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Sunday 18 December 2011

On the train to Manchester, listening to The Tuesday Club podcast (sitting in the "Quiet" car, doubtless winding folk up with my incessant giggling).

Amusing fact of the Day (courtesy of an unnamed podcast devotee): We're only deux points behind the auld enemy, after the Lillywhites best start to a season since 1961 and our worst start in 58 years!

Perhaps a little later this season than usual, but never fear, St. Totteringham's Day celebrations soon come!

Wish I was feeling a bit more optimistic about this afternoon but I worry that with four centre-backs on the field, we won't have enough width to ensure that we are sufficiently offensive, thereby preventing us from getting hemmed in by the sort of attacking surges which might make it inevitable that we concede. If Arsène's left with no choice but to continue with Djourou and Vermaelen playing at full backs, I fear their natural instincts to stop at home would give Richards and Zabaleta too much license to roam forward, leaving us playing too much of the game in our own half.

Then again, so long as we don't take a hit to our confidence by conceding too early, on the wide expanses at the Etihad we're invariably able to create goal scoring chances, it just depends if we can minimise these at t'other end?

Meanwhile I've copied below my brief "half-term report" for the Observer. I was a bit disappointed that they don't appear to have included my answers to a request for my Premiership team of the season thus far and so after having had to agonise about this for so long, mainly because of not being able to include any of our own players (and the inclusion of THREE from our neighbours!), I guess I might as well put it out there:

Vorn / Krul, Jones, Kompany, King, Enrique, Silva, Parker, Modric, Mata, Suarez, Aguerro.


Bernard Azulay, It feels as if the mettle we've displayed in our recent run of form was forged in the debacle of the opening weeks of our campaign, when we struggled to cope with the departures of Fábregas and Nasri, together with the absence of Vermaelen and Wilshere. We may remain only one hamstring away from disaster in respect of Van Persie but, no matter where we end up, most Gooners see plenty of reason for optimism in the burgeoning spirit within this squad – something that had been missing for far too long.

Star man Obviously Van Persie, but with plenty of kudos to the unstinting commitment of others such as Koscielny.

The flops Chamakh, a mysteriously pale shadow of the striker who first arrived at the club, and Arshavin, who appears as if he can't wait to escape.

The gaffer: Arsène Wenger, 7/10 While Wenger's desire to cling on to our star players was perfectly understandable, the fact that he was forced into the equivalent of Supermarket Sweep in the final few hours of the transfer window felt like a failure on his part. Nevertheless, all credit must go to Le Gaffer for silencing the critics who were far too quick to sound our death knell.

Who should he sign? Although our recent injury crisis at full-back has exposed a disconcerting lack of depth in the squad, we are desperate for some replacement firepower up front. Albeit somewhat erratic, Podolski is not cup-tied in Europe and may be best suited to adapt to the Premier League.