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Bonfire of the Sanity

Well, sometimes you get games like this don't you? It is true that Arsenal have been guilty of some profligate finishing at times, but last night was a game that fits snugly into the ''one of those games' file. CSKA, a side yet to concede in this season's competition, were torn limb from limb with an exhibition of total football. The problem was, for all our penetration, ultimately, there was no....ejaculation?

Yet this morning, with the frustration eased by numerous cups of tea, I strangely had a warm glow that usually follows Arsenal victories. If Arsenal play like they did last night in every game this season, we will win the Premiership, The Champios League, the F.A Cup, the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup, that trophy with the three ears and we'd probably have a shot at resolving the conflict in the Middle East. Honestly, there is only so many times you can miss the goal by all of half an inch before you begin to curse the skies. Two weeks ago, with Arsenal cruising 3-0 at Reading, Arsenal won a penalty that Henry converted via the post. I remember turning to my friend and remarking, 'I'd rather have that the next time it's 0-0 with five minutes to go.' Of course, lady luck was sitting away to my left and was heard to remark, 'I'll get you yet you googly eyed little b*****d.'

The Gunners began the game rampantly, as Moskva had no answer to our lightning passing and gazelle like movement. Only the overly pedantic referee could halt our flowing rhythm, booking Henry in the opening minutes. Anyone whose seen the game on television might like to tell me what Thierry was booked for, because I can't work it out. (Dare I suggest the lunatic in green wanted to make a name for himself?) The first chance soon arrived, van Persie- looking increasingly comfortable out wide- hit an exerset with his left foot which whistled narrowly over. Arsenal, unpreturbed by lady luck flashing her wrinkly old posterior at our liquid football, serged on relentlessly. Henry found another late run from Fabregas and young Cesc rounded the keeper, only to inexplicably put the ball into the side netting. The horrible irony is, had Cesc gone down under obvious contact from the goalie, Arsenal would have won a penalty and the keeper would have received his marching orders. That said, I'm glad he didn't, even if it has cost us points.

Next up was a rare sight indeed. Rosicky or RVP, I forget who, played a fine slide rule pass to Henry who toe ended wide with the goal gaping. I suspect he was expecting an onrushing keeper and consequently rushed the finish. Minutes later, Arsenal were in down the right again, and a low cross from Hleb saw Henry side foot narrowly wide. If you put Thierry in front of goal a hundred times, he'd score 98- that tells you what sort of a night it was. The most amazing miss of all was yet to come from the livewire Rosicky. Henry skipped past Semberas with embarassing ease and slid the ball across goal, leaving the Czech with a gaping net, but lady luck tightened her chastity belt as he placed the ball straight into the arms of the grateful goalie. Anyone who has played football can sympathise with Rosicky's predicament. I think we've all had a situation where a ball comes at you quickly, and you turn your foot to caress it goalwards, only for the poxy thing to come of your heel.

Arsenal were not nearly as impressive in the second half, deflated by the footballing gods. But we still created chances to win the game. Gilberto summoned up all the sinews in his neck to power a Hoyte cross goalwards with his head, but Akinfeev was at full stretch to make a stunning stop. What followed was the culmination of all our efforts, summed up neatly in one moment. Hoyte once more chucked in a precise cross, which van Persie met brilliantly with a thundering header, Akinfeev did his best gargoyle impression and was relieved to see the ball whistle narrowly past the post. By now, lady luck was rolling about the floor, kicking her legs in the air, squealing with delight. The moment encapsulated the game, there was simply nothing more Hoyte or van Persie could have done. The law of the sod very nearly flashed its crooked yellow teeth in injury time, when, irony of ironies, Gilberto very nearly put through his own net in clearing a corner. It was a night where we could not hit the target, not even on our own goal!

