The Armchair Gooner

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

Another Terrible Performance. Can You Defend Arsene Wenger?

“Oh sh*t….”

Evening folks.

It’s a shame my return isn’t under better circumstances. I had high hopes I’d be penning/typing a post-game report full of glowing praise and dreams of things to come. I shan’t be doing that. Instead I have the pleasure of detailing a performance that was monumentally bloody awful. Again.

Today’s defeat at Everton leaves us with a record of 20 conceded and 4 scored away from home against sides classed as ‘top 5′. Whichever way you choose to look at it, that statistic is utterly appalling. No side with aspirations of glory or that can claim to have our resources and intentions should have that fact help up to their faces. The truth is we simply aren’t good enough to compete for the title. Continue reading

Ozil, Arteta, Sanogo, Giroud and Vermaelen All Play Part In Huge Cup Win.

Joel laments conceding and, more so, not being in the embrace.

Morning, folks.

Feels glorious, doesn’t it. That sweeping euphoria of knowing that Arsenal have not let you down and that we will be front and centre when Wembley hosts the semi-finals. Whatever you may think about games other than the final taking place at the national stadium, being able to say, “Arsenal are going to Wembley” has an undeniably mellifluous ring to it.

Yesterday was a great performance when one was needed. Before kick off and up until we took an unassailable 3-1 lead, I couldn’t relax. My stomach churned, I paced and thought of nothing other than the fact there was a game. I often write about that sensation. At times it must come across as complaint when it is anything but. Feeling so on edge, so worried, is a beautiful thing; it means Arsenal are playing in a match that’s important.

And the FA Cup is important. Continue reading

FA Cup: Everton (h) – Team News, Thoughts And Predicted Starting XI

Jack’s grace and curious facial expression will be sorely missed.

Morning, folks.

Picture the scene; a tall, gangly Bristoilan barely able to keep his eyes open is writing this post at 3am. Having spent the night playing poker and occasionally bursting into glorious dance to records by Ke$ha - that happened, deal with it – I’m absolutely shattered, but instead of heading to a deserved slumber, I’m jotting this preview for you.

Dedicated, aren’t I? Well.. truth be told, folks; I can’t face having to get up to write this in time for the game today, so I’m boldly pushing through the exhaustion and the urge to dance again to do it whilst I have the will.

The game today is massive to such an extent I daren’t allow myself to ponder the ramifications should the result not be favourable. Arsenal are in 3 competitions and, realistically, two of them are beyond us – the league not so much, but the Champions League will need divine intervention to enable progression. Continue reading

Mesut Bashing, Double Pivots And The Power Of The Chocolate Digestive.

“Booing Ozil?! Nice work, guys…”

Morning, folks.

There is a pep to my step brought about my the onset of warmer climes. Whilst Spring and Summer may not be upon us yet, the scent is in the air, wafting across the wind pleasantly like the sensation of passing a decent burger joint at 3 in the morning. I hate the cold, you see; I’m not built for it and become less-than-enamoured by the concept of moving from the warmth. Cold breeds indolence in me.

Warmer temperatures mean more time for blogging as I’ll be inclined to sleep less. Those of you that have stuck with this site throughout the winter should see some improvements and small changes across the upcoming months.

The news out there seems mostly focused on as much negative spin that can be put on Mesut Ozil’s current ‘plight’ – for want of a better word. I’m sure our German friend himself would admit that his form isn’t where he would like it to be and he’s had a few bad games recently. Continue reading

Sanogo for the Cup, Giroud’s Philandering and a Summer of Changes

Arsenal fans took their expressions of rage to dangerous lengths…

Morning, folks.

As you might imagine, the Stoke defeat is still firmly sticking in the throat of many. Losing is one thing, it happens, but when the display is so toothless and inept at a time it needed to be anything but, you can understand why the folks out there are so angry.

Anger and frustration are understandable. When that transfers into hatred and bile, and our fans take to bickering amongst one another, I find it’s a good idea to step away from it all. Why waste your time with people who seem more eager to point you towards the supposed failings of others than they do with supporting their team? It’s a waste of time, folks.

Focus amongst my peers and collaborators has been on the fixture with Everton at the weekend. Continue reading

The wonderfully fickle world of the Arsenal supporter.

The bickering was too much for Ian and he finally snapped.

Evening all.

Christmas, aye? This time of the year is a bloody nightmare for those of us entrenched within the hospitality industry. The main reason for my lengthy absence from blogging is working long hours and feeling decidedly under the weather because of this.

