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, Giroud, Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin, Martinez, and I’m at a loss for words.

Reading 5-7 Arsenal: “Holy sh*t! I’ve scored TWO goals!”

Morning folks.

Blimey. Where do I start?

If someone had told me yesterday that Arsenal would concede 5, score 7, and Chamakh would score not one, but two really good goals, I’d have quickly labelled that person as bonkers, and moved to have them sectioned. Football is a bizarre and wonderful game, isn’t it?

I had to work a long day yesterday, and I got home around the point we had just gone 4-0 down. At that moment, being really tired , I decided not to endure any of the match and have a quick nap – I do like the occasional nap. When I arose from my well-earned and short slumber, it was 4-4. I shan’t be taking my eyes off Arsenal games again.

It was a game that showed the best of Arsenal – and some of the worst. It may have taken a breathtakingly shit defensive showing to put us 4 goals down in 37 minutes, but I am prepared to put that to one side in favour of discussing the extremely positive elements. We won, after all. There’s no real need to be gloomy and pessimistic, although, if we defend like that on Sunday….

At 4-0 down, we showed fight and determination. The players didn’t sulk, they didn’t mope around and start bickering or trying to assign blame; they rolled up their sleeves and collectively took the game by the scruff of the neck. They forced a different outcome to what me, and the few who left the ground early, assumed was a formality.

Okay, we did put ourselves into that position, but we had the tenacity and drive to get ourselves out of it, and it was glorious, wasn’t it? After such a terrible start, the night ended with many good things to discuss.

Theo Walcott, a player I’ve lambasted in the past, looked every inch someone capable of filling a striking berth. He scored a hat-trick, and showed when he plays on instinct, he is a very, very good finisher. Giroud came on and made a difference, but the two players I was happiest for were Arshavin and Chamakh.

Our diminutive little Russian has talent – he has it in spades. Even if it wasn’t one of his better games, it shouldn’t be overlooked just how much he contributed in the attacking third – he got 3 assists and most of our good play went through him. Most pleasing for me was Chamakh. His goal to put us 5-4 ahead showed that he does have ability, and his second showed that, with a bit of confidence, he’ll score goals. For reason I can’t quite explain, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for our Moroccan shisha enthusiast. Good to see him contributing and looking happy.

There were bad performers – Koscielny and Martinez didn’t have the best of games – and it does concern me slightly when we defend that poorly. But on the whole, I couldn’t care less about the bad points. What I took from the game when it ended was exhilaration and great pride in my team. Most importantly, I think we may have done something that’ll bury the memory of the 4-4 against Newcastle for good – pundits and fans alike can now constantly remind us of the comeback we were on the right side of.

All in all, a brilliant, brilliant game of football. I’m exceedingly proud of my team today, and who knows? Maybe, just maybe, our name is already on that trophy.

That’s all from me today. The comments are below, and I’d love to read a few of your reactions from the game; what emotions did you go through? Who impressed you the most? What do you think of Theo as a striker? Let me know.

Thanks for reading, you wonderful kings of the comeback. I shall return tomorrow.

Starting XI for the game against Reading.

Capital One Cup: Tuesday Oct 30th, Reading (a)

Morning folks.

Call me a pessimist, if you will; I think this particular competition represents our best chance of some silverware. It may be brandished “Mickey Mouse” in many circles, and It may contains consistently weaker teams than you’d expect to meet. But such is my yearning for a trophy, I’d be happy if Arsenal won it – I’d be bloody delighted, in fact.

For that reason, I hope we field as strong a team as possible, and view the game as more than a opportunity to try out a few of the untested. Of course, I don’t expect our full strength starting XI to be on show – that would be silly – but it’s a good opportunity to offer some game time to those hovering around the periphery.

I always find guessing Arsene’s choice for games such as this one to be tricky indeed. He’s a wily old fox, that manager of ours. So, instead of offering a prediction, I thought I’d give you who I’d pick to start – feel free to lambast my choices:

When there’s teams to be picked, I find that fans rarely agree, and that’s something found more often in the league cup. If you were to scour the various blogs, you’d probably find 10-15 variations of the side I’ve posted.

Tonight is a game I expect us to win, as I doubt Reading will throw on their regulars, either. On paper, we have enough skill and firepower to break down the home side. I’m hoping for a decent win and progression into the next round.

I’ll go for 1-3 to the Arse.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. How do you think we should start. Are there any players you think should be used? Do you consider my team to be utter nonsense, and you think I’ve lost my mind? Let me know.

Thanks for reading today, you curious lifeforms. I shall return tomorrow.

Lastly, match odds and more can be found at Bet Victor.

Reading vs Arsenal odds.

An interview with Robin van Persie, Wilshere, and getting shot in the face.