All eleven of our players did their job and did so admirably. We've come in for a bit of flak after the Everton match but the response was terrific and I love the way we continue to play this pyrotechnic football unabated, despite the naysayers espousing their 'got to mix it up' rubbish. The fact is we really are on the cusp of something special. The way this team is playing is unbelievable. People forget that Arsenal is still a side in its infancy, Diaby, Rosicky, Baptista, Gallas, Hleb, Denilson, Song, Adebayor, Eboue and Walcott have all arrived in the last eighteen months. Djourou, Clichy, Fabregas and Senderos are still very young men. We are still a side that is developing a telepathy and the signs are unflounderingly positive. I think it is testament to how well we play that people do not accredit this. I am not a gloater typically, but I will not hesitate with the I told you so's when this team really comes together.

This brings me on to the support. Unfortunately, I did hear a significant number booing at the final whistle. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but these people just know nothing and should be muzzled. This performance was easily the equal of the 4-0 mauling of Reading and infinitely better than the 3-0 annihilations of Watford and the Blades. This is particularly disappointing as Henry mentioned people getting on the sides back and leaving early in his programme notes. Now I know I gave Henry a mouthful on sunday, but I absolutely 100% agree with him. I am aware how much of a nightmare leaving the stadium is, but please, factor this in when you buy tickets, and if you feel you really cannot watch the whole game- don't go. I use the public transport system after the match and I can stay till the end. If you've got kids with school the next day, don't take them if it is that much of a concern. I have to get up early for work as well and I am not a North Londoner, if you really feel being at home is that important, do not buy a ticket. As for getting on the sides back, everybody gets frustrated, but you have to understand that this is a young side and the players do not wantonly give the ball away. Most of my friends are Millwall season ticket holders, go and watch them and then praise your lucky stars at what is offered you on a plate week after week. I gave Hnery a tirade of criticism on sunday, and I stand by it, but firstly, I do not bring this into the stadium. These points I raise here, on forums or in the pub before a game. I would never get on an Arsenal player's back during a match because it is counter productive. I am one of the mouthiest football attendees you'll ever sit near, but I can translate my need to shout and scream into encouraging the players (and baiting the referee!) I would also like to mention that TH castigated his own performance v Everton in his programme notes, and effectively apologised. This was a brave and laudable thing to do. 'I was too passive, I did not try to make things happen, I just waited for them to happen.' Far from criticising TH for his plea to the fans, I encourage it completely and not just because I agree with the points he raised. I like to think that the relationship between supporters and captain should be strong enough that we can engage in an open dialogue. I hate nothing more than the Michael Owen's of this world indulging bland pleasantries. So please, get behind this team, to quote Al Pacino in 'Scent of A Woman' 'don't crush this potential, nurture it, it'll make you proud one day.'

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 2 2006

Time: 1:30PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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sometimes i get dissillusioned with RVP, i didn't notice him for the first 20 mins, and henry also seems to be carrying an injury as his running doesn't look like his normal Top Gun style with the afterburners on as he goes flying past. For me the player who i would pay double the money to see every week is Rosicky. he is without doubt a 90 min player, he has immediately replaced Pires and gives us far better attcking options than pires, the boy is amazing and what a steal Wenger has acheieved ! don't worry boys, someone gonna get spanked big time in the next few weeks, and oh look who is coming up, spuds and chelski !
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02/11/2006 13:47:00

BTW Rocky, well predicted on the accompanying rant with my report. However, I've just seen the tilte of the Gilberto article and either, great minds think alike, or lady luck is a promiscuous little so and so!
Little Dutch
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02/11/2006 13:48:00

Agreed on Rosicky, I never thought the absence of Pires would be so seemless. Tomas the Tamk has an incredible engine. (Although I prefer to call him Tommy Gunn).
Little Dutch
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02/11/2006 13:49:00

Rosicky was sensational. Back-forth-back-forth, never tired, quick, zippy, authoritative,he plays in a way that makes the opposition s**t themselves when he applies the verve. This team is going to go places, we just have to believe it. The players have to believe it. One person has always believed it, and thats Monsier "the Frog" Wenger. Viva.
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02/11/2006 14:03:00

yeh but just think of it, some of the chances rosicky, fabregas and van persie missed, Pires would have put them back of the net more times than all of these, and whatever you say a bout super bob, he was just super cool in front of the goal, and the most free scoring midfielder to ever play in this country, Rosicky for all his industry and passing is not as good a finisher as Pires is, and he would always get into double figures for the season, and i really doubt any of our midfielders getting into double figures for the season, and that will only put more pressure on Henry and Van Persie..
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02/11/2006 16:48:00

