The Armchair Gooner

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

Vermaelen, Koscielny, Zaha, Big Ted, news, rumours, and other bits.

A fully grown man who still has his teddy bear? Yes – I am peculiar.

Morning folks.

A while ago i considering having a mascot for this blog – the bear I’ve had since birth, Big Ted. Having initially decided against that idea, I’ve now changed my mind. The Armchair Gooner has a mascot – he’s a dapper gentleman bear with a deep-seeded love for Arsenal, and an unrivalled hatred for Piers Morgan . You can follow him on Twitter. Make him feel welcome…

Onto Arsenal matters.

It was confirmed today that Laurent Koscielny’s groin strain will keep him out of the first team for a period of 3 weeks – a time frame I ignore completely as, in Arsenal terms, it could mean anything from 20 minutes to eternity. It’s a shame for Koscielny, as he’s just started to show signs of his best form, and he doesn’t seem as blunder-prone as Sagna and Vermaelen do at the moment.

Most of today’s news isn’t much of anything. There’s a few brief quotes from our capatain about how the team need to improve, and the odd transfer rumour that I refuse to believe – getting my hopes up about a possible bid for Fellaini will only lead to disappointment.

With a great deal of chatter mounting up regarding Arsenal proposed bid for Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, Ian Holloway has had a bit of a pop at Wenger, who may, or may not, have mentioned his admiration for the young forward:

Holloway said to The Sun(rag):

“Why is he talking about my players? It’s not the game,”

“I will be picking up the phone to talk to him as I don’t think it is right and proper with the greatest respect. That is totally bad etiquette.

“Wilf is a big part of our season and we have such a strong contract others can go and whistle.

“He won’t be available, no matter what the price is in January.”

Poor old Ian must be suffering from a stressy-pants moment. Arsene has hardly gone the full Barcelona route and made remarks about hostages and DNA. He’s mentioned his admiration for a player – a player who I doubt Palace will keep if big money is thrown at them. Seems to me Holloway might already know this.

And that’s about it out there in Arsenal news.

It’s a brief post today. Tomorrow’s will cover the Swansea game in detail. I’ll leave you with a bit of pleasent reading – Daniel Cowan produced this splendid article on North London Is Red, and I strongly recommend you give it a read – especially if you’re one of those who likes to blame things on Aaron Ramsey.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Walcott, Ramsey, Koscielny, Giroud, and a 1-1 score-draw that’s better than a 0-0 bore-draw.

Everton 1-1 Arsenal; battle of the terrible moustaches.

Morning folks.

Before our past two games, I would have been very happy with a points total of four – a draw at Everton being the one point. I wouldn’t say I was too upset with the manner of our result last night, but it certainly shows poor we were at Villa. Goodison is tough stadium to travel to, and, once all the painful bleating and cries of discontent have stopped, to emerge with a point is hardly catastrophic.

However, as is seemingly customary, it could, and perhaps should, have been better. Theo’s goal in the opening seconds was a great start, but Arsenal always have their fingers hovering perilously close to the self destruct button. Where other teams might have closed the game down and operated on the counter, we chose to wait patiently until the moment arose when we could do something really fucking stupid – and we did.

If ever you’re stuck for an example of Arsenal’s shit-awful defending – you shouldn’t be – look no further than Fellaini’s equaliser last night. Yes – it was a decent shot that curled past Szczsney, but the mistakes we made leading up to it beggared belief. We managed to give the ball away twice in the build up – from a routine distribution out of defence from our own goalkeeper.

With the scores level, both teams had chances to win the game. Olivier Giroud was unfortunate to see his header glide just wide from another excellent Walcott delivery, and Everton can rightfully feel aggrieved to have been denied a penalty after Arteta’s clumsy challenge. All in all; a draw was a fair result. The main downside was losing Koscielny after a few minutes with a groin strain – an injury that’s set to keep him out for the dreaded “3 weeks”.

We’ve a decent run of fixtures in December, and plenty of opportunity to make back some points. A draw wasn’t terrible by any means.

Right about now, Twitter users claiming Arsenal allegiance are lambasting the team and pinning as much blame on Aaron Ramsey as they can – ignoring his contribution to our goal. Deconstructing the performance strikes me as pointless today. In a community so awash with bickering, insults, and bloated opinion, to do so would only open me up to opprobrium from the extremists on both sides of the debate – it should be noted that these extremists are not just the ones calling for Wenger’s head, but their counterparts too.

What I feel is best is a little distance. Sit back, take some time away from the internet and think; does a 1-1 draw against a very good team on their own patch really spell Armageddon? It’s been a tough few weeks suppoerting Arsenal, but things could be a hell of a lot worse.

