The Armchair Gooner

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

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.

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.

 

3 goals, 3points, 3 ahead of Spurs and Koscielny’s injury.

The cameras were able to catch the exact moment McCleish realised he'd have to play Heskey.

FA Premiership, 24th March: Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa

Post-matchday greetings, jubilant masses.

I’d stated before the game kicked-off, that I’d like a comfortable, routine victory that didn’t induce heart palpitations and unrelenting terror the moment a ball sailed toward our penalty area. I got what I asked for.

As soon as Kieran Gibbs danced his way through the Villa defence early in the game, and slotted the ball underneath a hapless Given, the result wasn’t in any doubt. From that moment forth, it was a relative stroll in the park with Theo and Arteta adding excellent finishes to put a bit of gloss on the scoreline and add the positives to our goal difference.

Having listened to the monotony earlier in the day at Stamford Bridge where Spurs and Chelsea bored everyone to tears in a 0-0, 3 points was essential to maintain momentum, and increase the gap (yes, Spurs fans, a gap…) between 3rd and 4th place.

I was not able to watch the game because of bloody work. Quick piece of advice: If you love football and religiously follow the fortunes of a team, don’t become a Chef. My life is a constant source of frustration when I’m working Saturday’s and late nights. I don’t get to see my beloved Arsenal anywhere near as much as I’d like. However, I take this blogging seriously and I don’t write any reviews without having seen as much footage as possible.

I thought the boys performed well, without ever having to engage the higher gears. It’s difficult to pick out a stand-out performer. Ordinarily, I’d be hunting synonyms for the word ‘excellent’ to describe Robin van Persie, but our phenomenal Dutchman had a quiet game – he was denied on the line after some exceptionally quick feet to beat the keeper.

It was generally a all-round team performance, and another one to add to our current succession of notable displays. We now sit 3 points ahead of Spurs and 8 ahead of Chelsea. Whilst I don’t advocate any form of celebration until proceedings are at an official close, the ball is firmly in our court and a Champions League place is ours to lose.

A good day was had.

Laurent Koscielny missed the game with injury after being withdrawn late in the day. Arsene had this to say regarding his decision:

“Koscielny had tendinitis in his knee when he woke up this morning, I don’t know what position he slept in but he could not walk properly.

“He tried in the warm-up but could not play.

“We decided in the morning when he woke up. He came to see me and said he was not sure that he could play with that pain.

“So we called somebody up and pushed him in the warm-up. Straight away after the first run he said he could not even move. How bad it is we have to assess.

The Frenchman has comfortably been one of our better players this season, and has cemented his reputation as an exceptional centre-back with a plethora of outstanding displays. I hope it’s nothing too serious, as he’d be a big loss for the run in.

The Fabrice Muamba banner at The Emirates

I’ll finish today with a mention for the fans – fans not just of Arsenal, but from every club around the grounds leading up to kick-off time. I was genuinely moved by the tributes to Fabrice Muamba, and seeing so many people of varying allegiance come together in unison to wish a young man a speedy recovery was something quite beautiful. If you were there, at any of the grounds, and you’re reading; I doff my cap in your direction and offer my upmost admiration. Let’s all hope Bolton’s No6 continues on his road to recovery.

And that’s me done for today. Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Take a moment to comment and follow me on Twitter – @_ArmchairGooner.

Starting XI against Villa, team news and Podolski’s 67th medical at Arsenal.

Theo tried to console Mikel, as Robin cruelly rubbed-in another Scrabble victory.

FA Premiership, March 24th: Arsenal Vs Aston Villa

Saturday morning and match-day greetings, fellow lifeforms.

We wait what seems like an eternity for Arsenal fixtures to return, and we’ve found ourselves with the luxury of two within quick succession. London buses, and all…

The news regarding injuries and selection are positive. Wednesday’s trip to Goodison provided us with three points and only a few knocks and bruises in exchange. Speaking during yesterday’s press conference, Wenger said:

??It is difficult to say but I don??t think we have any big problems at all from Everton, just bumps and bruises as ever after a committed game. But no injuries.?

“We have time to recover between games now. I felt that the period was even a bit long between Newcastle and Everton so you lose a bit of an edge off the competition sometimes”

I was surprised with the selection of both Rosicky and Ramsey to face Everton, but I’m not sure much will change in terms of selection from that game. With Chamberlain and Gervinho good, pacey and creative attacking options from the bench, I’d take an educated guess at the starting line-up being:

Szczsney; Gibbs, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Sagna; Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Ramsey, Walcott; van Persie

On our own turf, and continuing our good form, I wouldn’t expect anything less than a win against Villa. However, they have proven to be tricky adversaries twice already this year, and with both those games decided by the odd goal, we can expect another test of our character and ability to break teams down.

The only slight concern from the Everton game was profligacy. We need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal. That game should have been put to bed in the first half hour, but we wasted a few guilt-edged chances and allowed The Toffees a route back into the game. We’ll undoubtedly create against Villa today, we need to make sure we finish them and give ourselves an afternoon that doesn’t further test the bladder strength of the supporters.

In other news, Arsene has spoken on the transfer activity we can look forward to once the window re-opens. Speaking in the same press conference, he continued:

??You want to make me say that last year was bad and I agree with you ?? last year was terrible for us because we finished on August 31 at 11.55pm and we do not want to repeat that, of course,?

??We will not be a lot on the market, quantity-wise I mean. Quality-wise, certainly.

??But the [maximum] number of the squad is 25. We have many players out on loan and we will take a gamble if we find top, top quality of course.?

It’s good to hear him admit that last year’s efforts were nothing short of calamitous. This time around, I believe we can expect better. One of those ‘quality’ additions is much-rumoured to be Lukas Podolski, who was reported yesterday to have completed another medical in what seems an interminable amount. The story in question was released by James Olley, chief football correspondent for the London Evening Standard.

It wouldn’t be fair to critique the validity of a man whose work I’m unfamiliar with, as it could well be perfectly legitimate. That said, I’m of the opinion that until it’s on the official site, it’s a load of balderdash.

That’s me done for today, folks. I hope you enjoy the game wherever you’re watching it. Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Take a moment to comment and follow my Twitter account – @_ArmchairGooner