Ground-share/ Jeffers/ Pires/ Ralph and Oleg/ dinner-jacket strikers/ Nachos/ Senderos: ANR replies

By Ian Grant

James Markham


I was wondering what your views are on Arsenal sharing a new stadium with Tottenham. Surely the proposed development at Ashburton Grove will go ahead? Does allowing Spurs to move in seem like something the board would consider?

On a different theme, while I disagree with your recent criticism of Henry’s attitude, I feel that he should work on his game in certain areas. Specifically, he should aim to emulate the way Van Nistelrooy is a physical presence throughout most games, constantly hassling defenders and looking to cause trouble.

Keep the website going, although I don’t agree with everything you say, there are plenty of insightful points in your articles.

James Markham

Randal Cahill

Francis Jeffers


The difference between Henry and Jeffers is that Henry is not injury prone. He has not been subjected to the number of injuries and operations on his ankle as Jeffers.

The piece of bone in Jeffer’s foot that was removed represented an osteophyte(spur). That is not a good sign as it suggests that Jeffers at this young age has apparently developed arthritis in his ankle joint.

The recent ankle injury he sustained, further exacerbates the arthritic changes. I’m sorry to say that all in the garden ain’t rosy and Jeffer’s future in football is in the balance.

Randal Cahill M.D.

Stacey Collins


A brief comment on Peter Nyamoto’s excellent assessment of Greatest Import (I take it DB10 is the winner for you, Peter?). Dennis is often accused of lacking pace. Whenever I’ve seen him he has impressed me as being surprisingly quick – especially recently, Big Ron commented on it. I think he paces himself in games – so the lung busting runs are few and better planned and he gives the impression, therefore, of “drifting in and out of games”.

Both he and Kanu will be hanging up their boots soon, along with Martin and Dave. I really hope that all the first team squad feel inclined to win the league this season for these four players. Bobby may have got the “we’re not worthy treatment” last year from his younger teammates, but still has to make a contribution that puts him ahead of Dennis in a modern Arsenal pantheon in my view.

Bobby (well done for stepping up to the plate at the lane yesterday, BTW, you done us proud) Pires is getting back to his best. And playing centrally isn’t an innovation for him. Before world cup and his injury, Bobby played centrally alongside Vieira or Zidane for France and it was commented how good he was in the centre by L’Equipe.

I do think his “wandering” exposes Ash a bit, and the Englands No.3 needed a top draw performance to cope with Steven “you’re welcome, but no more of your disgruntled teamates need apply please” Carr on Sunday (Sven watched Wayne Bridge at St Mary’s instead).

Gio and Edu both leftsided and solid (if a little uninspiring at the moment). No reason why we couldn’t one of play them outside Bobby, when one or other of Silva and Vieira is out, and put Ray on the right (since Freddie still isn’t up to viking ramming speed yet). I think that would be a pretty tasty midfield myself.

Cheers and a Merry Christmas


Arsenal Performances

After the Spurs game, its clear just how much we’ve missed the tenacity and drive of Ray Parlour, who had an excellent game against Valencia and the second half at White Hart Lane.

If Vieira is absent for whatever reason, then Ray must be in central midfield.

I’ve now just about recovered from the numerous heart attacks I suffered during the derby.

Do Arsenal expect teams to simply allow them to play their game at their own tempo, as thats what happened at Man U and Spurs. I couldn’t believe that the team was so slow in that first half, especially after the United game.

In all honesty, the game could have been over at half time but for wasteful finishing.

2nd half was loads better and I felt we were in control, but alarmingly Spurs still had chances to win the game.

Nice to see Lauren and Cole back in the same side together, whose distribution from the back is vital when those 2 lumbering centre backs are in the side together. I know it was a tough game for Sol, but his distribution was truly awful.

For all Cygan’s defensive frailties and his extreme lack of pace, he does pass the ball well from the back, although takes uncessary risks. If Keown is suspended for his idiotic reaction against Van Nistelrooy, I hope Upson is given a run to prove himself.

However, I still think we need a real world class centre back and goalkeeper in order to achieve success in Europe, although strangely our defensive record is good, even if unconvincing during away games.

