The Armchair Gooner

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

Arsenal to let winger leave, Podcast duties and other bits.

Podcast listeners of the world unite in silent appreciation.

Morning, folks.

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently was presented with the opportunity to appear on the Bergkamp Wonderland podcast. Once mocking my mellifluous Bristolian accent was out of the way, the broadcast turned out to be really enjoyable, and very informative for you, the delicious listener.

And yes – I do get to perform one of my ‘raps’…

You can download/listen here.

As far as Arsenal news today is concerned, there’s the usual spattering of Luis Suarez vitriol, the odd burst of apologists’ lamenting and very little that’s in any way concrete. As is customary with matters of recruitment, we will all have to plunge ourselves through miles of excrement before emerging to the sweet smell of glorious truth. Think of it like Tim Robbins crawling to freedom in The Shawshank Redemption.

One player set to depart is the often maligned Gervinho. Famed more for his howling blunders in front of goal that tricky wing play, our Ivorian friend and his enormous forehead look set to leave for Italy – a £7m deal with Roma, to be precise.

Gervinho is one of those instances where it just hasn’t worked out. Those of you who have seen any of his days playing with Lyon (Edit: Lille… I’m an idiot) will know he does possess talent, and glimpses of that were the most we ever saw. He isn’t an appalling player by any means, perhaps the step up to a bigger club in a more competitive league was a little too much, and he buckled under the pressure.

At this stage, any deal to move away is the best outcome for all parties concerned. With Brazilian uber-child, Bernard being allegedly lined up as replacement, it certainly looks increasingly likely that something will happen in the next few days.

And that, my friends, is all for today. I’ve a busy day ahead of me tomorrow, and catching up on a little shut-eye currently is of paramount concern. I hope you’ll take a moment to listen to my dulcet tones on the podcast, and let me know a few of your thoughts below. Assuming you can understand a word that comes out of my mouth, that is. Us Bristolians are notoriously an incomprehensible bunch…

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Gervinho stays, QPR stopper a possibility, and a potential starting XI for next season.

The family living next door to London Colney were growing tired of Gervinho’s attempts on goal.

Morning folks,

I’m going to have to make this brief as I’ve one of those days ahead of me. I work most Saturday’s in a kitchen as my profession doesn’t afford me the luxury of weekends off, and today presents a hectic, challenging period with sweltering conditions to contend with. Don’t ever become a Chef. Seriously.

I would like to begin with a special mention for my friend Jake and his blog Arsenation. I’ve been promising him a guest post for a little while now, but a lack of time has prevented me from doing so. Go check out his site, folks – it’s really good.

Right, onto Arsenal news.

If you weren’t defeaned by the cacophonous howls of derision when the news broke, you may not have heard that our favourite profligate Ivorian with a bizarre forehead, Gervinho, has let it be known he intends to stay at Arsenal.

Yippee…

Seriously, though; I’m not one of his greatest detractors, nor am I his staunchest supporter. If he was to be sold in the summer, I wouldn’t shed any tears, but at the same time his occasional bouts of good form do make me think there is a good player in there somewhere. If he could learn how to shoot and handle the pressure of a goal scoring opportunity, he might be very effective indeed. As far a squad players go, we could do a lot worse.

Another story I came across filled me with dread. I do not rate Julio Cesar at all, and I never have. The thought of him transferring to Arsenal and taking the No1 position fills me with terror. He does have plenty of admirers across the Goonersphere, but I get the impression it’s only I that would far rather someone else came in. The Brazilian keeper strikes me as a combination of  Desperate Dan and Manuel Almunia, and he has an aversion to crosses a certain JC from Nazareth can’t rival. We could do better. Begovic, Mignolet and Adler are all immeasurably better keepers.

(Correction, I’m not the only one. Gotta love Mean Lean)

EDIT: Sweet Lord almighty, it might actually be happening. There is a report doing the rounds – not especially legitimate, mind you – stating we’ve signed Cesar on a two-year deal.

And that’s about it. Yesterday I asked readers to give me a topic to discuss, and I was inundated with one response. I’m a man of my word, so Veer, here is what I think the Arsenal starting XI for next season might – MIGHT – look like.

Arsenal for 2013/2014?

And that’s all I have time for today. Do you have an idea of what our best 11 could look like? Let me know in the comments section.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Gervinho, Angha, Rosicky, Szczsney, Fabianski, and blahdey blah blah…

The world’s most considerable forehead in all it’s shining glory.

Morning folks.

Today is one of those painfully slow Thursday’s. There’s no pre-match conference, no real team news ahead of the weekend’s fixture. I could talk to you about last night’s Champions League games, but, to be frank, I don’t especially care if Arsenal aren’t taking part.

