Arsene Wenger’s Black Friday Diary

Thursday 8pm – Better go to bed early. My TV and fridge have been inadequate for a few years now. TV has suffered a few reliability issues recently. Does not always turn on. Was without one for a few weeks the other month. About time I bought better ones.

Friday 6am – It’s Black Friday! Deals to be had!

6.05am – Just remember I have committed to go to Paris for a charity event today. Want an idiot. Double booking on Black Friday.

8am – The Eurostar has free wifi. Result. Will do Black Friday online. Probably better than going to Asda like last year anyway.

8.30am – Just seen Curry’s offering Samsung Smart Ultra HD 4k 55” Curved LED TV. Reduced from £1,149 to £998. Great TV. Still too pricey for my liking thought. Just don’t see value in it. Paying a lot for it being curved.

8.35am – Result. Just seen they have a Samsung  mart Ultra HD 4k 60″ LED TV. Was £1,449. Now just £899. It is better than what I have. And that price is quality.

8.40am – Not yet bought the TV. Is it really worth it. £899 is a lot to pay. After all, my TV still works. It might be old and past its best, but it does a job.

8.45am – Hmmmmm. Think I will think about it for a bit.

9am – Think I will wait until  I get to Paris to make the decision

10.22am – In Paris. Coffee and croissant time.

11.30am – Is there any better way to unwind then sitting in a Parisian cafe with an espresso and a fresh croissant? Now that TV. Think I will go for it.

11.31am – Darn. All sold old. That will teach me for dithering. Better get off to the charity event.

3pm – All done. 20 emails on my phones offering Black Friday deals. Will check them on the train home.

4pm – Just seen on eBay a Hotpoint Free Standing 55cm Fridge Freezer. £197 or best offer. Offered £30.

4.10pm – Offer rejected. Now offered £35.

4.15pm – Received email from eBay seller “stop taking the piss. Please put in a serious offer. Will consider anything over £170”

4.17pm – Offer £171. Cheeky.

4.18pm – Received another Email. “What are you smoking over there? Do not bother bidding on anything I am selling again. You are blocked”. Oh well.

5pm – Result. One of them Emails was from my pal at the scrap yard. They have just been given a fridge. Said I can have it for free.

7pm – Back in London. Still need a TV. Really not sure what to do. Will head home and evaluate.

7.30pm – Looking at my old TV brings back so many memories. Everything we have been through together. It has been a stalwart of my entertainment system. It has done a job. So loyal. Surely I should be loyal to it.

8pm – Just heard Argos are selling a Bush 50” FHD LED TV for £289. Now that is cheap. But it is not the best TV. Reviews say terrible picture and very poor sound quality. I just do not think it is top quality that I need. Will give it a miss.

11pm – Whoops. Feel asleep. Better see what is still available. Only an hour to go.

11.10pm – Great news. Just bought a blender. Tesco Basics. £10.50.

11.15pm – People say I do not always spend money. Well two deals in 5 minutes. Just bought some socks. My feet have been cold recently. Pack of 3 grey ones from Debenhams. Was £10. Now £5. Saved myself a fiver. Imagine what a fool I would be if I jumped the gun and bought these yesterday.

11.17pm – It is all go in the Wenger household. Just bought a toaster. £25. £25 for a toaster. Bit pricey. But hey, They dont call me a big spender for anything. Quite ironic really. I borrowed one from my neighbour yesterday. Won’t tell him though. I now own 2 toasters!

11.30pm – Lads, lads, lads, it is all going off. Just got myself an Amazon Fire 7″ tablet. OK, it is not an iPad or an Android. But at £34.99, it basically does the same job as the more expensive ones. Just not as good. Great deal though.

11.45pm – 15 minutes to go. What a day it has been. So happy with my purchases so far. Got some great deals. And that free fridge. What a bargain. No TV yet though. Just not the sufficient quality at a reasonable price on the market.

11.55pm – Currys have chucked another discount on the Samsung Smart Ultra HD 4k 55”. Another £200 off. Now just £699. Now that is a deal.

11.56pm  – Where is my bank card?

11.57pm – Seriously. Where is it?

Saturday 12.01am – Found my bank card

12.05am – Darn. It is saying I have missed the deadline. So disappointing. Was a great deal. Looks like I will have to make do.

12.10am – What a day spending. A free fridge, a blender, a toaster, socks and a tablet. Whilst I remember, I need to take my tablets. £75.49 spent today. Still got £32million in my bank account. Keeping my powder dry for the January sales.

12.11am – Bit of TV before bed.

12.12am – TV broken down. Not turning on. Didn’t see that coming.

12.13am – Might as well go to sleep. Will buy a new TV in January. will do without till then.



Arsenal in the Europa League – FOR and AGAINST

So after last nights victory against Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal have secured themselves a place in the knock out stages of the Europa League. The competition has split fans as to their opinion on it. Some see it as a chance to win a European trophy, others have such a dislike for it that they would rather we lost last night to ensure we did not qualify.

