Jimmy Bullard Goal celebration of the season, nay the decade.

As much as I hate Hull City FC for their fake tanning, used car salesman, lying, self aggrandizing, cocksandwich of a manager you have to love Jimmy Bullard for taking the piss out of him in his amazing goal celebration today (scroll to 1:48).

For those who don’t remember, the Hull boss famously sat his team of grown men down at half time, in front of a hostile Man City crowd, and lectured them after a dismal first half.

Holy shit, it's Maverick and Goose!

Goal celebration of the decade or just the season?

November seems odd, you’re my firing squad, November…

Imagine this, I woke up this morning thinking that there would be nothing to write about! Robin van Persie’s ruptured ankle ligaments and Andrei Arshavin’s broken heart put the idea that we’d have nothing to talk about today to the knife.

The news for Robin van Persie is absolutely devastating: after doing the hokey-pokey with the placenta doctor, he’s now undergoing surgery to actually fix the ligament damage in his foot. I don’t think that the placenta “doctor” did any further damage to Robin’s leg, he explains that there weren’t any injections just a topical placental treatment.

I really feel bad for Robin, because as he expresses in the article above, he knows that 5 months is a huge blow for this Arsenal team, us Arsenal supporters, and for him personally.

As I was enjoying a fantastic period with Arsenal and the first official diagnosis from the doctors was that I would be out for six weeks, I wanted to bring that period back to three or four weeks. But the ligaments in my ankle were completely ruptured. That’s why the treatment in Serbia, we know now, never had the chance to be successful from the start.

I have never wanted to go for alternative medical help before. Normally I am too cool for that kind of thing. But because I wanted to grab every opportunity to get fit again and to be back on the pitch with Arsenal, I decided to have a go. If it does not help me, it won’t harm me either. That was my motto.

I had the treatment methods checked intensively before I went out there. I demanded to know if there was any way it could do any damage. It couldn’t. Which is why I went. A lot has been said and written about it. But the method of treatment in Serbia is not a bizarre thing. I did not have anything injected in my body. The treatment was solely on the surface.

It’s pretty clear he thought he was doing everything he could to get back in the team.

As for Arshavin, this will come as a shock to my regular reader, but I do feel sorry for him. By the time the next World Cup rolls around, he’ll be 33 years old and probably won’t be able to participate. This was their chance, they were seeded against Serbia and just needed the win, but they couldn’t get over the line. In fact, they basically imploded at the end. I’ve been in teams like that and losing like that is really hard to take.

But with van Persie out for 5 months the team need him to stop looking inward and start looking up. For the most part, he’s one of the experienced players on this team. Guys like Wilshere and Vela need someone who is ahead of them in the first team to show them what it means to be a professional: go out and do what you are paid to do, irregardless the fact that you might be feeling down about something else in your life.

Like Arsene Wenger, who must be absolutely beside himself at the moment. As I reported on Tuessday, Arsene was questioned about Theo Walcott’s inclusion in the England World Cup team and his frustration about the toll that internationals take on his team seemed to boil over:

You know, I don… I don’t, for f… I must stop you there. From us, for me, the big season is Arsenal, not the World Cup. We do not pay the players to go to the World Cup, we pay the players to do well for Arsenal Football Club. The first pride of a man is to do well for the guy who pays you in life, not to go to the World Cup.

He’s also been reported by various sources to have said

For fuck’s sake the World Cup is in June. Is he on holiday until June 11? You cannot be serious.

With what we know now about Arshavin’s depression, van Persie’s injury in a friendly, and the constant pestering by the English press about Theo Walcott’s inclusion in the national side it seems like his comment wasn’t just intended for the press. He was talking to his players.

And for the most part he’s right. The cynic would just point to tomorrow’s opponent to see the difference between the way the two teams players conduct themselves when it comes to internationals and especially pointless international friendlies. The FA set up a marquee meeting between England and Brazil in Doha, Qatar and as I have said many times it looked like Chelsea’s English contingent basically said it wasn’t worth their time by feigning injury. Lampard, Terry, and Ashley Cole have all made miraculous injury returns just in time for Sunday. Ballack claimed injury and didn’t play, Michael Essien didn’t even show up for his country’s call up, and of course we all know that Drogba was out with a rib injury.

The thing is, I don’t blame them. Rather, I wish Arsenal’s players would take the same approach, especially Robin van Persie, who it seems always gets injured in the most pointless of ways. The problem is that as he admits in the article linked above, and as I suspected, he was feeling invincible right before the game with Italy, “I was getting so strong, that I felt nobody could stop me anymore.”

We can all hope that 5 months on the sidelines will clarify a few things for him though I doubt it; 5 months means that he’ll get in a few games at the end of Arsenal’s season and be fully fit and ready for the World Cup.

How convenient.

You’re going to hear this a lot today but “now is the time for [Eduardo, Vela, Walcott, Bendtner, Arshavin, Nasri, and Rosicky (fill in the name)] to step up and show whether the boss needs to dive into the January market or if we’ve got the requirements within the squad.

It’s a big blow today, and like Arsene Wenger, I’m starting to absolutely hate November.

Arsenal v. Chelsea preview

In the entire time that I’ve been following Arsenal, there’s been just two teams that I really felt that Arsenal have a rivalry with: Man U and Chelsea. I know that all Arsenal fans are supposed to think of Tottenham as our most hated rival, but for me it’s either Chelsea or Man U and recently more Chelsea than Man U. It all goes back to that Carling Cup final.

Since then it’s been a real struggle to get any points off them and last season was particularly painful; yes we beat them at Stamford Bridge, but that only made it hurt worse when they beat us in the FA Cup and then 3 weeks later gave us a 4-1 whipping, both at the Emirates. They are playing some of the best football in the world right now and they know it. Confidence paired with recent results at Emirates makes them supremely confident of coming in and getting a result.