Mercifully, there are a few tidbits (If you’re not a fan of really awful puns, I suggest you stop reading at once). German outfit Nurnberg  have completed the signing of Arsenal youngster Martin Angha on a 4-year deal. Some have rightfully questioned Arsene’s Angha management, and we all wish Martin well, hoping he will view his time at Arsenal with pride and not look back in Angha.

That was appalling. I’m now going to punch myself in the face…

Ouch.

Right, back now.

Two players I thought I’d briefly discuss the break up the tedium of terrible jokes and news stories are Tomas Rosicky and the enormous forehead. Our diminutive Czech playmaker will, in my opinion, play a significant part in the run-in. His ability on the ball, and, most importantly, his quickness of play has been lacking in our midfield on several occasions. When Tomas plays centrally, he speeds up the distribution and has that cunning bastard element to the passes he chooses. With Jack out for a little while longer, I think he should be the first name on the team sheet.

He even managed the unheard of feat of scoring two goals in the same game, and has been championing our chances of getting fourth place in the media. I love Tomas, I always have. It’s a shame injury has prevented us from seeing him reach his true potential.

Today’s other mention goes to Gervinho. When that name is said, my mind immediately spring to gaping nets, terrible control and a bizarre cranium. The Ivorian has been much maligned amongst the Arsenal faithful, and not without reason. Yet all of a sudden, he’s started producing, showing the odd glimpse of what he actually can do when not blundering about the field like a baby Elephant under heavy machine gun fire. Maybe, just maybe, we might start to see what all the fuss his performances in the French league was about.

The comments section is below. Drop me a line with your thoughts and opinions on those two players. Do you feel both have an important part to play? Let me know.

Lastly today, I’m going to finish with another question. Given the bosses recent choice to drop Szczsney for Fabianski, who is your ideal starter between the sticks for Arsenal next season? Would you keep faith with one of the aforementioned, or plunge into the murky depths of the transfer market for a new face? Let me know your thoughts on that, too.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow should bring team news and more of my nuggets of hilarity. Until then, thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Theo, Sagna, Ramsey, Gervinho, January investment, and a woeful performance.

Southampton 1-1 Arsenal: Szczsney’s lunge proved futile. Thanks, defenders!

Afternoon folks.

Everything was plodding along nicely. Talk of ineptitude and crisis had taken a welcome hiatus, and 4 wins from 4 saw Arsenal rise up the table. The team had taken the shame of a loss to Bradford and used it to improve.

And then yesterday happens…

I’m not going to be super critical as we didn’t actually lose the game. The history books will recall an away draw, and away draws tend not to be catastrophic. However, given our recent burst of good form, I am hugely disappointed to see another performance so bereft of energy and ideas, especially given the regularity they have appeared this season. I had, perhaps rather foolishly, hoped all that was behind us.

The result itself isn’t the real problem. The manner in which we went about the game is. Southampton, for all their brave endeavour and enthusiasm, are a team we should beat.

Sagna looked weary and uninterested, Gervinho and Ramsey are hardly impact substitutes, and Theo was as bad as he was good against Newcastle. No one player can take the blame, however. Doing so is simply a cheap way of venting one’s fury. The collective attitude towards the game is the real issue, and that includes managerial staff. We simply weren’t good enough yesterday, and little can be said or done to disguise that fact. Arsene Wenger himself was less than pleased, and had these uncharacteristically harsh words to say in the press conference:

“It is two points lost if you look at the overall target we had for Christmas. It is frustrating and disappointing as we didn’t create a lot today.

“Our game lacked purpose, penetration and speed, all qualities we have usually but we didn’t see that tonight.

“Maybe we thought we scored seven against Newcastle, we thought we would score again today.

“I felt that we lacked purpose in our game and it was more mental than physical.

In the same interview, Arsene went on to rule out a Thierry Henry return, and express his desire to enter the transfer market.

Investment in the squad is needed. We have a strong first 11 that’s very good on paper. What is lacking is depth, and enough quality in reserve to be able to successfully rotate or replace. 2-3 players of experience and quality would be of a huge benefit to Arsenal.

Ruling out Thierry Henry is a good thing. Not because he isn’t up to the job, or because I want to disrespect a club legend. Because a 35-year-old ex-player who will leave in February isn’t the answer. There are far better permanent options to consider.

With Theo now looking likely to “Sign da Ting“, it would appear our interest in Zaha has fizzled away, which is a shame. Keeping Walcott on the other hand is a good thing and I hope it happens.  One option in the forward area looking quite possible is Atlectico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez, although, in typically parsimonious fashion, the Boss is baulking at the £14m releasue clause in his contract – a price that to me sounds very reasonable for a 24-year-old Spanish international.