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02/11/2006 16:50:00

Fair point, but I think Rosicky's overall contribution is, at the moment, superior to Bobby since he injured his knee. I think as the team grows together you'll see a bigger spread in the goals, we've had something like twelve different players on the scoresheet this year. Plus, in a year or two Walcott can be prolific for us.
Little Dutch
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02/11/2006 16:54:00

Lets hope that happens and that we start scoring early in the match, cuz our team in 02 and 04 would always score early and that would always work to our advantage. and yesterday as i was watching the team in the 2nd half, we had a few chances but not as clear cut as the first half, and that is obvious cuz moscow would have re grouped at halftime and our players would have been affected upto a certain extent for the chances they missed in the first half. and for the first time this season, i got this thought, that Wenger should have maybe kept Bergkamp on just for one more season, agreed he wouldnt play a lot, and come on as a sub in more matches than those he would start, but still yesterday in the second half, when Moscow were defending better and tighter than what they did in the first half, we just needed one killer pass from Dennis to find Thierry, i know we have to move on, and Dennis couldn't stay on forever, but just presence on the pitch and his ability to turn the match with one moment of magic, he hadn't lost that and he never will, just think only he could change the game last night with his presence..
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02/11/2006 17:18:00

omg, tommy gunn, and a rocky, next we should geta stallone.. lucky, you have to bear in mind they are all young and still largely inexperienced on the european stage, and before you go on about the final we got to last year, that was without rosicky. They are young in as they have to learn to play together and know each other more, the way they played together last night looked liked they had been playing years together, the trio of Rosicky, Cesc and Hleb was amazing to watch. but the young minds fail in that, when they have the chance of scoring they already think they have scored in their young minds and lose concentration, and then miss ! a pires player would make sure he sees it bustle the back of the net before he starts the celebrate. but this will come naturally to these talented kids and it will come quickly. for me i would be having a shooting and finishing practise session together, make them score and score and score so it just becomes second nature, i think the last pass is critical in our game and the finishing is whats needed more than anything, we crack that bit and bloody hell, chelski and Man U will poop their pampers big time !
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02/11/2006 17:21:00

yeh i totally agree with you puregold, these kids will only get better and better, and that is going to be a scary site for every team in the world, but i so want us to win the champions league this year, i so want it badly, im sure all of us do, rub it to manure and chelski..
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02/11/2006 17:31:00

You just have to think of how much we've improved since this time last year, then think of how much better we will be this time next year.
Little Dutch
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02/11/2006 19:19:00

Just out of curiousity, was Rosicky signed as an out and out replacement for Pires? He was never prolific at Dortmund, though he has scored more at international level. I think that not only was the goalscoring prowess of Pires been missed but also Reyes who knocked in a few. Hleb seems to be playing more but both are more creators than convertors if you consider their career records so it does seem that some reliable scorers from midfield are being missed more than was anticipated. When Baptista becomes available will it be possible to play Hleb and Rosicky in the same midfield?
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02/11/2006 21:12:00

Wenger says that he moved for Rosicky the second it was confirmed Pires was going. Given how early in the summer the deal was sealed, I'd say Wenger was well aware of the situation and had it all lined up. We are more a side of creators yes, but only one person can play a through ball at any one time, Hleb, Rosicky and van Persie and Cesc have all provided and benefitted from great through balls this season. The side has less fixity about it nowadays, without Vieira, the focal point of our side is more spread out.
Little Dutch
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02/11/2006 21:35:00

rosicky will score more, was henry prolific at Juve ? Kanu, Bergkamp ? how goals did freddie and pires score before they came to arsenal ? i think wenger will weave the magic and Rosicky energy will get him into the right postions many many times. i agree hleb seems more of the providor but talk is he is working on his finishing and shooting and that will balance his game.
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02/11/2006 21:54:00

