The Armchair Gooner

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

Not Scoring, Not Scoring Arsenal; Defeat… Is it Fair To Blame Ospina?

“Hooorayyyy, I’ve let a bit of a soft goal in…”

Morning, folks.

That was bloody awful, wasn’t it…

From the moment the game kicked off it had the unmistakable stink of one of those frustratingly complacent and lacklustre Arsenal performances we’ve not seen in a while. I said yesterday I felt a degree of ambivalence, as the fixture carried with it no real significance. With a top 4 finish guaranteed, my attentions have started to slip from what is directly in front to the FA Cup final once the season is over.

It looked like the players adopted the same mentality. The first half was thoroughly abject and we seemed happy to saunter around with little or no urgency. The distribution from the back and onwards was lethargic and Swansea found it very easy to get players behind the ball and stifle our build up.

It almost had the feel of a pre-season game at the Emirates Cup to such an extent I half expected to see a Mexican wave unfold across the stadium as everyone’s interests dwindled. It truly was terrible and arguably the worst half of football the team have displayed this far – maybe not quite as bad as the 2nd half against Anderlecht.  Continue reading

United reaction: Twitter explodes, #WengerOut, plus points and Phil Jones is a hideous creature of the darkness.

Phile Jones: The horror!!! My eyes!!!

Morning, all.

That didn’t exactly go to plan now, did it? I’m genuinely disappointed. United minus the powers of Sir Alex are not the force they once were, and yesterday was a good opportunity to beat them. Alas, we simply didn’t turn up and play our game, and whilst it was a closely fought contest, it’s hard to say United didn’t deserve to take the win.

They pressed and scrapped in the manner I had hoped we would. Neither team showed any huge amount of attacking flair, but Arsenal offered precious little going forward, and succumbed to a simple headed goal from a corner. The biggest shame of all was it had the be that Badger-templed bastard who scored. I’m glad he celebrated the way he did. I’m glad the world can see what a vile ingrate he truly is. Robin van Persie is an arrogant, treacherous bully and a complete and utter piece of sh*t. World class he certainly is, but a thoroughly deplorable human being as well. Continue reading

Fulham 0-1 Arsenal; changes needed, much to be critical of, but 3 delicious points regardless.

Steve Sidwell’s enthusiasm would often get the better of him during training.

Morning folks.

Many times, my friends; many times I’ve sat at my trusty chair, clutching a delicious beverage and wrote to you regarding an Arsenal victory that was accomplished despite a bloody awful performance.

Once Steve Sidwell was dismissed for an unwelcome lunge at Mikel Arteta, I didn’t assume the floodgates would open, I feared it was exactly the kind of opportunity Arsenal would spurn in favour of making life difficult for themselves, and causing us fans to fear suffering a horrific cardiac malfunction.

Yet, as I often find myself saying, we won. We came home with 3 very valuable points, and those points wouldn’t look any different on the board had we blown Fulham away in a typhoon of attacking verve. I find it difficult to be too critical in such instances, because winning is what’s of greatest importance, and all else matters not a jot. Undoubtedly, we’d all like a routine victory, one without the maddening lapses and hide-behind-your-hands moments., but supporting Arsenal just doesn’t seem to work that way.

There’s no doubting the team have greater to show. Across the entire starting XI it’s difficult to single out any one player worthy on anything remotely like effusive praise. Santi Cazorla looked fatigued. Jack Wilshere doesn’t appear to be anywhere near fit, and Laurent Koscielny had one of his less convincing days.

However, one player I’m sure will receive plenty of criticism, I don’t think entirely deserves it; Olivier Giroud. He may not be the most graceful of centre forwards, he may currently be filling the shoes of someone we all secretly miss, but he’s done very well for us. The good points of his contribution to the cause far outweigh the negative. He’s an easy target for some fans when the going gets tough.

Do I think he could have performed better yesterday? Yes, he has plenty of times this season. Do I think his red card was justified? Not in the slightest. The challenge was awkward at best, and perhaps looked immeasurably more dangerous at full speed than it actually was. To give him a straight red and a 3 match ban was harsh.

On the back of one or two ropey performances, I see folks across the Goonersphere already clamouring for Podolski’s inclusion in the side, as if they’ve forgotten somehow his form hasn’t exactly been spectacular. I personally think Arsene will opt for Theo down the middle during Giroud’s time on the sidelines, and the less said about Mr Walcott today, the better.