Maybe I’m being overly critical, but the last 3 games haven’t given me too much confidence in the remainder of the season. It may be obvious, but the next 2 months with the break in the Champions league will define our season.

James Pincus

Arsene’s set pieces

I have been reading your site on a regular basis for a while now and I do not recall any analysis by you on why you think set pieces do not seem to feature largely in Arsene’s thinking.

Our free-kicks generally consist of Henry having a direct shot on target, which depending on his level of confidence at the time, either float gently into the crowd or fly into the top corner, although his ratio of goals to attempts is well short of the Zolas/Beckhams/Verons and Hartes of this world.

The only alternative to this free kick, is the sideways pass for a direct strike on goal by Wiltord/Van Bronckhurst, which is rarely used, but has proved considerably more effective. Freekicks from wide positions are left to Dennis or Henry who invariably fail to even clear the first man.

Which brings me to corners; the worst of the worst. There was a time when a corner to Arsenal was as likely to bring a goal as an Ian Wright penalty. Admittedly Brian Marwood isn’t around to deliver the ball and there is no Bould for the flick-on, but players of the quality of Pires and Henry should be more than capable of delivering a quality corner and in Vieira, Gilberto, Keown and Campbell, we have more than our fair share of aerial strength.

So why do our corners pose so little threat? Much of the problem is that the initial delivery is so poor that it never even reaches the box, but there also appears to be no movement in the box, no desire to put pressure on the keeper and no idea as to what the plan is.

I appreciate these are not the attractive goals that we like to score, but they count the same and are a great weapon to use when the rest of our game isn’t quite hitting the heights.

A little bit of work on the training pitch in this area wouldn’t go amiss, but from your knowledge, is this an area that Arsene is happy to leave alone?

Barrie Whipp

No Panic

Agreed, we are not functioning at 100% at present. However, top of the Premiership with only Liverpool to play away of the challengers (Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea) all of them having to come to THOF). Stage 2 of the CL and with 4 points well placed after 2 games.

Critical points of concern are:-

– FL8 and RP7 are still not at their best after injury.

– We are being crowded out in Central Midfield (Neville,Veron,Scholes was copied by Hoddle with Freund,Anderton,Poyet). RP15 may see more games “tucking in” from wide if this persists and the full backs MUST get forward in the wide areas (witness OL22 getting forward earlier)

There will not be many weeks when we play a ManU,Valencia,Spurs type week

Chin up everyone, we are still better placed than last year

Happy Xmas and New Year

Barrie Whipp

Stuart Laws

Change of formation and ticketing

I have thought for a while that the Arsenal could benefit from switching to 5-3-2 / 3-5-2 formation away from home.

We have 4 strong centre halves, and a lot of midfield talent. I believe it would give us just as many attackign options with wingbacks and a floating midfielder (i.e. Pires) but also a bit more defensive solidity.

It would also make the loss of key players such as Vieira, Bergkamp and Cole less of a burden than it does in our current 4-4-2. I think we should try it away in Valencia – especially if we have qualified already. 4-4-2 is a fantastic attacking system, and Mr Wenger chucks it out and says “right, see if you can stop us”.

I believe formation and tatics don’t matter that much if you are head and shoulders above the opposion (i.e. Brazil in the last World Cup). However in order to win the Champions League, and until we have the buying power om Man Utd and Real Madrid, I think we have to taylor our formation to get through certain games. Especially away in the Champions League, and at venues like Old Trafford and Whire HArt Lane, when the opposition is playing 3 in the cente of midfield, and we have been unable to isolate their wing backs.

My second point is on ticketing. I believe there should be a two tier TRS scheme. Basically, those on the waiting list should have the oppotunity to buy tickets before they go on general sale at ticketmaster. If this is done through AFC, it will further back up the club’s intent to ensure real fans are able to get the tickets, and prevent away fans getting home tickets. I am awaiting a response from the club on this one.

Would be interested to here your views on both points…

Siya Nato

The soft Arsenal and the FA


I read your book a month ago and I could not put it down till I finished. Great stuff.

I believe that the team got too much praise for playing beautiful football until the forgot the basics of aggression. As I have noticed the team does not get as many red cards as they used to do and this means to me they don’t go for the hard tackles anymore.

