The Armchair Gooner

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

Koscielny, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Diaby, Giroud, Gervinho, and Arsenal taketh away.

Aboard the Deathstar, Koscielny’s defending was not well received…

Evening, folks.

Apologies for the late review. I’ve had a bitch of a headache, and I’ve been feeling especially indolent today. You might say the heartbreak of defeat has brought about such lethargy.

I didn’t get to see the game live yesterday as I was working, and I tuned into 5Live during proceedings – I’ve since watched the extended highlights online. As I’m sure you would all agree, I utterly disappointed. I had this inkling we might be a little too confident before the game, but I put that aside before kick off. I really felt we had comfortably enough in the locker to dispatch a Chelsea side who, whilst undeniably good, aren’t a patch on the side they used to be. In fairness; neither are we.

As is so often the case – at least it used to be – abysmal defending was the difference between a good result and a shit-awful one. I’ve scratched my head a bit as to why we chose to leave out our form defender. Mertesacker may not be the quickest, but what he lacks in speed he makes up for with his intelligence and ability to read the game. I get why Wenger opted for Vermaelen and Koscielny as the starting pair against Chelsea’s nippy forwards, but the BFG was outstanding up at Man City, and their forwards are hardly cumbersome and slow. It was a poor decision, and Koscielny was equally poor yesterday.

However, I refuse to be too disheartened.

We may have dropped points, but in the grand scale of things so far, there is still plenty more to be pleased with than there are grumbles. Perhaps branding Arsenal are genuine title contenders was premature, but on our day we remain a match for anybody. We can take heart from knowing United have already lost twice, and the others are all certain to drop points at some stage. Defeat in this sport is inevitable. The true test of our team will be how we recover from this. We can ill afford to feel sorry for ourselves and let heads drop.

We need to get out on the pitch again, right a few of the wrongs and hit thr ground running.

What did you think of the match? Any plus points? did Giroud’s miss have you screaming bloody murder? let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Starting XI for the game against Chelsea.

FA Premiership: Saturday Sept 29th, Chelsea (h)

Morning, folks.

Last weekend was one of those games pundits and fans alike thought would “show us what Arsenal are made of”. Today is exactly the same, but perhaps to a greater degree. We all knew the previous trip to Manchester City was a huge test, and many of us would have been pleased to take a draw from that match before the kick off. Today, it’s different. Today there is expectation of victory.

When things are against us, and we’re written off, I always seem to assume it’ll bring the best out of Arsenal – as if such things serve to unify and galvanise the players against a common cause. When fixtures like today turn up, when we play a big team and the prediction is simply an Arsenal win, I feel there can be an element of pressure that can serve to hinder the players.

Hopefully, I’m wrong, but I’m more nervous about this game than I was the trip to the champions.

As far as the team is concerned, Vermaelen is certain to return to the starting eleven after his bout of man-flu, and Giroud could very well start up front to give us more of a psychical threat against Chelsea’s back four. Gervinho is the most likely to drop down to the bench. I think Aaron Ramsey may lose his place as well, with a home game where more of our emphasis will be on attack. Other than those changes, I expect the team to be the same as the one that started in the league last Sunday.

Of course, I’m hoping for a win today, and I’ve the utmost confidence in our ability to get one. Chelsea aren’t as strong as their teams from the past, but they are undoubtedly a threat. If we perform to a high level, and play our game, we can beat them. If we have an off day, we may be in trouble.

That’s all for today, folks. What are you views on the team? Who would you start with upfront or in midfield? Let me know in the comments.

If you are a betting kind of person, or you fancy a cheeky flutter on the game, Bet Victor offers all the latest match day odds and introductory offers. Simply click the image below to have a look.

All the latest Arsenal odds

Thanks for reading, you wonderful creatures.

Walcott, Giroud, Arshavin, Miquel, The Ox, Gnarby, and a bit of a tw*ting.

Arsenal 6-1 Coventry City: THRIIKKER!!

Good morning, beautiful.

As expected, we gave a bit of a hammering to a fairly hapless Coventry side last night. After a slow start, the wonderful sight of Olivier Giroud’s first goal for Arsenal – a delicate chipped finish, no less – broke the deadlock, evoked screams of “WOW!!” and justified his inclusion in the side – I really didn’t expect Wenger to do that. Shame he missed a penalty a bit later, but such is life.

On the whole, the game was full of plus points, but nothing particularly jaw-dropping.  Yes, we did manage to put 6 goals on the scoreboard, but our opponents were poor, and appeared to have their minds on their league form and things of greater concern than a cup competition they seemed resigned to going out of.

The undoubted highlight of the game was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian’s goal – a thunderbolt of a strike that flew past the keeper. It was like a cruise missile, a rocket, or something else that travels especially fast and is bloody lethal (but not Andre Santos).