I have attempted to come up with a fear and reasonable argument FOR and AGAINST the competition. Let us know your opinion by voting at the end.


The Europa League is a horrible competition. Playing Thursday, Sunday, Thursday, Sunday to far flung places across Europe will not do our Premier League chances any good.

History has shown that sides playing in the Europa League struggle on their Sunday game. If you are playing in Eastern Europe on the Thursday, you will no get back until the early hours of Friday morning. It basically writes off any training on Friday. If you are then playing away on the Sunday, the players will get together on the Saturday. A lot of travelling, living in hotels, not much time for rest and recuperation.

Looking at the fixtures list, we would have Europa League games before the FA Cup 5th round, before Manchester United Away. The FA Cup QF & Everton Away. And Manchester City Away.  Playing Thursday than Sunday before these fixtures will be a nightmare

The fact is, playing in the Europa League will damage our changes of winning the league.

From a personal point of view it is a nightmare as well. We already have too much meddling in our fixtures list. Early Saturday kick offs, late Sunday kick offs. It is a headache for the loyal travelling fan. The Europa League will only create further problems. The above fixtures will all be moved. As will Norwich at home. Less drinking, more train issues, and more Monday morning hangovers. It is not fun.

If we end up falling into the Europa League, we need to play the kids, and ensure we get knocked out at the earliest opportunity.


Imagine wanting Arsenal to lose? How crazy is that.

Yes, we would all prefer to stay in and win the Champions League, but in 17 years of trying, we only have 1 final to show for our efforts. In 2000, we ended up in the UEFA Cup (as it was then) and made the final. We should have won.

The Europa League is a more winnable competition. Chelsea a few years back dropped down into it and won it. Did their fans moan and complain that they had won another European trophy? No. The fact is, Arsenal do not have a great European pedigree – 2 cups to date – so who are we to turn our nose up at an opportunity to win a 3rd?

There is no difference between playing on a Thursday & Sunday compared to a Wednesday & Saturday. This should not be an issue. Especially for a club with a squad our size.

And the Europa League does not restart until the end of February. By then our league title chances could be over and we could be out of the FA Cup. Winning the Europa League could be our only chance of a trophy.

As for it damaging our chances of qualifying for next years Champions League,  I would rather win a trophy than qualify for a European Tournament, and winning the Europa League gets you a place in the Champions League

The extra travelling is also a myth. Last year, Tottenham played Fiorentina in the knock out stages. The year before a trip to Ukraine and Portugal. When Fulham made the final, they played in Ukraine once, Italy and Germany (twice). In the Champions League knock outs, Arsenal could end up playing in Russia, Ukraine. There is no real difference.

And from a personal point of view, the Europa League would throw up a few trips that we as travelling fans have not done. We are all bored of going to Barcelona & Munich. As the groups stand, we could also end up with getting Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea. Add in that trip to Russia. There are no games that really excite.

Over in the Europa League, we could get trips to Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Prague & Belgrade. As a travelling fan they excite. Somewhere different. A city you have never been. A city you will never go to unless it is for football. There are clearly some cracking trips to be had.

If we get into the Europa League, we should go out to win it. And a final in Basel? Yes please.


6 defensive midfield options for Arsenal

In what is perhaps the most predictable piece of news this season, Francis Coquelin has been ruled out with injury until the New Year.

Over the summer, top of everyone’s wish list was a defensive midfielder. Whilst Coquelin has proved in the last 12 months that he perhaps is good enough to be our first choice, the worrying lack of competition / understudy / back up is what worried many.

An injury to Coquelin for any length of time would leave us in a situation relying on Mikel ‘Legs Gone’ Arteta and Mathieu ‘Energy Baron’ Flamini. Worrying.

If course, in the summer, many of the Arsene Wenger loyalists also pointed to Jack Wilshere & Aaron Ramsey as players who could perform there if needed. Whilst that would work as an option in the majority of games, it is an option which negated to remember that both of them are likely to miss big chunks of the season, which they have.

Add in the fact that when Arteta does find his legs, they tend to break down very quickly, it leaves us in a scenario where our options in the middle of the park are very limited.

So what are our options?

Mathieu Flamini

The only fully fit defensive senior midfielder in the squad would currently be in Turkey if it was up to the club.

Despite his goals against Spurs writing himself into Arsenal folklore, he is simply not good enough. Being Mesut Ozil’s best mate is should not be the basis of the club retaining your services.

But he is the most likely option.

What he lacks in ability, he makes up in work rate. Although this has declined over recent years, he can still cover a lot of ground. And with Santi Cazorla likely to play next to him, you need someone who can get about the pitch. Someone with legs. It is why Arteta and Cazorla would not work, but Ramsey and Arteta would, or Coquelin and  Cazorla. You need players to compliment eachother. One to do the running, one to be the ball player (in an ideal world, you would have 2 who could do both, but those players are rare).

