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"It was the winter holiday and I was back in Togo having a kickabout with friends when my phone rang.One of the boys answered it and said, 'Manu, it's Arsene for you'. 'Arsene who?' I said. 'Arsene Wenger', he said. 'Get out of it', I said, and grabbed the phone off him. But then I heard the voice. 'Allo'. F*****g hell. It is Arsene Wenger!"
-Emmanuel Adebayor

Confirmed: Arsenal Sign Dimitrov For £700k

Bulgarian newspaper The Sofia Echo have confirmed that Arsenal have signed Levski Sofia midfielder Nikolay Dimitrov for a reported £700,000 rising to £1 million.

Dimitrov plays on the left wing and at 20 will probably start the season as first choice LM ahead of Vela. As it currently stands, Eduardo, who broke his foot is set to return to first team action before Rosicky who continues to have injury problems.

The 20-year-old Bulgarian international came to Arsenal on a 15 day trial and impressed Wenger greatly. Unlike the other trainee Mputu, Wenger did not need a 2nd invitation and started negotiations straight away.

Dimitrov said, "Its so exciting. The coaching staff are very kind and Arsenal are a very good team with good young player. I hope to lead Arsenal to as much silverware as possible but right now I must focus on my career."

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posted by highbury1913 @ 11:25 pm | |

NEW Arsenal Kits for 08/09 Season Revealed

Will we see Carlos Vela stepping into the Emirates Stadium wearing this?

(click for larger image)

I am not sure if this is it or so take this with a pinch of salt. There is also a new away kit which means that one of the current kits will only last 1 season. Usually Nike would have a rule of rotating the 3ed kit and the away kit every season. So I think the infamous 'Champions league' kit (aka Barcelona kit) will get the chop. The white kit would become the 3rd kit as this dirty yellow will become the away kit.

I love the home kit, never liked the added gold or yellow trimming in recent kits. I would definitely buy this complete with 'Vela' on the back. The away kit though, I would have preferred a brighter yellow similar to that of the double winning season in the 97/98 season.

Post your thoughts on the kit in the comments section below.

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posted by highbury1913 @ 9:11 pm | |

An Asian View On The '39 Matches' Idea

I woke up today and read that The Premier League had proposed an idea to extend the premiership season to 39 matches, adding an 'international round' in January. Being a Malaysian Gooner I was obviously excited by the prospect of Gallas leading out my heroes in Kuala Lumpur but after giving it some serious thought it doesn't seem like a very good idea.

Firstly, I would just like to point out to English fans that say that the integrity of the game is in jeopardy. One English fan said,"We are not loaded. We can't pay to go watch our team abroad. We are the people who pay the player's wages, we are being treated unfairly!"

For those of you who feel the same way, here are some facts about football:
Manchester United are the richest club in the world for 1 reason only. ASIA. They make far more from merchandise sales and contracts in Asia than they make from their earnings in the UK. Man Utd have a lucrative contract with Air Asia, a low budget airline service in Malaysia. That is the same airline service that you see plastered at the side of premier league referee shirts every week. It makes sense from a financial point of view for the premier league to have this as most of their money come from Asia. Ever wondered how Sky managed to pay The PL so much for the rights to show premier league games? Simple, Sky have a partnership with Asian sports channel giant ESPN Star. Now I have no idea how much the deal is worth but I'm sure it isn't cheap. Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few more clubs are all sponsored by Asia companies like Samsung and Emirates Airlines. IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE.

Adding another game would take away the fairness away from football. We all remember how Man Utd gloated when they ended our 49 match unbeaten run how would you feel if their excuse would be,"Sure, you played Wigan during the international round while we had to play Everton!" It just doesn't make sense. Football would become unbalanced. Only last week Wenger said that he would never take his players so far away from home just to make some extra cash after Man Utd were paid 1m to play a friendly in Asia.

My Idea...
Having watched Arsenal from afar for so many years it definitely is appealing to see them play in front of my eyes. It would cost me upwards of 1,000 pounds to see them play in the UK. I could buy a good 2nd hand car for that price. Also, having watched the Barclays Premier League Asia Trophy twice it has become obvious to me that Asian fans DO NOT need to see a premiership match to be happy. We just want to see premiership teams play. My idea is simple, closed season exhibition matches for us international fans. The stadiums will still be full and I'm sure it would be a success yet it still doesn't make a difference to the current system of the premier league.

Post your thoughts in the comments section.