What,no thoughts on about the empty seats,soulless atmosphere and booing of HENRY then?
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02/11/2006 22:22:00

True, those are chances that Pires and Freddie would have normally devoured, but there were also matches in the past two seasons where with the triumvirate of Pires, Freddie, and Bergy instead of Hleb, Rosicky, and Cesc that we made the GK look the best in the world for the day. Henry's also been uncharacteristically inconsistent with his finishing. When he's on the pitch, as goes Henry, so goes the team.
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02/11/2006 22:35:00

did u see that hilarioue altercation btw toure N lehman. thats one hyped up german fa real.i forsee a 2 nil over hamburger and 2-1 win over porto.
Youngest in Charge
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03/11/2006 06:31:00

luckys_10, get a grip! Rosicky has only played for Arsenal in 15 matches, Pires in more than a hundred! He's only just joined! And youre trying to compare him to Pires already? Pires was met with a few ifs and buts when he first started playing. Rosicky is there as a specific cog in the machine. He's doing his job brilliantly. If, say, for arguments sake, it had been Kolo Toure who had missed that chance...would you be slating him as a terrible player who really isnt the next Sol Campbell (shudder) as we all wanted him to be? No. You wouldnt. Kolo has a specific job, as does Rosicky. Fact of the matter is the whole team couldnt finish, 'it was one of those nights', leave it. Its done, over, we'll play better the next game (if thats even possible).
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03/11/2006 07:31:00

harry you just cant stay away from our site can you?
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03/11/2006 08:04:00

and i wasnt comparing rosicky and pires, i was only saying that the chances that felt to rosicky, fabregas and even van persie, pires would have burried them easily, i was only saying that pires is the best goal scoring midfielder ever to play in this country and that our midfielders could struggle to hit double figures this season, but i have nothing against rosicky, he has already become such a big fav of mine and of every1, i was just talking about that one aspect of the game in which pires is better than most players, but nothing against our boys, they are doing a great job and they will only get better..
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03/11/2006 08:08:00

Lucky S, it wasn't a probelm of lacking "a killer pass" or "vision" or whatever, just look at the chances we missed!! Like I've said elsewhere, we've previously had a problem getting through packed defences. But this was not the case on Wednesday! We got through them so many times, they must feel it was the biggest loss where they didn't concede.
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03/11/2006 08:36:00

Luckys_10, I wasn't criticising Rosicky either and will say I was disappointed that he didn't end up with us as was previously mooted. What I am however saying is that Rosicky is a different type of player and is not a goal threat in the Pires mould and this lack of extra contribution is hurting Arsenal. Pires scored almost once every 3 games for Arsenal, Rosicky once every 8 games at Borussia. However that may change as Pires wasn't much of a threat prior to coming to Arsenal but at this present time the Pires goal threat is lacking and the reigns haven't been taken up by Ljungberg, Hleb or Rosicky to date. And the reason I come on to the Arsenal page is to have an intelligent and constructive conversation with fellow football fans who enjoy good football but follow a different team. You only visit the Spurs site to be rude and abusive, which is fairly lame, tiresome, boresome and generally pathetic. To offer those sort of posts only requires a very limited intellect.
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03/11/2006 09:32:00

harry get a grip, rosicky will be on fire soon.. and i remember a certain mr henry as winger for Juve not exactly having a great goal tally. the difference will be wenger and how he sees the players and also, why do we need to stick to how we used to be. wenger is the type of manager who will continually strive to improve our game , tweaks here and there and keep other teams guessing our play.
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03/11/2006 10:32:00

