abject defensively, profligate offensively, inept tactically. Arsenal.

I’d like to tell you that nothing could have prepared us for yesterday’s abomination of a performance from Arsenal at home to Monaco yesterday evening, but sadly we have a history littered with similar mistakes that have been perpetually repeated by Arsène Wenger’s team at this stage of the competition, for now the fourth year running.

The story is so similar it’s boring, but at least we’re all so not shocked that we’re stunned into silent disbelief, because we’ve been down this road before: first leg disaster, usually followed by glorious defeat in the second leg. 

We are halfway through our round of 16 competition and, much like Bayern for the previous two years and AC Milan for the year before that, we have conspired to shoot ourselves in the foot and effectively give up our chances of going through to the next round. Am I being defeatist? You’re damn right I am, because when you get to the knockout stages of the competition you play teams that just don’t tend to concede three goals at home. Well, all except Arsenal, that is.

I can’t think of one player who came out of yesterday’s game with the merest of smidgens-worth of credit if I’m honest. Well, not one Arsenal player that is, because Monaco had some like Kondogbia who were brilliant. We were atrocious. But it wasn’t just the players who failed miserably to perform to any kind of standard that is warranted given their hefty wages and clear abilities, because the manager must also take a serious slice of the blame in the cold light of this Thursday morning post-mortem.

Arsène rarely sets his team’s up to negate the opposition and yesterday evening it showed. Monaco knew what Arsenal would do and set themselves up accordingly; they sat two midfielders deeper and mopped up the loose second ball (almost every time I can remember) every time Ospina kicked long, they played in a tight and compact unit when they didn’t have the ball, showing no intention to press our back four which resulted in an evening of sideways passing amongst defenders and whoever dropped deep to collect. Alexis was receiving the ball in his own half for most of that first half. That says it all really. 

So tactically Monaco got it right, but the three goals they enjoyed were all with a little help from The Arsenal, as once again we proved that we are to defending what Madonna is to vertical balancing. Per Mertesacker – his worst game of the season so far I think – may have turned away from Kondogbia’s shot from 25 yards, but the fact that the Monaco player was given time to control, take a touch, set himself and strike is criminal at this level of the competition. The deflection meant that Ospina was wrong-footed and so perhaps he cannot be blamed, but the type of deflection it was looked to me like the kind of one that you see Cortouis or De Gea quickly shuffle their feet and save. That feels like why Ospina is not in that top bracket. It’s still early in his Arsenal career but I’m not sure he’s capable of making the type of save that makes you say “wow, how did he save that?”. He saves what you expect him to save.

Except for the second goal he didn’t. But again, he cannot shoulder 100% of the blame, because Monaco caught us on the counter and picked us off brilliantly thanks to the suicidal defending of Mertesacker. Watch the moment where the ball is squared to Berbatov. He’s only just made it in to his own half!! Shameful, shambolic and if Gabriel was not so raw in the league, you’d have to say a droppable offence from Big Per.

But it wasn’t just defensively that we were not at the races, because going forward was a nightmare of a performance too. Alexis lost the ball time and time again, Welbeck was a willing but ineffective runner, but Olivier Giroud was positively painful to watch. He had an absolute shocker, missing chance after chance and through his own profligacy, he has conspired with his defensive colleagues to cost us a place in the next round of the competition. 

But even then, at 0-2 down and into injury time, we Arsenaled it up like only we can when the Ox’s fine strike gave us a glimmer of hope. See out the game at 1-2 and see what you can do in Monaco. That should have been the mantra. But mentally this team is like a side of under-11s sometimes and we were caught out trying to push too many people forward.

I haven’t mentioned the midfield yet, largely because it was non-existent. Özil was poor, Santi fared only slightly better and positional Coquelin was not great at times. Given the supposed strength of our squad I am hoping for some punishments to be dished out in the form of dropping some of the players for the game against Everton on Sunday. Some of those players who have won their place in the team need to be shown that it can be easily taken away from them. That is what started us on such a good run in all competitions since just before Christmas and now there needs to be some rotation to show the players out of the team that they have just as much chance to play. Rosicky, Walcott, The Ox, Gabriel, Szczesny, all need to be given a chance now. 

The manager needs to have a look at himself this morning too. He needs to realise that he needs to prepare his players better and he needs to pay attention to the oppositions strengths and nullify them. But he won’t. We’ll repeat the same mistakes and we’ll find ourselves out of all competitions and pushing for a fourth place finish like we do every season. And who will be happy with that? The finance team, Stan and Arsène. 

