Arsenal want to defeat Spurs for a Merry Christmas

Due to their excellent game, Arsenal FC can celebrate Christmas at the top of the standings with a victory over north London rival Tottenham on Saturday (7:45 a.m. ET).

Indeed, the Gunners only have a one-point lead over Manchester United, which hosts Everton on Sunday (6 a.m. ET). But it beat Spurs 3-1 at White Hart Lane in the league in September and hasn't lost to them in eight years.

Last season, the two teams played four times - Arsenal won one of their Premier League games with the other a draw, and the Gunners eliminated Spurs after a two-legged semifinal in the League Cup.

Actually, that semifinal game will be repeated this season after both clubs won their quarter-finals this week while ending their games with 10 men.

Tottenham manager Juande Ramos said the 2-0 win over Manchester City on Tuesday was the best display he'd seen since taking charge on Oct. 29, particularly after it lost Didier Zakora, with a red card after 21 minutes.

"I think it's a positive result and sets us up for the rest of the season," Ramos said. "We had to work extra hard after being down to 10 men to make up for having that inferior number."

We must consider that Tottenham last beat Arsenal in November 1999 when it won 2-1 in the league.

Both teams also won tough Premier League matches last weekend - Spurs ended Portsmouth's unbeaten home record and 11-match undefeated streak with a 1-0 win and Arsenal downed Chelsea by the same margin.

Saturday's encounters mark a busy period for the Premier League, with clubs playing three games within eight days by the end of 2007.

On saturday, we will see these games: Aston Villa versus Manchester City; Fulham versus Wigan; Middlesbrough versus West Ham; Liverpool versus Portsmouth; Bolton versus Birmingham; and Reading versus Sunderland.

And on Sunday, we will enjoy Chelsea game at Blackburn and Newcastle clash with Derby.

It's good to say that Arsenal leads the standings with 40 points, followed by Manchester United with 39, Chelsea with 34, Manchester City with 33 and Liverpool, Everton and Portsmouth with 30.


Arsenal open season with a tough victory over Fulham

Just ten minutes from the kickoff, and the supporters were already screaming for a little less conversation, a little more action. In the end, Arsenal got a thrilling comeback victory over Fulham, and the fans left the Emirates Stadium with the sense of a team that didn't change from the last season.

Indeed, they stared down the barrel at a deflating defeat. Jens Lehmann gifted Fulham a first-minute goal with a comical howler, and there were less than 10 minutes remaining before a deserved equaliser arrived from a controversial penalty. The bonus of Alexander Hleb's winner came with just 12 seconds remaining. No wonder there are reports of Arsene Wenger feeling the strain.

The Arsenal coach talked of the win as "the kind of result that can change a season for a squad". His players gathered in a public post-match huddle to embrace the significance of this win. They fell behind in half of last season's home matches, but lost only one.

A setback in the opening game of the new campaign would have sorely tested their resilience and raised all kinds of uncomfortable questions about the departures of the most important star, Thierry Henry, and David Dein.

Keeper Lehmann tried to be too clever by half when Gael Clichy offered him a settling touch in the opening minute. He screwed an attempted return pass against his own knee, and the ball bounced invitingly to David Healy, who couldn't miss. and Fulham lost their goalkeeper, Antti Niemi, to a pre-match wrist injury. The local goalkeeper's embarrassment was compounded as Niemi's deputy, Tony Warner, emerged as the man of the match.

We must consider that Eduardo da Silva and Emmanuel Adebayor are both injured, and manager Wenger deployed Robin van Persie at the point of a fluid attack which searched vainly for its due rewards until Fulham tired in the closing stages.

Maybe that's why Fulham carved out their own opportunities to double the lead in the second part: Steven Davis volleyed straight at Lehmann, Carlos Bocanegra took a fresh-air shot at a close-range chance, then Clint Dempsey jabbed wide after being put clear. However, the Gunners survived their sleepy moments in defence to push home their overall superiority, and spare Lehmann's blushes.

Finally, there was a last throw of the dice feeling about the bold run from Kolo Toure that forced the equalising penalty. He beat two men in stirring fashion before being checked on the edge of the box by Bocanegra. Referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot despite the furious Fulham protests. Toure had looked poised to score, Van Persie duly did, crashing the penalty into the roof of the net.

The fans will have a lot to think about, but they also know there is still hope, with some new players that are proving to be good enough to change Arsenal's destiny this season.


Where are you going?

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger assures that brazilian midfielder Gilberto is not going anywhere.

As we know, the Arsenal player was quoted in the Italian press earlier this week revealing his fondness of Juventus and that he would consider a move to Turin.

But the Gunners' coach has moved to rubbish talk that Gilberto could be on the move.

"I can say that Gilberto is under contract, we have had no offer so the subject is closed," he made clear.

"In the Italian media they talk about him, the German newspapers talk about Jens Lehmann, the Spanish newspapers talk about striker Baptista and the Swedish papers talk about Ljungberg. I simply can not control all that" he concluded.

Arsenal and Chelsea fined for the Carling Cup incident

It's been a while, but finally Arsenal people learned the FA decision. The Gunners were fined £100,000 for their part in the Carling Cup final pitch brawl. Chelsea Football Club were also fined the same amount by the English Organism.

In fact, the controversial fight involved players and officials from both clubs and led to three red cards.

And the FA's disciplinary commission described the incident as "serious, unacceptable and damaging to the image of the game".

Where the FA implied that Wenger's players were mostly responsible for the brawl, the report also indicated that Chelsea had been warned in the past to their on-pitch behaviour, and that has been reflected in the fine imposed on the London club.

