Fresher Arsenal can do Chelsea + some very sad personal news

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A fresh Arshavin will be vital against ChelseaHello there and a happy, happy Friday to all of you. If you’re anything like what I am today – still glowing as a result of Arsenal’s performance on Wednesday night – then you’ll surely be reading this post with a big smile on your face. Nice one.

It’s essentially a three-part post today as I start by running through some final thoughts on Villarreal and the prospect of facing Manchester United, continue with a preview of the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and finish off on a bit of sad note with some very unfortunate personal news. As such, I’d really encourage you read right to the end today even if it’s just as a personal favour to me, you’re favourite Arsenal blogger *wink wink*.

Final Champions League thoughts

So first up, the Champions League. As I mentioned in detail yesterday it really was a top performance by our boys and the feeling going around most of the Arsenal blogs and various other football sites has been very positive. Villarreal might have been pushed by the injuries to key players but I still think that our efforts to keep a clean sheet with four key defensive players and our first-choice goalkeeper out were remarkable. It’s nice to see Alex Song finally getting some credit for his recent performances too, with Amy Lawrence in particular singing his praises on The Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast.

We face United for the first time ever in Europe and what a contest it promises to be. I’ll be speaking about this in a lot more detail as the first leg edges closer but the meantime I thought I’d mention two bits of positive news that will surely improve our chances going into this one.

The first is that we’re certain to have Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy back by the first leg while Manuel Almunia and Johan Djourou are also likely to return. Add in the fact that Eduardo will surely be 100% by that time and we’ll surely have a better starting team and squad going into this one than we did for the second leg against Villarreal. Let’s just hope we can avoid any other injuries before now and then.

The second bit of news is that I can confirm we will be playing the second leg at home. It’s generally considered an advantage to have the home leg second and I think in this case it is even more of an advantage. It’s been shown that United usually struggle to play home games first and it also means our players avoid the horrible prospect of getting a result in the ferocious cauldron that Old Trafford can quite often be.

Chelsea preview

Moving onto the Chelsea game now and Arsene Wenger has delivered the unthinkable news that Kieran Gibbs may join our long list of defensive absentees as a result of groin problem he picked up in a knock on Wednesday. The manager has also mentioned that Bacary Sagna is doubtful as a result of a virus. Although I can’t be certain, my personal opinion is that Gibbs will miss out and Sagna will start. Wenger mentioned the option of playing the Frenchman on the left side of the defence and given Emmanuel Eboue’s composed performance against Villarreal I think he’ll keep his spot.

Further forward our options are excellent. Andrey Arshavin will return to the side to give one of the attackers a rest while Abou Diaby is “completely ready” to play according to the manager. I think the manager will stick with the 4-4-2 that worked so well against Villarreal on Wednesday and play the best side he has available. That means Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song are likely to continue while Arshavin’s return means one of Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott will miss out. Which one is anyone’s guess, though.

Chelsea have been a bit of shambles defensively of late, shipping four goals against Liverpool and another three again Bolton last weekend. In Petr Cech they have a goalkeeper who is really short on confidence and I really fancy us to get past them with the added threat of a super-fresh Arshavin in our side. Guus Hiddink is a clever manager and he is in charge of a superb squad but I just get the feeling their lunge-busting draw with Liverpool will see us go into this game slightly sharper in attack.

Fingers crossed we get the result our performance deserves and that we put in a performance that deserves a positive result.

Some sad personal news

As I mentioned earlier, I want to finish today’s post with a little bit of very sad personal news. On Tuesday I my father, who had been battling with cancer on and off for the past nine years, passed away. It was a sad moment for my mother and two brothers but one that we had been expecting for some time now. And even though we’ve certainly been expecting it, the fact that my dad was only 53 when he died is a tough thing to take.

I was considering whether his passing was worth mentioning on the blog and I came to the conclusion that it was. This is a personal sort of blog read by many people who have become like workmates, emailing me with kind words or chatting to me on Facebook. As such, the loss of my beloved dad is something that I feel is very much worth sharing with you all.

Although he never started out as Gooner, his constant support of me and this blog meant he died a Gooner. The game of his heart may have been Australian Rules Football but he still cared enough to get up to watch early-morning Champions League games with me and watched repeated highlights of Thierry Henry as many times as I wanted to show him.

