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Brief update: the international break destroys my will to write and I’m only just getting it back.

England gave me my first major disappointment in 1986 and for the most part they have been consistently offering it ever since, so these weeks are to be endured rather than enjoyed. At least it snowed and we could see pictures of the ground blanketed in white. That was nice.

The real juice will come out in Wenger’s pre-match chit-chat tomorrow, but what we can glean from this week is that a) no new injuries have occurred, b) Gilberto has finally got the recognition he deserves by [allegedly] being watched by European sides, c) Freddie Ljungberg is as wedded to the club as ever and d) Mark Randall has earned himself a professional contract at the club.

The latter is apparently a talented midfielder with a few snifters of Carling action under his belt. It’s no mean feat to get a pro contract with the club so well played to him. We can expect him to be sent on loan in a year or so, the preferred method to instil some experience and steel into young players these days.

It’s something Justin Hoyte got last season and he clearly thinks he benefited from it. He’s a player who’s been criticised at stages this season (sometimes, but hopefully not too often, by me) but he’s shown he’s a fighter and a willing learner, and he can be well pleased with his progress (23 starts and counting). So too Theo Walcott – he has had nine starts and 16 substitute appearances this season and for a 17-year-old he’s been excellent. When people say he’s having a dip, well they’re right; but let’s not forget how old he is.

That’s all. Happy Friday to you all and if you’ve got 30 minutes spare and 15MB of hard drive space to burn, you could do a lot worse than listen in to the arseblogger’s arsecast.



Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.