Puregold, not suggesting you should stick to your previous ways and not evolve. All I am saying that a negative factor of the Pires move was the loss of his extremely impressive goal scoring record for a midfielder. I didn't realise it was so good. Rosicky can certainly score more and his international record proves this but it could take a while for this to happen. Henry's transformation has been stunning and exceptional but I suspect that the fact the Wenger had him at Monaco helped this transformation. All I was saying that without doubt Pires would have tucked away one of your chances as Luckys_10 has said, and one of the midfielders needs to take on Pires goal contribution. I think you'll all admit that last season was one of your worst in ages, and I think in no small part that could be down to Pires not playing as often. At the end of the day, goals win games, championships and trophies.
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03/11/2006 11:49:00

yip i agree with you harry, pires did score alot, but so did freddie, and whilst he is injured we miss his goal tally too. as long as they create as many chances as they did we will score. i noticed spurs creating alot of chances too last night, difference is they finished against a weaker team
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03/11/2006 11:56:00

i visited the spurs site for the first time to defend my club against the crap that was written there, i never really bother about your team to even check what is going on with your club unless some s**t is said about my team there and you're the one who told me to go back to my own page, and then you keep coming here and give us your intellectual crap about everything related to our club, i wasnt talking about rosicky or anything related to our match, just the fact that you told me to stay of your page, and then you keep coming here and give your needless opinions, is not required, so better stick to your page, and if there is any BS said about my club anywhere, i will come and defend my team..
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03/11/2006 13:41:00

Rocky you've got a spurs admirer here, who has saved and remembers everything you say :d..
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03/11/2006 13:53:00

Actually Luckys_10 a number of your colleagues have commented on my posts, which are not anti-Arsenal in tone. Or so said Rocky7 with and I quote, "Can I just say Harry it's nice to finally have a Spurs fan come here for some proper debate rather than the usual childish insults. Top marks" - Sir_Harry................well it seems like, this is the first and the only time Sir Harry got a compliment on his intellectual football knowledge, great going :d..
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03/11/2006 13:56:00

Luckys_10 you're remarks are very funny if somewhat incoherent. I told you to go back to your own page if all you can do was, not to put forward an intelligent comment, but just put forward a lot of abuse, poorly punctuated with swearing. I can just imagine you at the moment, considering how excitable your lost couple of posts, your gimp mask must be dripping with frothing saliva. I would be interesting however to see exactly what BS I have actually said about your team? On and you clearly can't read either as if you'd scroll up a little, I see some of your fellow fans telling you to get a grip. I haven't been anywhere near as critical of Arsenal as you have been. I only have a real problem with Chelsea and supported you in last seasons Champion League final :)
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03/11/2006 14:18:00

luckys 10 - sell me some of your weed.
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03/11/2006 17:23:00

lol tat was a debate between me and my fellow gooners and we were just toking about our team, and we all have our opinions about our team and our players and you seem to be so much interested in us than your own team. and about my comments being abusive, go and read all my posts first, you were the one who abused first, and kept on lieing about how some of your average players like robinson and carrick joined supurs over Arsenal, you didn't even have a proper reason to support your argument so you kept on lieing about everything, and about you pursuing your interest in robinson since january that year, and wenger doubting his ability to succeed after the battering he got at leeds is not true, h edid have a trail at highbury, and wenger felt he wasnt good enough, and then he decided to goto spurs, you didnt nipp ahead or the player had given their word, and as regard to carrick, if the only club to whom he had given his word was portsmouth and then he was made aware of arsenal's interest but wenger didn't buy him cuz we had edu, vieira, gilberto and fabregas and he didnt want to put carrick on the bench, and then he decided to goto spurs over portsmouth, that is the truth, not as you said it in your post on your site, and ias regards to all those players that you named the likes of bentley, sidewell, pennant and upson, they were all given their chance here, but they werent good enough and that's why wenger let all of them go, not as you said that they didnt wanted a proper chance which they didnt get her and subsequently left, and i am so critical of my side, is only because we set really high standards of ourselves, and even when we're doing great, we still think we can be better, and i guess you should read all my comments again on your site, and give atleast half a decent comment in regards to it, instead of ignoring most of it, because you don't have an answer to any of it, and then accuse me abusing and swearing..
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03/11/2006 18:35:00

and yeah wenger never said that due to his links in europe or all over the world, he has prefered foreign talent over english, he has only said that he will buy the talent that is best for the club and never pay over the top for some over-rated english stars, and if the right english player comes along, he will buy him at the right price, and if he paid so much for walcott, he surely saw something special in him. so there it is, he will always do what is best for the club..
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03/11/2006 18:41:00