Like a performing seal, Robin was always first in line when it was time to please Sir Alex…

Morning folks.

As is customary, I’m writing last night for publication today. I ache. My god, do I ache. Paintball is fun, make no mistake; but it is a tiring pursuit, and one that I found, much to my chagrin, involves getting shot in the face quite regularly. At one point I was shot in the face, legs, and arse simultaneously. Of course, it wasn’t all me getting shot. Oh no. During one game, my teammates and I cut one unfortunate soul to ribbons in a blaze of return fire. It was glorious – simulated violence and the administration of pain to a stranger at its finest.

Here’s a photo – guess who’s hair was too big for an ordinary helmet…

The dream team.

Anyway, enough of my blathering. Let’s have a look at an interview recently given by one Robin van Pursey. He comes across as all lovely and sweet, but we know there’s a unfathomably snide individual lurking benaeth. Here are some qutoes from an interview he gave about Arsene and Sir Alex:

“I am the only player who can judge what it’s like working with Arsene and Sir Alex”

Errmm… Mikel Silvestre?

“I had a fantastic time with Arsene. I enjoyed training, playing, talking and all the other times I spent with him. I love it that I now experience the same with Sir Alex. But what I love about both managers is that they came to their clubs for a good cause. They both wanted to be at the club for a really long time.”

What he really means is:

“I enjoyed my time under Arsene. But my inner child informed me I could be paid a stupendous amount to do the same elsewhere. All I needed to do was release a breathtakingly disrespectful statement about a club that stood by me through 6-and-a-half years of injury. I have to say nice things about my new manager, because he might throw a hairdryer at me, or force me to indulge in haggard, ageing prostitutes with that portly grotesque I play upfront with”.

I know what you’re thinking, folks; I should let it go. I should forget about it and move on. You’re absolutely right, too. Trouble is, every time I see his smug face scoring in a United shirt, it makes my blood boil. Why did we let him go there? We had the power to say no. But, we didn’t. Gazidis’ eyes glazed over when he saw £24m on the table.

Moving on…

It was great to hear Jack Wilshere speaking after the win versus QPR. When I get a little down or dejected, I remember we have Jack; someone who can be as good a midfielder as anyone – I’m talking Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas or Gerrard. When there are moments of despair,or pessimism, I think about the sight of Jack and Cazorla exchanging passes in our midfield, and I genuinely feel uplifted. Together, those two can be truly special.

Tomorrow night we have a trip to Reading in the Capital One Cup to look forward to, and I’ll be posting a preview on the day. Until then, I thought I’d pose a question I left for my Facebook followers:

Finish 4th and tropyhless, or 5th with a cup; which would you prefer?

Let me know your thought in the comments.

Thanks for reading today, you scrumptious people.

Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla, Giroud, Arshavin, and a much-needed three points.

Arsenal 1-0 QPR: Olivier was NOT pleased Arteta was getting the attention…

Morning folks.

It’s going to be a quick review today. In a few moments, I’m off to brave the chilly weather and break my paintball virginity. I’m slightly worried. Not becuase I fear getting shot. Nope. I worry simulated violence might bring out a bad side of my personality. If there’s no post tomorrow, it’ll probably be becuase I’m either in jail, or still running around the woods with a gun as armed police hunt me down.

Onto the game.

I’m relieved. It wasn’t a vintage Arsenal performance; it wasn’t even a particularly good one. But, we won. The three points on the board are by far the point of greatest importance, and the rest is simply opinion and blathering.

There were a few negatives here and there – I’ve moaned enough recently, so I shan’t be mentioning them. I’ll talk about the positives, and the biggest one of all, I’m sure you’ll agree, was the very welcome return of Jack Wilshere. For someone who’s been out for close to 15 months, he looked fearless, comfortable in possession and a threat in attack. He wasn’t at his best – we’d have been foolish to expect it – but he showed more than enough signs of how important he can be to our chances of glory this season. The occasions where he and Cazorla linked up had me in a state of drooling anticipation – those two playing well together could be really special.

Elsewhere, I thought Arteta was his usual imperious and reliable self – even if his goal was comfortably offside. Giroud looked immeasurably more threatening upfront than Gervinho, and we surely have to consider starting the big Frenchman more often. He’s been written off unfairly in many circles, but I’ll continue to have faith in him. He’ll score goals, you mark my words.

The usual defensive faltering reared it’s ugly head from time to time, but we controlled the game and QPR didn’t deserve to leave with anything – regardless of what sour-faced cretins like Mark Hughes may pompously exclaim to the media.

One special mention should go to Arshavin for the lovely bit of work he did in the build up to the goal. He has that in his locker, he’s a cunning and talented little player. He would be a huge asset if he could just look like he wanted to be playing football.

