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Monday, 24 January 2011

Ipswich (h) preview, Alex Chamberlain, Keys and Gray, Massive day for the Blog

It's MY Arsenal Opinion - as featured on NEWSNOW

There is lots to get through tonight on a very special day for It's MY Arsenal Opinion, more of which to come further down the page. We start, however, with the Carling Cup semi-final, second leg against Ipswich. I am sad to report that Arsene Wenger is talking of "rotation" once again ahead of our biggest match of the season so far. According to Arsene rotating this squad is not a problem (or words to that effect) which kinds of begs the question; what went wrong a fortnight ago? Personally, I would far rather see a "proper" first-team tomorrow night and a much changed line-up on Sunday against Huddersfield. Wojciech Szczesny has come out firing and told Ipswich they are going to get smashed tomorrow night! I like the confidence of the youngster, but there is a time and a place to do your talking, and it is never before the game has even kicked off - just ask Robbie Keane. Having been withdrawn early on Saturday I will be extremely disappointed should Fabregas, Nasri and Van Persie not get a start tomorrow night.
Ipswich will be fully fired-up by Paul Jewell tomorrow, and an early goal for them (it only takes a set-piece remember) would leave Arsenal with a mountain to climb. On paper it should be a stroll, but so should the first-leg have been. If Arsenal need any note of caution then they need only be sat in front of a video from the match five years ago this very night - Paul Jewell brought Wigan to Highbury with a 1-0 lead and they went through on away goals, despite complete Arsenal dominance.
I won't bother to guess at a team for the game tomorrow as you really can't second-guess Arsene in these matches. I have a seat not far from the dugout tomorrow night, so I'm hoping I have no need to be cursing the manager from close quarters come 9.45pm tomorrow. I'd love a trip to Wembley, and we will surely get no better opportunity with this group of players.

Arsene Wenger, of course, never comments on prospective transfers. He told us so on Friday when asked about Gary Cahill. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I saw his comments with regards to doing a deal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. I must admit it is very unusual for Wenger to let his guard slip in this way but I don't mind it to be honest. Every other club goes public with their business in an attempt to whip up media coverage and put pressure on the selling club and the player, so why shouldn't we finally get in on the act? God knows we've suffered from it in the past.
I know very little about Chamberlain, apart from who his father is and that he is just seventeen years old. Let's face it, even if he signs for Arsenal this month, we won't see him for a while (especially as it's expected he would be loaned straight back to Southampton), so I won't worry about it too much. What I will say is that I would rather see the prospective £10 million spent on more immediate areas of concern. I'm in danger of breaking my own rules on talking about transfer speculation during this month (if I haven't already done so) so I'll leave it there.

Many of you will have heard or read the conversation between Andy Gray and Richard Keys on Saturday regarding the female official at Wolves (I think LadyArse linked to it yesterday), which they thought was unheard. Someone had left the microphones open, just as they did when Keys slagged Theo Walcott in Barcelona last Spring, and the pair have been left to give grovelling apologies. I opined on Twitter yesterday afternoon that there was no coverage of this on Sky Sports News or Sky News, and that had they worked for the BBC it would be a major scandal. Today Keys and Gray have been "stood down" from the Monday Night Football between Bolton and Chelsea. Regular readers will know that I dislike Keys and Gray (especially the risible, hairy-handed, Keys) as much as the next man, but I think this is a nonsense. A supposedly private bit of banter, which I can guarantee was no different to conversations being held in pubs and living rooms all over the country, has resulted in what is, basically, the suspension of Sky's main men. There is far too much of this PC nonsense and I have this to say about women officials: I have no problem with women running the line, or refereeing at a football match, but it should not be in the men's game - if they are to officiate, then it should be in women's football only (MY blog, MY opinion). If you saw the game in question you will have seen how easily the young woman was intimidated by the crowd following her (correct) decision to allow the first Liverpool goal, when she followed up a couple of minutes later giving Kuyt offside despite him being at least two yards the right side of the defender. I feel sorry for Keys and Gray on this occasion, but perhaps it's just a case of "what goes around, comes around."

As I mentioned above this is a momentous day for It's MY Arsenal Opinion. Around Christmas I applied to NewsNow for the blog to be featured on their Arsenal news feed. I was delighted to get an email today confirming that the application has been accepted. As a result, from tonight, It's MY Arsenal Opinion will be featured on NewsNow and will hopefully be opened up to a whole new world of readers. The publicity a site gets through NewsNow is something that I could never have got anywhere else so I am delighted at this turn of events. In view of this development it's a good time to remind you, or to inform new readers, that you can "follow" the blog by registering through www.blogger.com. You can also follow the blog on www.facebook.com at It's MY Arsenal Opinion, and I'm on Twitter - @ARSENALDvbrisG. The aim of the blog has always been to get things of my chest, and hopefully stimulate some debate via the comments section on the site. Hopefully with the NewsNow addition we are entering a whole new phase for It's MY Arsenal Opinion.

I'll try to review the Ipswich game on Wednesday, but I'm in London all day for a meeting so it depends on what sort of time I get in, and what sort of day it's been. Fingers crossed that, next time I write, the boys have booked us a place at Wembley at the end of February.


  1. My own two cents about the Gray and Keys affair: But what a way to end a two-decade long spell; being sacked for speaking privately and unaired to someone else. Talk about loyalty. This reminds me of Sir Paul McCartney being criticised for setting a bad example to the youth of Earth for using drugs- "it's not me telling people what I do; it's you [the media] spreading it across the papers."

  2. I definitely think they have both (especially Gray) been stitched up by someone. Very convenient for all this stuff to emerge at this time I would suggest.