Luckys_10, we actually bid for Robinson in the January window. A fee of £1.5m was agreed on the proviso that he would be loaned back to Leeds for the remainder of the season. It was then discovered that this was actually against FA Premiership rules. However Robinson stated that the he remember that Spyrs reassured him of their continuing interest. Wenger at that time clearly stated that he was interested in an experienced keeper and he went down that route with Lehmann. He did however say that although his trial didn't go as well as hoped, he thought Robinson's confidence might have been shaken from his Leeds experience. With Staurt Taylor on board, it was a perfectly honest, reasonable and decent thing for Arsene to say. Regarding Michael Carrick Wenger said this afternoon: "He has always been a player that I loved. If we sign Michael Carrick, it could happen even if Patrick stays - but nothing has been done on that front though.",,2002390000-2004361443,00.html For god sake Luckys learn to read. I never said that Wenger said he wasn't interested in English stars .... its that the clubs links are better in Europe. However your academy were going to look to rectify that as there was concern other clubs like Chelski are getting the jump on you in England You really are a total clown. When do you go back to school to take your English GCSE? You seem to be making up alleged lies so you can spray everyone with your spittle. My initial comment was Arsene Wenger got his fingers burnt with Wright and Jeffers. Fair comment. That was a £14m mistake. He didn't BUY another English player until Walcott, almost 4.5years later. I also said I thought you possibly inadequately scout British players compared to European. No criticism of Arsenal there, just an observation, especially as you have lots of good young Europeans coming through. Unless you are Chelski with unlimited resources, you can't scout everyone and with no criticism of Wenger he obviously considers first the route he knows best. Your first line of your first post in response was accusing people of lying and bulls**t... where is the lie? its an observation that you have few Engish players coming through. And this might be a reason why as alluded to by Arsene. Why would you be looking to beef up your English scouting if it was perfect? Cretin
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03/11/2006 19:15:00

As this is now getting silly, apologies Luckys_10 for the personal derogatory remarks. I did find your remarks on Pires goalscoring to be quite interesting, especially when you look up his strike rate of 1in3. There may be hope Rosicky can get there, because although his club goal rate is poor (1in8) his international strike rate is 1in3.5
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03/11/2006 19:29:00

you can't really trust what the sun said, and about michael carrick, wenger never said that he could sign him even if patrick stays, you can never trust the sun, you know what kind of imaginary stories they come up with....... im sure the arsenal official website knows better what wenger has said than the sun, and about the robinson story what you said, i really don't believe that wenger thought his confidence was shaken because of his leeds experience, robinson had already made his name in the champions league a few years ago, and just when he came for a trail, wenger didnt think he was arsenal standard, and our youth system was already in a good position and arsene just wants to make it even more better now because of uefa's ruling of having home grown players in the team, and chelsea don't have a better youth system or academy than us, how many of the english players in the current chelsea team came through from their youth ranks with the exception of john terry, lampard, cashley, joe cole ,wright phillips have all come on from other teams, the only team who i think have a better youth system and academy than us in this country are united, and the reason for such few players coming through the ranks at arsenal is because these players are just not good enough to be in our team, you can say our system is not good, it could be that, or it could just be that these players don't have the necessary drive and determination to succeed at a club like arsenal, because they get paid so well, that it get's to their head, just look at bentley and pennant for example...........and yeh i am going back to school, and getting better at my english, just as your spurs team is getting better on the pitch than last season :)..
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03/11/2006 19:36:00

Agreed, Chelsea seem to be buying their youth academy like everything. I think with players like Hoyte now coming through and Walcott coming on, it may well be that Arsenal will be seen as a club where they get a chance. But I agree with you about lazy overpaid kids. More and more teams will be plowing money into academies but I just hope Chelski get docked points for stealing and bribing kids that poorer clubs have spent bringing on Funny about Carrick, he went to Spurs and Santini didn't want to play him. Shows want a dumb ass Santini was
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03/11/2006 19:51:00


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