My dad was a really great guy and the most important thing he taught me was to go after whatever it is that I wanted. His support has lead my down the path of becoming a social worker and now part-time writer, a path that I wish to continue pursuing. He has had a wonderful and positive influence on my life and I’ll never forget him. And although it’s too much to ask you do the same, I do hope you can think about him just a little bit as we move into a very exciting part of the season.

A very heartfelt cheers to you all.

Have your say on all things Arsenal by leaving a comment.


97 thoughts on “Fresher Arsenal can do Chelsea + some very sad personal news

  1. I don’t use to leave replies on these blogs… But sorry to read about your father, RIP.

    And keep up the good work!

    – Rome09 –

  2. I’m sure that your dad was proud of you, you sound like a good bloke. As they say over here in n.ireland ‘keep her lit’. Good luck mate.

  3. I enjoy your blog, a regular reader….just wanted to pass on my sincere sympathy to you and yours for the loss of your dad…I completely relate to your situation, as my own father suffers from cancer too…but enough doom and gloom! Arsenal to beat Chavs 3-1 on Saturday…Essien might try to shackle Fab, but what about Ade, Rvp, Arshavin, Walcott? come on Arsenal, what better motivation than all those pundits eating humble pie?!

  4. Terribly sorry to hear about your loss mate. My sister passed recently and I mentioned it to Arsenal, and Arsene Wenger sent the most beautiful letter to my nephews. We are a family club mate.

  5. My condolences mate- to you and the whole family. And anyone who supports a gooner is a good enough gooner for me.

    I also im happy Song is now getting the recognition he deserves for his great performances (since January to be honest).

  6. Dear Fry,
    What a tragedy to lose your beloved dad! We all pass the same route but it is something that we have failed to comprehend, it is such a scary event in ones life. May the Almighty God rest his soul in peace. Amen

    Keep the good work of writing about our mighty gunners.

  7. Great post. You did the right thing with the third para’.

    I am sorry your father died young, mine did too. I hope you come to terms with it as soon as can possibly be expected.

    All the best…

  8. A good read! Arshavin will be tearin up Wembley.

    Sorry to hear about your dad has passed away, it was deffo worth mentioning, hes deffo gunna be in my mind every time im down at the Emirates from now untill the end of the season, lets hope Arsenal can cheer you up abit from now untill the end of the season with a couple of trophys.

    Good luck,

    Jamie, Bristol UK.

  9. @SF
    I am very sorry to hear of your and your family’s loss. Like yourself my father died at the age of 53 after 4 years of illness. It may seem hard at the momment but for my father it was a release. I also think you were right to mention it on the blog.

  10. this is the first time i visit here!
    but i want to say you “god bless your father” & be strong , what you are now.
    just this,

  11. i bared know you and i guess this is my first time on ur blog but i think u got a super article there. Accept my condolences on the death of your father; may your family find solace and comfort this period.

  12. sorr about your father, RIP. Nice blog. Keep up mate. God bless you and your family. Be strong!

  13. Really sorry to hear of your loss, SF. Wishing you strength during this time, hopefully bolstered by some strong Arsenal performances. N

  14. I`m sorry abt your father…so sad.God bless his soul and may he rest in peace…
    im a red hot Gooner. i have always been.
    I`m proud of that and I thank you for the beautifull blog u write. hope we will lift the two trophies this season.
    i think we will. we deserve it. keep up the good work.

  15. sorry m8 about your dad.

    i felt we will get past Man U. We have gone past every top clubs like Milan, Juve, Real, we’ve met for the first time in CL except Liverpool. I am sure we will pull through. as for Cheksi, their defense will sell them out

  16. Fry, I’m sad to hear about your father. 53 is much too early, whatever the reason. It seems you guys had a pretty good relationship, so treasure the memories, no one can take them from you.

  17. Sorry abt ur dad , Spanish fry… just wish u get through this soon …
    Really am moved by ur commitment to writing the blog …
    Great going Spanish fry !
    We will beat Chelsea … and Manu !!!

  18. Sorry abt ur dad , Spanish fry… just wish u get through this soon …
    Really am moved by ur commitment to writing the blog …
    Great going Spanish fry !
    We will beat Chelsea … and Manu !!!