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posted by highbury1913 @ 3:29 pm | |

Arsenal 2-1 Sp*rs: Aftermath

Emmanuel Adebayor has admitted that Arsenal had to fight for the draw against a disciplined Sp*rs side, the Togolese international told Sky Sports 1,

"It was a tough game, in the first half it was very difficult.

"We opened the scoring but Tottenham did well and came back.

"We won, it was the most important thing.

"Today's game was to fight to the end and we had to show the fans that.

"We are going to celebrate very well but focus and win as many games as possible."

Manuel Almunia mean while admitted that he doesn't practice penalties and that they save was down to luck. He said,

"It was guess work. It's intuition, lucky, I don't practice too much."

Le boss praised Sp*rs for making a game of the match tonight. Arsene said,

"It was difficult. I believe we were a bit flat in the first half and not at our best. Tottenham played well.

"In the second half I think we dominated from the start but at 1-0 up maybe we wanted too much to keep the result.

"Tottenham played a good game and came back to 1-1. But then Manuel saved the penalty and it was a mental blow for them.

"We got another goal but it was a tough game."


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posted by highbury1913 @ 12:45 am | |

Arsenal 2-1 Sp*rs: Player Ratings

Barclays Premier League
Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham Hotsp*rs
ARS: Adebayor (47) , Bendtner (74)
CUNTS: Berbatov (65) , Keane (71- missed penalty)
Emirates Stadium

Manuel Almunia

Played well and made a VERY important penalty save. Some might blame him for the goal but I think the shot was hit with so much power that it just flashed past him.
Player Rating: 8 *MOTM

Bacary Sagna

Pushed forward when he could but a lot of his runs went unnoticed by the Arsenal players as Eboue frequently ran inside inside of playing 1-2s with Bacary like they usually.Still had a good game though.
Player Rating: 7.5

Kolo Toure

As always a rock in defence. His partnership has become very important to this team and losing him to the ACN will be a big loss. Gave away the penalty but thanks to Almunia went unpunished. His speed made sure that no Sp*rs player could get past the Arsenal back line.
Player Rating: 7.5

William Gallas

Was silently doing his job which is always a good thing for a defender. Got rid of danger with minimum fuss, perhaps should have tracked down Berbatov faster for the Sp*rs goal.
Player Rating: 7

Gael Clichy

Like Sagna played well but did not get the service when he went up. Although he didn't get to push up as often as Sagna due to Sp*rs playing Aaron Lennon very high up the pitch. Kept the mini-dude quiet for the most of the match, his speed makes it hard for any forward to get past him easily. Make countless interceptions with broke up numerous Sp*rs attacks.
Player Rating: 8

Emmanuel Eboue

Like most of Arsenal's attacking players played well below what was needed. Made a few good passes but didn't make much of an impact and went inside too many times when the obvious choice would have been to pass to the overlapping Sagna.
Player Rating: 5.5

Matthieu Flamini

Was the leader in midfield. Which was very important today as Hleb and Cesc were not as good as they usually are, Cesc especially.Controlled the midfield well. Hope he doesn't leave, sign the new contract please Matthieu. Though he didn't do too much defending, it proves that we need a DM that can also attack which to me would signal the end of Gilberto's time at the club. A commanding performance, but nothing to go hyper about. It just shows how bad the rest of the midfield played.
Player Rating: 7.5

Cesc Fabregas

Didn't do too much until he set up the opening goal. Almost all of his through balls were cut out easily and was robbed of the ball quite a few times in the Arsenal half. Having said that, the assist for Adebayor's opener was just as important as that Almunia save, what vision! Average performance.
Player Rating: 6.5

Tomas Rosicky

Largely ineffective and was pretty much absent in the first half. Played the perfect ball to Cesc for the opening goal but besides that didn't too too much until the last few minutes. It looks to me Rosicky looks best when Arsenal are not the counter and seems to disappear when Arsenal play are forced to push forward.
Player Rating: 6.5

Alexander Hleb

Was his usually tricky self. His first touch and turn is probably one of the best in the business. But like Cesc, his passes went nowhere and was caught out in Arsenal half more than once.
Player Rating: 6

Emmanuel Adebayor

Did exactly what his job was. Chase the ball and hold it up until help arrived. Cant blame him for the below par performance from the midfield today and took his goal excellently. There was this one occasion when Ade worked his butt off to pressure the Sp*rs defence and crossed the ball to the with an over head'ish kick only for there to be no one else anywhere near the box.
Player Rating: 8

Nicklas Bendtner

Well he was deployed to get the winning goal and he did it in. Can't say much else. Like Adebayor was chasing shadows in the last few minutes as Sp*rs threw everything forward.
Player Rating: 7.5

Gilberto Silva

Didnt play long enough to be given a rating.
Player Rating: -

Like the ratings show, the Arsenal side were full of 6 and 7s. This would have been another draw last season but this season the side have showed that they have the resources to change things when needed. Interesting enough, the midfielders were playing well below par today, whether it was good tactics from Juande Ramos or just a bad performance, I don't know. But the defenders stepped up when needed. When we were losing the ball in midfield, Toure pushed up and put a little more aggression in attack. Let's hope we don't see a performance from the midfield like this again, what if we played a side with actual quality today? :D

I know a lot of you do not agree with my ratings, feel free to post your views in the comments section below. Just click the red link.