Then we go again next season with the same objectives. Qualify for the Champions League, get out of the group stages and then anything else is a bonus.

That’s not what the fans want Arsenal. We want those memories. We want you to make memories for us. That’s not going to happen with more displays like yesterday.

Monaco game feels similar to Middlesbrough

Yesterday evening I watched Le Boss’ press conference and I couldn’t help but think:

Why is Danny Welbeck there? 

It also got me asking myself the question on a more broader scale, because modern day footballers are so media trained to the ‘nth’ degree these days, that to avoid having their words twisted by the media, they regurgitate the same responses regardless of the question. Playing press conference bingo with footballers is easier than playing Arsène presser bingo! Just replace Arsènisms with phrases like “give 100%”, “looking forward to the game” and “yeah-no, I think it will be a tough game”. 

Anyway, enough minor digs at one of our heroes, who also happens to be many years younger than me and so makes me feel a little weird if I’m honest. It’s time to prepare thee and me for tonight’s game.

This won’t be easy. At the risk of extreme hypocrisy and trotting out the tired clichés I’ve just scoffed at, now that we’re into the knockout stages of the competition is when the teams and the results are more closely matched, so I don’t expect a simple hammering of Villa proportions if I’m honest. Arsène said as much himself, whilst also noting that whilst Monaco don’t score many goals, they haven’t been conceding many either. 

Their success was built on a foundation of clean sheets and their record in their domestic competition would suggest that they will also be arriving at The Emirates tonight with a good degree of confidence. I know they’ve got fitness concerns over a few players like Carvalho, for example, but they’ll still be able to field a strong team and I’d expect them to come for a clean sheet tonight. I don’t want to do Monaco a disservice, but I see them as very similar to the situation Middlesbrough were at when they visited us a few weeks ago. Towards the top of their respective league, success built on stability from the back and confidence high because of their form in their own division. Middlesbrough came to our gaff in the same mind set.

Of course we know that Ligue 1 is a technically better league than the Championship, as well as the fact that Monaco are technically a better team than Middlesbrough, so I expect them to adopt a similar game plan with probably better results than Middlesbrough did in the FA Cup.

That game relied on Middlesbrough frustrating us for at least the first half I suspect, so when we scored two goals in that first half, it effectively threw out any game plan Karanka had on the day, so I think a quick start determines how the game pans out tonight. If we score within the first 20 minutes it wil breed more confidence in the team. Hopefully it will foster a belief that we can score more. But the only thing we need to be mindful of is the fact that unlike Middlesbrough’s need to take chances because of the fact it was a single game knockout, Monaco don’t need to take as many chances, because of the return leg. So a 1-0 defeat is by no means insurmountable and as a result I don’t see Monaco looking to catch us out. 

We need to be smart. Good game management tonight is more important than anything else. If we get an early goal, then great, but the team need to be mature enough to know that this needs to be a probing type of game, not one in which caution is thrown to the wind.

The managers choices are tough. Defensively I’d expect him to stick with Ospina, Koscienly, Mertesacker, Monreal and Bellerin. In midfield you have to assume that Coquelin will sit at the base of the three, with Santi alongside him. With no Wilshere on the bench or in the squad tonight, picking the first seven players from the back going forward is easy. But the creative players will be hard. Özil is looking sharper with every game and is the sort of player you want if a team sits deeper and needs to be unpicked like a door by a cat burglar with his clever and close passing. You’d expect Giroud to start in the form that he’s currently in, along with one of the players of the season in Alexis, but who occupies the final position in the three? Walcott for end-product and pace? Welbeck for his engine and build up play (he hasn’t been in the goals but he always contributes)? Or maybe Arsène throws a curveball and gives Rosicky the nod for his quick transition from front to back that he gives the team?

I suspect it will be Welbeck that is preferred, as he’s got the best engine, but if Monaco are sitting deep and not giving space, I’d love to see what Rosicky can offer. To me, Walcott is the perfect player for the away leg, catching Monaco on the break with his pace, but I just don’t see there being that much space for him this evening. So I wouldn’t be starting him.

We’ll know soon enough. This is the type of match we want to be part of in the Champions  League, so we need to enjoy it, but right now I’d take 90 minutes of turgid football for a 2-0 victory.

Come on The Arsenal!

