The Armchair Gooner

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

Cup progression, and Bendtner: the rebirth of a fallen idol… kinda.

West Brom 1-1 Arsenal AET (Arsenal win 4-3 on pens): “Now I’m here, I’m not leaving”

Morning, folks.

Last night’s game, as far as spectacle and entertainment goes, was bloody awful. 90 minutes of tedium was bad enough, but when extra time loomed ominously on the horizon, I wasn’t particularly heartbroken when my stream for the game decided not to work.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss a great deal during the added 30 minutes. The penalty shoot out was enjoyed via the radio, and audio commentary alone seems to make the whole experience all the more nerve-wracking.

When writing match reports, I tend not to dissect each incident, or recount the events that happened. I’ve always found that to be a little pointless.  It’s safe to assume that most people have seen the game and know what happened, and if you are heading here as your first port of call to discover the outcome, I would suggest there are better avenues for you to explore. Continue reading

West Brom (a): Thoughts, team news and potential starting XI

“Yep – that’s my career disappearing over the horizon”

Morning, you rowdy lot.

To your average Arsenal fan, Nicklas Bendtner is an anathema. He certainly possess a degree of talent, that is hard to deny. When the mood takes him, the lumbering Dane can be a handful for even the more cultured and capable of defenders. However, these days it’s his antics and behaviour off the field of play that grab the attention.

Let’s not beat about the bush – he’s a tw*t. Anyone who requests his shirt number to be in line with the wages of his new deal – 52 – shouldn’t be described as anything else – even if he did deny it…

I never thought we’d see him an Arsenal shirt again. He most probably thought the same. But as the “interested parties” soon realised Nicklas couldn’t possibly drop a penny below his current wages to play regular football elsewhere, it soon became apparent we’d be stuck with him. Couple that with our inability to secure the services of a forward to lighten Giroud’s workload, and you have tonight’s scenario; Nicklas Bendter will put on an Arsenal shirt.

Or so it’s alleged across the media.

For the trip to the Hawthornes, we’ll see the usual farrago of selection for the Capital One Cup. I expect to see the odd sprinkling of first team regulars that could use some competitive football along with a few of our talented youngsters on the periphery of things.  And Bendtner. Bloody Bendtner.

Guessing what Arsene will do in these games is very tricky. Were we playing a Premiership game, predicting the starting 11 wouldn’t be too difficult – easy in fact given the current paucity of available players. That’s a list you can now add Theo Walcott to for the next few weeks.

So, here’s my very best guess at how we will line up:

Nicklas’ triumphant return?

As for the game itself, it’s certainly a potentially tricky one. I’d expectWest Brom to field a relatively strong team, but use it as an opportunity to give minutes to certain players in the same manner we will.  Given the lack of options, our bench could very well be stronger that recent weeks tonight, and contain the likes of Ramsey, Ozil and Giroud should we need to chase the game in the second half.

Of course, Arsene may even spring a surprise on us. For some time I’ve had a sneaky feeling he might start with Ozil today – if only to give our new German friend another opportunity to become familiar with the rigours of away games in the Premiership.  I’d also hoped he’d start with young Chuba Akpom up front, as he is immeasurably more deserving of the role than Bendtner, plus he appears to have a future at Arsenal.

All shall be revealed in due course.

I think we’ll win tonight, but I’m far from super-confident. The team has performed well recently and gathered some good momentum. The team that takes part tonight is likely to be a disjointed version, and it’s hard to say how they’ll perform. If they hit the ground running, I’ve no doubt of progression. But, it could be one of those nights. It certainly has the ingredients.

I shall predict a 1-2 win.

That’s all for today, folks. What do you think the team should be? There’s been a great deal of debate surrounding our selection, so don’t be shy – drop your thoughts in the comments.

I’ll be back tomorrow. For now, I’m off to have some breakfast, a mug of tea and plot further to take over the world….. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Sorry…

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Odds, sods, Bendtner, Viviano and Gooner pods.

Christian Bale loves the Goonersphere podcast…

Morning, you wonderful little so-and-sos.

I could have given this post a naughty title. Nothing licentious, mind you – I refer to those hit-grabbing monstrosities that plauge the average news feed. Why would I consider such a thing? Well, the first edition of the Goonerspehre podcast is out and I’d like to get it some exposure. It’s hosted by Daniel Cowan and yours truly, and will be heading to your delicious ears on a regular basis.

You can listen to it here.

