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. ┬áIt’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

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.

Penalties, despair, ineptitude, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberian, vitriol and more.

“Bollocks”

Morning, folks.

Football can be a cruel mistress. Just as she builds up your hopes, as expectations grow and hope appears on the horizon; she kicks you square in the testicles. Those of us who love the beautiful game have all experienced the crushing low a defeat can bring – regardless of just how inevitable it may be. It’s that hope that kills you; that unwavering notion that this time is going to be different.

Some will take to their keyboards filled with bitterness and attempt to dissect England’s performance with vitriol and ill-concieved calls for resignations. Abuse will be throw and the word ‘shit’ will be overused. Pundits will wallow in pity and cast envious eyes over the nations with admirable technicians and the ability to retain the ball. Battling spirit as a concept will be replaced by accusations of ineptitude and bottling.

Me? Well, I think the team did as well as they could. As a footballing nation, we simply aren’t at the standard of Germany or Spain – we haven’t been for some time, if ever. Roy Hodgson attempted to galvanise a team lacking standout performers into a tough-to-beat opponent, and he did that very well. Some would claim these tactics to be negative, but he was left little option with the resources at his disposal.

When it comes down to the harshness of reality; did anyone truly expect England to sweep aside all comers and roar to glory? No. It’s difficult to glean many positives from a match in which we were comprehensively outplayed and deservedly lost, but I find it puerile to switch from hope to fury with such immediacy. England lost on penalties after reaching a quarter final against better opposition. Things panned out in a manner few can be surprised by.

The burning question is one of the future. Where do England go from here? Can we look forward to a similar scenario playing out in Brazil? – should we qualify, of course. England do have hope. The likes of Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walker, Jones and Welbeck have bright futures. Joe Hart is, and will be for the foreseeable future, an excellent goalkeeper. However, the problem requires a greater solution. The problem is more than just personnel.

England need to change the way they play. A ridged 4-4-2 formation might suit the scrappier teams of the Premiership, but it falls flat when deployed in international football. In a game where ball retention is now king, England must not only learn to keep it, but to be able to use it clinically. Unfortunately, this is not something that can be changed miraculously overnight. Such an upheaval will take time. Jack Wilshere is a technically excellent footballer. England need one or two more like him than they do anymore ‘Scotty’ Parkers.

To summerise, as I’m writing mainly off the top of my head, I can’t be devastated by my national team’s exit, as it was as predicatble as the day is long. I dared to dream briefly, I allowed hope to sweep over me and I felt things might just be different this time. They weren’t, and I’ve a kick to the testicles to show for it.

However, I won’t join in slaughtering a team who certainly tried their best. For some, that best simply wasn’t good enough. Roy Hodgson took us as far as he could. With time, he might just be able to take us a bit further. In 2 months, he did as well as could be expected and for that he deserves credit.

That’s all for today folks. Apologies for the lack of Arsenal news, but there isn’t much about today. With the Euros now a closed book as far as my interest goes, I hope we can look forward to some good news on the transfer front, and a bit better fortune for the Arsenal once the season starts.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. The comments are below, so feel free to drop in a few of your own thoughts.