‘Obvious’ klaxons, Giroud’s award and Welbeck’s form an issue for Theo

It’s all rather quiet on this Tuesday morn, which is lovely given that there’s a big game tomorrow and no doubt Arsène’s presser at some stage today, so we’ll get an update on who’s available.

We’ve already had Arsène’s thoughts ahead of the visit of Monaco, in which he really goes out on a limb, describing the game as ’50:50′ in terms of our likelihood of success. Wow Arsène, mind those splinters buddy!

Champions League games are always cagey affairs when you get to the knockout stages of the competition though, so I can see why he’s trying hard not to give the Monaco team any motivation ahead of the tie, but it should be one we should be looking to win over two legs. I was at The Emirates Cup in August and we looked leggy and lethargic and the difference even then was a Falcao header. With him now firmly established in the Manchester United dugout as one of the coaching staff, Monaco have lost a massive asset, but will still be a threat so Arsène is right to be cautious. More to come on Monaco tomorrow though.

The other news is that Olivier Giroud is up for a fans player award by the PFA. Ok, so it’s only for February, but with goals and solid displays under his belt for the whole month, it will be a good confidence booster if he wins it. And let’s face it, we have the largest football fan community online at Arsenal, so I’d expect us to vote in our handsome Frenchman with consummate ease.

The hope is that he wins it and the subsequent confidence boost will propel him to being even better than he has been of late. His form is sparkling and with each game that he scores, I remain convinced that he will hit the 20 goal mark for the season, which would be quite some feat indeed given his lengthy absence last year.

That man Welbeck has also had his say on the Champions League, talking up our desire to go far in the competition which aside from the fact that ‘state the obvious’ klaxons appear to be sounding all over the place at the moment, is the sentiment and the attitude we need. No talk of advancing and who we might face in the next round, just respect for our opposition we’ve currently got and the professionalism to do the job, home and away.

You’ll all be acutely aware of the shattering feeling that Alex gave us when knocking us out of the competition after we conceded a late goal against PSV a few years back I’m sure. We need no repeat of that upset and if it means the players and coaching staff have to make obvious statements about the game then so be it.

Welbeck himself has also looked good since returning, actually, so much so that there aren’t many people calling for an instant return for Walcott. Given that we’d have chewed each other’s arms off to have him available this time last year, that’s quite a turnaround and it’s the high intensity pressing that Welbeck and Alexis give us – as well as their end product (which in Danny’s case has been assisting in build ups rather than actual goals) – that has meant Theo is an increasingly bit-part player at the moment. The long-term future for him is something that can be debated for another day, but I don’t see him being wheeled out in the immediate future and that’s a positive testament to how well Welbeck is playing, especially when you consider that Theo is scoring plenty of goals when he’s given the chance.

So we’re in a good place right now. There are plenty of form players, we’re winning games and we currently sit third in the league, which is ideally where we want to finish. We have a big European night tomorrow, with which victory be a healthy margin would help to foster yet more belief and confidence in the team, as well as the possibility of That Dutch Bloke being a longer term injury to United. He’ll develop some sort of miracle recovery time so that he can play us in about 13 days time, but for now let’s all just keep ourselves content in the knowledge that all is looking roadt in the Arsenal garden.

See you tomorrow.

Mourinho’s propaganda, Arsenal’s form & a happy week

I usually avoid any kind of football topics that aren’t Arsenal related, but after seeing Jose Mourinho’s less than subtle attempt to have more air time to push through his own personal agenda through the medium of Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday, I feel compelled to say something through my own soapbox platform, which is this here blog.

I’m presuming of course that the whole world recognised his whole purpose of going on that show was to perpetuate his own lines of malcontent, but the brazen way in which he tried to use Sky whilst also denouncing the treatment of his own team by the media, was rather rich I have to say. For somebody who uses all forms of media to try and carry his own propaganda so vehemently, you’d think he would be a little bit more accepting of how the British media companies work? Actually, scratch that, because he clearly does. After all, that’s why he probably patched a call directly to Sky Sports bigwigs on Saturday evening, to which both parties would have been more than happy. Jose gets to spout his rubbish on a well known show, Sky Sports get the big names on their sofa.

It all feels very dirty. Mourinho is essentially a slightly tanned ‘Arry Redknapp. Only he’s probably the next rung up the ladder because he’s done it abroad and won a few more trophies. He’s got as much class as a fake tanned, Essex based hairdresser with a brilliant white Bentley.

