Intergnashing of the teeth

Nash break

I have long developed an extraordinary capacity to completely switch off from Arsenal during international breaks. I practically went into hibernation the moment the final whistle blew against West Brom and it’s only now that I’m kicking my cocoon open so I can peer out.

I hesitate to say ‘all’s well’ for the simple reason there’s one further game to play, but we can at least be safe in the knowledge that, after this break, there’s not another ‘international match day’ in the Fifa calendar until the season has ended – although there is a ‘friendly match day’ on February 29th which amounts, I presume, to the same thing. Oh, and then there’s the Africa Cup of Nations from 21st January to 12th February, to which we can bid adieu to Gervinho, Frimpong and Chamakh. The former, on current form, will be a big loss but I can’t imagine we’ll be sobbing in the aisles at the loss of the latter two. By then, we should have Wilshere back to strengthen the midfield, and who knows, Wenger *may* have dipped his toes into the transfer market for a backup striker with tighter fitting shooting boots than Chamakh and Park.

Getting shirty

Now, some of you might recall that I vowed not to spend money on merchandising this season following the 6.5% rise in ticket prices (which still gets my goat), so you may be disappointed to hear that I have spectacularly broken my pledge not once, but twice.

Albeit not on stuff for me – that part of the pledge stands. But I have had two very close gooner friends turning 40 recently (I find myself at this regrettable stage of life), and for both I have bought numbered shirts. On the first occasion, as I left it far too late to shop around, I found myself at Niketown on Oxford Circus and nearly fainted when presented with the invoice: £69. There is simply no justification for this.

So on the second occasion, I promised myself to go for the cheapest option, which was Sports Direct (£40 for the shirt, plus a bit more for the numbers and letters; let’s say £50). At which point I wended my way to Lillywhites, only to discover that there was nobody qualified to or capable of operating the printing machine. Never mind – there was another Sports Direct on Oxford Street, so off I went. Again, the printing press was a ghost town – nobody could do it. One sale very much lost, Mr Direct.

Naturally, Arsenal was the next stop. Straight in, printed in moments, job’s a good’un. £58. Pledge broken (but a happy 40-year-old friend).

There’s no moral of this story, just three observations. 1) I am a very weak man. 2) Football shirts are among the most outrageously overpriced items of clothing known to man. 3) But we still buy them anyway.

Roll on Saturday.

5 things to do in the international break

1. Find Abou Diaby
He’s gone missing. Injurepol have been alerted but there is still no sign of our no-minutes-on-the-pitch midfielder. If spotted, feel free to approach him. He’s completely harmless.

2. Avoid what Denilson’s been drinking
Six appearances for Sao Paolo, three red cards. That’s some work. One can only speculate what it was that has unleashed the beast in Denilson, but he’s gone all Razor Ruddock on us. Topping it all off, the man whose chirpy ‘Bom Dias a Todos’ pipes out on Twitter at the same time every day seems to be scrapping online with his own fans too. On balance, I think he’s best off where he is for now.

3. Buy some WD-40 for this
Handbrake

4. Invert the league table
Sixth is not bad. Plenty to work on – I think we can catch Bolton.

5. Make your own meal deal
Missing the authentic matchday experience? Make yourself a slice of pizza, pour yourself a pint of Carlsberg into a plastic glass and charge yourself £9.

(Apologies for this, but I’m a bit bored and a bit unemployed at the moment).