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’s starting XI against Olympiakos (match preview)

UEFA Champions League; Tuesday Dec 4th, Olympiakos (a)

Morning folks.

December is bedlam if you’re a Chef, so I’ll be keeping things brief today – I’m doing a full 16-hour shift today and I start at 6.30am. Yeah, I know… Change jobs, James.

With qualification assured, Arsene will rest his big names, and the reserves will make the trip to Greece to gain a bit of valuable experience.¬†With the injuries in defence, tonight’s game could see the unthinkable; the one thing sure to strike terror in the hearts of Arsenal fans the world over – Sebastien Squillaci.

My best guess at how we’ll line up is:

Of course, I could be way off the mark with that selection. Whatever the result, we’ll be in the draw for the next round, and with 1st not guaranteeing and easier draw, I fully understand if we field a team weaker than usual. Olymiakos might not be formidble opponents on their travels, but with their home support, they can be a mtach for anyone.

A win would be nice, a draw wouldn’t go amiss, and defeat would hardly be the end of the world. Hopefully, those that take the field can take a few small steps toward restoring some pride and giving us something positive to talk about.

I’m going for a score draw.

The comments below await your thoughts and preferred selctions. Let me know a few. Also, if you fancy a bet on the game, click the handy link and head on over to Bet Victor.


Gervinho, Ramsey, Podolski, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, and a slightly sloppy 3-1 win.

Arsenal 3-1 Olympiakos: Our best player so far?

Morning, folks.

We hoped for a delicious, invigorating win . We got one. Kind of…

The history records will show what appears a simple victory. Those of us that watched the game will know it wasn’t quite as cut-and-shut as the scoreline suggests. The first half was slow, and rife with those worrying defensive lapses we’ve become too accustomed to over the years – would someone PLEASE tell Thomas Vermaelen that his impromptu charges upfield rarely serve the team well.

We were sloppy, and far from our cohesive best. We took a slightly undeserved lead through an excellent Gervinho finish – he is looking good at the moment – , only to surrender it three minutes later. In the centre of our back four, the partnership between Vermaelen and Koscielny – as talented as both are – seems a bit too much of the same for me. When Mertesacker is partnered with either, there is a better balance and we have someone with genuine presence and height in the box. The big German has been excellent so far this season, and I don’t think it’s coincidence that our defensive blunders have begun to reappear in his absence. I’m at a loss to understand why our form defender has been dropped so quickly.

On the plus side, at the back, Carl Jenkinson has been putting in some superb performances. Watching him last season at Old Trafford, I wrote him off and assumed he’d never recover from such a torrid afternoon. Since that infamous day, he’s put in the work, and that’s evident on the pitch. He looks assured, strong and he has a remarkable fitness level. For me, he is our best player this season, and undoubtedly the most improved.

In the second half last night, we looked much better. There was an urgency, and, at times, the fluidity returned to our play. There was the odd moment of worry provided by a decent Olympiakos team, but we controlled the game and, in the end, deserved to take the full three points. Podolski put us ahead around the hour mark, and a lovely finish from Aaron Ramsey in injury time secured the 3 points – a result made all the better by Schalke and Montpellier drawing.

To sums things up; we got the victory, and in the light of day that is all that matters. The performance was some distance from vintage Arsenal, but there were good signs and after a defeat as sapping as the one we suffered at the hand of Chelsea, it’s what we all needed. It wasn’t comprehensive, flashy, or the setting of a marker, but it was a win, and three points are three points no matter how you get them. Six points from a possible six is an excellent start to the group.

However, those defensive slips and fuck ups are still there, and better opponents would have punished us far more last night. There is still plenty of work to be done in that department, but plenty of time in which it can be done. There is still no reason not to be optimistic, and I intend to retain that mindset, even if some around me seem intent on losing their minds at even the slightest of bad signs.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. The comments section is below. It awaits your responses and thoughts on the game; were you worried by the defence? Were you impressed by Gervinho? I await your views with quivering anticipation.

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.