Anyway, I should probably stop there, because not only does that do a disservice to fake tanned, Essex-based hairdressers, but also the fact I’m even talking about the most horrendous football club in the history of the world in Chelski – and yes, I include even the Spuds in that – means that I’m giving up time away from the greatest club in the world.

All-in-all, for what we’re looking at for the remainder of our season, this weekend didn’t really go too badly, did it? We rode our luck but ultimately had the points secured on Saturday, whilst Tiny Totts, Southampton and Man United all dropped points. With Liverpool at home to Man City next weekend, if we can pick up another win against Everton on Sunday at lunchtime, I fancy we’ll be in poll position for third and certainly a heavy favourite for Champions League qualification in one form or another.

We’re hitting form at exactly the right time. People can say that so are Liverpool and Totteringham are too, but with my admittedly completely biased specs on, we’re the better of all of the teams in that Champions League race and I think we’re playing the better football too. Perhaps this last weekend wasn’t a perfect example of us at our sparkling best, but that being the case, we went 89 minutes without being massively troubled against a Crystal Palace side that Alan Pardew had said had played their best football since he arrived. Let’s not forget that Pardew has managed his team against both the Spuds and Liverpool at home.

So we have reasons to be cheerful today. We have a big game against Monaco on Wednesday, followed by big matches against Everton, QPR and Man United in the next two weeks. Four wins out of four and we’ll find ourselves looking up rather than down in all competitions.

I’m liking the form of Özil and Giroud in particular at the moment. It was yet another goal for Ollie on Saturday and as I said in a previous blog last week, I think he can hit 20 goals come the season end, a phenomenal achievement by the end of the season given his broken leg. Has the arrival of Welbeck and Alexis to challenge his role as a central striker worked magic in making him ultra competitive to keep his place? I think undoubtedly that must be the case. He’s a classic confidence player. He’s said so himself in not-so-many words, so it’s natural that when you give him your belief as Arsène has, as well as allow him to do what he does best as a target man, the result is goals. Goals then beget goals and you have yourself a self-fulfilling prophecy, because he’ll have more confidence, score more goals, get more confident, etc, etc. the trick will be for him to keep on playing and playing well.

As for Özil, he’s clearly used his time away from the pitch to great effect. I saw one moment on Saturday in which Mesut was up against a Palace player (Puncheon I think), inside our own box, where he used his strength to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal kick. A year ago he’d have been bundled over by the physicality of the opponent he was up against. Not so in Mesut Özil Arsenal version 2.0. He is stronger and a year wiser to this league. He still has superb vision and is showing signs of the form when he first signed for the club, but he’s also regaining his confidence, a prime example of that being the superb flick over the defenders head and perfectly weighted pass to set Alexis away for what should have been goal number three.

Arsène may still be tinkering and rotating his team to find the best blend at the moment, but he’s got a number of players who are making very public ‘well, you can’t drop me’ statements to him based on performances at the moment. Long may that continue.

It’s a happy Monday for us Gooners. Let’s embrace it.

Gritty three points

I don’t know why, but yesterday’s game with Crystal Palace felt like a really big result, in the context of our Premier League season.

There were many people I spoke to during the week who were pretty convinced that we were going to go to Selhurst Park and sweep aside a Palace side who have had a wee bit of resurgence under Alan Pardew, but who have stuttered ever-so-slightly in the immediate past, but I never really believed that the game would be anything other than a challenging 95 minutes (although where the referee worked out those five minutes of injury time was a bit of a mystery to me).

Last season when we played Palace it was anything but plain sailing, but so it was that the home team with their partisan home support, were able to influence the game much more than many would have predicted. Under Pardew you can see that they try to press hard and fast and at times we made it difficult for ourselves with some slack passing of our own, but you can always tell the difference between the top sides and those that languish further down towards the foot of the table. Crystal Palace may not be relegation fodder at this moment in time – nor it must be said do I think they will be come May – but you could tell there was a distinct lack of cutting edge in their forward line.

Pardew is no mug and knew exactly how he could potentially get some joy against our team, targeting Monreal with Zaha’s pace in the first half and looking to get Gayle isolated against Chambers too. In the second half Chambers was run ragged by Bolasie on our right hand side and it was on that side that Palace were able to get the goal they scored in injury time, plus the Murray header off the ball with seconds to go. But again, the fact we were able to take our chances and Palace weren’t able to make the most of the 22 attempts they have, perhaps shows why we are fighting at the top of the league. We have the players to make the difference.