The FA has also played it’s role in this demise because week in week out you hear of an Arsenal player going to the FA disciplinary committee hearing.

Some of the charges that have been laid by the FA are on the spot like the Bergkamp one. My main problem with this is that I’ve seen similar incidents from a team like Manchester United but it never gets taken any step further. I’m sure it’s not in the FA’s best interest for a team full of French internationals to win two consecutive league titles.

On the playing front I cannot hide my delight for Wenger finally benching Wiltord…he’s a good stop gap attacking midfielder but as far as I know he was bought as a striker. He has failed to score consistently and against big teams …he’s our Emile Heskey! I’m also happy for Pires because he’s playing well but has not reached the levels of last season.

We need a player to be as inspirational like Freddie and Rob last season to pick us up and Patrick Vieira is due the form of two season ago. Thierry Henry lacks big match temperament but I don’t mind his scoring record.

On Gilberto – do you think he has the ability to fight for us when the going gets tough? I think he’s a brilliant player when the team is playing well but when the chips are down seems to drift out of the game.

Great website…keep it up.

Siya Nato



Dinner Jacket Strikers

I wholeheartedly agree with you. When the party is their’s Bergkamp and Henry are unstopable. I feel though that in games that need a little bite up front we should give Jeffers a try. He’s our smallest forward but given a chance to get in gear he’s a ankle biting terrier. Ever seen Jeffers in a dinner jacket? I think not.

Also did you see the Gilberto video on the Arsenal page? He’s such a calm guy. Doesn’t seem to get excited about much. Also might be interesting for fans to know what a country accent he has. If he was English he’d be from Norfolk or Cornwall! oooeerr.

Dear Mr. Palmer,

I wish to get a copy of “The Professor”. May I know how much the book will cost me + shipping and handling charges to Malaysia.

Thank you.

With best regards,

John Thia

Matthew Deveraux

Arsene is too much of romantic at times……….

recent problems are plain to see it’s defensive organisation in midfield.This to me is down to Arsene’s one slight weakeness being a romantic.

He loves the attacking side of the game, watching his team playing flowing attacking football and entertaining. He’s won’t get rid of Seamen a loyal servant who’s well past’s his best, because of this romantic side to his character, even though davo is a liabilty now on high balls.

Managers have cottoned on to the fact we have no natural wingers in midfield and that by doubling up on the wings , they narrow our play.Narrowing the space in which for us to move and disrupting our rhyhmm totally.Leaving us often relying on the individual brilliance of a Henry on our travels.

Playing freddie and bobbie in the same side, espcially away from home canno’t be a choice for Arsene any more.Apart from Freddie’s poor form, and Bobbie’s inconsistentcy, tatically it’s not a good idea for both of them to play.Wiltord surely must like earlier in the season play right wing. Be told to sit deeper in front of Lauren and breaking quickly.While Bobbie Pires perhaps shopuld rotate with Bergkamp up front.And Edu Or Gio Van B be played left wing on our travels.

In recent months the problems of Bobbie’s and Freddie’s presence in the team have been all to clear to see.Wonderfull as they are , as proved on Sunday by floating from wing to wing during games, they leave massive gaps defensivly on their respective flanks.Ashley Cole and Lauren /Luzhny have both been left threadbare by lack of cover in recent games, and we have lost many goals that way.This lack of wing back cover, leads to both centre backs getting pulled across to cover, and then gaps being left in the centre backs positions for goals.This added to the fact neither of our attackers does any defensive duties espcially on their travels, adds to the problems. Theirry Henry floats out to the left flank for attack from deep yet does no defensive work for Ashley when we lose the ball, and leaves massive gaps in the midddle of the pitch. Dennis doesn’t drop deep enougth into midfield to support the two centre midfilders,when he should sit in a scholes type role.At Spurs on sunday he was standing outside the area for to much of the time, waiting for the ball, infuriating the fans.

