The Armchair Gooner

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

Defensive blunders, and Arsenal announce mega, super, awesome, spectacular, amazing, astonishing deal to sign… nobody.

“Someone, anyone?”

Afternoon, my little delights.

That dreaded day is upon us. We’ve waited 30 days in drooling expectation, some of us will foolishly be glued to the interweb in the hope of a late shock materialising. Transfer deadline day is here.

Will Arsenal sign a player? No – well, not unless something truly miraculous happens, and I doubt that. Whilst others conduct their business and bring in players with what appears to be no difficulty, Arsenal flounder; we falter, offer false hope and invariably do the thing we all kind of knew would happen – sod all. Those “top, top, exceptional” quality footballers are just too damn elusive this time of year.

If Arsene believes in the strength of his squad, then that’s fine with me. I don’t agree, but I’m not a Premiership manager on a seven-figure income. What do I know? I’m just a humble supporter.

Well, I know that, along with the Gooner vox populi, I see glaring holes in the current squad that could do with being plugged. Whilst others like to scream obscenities and angry declarations such as, “Damn you, Wenger! Buy a f**king player!!” I prefer to let things be. I disagree with our current policy in the market about as much as anybody can, but I shan’t be screaming it at the top of my lungs, or plastering my Twitter account with ill-advised and puerile statements. Such acts change nothing, and a supporters job is to support – although, a good moan every now and then doesn’t go amiss.

My advice to you, the delicious reader, would be avoiding the late-night updates and constant news covering today’s window. Avoid it like you would an angry hobo with a used needle in his filthy grasp. Assume nothing will happen because that’s comfortably the most likely outcome. Should the unexpected occur, there will be a nice surprise waiting for you tomorrow morning. Getting wound up watching the minutes pass in front of Sky Sports News won’t make anyone feel better.

With all the hullabaloo and balderdash about, it’s easy to forget the players we do have took part in a competitive fixture last night. Havinfg conceded two goals straight from the ‘Hey, this is how not to defend’ handbook, the boys showed, as the often tend to when behind in games, that we do have some excellent players with spirit and desire. A 2-2 draw with Liverpool wasn’t ideal, but I’d gladly have taken it on 60 minutes. Both Spurs and Chelsea drew, so we’d didn’t lose any ground on them.

It certainly would be remiss of me to not mention the catastrophic defending. One thing I regularly notice is the consistency with which our defenders fall over at the least opportune moment. Think about it for a second; how many times can you remember a slip or a stumble leading to a goal conceded? I can think of plenty.

On paper, our starting back four and keeper looks solid. In practice, they look like a bewildered bunch of street performers, prancing here and there with little in the way of choreography. The problems baffle me, and you know they’re bad when a player as woefully average as Jordan Henderson can waltz through your penalty area and score.

Work needs to be done. work has needed to be done for sometime. Many folks I hear claim our deficiencies to be down to simple misfortune. I disagree. There is a fundamental lack of organistation and leadership at the back, and the work needs to be done there first and foremost. As an attacking force, our problems are minimal. If the team applied themselves to defence with the verve they dedicate to bounding upfield in search of glory, perhaps these problems might not occur so frequently.

But hey, that’s just me. On that note, I shall leave you for the day. I hope you fine people will take my advice and avert your respective glares from all sports channels for the evening. Let’s just accept what’s coming. There’s no sense bickering with each other over it.

Leave me a comment below, and thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the game against Liverpool (match preview)

Hello, deliriously Goonery people of this ‘ere blog of mine.

The format of today’s post won’t be as pretty and picture-orientated. At present, I’m rapidly keying into my iPhone and neglecting the many things I should really be doing at work. That’s dedication for you – I’m only too happy to avoid meaningful contribution to my gainful employment in favour of talking to you splendid people.

The game today in an important one. I was in the scorching climes of Malta when we triumphed 2-0 at Anfield in a result that, at the time, genuinely filled me with hope for what we could accomplish this season. In the weeks and months after that day, Arsenal have faltered and flattered to device. There’s no doubting the talent of our current squad, but unfortunately our only consistency is the ability to be unpredictable.