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posted by highbury1913 @ 11:28 pm | |

Arsenal 2-1 Sp*rs: Almunia To The Rescue

Barclays Premier League
Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham Hotsp*rs
ARS: Adebayor (47) , Bendtner (74)
CUNTS: Berbatov (65) , Keane (71- missed penalty)
Emirates Stadium

What a match...or at least what a second half! We have now opened up a 4 point lead at the top with Man Utd only playing tomorrow. Well 2 of Arsenal's playing staff replied to the press with good performances. Almunia answered Lehmann's comments that Almunia has never won a match for Arsenal by doing exactly that, making a crucial save from Robbie Keane's penalty to keep the game at 1-1. Younes Kaboul said before the match that whenever he plays against Adebayor, the Togolese striker never scores. Adebayor will be laughing is ass now wouldn't he.

The first half was a boring affair with Arsenal the passing the ball around the midfield area while while Sp*rs also did not do much harm when they were on the ball. Both keepers didn't have a lot of hard work to do. Almunia was largely left to picking out crosses and making one save from a free kick. Robinson was tested twice, though both were quite save-able efforts from Eboue and Toure.

In the 2nd half the game opened up and on 47 minutes a good pass from Rosicky found Cesc who fought off Tainio before back heeling to to Adebayor who curled it home for 1-0 and Kaboul's pride...shattered! Arsenal kept pushing forward for the second but couldnt find the breakthrough in a game where the Sp*rs defence showed stubbornness beyond their potential. And on 64 minutes a cross from Aaron Lennon found Robbie Keane on the far post who blasted his shot against the cross bar and away for a throw to Arsenal. From the resulting throw in, Arsenal gave the ball away and the ball somehow found its way to Dimitar Berbatov who hit it with such power that even though it was at Almunia's near post he could do nothing about it, 1-1.

Now the momentum was with Sp*rs and they ventured forward looking for the winners. They were given the opportunity when Toure brought Berbatov down in the box. Penalty and Robbie Keane stepped up confidently to take the penalty but the pressure got to him as he failed to hit his shot as well as he usually does and Amunia made a save that proved decisive in the end. Arsenal made a change, taking off Eboue for Bendtner. And Bendtner's first touch is to head in a Rosicky corner for Arsenal to take the lead slightly against the run of play. 2-1 Arsenal and Sp*rs now make attacking substitutions to chase the equaliser. Wenger replied by replacing Hleb with Gilberto as Arsenal looked to defend their way to the final whistle and they did exactly that.

You cant help but think that this match joins the many many matches last season that would have ended a draw but this Arsenal side are a lot more resourceful than last season and with Arsenal going into Christmas guaranteed top spot, no pundit can deny the Gunners' ability to challenge for the premiership title this season. Man Utd now have to beat Everton at Old Trafford to close back the gap while Arsenal win visit the Merseysiders on Boxing Day which should prove another stern test for this Arsenal side.

Make sure to post your views on the match in the comments section.

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posted by highbury1913 @ 10:51 pm | |

Arsenal 2-1 Sp*rs: Just look at Lehmann!

Barclays Premier League
Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham Hotsp*rs
ARS: Adebayor (47) , Bendtner (74)
CUNTS: Berbatov (65) , Keane (71- missed penalty)
Emirates Stadium

We all remember Jens Lehmann's stab at Almunia when he said "Almunia has never won a match for Arsenal". Well, that changed today. Almunia superbly saved a Robbie Keane penalty just minutes later at the other end Nicklas Bendtner scored the winning goal as Arsenal won 2-1 and open up a 4 point lead at the top, temporarily at least.

Full match report here.