Aaron Ramsey

There was talk that Aaron Ramsey had an outside chance of being fit for WBA. He was not. The game against Zagreb might be 24 hours too early for the Welshman, but I would be very disappointed if he was not fully fit for next Sunday’s visit to Norwich.

Whilst he might not be a pure defensive midfielder, he can defend, he can tackle, he can read the game and he can cover ground.

A couple of seasons ago, when I nicknamed him the general, he was showing signed of turning into an all round midfielder in the Michael Ballack mould. Able to defend and attack.

Nothing has changed, he can still do that job. A central midfield of Ramsey and Cazorla should have the balance to be able to beat the likes of Norwich, Sunderland and Aston Villa. Whether it is good enough to beat Manchester City in December is another story.

And of course, this options requires Aaron Ramsey to get fit and stay fit. Easier said than done.

Calum Chambers

A genuine option. He is fully fit and ready to go. In the long term, his versatility might hold his development back, in the same way it has for Phil Jones. However, in the short term his versatility might benefit Arsenal.

Some believe his future could be in the middle of the park. He certainly has the defensive awareness to play there, and is good on the ball. In the same way as Ramsey, a midfield of Chambers and Cazorla should be good enough to beat Norwich, Sunderland and Villa, Chambers and Cazorla should be good enough as well.

Moving beyond those games, perhaps a Chambers / Ramsey combination for Manchester City could give us more defensive stability. But that would cause a potential issue.

Ideally you would like to give Chambers a run in the team before City in the middle of the park. With 5 games between now and then, he would certainly get that chance to be ready. But then Aaron Ramsey also needs games to get fit. So can you really accommodate the pair of them in preparation for Manchester City?

Maybe we will see a return of Ramsey playing on the right wing, with Chambers and Cazorla in the middle, before shifting Ramsey inside for City? Or perhaps give Cazorla the rest he needs and start Ramsey & Chambers together against Norwich to see how they get on?

It is certainly a flexible option.

Krystian Bielik

There was a lot of excitement when we signed Krystian Bielik last January. This might have been because people honestly felt he had the makings of a top player, or just because he was our only signing. Bit like your mate who hasn’t had a shag for a year boasts about banging a minger.

12 months on and Bielik, still just 17, has yet to make any sort of break through.

He came out of the Sheffield Wednesday with some credit. A half hour cameo, he did not do much wrong. However at this point Wednesday were out of reach and had taken there foot off the pedal. There was not the pressure and pressing on Bielik that there would have been earlier in the game. So it is perhaps wrong to judge him on the Wednesday performance.

I doubt most of your reading this (or calling for him to start on Twitter) have seen anymore than him than that cameo in the League Cup. Whenever it comes to youth players, always check out Jeorge Bird’s excellent site for an honest opinion from someone who actually watch’s youth team games

Bielik might be an option in the future, but the fact he is not playing central midfield in the youth teams would show he is probably not yet ready to step up.

Glen Kamara

I kid, I kid. He is not an option.

Kieran Gibbs

Currently having to fill in on the left wing, Kieran Gibbs could also be an emergency midfielder if needed.

I remember as a youngster he played a couple of game’s for England Under 21s under Stuart Pearce and looked comfortable.

At the weekend he dropped inside a couple of times from the wing and looked comfortable. Whether the has the speed of thought and ability to play under extreme pressure to do it for the next 3 months would be up for debate.

Also we are short out wide. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is due to come back from injury, likely for Sunderland. But his return should be treated with caution. Like Ramsey, you feel the next injury is just round the corner.

And if he does get fit, surely his give us the opportunity to rest Alexis Sanchez. That would then leave Chamberlain on the right with Gibbs still on the left.


Whilst none of the above situations are ideal, we do have a few viable options. Flamini, Ramsey & Chambers being the most likely. You should be able to play any combination of those 3 with/and/or Cazorla and beat the likes of Norwich, Sunderland & Aston Villa.

You see other teams having to make do with much weaker players. West Ham playing 16 year old Reece Oxford against us as an example.

We seem to have an irrational fear every time a first team player is out injured. Whether it is a goal keeper, a defender of whatever. We maybe do not give the squad players the credit they deserve. WBA for example had their 2nd choice keeper playing yesterday. Their fan’s were not fearful. Yet we would all be worried if David Ospina, an international class keeper, had to come in for Petr Cech. It is irrational.

However, it has exposed the weakness in our squad that we all knew already existed. The “nobody better” brigade (NBB?) seemed to forget that it was not just better than Coquelin we should have been keeping an eye out for, but better than Flamini and Arteta. There were players out their, at a reasonable price, would could have provided that back up  / competition for Coquelin.

The fact we do not have a competent specialist defensive midfielder to cover for Coquelin is an utter disgrace. And could cost us the title.