Against Liverpool today, a performance similar to the one that saw West Ham obliterated in a blaze of attacking football should see us emerge comfortably with the three points. Aside from their buck-toothed racist up front – admittedly, he is quite brilliant – our Scouse opponents have little threat. If we play like we can, we’ll win.

Trouble is, you never know what to expect from Arsenal. For every jaw-agape moment of brilliance, an idiotic defensive lapse lurks just around the corner. We could destroy Liverpool, or we could stutter and stumble about the pitch and lose without a significant attempt on target.

The team news is as it was in the last game, with the exception of Vermaelen returning from injury. Those rested against Brighton should return to the line-up.

My guess at the starting XI would be:

Szczsney; Sagna, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Vermaelen; Diaby, Cazorla, Wilshere, Walcott, Podolski; Giroud.

As for the eventual outcome? Well, I don’t think we’ll see another 4-4, I’m going for a decent 2-1 win for Arsenal.

If you fancy staking some cash on the game, head over to Bet Victor and register an account – new members receive a free £25 to use as they see fit. You can sign up here.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. My apologies for the rushed post. Use the comments below to tell me your thoughts on the game and the team.

I shall return with a review tomorrow.

Beckham at Arsenal, Villa no and Usmanov says all the right things.

“Who wants a lift home with Andre Santos?”

Afternoon, scrumptious creatures of the interweb.

At a time we all yearn to hear definitive transfer news, we have got some. Instead of that news causing euphoria and dancing, I’m afraid what we have is simply a conformation of players we wont be signing.

Both moves for long-term rumoured target, David Villa, and David Beckham have been ruled out by Arsene in typically defiant fashion. Can’t say I’m all that shocked. Barcelona have long been adamant about refusing to allow David Villa to leave. Perhaps our players ought take to their respective Twitter accounts and begin bleating about ‘Arsenal DNA’ and holding players hostage against their will. You know – act as classy as our Catalonian friends.

The Beckham story on the other hand is simply a case of the press adding 2 things together and coming up with a spectacularly inaccurate answer. We have allowed Beckham to use London Colney to work on his fitness before, and there is nothing more to it than that. Signing a 37-year-old player long past his best days wouldn’t add anything to our current squad, and I’m sure our manager knows that.

One quote I took notice of from Arsene’s interview was this:

“We are still trying, but it’s hard to sign players in January who can improve you.”

I’m not sure I agree with that. Demba Ba would have improved our striking options, Lewis Holtby would have improved our midfield options and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa would have improved us defensively. All 3 were available, and all 3 have moved to new clubs for reasonable prices.

If none of those players interested our manager, or he didn’t consider them to be of the required quality to play for Arsenal, then fair enough. But to say improvements are difficult to find to me sounds a touch defeatist and untrue. For the right price, a club of our stature and history should have little difficulty attracting high quality players.

Elsewhere in the Goonerverse, Alisher Usmanov has once again taken to the press saying all the right things - if in control, he’d be only too happy to pump funds into the club and give Arsene some financial backing.

Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Well, I’m always dubious of the man. Perhaps it’s his squinty face and nefarious features that fill me with a sense of dread, but I often find myself thinking it all sounds too good to be true. Stan Kroenke may be ‘Silent’ and a constant source of venting for frustrated fans, but there’s a lot of truth in that old adage, “It’s better the devil you know”.

That’s all for today. The comments await your delicious thoughts and opinions on the day’s news. Use ‘em – it makes me feel all giddy with joy and important. Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow with a preview of the game against Liverpool.

Huge (lack of) transfers and controversial banners.

A heartwarming statement…

Afternoon, precious lifeforms of the Arsenal interweb.

In case you’re unable to read from the picture above, the enchanting sentiment on the banner reads, “Arsene – thanks for the memories, but it’s time to say goodbye”. Lovely stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

When it comes to our fair manager, I consider myself to be firmly out of either of the extremist camps. I don’t profess to believe Arsene is infallible and capable of no wrong, nor do I think he should be drop-kicked to the moon so a faceless saviour can arrive to restore past glories. Personally I think such radical views are both wrong, and both factions are as bad as each other.

