Win a 1955 shirt signed by 4 Arsenal players!

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I get bombarded by a lot of potential giveaways at Gunnerblog, but this one is genuinely cool.

Arsenal partner Citroen are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the launch of their DS brand, and have managed to get some Arsenal players in on the celebration.

Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Flamini, David Ospina and Theo Walcott recently took part in an exclusive photo shoot, posing in an Arsenal shirt from 1955 — the same year the DS was born. 

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Now, Citroen have kindly given Gunnerblog one of those retro shirts to give away, signed by all four players.

Winning couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is tweet me including ‘#DSis60′ and providing the answer to the following question:

In what position did Arsenal finish the 1954/55 league campaign?

I’ll announce a winner at midday UK-time on Friday. Good luck!

A very lucky fan

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There was a moment on Monday night when I found myself stood briefly between Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann. Someone nudged me and whispered, “big guys”. He wasn’t kidding. The first thing that strikes you about the Invincibles is their size — in every sense, these are sporting giants.

It’s easy to see why their opponents were often beaten in the tunnel, scared in to submission by the sheer athleticism of their adversaries.

I’ll be honest: I was a little intimidated too. However, the principal feeling I had was one of awe.

These men are my heroes. In 2004, when Arsenal achieved the remarkable feat of winning the Premier League title without suffering a single defeat, I was 18. The idols you worship at that age don’t diminish with time — they’re indelibly etched in to your affections.

The occasion was the launch of Arsenal’s new Invincibles documentary. At the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead, a number of ex-players, current staff, celebrity fans and outrageously fortunate bloggers got an early glimpse of the finished film.

You’ll love it. It’s a great reminder of the ups and downs of that incredible season, featuring some superb insight from a cast of former players. Lehmann is in particularly inspired form, tossing out dry one-liners with the same self-assurance employed to drill his defence.

The film airs after our match against Monaco on Sky Sports 1 & 5, with an extended version of the film available on iTunes and DVD from March 30.

The documentary will also be aired in the United States on NBC, with the premiere at 12pm (Eastern Time) on Sunday, March 1 following the Arsenal v Everton match. It will then be repeated the following day at 9pm, as well as on March 14 on 6am and at 4pm on March 22 (all Eastern Time).

I was left feeling very lucky. It goes without saying I was blessed to breath the same air as the saintly Robert Pires, but moreover I am fortunate to have had the privilege of watching that Invincibles team in action. We all are.

So few fans will experience the joy of seeing their team achieve something so unique. And they did it in such style too, sweeping all before them with astonishing flamboyance.

It was Arsene Wenger’s finest hour too. For all his many triumphs, it’s the memories of this team that will surely be his greatest legacy.

Unless, of course, we were to win the Champions League. Bring on Monaco.

ps. For more on our Champions League tie and a review of the Palace game, check out Arsecast Extra.

Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough: Olivier Giroud is answering all his critics

Olivier Giroud is showing you don’t have to be young to improve…
Giroud now has 10 goals from 12 starts this season, the most recent a thumping volley from Alexis Sanchez’s quick-thinking corner.

It seems to me as if he’s answering almost every criticism of his game: he’s become more prolific, he’s scoring against big teams, and he’s responded to stiff competition for his central striking spot. Admittedly he hasn’t got any quicker, but fortunately the personnel around him have.

I think fans are sometimes guilty of confining the capacity to improve to young players. There’s a misconception once you hit about 24, your attributes plateau. Giroud turns 29 this year but is developing at a more impressive rate than many young strikers, including those at our own club. It seems that technical potential and exposure to elite competition are bigger determining factors than age.

This is a different Mesut Ozil…
Some have suggested that since Ozil’s return we’ve seen what we missed. I’m not sure you can miss something you haven’t had before.

This Ozil is certainly different to the one we saw this Autumn. Whether deployed on the left or through the middle, there’s a fresh swagger to his game.

I don’t know what’s brought about this change. Perhaps he doesn’t either – confidence is a difficult thing to unpick. Aitor Karanka put it best when he said in his post match press conference, “Ozil is an amazing player. And now he is happy.”

The Arsenal fans are pretty happy too.

There’s an intriguing battle shaping up between Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott…
When Danny Welbeck was signed from Manchester United, most fans anticipated he’d be locked in a duel with Giroud. However, with Welbeck increasingly being fielded on the flank, he instead finds himself in a direct rivalry with Theo Walcott.

It’s obvious what they both bring: pace. Despite that shared speed, in some respects they’re polar opposites. Welbeck is all about hard work and cohesive team play but lacks end product, whereas Walcott can go missing for long spells but then get a goal out of nothing.

The boring thing to say is that both have their uses and will that Wenger will enjoy the luxury of choice. However, I’m intrigued to see who will get the nod in the very biggest games. My hunch is that Wenger might prefer the continuity and protection offered by Welbeck.

Gabriel made his debut…
…and there’s subsequently been a rush to either write him off or hail him as the best thing since Mr. Hovis decided his loaf was a bit too spatially coherent.

In reality, there wasn’t enough evidence to make a call either way. Gabriel made one excellent last-ditch challenge, picked up a classically cynical ‘South American’ booking, and was caught under the ball for Boro’s best chance of the game in stoppage time.

The only thing you can really say about Gabriel with any confidence is that he looks like a defender. Fortunately, that is exactly what Arsenal happen to need.

We’re three games from another party…
When you put it like that, another FA Cup triumph feels tantalisingly close.

We’re now one match from Wembley, two from the final and three from retaining the cup. The domestic cups always represent the most direct route to glory, and I’m glad we’re taking this one with the seriousness it deserves. It would be beyond lovely to wash away a horrendous first half of the season by toasting another trophy.