Elsewhere it’s all just the customary collection of arbitrary names. Speculation is going to be rife in the coming weeks, and all us supporters can do is hope our manager remains true to his word. It appears we have both the desire and the finances to bring new faces into the sqaud, the only obstacle will be finding players suitably “exceptional” and a price that’s considered reasonable. That, dear reader, is where the problems may arise.

That’s all for today, folks. The comments await your views on the game, and your opinions on incoming players. How did you rate yesterday’s performance? Who would your ideal choice of transfer be? Let me know.

I shall return tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Cazorla diving, Arteta scoring, Wilshere bossing, and the welcome relief of three delicious points.

Arsenal 2-0 WBA: “Santi, you’re a very naughty boy.”

Morning folks.

Shall we get the controversy out of the way first?

Santi Cazorla dived. There’s no denying it, no trying to justify it, and no point attempting to label it as anything other than appalling becuase he’s an Arsenal player. There is especially no point is constructing spurious pictures like this one.

Had someone as thoroughly irksome as Gareth Bale done the same, we’d all be lambasting him for the egregious cheat that he is. I would like very much for a player as gifted as Cazorla to keep simulation out of his game. Santi, please don’t do it again. Please.

Regarding the incident, Arsene Wenger said:

“I am sorry if it was not a penalty, but I have spoken to Santi and he said he was touched, lost his balance. Has he made a bit more of it? I don’t know”.

“When he [a player] is touched, he goes down, the referee can give or not give the penalty. Of course I will speak to Santi if he has not been touched. I will look at it, don’t worry.”

I lose my balance quite regularly. I stumble, I need a handy table top to regain my poise. I can’t say I’ve ever writhed in apparent agony several times and screamed. I sincerely hope the Boss is true to his word and he offers Cazorla a few choice words, and a stern warning to cut it out in the future.

 On to the game itself.

I??m going for a decent, back-on-track performance and a 2-0 victory.

That’s what I posted yesterday. It’s rare that I’m accurate with my predictions, so I’ll enjoy being correct today. Arsenal’s victory certainly won’t be featuring on any highlights reel, or collection of astonishing matches. The 2-0 triumph courtesy of two Mikel Arteta penalties will be quickly forgotten.

It didn’t need to be breathtaking. It needed to just be a win. So much has been made in recent weeks of a crisis at Arsenal, that you could almost sense the media vultures circling the stadium in hope of another defeat. Problems and worries won’t be solved on the back of one result, and the important questions raised shouldn’t be forgotten. But, for the time being, it is good to have some positive notes to discuss.

The biggest highlight (other than Gervinho’s hilariously awful air-kick) was the imperious and driving performance of a Mr J Wilshere. At the heart of everything and bustling with ideas, Jack showed the kind of determination and ebullience we so often lack in the centre of the park.

It shouldn’t be underestimated how integral he will be to our season. Piling expectation and pressure on the shoulders of someone so young isn’t something I would ordinarily condone, but in this instance an exception will be made. Jack Wilshere is the real deal; a player as gifted and intelligent as you are likely to see. He can go on to be one of the greats of modern football, and I regularly thank the lord (Dennis Bergkamp) that he wears the red and white of Arsenal, and has a genuine affection for the Club.

Of course, as is customary with Arsenal players, such talents and abilities are sure to go hand in hand with an abundance of speculation. I’m already prepared. Over the coming close-seasons, there’s going to be plenty of alleged advances from the mega-rich. Call me a blind optimist, but I have this feeling that Jack is different to the others; he really does love Arsenal. For the sake of my sanity, I refuse to believe anything else.

And that’s all for today, folks. Sunday morning means yet another day working twelve hours because December is such a stupid time of the year for those of us who chose Chef as a profession. I’ve the tedium and frustration of that lurking on the horizon. At least I head toward such horrors with the warm, fuzzy feeling of victory in my belly.

The comments section is below. Your thoughts and opinions of the game and the diving incident are, as always, greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the game against Montpellier.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday Nov 21st, Montpellier (h)

Afternoon folks.

With all the hullabaloo and outrage surrounding Chelsea’s, quite frankly, absurd sacking of Roberto Di Matteo today, most of the footballing world is focussed in the direction of that. As the media circus goes into overdrive, us Gooners have far more important things to concern ourselves with. We’ve the opportunity to cement our place in the elimination rounds of the Champions League tonight.

A win tonight is very important. A draw or defeat wouldn’t necessarily see us go out of the competition, but a poor result would leave us in the less-than-desirable position of heading to Olympiakos in need of a result. Given the tricky nature of that fixture, it’s best we do the job tonight.