There are problems at the club, and things need to change. I don’t dispute that. However, all this crap between fans is getting to the point where I feel better off disassociating myself from it. Are we really that petty we feel the need to bicker amongst one another and create these ridiculous factions? When the sun sets, aren’t we all really just hoping for the same thing?

Personally I’m tired of it all – the black scarves, the Wenger apologists, the Ramsey haters, The ‘AKB’, The ‘WOB’., Piers Morgan, and all this disarray. For now, I’m going to keep my distance and obtain a little perspective.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. The comments await a few of your opinions on the match, the players, and anything else that might be on your mind.

I shall return with more tomorrow.

The Arsenal starting XI for the game against Everton.

FA Premiership: Wednesday Nov 28th, Everton (a)

Morning folks.

First up – apologies for the lack of a post yesterday. It was one of those days that I cant avoid; busy, busy, and thoroughly annoying. There are restrictions placed upon me, the humble lone blogger, and sometimes I just don’t have enough hours in the day. I’m sure you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me – or perhaps you’re muttering obscenities to yourself as you read this. Either way, I’m sorry!

Today, we’ve an important game. Underneath the floodlights of Goodison we face a tough test, and we’ll be needing all of our mettle to come through it with a point or three to show. The Toffee’s early season flourish may have been temporarily replaced by a period of meandering, but make no mistake, folks; they’re a side capable of beating anyone on their own patch.

Today’s team news brings with it something of a surprise. A man who I had assumed ceased to exist, or had been abducted by a alien race intent on studying fragile footballers, Tomas Rosicky, makes a return to full training. He won’t be available for the game tonight, but it’s good to have another creative option in the squad.

Returning to the starting line up we should see both Wilshere and Walcott, and I expect the Boss to name his strongest available team – I’d be hard pushed to say who he’ll partner Mertesacker with – if at all – but my guess is Vermaelen will return to take the captaincy.

I’d go with this team:

There’s an unwelcome funk and malaise to Arsenal at the moment. Where we expect dedication and enthusiasm on the pitch, too often we’ve seen lethargy and floundering. The reasons why are irrelevant to me tonight. There’s a time and place for critiquing and debate, I personally chose to put that to one side on match days.

When I look across the team, I see players capable of far better than they’ve shown. If they perform to their standards, to the ability they clearly have, then we can get a result. If, however, they turn in another performance as woeful as those recently, I doubt we’ll have anything to discuss after ninety minutes is up other than another maelstrom of petty bickering between supporters.

I’ll be certainly hoping for the former. Arsenal are due a really good performance. Seasons can turn around on the back of single games, tonight could very well be one of those occasions. The shining optimist in me predicts 2-0 to the Arsenal, the misanthropic pessimist thinks he’s a fucking idiot. We shall see who’s right.

That’s all for today, folks. The comments await your thoughts on the team. How would you put the team out? Which side of my personality do you agree with? Let me know. Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game.

Lastly, if you fancy putting some cash on a whole variety of betting options, Bet Victor offers new members a £25 free bet – you can register here.

Everton vs Arsenal odds.

Arsene hits back at the critics, ex-players know best, and The Dark Knight Rises.

Putting a parking ticket on Bane’s Fiat Uno had repercussions.

Morning folks.

I love Christopher Nolan. I love every movie he’s done. Last night I watched The Dark Knight Rises in its entirety for the 3rd time – it truly gets better every time I watch it. You might wonder why an Arsenal blogger is talking about this. The reason is; would my affection for Christopher Nolan’s movies stop me from saying if I thought he made a bad one? No – my views on Arsene Wenger are absolutely the same.

Whilst watching the movie, it struck me there are a quite a few similarities between TDKR and the current climate at our beloved Arsenal; structures as shackles, warring factions, the rich elite and their disregard for others, an 8-year absence of a mythical figure (or trophy…), and the passing of a mantle to another.

Granted, Arsene Wenger isn’t likely to fly a nuclear bomb out of London in the nick of time, and it would be a shame to see half the first team squad buried underneath an imploding pitch. Well, perhaps not Squillaci.

I think you get my drift, though – don’t you?

When interviewed after the Villa game, Arsene faced up to some of the critics – notably the away fans and their choice of song – and he had some strong words to say:

“I leave it to you to judge. I try to be as good as I can be. Is it hurtful? Look, I have managed for 30 years at the top level and I have to convince you I can manage the team?

“How many games have you managed? I promise you if you manage one I will sit in the stands and chant ‘you know what you are doing!'”