  19. Hi SF, really sorry about your dad, just good that you guys were prepared and able to absorb the loss. always sad, but keep strong, would have wanted you that way.

    Arsenal is roaring to go this time, the CL is ours, Man U swhould be preparing to exit in the face of an Arsenal onslaught.

  20. I dont really know what to say to a man whose father has passed away remember to treasure the memories of your father.

  21. I recently took to reading your blog and now i am a regular. Good job on the blog mate! Condolences for your loss!

  22. I dont usually blog here, but I lost my father before his time too, and it hurts – i feel for you, be strong, and may the lord look over you and your family…

  23. I’m very sorry to hear about these news. May the Lord give you strength and humility as your family goes through the grief.

    One day everyone will depart as this is the way of life…

    Great blogg Spanish Fry…

    We will beat Chelsea tomorrow…I’m very positive about this and go on to face the other big three head ON

  24. May you and your family gain the strength to bare this losss/
    Silvestre needs our support he’s playing for our team and has experience that we are lacking at the back. I thought he did ok for someone who has not played a lot of football this season and he’s still adapting. People forget we sign him in the summer. Essien is the player that I fear will stop us on Saturday, Fabregas has not played his best yet this season I hope he starts to play soon and RVP is another player that needs to show he’s world class with consistency. Adebayor must switch his brain to the offside rule and he would score 3x more goals It is going to be tough on saturday I hope it’s a game we win and there’s no trouble. Fabiansky,Eboue,Toure,Song,Sagna,Walcot,Denilson, Fabregas, Nasri, Arshavin, Bendtner. Subs: Manonne,Diaby,Eduardo, RVP, Adebayor,

  25. For the match against MU, I think it’s a 50-50 chance.

    For Chelsea, I’m sure that our boys have everything to beat Chelsea

    I think Wenger could use a 3-6-1 formation if Gibbs and CLichy can’t be there.




    When attacking, it becomes 3-4-3. :p

    Deep Condolence :).

  26. Best wishes SF, and condolences to you and your family. your dad will continue to be proud of your sterling work in and outside the interweb.

    Cmon Arsenal!!!

  27. My sincere condolences SF. Im moved that you decided to share this with us, youre a great guy and im sure the man who raised you was also a good man. May his soul rest in peace.

    I fully expect us to win tomorrow, the Chelsea defense is leaking goals. Lets hope Sagna will be fit enough to play. Cesc and Song will win the midfield battle b/c Cesc is such an intelligent lad and Song is more than capable of keeping Lampard quiet imo. We will out score them. 3-1 to Arsenal.

  28. First time I will be leaving a comment on your blog…Sorry bout your DAD and best wishes to your family….Keep the Arsenal Spirit alive.

  29. I am deeply sorry to hear about your Dad. You must know that he is safe in the hands of our Lord.
    God Bless you all.

  30. Sorry to here abt your loss. Am sure we’ll put up a performance for your late dad, R.I.P

  31. Commiserations for your father, SF. It’s such a terrible and frustrating disease. Hopefully he can pull some strings with the big man upstairs and get the gunners to win a couple of trophies in his honour!

    Best wishes mate, from a stranger on the internet.

  32. Sorry for the loss of your father. May God give you, family and friends strength during this difficult period

  33. Spanish, A great blog as usual. Whilst I have enjoyed reading your thoughts on Arsenal for some time, I usually do not feel compelled to comment. However I was touched by your comments about your father and I am sure that every readers thoughts will be with you at this time. I am sure your father would want you to go on and continue your good work. Lets hope that some Arsenal silverware will mean a good end to the year! Best wishes.

  34. Commiserations on your father’s passing. Losing a close relative is always though even when expected.

  35. Regular reader of your blog and email newsletter which I appreciate very much. Just wanted to pass on my thanks for your excellent service and my sympathy for you and your family at this terrible time for you all.

  36. Fry,

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss.You only get one dad,your’s sounds like a top man.

    Saturday,I’d love to see Walcott skin Cole. Cech looked very shaky on Tuesday night.
    We can do it.