All in all, I care we won, and I care about nothing else. It’s a start. It may not be the best, but it’s what we have, and it can be built on. We’ve Reading in the Capital One Cup to blood a few youngsters next week, then a big one – a trip to Old Trafford. That game does cause me a bit of concern, but I believe we have it in us to go there and win. It may not be likely, but we can do it. And I’d fucking love us to get one over on that money-grabbing so-and-so who I shan’t name.

That’s all for today, folks.

Drop me a comment or two below with your thoughts on the game. Happy? Relieved? Still feel the team needs to be better? Delighted with Jack? Let me know.

Assuming I’m not riddled with paintballs, or in police custody, I shall return tomorrow. Thanks for reading, you beautiful people.

Starting XI for the game against QPR

FA Premiership; Saturday Oct 27th, QPR (h)

Morning folks.

Something’s happening – happening to me. My friends say I’m behaving peculiarly. Come along now baby, we better make a start. You better make it soon before you break my heart.

I thought that was an apt quote – and one that should efficiently destroy any credibility I have if you know where it’s from (guesses welcome). Arsenal owe us a proper performance today. If we lose – god forbid – I can see things starting to get nasty.

The team news is pretty good. Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna are both fully fit and included in the squad, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will have a late test, and there are no fresh concerns to anyone. Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs both still miss out, along with the regular bunch of absentees.

The team selction should be interesting. I’ve heard many theories over the past couple of days, and guessing what Arsene will do isn’t going to be easy. Given their awful performances on Wednesday, he might be tempted to exclude Gervinho, Santos and Ramsey, but I doubt he will leave out all three. There have been rumours Serge Gnabry could be in line for a start, but if we’re pinning all our hopes on a 17-year-old with minimal experience to get us out of a slump, we have problems – I doubt that will happen either.

What could happen, and I hope it does, is the inclusion of Koscielny to partner Mertesacker, and Vermaelen deployed at left-back. Andre Santos doesn’t look fit, and he was at fault for both Schalke goals with his positioning. In general, he was completely bloody useless, and I’m not sure his fellow players have any confidence in him. I also think both Sagna and Wilshere will feature, although I’d guess Jack will be on the bench to begin with.

My prediction would be:

I’ve opted for Giroud as the experiment with Gervinho up front hasn’t worked, and we have to start with the Frenchman instead. He’s never going to build up any confidence if he is continually benched in favour of someone who ordinarily wouldn’t play in his position. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gervinho benched, too – if The Ox passes his late test.

All in all, I shouldn’t really be concerned about today’s game, but I am. QPR will know that they’re facing us at a good time, and if they nick an early goal, the crowd will probably start to get on the backs of the players. We need to come out of the blocks fast, and try to put this one to bed as soon as possible. We should have more than enough in the locker to win, but the way things are going, there isn’t much that would surprise me.

I’ll go for a 3-0 win, with a bit of happiness restored.

If yoou fancy a flutter on the game, head on over to Bet Victor.

Thanks for reading today, you wondrous creatures. The comments await your opinions and preferred starting 11s. I look forward to reading a few.

I shall return tomorrow with a review.

The Tuesday Club, no transfer solutions, Arsenal apathy, and the wonder of a comfy dressing gown.

“Is that a woman’s dressing gown?”

Morning folks.

You may be wondering why a dressing gown takes it’s place in today’s title. It’s because, for the first time in my 30 years, I’ve bought myself one. It’s deliciously comfortable, warming and adorned with the type of patterns mere mortal eyes cannot contend with. I feel like a complete man now. Yes, it’s colourful, but it’s certainly not a ladies garment. It’s pure testosterone, this. I look splendid – regal even. I daren’t post a picture of me wearing it for fear of sending you all into a sex-crazed rampage.

Anyway, enough of that. I probably should talk Arse, even if wittering on about my pre-bed nightwear does seem a more enjoyable pursuit at this stage. Slippers, anyone? Shut up, James…

As I am scribing this, Alan and Tayo are discussing Arsenal’s fortunes on The Tuesday Club podcast. It’s hard to listen to. I’m not the one to opt for fluffy and buoyant broadcasts where the speakers do their best to convince us all is well. I prefer honest opinion. What makes this tough is how true it is. Arsenal are deteriorating season after season becuase we lose quality players, and replace them with ones not as good. That’s fact, and I challenge any one to dispute it.

On such a downward spiral, it’s difficult to know what happens next. Do we crack open the cheque book and throw a small fortune at new recruits? Sounds like the simplest option, doesn’t it? It’s one fraught with peril, however. Even if we do spend, given Arsene’s good/bad average in the market isn’t at it’s best, there’s no guarantee of sccuess. We all know there’s no hope of him buying at the top end – regardless of alleged ‘war chests’.