Paddy when he’s in midfield has got to direct more defensive insturctions out to the atatcking 6 because the midfield is where games are always won and lost. And where espcially without possesion away from home, war are losing or drawing games.With Gilberto feeling the heat of regular English games, and not getting first to tackles, Razor being isolated defensivly in midfield on Sunday completly.And both’s passing being poor.You knew lot’s of training ground work still needs to be done.

Teams are often switiching formations against us well lately to combat our movement, to kock of our rythm.Spurs played a five very well on Sunday against our four. Carr and Freund defended within a five in midfield with ease hassiling us of the ball like dogs, because of our lack of width, Carr and Fruend coped with ease why> Well because our players were rotating positions randomly against such a ridgid defensive formation. So when they got the ball they quickly used the flanks to attack us at speed. Switching first half with ease to a 5 Poyet Anderton and Freund supporting Ziege and Carr. Because neither Bobbie pires or Freddie were covering in front of their left and right backs.While Gilberto was not sitting in front of the back four like he should have been.We were totally isloated at the back.

Arsene the romantic needs to be replaced by Arsene the organiser if we’re to reclaim our title. This must be the last lesson.

Alan Still

Nothing really


Love the site and just started the book – brilliant – keep up the great work. And Happy Xmas.


Alan Still

RE : Oleg & Ralph comment

Just to clarify I never meant to suggest that ralph should be ousted from right back yet. My point was that it is our weakest position (until the arrival of Steve Carr) and Ralph does not have all the great qualities of as right back YET. I also think Ralph is a great footballer and last year was under-used at right back.

On a completely seperate note can I ask your opinion on Rustu comin to us on a free in the Summer? I honestly believe that Arsene has something like this lined up – otherwise Richard Wright would not have left for Everton.

Also on Cygan – not too convinced about this guy yet, anyone that gets caught for pace against Jan Koller is a bit dodgy. He reminds of Frank Leboeuf in some way. I also think that Upson deserves his chance. And if Campbell is out for a prolonged part of the season we will be in trouble.


the revival

Ok, we had the slump that affects every team. Ok so we stopped losing in the league, but is no one else still worried. Out fought by scum, outfought by the other scum, and then only dominating a poor boro team once their muscle (Mr Boateng) had left the field. Where has our famous resolve gone? Ok so pat is injured, ok so he is very important, but surely we have resolve in other players. So where is it? I’m starting to get worried. Ever since the Everton game we have looked shakey in parts of every game. I know that we cannot expect to keep up the early season form for a whole year, but I expect the champions to fight it out when they need to.

So we are getting out muscled in the middle of the park at the moment. When did that start to happen? right about the same time that we reintroduced freddie and bobby. Yes they do need to get playing again regularly to get their form back, but not both together. Toure has done very well when he’s been in there. He’s shown a willingness to fight. Maybe the fact that we regularly play with two in the middle (fred and bob) who simply don’t have the fitness yet after such a long lay off. I can see only 2 reasons that le boss is sticking with both.

1. is that he simply doesnt see what the rest of us see,

2. he is determ,ined that they play their way back to full fitness for the champions league run in

Lets hope that number 2 is correct. Up the gunners

Alan Still

Gerrard Tackle

Hello again, just a quick note after watching the Liverpool Everton game. If Gerrard does not get punished by video evidence after his horrendous tackle today then there is no justice or consistency after what happened with the Bergstamp incident. If nothing happens it will just go to show how video evidence is only used against Arsenal.


The team…

Ironic isn’t it? We’ve already lost more games than we did last season, yet it’s out best start ever in the EPL and to top it off, we’re the current leaders. Not to mention the fact that we’ve improved so much in Europe. Yet, as Arsenal fans, we somehow have the feeling that our team can do so much more better than this. If Ruud van Nistelrooy was a gunner, he’d be the top scorer by at least 10 goals. We create so many chances but don’t have that ONE player who can finish off those chances! I agree with one of the comments stating that we should sell 2 strikers to get a REALLY good one. Trezeguet? Wishful thinking…

Mark Pinnes

Temporary Leader

A while ago I remember reading an article by Teddy Sheringham, a fine player with bad taste in football clubs. He spoke of the first time he realised what professionalism in football was about,I’ll paraphrase…

“At Millwall, every week somebody would step up and be the best player at in the team, but when I went to Forest and saw Des Walker, every single week, 100% of the time, he was the best player on the pitch, whether he’d been lousy in training all week or not… it was inspiring”

This weekend against Boro, there were a few players out there coming close to their top level, but I’m always aware that there is a tendency for the peaks of their activity levels to atrophy unless buoyed by something insirational by another team member. This weekend’s hero? Ashley Cole, who to use the classic football parlance – “fought like a tiger for every ball.”