  37. Condolences Spanish…may your father rest in peace.

    HUGE weekend for us Gooners. Tough to predict who will start in side on Saturday. Definites in my opinion are as follows: Fab, Toure, Eboue, Sagna (if healthy), Song, Fab, Arshavin, RvP, and Adebayor. Silvestre will probably get the start at the back as we don’t have many options (although Song could play CB and bring Denilson in to partner Fab), and I would probably start Theo in favor of Nasri. Theo has really caused our opponents trouble at the back with his pace, and his skill on the ball seems to have improved immensely since the start of the season. I guess my first XI would be: Fab, Eboue, Toure, Silvestre, Sagna, Theo, Fab, Song, Arshavin, RvP, and Adebayor.

    We have to play our game and control the ball. Our offense can serve as a good defense against an opponent like Chelsea who have given up 9 goals in 3 games. We should be able to net several goals, as well. I am predicting a final score of 3-2. Come on Gooners!

  38. First of all, my heart goes out to you lad. Hang in there.

    On to football…

    I have a hunch Wenger will put Denni and Cesc in the center. I wouldn’t, but I think he will. I hope Sanga can play on the left. If not we’re probably looking at Silvestre and frankly I don’t think he has the necessary pace.

    Also to chime in a little late on the champions league game, since my connection went awol, I thought Fabianski did an admirable job. He definately committed himself to being aggressive and attempting to control his area at every opportunity.

  39. please on behalf of all gunners in Nigeria accept our heartfelt condolence. May the positive influence he had on your life live on. He lives in you.

  40. Really sorry for the loss of your father,may you find confort through many of our friends’words coming through .M.H.S.R.I.P.However,keep up with your good work.Patrick.

  41. Nice post as ever.My condolences mate on the passing on of your beloved dad.May the good Lord God grant you strength and grace at this time of sorrow as you seek Him.Just to share a line that I picked from the condelences book on the demise of my sister in 1999 (from a terminal illness)that has remained with me to this day “In moments of adversity, He (God) shapes our character”

  42. I extend my condolences and deepest sympathies for your loss. I hope you take some comfort from the obvious support coming from this group of people that, through our mutual love for Arsenal, have become your friends.

  43. stay strong big man, remember energy never fades but simply changes form.

    as for the football hopefully we’ll have some sort of defence, heres hoping sagna recovers i could see him in lb and eboue at rb, i’d prefer to see nasri dropped for arshavin than walcott, walcotts pace would be more useful i think.

  44. Hello SF. Not posted for a few days as have been working away. Just looked you up again and was very shocked at your terrible news. Things like this put everything else into their correct context, so I’m not going to make any comments on football today. I lost my Mum to cancer 18 months ago, after a 9 month battle, so I know very well what you and your family are going through. The weeks and months ahead with be tough mate, especially for your Mum, but I can tell you that it does eventually get easier. You obviously had a great relationship with your old man, and it’s memories of this that will help you through. My sincere condolences mate, I will be thinking of you. It was absolutely right and proper that you posted the news on the blog. I agree that it’s become a close community, and it’s been a pleasure being part of it. My very best regards.

  45. Hey SF,
    Really sorry to hear about your Dad, it’s hard, especially when it’s before one’s time.


  46. Sorry about your father and proud of him as he gave us a wonderful writer in you.

    About football Arsenal going to thrash Chelsea whatever may be the injury worries.Let you cheer up with the win .

    It will be interesting to see the tactics of Hiddink to control Arshavin.

  47. sorry mate just hang in there and I’ve been on this blog since the start of the season and you have been a great man in all the discussions and that can only of been taught to you so he lives on in you. Will be coming up in Oct and would love to watch a game and have aa beer with you down the pig with some of your other brissie regulars on the blog if poss.
    Can see nasri missing out for sharva just because theo has been out for a while and will be sharper than a tired nasri who needs like he needs a break as it is only his 1st season in the epl. Song v’s essien will be a good match up but huddink knows all about sharva and if it goes to pens then fabianski will have more to prove than chech and we all know how good lampard is at pens.
    Keep up the good work mate as this is the best blog on the net.