I’m going to keep today brief. I’ve done my customary searches for newsy nuggets and found one or two interesting points. You all know by now that I love The Flame. Since he returned from Milan, he’s been crunching his way through the opposition and into my heart.

During the Stoke game, it’s alleged that The Flame was incensed by Marc Wilson’s regular fouling of Jack Wilshere to such an extent he treated the Orc midfielder to a few choice words.  They were:

 Do it again, and I’ll blind you.

The Flame obviously didn’t make an actual attempt to temper the sight of a Stoke player. He did something – if true –  we’ve not seen for a while; he made the opposition aware that kicking one of our players wouldn’t go unpunished. Perhaps he could have chosen his words better. Perhaps… But the reason for those words being used is something I’m kinda glad to see.

Staying on the subject momentarily, something I tweeted made it onto the TalkSPORT website. Yippee… Thanks to those of you that pointed it out.

A few rumours have already started to surface regarding our Capital One Cup selection. It’s a fairly safe bet most of the more fragile first-teamers will be spared the fixture. A great deal of debate has taken place regarding those that will play.

Emiliano Viviano is in line to make his first Arsenal appearance. From what little I’ve hard and seen, the Italian is a very good keeper, and could genuinely offer some competition for the first team jersey. It’ll be good to get a look at him in action.  The big news – if you can call it that – is that Nicklas Bendtner – allegedly –  will start the game. I’m about as keen on seeing Bendtner in an Arsenal shirt again as I am to dangle my penis in front of a rabid dog that’s not been fed for a week.

Some of you will say we should support him, and I certainly agree with you. When he takes to the pitch it’s the right thing to do. If he tries his best and contributes to the team, you’ll not here any complaints from me. My problem is simply he shouldn’t be here; Arsenal shouldn’t be in the position of requiring the services of someone that’s more ego than talent, and a bit of a pr*ck. He was ‘Plan Z’ and there’s no excuse for requiring it.

We all know Nicklas doesn’t want to be here. Most fans would share that sentiment.  I would far rather we offered playing time to someone like Chuba Akpom who has a future at the Club and would love a chance to prove himself.

It’s certainly an interesting deabte. Would you be happy for Bendtner to start, or do you think somone with less experience but more desire to play is a better option? You know the drill – take a moment to tell me your thoughts in the comments section.

I must leave you now, as I have to dress myself and spend the day plotting the route I’ll take to my inevitable superstardom.

As always; thanks for reading (and listening if you’ve heard the pod) you beautiful bastards.

Gervinho, Ramsey, Chamakh, Wilshere, Podolski, and an abject failure in every respect.

Bradford City 1-1 Arsenal (AET Bradford win 3-2 on pens): Oh dear…

Morning folks

Before the snarly, disgruntled. how-the-fuck-did-that-happen post begins, I feel there is something all Arsenal fans should say; congratulations to Bradford City. They played their hearts out, showed the kind of hunger, spirit, and determination we lacked in almost every position, and they richly deserved the spoils. Defeat may be bitter pill to swallow in such embarrassing circumstances, but our opponents warrant their day in the sun.

As for Arsenal? Well… It’s difficult to know where to begin. I hate to be one of those smug know-it-alls that says, “I told you so”, but I did tell you so.

Throughout the hours leading up to kick-off, I was gripped with a sense of worry. Part of me just knew something dreadful was waiting on the horizon. What finally materialised was just about as bad as I think I’ve ever seen Arsenal play. In every regard they were woeful; passing, dedication, shooting, creating chances, defending. The list goes on.

It’s the easy option to try to assign blame or look for scapegoats on the back of failure. Ordinarily, I’d condemn those looking to place fault onto Aaron Ramsey’s shoulders. Today I can’t defend him. He was utterly horrendous. As bad as our Welsh midfielder was, a shadow of shite was cast over him by the mighty Gervinho. The Ivorian took gangly ineptitude in front of goal to uncharted heights – even conspiring to miss a gaping net from 3 yards out without a serious challenge to distract him.

But to place blame on two players would be unfair. Every single one of them was bloody awful. Vermaelen was sloppy, Mertesacker looked as if he was seeing a ghost every other minute, and Podolski and Chamakh might as well have not been on the pitch at all. The only person who might – and I say ‘might’ – be above some criticism is Jack Wilshere, who at least looked as if he cared about what was happening.

Bizarrely, Arsene Wenger gave praise to the efforts of his team after the game. In an interview with Sky Spoorts, he stated:

“I cannot fault the effort we gave for 120 minutes. You have to give credit to Bradford on the night. That’s part of the game.

