The Armchair Gooner

An Arsenal blog bringing you news, opinion and humour on a daily basis. Well, I'll try at the very least…

Villa in town, bid turned down and reasons not to frown.

Morning, ladies and germs.

The FA Cup is a great competition. Over the years, Mr. Wenger has, on occasion, viewed it as a lesser priority than either the Premiership or the Champions League, and our results have suffered accordingly. Financially, securing 4th spot in the league is important, but I want a cup, damn it. I want something solid to show at the end of the season, something for the fans to celebrate, and not the accounts.

Would I sacrifice 4th to win the FA Cup? Absolutely.

With that in mind, I’d be hoping for a strong line-up today against Villa, however, with a trip to Bolton on Wednesday, I think we’ll see a weakened team. Sagna, Arteta and Henry should all be fit enough to find a place in the squad, and the return of all 3 is a welcome boost. At a guess, Our starting XI could look a bit like this:

Szczsney; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Miquel; Arteta, Song, Benayoun; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin; Park.

Given the amount of games they’ve played, Walcott and Ramsey could do with a bit of a rest, and there is an outside chance he’d go with Thierry as the lone frontman. Park is yet to convince anyone, but he does deserve a chance to impress. Maybe today he can do just that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see RvP not even in the squad.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that team can sneak a 2-1 victory, although Villa have dangerous, pacey attackers who we’ll need to be wary of. If we were to lose, then I imagine the cacophony of boos ringing around the ground will put last week to shame. It’s a pity we are at this stage of supporter unrest, but I can’t say it’s something I disagree with. The club owe us better, the team is a few injuries away from total implosion and we’ve not shown such poor league form in decades. Today, a good result and performance could work wonders, Wenger should consider that in his team selection.

Transfer news is, as always, frustrating. The People report we tried with an £8m bid for Podolski but his club were unwilling to sell in January, as I imagine most are. With the wild concoctions of Twitter serving as the only other variations, I think it’s fair to say we’ll be ‘as you are’ until the summer.

That’s yer lot, folks. Enjoy the game today, leave a comment below and follow me on Twitter @Puddleduck1978.

Bac back, not Jack and Chamakh’s lack of knack in attack.

Greetings, carbon-based lifeforms.

As I’m sure you’ve already heard; Jack Wilshere’s recovery from injury has suffered a setback. Some media outlets are already selling the news as the worst possible scenario; he’ll miss the rest of the season, and Euro 2012. It’s only a matter of time before The Daily Mail run a story about his legs being removed and then roundly persecute him for being on benefits. I imagine they’ll feature a picture of Jack pushing himself around the streets of London on a little cart, like Eddie Murphy at the start of Trading Places. Whilst it is all undoubtedly worrying, nothing is concrete yet and Arsene has spoken on the issue saying:

“He has had a little setback that is under investigation at the moment so I cannot give you how long he will be out for.

“At the moment he is seeing a specialist and as soon as we know more we will communicate. It sets him back a little bit but for how long I don’t know.

“It is the same foot but a different problem to the injury he had surgery on back in September.

Let’s all collectively cross as many of our body parts as is physically possible and hope it really is nothing more than a tiny pothole on the road to recovery. With our midfield still missing that little bit of guile, the one cunning bastard who can unlock defences with a pass, we need him back to mount a serious push. If it is serious – and the club know if it is – a dip into the transfer market becomes more of a necessity.

Bacary Sagna, on the other hand, could make a swift return to action having recently been back in full training – much to the delight of his teammates. There is even talk of him starting the game against Villa tomorrow. Having been denied anything remotely resembling a functional full-back for some time now, the return of one of the leagues best is a massive boost.

Also returning is Chamakh, after Morocco were unceremoniously dumped out of the AFCON. I liked him when he first started, but since that time he’s become fairly…. No, massively ineffective, serving only to falter around the pitch like a walking advertisement for Shockwaves wet-look gel. With Thierry Henry looking certain to be above him in the pecking order whilst he’s here, I can’t help but think January was a perfect opportunity to ship him out and get someone fresh in. Even the boss’ faith in him appears to have run out. Once again, I find myself praying for Robin van Persie to stay fit. At a top club like Arsenal, that simply isn’t good enough.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I’m off to watch Liverpool Vs Manchester United in the vein hope they’ll find a way to both lose. Please leave a comment to raise a few points, or just to commend me for the rhyme in this post’s title. My Twitter page is here for you to follow -@Puddleduck1978.