Both clubs admitted the charge of failing to ensure their footballer and/or officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and / or refrained from provocative and/or violent behaviour. And the imposed punishments follow an FA disciplinary commission hearing.


Arsenal and MLS Colorado Rapids create a partnership

The American soccer getting closer and closer to the Premier League teams. This time, Arsenal Football Club have announced a new business partnership with MLS club Colorado Rapids.

Indeed, this agreement is designed to build Arsenal's brand in the United States, while also helping to develop the MLS club.

"I can assure that this is a really important step for Arsenal as this becomes our first venture into the US marketplace," said managing director Keith Edelman.

Furthermore, Colorado Rapids are owned by American billionaire Stan Kroenke's company Kroenke Sports Enterprises. In fact, Arsenal already have a similar tie-up with Belgian team called Beveren as well as an academy in the Ivory Coast.

This deal between the two popular football clubs includes the development of a Centre of Excellence in Colorado, the transfer of coaching ideas and the launch of the Arsenal Cup, a club tournament open to squads from all over the US. What's more, the deal comes just days after Liverpool's takeover by American tycoons George Gillet and Tom Hicks.

"Unless I'm completely naive it's not a takeover," Wenger stated. "I've never heard about a possible takeover and I really don't think that is at all behind our partnership."

"It's just that we develop a few partnerships sometimes with football schools and sometimes with clubs. Indeed, we're trying to extend our brand and we're are also trying to extend our technical cooperation because the Americans might produce some players at some stage and that's why we're doing it".

It's important to mention that the Colorado Rapids will come to London to use Arsenal's facilities for six days while they continue their preseason ahead of the MLS season which starts in three months.


Young Gunners beat Spurs to reach Carling Cup Final

Arsenal Football Club got a great 3-1 victory over Tottenham on Wednesday to edge past its north London rival and set a Carling Cup final against Chelsea.

Indeed, Jeremie Aliadiere and Tomas Rosicky scored in extra time to give Arsenal a 5-3 aggregate win in the semifinal, Rosicky's shot going in off Spurs player Pascal Chimbonda.

The match had finished 1-1 in regular time after Tottenham substitute Ahmed Mido scored in the 85th minute following striker Emmanuel Adebeyor's 77th-minute opener.

In fact, the Gunnersgot a goal in each period of extra time to keep alive its seven-year unbeaten streak in all competitions against its fiercest rival.

"I think that we were a little bit wobbling when it went to 1-1 and we needed extra time and then it was all us," Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said. "I did not feel any threat any more."

Having drawn last week's first leg 2-2 at Tottenham Hotspurs after trailing 2-0, Arsenal will meet Carling title defender Chelsea in the Feb. 25 final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Arsene Wenger again picked young, mostly second-string players for the tournament, while Tottenham was hit by the loss to injury of striker Dimitar Berbatov and the withdrawal through illness of winger Aaron Lennon.

"What is fantastic is to see that at such a young age players can cope with pressure," Wenger praised. "You do not always know when a player is 18, 19 if he is ready to dig deep and suffer."

Amazingly, Wenger admitted that he planned to field his young players in the final, meaning players such as Thierry Henry would again sit out the game.c

After an even first half when the Gunners midfielder Denilson had the best chance but saw goalkeeper Paul Robinson push away his shot and Toure put the rebound wide, the second period opened with a flurry of corners and tough challenges from both sides.

The Derby emotions roused the home fans - who had been taunted by their Tottenham rivals for their earlier silence with chants of: "It's just like a library" - and they saw Theo Walcott chip over from the edge of the area as play switched from end to end.

In response to a reduced amount of possession, Arsenal used Rosicky to replace Walcott in the 64th, followed by another first-team regular, Gael Clichy. The substitutions led to greater possession for the Gunners and they eventually scored.

Midfielder Rosicky had a shot parried by goalkeeper Paul Robinson and, from the rebound, set up Adebeyor to score with a left-foot shot from about 10 yards (meters). It was his eighth goal of the season.

The Spurs counter attacked with the introduction of Mido and midfielder Tom Huddlestone and equalized soon after. Jermaine Jenas curled in a right-footed free kick from the left and Mido leapt above the Arsenal defence to head in over goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

However, Arsenal continued to press in extra time and scored again at the end of the first 15-minute period.

The teams switched ends for the second period and Rosicky slalomed through before shooting past Robinson off a deflection by Chimbonda.

We must remember that the last time the north London rivals met in a Carling Cup semifinal, in 1987, a third game was needed to separate the teams and Arsenal got a 2-1 triumph.


Arsenal 4 - Charlton 0: Henry is back

When Thierry Henry takes part of Arsenal team, everything is different in the whole world. That's why the London team easely beat Charlton 4-0.

Charlton had Darren Bent injured and Marcus Bent was there to replace him and play the lone striker role. Sadly for the visitors, Marcus just isn`t good enough alone.

In fact, Osei Sankofa was sent off for fouling Van Persie inside the box, replays later showed that referee Mike Riley got it all wrong. Van Persie was apparently offside and active prior to the incident.

Thierry Henry slotted home the opener from the penalty spot and then became creator for defender Hoyte to slot past Scott Carson.

After the break Scott Carson had a good performance and made some world class saves. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the premiership already and even at his young age could easily be England's first choice. One good thing that Dowie did do while at Charlton was to sign this lad.

What's more, Diawara tugged Henry`s shirt inside the box and another penalty was given. Van Persie just smashed it home, after Carson had gone the right way. It was to finish 4-0 with the Dutchman neatly chipping the oncoming Carson in the last minutes.