Diarra. They really need to understand that Diarra is a selfish little pr*ck and he had already made waves with Mourhino and so got sidelined. He got a lifeline coming back to Arsenal, but showed his team mates great disrespect. He was not prepared to wait, and sees himself as the next great World Class midfielder. Let me just say this. Diarra will be found out at Real Madrid, because as the advert goes, “Diarra is good, but not that good…” He will need to do more than a few fancy turns in midfield. He has yet to show that he can score regularly, and his transfer owes more to the bankrupt ideas of Juande Ramos, rather than a traditional Real Madrid selection of the world’s finest. Why do I say that? Well look at the other player wanted by Ramos… ex gunner Jermaine “wrap my merc around a lamppost..hiccup!” Pennant of Liverpool. If these are the new heights being scaled by Real Madrid, then I can lend them my kid’s stool to stand on!
AH: I have to agree, all justified venom aside, Diarra neither attacks or defends particularly well. I am sure Ramos will get just as much out of him as he did Jermain Jenas – sweet FA from not so sweet FA.
FTK: For once I have to give to our fans at the Emirates, which is great considering the sh*t that I’ve given them in past weeks for moaning and leaving early. This time the booing was not for Eboue, and it really scared the sh*t out of the Liverpool players. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I whistled and booed with all my might. It was a memory that I shall treasure for a long time, to see how it lifted our boys. Do you think the penny will drop now? Sadly, I doubt it. Until we can unite the stadium with songs that don’t just attack Tottenham. We need more of the general  “Support Arsenal” songs. Why not try keeping “Arsene Wenger’s Red and White Army” going for ten minutes? The other thing that puts people off is the stupid way that some of the singing suppor t at the Emirates thin k it funny to accelerate the tempo of the song. If you are reading this and you are one of the ones responsible for this, trust me, it aint funny. It just alienates the other fans who actually would like to try singing along, but get pissed off being left two lines behind.
AH: You know what FTK, I have to go for Song. In a forum like this everyone has an opinion, and as far as this kid goes mine appears to have not been worth a lot. His performance against the dirty diving scousers made a mockery of all those who have said he didn’t have the grace, speed, or agility for a spot in the middle. Again, when you see what these young guns are capable on their day I find it hard to comprehend the negativity surrounding us. Sure Denilson and Song are not yet able to bring their best every game, hence results, but they are not far off being the best unit in this league. With the league, CL, and FA cup still to play for this season we should, as you say, be giving these kids our full backing. We are nothing more than the ability to grind out clean sheets away from glory.
AH: Webb ALL the way. It boggles my mind how Ade can be sent off for something so ludicrously semantic as that in a game of that magnitude. Not for either of the yellows did Ade leave his feet. This essentially removes any danger frrm the opponent in the absence of true malice or spite that clearly wasn’t there. What is more, neither time was Ade actually challenging for the ball, he was simply shielding it by placing his body in between the ball and defender. Try doing that without raising your foot over the ball when you are 6” 5’. The sad thing was Ade looked to be having his best game all season, chasing, holding up play, and dominating in the air. Doubly harsh, he will be a massive loss this afternoon in what looks like a defining game in our season: win today and anything is possible, lose and it is a scrap for 4th that we are trailling badly in.
FTK: Howard Webb and Steven Gerrard gets mine. Webb for his pathetic refeeing against the ‘Pool, and Gerrard for his studs up challenge on Sagna in the 4th minute and his pathetic dive later on. I have suggested a new chant based on that game, and it rips off the ‘Pool tribute to him. To the tune of Que Sera Sera…
“Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, He’s thick and he’s not that hard, his head is just full of lard, You retard, retard…”
Ok I bet our Insiders can do better than that…
AH: RVP – the embodiment of Arsenal spirit in recent weeks and the match winner he always looked like. We have seen of late what we missed last season in his absence. (Doesn’t the talk of crisis in management and ownership ring hollow when you consider his fitness was what separated us from the PL title last season?)
It looks like a heavy burden will fall on him today and in the near future to compensate for the losses of Ade and Cesc respectively in goals and creativity. Frankly there appears no reason to doubt our dutch delight on current form.
FTK: For Arsene Wenger, and there is no one else I would rather have at the helm to steer us out of this storm which threatens to destroy our voyage to a finish in the top four. Arsene will prove with his January signings and team performance early in 2009 that we are a truly a great team and club when the chips are down.
AH: Amen on that one boss. Even those who criticise his parsimonious dealings in the summer lean on the assumption that when we spend cash we will get guaranteed results for less than the rest. Now is the time for us to deliver, starting today we need to show that we remain the Arsenal and will not go quitely into the night. If this is going to happen Arsene will need to dig deep and galvanise our talent into fight in a manner he hasn’t done thus far this season. History suggests we should be thankful to have a man so able at the helm for the job. Merry Christmas all, peace out.

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