When I read the story of that banner, and how producing it at the Brighton game caused a series of mini brawls and punch-ups, I was a little surprised by it all. Not surprised that some cretinous individuals thought plunging to such depths would have anything other than a negative effect, but surprised that it resulted in fisticuffs.

The banner itself is absolutely pointless. People have the right to express frustration and doubt whichever way they see fit – I don’t dispute that. What I find strange is that they thought there was any point to it at all. Perhaps they assumed Arsene would take one look at their handiwork and exclaim, “Sacre bleu! Those supporters are correct! I must leave at once!”

The only thing that banner accomplished was bad press for the club, and a show of disharmony amongst our support. Neither of which are particularly helpful.

Elsewhere today, we have the bleak, desolate world of the January transfer window. As the clock ticks down toward the end of the month, it appears increasingly likely we won’t see any delicious new players come in to the club. Shame.

If our manager believes we have strength in depth enough to cope for the remainder of the season, then, as a humble fan, I have to respectfully disagree. We could use strengthening in pretty much all areas of the pitch, and whilst I wouldn’t expect 4 players to arrive, 1 or 2 excellent signings could make the difference to our league position come the final fixture in May.

There may be a shock to come in the next couple of days, but I won’t raise your hopes. Diame would seem the one deal with any potential to it, but even that at this stage appears 50/50 at best. Let’s hope Arsene is correct in his apparent choice to not reinforce, because he’ll certainly be putting himself in the firing line if he isn’t. Only time will tell.

Thanks for reading today. Leave me a few of your thoughts in the comments.

Walcott, Giroud, Brighton, and the horrors of an Andre Santos defensive performance.

Brighton 2-3 Arsenal: “Err Boss – can someone get this bloody idiot off my back?”

Afternoon, FA Cup glory hunters.

As the cliché goes, “a win is a win”. There are those that enjoy wallowing in the many defensive blunders on show – it certainly appears even the most innocuous of crosses can cause total panic in our penalty area – and the other reasons for concern. Not me. I shan’t dispute their existence as they tend to be as apparent as daybreak, but given that the eventual result saw us progress, I’ll focus on the good – until I get to Andre Santos.

Olivier Giroud has had plenty of detractors. Replacing someone as skilled and admired as the Dutchman whose name I won’t mention, he was always facing an uphill struggle to endear himself to the Gooner masses. Some still – oddly – view him as a flop, but his first season statistics are impressive (14 goals and numerous assists).

At Brighton he scored two goals even the most ardent of his critics couldn’t fail to be impressed by. As his confidence builds and his familiarity with those around him grows, Grioud is steadily becoming a very good player for Arsenal. He’s big, strong, determined and plays with passion. Best of all; there is more to come from him.

The game itself was a good old fashioned cup tie. Esteem and league placing went out of the window, and Brighton offered up a stern test and played some excellent football. Our winner was a tad fortuitous, and, although I’m certainly glad we avoided one, I wouldn’t have begrudged our opponents earning themselves a replay.

So, onto to Andre Santos,

I often feel it’s pointless to show players – especially our own – angry displeasure. Booing them, or writing pieces that trash them back to the stone-age only truly serves the egos of apoplectic fans and those sharing their opinions whilst hiding in darkened rooms. There is little or no point in lambasting a player for a bad performance. Highlighting mistakes and constructively criticising is one thing, but the abuse – that’s stupid.

Would I say I thought Andre Santos was poor yesterday? Absolutely. He was poor with out question, and I’d go as far as saying I think we need a better option to cover Gibbs. Would I start ranting and frothing at the mouth, claiming him to be the worst footballer since the dawn of time, and call him a useless fat c**t? No. Because that’s pointless.