Is a change needed? Is it time to replace a man who, regardless of your current opinion, has revolutionised our football club? I’d say no, but I’d be lying if I said that answer is set in concrete. Sometimes even the greatest managers run their course. He’ll have to leave sometime, and I’d rather it wasn’t on the back of a tainted legacy.

Truth be told, there’s an apathy sweeping over me. Where once joyous optimism lived, there now resides a miserly soul who’s looking at our fixture list with poe-faced indifference. I shouldn’t be looking at the upcoming games and suppressing concern. I should be hoping for positive outcomes and a resurgance. Instead I’m considering avoiding the game. It’s all somehow gotten so predictable.

It should be noted that I’m writing late last night on the back of a 15 hour shift at work, and I’m cream crackered. Come the morning, I may think to myself, “Jesus Christ! That post is a bunch of miserable tosh”. If that happens, I shall fight the urge to delete it, as I believe in writing what you feel, when you feel it – it’s part of being an honest fan. We all have our slumps and moments of doubt. This is one of mine.

I love the Arsenal. I hate where things are going. We’ve right to expect better from our players and those that run the club, because they’re all capable of it. There would be no better tonic than to hammer QPR at the weekend,. Tomorrow I’ll post a preview of the game, trying my best to use the phrase, “please don’t do that shit” as little as possible.

Right. I’m finishing up. Thanks for reading, you lovely creatures. Forgive my indulgent ramblings, and let’s be having a few of your comments. Are you pissed off with being pissed off? Do you share my concern, or do you think I’m talking directly from my rectum? Let me know.

I shall return tomorrow.

Gervinho, Santos, Gnabry, Arshavin, Wenger, and another cauldron of sh*t.

UEFA Champions League; Arsenal 0-2 Schalke

*Hmmphh*

I ordinarily would great you with a chipper, “morning folks”. Not today.

I hated the piece I wrote on Sunday after the Norwich defeat. Not because of how it was written, but due to what it contained; anger and pessimism. I like to think I’m a fairly positive soul; I try to look at the good things before I deconstruct and evaluate the bad. I wrote that piece just after the game – as I am this one – and left it unchanged because I believe blogging should be an honest pursuit; one that shows your emotional side, and isn’t compromised by sitting on the fence.

Point being, and this is certainly open to answer; how am I supposed to be positive, when the team I love are showing me only things that arouse my negative side?

I was prepared to put Saturday’s performance down to ‘one of those days’ – the kind where all that can go wrong does, and things just don’t click. Then I sat through that unrelenting shower of shit last night, and it was far worse. Not worse because we lost, but it exceed the direness of the weekend purely because of the fact we knew a reaction was needed, and it didn’t come. There was no urgency, cohesion, enthusiasm or guile. We had to wait until the 93rd minute when we were 2-0 and the game was over to record a shot on target.

Gervinho and Andre Santos were woeful. Playing the Ivorian as a striker has to stop. His all-round contribution wasn’t close to being half-decent, and he topped off his fiasco with an abomination of a dive.  We had more than enough theatrics when Eboue was here, thank you very much.

Andre Santos appears to have taken a crash course at the Gael Clichy school for playing people onside, and generally falling over when faced with an opponent. I like the Brazilian as an attacking option, but defensively, he simply isn’t good enough. He’s had the odd good game here and there, but nothing to convince me otherwise. If I was the boss, I’d be seriously looking at playing Koscielny and Mertesacker in the centre, and Vermaelen at left back. Schalke knew he was a weak point, and went after him. Podolski, usually an able runner, didn’t offer him enough help, either.

Of course, I’m not blaming the defeat on those two players. Arsenal were collectively bad, with perhaps only Mertesacker having a reasonable game. Errors came from all angles. For example, why wait until 82 minutes to introduce Ganbry and Arshavin when it was only too apparent some players needed to be replaced? What can we possibly expect them to do in 8 minutes? – ironically, Gnabry did more of note in his first 20 seconds on the field than Gervinho managed in 75 minutes.

For the first time, I’m starting to feel genuinely concerned about our prospects. At the start of our campaign, things looked rife with potential. Those thoughts are rapidly giving way to doom and gloom. There has to be something done. Arses have to be kicked, and those not pulling their weight and continuously under performing have to be told. Arsene can’t allow a quiet period of cogitation in which the players can think about their short comings. He needs to hit them with some home truths.

I hope that’s what he will do. I hope it will be done sooner rather than later. I shouldn’t be worrying about a home game against QPR on Saturday. Because of last night, I am.

That’s all for today folks. What did you think? Are you alarmed by how utterly shit-awful Arsenal were? Do you have a positive view on the game? Are you angry at just how familiar and predictable all this is? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, my fellow miserable so-and-sos…