But there was one present I wanted most of all this weekend and it was
even way beyond the considerable powers of missus - a win for the Arsenal
over the Phoney Russian Franchise. And, despite being spoilt rotten as it
was, I got mine once again on Sunday.
What a difference a week makes, huh? Last Monday morning, after our defeat at Boro, I could hardly bring myself to buy a newspaper. This Monday
morning, I couldn't get to my local newsagents quick enough - and that's
in spite of the fact it happens be less than 100 yards from my house.
Funnily enough, I wasn't expecting us to get wall to wall rave reviews in
the press necessarily. I know full well that is not generally the done
thing in the press after all where Arsenal are concerned. I just wanted to
get a feel of the general mood amongst them after Arsenal proved once
again that they are a little bit better than the masses thought they were
in the summer.
Let it not be forgotten for example that Paul McCarthy, now the editor of
the News Of The World labelled us being nothing more than a bunch of "make
dos and maybes" in the summer. And there were plenty of other journos who
assessed us pretty much along the same lines.
Having read a select bunch of papers on Monday morning, the general tone
of our first victory over the PRF in the thick end of four years was
typically matter of fact overall - and you know what I didn't mind one
There wasn't the same sense of fanfare that follows say every win ManUre
get no matter how lucky or narrow their victory happens to be any given
day. But to me, whenever an Arsenal victory is invariably met with a
matter of fact reaction in the press, that is as near as they are ever
going to get to admitting that Arsenal are actually doing OK for
In spite of the press and the media, I was delighted with the fact that we
had finally got one over those bastards. Call me arrogant if you want but
the fact that we had gone the best part of a dozen games without beating
them was getting close to embarrassing.
And to be honest, the manner and the circumstances in which we won the
game couldn't have worked out better if I had sat here and written the
The Arsenal fans had waited over 18 months to clap eyes on Cashley
Cuntface at The Grove and they let him have it with both barrels virtually
all afternoon. When Fabregas scythed him down right at the end it was
priceless. For me, it was up there with Grimandi's last ditch scything
tackle on Edgar Davids that prevented him scoring in Dennis Bergkamp's
testimonial as a priceless comedy moment.
But of course, the most important moment of the game came courtesy of the
man that was the makeweight in Cashley's move to Little Russia and who is
now the resident captain of Arsenal Football Club - William Gallas.
Now as we all know, Petr Cech is widely considered to be just about the
best keeper in the world never mind the Premiership. But when Fabregas
sent over a routine corner on the stroke of half time, the Czech Superman
suddenly seemed to be temporarily weighed down by a pocketful of
As a result, Cech totally misjudged the flight of the corner and Gallas,
who had made a belated amble into the box, couldn't believe his luck and
he nodded the ball into an empty net and in doing so he delivered the
decisive winning strike. Oh, the delicious irony of it all!
For me, it was no more than we deserved for the way we consistently took
game to the PRF in the first half even though we didn't create to any real
clear cut chances.
After generally dominating the first half, the second half was a different
affair. I thought we were generally sloppy in the opening 15 minutes or
so. And we gave the PRF the momentum to generally work their way into the
Long before this stage, referee Alan Wiley had done precious little to
help our cause by invariably giving them every marginal decision that was
going. No Chelsea fan could, in their right mind, accuse Wiley or his
supporting officials of being homers I tell you!
And on the back of a combination of our sloppiness and Wiley's
increasingly pathetic refereeing, the PRF became an increasing threat in
Shaun Wright Phillips really should have underlined their resurgence by
putting the PRF level with about 15 minutes to go from close range and
Shevchenko wasted golden chance to score when he drifted into space only
to dispatch a tame downward header into the hands of Almunia. The
Ukrainian then had a well struck free kick tipped over by Almunia.
But, in amongst all of that, Arsenal should have really killed the PRF off
on the break. Robin Van Persie, on as a sub with less than half an hour to
go, should have buried them after good work from Adebayor and Hleb but on
his weaker right side he shot over. Cech had to make a double save first
from Van Persie and then Fabregas. And then of course, the Arsenal had
another effort from Van Persie disallowed for the most marginal of
Adebayor also had an effort ruled out mysteriously chalked off for a
supposed foul on Ben Haim. Considering Ade was only guilty at best of
doing no more than what Drogba has done to every week to defenders for the
last couple of years and getting away with it, I was positively baffled as
to why his effort was not allowed to stand.
But, in spite of all thrills and spills, the Arsenal got the win they
deserved in the end. I don't know whether Arsenal got some kind of karma
out of this game but to a degree what went around certainly came around.