Eden Hazard will NOT join Arsenal.

Good day to you, delicious peruser of this here blog of mine.

Amidst the petty squabbles and peculiar ‘AKB’ posturing that makes up the vast Goonerverse at the moment, a great deal of chatter has surrounded rumour of Eden Hazard’s imminent signing. I don’t pretend to not secretly hope we make such an investment; lord knows, it would be a great signal of intent and a pick-me-up for the club as a whole. I just simply to try and avoid the idle drivel and take the news reported from those in the know.

Like the good folks at Le Grove who had this and this to say about the wild speculation floating around Twitter like unflushable excrement, I know it’s utter unsubstantiated nonsense.

Let’s be honest here, what are the chances of Lille selling their best player to us with a few days left in the window, and us meeting the bloody enormous fee such a deal would command? There aren’t many.

If seen a few fleeting glimpses of the Belgian wonder-child in action, and I’ve heard the countless reports of how good he really is, so there isn’t a part of me that doesn’t wish I could believe it a possibility. In this climate of smaller clubs selling on to the wealthy for as much as they can get, I can’t see him going anywhere other than the big two in Spain, or Manchester City.

Arsene Wenger’s continued refusal to pay the big money for the big talent also comes into account. Our policy in the market has become more and more a frustration as time progresses, with “bargain basement” acquisitions and unknowns regularly favoured ahead of marquee unveilings of players. We opt to take a punt on Park, wait for Chamakh to be available for nothing and pay £1m for a right back with little or no experience. These aren’t bad moves, they aren’t examples of our manager’s continuing descent into egotistical madness, but they can’t be the transfer dealings of the 6/7th richest club in the world. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and compete with what’s happening around you, regardless of how much you may disagree. We don’t have to drastically change our original approach to buying players, our manager needs to understand that it doesn’t hurt to do a bit of both.

That’s about all that’s happening today, folks. Only Bendtner’s broken nose and the continuing trial of Redknapp make up the column inches at present and neither warrant much discussion – unless ‘Arry gets sent down for tax evasion. I’ll dedicate an entire post to how priceless and richly deserved that will be.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Take a moment to drop me a comment and pop over for great value entertainment on my Twitter account – @Puddleduck1978.

Wenger out! Sack the board! Murder the entire first team squad! Arsenal crisis!

Afternoon, you happy souls…

Sunday was a bitter, bitter disappointment, wasn’t it? Of course that question is entirely rhetorical.

The game was poor, with the exception of a select few, our performance was poor. Worst of all, worse than losing to bloody Manchester United is the current feeling I have of resignation; I figured we’d probably lose, and I don’t feel massively upset, aggrieved or hard done by the fact we did. I’m not the only Arsenal fan to profess such a curious state of mind.

But I can’t allow myself to be completely miserable and vitriolic toward the club I support. Like the boos and jeers that greated the substitution of The Ox, it’s only going to have a supremely detrimental effect on things in the long run.

Whilst Robin van Persie has spoken regarding the false claims of any rift between him and the boss, the choice to remove Chamberlain, arguably our best player, just after he’d set up the equaliser and with somebody as out of form as Arshavin still baffles me 3 days later.

Arsene himself has claimed The Ox had been previously ill and had fatigued , but I have to say I saw little or no evidence of this during the game. It is difficult the believe that someone as astute and aware as our manager would just take off our best player for no reason, but at the same time, I struggle see any proof to back up his claims. The thoroughly woeful Theo Walcott was the ideal candidate to be replaced, and if Wenger could see the deficiencies in Djourou’s play enough to remove him at the interval, why not Walcott’s? Theo was breathtakingly shit.

I think it’s simply a choice he made, and one that was incorrect. The worrying thing was the level of supporter unrest. The fans appear to be ready for blood and things could really go sour at the drop of a hat. At this point, we need both unity and stability between fans and players. Whilst supporters who pay good money to watch The Arsenal and have every right to voice concern and dismay, doing so having just equalised in an important game only had a bad influence on the team – especially the already disheartened Arshavin. Save your boos for the final whistle.