When asked about the Coquelin for Giroud change, something I thought was ridiculous, he added:

“You can discuss every substitution. You think what you want.

“I do my job and I let people judge it. I do that every day and I do my best every day. I know why I do it.

“What is the thinking behind the substitution? I will not explain every decision I make, you judge the game and I sit here and explain to you our game.

“You are all great managers! I read the newspapers every day and I can tell you that you are always great managers!”

Sounds to me very much like the words of a man tired of the constant questioning of his management. I can’t say I blame him, but I cant say he wasn’t asked questions that needed to be asked.

I’m just a blogger. My football experience is hardly top-notch, and I was never particularly adept on Championship Manager. I have my opinions on my team, and right or wrong, I’m entitled to them – just as all you good folks that comment are. I’d be an idiot to claim I know better than Arsene Wenger – I certainly don’t. However, as I’ve stated before, no one is beyond reproach, and no one is infallible. Arsene Wenger has made mistakes. He has to answer to those mistakes, and the away fans have every right to voice their concerns.

Most ex-players seem to agree. Today I watched a video in which David Seaman stated his belief that Arsenal need to spend – to lay down a marker and bring in some real quality. Could I disagree? Nope. We do need to improve the squad’s depth. Will we? That’s another matter entirely. Perhaps Wenger is restricted by the board, or perhaps his vanity prevents him from doing something that would appear to be concession of defeat.

It’s a odd atmosphere at the moment. Supporters are unsettled, bickering, and veering from one extreme to the other at the slightest of provocation. At the end of the day, we all want the same; a successful, financially stable club. I see the only way forward is to adopt a middle ground between the two. Perhaps too much is placed on the latter.

Thats all for today folks. Leave me a few of your own views in the coments. I look forward to reading them.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow.

Gervinho, Ramsey, Mertesacker, Cazorla, Szczsney, and a maddeningly unhelpful 0-0 draw.

Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal: None of the players cared for Koscielny’s nonchalant attitude toward competitive matches.

Afternoon folks.

There are moments supporting Arsenal when all you can really do is omit a disgruntled sigh, and put terrible performances down to experience. Yesterday, whilst we may have not endured swallowing the bitter pill of defeat, we witnessed a thoroughly awful showing from our beloved Gooners, and it’s brought floods of the same interminable questions with it.

You know the kind of stuff I mean; queries such as, “Where has our Arsenal gone?” or “Is it time Wenger left?”. I’m not of the correct frame of mind to start answering any of them – no, sir – as I think it’s essentially a futile debate. The reasons why Arsenal performed so badly aren’t immediately obvious, and to accrue knowledge we’d all need sufficient exposure to the inner workings of the club, and behind the scenes on the training ground. The vast majority of us have none.

At the end of the day, we’ll just have to accept we were shit, and move on to the next game.

It’s hard to assign anyone the dubious honour of being considered less shit than the rest, but Per Mertesacker stood out for me with another good shift at the back. We may have rarely threatened Villa, but we did at least appear strong and secure in defence – wether or not that has anything to do with Vermaelen’s absence is open to debate. Szczsney’s return has helped matters, too – a special mention should go to the save he made to turn a shot on to the bar. Brilliant.

Aaron Ramsey had a steady, but hardly spectacular game, and it was good to see him avoid his usual dose of blame – according to some embittered, clueless souls, he’s responsible for pretty much everything bad; defeats, draws, poor performances, the Ebola virus, plagues, famine, the Kennedy assassination…

Elsewhere, praise isn’t so forthcoming. Gervinho was shocking – he put in one of those performances he’s more known for; scampering about like a stabbed rat, with the first touch of an inebriated cow. He was terrible, and whilst I do think he’s got he’s got his good points, performances like yesterday make me question his selection.

The boss’ choice to rotate was sensible (maybe Cazorla needed a rest, too). We have a squad, and a lot of games to play in a short period of time. We’d be foolish if we didn’t use it. Many felt the omission of Wilshere and Walcott made us toothless in attack, but the players selected had more than enough ability to dispatch Villa. They simply didn’t perform.

Where I think errors were made was the substitutions. At no point did Arsene take a chance, or introduce a positive change. Coquelin for Giroud was bafflingly unadventurous, and smacked of settling for what we had – something we absolutely shouldn’t be doing against a side languishing at the foot of the table.

I don’t much buy into certain fanatics and their over-the-top bleating about sackings and revolutions, but I challenge anyone to defend Arsene’s substitutions yesterday. The man is not beyond reproach, regardless of how much he has done for the club.

