The Armchair Gooner

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

Sanchez, Ozil, Walcott, Ramsey And The Unshakable Feeling Of Delicious Glory.

Theo justifies his start.

Howdy, folks.

There are moments as a Football supporter in which you can truly question the reasons behind devoting so much time and effort into following a team. In moments of the past, I’ve found myself pondering that very question, scratching my temple and proclaiming aloud, “Why the fu*ck do I subject myself to such torment?!”.

The game we all love is known to frequently show herself as a cruel and unforgiving mistress. However, as is always the case, there is a flip-side to that coin – a flip-side that is beautiful, wonderful, heartwarming and comprehensively answers the question above.

Yesterday’s performance and victory perfectly encapsulated that joy, that wonderment, that glorious euphoria and warmth you get from being a part of something experienced by others on a global scale.

Podcast cohort and good friend of mine, @TheDanielCowan triumphantly neglected a wedding to drive over to my place in Gloucester and we watched the game, along with my girlfriend who is proving herself a spectacularly good omen, accompanied by the heavenly taste of a Pieminister pie. It was the perfect set-up to what turned into the perfect performance.

From the moment the game kicked off, to the last remaining exchanges up until the final whistle, Arsenal dominated Aston Villa. Even typing the word “dominated” feels inadequate, as if there should a new word invented just to accurately describe how comfortable the day was – let’s say ‘Ultradominatronic’… Continue reading

The FA Cup final 2015: Arsenal’s Prospects And Starting XI

The big day has arrived.

Morning, folks.

Nerves getting to you yet? Mine are… Sweet Lord have mercy, my innards are currently doing a fandango of terror and each waking moments sees me certain I’ll have to dash to the closest lavatory like an Olympic sprinter.

There’s something glorious about the unknown on Cup Final Day. Aston Villa, on paper at the very least, are a team that wouldn’t cause any of us to fear were today a regular Premiership fixture. However, when facing the unpredictability of Cup football, when facing the situation in which anyone can emerge a hero; I look upon the potential team sheet of our opponents with nothing but dread.

“Cleverley could have a good day. Benteke is dangerous if he is in the mood. We’ll need to make sure our midfield looks after Delph. Grealish might look like he was dropped from the cast of Bugsy Malone, but he has a certain magic in his toes”

Those are sentiments sure to not cross my mind in a league fixture. In said circumstances I’d be calm and fully expecting a comfortable victory. Today is anything but.  Continue reading

Magical Mesut, Super Santi And Bloody Awful Villa.

You splendid, beautiful man.

Morning, folks.

That was a relatively straight forward win, wasn’t it? I almost miss the bladder-weakening moments you’d associate with Arsenal in fixtures such as this; no bizarre concessions, no peculiar defensive mishaps and no reason at all for the internet to implode with self-important rage.

“GAZZZZIIIIDDDDIIIIISSSSS!!!”

I say, “almost miss” but that is a hideous exaggeration. I don’t miss it at all. I miss it like I would the regular opportunity to set my penis on fire in front of a live television audience.

In fact, it is genuinely pleasant to be able to sit down and write a report about a match in which we were comfortable, professional and ruthlessly efficient from the first minute up until the last.

As you might have read yesterday, work prevented me from following the game in its entirety. Mercifully, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and a brief respite from the masses descending upon us for Sunday lunch, I was able to watch large portions of the second half and see all the goals bar Giroud’s opener – Continue reading

Giroud and Wilshere; Gone in Sixty Seconds.

‘A’ is for, “A bloody painful last fifteen minutes”

Morning all.

Those nerves I mentioned yesterday, they came back. With a vengeance. During the last 15 minutes when we inexplicably allowed the worst Villa team I’ve seen in years back into the game, my poor innards were treated to a maelstrom of curious sounds and pained exhausts. Before the game I’d actually settled down and was prepared to enjoy a pleasant evening’s viewing. After that glorious 59 second period in which Giroud and Wilshere netted superb goals, any remnants of terror washed away absolutely. Or so I thought.

Oh, Arsenal, how you love to torment me.

When reviewing Arsenal, it’s often easy to point our certain areas where you believed improved could be made and end up sounding churlish. We came through an away fixture with three points and that’s all that matters. Continue reading

Aston Villa (a): team news, thoughts and predicted starting XI.

Tomas politely and gently enquired about Anthony Taylor’s peculiar decisions.

Morning, folks.

As you might recall, the reverse fixture to today’s game at Villa Park caused something of an uproar. That fateful day; the day Arsenal supporters felt the lowest they have for some time, Anthony Taylor produced one of the most hapless and cretinous displays of refereeing I think I’ve ever seen.

He was a, as Alan Pardew so eloquently put it yesterday

Since that day, Arsenal have come on leaps and bounds and victory tonight will see us reclaim the top spot in the Premiership. To some, the match is a formality. Our opponents might be on their own ground, but their form is utterly woeful at present and they don’t look a team at all – more a collection of miscreants ambling about the pitch in hope of accomplishing something of note – like in those zombie films where the undead wander aimlessly without any human being to gnaw upon. Continue reading

Cazorla, Giroud, Monreal, Walcott, Diaby, Arsene and welcome calm waters after a maelstrom of sh*t.

Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa: Proof that Jack Wilshere is an ethereal being. (Image courtesy of @murtz_abidi)

Morning, folks.

Ahhhhhhh, and relax.

There’s nothing quite like Arsenal’s ability to turn the relatively simplistic into an afternoon of fingernail-gnawing terror. Villa, to their credit, did come and at least attempt to make a game of it, but a narrow 2-1 victory should really have been achieved with little or no fuss.

When Santi Cazorla popped in our opener on 6 minutes, I foolishly thought we’d be in for one of those games where we pulverise our opponents and register a large goals tally. Unlike those of you fortunate to have jobs that don’t require working ridiculous hours, I was paying no attention to my work in the kitchen, and instead permanently attached to my phone keeping up with the game.

Through the various mediums utilised, I thought things appeared to be comfortable for the Arsenal. Having watched the game back in the wee hours of Sunday morning – when I’m writing this – I realise we made fairly hard work of a team we should really be giving a good hiding.

Of course, that matters not a jot. When all the statistics and reports are long forgotten, the history books will simply inform that Arsenal won by 2 goals to Aston Villa’s 1. After a week as soul destroying as that which has haunted us, the victory was all important, and the manner it was accomplished  merely a secondary point.

In patches I thought we played well, and Nacho Monreal especially caught my eye. The Spaniard has only 3 Premiership games under his belt in an unfamiliar team, yet he looks assured and rapidly growing into his role. I like him – he’s effective both defensively and offensively, and he’s only going to get better once fully adjusted to the rigours of English football.

There were downsides. Abou Diaby managed to last only 60 minutes before substituted with yet another injury. You have to feel for the guy. There’s little doubting his talent, but I fear there may come a point when the club just can’t afford to put any more faith in him. Underneath all the aches and pains lurks a truly excellent footballer. However, time is no longer on Diaby’s side, and the summer could very well see the club say, “Abou, thanks for kicking John Terry in the face, but we have to let you go”.

Elsewhere. players I expect more from had a bit of an off day. Big Olivier Giroud showed occasional glimpses of the profligacy that plagued the start of his Arsenal career, and once again Theo Walcott was a special kind of fucking useless. Don’t get me wrong here, folks; I’m not one of these naysayers that enjoys trashing Walcott because it’s sometimes the popular thing to do. Given his wages, and his contract saga, I think we are entitled to expect better from him, and that’s something we’ve only seen briefly since he did put pen to paper.

The hero of the day, and the match winner was, as I’m sure you’d all agree, Santi Cazorla. Many people criticise Arsene’s transfers, but the brilliance of our diminutive Spanish trickster shows that when he gets it right, he’s capable of some truly magical deals. At £12m, someone as packed with talent as Cazorla is fantastic business any way you look at it. We are certainly very luck to have him, and one of the undoubted highs of the seaon is watching him and Wilshere combine in midfield.

All in all, we go into next weeks enormous game at Tottenham’s dungeon with a win and something to aim for. Victory in that game will really put us in a good position for obtaining 4th. Let’s hope we can build on our good points, and learn from the bad.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. The comments await. Use them, or forever regret missing out on your opportunity to be heard. I always enjoy reading them.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the visit of Aston Villa.

Saturday February 23rd; FA Premiership, Aston Villa (h)

Hello, fellow Gooners.

Ordinarily, the visit of mediocre opponents wouldn’t be considered a game of huge importance. Aston Villa are not flying high on the back of impressive results, nor do they posses a squad capable of competing with anyone on their day. However, they will turn up at the Emirates confident of being able to get a result. Arsenal’s persistent floundering and recent disappointments empowers the teams we face, and I view today as a tricky fixture indeed.

The team news sees Bacary Sagna unavailable with a knee injury, but Nacho Monreal is back after missing the Bayern thumping through ineligibility. Thomas Vermaelen’s recent poor form might see him miss out, with Arsene expected to bring in Monreal and Carl Jenkinson at full-back, and stick with Mertesacker and Koscielny in the centre.

Up front, Theo’s piss poor showing through the middle on Tuesday probably didn’t go unnoticed, so I’d wager Giroud will return to lead the line, with Walcott dropping to the right side where he tends to be far more effective. Our regular midfield triumvirate will remain as it was.

My guess at the team would be:

As is so often the case, I view the game quite simply; if we play to our capabilities and concentrate in the defensive areas, we will win. Sounds simple, right? Well, with Arsenal it is invariably anything but. Lethargy and complacency creep into to our game with such alarming regularity that it’s impossible to know what’s going to happen.

Today’s game is vitally important with fixtures against those competing for 4th place with us coming very soon. 3 points are what’s needed today above a reactionary performance. The future may look pretty bleak, there may not be any silverware on the horizon, but getting 4th is still important – if not exactly a bloody trophy…

I’m confident we’ll emerge the victors today, and I’ll say we will do so 2-0.

If you fancy having a cheeky flutter on the outcome, head on over to my friends at Bet Victor. They’ll kindly offer a free £25 bet to those of you that sign up as new members. You can register here, and check out all the latest odds by clicking below.

Arsenal vs Aston villa odds.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. Use the comments to forward a few of your own team selections. Who would you start? Rosicky for a bit more urgency in the midfield? Would you drop Vermaelen after his recent performances? How do you think the match will go? Let me know.

I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game.