There’s the usual mixed bag of team news tonight. Gibbs and Gervinho return to the sqaud, which is good. Walcott will play no part thanks to a bad shoulder, Andre Santos has a “stomach complaint” (I presume that it’s too big),  and there is talk of the fatigued Santi Cazorla being rested, which isn’t ideal.

If Cazorla is indeed rested, and Gibbs is fit enough to start, I’d guess we’ll line up like this:

Montpellier are a useful team, and they’ve still the faint hope of a Europa League spot to play for in the group. In the away fixture, they put us under a lot of pressure in periods, and they’ve a few players who’ll be a handful. I expect them to approach the game with a less attack minded set up tonight, hoping to expose a few of our defensive frailties on the counter.

Saturday’s win was splendid, but North London derbies count for little when it comes to form. If we are to build on that, we need to get a win tonight. We’ve a good team available, against opposition we are expected to dispatch comfortably; usually a combination that spells Arsenal doing something silly.

That said, I’m confident of a win. Twatting Spurs 5-2 can do wonders for confidence, and the players should be brimming with it. If we play to our potential and concentrate at the back, we’ll win. I’m going to predict a comfortable 2-0 to the Arsenal.

What are your predictions? How would you like to see the team line up? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. I’ll be back tomorrow with a review on the match.

If you’re looking to place a bet on the game, and you’d like a wide variety of odds, head on over to Bet Victor.

Arsenal vs Montpellier odds.

Gervinho, Santos, Gnabry, Arshavin, Wenger, and another cauldron of sh*t.

UEFA Champions League; Arsenal 0-2 Schalke

*Hmmphh*

I ordinarily would great you with a chipper, “morning folks”. Not today.

I hated the piece I wrote on Sunday after the Norwich defeat. Not because of how it was written, but due to what it contained; anger and pessimism. I like to think I’m a fairly positive soul; I try to look at the good things before I deconstruct and evaluate the bad. I wrote that piece just after the game – as I am this one – and left it unchanged because I believe blogging should be an honest pursuit; one that shows your emotional side, and isn’t compromised by sitting on the fence.

Point being, and this is certainly open to answer; how am I supposed to be positive, when the team I love are showing me only things that arouse my negative side?

I was prepared to put Saturday’s performance down to ‘one of those days’ – the kind where all that can go wrong does, and things just don’t click. Then I sat through that unrelenting shower of shit last night, and it was far worse. Not worse because we lost, but it exceed the direness of the weekend purely because of the fact we knew a reaction was needed, and it didn’t come. There was no urgency, cohesion, enthusiasm or guile. We had to wait until the 93rd minute when we were 2-0 and the game was over to record a shot on target.

Gervinho and Andre Santos were woeful. Playing the Ivorian as a striker has to stop. His all-round contribution wasn’t close to being half-decent, and he topped off his fiasco with an abomination of a dive.  We had more than enough theatrics when Eboue was here, thank you very much.

Andre Santos appears to have taken a crash course at the Gael Clichy school for playing people onside, and generally falling over when faced with an opponent. I like the Brazilian as an attacking option, but defensively, he simply isn’t good enough. He’s had the odd good game here and there, but nothing to convince me otherwise. If I was the boss, I’d be seriously looking at playing Koscielny and Mertesacker in the centre, and Vermaelen at left back. Schalke knew he was a weak point, and went after him. Podolski, usually an able runner, didn’t offer him enough help, either.

Of course, I’m not blaming the defeat on those two players. Arsenal were collectively bad, with perhaps only Mertesacker having a reasonable game. Errors came from all angles. For example, why wait until 82 minutes to introduce Ganbry and Arshavin when it was only too apparent some players needed to be replaced? What can we possibly expect them to do in 8 minutes? – ironically, Gnabry did more of note in his first 20 seconds on the field than Gervinho managed in 75 minutes.

For the first time, I’m starting to feel genuinely concerned about our prospects. At the start of our campaign, things looked rife with potential. Those thoughts are rapidly giving way to doom and gloom. There has to be something done. Arses have to be kicked, and those not pulling their weight and continuously under performing have to be told. Arsene can’t allow a quiet period of cogitation in which the players can think about their short comings. He needs to hit them with some home truths.

I hope that’s what he will do. I hope it will be done sooner rather than later. I shouldn’t be worrying about a home game against QPR on Saturday. Because of last night, I am.

That’s all for today folks. What did you think? Are you alarmed by how utterly shit-awful Arsenal were? Do you have a positive view on the game? Are you angry at just how familiar and predictable all this is? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, my fellow miserable so-and-sos…