  48. Sorry to hear about your dad my friend. Hopefully the boys can put a few goals away for him tommorow!!

  49. sorry to here about ur loss Fry all the irish gunners will be praying for you at this time.
    On to the football cant wait for the chelsea game think arshavin will make a real impact tho chelsea had 1 day more rest they were batteling hard for 90 mins we had the game one and could relax a little.
    my prediction arsenal 2-1 arshavin to score first !
    com on the guns !

  50. Keep up the great work Spanish. I’ve been reading your blog for many months now and there is none better. I’ve been following Arsenal since I was 8. Your blog has made me feel part of the Gooner nation like never before, especially as I live in Brisbane. Sorry about your dad, hope I have an impact on my kids like he has clearly had on you. Cesc and Arshavin will bury Chelski.

  51. SF…Eu sinto muito
    You sound so level headed….not sure i could ever be like that….i just hope Arsenal give you something huge to cheer about this weekend!

    the introduction of Arshavin in January has been huge for us…that was the turning point of our season…despite the fact that he cant play in the CL the confidence and performance of the team has been superb….two semis and consolidated fourth in the league…..trophy-less season…..i dont think so!

  52. My condolescence to you SF. Regardless of anything, that is a huge loss. I pray he rest in peace and meanwhile, you and your family cherrish the memories.

  53. May your Dad R.I.P.
    We as Arsenal fans, wish you the very best of luck and send all our love & regards during this difficult period, to you & the family!

    An Arsenal win will be dedicated to you.

    Keep up the good work!!!

    Come on you Gooners
    2 – 0 to The Arsenal!

  54. My condolences SF,May the Lord b wit ua family in this time of need.We’re a family as arsenal supporters and we ‘re 2getha in joy and pain.God’ll give u peace and comfort.We will get past man u and every otha team.I bliv this is our yr,we’ve kept the faith we cant give up now.Go GUNNERS!let’s shock them!

  55. Sorry to hear about your father. I lost my dad 5 months ago, today. Just know that it will get better down the line.

    And a few wins on the trot wouldn’t be bad, either.

  56. Very sorry to hear about your father SF.

    We have defensive worries and although I feel we will beat Chelsea, I am a little worried, all of a sudden Clichy, Almunia and Gallas got injured, then Djourou, then Sagna and now Gibbs. It really is unlucky, worse than unlucky, trust us to get another injured at Wembley. Hoping we win either the FA or UCL or even both.

  57. hey Spanish.. Great blog as usual … I am sorry for your loss … May his soul rest in eternal peace. Take care of mama fry

  58. My condolences SF on the loss of your beloved father,,,in swahili we say “pole sana”.
    I am regular reader of your blog and keep it up man.

  59. SF my condolences for your loss. Stay strong and keep the faith brother.

    Yep, Arse is kingmakers this season for the Prem. Funny we have a say in all the three remaining trophies. I want us win the two on offer and hand the prem to Pool!

  60. sf my condolences to your self and your family at this difficult time,i hope we land some silverwear im memory of your dad take care mate and keep up the great work on the for the chelski game the drog needs to be tamed as he always seems to score against us.hope arshavin gets a hatrick.

  61. keep yourself up my man,and have my greatest sympathy.we are praying to win 2 of the major cups at stake in memory of your dad. a master is alwayas a master we shall surely teach chelsea a total football lesson. good luck to all the players and all fans.

  62. In football news I think we have to go with:


    Eboue, Toure, Song, Silvestre

    Walcott, Denilson/Diaby, Cesc, Arshavin

    RVP, Adebayor

    We need to attack and my feeling is Song matches up better with Drogba then anyone else available… Also the lack of Chelsea wingers means we can get by with Silvestre out wide… Id be tempted to go 4-5-1 to counter Essien but we need to attack…

  63. not really a contributor but thought i just say sorry for you loss hope it get better with time

  64. SF,accept my sincere condelences. i know what it means to loose one’s dad.mine died 8 months ago. what can we do? notting but look up to God for direction.from lagos nigeria i demand a minute silent to sf’s dad (may his soul r.i.p.) from all the doesn’t matter where you are,let’s honour this good man

  65. sorry to hear about your father… im sure he is proud of you.. hope we will win silverware this season to help you feel better..

  66. first comment Sorry to read the news,thanks for the blog you will never know how much pleasure it gives

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