In short; we won yesterday, and we’re in the draw for the next round. I’ll glean the positives, and take note of the negatives. Arsenal weren’t perfect, but the result matters above everything else. Hopefully we can keep our winning form going and take a result from the upcoming match against Liverpool. Who knows – perhaps we’ll even invest in the transfer matket in the next week. After all, all our problems will magically disappear when there’s a shiny new player to admire…

Thanks for reading today, folks. The comments below await your thoughts on the game. Let me know who stood out for you, and who you’d like to play in the next round.

Arsenal’s starting XI against Brighton (Match preview)

Saturday 26th January: FA Cup, Brighton (a)

Hello everyone!

You might – some of you – be wondering where the bloody hell I’ve been in recent weeks. Without resorting to diving into self-involved bleating, I’ll just say I’ve had a few problems, and I’ve not been very well. Such things have taken their toll on my blogging exploits.

But that’s enough of talking about me. Let’s talk Arsenal.

Since I last posted, Theo has ‘singed dat ting’ and Arsenal haven’t signed anyone – much to the chagrin of many Gooners out there. Me included. On Wednesday, spirits where lifted by a phenomenal performance against West Ham which saw us blow the Hammers away in the space of 10 second half minutes. That was awesome – a glimpse of the ‘real’ Arsenal so many of us have lamented the absence of.

Today gives us a good opportunity to further build on that performance, and, as the general consensus has it, progress in our best avenue for silverware left available.

The epic fail at Bradford proved that lower league opponents are underestimated at you peril. Lethargy and arrogance, as well as impressive play from our conquerers, was our downfall that evening. If we head into today’s game without focus and spirit, there is every possibility we’ll be writhing in embarrassment after another abject humiliation.

Vermaelen, Coquelin, Fabianksi, Arteta and Gervinho all mis out today, and given our grueling fixture list this month, Arsene may make a few changes here and there to offer some players a rest. Jack Wilshere is expected to wear the captain’s armband today.

My guess at the line-up is:

All things taken into consideration, I see no reason why we shouldn’t progress with minimal fuss. The lesson learnt at Valley Parade should be well imprinted into the players’ brains by the management, and lightning striking twice seems less likely to me.

However, this is Arsenal. Our only consistency is that with which we are unpredictable. Anything, within the contraints of reality, could happen today. I’ll be bold and opt for a delightfully comfortable 4-0 win, and hopefully a nice draw in the next round.

If you fancy a flutter, register as a new member with Bet Victor to recieve all kinds of wonderful deals. You can sign-up here.

Brighton vs Arsenal odds.

Thanks for reading today. I shall return with more tomorrow.

Are the betting odds for Arsenal in the Champion’s League worth considering?

Arsenal going gall the way? Possibly…

While most Arsenal fans will be able to accept the fact that their team is not considered likely to win the Champions League by most of the sports betting sites, the knowledge that they are even ranked the outsider to beat Bayern Munich in the last sixteen will be galling – as it is evidence of how the team has slumped. They are currently given odds of around 33/1 for the tournament, and 11/5 to beat the German giants, which certainly makes betting on the latter a more sensible option than the former; but when have football fans ever been sensible when it comes to their team?

Given that being able to gamble successfully requires exactly the sort of unemotional mindset that football supporting doesn’t allow, it can sometimes make more sense to avoid placing bets on your team. Of course most Gunners fans won’t much fancy betting on one of the other teams for the Champions League, but this is where options like Belle Rock Entertainment online casinos can be a great alternative to this. After all, it is proving tough enough to be an Arsenal supporter at the moment, and compounding emotional trauma with the loss of money is surely adding insult to injury.

After all, it’s not as if online casinos don’t offer the chance to indulge your love of football, alongside the gambling these days. A casino slots game like Soccer Safari, which involves teams made up of animals like lions, warthogs and rhinos, playing their own World Cup in the jungles of Africa have a genuine football-theme to go with the joys of slot games – like the chance of winning a great cash jackpot. Furthermore with most of these sites offering mobile casino options these days, you can play a game like Soccer Safari anywhere – even during half time at the Emirates – although you might want to pretend you don’t notice the resemblance between the warthogs and Arsene Wenger as he prepares for his team talk!