However, my return is triumphant – like a majestic bird of prey swooping down onto unsuspecting food beneath it. Kinda… Well… it’s nothing at all like that to be honest. What the f**k am I talking about.

Sunday’s draw against Everton wasn’t what I would describe as a bad result – not by any stretch of the imagination. Roberto Martinez and Everton deserve enormous credit for the way they applied themselves to the game and on the strength of that one showing, I’d say they are the best team we’ve faced at the Emirates; comfortable on the ball, fluid and with genuine threat from both flanks and up front. Along with their intent to press at every available opportunity, Everton put in an extremely impressive display. Continue reading

Fellaini for £23m, Spectacularly over-rated keeper and Uzbekistan’s finest.

“£23 million, you say…”

Morning, folks.

Today represents something of an oddity; there are quite a few stories to talk about. Granted – they’re not exactly dripping with truth, and set in tablets of stone, but I’ll take what I can get.

First up is Everton’s Belgian enforcer, Marouane Fellaini. He of the ridiculous hair has been qouted as saying he wants to move to London. Well, I say “quoted”, the article istself contains nothing in the way of actual words attributed to the player, just a concoction alleged to have come from “close friends”, which is pretty much admission of bullshit.

I think it’s a safe bet to say Arsenal are interested. The problem seems to be meeting his £23m release cause, as our parsimonious manager isn’t quite sure wether it represents value for money. In a world where Andy Carroll can move for £35m, I’d say it certainly does.

Fellaini is an excellent player. He’s tough, good on the ball, and has the positional discipline we often lack in midfield – especially when Arteta’s not there. He’d be a blinding signing for us, and at 25-years-old he has plenty of time left to improve further. Taking the step up to a club playing Champions League football is the next obvious step in his career. If Arsenal and Arsene Wenger continue to dilly-dally regarding the price, someone else is going to beat us to him. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen. We lost out on Juan Mata in similar circumstances.

As much as I hope for that to materialise, the polar opposite applies to Julio Cesar. I see nothing more than a good shot stopper capable of horrendous blunders when I watch the Brazilian play. Securing the services of an experienced keeper to keep Szczsney on his toes is certainly a good idea, and will improve the balance of the squad. There are far better options out there than Cesar. I’d go as far as saying I’d prefer we brought Eboue back to play in goal.

Lastly today, we have Odil Ahemdov, an Uzbekistan midfielder who plays for Anzhi Makakakkakakakalllakkakak (that’s right, isn’t it?).  If I’m not mistaken, this is a player we were supposedly interested in last summer, and his obscurity caused great uproar amongst fans.

It would appear those rumours have resurfaced, and Arsenal have retained their interest throughout the past year with regular scouting trips to watch him play.

Sometimes I read through certain websites around the Goonersphere whenever a player like this crops up, and there is always someone who claims to be an expert. They’ll say things like, “He’s a combative player with two good feet who plays well under pressure”  and invariably my first instinct is to think to myself, “Come on, you’re just making that up. You’ve never heard of him”.

I’m an honest kind of fellow; I wouldn’t know who he was if he burst through my window as I’m typing and urinated on my cat. To me, he is nothing more than a few videos on YouTube, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad player, or a signing that lacks ambition. For all we know, he’s another undiscovered gem found by Arsene Wenger. If he does sign, then he deserves that benefit of the doubt. How many of us can claim to have known that much about Santi Cazorla before he came to England?

As silly-season plods along, I find myself getting increasingly exasperated with all the spurious fluff floating around. How I long to be able to discuss football stories that have some weight and relevance. Arsenal will make signings over the summer, of that I have no doubt. Perhaps they will even be surprising and welcome. Until then, it’s all aboard the speculation express.

Buckle up.

That’s all for today, folks. The comments are waiting below as they always are. Use the to empty your thoughts and hopes regarding player ecruitment. I shall endeavour to reply to a few.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Arsenal 4-1 Wigan: One down, one to go. Champions League here we come (hopefully…).

Shoddy marking for the first goal, or ‘Escape from Alcaraz’…

Morning folks.

It’s been a funny old week, hasn’t it. Managers have left on the back of a good run of success, players have revolted, relegated teams go down with an FA Cup victory, and 2013/2014 Premier League betting odds have fluctuated on a daily basis accordingly. It seems no one has the faintest idea what to expect from the beautiful game anymore.

And us Gooners are especially used to such unpredictability. Before kick-off, taking into account the importance of a win, I was a quivering, nervous wreck. Thoughts of terrible defensive blunders and soul-destroying late concessions swirled about my mind and refused to make way for pleasant thoughts.