“It’s not a lack of quality. We couldn’t convert our chances for different reasons. Overall it was a real cup game.

“We will get over that. It’s part of our club, it’s what we do.”

Giving credit to the victors is the sportsmanlike thing to do. It smacks of stubbornness, however, to commend the efforts of a team who, to even the most ardent of supporter, didn’t perform even remotely close to the required level. I’m sure most of us would see fault with the effort over 120 minutes, and if that performance was Arsenal trying their best, then we are in a worse place than I’ve previously thought.

On the back of a result like that, I’m past being angry. Instead I’m genuinely worried. In seasons past when hardship has struck, I’ve always fancied our ability to bounce back. Since those days, the players that made us great have gradually been stripped away, and we’re left with what we have now; a shadow of what we used to be. Selling our best players off at a profit looks finally to have taken a serious toll.

For every brief moment of light we get, there seems to be darker days waiting just around the corner. In a season already filled with disappointment, losing… No, being outplayed comprehensively by a side from League Two is a new low for Arsenal. The Capital One Cup represented our best chance of silverware, and now it is gone. What’s left is a season in tatters, a segregated and angry fanbase, and a manger seemingly flirting dangerously close with the sack – how many other top Club’s wouldn’t have acted by now?

Right now, I’m too damn miserable to write anymore. I’m not one to scream for knee-jerk reactions and fortunes to be spent, but something has to be done about the malaise at our club. It’s beyond a joke now. I love Arsenal, with or without trophies. But what I’m seeing on the pitch is not the Arsenal I love .

That’s all from me, fellow Gooners. Leave a comment in the box below with your thoughts – it should make for interesting reading today.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Arsenal’s staring XI for the game against Bradford City (match preview).

Tuesday 11th Dec: Capital One Cup Quarter-Final, Bradford City (a)

Morning folks.

There used to be a time when I wouldn’t fear Arsenal playing anyone. The giants of Europe could be lining up in opposition, and I’d hardly bat an eyelid such was my confidence in the team. How times have changed. The current Arsenal team fills me with anxiety when facing potentially tricky away fixtures like today’s.

Sitting an impressive 4th in the N-Power League Two, Bradford have home advantage. Having recently been expelled from the FA Cup, tonight will be their biggest game of the season; a money maker, and a shot at legend status for the players should they pull off a result. For Arsenal, it’s a cold, frosty evening in an unwelcoming stadium against opponents we should dispatch with ease.

Recipe for disaster?

The team news is as you’d expect; after playing on Saturday, most of our first 11 will miss the game, and there will be opportunities for the fringe players/youngsters to impress. Giroud, Walcott, Santos and Koscielnty will all play no part due to injury.

The Capital One Cup represents our best chance of silverware. It certainly lacks the history and glory of other, more prestigious competitions, but at this point  I don’t care for any of that. I’d love Arsenal to win something to get that 7-year monkey off our back. With that in mind, I hope the Boss fields as strong a team as possible, and the players adopt the same desire as us fans.

My guess at the team would be:

“We should win” – that’s what I keep telling myself. If the players selected play to anything like their potential, then I don’t see Bradford being able to offer much in the way of resistance. However, cup football regularly makes a mockery of expectation. With a vociferous home support, and the incentive of a Premiership scalp; supposed ‘lesser’ teams often rise to the occasion.

Arsenal will need to be unified, and ready to get their hands dirty. There will be long balls and quick, aggressive closing down to contend with. If our well-payed ‘superstars’ decide they don’t fancy it, we could be in trouble.

Games like this worry me, the more prissy members of our team worry me, and the mere thought of Squillaci anywhere near the team sheet worries me. Hopefully, as is often the case, worrying is just a reaction to what’s happened in the past, and our future will pan out differently.

Not entirely with confidence, I’ll predict a 2-0 win for Arsenal.

That’s all for today folks. Do any of you share my pessimism and sense of dread? Are some of you confident of a stroll to victory? What team would you select? Let me know in the comments.

If you’re willing to stake huge amounts of your hard-earned cash on the outcome, you can head over to Bet Victor, who offer a free £25 bet for new members. You can register for that offer here.

Finally today, there’s a very interesting piece on Arsenal Mania about a Diamond Day meeting with Arsene Wenger. It’s certainly worth a few minutes of your day. Check it out.

Koscielny, Giroud, Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin, Martinez, and I’m at a loss for words.

Reading 5-7 Arsenal: “Holy sh*t! I’ve scored TWO goals!”