Obviously absent from the weekend’s battle – I still think captain PV4 is subject to natural lapses in drive, when it should be his responsibility to be this constant “Des Walkeresque?!”leader (please don’t take this as a criticism of his work rate, which is flabbergasting by any standard). By “drive” I mean that intent to win at every instant, that moment to moment hunger to be the best, without the need for time to reflect or pause to gather internal resources.

I sometimes feel Vieira’s excellence has come to him too naturally to have developed the will to win. To define my point by opposition, take Kevin Keegan, an average player who was so hungry to be the best that he could outperform people with greater ability simply because he wanted it so badly.

It is too late now to bring that character trait to Patrck Vieira, it’s the kind of thing that’s born in the backstreets of Cork (Roy Keane), if Arsenal are going to constantly hit the peaks, the level of hunger needs to improve – even at the expense of a modicum of quality. To this end there needs to be a steady steam of either Englishmen like Ray Parlour, or kids with the desire to prove themselves, like Kolo Toure.

I’m lousy at quoting famous texts, always getting the words back to front and attributing them to the wrong people, but there’s a famous something which talks about hubris being the quickest way to ruin, and Arsenal could do with slowly digesting a huge slice of humble pie if we want to achieve the constant level of success which dynasties are made of.

Thank you for continuing to write ANR, I’ve been reading it for years, and think it one of the most insightful and definitely the most instinctively written football commentary I have come across.

Some quick thoughts…

Jermain Defoe: Absolutely deadly finisher, potential England striker, should go to a club with a proper coach. Bobby Robson perhaps.

Francis Jeffers: Great striker, world class movement, needs games to enhance finishing. Should be played sooner rather than later.

Arsenal Defence: Without Keown look shakier than shake & vac in the hands of of nervous wreck on deadline day. Pascan Cygan plays too much at an angle, always looking to go ahead or behind his defensive unit. Needs to stand up, be brave individually and collectively, although he has potential, he needs Tony Adams to coach him.

Liverpool: Overachieved early in the season, now are underachieving, Still have good players, but Houllier, burned by the mecurial Ginola is looking for infallible systems to win games and is not trusting in individual player power. Managers need to have faith in their team. “Treat every lamb in your flock as if it were the only one.” That is the way to be the best shepherd, ask TH, RP, PV, or in fact, any of Arsene Wenger’s charges, they repay his faith a thousandfold.

For the talented players to West Ham to achieve, (Jo Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe) the club will have to sell them.

If you’re still here, thanks for reading!

Kindest regards,


Ralph Savage

Henry, Highbury Nachos and Senderos.

I’ve been comming to your site for a couple of seasons now and finally decided to have my say on some pressing issues.

Firstly, I dont understand how people can question the skill of Henry. He is after all a left winger pretending to be a foward so whatever action we see up front from him is a bonus in my opinion.

Whenever i see him I play i go ‘Va Va Vain’ cause thats what he is. I sit in the North Bank Upper so some of u might know me. I am the lad in the green suede coat who shouts ‘Va Va Vain’ whenever he does one of his ‘va va Poses’.

I just wish people will get off his back. He is winger pretending to be an Ian Wright so why give him stick?? Just let Mr. Va Va Vain get on with his job.

Right enough of him now about Highbury.

Can someone tell me why they stop sell Nachos and Cheese in the Upper?

Its a disgrace.

I’ve been eating Nachos and Cheese before and at half time of the games and they just stopped it.

I love those Nachos in fact the stewards use to call me ‘Ralphie Nacho Man Savage ‘ until they stopped serving them.

Again some of u might have seen me b4. iam the lad who leaves like 5 minutes b4 half time so i could get my yummy nachos and Cheese.

So delicious.