When the team took to the field, however, all that changed. You could see they where fired up and knew exactly what they had to do. Our passing was crisp and accurate, runs had direction and purpose and even Tomas Rosicky was darting about making interceptions like a diminutive, caucasian Patrick Vieira.

Oddly enough, as soon as we took the lead thanks to one of Wigan’s characteristic defensive lapses, the moments of concern came flooding back. There is something dangerously unsafe about Arsenal leading 1-0. The majority of the first half saw us dominate possession without creating a clear-cut opening.

And then first half stoppage time the inevitable happened. Mike Dean being Mike Dean saw fit to award a free kick for the most innocuous of challenges, and Shaun Malnoney duly dispatched the free kick into the net. I peppered the air with obscenities. You had to admire the quality of the goal, but the timing couldn’t have been worse.

Wigan began the second half brightly, and were denied early on courtesy of a brilliant stop from Szczsney. His contribution to the cause since his return shouldn’t go unmentioned. On several occasions he’s produced vital stops at hugely important moments in games.

The real hero of the night was Santi Cazorla. As we pressed on for a win, he was involed in everything good about our approach play, and contributed directly to all 4 goals. In the eight minute spell where victory as achieved, the little Spanish magician was everywhere; probing, conniving and prompting attacks.

His cross for Theo’s goal was inch perfect and quite brilliant, and once we took the lead again there was no coming back for Wigan. Having exerted so much to win the FA Cup on Saturday, that moment knocked the wind from their sails, and enabled Podolski and Ramsey to make the game safe, condemning our opponents to the dreaded drop.

It’s a bit of a shame to see Wigan leave. Roberto Martinez sets his teams up intelligently and to play football the right way. Yet football is a cruel mistress, and all the pretty passing counts for nothing if the results don’t come your way. Wigan simply haven’t been good enough.

Speaking after the game, Arsene Wenger seemed to agree:

“You want to congratulate Wigan and you feel sorry for them, because with the quality of football they play it is sad that they go down.

“Wigan are a good footballing side with intelligent players and it is difficult to understand, but that is the harsh truth of the game.”

So folks, we are half the way there. We have one victory, all we need is another at Newcastle on Sunday. It’s a win that will be entirely necessary as I can only see Spurs beating a now-safe Sunderland. Scoring a few goals has helped our chances of aquiring 3rd – which we will get if Chelsea fail to beat Everton, and we win by a margin of 2 goals or more.

It all boils down to one period of 90 minutes against a team we should be able to beat. It’s not going to be comfortable – it never is – but as long as we have our destiny firmly clasped between our hands we have the initiative going forward. A win is all we need. Let’s head up north and get one. I’m confident we’ll do exactly that, Arsenal betting reflects that our chances are certainly favourable. Until the nerves kick in again, that is…

That’s all for today. The comments await your thoughts on the game – who was your MOTM? Are you confident of beating Newcastle? Let me know.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Arsenal 0-0 Everton; a place in the drawer marked ‘deplore’ for a no score bore draw…

Arsene Wenger summed up the Arsenal faithful’s reaction to 2 dropped points.

Morning folks.

Before we begin, I felt it only fair to give you all a moment to offer me rapturous applause for the quite magnificent rhyme I dropped into today’s title.

Go ahead…

*Waits patiently*

What? No thunderous clapping and squeals of unbridled appreciation and admiration? What do you mean you’re not in the least bit impressed? Seriously? That’s lyrical genius the likes of which few are capable.

Okay, forget it then…

*Sulks and mumbles with displeasure*

Get on with it, James…

Last night will go down as a missed opportunity. The chances were there – as they were for Everton, too – but we simply couldn’t turn those chances into an end product that mattered. Olivier Giroud had one of his profligate evenings in front of goal, and will no doubt look back at the game wishing he’d done things a little differently.

We could put a little of the blame onto his hunky French shoulders. We could make a case against the referee and his howlingly terrible inconsistencies - it regularly appeared he was officating the game from a crazed rule book of his own creation. The truth is, however, on the night a draw was a fair result, and the performance lacked that little bit extra needed to see off Everton. If you think back to the same fixture last season, the game that day was settled by a piece of sublime skill from a former player with a predilection for the feelings of young boys inside him.

What we had that day to win us the game simply wasn’t there last night, and it showed.

But that’s about as pessimistic as I am prepared to get. As much as the result isn’t what we’d all hoped, it’s certainly worth remembering that Everton are far from a poor side, and not one of the so-called top teams have had any easy ride against them. It could have been a lot worse had they stuck in one of their chances – Pienaar’s opportunity was arguably the best of the game – and a clean sheet is always a pleasant thing for our defence to obtain.