Squad news

Injuries are the talk of both teams: Chelsea’s squad having faked half a dozen injuries to avoid international duty and Arsenal having picked up half a dozen injuries between the internationals and the two matches since.

Wenger is saying that Gallas could be back but that at the moment his eye is so swollen he can’t get his contacts in. Wenger says that Cappy is 50-50 for Sunday.

At left back, Wenger said that Traore and Eboue are the two options though he won’t admit who he’s picking at the moment. Funnily enough, Wenger did mention that Vermaelen is an option, which I got a lot of stick for last week, but that he doesn’t want to move the back line around too much.  The good news is that Arsene ruled out Silvestre at left back.

Other than Gallas, Arsenal have all the same players that played against Liege.


When asked what special preparations the team would make to stop Drogba and Anelka, Wenger said that we need to focus on ourselves and our game rather than worry about what Chelsea are doing. Which is something that you would expect to read in a coaching handbook but is also about 65% horse shit.

Of course, Arsenal play team football. Of course, the team plays possession football. And of course, the team need to focus on that. But just as important, Arsenal need to focus on the strengths of players like Drogba and Anelka: we can’t have 100% of the possession! So, I expect Vermaelen and (touch wood) Gallas to be very sharp on Sunday.

Arsenal’s strengths are that we are playing at home, that Chelsea are also going to play an attacking-ish brand of football, and that several of our players have really matured this season. Still, we’re going to need a special game from our special players because Chelsea are in great form at the moment.

Up front

I expect that a well rested Arshavin will torture the Chelsea fullbacks. He’s a special player and when he has an on night he’s better than pretty much anyone in the league. Theo Walcott too enjoys a bit of playing against Chelsea, having scored in half of the matches he’s played against them. I expect him to give A. Cole fits with his pace.

Pace on the wings is even more important when playing against Chelsea’s diamond midfield. The more centrally their midfield plays, the more we need Eboue, Sagna, Arshavin, and Walcott bombing down the wings and exposing their fullbacks. For me, that is the real key to this match. I can’t see us keeping a clean sheet, we’ve only had 2 in the League this year, so we’ll need to score goals.

And with Robin van Persie out, the Arsenal front men need to really step it up.

In the midfield

I said it the other day and I’ll say it again, Cesc Fabregas is the best midfielder in the world at the moment. Still, he’s going up against one of the most experienced trios in the land; Essien, Mikel, and Lampard. He’ll need to put in a superior display on Sunday, because those three are going to do everything they can to stop him running the show.

His partners in midfield will need to provide the backbone to the team so that Cesc can work his magic and so Song and probably Denilson will need to be up for the challenge. John Obi Mikel is a real cocksandwich and he will be putting himself about at every opportunity, how referee Andre Marriner handles that could be a bit of a key to the match as well. If Mikel picks up an early yellow, the match should open up a bit.

Personally, what I’m hoping for is Song to be as much of a cocksandwhich as Mikel has been in the last few years. You know, kick a few lumps into Frank Lampard, frustrate Deco (if he plays), close down Essien, and generally make Drogba and Anelka’s life miserable. He’s managed to avoid that crucial 5th yellow card for a few games now ahead of the match but I’d be surprised if he keeps that record.


Wenger touts the fact that Arsenal don’t let teams get many shots but the problem is that teams don’t seem to need many shots to get a goal. He decried the fact that Sunderland scored on their only shot on goal but that just covers up the fact that, well, that Sunderland scored on their only shot on goal!

There have been a number of ways that Arsenal have conceded this season, but a lot of them have to do with lapses in concentration. On set pieces, Arsene likes to use a zonal marking system and there have been a few times in which this zonal system allows opposition players to slip in and score while Arsenal are left pointing fingers at each other. Chelsea are a real threat from set pieces and Arsenal would do well to keep them quiet there.

Key to doing that is, of course, Thomas Vermaelen. TV5 is our best set piece defender and with our taller players all injured (Bendtner and Diaby) he’s got a huge load to carry.


One thing I haven’t mentioned is that Chelsea, to a man, are a disgrace. They’ve set the bar so high for disgraceful antics that people aren’t even surprised any more when their captain, and England’s captain, (who makes £170,000 a week) offers to sell his England armband for marketing.

They left off the fact that John Terry also has huge balls.

“British sporting hero,” “Dad of the year” and “one of the World’s most influencial (sic) people?” Really? Ugh.

The thing is, that email campaign above is probably the least disgraceful thing that John Terry’s ever done. And you can just go down the list of players and they are all pretty much the worst examples of human behavior in world sport.

Drogba alone could fill a 90 minute video with his antics; flipping off fans, throwing coins, feigning seizures, and the insanity that followed their loss in the Champions League are just a couple of the things that come to mind. The FA instituted the failed Respect campaign because of Ashley Cole!

Simply put, they are a disgrace.

The differences between the teams couldn’t be more stark. Whereas Chelsea are a pack of mercenary thugs, Arsenal on Sunday are donating their salaries to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Arsenal as well have quietly built a team that is trying to get back to where Chelsea are. We don’t spend vast sums of money, we don’t have our captain flirting with the likes of Man City in order to increase his paycheck, and we play football that is so much the envy of every team in the world that even Chelsea had to buy a manager who would emulate us.

So, while a loss on Sunday would mean that Chelsea take an 11 point lead and probably put Arsenal’s title hopes on the ropes, I think it’s more important to think that a win would announce this team as nearing the top of their game and doing so in the “right” way; bringing along young players, playing beautiful football, and keeping our names out of the papers.

Irregardless the result on Sunday I love the Arsenal for all that they have done and the classy way that they have gone about doing it. Of course, I’m rooting for us to really show our class and get all three points.