To summerise; I’m going to take yesterday as a momentary blemish. We’ve a big game on Wednesday at Goodison, and a win there can make Villa Park a distant memory. Arsenal need to show us better. Let’s hope they do.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. The comments await your thoughts and cheery platitudes. Make use of them – they’re the life blood of any blog, and mine’s no different.

I shall return tomorrow.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the game against Aston Villa.

FA Premiership; Saturday Nov 24th, Aston Villa (a)

Morning folks.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Villa Park. I’ve seen the Arsenal live on a fair few occasions. Arsenal fans regularly enjoy discussions about their favourite goal, and the moment that always stands out for me when quizzed is having witnessed Robert Pires score this goal live. I won’t lie to you; I was near orgasm when that hit the back of the net – my brother would gladly describe to you the look on my face, and the elated noise I omitted.

These days Villa are, well… pretty bloody useless. Currently languishing in the bottom three, they’ve reached nothing but mediocrity this season, and that’s been on one of their good days. This worries me no end. Arsenal always seem to raise their game and perform – Old Trafford aside – when the chips are stacked against us, and we’re expected to lose. In games like today, I fear the emergence of the dreaded complacency monkey.

The team news is essentially the same as it was on Wednesday. Walcott, Diaby and Rosicky all remain sidelined, and Gervinho and Gibbs are back in contention. I get the feeling Arsene might be tempted to rest Cazorla or Giroud for this one, but given his recent words about his side “finding their rhythm early” against Villa, I’m going to predict a team very similar to the one that faced Montpellier – I think he’ll use this game to bring Gibbs back in to the side.

We could start like this:

I’m expecting us to beat Villa. They’ve a few potentially dangerous forwards, but if we play like a unit, defend well, and attack them from the off, we’ll beat them. Anything less than three points today would be disappointing.

That’s all from me today, folks. What are your views on the team? Would you opt to rest some of our more fatigued players, or is building on our recent wins more important? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game.

If you fancy a bet on the game, you can head on over to Bet Victor who have all the latest match day odds and deals for new members. You can register here.

Aston Villa vs Arsenal odds.


January: Huntelaar to come in? No-go Thierry? Walcott to stay?

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: Good striker, awful taste in knitwear.

Morning folks.

It seems Fridays are the days reserved for gossiping. Where once you might think such an activity was the reserve of plump, opinionated trollops in social circles blabbering on about this, that, and the other, these days speculative chitter chatter is associated with football journalists.

One of the rumours that appears to be gathering a formidable head of steam is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar moving to Arsenal in January. Like most transfer talk around about this time, it’s published in a great many places, but there isn’t a whole lot of substance – mostly dubious quotes and tenuous links.

I’m not sure we need him. Yes – he’s a bloody good striker, but his main attributes aren’t that dissimilar to Olivier Giroud’s. If we are to enter the market to recruit a new forward – and we should – I’d imagine we’ll be looking at someone a bit different to what we have. Only Theo really offers us lightning pace in the final third. I’d like us to go for someone with technical ability and speed – a different option wouldn’t hurt.

On the subject of Mr ‘Sign Da Ting’, it’s looking more and more likely that we won’t see a resolution to his contract anytime soon. It’s getting a bit silly, isn’t it? He wants to stay, we want him to stay – how difficult can it be? There are sure to be pesky agents trying to extort money from the club behind the scenes, and Theo’s media comments may not truly reflect his desires, but Jesus… can we not get a move on?

One player who may not, contrary to belief, be heading to Arsenal in January is the king of kings, Thierry Henry. Arsene has hardly ruled it out definitively, but it would appear his club, The New York Red Bulls (ridiculous name), are less-than enamoured by the idea, and would prefer their 35-year-old prize asset to get some rest during the American close season.

Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure it’s a good idea. It payed off last time, and provided us with some of the better moments of the season. However, even then it struck me as something of a stop-gap; a quick solution to a problem that required a permanent fix. I love Thierry, as I’m sure you all do, but maybe this year would be one step too many, and it would be better for all concerned if it was put to on side.

Olivier Giroud is starting to show his class, and Walcott and Podolski’s effectiveness from the wings should see both being favoured in those positions – even if Theo may not like it. Another option to be used in rotation with Giroud would keep things fresh, and give us a better strength in depth. I personally think that’s the better choice.

But, hey – that’s just me. What do you think? Would you welcome a permanent signing instead of a loan to cover those departing to the African Cup of Nations? Does the romantic in you wish to see Thierry back? Let me know in the comments.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow I’ll post a preview of the Villa game. Until then, thanks for reading you beautiful bastards.