On the playing front, I thought Aaron Ramsey continued to show improved form, and his constant desire and work rate shouldn’t go unmentioned. Other players – Walcott and Wilshere especially – didn’t play to their potential. The team on a whole were not appalling or as inept as the keyboard warriors and gloom mongers would have you believe, but they didn’t get into the higher performance gears, either.

What is important now is to accept the point, accept we’ve made life a little trickier for ourselves and focus on what is ahead of us. Saturday brings a trip to Fulham, and that’s one of those fixtures I look at and think, “Ohhh, that could go either way – we’ll either thump them of flounder embarrassingly”.

There are 5 games remaining. 5 vitally important games, and a total of 15 points on offer. Chelsea and Spurs can both now make up the ground on us, and it’s conceivable the battle for Champions League spots could go down to the last day. I think it will. It’s not going to be comfortable, enjoyable or good for those of us prone to nerves and stress.

Can Arsenal secure Champions League football? Absolutely. Such a goal is far from out of our reach. Will they? Well, who knows such things? It’s impossible to look at any of the remaining games with any certainty as pressure tends to throw that out of the window. All we can do is have faith. I have faith it can be done. We can beat all 5 upcoming opponents. Even that may not be enough. All that’s left for us supporters is to hope things turn out in our favour.

That’s all for today, folks. I await a few of your opinions in the comments section. Do you think we’ll get into the Champions League? Do you fear for our chances after dropping points? Let me know.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I shall return with more tomorrow.

Everton (h): team news, thoughts and predicted starting XI

One of the less sophisticated way of preventing Theo Walcott from escaping…

Afternoon boys ‘n’ girls.

There are 6 games remaining for us to secure a Champions League place, and tonight’s is the toughest and the most important – the visit of United would be considered the sternest test ordinarily, but there is a great deal more riding on this game. Everton have had an excellent season and could really set the cat amongst the pigeons should they secure 3 points.

The Toffees sit 4 points behind us in the table, and 3 behind Spurs and Chelsea. Any hopes they have of qualification for Europe’s premier competition will depend largely on their fortunes this evening, so I fully expect them to come out and try to beat us. They can ill-afford to sit deep and play for a draw, or soak up pressure and hope to steal a win on the counter. They’ll attack, and with a bit of luck that mentality will play into our hands. Too often we see Arsenal struggle to break down teams set on parking the bus. Against an opponent playing for the 3 points suits us.

There’s a mixed bag in the way of team news. Tomas Rosicky has recovered from his recent injury and is fit and available, as is Per Mertesacker who returns from his domestic ban. However, recent first choice stopper, Lukas Fabianski is a serious doubt with a rib injury, and Arsene is likely to plunge Szczsney back into the fray after having so unceremoniously dropped him. Nacho Monreal is expected to retain his place at left full-back, and Abou Diaby remains stuck on the sidelines having already sustained every injury imaginable – in fact, I’m certain our medical team have started inventing conditions just to keep things fresh and interesting.

Some say there is a chance Wilshere will be rested, but for a game of such magnitude I find that difficult to believe. My guess would be:

I can already feel the nerves swirling around my stomach. We may have played games far greater in their significance, and with a more illustrious prize, but victory tonight could see us well on the way to cementing our claim for a top four finish. Defeat could set us back considerably. A draw isn’t catastrophic, but wouldn’t be of much use to either team, and would feel like defeat given the opportunity we have.

As I reguarly state, defence will be the key tonight. For all our dominance with the ball, our undoing usually comes from silly, avoidable mistakes at the back. Concentration and focus will be important, and Everton pose a threat in many areas of the field, and have players who can deliver well from set pieces.

If we can focus, and if we turn up in the attacking third of the field, I’m fairly sure a favourable result will be forthcoming. It’s times like these that the well-documented “strong mentality” of the team needs to be on show. The pressure will be on, the fans will be high on expectation. It’s time to stand up and be counted, Arsenal.

I think it will be close tonight, and we’ll pinch it 2-1 having gone a goal down early on.

If you enjoy putting a little cash on the outcome of matches, and you feel today could be lucky for you, head on over to Bet Victor and check out their latest odds. New members will receive a free £20 bet for signing up. You can register here.

Arsenal vs Everton odds.

That’s all for today folks. The comments eagerly await your thoughts and predictions. Who would you start? What do you think the final score will be? Let me know.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game, and hopefully a bit of good news.