Let’s hope the FA Cup can offer a welcome distraction and give us all something to cheer about. And let’s not allow the controversy to overshadow just how good a performance Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put it. That was a notable plus point, as was young Nico Yennaris.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Leave a few comments below and take a moment to follow my Twitter account @Puddleduck1978.

Chamberlain starts, Vermaelen doubtful; big game news

Just a quickie today folks, with a little news leading up to kick-off at 4pm.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, The Ox is set to be unleashed this afternoon. The rumour broke on Twitter and appears to have been confirmed by his teammates wishing him luck. It’s certainly a ballsy choice from Le Boss, but with the poor performances of late from those ahead of Chamberlain in the pecking order, it’s not altogether surprising.

The main grey area is the position he’ll be played. Most – me included – would pick Arshavin as the player to make way and give us the pace of Theo and Chamberlain down the flanks – The Ox is also more industrious than the diminutive Russain, and with our paucity of full-backs he could offer greater cover to the defence. Others think he could start in the advanced midfield role in front of Song and Ramsey, but I think that’s a lot less likely.

The bad news followed soon after with Thomas Vermaelen having a very late fitness test and looking almost certain not to be risked. Thierry Henry should make a place on the bench, but won’t be included from the start.

We’ll know for certain in a few hours. Enjoy the game from wherever you may be watching it today, and thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. There’s a comments section below for you to impress me with your knowledge, and my Twitter account is available for my ramblings throughout the game; @Puddleduck1978.

Update

It looks as if The Verminator has come through his tests and will start. Henry, however, misses out.

How we beat Manchester United.

Afternoon, boys and girls.

Tomorrow’s game is undoubtedly a hugely important one. We all remember that shambolic day in August where words like ‘humiliation’ and ‘woeful’ barely offered an apt description. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch even a second of the game itself. The club was in utter disarray. Things may not have improved greatly since, but they have improved. Players like Arteta – sadly missing from the team tomorrow – and Mertesacker have added to our stability and, until the injury demons struck, we were showing signs of looking like a quality side.

Worryingly, however, recent weeks have seen a regression in our play. Defeats at Swansea and Fulham have exposed the frailties of the squad once a few players are out of action – I shudder to think what an injury to Robin van Persie would do to us. Senior players like RvP have spoken about a need for revenge and the hunger in the squad to do so, but I feel in order to accomplish that we’ll need a different approach than to simply go out and play “the Arsenal way”. We have accept missing a recognised full-back will hamper the way we play, and it’s in those areas United will look to exploit us the most.

I think we should look to deploy the pressing game Swansea put to such good affect against us. We need to huddle, harass and get in their faces when we don’t have the ball. With news filtering around Twiiter regarding Thomas Vermaelen being fit for the game, I opt for a line up of:

Szczsney; Djourou, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen; Song, Ramsey, Rosicky; Walcott, Arshavin; van Persie

I’d slightly give Rosicky the edge over Yossi Benayoun, and with Henry racing to be fit in time, we are looking to be a bit short on the bench, where Yossi tends to be more effective.

I’ll be watching the game at home tomorrow with high hopes of a great performance and win. Chelsea have just dropped points against Norwich, so 3 for us has become that little bit more vital.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Take a moment to comment with your own team selections and follow me on Twitter – @Puddleduck1978.

A case of the ‘Chamakhs’

Afternoon, folks.

Just as I’d gotten myself into a blogging groove, a temporary hiatus beckons. Without wanting to post anything self-indulgent, maudlin or wildly irrelevant to Arsenal, the reasons are simply my suffering of one or two personal problems.

With that, I shall be taking a break from updating my blog – a task that has begun to eat away at my time – until I’ve sufficiently dealt with the aforementioned strife. Like our imperious Moroccan striker, my head simply isn’t in the right place, and I’d hate to disappoint and expose myself to vitriol on account of sub-standard offerings.

I wanted to post today simply to offer, you, my beautiful reader, both an explanation and a huge dose of thanks. Yesterday saw The Armchair Gooner’s busiest day since it’s inception, amassing over 10.000 hits. If you’ve taken the time to read, comment or simply scoff with derision at what I’ve published, I thank you sincerely for taking the time.

I shall return.

In the meantime, please keep up to date with my news and views on Twitter – @Puddleduck1978.