The Armchair Gooner

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

Arsenal – Stoke City: Team News, Line Up And Thoughts

Stoke-On-Trent is picturesque this time of year.

Morning, folks.

As as blogger who doesn’t blog particularly often at present, I thought it was an opportune moment to correct that. Whilst December brings with it severe challenges and lengthy hours for those of us who earn a crust in the catering industry, it doesn’t make for a legitimate excuse. Truth is, I’ve just not felt like writing for a long time.

The reason? Hard to say – I feel it’s a combination of pure indolence and a feeling of bewilderment at how online activities have become a haven for self-promotion, bickering and the relentless spewing of dross. That’s not to say I see myself as some sort of saint amongst sinners – I’m certainly not – merely a case of becoming a little tired of it all.

But I do love this blog. I genuinely do. As I believe all writing should, it’s an extension of myself and combines faults and flaws alongside virtues in equal measure. It is me, and I’m going to extract my finger from my arse and start doing it again.

So, today we head off to the murky underworld of Stoke, a trip fraught with perils and enveloped in darkness and evil. There is no love lost between the two teams since one of their barely-literate cretins saw fit to blunder oafishly into a young man’s leg in the centre circle. Continue reading

An Interview With The Real Romford Pele.

A pleasant discussion with Ray

Morning, folks.

I mentioned on Monday morning that the past weekend saw me fortunate enough to be invited to an event sponsored by Europcar Sport at The Emirates. Amongst meeting some wonderful folks and watching the less-than-favourable performance against Swansea, Daniel Cowan and I were able to sit down with Ray Parlour for 5-10 minutes and have a brief interview for the Goonersphere Podcast.

As promised, here is the transcript:

Daniel Cowan and James ‘Raul’ Stokes (Goonersphere Podcast): Of all the Arsenal players you played with, which do you think will benefit the current Arsenal team the most?

Ray Parlour: Without a doubt, Tony Adams. Absolutely. He was a leader at the back and I don’t think you would have seen that the other night (against Anderlecht) at 3-1 up. He would have been like, you get in there, you get in there and do your job. He was one of my best mates but I wasn’t doing my job he would hammer me – “Oi you, sort yourself out”. And I’d be like “Well, okay Tone”. I think he would be the most important player for me that they are lacking these days. But people like him are hard to find, he came through the ranks and he knows the club inside out – Tony Adams without a doubt. Or Patrick Vieira maybe but I’ll go with Tony Adams.

GSP: Having been involved in transfers yourself – how easy is it to get one done?

Ray Parlour: It’s not that easy these days. It’s very complicated. I promise you now, you’ve agents trying to negotiate… I went to Middlesbrough and mine was very straightforward because it was a free transfer but when there is money involved. What clubs try to do – it’s like a game of poker, the transfer market is like a game of poker. Clubs think, what is my player worth, what are they going to offer – they don’t know either way – sometimes it’s negotiating late into the night and that’s why it’s so easy to buy players in the summer because everyone is waiting in the January window looking to see who is going to buy who and then when you start competing with Man City and Chelsea, well you can’t compete with that because they’ve got so much wages to give to players why should they come to Arsenal? So it is difficult, a lot more difficult these days – that’s why lots of clubs do everything in the summer because they’ve got weeks before the season starts.

GSP: Is it unfair the club are criticised for not bringing in a centre-half? Everyone’s looking and we’re getting hammered for not doing it.

Ray Parlour: Yeah, everyone is looking but come January I’m sure Arsene Wenger will bring in two or three players in January – I guarantee it. Look, it’s not going to be easy to get these players in but the Chief Scout will be out watching players now. I was out at West Ham and he was there watching players. Maybe Winston Reid or Vlaar but I’m sure he’ll be watching players.

GSP: Maybe he was watching Jenkinson?

Ray Parlour: He was also specifically watching Jenkinson.

GSP: I’m still not quite sure why we loaned him out

Ray Parlour: He’s on loan now and you’ve got to respect that.

GSP: What do you miss about being around the club on a daily basis?

Ray Parlour: The banter, being in the dressing room area, being with your mates. We had such a good relationship between every player. You miss the training. The training I loved. I loved training, I was in there every day. I miss the lunches as well. The lunches were brilliant, 3 course meals every day. Generally being a footballer was superb, the main thing is match day obviously but during the week we had such a laugh and worked hard so I miss all that, definitely.

GSP: Since you joined the club as an apprentice what has changed the most for the better?

Ray Parlour: This new stadium. Absolutely. I played at Highbury, I loved Highbury – it was such a great stadium but this stadium now is amazing. And that’s where the club had to go to. It’s the next level up. It’s competing with – hopefully now – the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern, Barcelona, Chelsea, Man City but they’ve got lots of money – now though, the money coming into the club because of the stadium. I think the stadium is amazing and I’m sure you’ll agree with that as Arsenal guys. Moving stadiums so close to Highbury was brilliant as well. Definitely the stadium.

GSP: Thanks for the time, Ray. It was great to meet you

Ray Parlour: My pleasure, chaps. Enjoy the game.

The most striking things I can report having met an ‘Invincible’ are that he delivers an extremely firm handshake and is especially affable. I’d initially assumed meeting a player so revered by Arsenal fans would be daunting, but his humour shone through the brief Q&A with the assembled masses that preceded our interview and he managed to instantly put us at ease.

Special thanks extended to Arsenal’s official partner, Europcar, who put on the event and invited me down.