All in all folks, a win is a win. It wasn’t pretty or comfortable. It’s certainly replaced a few of my beautiful brown flowing locks with grey ones. Yet all we can ask for is points accumulated, and points gained. If we secure 12 points from our remaining 4 games with performances like yesterday’s, I won’t care. I’ll have probably been omitted to hospital with nervous exhaust, but I won’t care.

We’ve a full 7 days break now until the visit of Manchester United and their pantomime villain. Hopefully Spurs and Chelsea will see fit to blunder before that game and give us a little breathing space. It’s going to be a tough one to gain 3 points from, but wouldn’t it be typically Arsenal to struggle at Fulham only to pull something out of the bag spectacularly when we least expect it? God, I hope so.

That’s all for today folks. The comments section below awaits your thoughts on the game. Happy with the 3 points above everything else? Frustrated with the poor performance? Let me know.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Gervinho, Chamberlain, Szczsney, Blackburn, Bayern, Wenger and the worst day of the season by a mile.

Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn: Unbelievably shit-awful

Morning, smiley happy people…

Before I began writing this post, I sat down and tried to make myself think of something positive to say. I struggled for 2-3 minutes to come up with anything even remotely full of cheer to serve up to you today before I exclaimed to myself, “Oh, balls to this” and decided to get on with writing about how I actually feel.

Losing to Bradford and plummeting out of a cup competition we had a genuine chance of winning was humiliating enough. For that to be repeated in alarmingly similar fashion yesterday in nothing short of outrageous.

For all the talk of Wenger’s selction policy for that match, I actually agreed with him leading up to the game. It made sense to keep certain players fresh for Tuesday’s fixture with Bayern Munich, and those sent onto to the field should have had more than enough quality to overturn a Championship side.

To place blame on that, and that alone, is naive. The troubles within our club go far deeper. Countless occasions this season have seen our players take to the field with an unmotivated attitude and lethargy. Fans have every right to expect more, and every right to vent their apoplexy when mistakes and poor performances appear with such regularity.

And in these moments of despair, we look for someone to blame. The board, the manager, the players; it’s difficult to pinpoint the main contributing factor to the malaise at Arsenal, and the only sensible conclusion I can muster is a combination of all of the above. Arsenal has become a business focused on profit and sustainability, not a football team with aspirations of glory. That’s not something I’ve ever cared to believe, but it’s something I believe to be true.

Our manager, an undeniably great man, is a shadow of the man he once was; challenged, focused and with a desire to win. 8 years ago he had assembled one of the greatest teams in English football. Times change, however, and football is a different beast these days. The great change with the times, you need only look at the continued success of Alex Ferguson to see a man who adapts to that which changes around him. Wenger’s legacy and past glories will forever be the greatest period of success for Arsenal, but his inability to change, his insistence on vanity projects are seriously tarnishing that legacy.

I’m no Wenger apologist, nor am I the type to blindly back someone against such compelling evidence. However, to single him out for blame is as pointless as it is to do so for any of the other factors. Arsene’s responsibility lies with the team and the results they obtain, for that he takes the credit and the current cacophony of derision. The ambition, the desire to compete with others is something he cannot do without the backing of the board.

That’s where the real trouble lies for me – the club as a whole. Arsenal would happily obtain 4th every year and nothing else as it brings in the revenue and ends the season with a profit. If we can sell on a few star players, and bring in cheaper alternatives during the summer, our board will jump at the chance. Each summer that passes sees our squad weakened, and the danger of losing touch with others increases until one day it will eventually disappear altogether. That day may be a lot closer than we care to think.

In the wake of such an appalling defeat, it’s natural to focus on the negative. Some of you may even dismiss this post as doing exactly that – that I’m just a bitter soul ranting becuase I’m pissed off. I assure you that is not the case. I write today genuinely concerned and because I care.

We are Arsenal. We have a bulging bank balance, a world class arena, state of the art training facilities and a large and diverse fanbase. We are one of the richest clubs in football. We should be competing with the best, not making do with average players and low expectations.

Whatever your allegiance, we all want the same thing. I’m almost afraid to say it, “We want our Arsenal back”.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Don’t hold back – say what’s truly on your mind.