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posted by highbury1913 @ 10:41 pm | |

Carling Cup: BLA 2-3 ARS (Player Ratings)

Match Report

Lukasz Fabianski
Played well in goal. A few of his throws weren't too good but overall performance was good, made some good saves especially that one-on one against Santa Cruz.
Rating: 6.5

Justin Hoyte
Played well, got forward and was among the few players to still have pace in extra time,very good stamina.
Rating: 7

Alex Song
From the player that everyone made fun of to one of the best CBs in the squad. Sure he is 4th choice but he played like a star and looked like a regular starter. Was calm defensively and added some into attack when needed. Alex Song, from laughing stalk to Man of The Match.
Rating: 9 *MOTM

Philippe Senderos
Played well enough, no mistakes which is always good when it comes to Senderos' clumsy defending. Had to good chance to score once but was offside.
Rating: 7.5

Armand Traore
According to Adebayor the fastest player in the squad and you wouldn't be surprised by the way he ran all over the pitch. Like his senior Clichy, has to work on his crossing. A little more polish in defending and we could have a world-beater on our hands.
Rating: 7.5

Mark Randall
Started out well and played his part in the opener. Did start to look nervous when Blackburn started attacking and gave the ball away a lot. He is still a young kid though and has the time to get better.
Rating: 5.5

Plays the Cesc role with less of him joining in attack which is understandable since he was actually a DM at Sao Paulo. He sprays the ball all around the field well and if he didn't get that red card (which he deserved), he'd be right up there with Alex Song in the ratings.
Rating: 8

Lassana Diarra
Was excellent in the DM role. Got himself out of trouble more than once with pace and good dribbling. Didn't offer much in attack but that's not really his job.
Rating: 8

Abou Diaby
He was outstanding in the first half but gave the ball away a lot in the second half. Very good in attack and was OK in defending. And he scored another fantastic goal to add to his collection.
Rating: 7.5

Nicklas Bendtner
He could replace Adebayor very easily. In fact in some aspects he is already better and today he showed he has pace, strength and a very good passer of the ball. Didn't really test the goalkeeper much but he played largely as the 2nd striker.
Rating: 7.5

He is still settling here in England and you can understand that with the weather and speed of the game here being much higher but one thing a striker has no matter where you put him is an eye for goal. His finishing is outstanding, if Adebayor could finish like him he would be the complete player. He was largely quiet throughout the game but popped up with 2 goals that sent Arsenal through today. In the end when you are the main striker in a side, this is what you want, GOALS. And he delivered.
Rating: 8.5

The substitutes didn't really have that much time to make an impact so I wont rate them. Barazite was on the longest but got injured before he could get into the game. Gibbs and Merida came on too late to do much.

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posted by highbury1913 @ 2:34 pm | |

League Cup: BLA 2-3 ARS(aet)...MOTM: ALEX SONG!!!

Carling Cup
Blackburn Rovers 2-3 Arsenal (aet)
BLA: Santa Cruz (41 , 59)
ARS: Diaby (6) , Eduardo (29 , 105)
Ewood Park

An impressive display at Ewood park showed why the 2nd string team are not ready to be regular starters but can be called upon when needed to. With Theo Walcott not feeling well it was a chance for Wenger to show off another Englishman that is currently being groomed at the Arsenal Academy, Mark Randall. Randall started out on the right, sometimes changing places with Denilson who played in the middle throughout the match. Denilson's partner was none another than the impatient Diarra while Diaby played on the left. Fabianski started in goal and had Hoyte (RB), Song (CB), Senderos (CB) and Traore (LB) in front of him. Nicklas Bendtner started in his usual Adebayor type role and he was accompanied by Crozillian Eduardo.

The game started out with Arsenal doing the attacking. Blackburn's defence looked unusually weak, giving lots of space to Arsenal and we all know what happens when teams give us space. On 6 minutes, A good passage of play between Bendtner and Randall ended with a Bendtner cross which was put into the back into the net via Diaby's left foot, 1-0 Arsenal. I have often said that I like Bendtner better than Adebayor and today he has shown again why he is in more ways than one better. His cross for the goal was perfectly weighted, Adebayor has drifted to the right and crossed on occasions as well but rarely deliver crosses of any quality. This is not the first time Bendtner has done this, he also played an outstanding cross for Eduardo in the 3-1 loss to Sevilla in the Champion's League.

Arsenal continued to dominate the match and on 26 minutes Denilson if I remember correctly played Cesc-like ball behind the Blackburn defence, leaving Eduardo with the simplest of finishers. Some might say that it was a mistake from Samba and that goal could have been prevented by I believe Denilson's ball was hit with such perfection that you cant really blame Samba for not getting there in time. 2-0 to The Arsenal and it looked as if this was going to be a fun away day. The 4000+ travelling Arsenal fans sang the 'To Be A Gooner' Chant while Blackburn fans were obviously silent. But Blackburn were handed a lifeline late into the first half, ex-Arsenal boy Bentley played a ball behind the defence to Matt Derbyshire who was in an offside position but thanks to the linesman play was allowed to continue. Derbyshire played a first time ball low and into the 6 yard box where Roque Santa Cruz slid in for his 4 goal in 2 matches. At the end of the first half, Blackburn were filled with hope as despite being pretty much played off their own pitch they were still only 1 goal down at the break.

