CONGRATULATIONS to our neighbours and old rivals Bradford City on making the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup.
That memorable win over Arsenal will certainly go down in the history volumes over at Valley Parade.
And it could also merit an entry in the Gunners’ log book, because if certain sections of the press are to be believed, the loss at Bradford has signalled the beginning of the end for Arsene Wenger.
I’m not sure about that, and as I’ve said on this page in the past, I’m a big fan of Wenger and what he has achieved at Arsenal – three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a Champions League final.
But clearly, all is not well at the Emirates – or at London Colney, the impressive training base Wenger helped design.
The manager has had a huge impact in his 16 years at the club, both on the pitch and off it.
But is he taking on too much, and refusing to utilise the support, and reported transfer kitty, available to him?
He seemed to have had a strong bond with Pat Rice, but his former assistant has now retired, and it’s been suggested that there are problems between Wenger and Rice’s successor Steve Bould.
Formerly a great centre-back in a superb Arsenal side, Bould is said to have been left on the sidelines, with Wenger insisting on doing the bulk of the coaching, along with his many other duties as manager.
Compare that to Manchester United, where Sir Alex Ferguson has recruited a succession of very good coaches, and let them do their job while he does his.
And while Arsenal fans have seen a string of top players leave, there are question marks against those who have come in, with skipper Thomas Vermaelen, Lukas Podolski and Gervinho all struggling for form.
There is also uncertainty over the future at the club of players like Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, who was one of the few to come out of the Bradford tie with any credit.
The spotlight will certainly be on Arsenal when they take on Reading in the Premier League tonight, and there’s no doubt Wenger is under real pressure to produce.
The next few months will be crucial, not just the results but what happens during the transfer window, when Wenger will be expected to make some significant signings.
It was a great night for Bradford, but a huge low for Arsenal, and it has to be a stimulus to improvement.
A LOT has happened since the 2000-01 season, but I still remember it clearly – especially the final day.
That was when a nightmare combination of results contrived to send us down from what was then Division I and is now the Championship – and keep Crystal Palace up.
While we lost at home to Birmingham, Dougie Freedman scored a late goal to give Palace victory at Stockport.
Portsmouth also got the result they needed to stay up and we were down in what is now League I.
I’d come back from Sheffield Wednesday midway through the season, and losing our place in the top two divisions was a massive blow for everyone.
Even worse was to follow, with relegation to the bottom section and administration.
It’s taken us a while to get back to the Championship, but we are certainly returning to Palace, where we fought out a goalless draw late on in 2000-01, in a much better state than back then.
Palace have also been in administration, but they managed to maintain Championship status despite a 10-point deduction back in 2009-10, and are now pushing hard at the top, with a talented team now under the guidance of Ian Holloway (left) after Freedman’s switch to Bolton.
It promises to be another great game on Saturday, and here’s hoping for an early Christmas present.
IT’S great to see two of our local non-league teams, Brighouse Town and AFC Emley, making great progress in the FA Vase.
Both are through to the last 32 of this national competition.
The fourth round takes place on Saturday, January 19, with Brighouse making the long trek down to the Isle of Wight to take on Newport and Emley hosting a Suffolk side called Hadleigh Sports.
If you’re not going to our game at Watford that day then get up to the Welfare Ground and give Emley a cheer.
There have been some great cup ties there down the years, and it would be great if the current side could follow the original Emley (now Wakefield) by making it all the way to the Vase final.
What price Brighouse Town versus AFC Emley at Wembley?