Of the players that featured, it was nice for little Theo to get a couple of goals, and I was pleased to see Arshavin get a run out. I’ve always been a big fan of the diminutive Russian. He has bags and bags of talent. If he could just give a shit and put some real effort into his play, I think he’d be an excellent option in the area Cazorla plays. We can’t seriously hope our Spanish magician will play every game this season, so an option in his absence would be handy, and we all know how good Arshavin can be when he wants to play.

I was impressed with Ignasi Miquel at the back, who looked for the most part capable and assured, and he took his goal well. The much-hyped Serge Gnarby looked very handy when he came on, showed a few good touches, and appears to have a similar style to that of The Ox. Definitely one for the future, and one we’ll perhaps be seeing a bit more of as the campaign progresses.

All in all, a routine victory that continues our good form of late, and shows that this side has plenty of goals in it. Without the over-reliance on certain players that are no longer here, I think we look more like a team, more like a cohesive unit without the burden of ego that has players playing for each other. That can only be a good thing, and my optimism continues to grow. I really have a good feeling about this Arsenal team.

In the next round, we face a trip to Reading. Potentially a difficult trip, but one we are more than capable of winning. With United and Chelsea facing each other next, the draw is beginning to open up and remains an excellent chance of silverware.

That’s all for today, folks. Who stood out for you in the game? Which of the younsgters impressed you the most? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, you exquisite creations.

Starting XI for the game against Coventry City.

Wednesday 26th Sept: Capital One Cup, Coventry City (h)

Afternoon, you beautiful little devils, you.

The Capital One Cup. As a title, that doesn’t sound right. Coca-Cola, Worthington, Carling, even Littlewoods all had a familiar ring to them. Perhaps it’s just the sound of something new, but I can’t get my head around it. It just sounds peculiar to me; like it’s the type of competition a group of deluded accountants should be involved in, not a professional football team.

As for the side tonight, well, your guess is as good as mine. It’s a safe bet our key personnel for the Chelsea game won’t be involved at all, and we’ll be seeing the usual mix of youngsters and those hovering around the fringes of the first team. Arsene Wenger has confirmed that the newly healed Emmanuel Frimpong will have a place on the bench (or BENCH) and Serge Gnarby is likely to play from the start. The Boss has also revealed a few of our youngsters who could feature in some way.

Jack Wilshere is the main point of discussion, but given our manager’s cautious approach I doubt he will be involved at all – expect him to gradually be brought back into the side over the next month, and he’ll play for the reserves before he does the first team.

Another name on the lips of people predicting the XI is Olivier Giroud. It’s been mentioned that he should start to get that elusive first goal of his Arsenal career. I don’t agree with that. Oliver will score eventually, and putting him into a game where we’re trying to force the issue might not work, and will only worsen the situation should he fail to find the back of the net. Maybe he’ll be on the subs bench. Personally, I wouldn’t start him.

My best guess at the starting team is:

With Everton and Manchester City – hilariously – tumbling out of the competition last night, I think this competition represents the most likely avenue for us to get some silverware. Coventry are not in the bestof form at the moment, and I’d be expecting a few goals and a easy win.

However, football is capable of suprising us at any given moment, so let’s hope we’re not one of the fallen big boys by the end of the night.

That’s all for today, folks. What are your views on the team? How would you line up for the match? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading, you wonderful creatures.

I thought I’d finish today by showing you a picture taken from the last time we played Coventry City. The mascot is none other than Nico Yennaris.

Nico looks delighted, doesn’t he?

(Picture stolen from the timeline of @GeezyPeas)

Arsenal and Man United joined by Ongame Network.

Ready to have your mind blown a bit?  The other day I realized something about one of the Arsenal’s business partners that I think that some faithful fans have missed out on.  Some of you may remember that last year the team signed a deal with Betsson in order to be an official gaming partner with the club.

What this means is that Betsson was in charge of anything gambling related when it came to the Arsenal.  When you go to the stadium to watch the game, the terminals there that you use to be on the games are powered by Betsson.  In addition, the company also put together an Arsenal themed website called GunnersGaming.com that players can play poker, bet on sports and even win their way to the WSOP in Las Vegas.

I was checking out the site and noticed that the site was part of the Ongame Network.  That was cool considering that the network has sites such as RedKings and PokerRoom.com.  At that point it hit me.  PokerRoom.com is a site that was shut down and its players sent to bwin.

Some further digging uncovered something that I hadn’t even thought of.  The Ongame Network is owned by none other than bwin.Party.  That’s right folks, the same company that is a primary sponsor of Manchester United.

So in an indirect way, the Arsenal and Manchester United are joined together by the same company, even if it is in a minor way.  With that said, the Ongame Network is currently on the trading block as bwin.Party doesn’t consider the network important enough to keep with their company.  No problem there.  After Ongame leaves bwin, maybe they will kick their butts just like the Arsenal will against Manchester United during the Premier League.