I always knew it would kick off between the players at some point in the
game and it was John Terry who really lit the blue touch paper in the game
with his spiteful lunge at an already prostate Fabregas early on. Terry
knew damn well what he was doing.
Terry got his though when Eboue caught him on the foot in the act of
clearing the ball out from his own area and as I understand it, the
England captain will be on the shelf for a good six weeks.
And from an Arsenal point of view, the fact that we were prepared to give
the Chelsea boys the odd reciprocal whack when the opportunity arose was
perhaps the best bit of our performance on the afternoon.
That and the performance of the Rosicky, who was at his impish best on the
day, not to mention young Clichy, who rightly earned the man of the match
award. Not only did Clichy keep Wright-Phillips in his pocket virtually
for the whole afternoon, he then kept Joe Cole and Kalou at arm's length
as well. The young Frenchman still found time to make the odd trademark
rampaging run as well. Brilliant!!
All in all, the victory over the PRF was sweet. Of course it was. But for
me, in a strange sort of way, this wasn't as sweet as the one we got over
the Spuds earlier on in the season.
For me, our win over our poorer relations earlier on in the season had a
far more personal feel to it than this one over the PRF ever did, given
all the hype that was afforded to the Spuds in the summer at our expense.
To this day, I have never forgotten that and I will certainly never
forgive over it either.
Of course, beating the PRF hasn't won us the league overnight. What it has
done, in my opinion has reinforced the belief that I had personally before
the game and that is we have nothing to fear as a team going forward into
the Christmas period from anyone.
As I have said many a time before, Arsenal have been written totally one
minute in terms of even finishing in the top four and then constantly
discredited as genuine title contenders at every turn ever since.
For people outside of Arsenal, the emphasis has always been on what we can
't do, what we will not do and in terms of our squad, what we supposedly
don't have. All I know is that we continue to be top of this damn league
having now played pretty much anybody who is everybody and we have put
ourselves in a position that the much vaunted Liverpool would readily swap
for their own right now for starters. Those are facts that nobody can take
away from us.
Can the Arsenal take this on from here? Well, the more people knock us in
my opinion, the more incentive we have. Come to think of it, the more
people knock us in terms of our current position, the less we also have to
lose. That's my philosophy going forward. Time will tell if I'm right.
Now, let's look briefly at Tuesday's Carling Cup tie with Blackburn at
The Arsenal may have a far more unfamiliar line up at Ewood on Tuesday and
it will be interesting to see if Lassana Diarra features in the game at
all after his apparent outbursts in the French press over the weekend.
I have to say that I am really disappointed with what I have heard. Diarra
may well be right in saying that he gets more game time with his national
side. Bit he is hardly the first player to be in that position.
David Healy scored an amazing 13 or 14 goals for Northern Ireland in the
recent Euro qualifying campaign but he could hardly get a start for Leeds
when he was there and he still struggles to get a regular start for Fulham
now he is in the Premier League.
In Diarra's case, he has shown glimpses of what he capable of in Arsenal's
colours to be fair. But when he had the chance to really shine against the
likes of Villa, Newcastle and ultimately Boro in the league, he failed to
convince me, never mind Wenger that he is anywhere near ready to be a
permanent fixture in the Arsenal first team just yet.
The boy needs to knuckle down, a bit like Flamini did in the summer, focus
on improving his game at Arsenal and quit moaning. There are not many
other bona fide top clubs across Europe where he could command a first
team place right now and operate at the levels that Arsenal do both home
Spurs and West Ham are supposedly sniffing around. But right now, if he
had any real ambition to become a success individual and be part of an
outfit that has a genuine potential to win the highest honours in the club
game, would you really want to go to those clubs over and above Arsenal
In Tuesday's tie, I just hope the Arsenal finally get some belated justice
over Blackburn. The reason that Rovers are unbeaten in their last three
games against us comes firmly down largely to the fact that we denied
three stonewall penalties against them over the course of two FA Cup ties
It won't be easy for our youngsters and reserves to beat them up there, of
course it won't. Their number 9 Santa Cruz, who I like quite a bit as a
player by the way, emphatically put his goalscoring drought behind him on
Saturday with hat-trick and his strike partner Benny McCarthy is due a
goal too after a seven match famine.
Nevertheless, we settled a score with the PRF on Sunday. We had waited way
too long to beat them. It's time for us to put our best foot forward again
and see off this lot as well. We definitely owe this lot one, big time if
you ask me.
The way I see it - Blackburn Rovers v Arsenal
But there was one present I wanted most of all this weekend and it was