The comments are directly below if you fancy commenting on the interview. Ray raised some interesting points about recruitment and seems certain we’ll do business in January. What do you think? Let me know.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards…

Actually, why not have one last treat – here’s the latest Goonersphere Podcast

In this case, thanks for listening, you beautiful bastards.

5 LEGITIMATE Reasons For Arsenal Fans To Be Cheerful – Reasons So LEGITIMATE, I’ve Put The Word ‘LEGITIMATE’ In Capitals.

High 5…

Morning, you beautiful bastards.

The inspiration for this post comes from an entirely extraneous place. Before sitting down to type, I was watching The Book Of Eli with Denzel Washington – that’s ambiguous… I obviously mean that Denzel Washington was in the film, not that he popped over for the evening and we sat awkwardly through one of his films.

I’m now pondering exactly how I’d react if Denzel – we’re on first name terms in my head – arrived unannounced at my home and suggested a movie night. What kind of snacks would he like? Is he talkative? What potential is there for him going all ‘Training Day’ on me should I not prove an adequate host?

It’s simply not an occurrence I’m prepared for.


The Book Of Eli reminded me of Twitter at present. Around each and every dark corner of a dystopian world lurks nefarious characters seemingly hell-bent on causing untold misery. There is an element of social media that seems to revel in moments of trouble and strife. Continue reading

Ray Parlour Brightens A Miserable Day For Arsenal.

It’s Only Ray Parlour

Howdy, folks.

A wiser man than I once said, “Don’t ever meet your heroes, you’ll only be disappointed” – a phrase I’ve taken as gospel since the fateful moment I first heard it uttered. Since that day, meeting current and former Arsenal players hasn’t been something of particular interest – I’m not sure I could take meeting Patrick Vieira and discovering he wouldn’t be willing to frolic through a plush meadow hand-in-hand. In slow-motion. As birds sing to us.

However, thanks to the delightful folks at Europcar Sport, yesterday myself and some of my friends from The Goonersphere Podcast where invited down to The Emirates to take part in a live Tweeting event during the Swansea Vs Arsenal game (I’ll get to that in a moment). The cherry on the cake here was being able to meet and interview bonafide Arsenal great, Ray Parlour. When the chance to briefly converse arose, Ray was a genuinely humorous and amiable fellow, apparently more than happy to answer questions and put pen to merchandise – the current away shirt I have adorned with his signature shall be framed and take pride of place on my wall at home.

Ray regaled us with stories from yesteryear and offered his personal views on the current Arsenal team Continue reading

How Is Arsenal’s Front Line Looking?

While the lack of a defensive midfielder and another centre-back is also an issue for Arsene Wenger, it’s no secret that Arsenal fans are still crying out for a 20+ goal a season striker to help turn this squad into genuine title contenders. But with the season now well underway, Gooners aren’t quite screaming from the rooftops about Wenger signing a new forward in January. The lack of depth in defence has been highlighted by the prospect of Laurent Koscielny spending some time on the sidelines, and the issue of a lack of a defensive midfielder remains as strong now as it has done for over a year.

So while Arsenal fans would still desperately love to see a Karim Benzema or a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar walk through the Emirates doors in January, they’d probably be happier to see a Mats Hummels or a Sami Khedira-type signing for the club. The deadline day arrival of Danny Welbeck more than made-up for the loss of Olivier Giroud to injury, and the England striker has so far more than taken his chance to impress the Arsenal fans. While the loss of Giroud was a blow to Arsenal at the time, the arrival of Welbeck has given Arsenal’s offence a new dimension and possibly made them more dynamic. Continue reading

Could Alexis Be Better Than Van Persie In His Prime?

Arsenal’s No17 has the potential to be a hero – can he fulfil it?

This weekend, Arsenal beat Sunderland 2-0, with Alexis Sanchez scoring two. In the post-match interview, Mathieu Flamini was asked a few daft questions about how Alexis Sanchez might match up to the likes of Thierry Henry and Van Persie. Whilst there are few men who can match the God that is Henry, could it be suggested that Sanchez is better than Van Persie in his prime?

Well, let’s take a look at some stats:

It’s not all about goals, is it?

Yes, it may be true that Van Persie has more shots per game, something like 1.9 compared to 4.6, but it’s not just about the goals you score; it’s about helping others score. He had a load of assists in La Liga, 10 to be exact, whilst Van Persie had four. Continue reading

Goalkeeper Troubles, Podolski, Wilshere And Stuff.

Tottenham? Not a chance in hell.

Afternoon, folks.

” I just blew in from the windy city”

Currently there is a rampaging gale blowing. I exaggerate not a jot. Should a cat or small car float past, swirling towards the clouds, I wouldn’t pay it a second glance such is the ferocity of Mother Nature at present. It immediately put me in mind of the film, ‘Twister’ and I secretly yearn for Bill Paxton to burst through my door and exclaim, “Sh*t! Horizontal rain!” for no reason other than the fact I love Bill Paxton.

Today I jot for you good people because of a sense of obligation and without the handy bonus of interesting points of discussion. Recent months have seen me fall out of love with blogging, mainly due to the constraints of time and my personal grievances with the manner in which success in gleaned in this field – barring a few notable exceptions, most pursue to avenue of controversy and speculative dross in order to seduce a readership. I’m not of that persuasion, I’m just a big-haired dandy from Bristol sat in front on a PC blathering about Arsenal, and to see what little success I had obtained obliterated by opportunistic drivel disheartened me somewhat. Continue reading