Walcott isn’t going to sign a new contract.

Theo’s desperation to play up front started to manifest in threats of violence.

Morning, lovlies.

Having already turned down an increase of up to £75.000-per-week, our little Theo has had a few words to say about that fact – most importantly, he’s keen to make it be known that negotiations have not stalled due to monetary issues.

In an interview with the BBC, he ststaed:

“I’ve been judged, with people saying it’s all about money. It’s never been that with me. Playing up front is important. It’s one of the main factors for me.

“I signed as a striker. I’ve learnt my trade out on the wing.

“Hopefully, I’ll get to play up front in the next few games. It’s frustrating being on the bench, but it’s one of those things I have to deal with.”

Regarding the negotiations, he want on to add:

“It’s been a slow process.

“It’s not going to happen any time soon. My last contract took six months to do. It’s one of those things that is frustrating for me. Hopefully it can be sorted.”

Now, before I begin I’d like to make it clear that I don’t intend to trash Theo back to the stone-age as a means of courting controversy. He simply isn’t what I consider to be an integral part of the team. I wouldn’t seek to dispute anyone who states that he has been good in the past – undeniably so – but those occasions are few and far between. You could comfortably make a case for saying that those good elements are greatly outweighed by the occasions he has you drooling with frustration – perhaps ‘drooling’ is a poor choice of word, but I’d imagine he’s caused that reaction in someone.

As far as I’m concerned, he hasn’t really shown us anything substantial enough to warrant a position up front. His pace can be devastating; as a substitute coming on against tired legs with the opposition chasing the game, he can be extremely effective. Does he have the guile and intelligence to make runs and find space when teams come to the Emirates and park the bus?  I don’t think he does, and he has the first touch of a baby elephant.

Now that he’s come out and stated that his contract signing is based on demands and assurances, I’m all the more certain he won’t be here come January. Like Alex Song, I won’t be all that bothered if he isn’t.

But, hey; that’s just me and my opinions. Do you think he has what it takes to be a main striker? Do you think he’d be a success if we tried it? Do you think the time has come to move on and let him go? Let me know below in the comments.

Thanks for reading, you wonderful units. I shall return with a preview of the Coventry game tomorrow.

Mertesacker, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Diaby and a very respectable point.

Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal: Pile on!

Morning, folks.

I’m writing this just after the game has finished, and scheduling it for today. I’m fairly certain I suffered several heart attacks during the final 10 minutes of that game; one notably brought about by elated yelps, and one through the horror of nearly conceding to a Kompany bicycle kick.

If you’d asked me yesterday if I would have been satisfied with a point, I would have swiftly replied with a resounding, “yes!”. Now the match has finished I’m very pleased with coming away from the home of the champions with a point, but slightly disappointed, too; with a little bit of composure and a bit of luck, three points where there for the taking.

In the first half we were much the better team; our cohesion was good and we looked to have a fluidity and shape about us. The defending for the goal might have been a momentary lapse into the Arsenal of old, but on the whole I thought we looked very good. Cazorla played with his usual brand of zippy imagination, Ramsey looked hard-working and confident. Arteta was as solid as always. Perhaps Diaby wasn’t as good as he has been in recent weeks – once or twice he was caught asleep on the ball.

The second half saw us drop off a little, but the most pleasing thing for me was Arsenal looked like a team. The players worked hard for one another with industry and commitment, and the reward we deserved came when Koscielny rocketed the ball home from a corner. When that went in, you could see the unity in the players from the celebrations – just take a look at the footage, or the picture I used underneath the title of this post.

The only downsides were the concession of a soft goal – aside from that blemish, the back four were excellent – and Gervinho’s frustrating side rearing its ugly head once again. He’ll be lambasted in many circles for his performance yesterday, but not by me. Sure, he is incredibility frustrating and unpredictable, but his head never drops and he’s always trying to make things happen. I like him, and I think he’ll contribute far more good than anything else this season.

My MOTM award would go to Per Mertesacker, who showed that a footballing brain and intelligence is important in a defender above all else. He read the game brilliantly and along with Koscielny and Vermaelen, we are looking to have some excellent options at the back – special mention should also go to Carl Jenkinson who put in another solid turn.

Things are looking good, and with Wilshere, Rosicky and Sagna to come back, our depth looks increasingly positive. It’s certainly early days yet, but yesterday showed we can mix it up with the favourites, and if we keep this form going, we’re going to be a threat to anyone.

That’s all for today. Did you enjoy the game? Do you think we could have taken all 3 points? Did Gervinho make you want to bang your head repeatedly against a wall? The comments are below, let me know your thoughts.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.