Mark Hughes obviously reminded them that as well and they game out for the 2nd half and looked a totally side. Almost instantaneously, Santa Cruz found himself one-on-one with Fabianski. Santa Cruz tried to get past Fabianski but Fabianski got a hand to the ball, leaving Santa to just get the ball from behind him and shoot into an empty net. Then comes, ALEX SONG to the rescue, speeding back and clearing the ball away before Santa Cruz could shoot. On 59 minutes, a Blackburn free kick found Santa Cruz's head and he would not be denied this time. 2-2 and Blackburn look the more likely team to score a third. Alex Song shouldn't have let Santa Cruz get in front of him for the goal but he would end up doing more than enough for us to forget this little mistake.

Arsenal slowed the speed of the game down and started passing the ball like they usually do and found their way back into the game. Nacer Barazite came on for Randall to give more attacking impetus into Arsenal's play. It was quite even going into the last few minutes with perhaps Blackburn being the slightly better side but Alex Song was incredible and it didn't look he was going to let Arsenal concede a third. A late challenge from Denilson on Richard Dunn which was fuelled by the annoying cunt Robbie Savage saw him get a straight red while Savage was booked. Leaving Arsenal one match short for the rest of the 90 minutes and maybe even 30 minutes of extra time.

Arsenal survived the last few minutes of the 90. Arsenal regrouped and looked more balanced in extra time as ALEX SONG was working overtime to fill the space left by Denilson, bombing up to join in attack every chance he could. Substitute Barazite was forced off with a shoulder injury after an awkward fall and he was replaced by another English talent, Kieran Gibbs. Arsenal made sure going down to 10 men didn't mean they were going to defend for the penalty shoot-out and just at the end of the first half of extra time, another ALEX SONG attack saw him play a through ball putting Eduardo through on goal. Although he still had lots to do, one thing Eduardo hasn't had a problem with since moving to England was his finishing and he made the finish look easy by calmly passing the ball past Brad Friedel. Arsenal holding on wanting to make it to another League Cup Semi-Finals but the extra 30 minutes was taking its toll and Eduardo was getting cramps and was replaced by Catalan and U17 World Cup star, Fran Merida. In the dying minutes, Morten Gamst Pedersen saw his free kick go just wide and Samba, now pushed into attack hit the post. Arsenal did just enough in the end and showed that Arsenal do have the squad to challenge for major honours this season.

Overall, not perfect but a good performance and win is a win no matter how you put it. This Arsenal side proved that the so called 'weakness' that the media is claiming, Arsenal have no depth in the squad is rubbish.

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posted by highbury1913 @ 12:50 pm | |

I can almost smell Barcelona in the last 16

Not a bad time to start blogging again after my exams. The win over Romanian side Steaua Bucharest wasn't enough for top spot in the group. The result of this is that we can play Real Madrid, Porto, Inter, holders AC Milan or the club that made us £16.1 million richer Barcelona. Anyone else playing for a reunion with The King himself. Everyone can remember the last time we had a reunion with a former captain of the club. Patrick Vieira was on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline at Highbury 2 years ago. If that isn't bad enough, he lost the ball for the opening goal when Robert Pires decided to make his first ever tackle to get the ball, a few seconds later the ball was in the back of the net. Scored by PV4's 'replacement', Cesc Fabregas. Hopefully we can see a similar reunion when Titi visits with Arsenal winning thanks to goals from Eduardo(he can score in Europe, its the league that he has problems with).

I will definitely want to avoid Real Madrid, they made not be the Galácticos anymore but they are definitely much better than the has-beens we played against in '05. This Real Madrid side have a strong attacking line up in Robinho, and THAT guy. They now also have a strong defence as Bernd Schuster has built on Fabio Capello's success on building a strong team that can defend.

The obvious choice most people would want will be Porto but I remember how they dominated us in Portugal last season and I dont want a repeat of that. I would much rather test our ability against the holders or Inter which in previous seasons have proved how inconsistent they are. That just my views. Feel free to post your views in the comments section below or at the GoonersWorld forums.

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posted by highbury1913 @ 10:40 pm | |