Ive written a letter to Mr. Dien but all I got back was a load of information about some Arsenal credit card thingy.

This has got to be a joke.

No wonder we can’t sort out Ashburton G.

Anyways about Senderos.

Seen him play numerous times and this lad is awesome. He is so good i never use to talk about him with my mates at The Gunners. I always thought he wouldve made the short trip to Bayern to work with Hitzfeld or to Spain or Italy for one of the big clubs like Real or AC Milan.

I always thought he was out was out of our league but i was wrong.

Make no mistake…this lad can Arsene’s best ever signing if he continues the way he is going.

Truly awesome.

Some of my mates say I’m xenophobic because I would like to see more English players in the line up. I know. They shouldve been Arsenal supporters 10 years ago. hahaha

Anyways for Senderos i make an exception. As much as i like upson and Keown and the young lad Halls in the youth team Senderos is truly class and I wouldn’t mind him getting into the team ahead of those lads as much as it pains a local lad like myself.

Watch this space….Senderos is Awesome.

Anyways goodbye and mery christmas to all the gooners.



andy ram


Watching highlights of the game against Middlesbrough on Saturday, I couldn’t help but notice that GvB’s crossing and dead ball delivery seemed to be the best seen in our team for a while. I don’t think it was mere coincidence that we scored our first headed goal for a while (and what a beauty!) when Gio played. You look at ManU and they’ve got Becks, Giggs and Solksjaer who can all deliver an excellent cross. Perhaps the reason we don’t get many headed goals is not just due to lack of box presence…….


not again!

so, with Shaaban injured for many months (poor guy), what’s the betting Wenger goes for a new keeper next week? A certain Turkish international perhaps?


“The French Revolution”

Glad to see Myles’ thoughts on “The French Revolution.” The book was OK, which is a pity, because the original French version (“Les bleus de sa majeste”) is infinitely better. Probably because no English writers were there to edit and keep the most interesting bits out!

Anyway, if anyone is interested in the book, and reads French fairly well, I would definitely recommend the French version. The English version is much different and not as interesting….


Happy New Year!

Thank you for all the good articles on Arsenal all year long. Sincere wishes for a fruitful 2003!

arham hussain

goalie agenda

whats up palmer?

i am an avid fan of ur articles. u provide some of the most insightful info about the team, its performance and individual players.

even though i know that the next transfer window opens in january, i cant wait to find out who wenger will bring in. i rate rustu as excellent, but a soccernet report claimed that highbury denies going for the stopper.

who do u think is highbury bound.

also i feel kanu doesn’t really offer arsenal much. what is your opinion about selling him in january.

sincerely A.F.Hussain



catchphrase of 2002?


2003 is not a bad year, be optimistic.

What more can you tell me about Carrie Grant teaching Arsenal fans to sing?

I am appalled at the lack of support that we give the team and I am

consequently interested in all possible solutions.


Paddy Clough

Colin Bosworth

2003 / 2008

Thank you for some very interesting journalism during 2002 – I look forward to reading you in the coming year.

Being a football journalist must be a difficult job. Your predictions over the course of the last few months make it seem that way, in any case! 🙂 But I digress …

I read The Professor and enjoyed it very much. There are some good anecdotes and the book reads easily. I must say that I had hoped to discover more detail of AWs training approach and tactical acumen.

I suppose you thought that would be a bit technical for the “middle-class” reader you were writing for. Still, you obviously enjoy your work and that is no mean feat.

The young lad Senderos looks like being a good catch. He plays for Servette in Geneva and is a regular first teamer despite his age. There was some discussion in the Swiss press about which league he should choose to play in, and some surprise that he should choose Arsenal of the Premiership, Germany, France or Spain being the pundits favourites. The general opinion appears to be that he will find first-team games hard to come by at Arsenal, but will benefit from working with Wenger.

You never know – Keown is on his last legs, Cygan looks ponderous, Upson is injury prone … so maybe he’ll get an early chance.

Given that Euro 2008 is (half) taking place in Switzerland, I hope that you will call in for a cup of tea and a chat about football then, if not before …

In the meantime, thanks for your refeshing look at life inside Arsenal.