This evening's game always has that extra edge and we hope that the match represents all that is best in the Premiership, particularly as there is a wide audience viewing tonight on Sky Television.
Our home record is outstanding, as is Arsenal's, but we must be positive and believe that we can win this important game. Arsenal are considered to be the only challengers to Manchester United's crown but anything can happen over a long season and there are several clubs now competing for those vital European spots.
It is with deep regret that we officially acknowledge the passing away of that great Arsenal player George Armstrong. Tottenham were represented at his funeral. George was a wonderfully successful team player who, despite his illustrious career, was a very down-to-earth person whose company everybody enjoyed. We send our sincere condolences to his family. He will be missed.
The Fans Forum proved a successful evening. The supporters from the floor asked some interesting questions and Steffen Iversen, on behalf of the players, plus Hans Segers and Chris Hughton, on behalf of the coaching staff, all answered their questions in a sincere and knowledgeable fashion.
A week later the club's AGM was held and once again there was a large audience of shareholders who I hope gleaned some information about how the club is organised and some of the difficulties that we face in the modern day professional game.
At very short notice, we helped the FA arrange the England-France Under-16 game at Tottenham on December 6. It was an interesting match and although France won 2-0 there were several good performances by the England players including our own schoolboy player Marcel McKie.
Tord Grip, Sven Eriksson's assistant, was one of the many interested spectators. There were scouts and management from all top clubs but it was noticeable also that there were many, many agents at the game who have taken a major hold on some of the better young players in the country. I hope they are realistic enough to understand that these young players are only on the bottom rung of the ladder and need a massive desire to succeed.
Our Youth coach of many years, Robbie Stepney, has decided to retire to Sweden where he was a very popular coach for almost seven years at Bonaparka. Robbie was a coach in the mid-80s here, coming under Keith Burkinshaw's wing, and has been a wonderful servant to the club and one of the real genuine workers. He will be sadly missed by many of the young players in the Academy and certainly by many of the parents who he is very close to.
We wish him every success in his retirement years.
The Youth team had a good second half against Bradford in the FA Youth Cup to come through and now look forward to playing away at Stockport County in the fourth round.
Unfortunately, one of the players in the Youth team, Jon Jonsson, a very promising Swedish boy, has become so homesick that we have temporarily allowed him to go back to his country while retaining his registration. He is a quality midfield player and obviously we are making several attempts to try to persuade him to stay but, at the moment, it is not possible as his football is being affected.
It was nice to see Bill Nicholson given such a warm round of applause at the London Coaches' annual Christmas dinner. Bill still has a clear mind on football matters and is able to relate many of the wonderful moments when he steered the first English team to a Double performance. Several speakers paid tribute to the example he set for footballing standards.
One of our younger goalkeepers, Gavin Kelly, was loaned in an emergency to Kingstonian and had a fine FA Cup debut by being in a team that won at Southport and have earned a tie with Southend. Gavin desperately needs games as this season Ian Walker has played in most of the Reserve games and also our Youth team goalkeeper Rob Burch is making good progress.
No matter who you draw in the FA Cup it is always exciting so this season's draw, should Orient get through, makes it an intriguing start to the era of 2001. Let us hope that this year we will be lucky.