The Armchair Gooner

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

Wenger out? Lack of a Cesc life, and a club forever in our shadow.

The moment Cesc realised his in-flight move was Twilight.

Morning, lovelies.

The coming 2 fixtures are those that, traditionally around this time of year, are branded by many as “defining”. We’ve a whopper next Tuesday against German behemoth, Bayern Munich, and an important chance for  cup progression tomorrow against Blackburn. Football betting odds have us sitting with a favourable chance of positive results, yet there is still a lot of restless chatter regarding our fair manager.

Those of you that read this blog with regularity will know that I’m neither an Arsene apologist, or a drooling sycophant unable to see even the smallest of errors made by the “Lord Wenger”. As a club, Arsenal have reached uncharted highs under Arsene’s reign, but it’s fair to say things have dried up in recent years.

However, all this talk of sackings, all these banners and statements of indignation seems churlish and pointless to me. Yes, Arsene has made mistakes, and there does appear to be a slight lack of ambition and refusal to change certain policies. The real question isn’t whether or not you think he should leave, it’s who we could get if he did?  My faith in Arsene may not be what it once was, but it still remains.

Elsewhere today, there’s a story about Cesc Fabregas. Many romantic souls amonsgt Arsenal fans one day hope he’ll return to the club in a blaze of nostalgia and glory. I love Cesc, so that’s an appealing notion, but the diminutive Spaniard has taken to the press to rain on that parade.

When talking about Victor Valdes, a player who has spent his career at Barcelona and is now hoping to move abroad, Cesc siad:

“What Victor wants to experience now I went through when I was young and it was fantastic for me,” Fabregas said at a press conference.

“But now I have returned and I want to stay, if I can and if I deserve to, forever.”

Looks like those romantics are shit out of luck, doesn’t it?

Finally today, a special mention must go to last night’s match at White hart Lane. During the interval, Spurs wheeled out Nayim to be presented to the drooling, illiterate masses. It just goes to show you how much they live in our shadow when one of the club’s crowning accomplishments is a goal a former player of their’s scored against Arsenal.

That’s all for today folks. The comments are below and they await your thoughts on Wenger, and your opinions on Cesc Fabregas’ recent words. Would you consider dumping Wenger for a fitter, younger, more spritely model if you had the choice? Would you welcome Cesc back with open arms, or slam the door in his face whilst screaming, “You traitorous little fucker!”? Let me know.

Tomorrow will include a full preview of our potentially tricky FA Cup tie with Blackburn. You can keep up with the latest odds on that game as they change at BetVictor.com, and I’ll be bringing you all the team news and developments in the aforementioned preview.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards

EDIT:

I did promise to feature the best Valentine’s poem provided yesterday, but with  such a paucity of responses, it wasn’t exactly a competition. Regardless of that, I did enjoy this from Admir, so many thanks to him for making the effort:

??Oh, Arsenal, how I love thee,
with every breath I inhale,
I dive for you on my knee
I dive like ugly monkey Bale.

Oh, Arsenal, how I love thee,
I??ll love you until I??m dead,
I dive for you on my knee,
my love is stronger than Giroud??s head.

Oh, Arsenal, how I love thee,
I love you with my every gland,
more than I??d like to see
Ryan Shawcross beaten by Ramsey??s hand.

Oh, Arsenal, how I love thee,
no matter we win, lose or draw,
more than I??d like to see
Roy Keane facing Vieira??s chain-saw.?

Starting XI for the game against Schalke.

UEFA Champions League; Wednesday Oct 24th, Schalke (h)

Morning folks.

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up”.

Yes, that is a quote from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Yes, I am a bit of a loser. It’s fairly apt though, isn’t it?

The Norwich debacle is best left unmentioned. I’ve expressed my opinions on the game, and that’s the end of it for me. What’s important is how we set about our task tonight. Make no mistake; the German outfit are an excellent team, and if we turn out another shoddy and unenthusiastic performance, we’ll lose. Arsenal need to come out and play like Arsenal.

I expect Schalke not to ‘park the bus’, but to set up in an organised manner and attempt to hit us on the counter attack. They’ve not had the best start to the group, and they’ll be looking to come away with at least a point. Up front, they have Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and he is a lethal finisher who will need to be policed for the game’s entirety.

Team news is fairly simple; having played for the reserves on Monday, Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong, and Bacary Sagna will not be included in the squad. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out, but Laurent Koscielny returns after missing the trip to Norwich with back pain. There is no sign of any of the long-term injured players returning just yet.

I expect the team to line up as they did on Saturday, but Arsene does tend to throw in the odd surprise after a defeat. Serge Gnabry perhaps? We will have to see. Personally, I think we will start like this:

Tonight will be a big test. Schalke are arguably up there with Man City and Chelsea in terms of quality we have faced this season, and we’ll need to put the demons of Saturday to bed as quickly as possible. A lot will depend on our midfield trio and their ability to not only control the game, but to inject some attacking impetus.

If we perform like we can, I’m confident of a win. If we perform like we did on Saturday, then there may be some very disgruntled people in the stadium only too happy to make their feelings known. It’s an important game, this one.

Seeing as my predictions are invariably wildly inaccurate, I should say I expect Schalke to win 10-0. That, however, would be tempting fate, and I don’t especially want to incur any supporter wrath myself. I’m going to go for a slightly shaky, but reasonably assured 2-1 victory for the Arse. A draw wouldn’t be appalling, though.