That’s what Welbeck did in forcing the Palace full back to make a challenge on six minutes that led to the penalty we scored. And no Ray Houghton, no Robbie Savage, despite your clear desperation to find fault in decisions given to Arsenal, it was on the line and so is a penalty. Calm down and perhaps stick to playing golf in your retirement from the game.

That cutting edge in the final third means everything, and it was that with which we capitalised through the second goal, a fine through ball from Özil (I think) finding Welbeck and his shot fell kindly to Giroud to tap home. The Frenchman is developing a lovely habit of being in the right place at the right time and is doing it on a fabulously consistent basis at the moment. Long may his form continue.

Long may our overall form continue too, actually, because we’re stringing together a number of wins that are building some real momentum. With United losing, plus Southampton and Liverpool playing each other today, we find ourselves in third and with a run of matches in the league in which you would expect us to pick plenty of points up from. Victory against Everton next Sunday, followed by an away success to QPR during the midweek after that game, will see us firmly secure a good footing on which to build success in our season. Success for Arsenal would be a trophy and securing Champions League football. We still have a lot to do to get that trophy (I don’t fancy United away I have to say. They will be pants, but they’ve made it an art how they can perpetually skank us in every competition), but if we pick up 12 points from the next four games, I’d wager we’d be halfway there to achieving the Champions League objective.

We’re looking good at the moment. We’re grinding out games when we need to, like today, but we’re also adding the occasional bit of swagger to some of our performances. That’s the Arsenal that we want to see.

Now, bring on Monaco…

Palace: negate the pace out wide and play the more technically gifted

So we’re back in league action today and it’s a tricky game at Selhurst park in which the media seem to be all voting for us as their picks for victories this weekend. It’s nice to know what supposed ‘neutrals’ think when looking at games and who should win, but as usual I’m not as blase about the ease of our victories as the pundits.

Under Alan Pardew Crystal Palace have got more belief and have picked up enough results to suggest that they will be comfortably safe for next season. They’re 13th on 27 points and despite the league being so concertina’d in from the bottom to the middle and from the upper positions (Chelski aside), I think they will be fine, but I still think they will be very pumped for this game. Against Liverpool last weekend they were ahead and then looked to sit back on their lead which was never a good thing with a team of Liverpool’s quality. Pardew recognised that and so today I think they will approach the game with a different game plan. I suspect they will look to be compact defensively and with Jedinak back in their midfield it will provide more stability and cover in front of the back four of Dann and Hangeland. Out wide they’ll have the pace of Gayle and Bolasie and Pardew will probably look to isolate Bolasie and Gayle  against Monreal (assuming he plays) and Bellerin respectively, one because of his lack of pace and the other because of his still relative inexperience at the top flight. If they are to be successful against our defensive line you’d expect their joy to come from those wide positions, so it’s important that both of those wide players are negated somehow today.

So much of football is about timing. We played a Palace side last season away from home in a bit of turmoil as Holloway had just left the club. They battled well and although we had a man sent off and still won the game, it was anything but a comfortable afternoon, so I’m not expecting anything other than that today. In August this year they had the ongoing Pulis issues and despite the fact he wasn’t there they were still set up disciplined enough for us to find it very tough to break down. It was only that last-gasp Ramsey goal that saved our blushes on the opening day. We’ve caught them in a bit of turmoil a couple of times since we’ve played them and finally they seem to be coming into a game against us on their own turf in which they have some stability, so I don’t think we’ll find the going good-to-soft today. Based on the games we’ve had against them since they returned to the Premier League, i’m not expecting anything other than a difficult game today with a side that will try to build from a foundation of defensive stability and try to use the flanks to hit us on the counter. Hopefully that is minimised for the sake of my, and your, health!

For us, the importance will be of the technical players and their ability to unpick the Palace defensive line. If the Eagles do sit deep, then I can only see success for us if Arsene names a team filled with players who are technically more able on the ball and can beat a man. Last season Serge Gnabry had a good game and he is an example of why we will need thata type of player. Had the Ox been fit, i’d think he’d be a shoe-in to start. But his injury means that Arsene has some decisions to make. I suspect given the form of Alexis, Ozil and Santi, they should all play. Perhaps Arsene will go as attacking as he was against Middlesbrough and name a very offensive line up which includes those three, Alexis, Giroud and Welbeck. If Palace do sit deep, then it would make sense to try to overload their capacity to go man-for man in their own half of the field. If he does decide that caution is more prudent, however, then I’d expect to see Welbeck sacrificed in that line up first. Perhaps for Rosicky in midfield, pushing Ozil out to the left and Alexis right. Rosicky is the sort of player that can see that threaded pass better, so in a game of fine margins where there might be a compact Crystal Palace side, that type of player is key.