Morning folks.

Blimey. Where do I start?

If someone had told me yesterday that Arsenal would concede 5, score 7, and Chamakh would score not one, but two really good goals, I’d have quickly labelled that person as bonkers, and moved to have them sectioned. Football is a bizarre and wonderful game, isn’t it?

I had to work a long day yesterday, and I got home around the point we had just gone 4-0 down. At that moment, being really tired , I decided not to endure any of the match and have a quick nap – I do like the occasional nap. When I arose from my well-earned and short slumber, it was 4-4. I shan’t be taking my eyes off Arsenal games again.

It was a game that showed the best of Arsenal – and some of the worst. It may have taken a breathtakingly shit defensive showing to put us 4 goals down in 37 minutes, but I am prepared to put that to one side in favour of discussing the extremely positive elements. We won, after all. There’s no real need to be gloomy and pessimistic, although, if we defend like that on Sunday….

At 4-0 down, we showed fight and determination. The players didn’t sulk, they didn’t mope around and start bickering or trying to assign blame; they rolled up their sleeves and collectively took the game by the scruff of the neck. They forced a different outcome to what me, and the few who left the ground early, assumed was a formality.

Okay, we did put ourselves into that position, but we had the tenacity and drive to get ourselves out of it, and it was glorious, wasn’t it? After such a terrible start, the night ended with many good things to discuss.

Theo Walcott, a player I’ve lambasted in the past, looked every inch someone capable of filling a striking berth. He scored a hat-trick, and showed when he plays on instinct, he is a very, very good finisher. Giroud came on and made a difference, but the two players I was happiest for were Arshavin and Chamakh.

Our diminutive little Russian has talent – he has it in spades. Even if it wasn’t one of his better games, it shouldn’t be overlooked just how much he contributed in the attacking third – he got 3 assists and most of our good play went through him. Most pleasing for me was Chamakh. His goal to put us 5-4 ahead showed that he does have ability, and his second showed that, with a bit of confidence, he’ll score goals. For reason I can’t quite explain, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for our Moroccan shisha enthusiast. Good to see him contributing and looking happy.

There were bad performers – Koscielny and Martinez didn’t have the best of games – and it does concern me slightly when we defend that poorly. But on the whole, I couldn’t care less about the bad points. What I took from the game when it ended was exhilaration and great pride in my team. Most importantly, I think we may have done something that’ll bury the memory of the 4-4 against Newcastle for good – pundits and fans alike can now constantly remind us of the comeback we were on the right side of.

All in all, a brilliant, brilliant game of football. I’m exceedingly proud of my team today, and who knows? Maybe, just maybe, our name is already on that trophy.

That’s all from me today. The comments are below, and I’d love to read a few of your reactions from the game; what emotions did you go through? Who impressed you the most? What do you think of Theo as a striker? Let me know.

Thanks for reading, you wonderful kings of the comeback. I shall return tomorrow.

Starting XI for the game against Reading.

Capital One Cup: Tuesday Oct 30th, Reading (a)

Morning folks.

Call me a pessimist, if you will; I think this particular competition represents our best chance of some silverware. It may be brandished “Mickey Mouse” in many circles, and It may contains consistently weaker teams than you’d expect to meet. But such is my yearning for a trophy, I’d be happy if Arsenal won it – I’d be bloody delighted, in fact.

For that reason, I hope we field as strong a team as possible, and view the game as more than a opportunity to try out a few of the untested. Of course, I don’t expect our full strength starting XI to be on show – that would be silly – but it’s a good opportunity to offer some game time to those hovering around the periphery.

I always find guessing Arsene’s choice for games such as this one to be tricky indeed. He’s a wily old fox, that manager of ours. So, instead of offering a prediction, I thought I’d give you who I’d pick to start – feel free to lambast my choices:

When there’s teams to be picked, I find that fans rarely agree, and that’s something found more often in the league cup. If you were to scour the various blogs, you’d probably find 10-15 variations of the side I’ve posted.

Tonight is a game I expect us to win, as I doubt Reading will throw on their regulars, either. On paper, we have enough skill and firepower to break down the home side. I’m hoping for a decent win and progression into the next round.

I’ll go for 1-3 to the Arse.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. How do you think we should start. Are there any players you think should be used? Do you consider my team to be utter nonsense, and you think I’ve lost my mind? Let me know.

Thanks for reading today, you curious lifeforms. I shall return tomorrow.

Lastly, match odds and more can be found at Bet Victor.

Reading vs Arsenal odds.