Lastly, if you fancy a deliciously cheeky flutter on the game, and you’re looking for somewhere to bet – try Bet Victor. They’ve all kinds of interesting ways you can attempt to make £10 double or triple in size. Simply click the link below to have a look.

Arsenal vs Schalke odds.

Thanks for reading today, you splendid carbon lifeforms. The comments await your views below. Do you agree with my team? What predictions do you have on the final score? Let me know.

I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game.

Starting XI for the game against West Ham.

FA Premiership; Saturday Oct 6th, West Ham (a)

Morning, curious and knowledge-hungry lifeforms of this ‘ere planet.

Today, we make a short trip to the home of Allardyce. As a youngster, I loved the tale of the 3 Billy Goats Gruff. These days I relate that part of my youth to Arsenal playing a team Fat Sam is in charge of; all we want to do is reach the lush grass on the other side (play football), but we’ll have to defeat a hideous fucking troll in order to do so (Allardyce’s hoof-it tactics). In that tale, brains and cunning overcome neolithic stupidity, and that’s kind of how I see the two teams matching up.

The bad news is we’ll probably have to endure 90 minutes of long balls being thumped toward Andy Carroll – if ever there’s a player suited to the way Allardyce wants to send a team out, it’s him. But we shouldn’t be concerning ourselves too much with the intent of our opponents. There is more than enough in the Arsenal locker in terms of skill and guile to vanquish West Ham. If we play to our strengths and assert our own physicality, I’m certain we’ll win the game.

As always, they’ll be one or two changes. Personally, I can’t see how we can leave Mertesacker out of this game. He’s fit from the alleged bout of flu that prevented him appearing on Wednesday, and his calmness and ariel prowess will be of a greater need than the Vermaelen /Koscielny partnership. Since the BFG hasn’t been selected, we’ve almost instantly started to look vulnerable at the back. In a game in which we’re certain to be bombarded arielly, we need him. I doubt any of you will disagree.

The other berth under debate is who comes in for Diaby. It’s my opinion that, in a tricky away fixture, Francis Coquelin is the wiser choice. I wouldn’t be surprised if Le Boss opted for Aaron Ramsey on the right side of our front three to give a bit more stability to our midfield.

All things considered, my XI would be:

Key to victory will be our ability to deal with high balls, and that means added responsibility on the sometimes suspect handling of Vito Mannone. He’s a solid shot stopper, but he’ll be tested tomorrow in the air, and I’d be telling fibs if I exclaimed my total confidence in him. He’ll need to be protected, and I fully expect West Ham will target him.

I’m confident we’ll win tomorrow, but nervous enough about our recent defensive blunders to feel ill at ease before kick off. Alas, I’ll be working this afternoon, but I’ll be plugged into 5live – assuming they’ve commentary on the game – or whatever other available medium I can find.

What are you views on the team? How would you start? Do you think Sam Allardyce is a grotesque, portly troll with a nausea-inducing, leathered face? Let me know in the comments.

Lastly, do you fancy a cheeky punt on the game? Well, click below for Bet Victor’s latest odds and new membership deals.

Arsenal vs West ham odds

Thanks for reading, you beautiful people. I love each and every one of you. Even YOU.

Starting XI for the game against Olympiakos.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday Oct 3rd, Olymipiakos (h)

Morning, delicious reader.

The sign of a good team is how they bounce back from disappointment. Tonight we have a good opportunity against opponents that notoriously travel poorly to do exactly that.

It may be early days, but the Chelsea result hurt. Not just because of the fact it brought the aspirations of many back to the ground with a jarring thud, but also because John Terry is a shit, and he should never be allowed the pleasure of being on a winning team. Ever. I mean it, folks; the man should be resigned to a life of defeat-induced flagellation.

But we did lose. It’s in the past now, and should be left there. Tonight we move on, and with a handy 3 points already in the bag from a good away victory in France, we can further cement our position in the group if we double our tally.

There have been some rumblings that rotation could be the order of the day with a game against West Ham to come the following Saturday, and whilst I agree, I only agree to a certain extent. There is plenty to be gained from allowing our more important players a breather here and there, but not much to be gleaned from constant tinkering. Football is perhaps the sport in which it’s most important to have familiarity in your line-up.

With that in mind, my best guess at how we’ll take to the pitch is as follows (I’m never right, mind you):

Starting Giroud would be beneficial. He may be shanking shots high and wide when the chances come his way, but the more we persevere, the better he’s likely to get. His approach play is excellent, he adds another dimension to our forward line when on the pitch. I’m expecting that once the dreaded bouts of panic relent, and his lack of composure goes, he’ll be a very good striker indeed. He just needs a ‘moment’, something to fill him with confidence and get people talking about what he can do, as opposed to what he isn’t doing.

All in all, the above selection should dispatch our Greek friends with minimal fuss. I’ll be expecting a deliciously comfortable victory with a couple of goals to put us all right again. Of course, as I always say, complacency is our enemy, and must be fought off at all costs. We don’t want to upset Twitter again, do we…

That’s what I predict, what about you folks? How do you see the team lining up? There is a handy comments section below this post that’s just waiting for you to splurge your thoughts all over it.

Lastly, if you fancy a cheeky bet on the game, click the picture below and you’ll be transported to Bet Victor and all their wonderful odds and bargains for new members. Who knows, you might just win a bob or two – or become an addict, and sell your grandmother to fund a punt on Bobby Zamora scoring 4 in a game. I just don’t know…

Arsenal odds!!

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful people.