Notice how I haven’t even mentioned Theo yet? I just can’t see how he gets in to the team in a game like today. Palace won’t play a high line, they’ll flood that area of space in front of their own penalty box and Theo just won’t be able to make those runs in behind the defence he likes to do. well, actually he will, but he’d probably find himself too close to Speroni all day I’d expect. I’ve said it enough on this blog that I’m getting bored of my own rhetoric, but Walcott is a player that needs to play where there is plenty of grass to run in to. The games against teams that come out more are perfect and if Palace play the way I think they will today, I don’t see how he will get any joy.

But hey, I’m not the manager, I don’t know what is best for the team so if he does start then perhaps he’ll score and win us the game. As long as that happens, then I’ll be happy and pleased enough to admit i was wrong-diddly-ong.

Fingers crossed we get what we want from the game. They’ve already beaten the Spuds relatively recently so we can’t take anything for granted. If we do win, we then have Monaco midweek, and Everton on Sunday. I said before the Leicester game that we had an opportunity to start turning the proverbial screw in the league with the run of fixtures we have. That can continue today. Nay, it MUST continue today, if we’re going to secure our longer-term Champions League future.

Until tomorrow.

A door opening for Chambers and Jack?

With the Crystal Palace game about 30 hours away, all of the focus turns back towards the Premier League today with Le Boss’ press conference ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park.

We’ve already had an injury update from the manager, confirming that Ramsey is three days in to a three week rehab programme, as well as doubts over Flamini and Bellerin. The Flamster is probably a loss we can absorb in the squad quite easily, as Coquelin will slot in to his recently acquired position, but Bellerin has established himself as first choice at this moment in time so his injury might be more difficultly felt. Especially as Chambers – whilst very good against Boro – has found it hard going when matched up against pace this season. Or, if I’m going to be a little more positive, I could argue that this kind of opening will give Chambers the opportunity to win his place back in the team. He’s been sitting on the sidelines for a few weeks and I reckon he’d have seen Nacho win his place in the side and will fancy a bit of it, so I’m hoping that this mentality in the squad of fighting for all positions, will have a beneficial effect on players like Chambers.

Still, Palace will surely look to exploit the apparent lack of pace if Hector isn’t available, but more on the actual nuances of the game tomorrow, I think.

Jack will probably see some bench time tomorrow and whilst the loss of Flamini wouldn’t be a like-for-like replacement if he wasn’t fit, at least we have another midfield option, which is good considering that the Ox, Rambo, Arteta and Diaby (!!) are all out and unavailable this weekend. It’s the toe of game where you’d hope we’d see more possession and a player with close control like Wilshere might just be useful for unlocking a resurgent Palace under Pardew.

The other story on the official site saw Arsène talk about the draw as an ‘interesting one’. Not for me it isn’t. It’s a bloody horrible one. Away from home, at a ground where we haven’t won in nine years, against a team in which we have beaten twice since what feels like 1977? Nope, to me that sucks and if I’m honest, I’d rather have had Reading at home and let other teams knock United and Liverpool out so we don’t have to be faced with it. But it is what it is, so we have to overcome them to get through to the next round. Come on Arsenal!

Not really sure what else there is that’s Arsenal related today. As always, I shoot my load too quickly when it comes to blogging, as I do this first thing in the morning whilst heading into work on the tube, so I can’t really tell you about Arsène’s presser, or what he thinks about racist Chelski. Of course, I don’t believe that all Chelski fans are racist, but they seem to have a more chequered history than any other English club. They maybe be irritating, fickle, general scummers because of the team they support, but on the whole I don’t believe they foster a culture of racism within the club or the stadium. How could they? Much like all football teams, their fanbase is a diverse mix of people, from the poorest scrotes to the most affluent of idiotic Chelski morons, but they don’t all get memos before games to bring their white cloaks and pointy white hats.

Perhaps it’s a cultural thing that a small collective have passed on to their offspring, which is contributing to the terrible reputation they have, but there’s not really a lot that club can do in that regard other than the banning orders they’ve already looked to enforce. Well, I guess they could neuter all of those fans, but the European court of human rights would probably have a field day. Even if it is the best thing for the world and the future.

Anyway, I’ve taken up enough of your time for one day, so I’ll take my leave.

Happy Friday.