The Armchair Gooner

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

Norwich City (h): team news, views and predicted starting XI

Saturday April 13th; FA Premiership, Norwich City (h)

Morning folks.

There’s quite a bot going on today in the wonderful world of Arsenal. Not only do we have an important game – all games are important now – against Norwich, we also have our manager taking to the press to defend the seemingly indefensible.

Andrey Arshavin’s lacklustre approach to the winter years of his Arsenal career has angered a great proportion of Gooners. Not because he’s an inept footballer and not of the required standard for our Club. Not at all. We find ourselves feeling such disdain towards him because he’s clearly a gifted footballer with copious amounts of guile and finesse in his locker. For reasons unclear, he just hasn’t applied himself. Some blame the manager, some blame Arshavin himself. Whatever the reason, his career is ending on a whimper.

Yet, Arsene Wenger has moved to put a positive spin on the soon-to-be-over tenure of our diminutive Russian friend. Speaking about Arshavin, Arsene said:

“I must say that publicly I would like to give him credit, because he is working absolutely every session at 100% commitment.

“He has been questioned about his commitment many times. If you saw him every day you would respect him for what he is doing on a daily basis. It is absolutely fantastic”

Interesting stuff. None of us can be privy to the goings-on behind closed doors at London Colney. Perhaps Arshavin’s continued absence from the team is purely tactical and the manager’s choice. However, I find it difficult to believe that a player that talented would be consistently left out if he was in fact offering 100% on the training ground.

On to today’s game, and the team news sees the return of both Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. Missing out will be Per Mertesacker through suspension, Tomas Rosicky with a minor hamstring niggle and Abou Diaby with a ruptured skeleton.

I can’t see there being too much in the way of change. If Jack is fully fit, it’s likely he’ll find his way into the starting 11. Theo could slot in on the right side of the attack with a resurgent Gervinho – I almost laughed writing that – switching to the left. Podolski may again be benched. Vermaelen will come in for Mertesacker, and I assume he’ll be taking back the captain’s armband too.,

My guess at the time up is:

Vs Norwich City (h)

With both Chelsea and Spurs having no part in the weekend’s Premiership fixtures, we have an excellent opportunity to put some points on the board and some pressure on our rivals. As the amount of games gets less and less, the margin for error becomes smaller. What might appear a reasonably straight forward home match on paper is anything but. Norwich are a side capable of mixing it with the big biys when the mood takes them, and we all know how much Arsenal love to do things the hard way.
I’d like to think we’ll win today. I’m confident we will do exactly that. With opportunity there, you never know quite what to expect from Arsenal. With that said, I refuse to temper my optimism, and I’m going for a comfortable 2-0 win to send us above Spurs in the league.
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Arsenal vs Norwich odds.

That’s all for today, folks. The comments below await your views on the team and your hopes for the result. Got a ballsy prediction? Let me know.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the game against Swansea (match preview).

FA Premiership: Saturday 1st December, Swansea (h)

Morning folks.

I remember the corresponding fixture against Swansea last season; we’d just come off the back of that dreadful thumping at Old Trafford, and doom and gloom had reached new highs. That day we managed to blunder to a 1-0 win thanks to an entirely fortuitous goal from Andrey Arshavin.

This season, things aren’t all that far removed. Mercifully, there hasn’t been any egregious defeats to pile on the misery, but things in the world of Arsenal are hardly peaches ‘n’ cream at present. A victory today is long overdue, and very much needed.

December provides us with a series of infinitely winnable fixtures. Arsenal are sure to make many mountains out of molehills on the way to earning points. If we can get a good points haul throughout the coming weeks, then we might just be sitting in a better position come the new year – or we might be at the point of storming the Emirates and ritually burning Sebastian Squillaci at the stake .

The team news today is good . Sagna, Podolski and Walcott have minor niggles, but all three should come through their respective late fitness tests with ease. Tomas Rosicky could return to the squad, but it’s unlikely he’ll be named amongst the substitutes. Koscielny joins Diaby on the treatment table.

My choice to start would be:

A lot has been made of Aaron Ramsey’s performances recently. I personally think he’s done okay, without ever being spectacular. The Boss may very well pick him again today, and play him on the right side of our attacking three – a position in which he slips back into midifeld. I think it’s a mistake to play him out of his preferred place on the pitch, and it contributes towards his displays; also giving ammunition to those who see fit to blame him for everything wrong that happens.

Aaron is a central midfielder. He’s better used there.

We should win today. However, if the recent home game against Fulham proved anything, it’s that we are capable of great unpredictability. Concentration and focus at the back coupled with attacking verve should see nothing but a delicious three points. If we go all ‘Arsenal’, then the scoreline could be anything. I’m going for a decent 3-0 win.

The comments are below. What are your views on the team and the match? Who would you pick to start? What are your predictions? Let me know.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. I’ll be back tomorrow with a review, and hopefully some cheer and words of praise for the players.

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Arsenal vs Swansea odds.

Starting XI against QPR and team news. UEFA are morons.

Joey Barton demonstrates his famous 'tough guy' pose.

FA Premiership, March 31st: QPR Vs Arsenal

Saturday is here. Glorious football returns. Morning, folks!

Queens Park Rangers are one of those clubs I’ve built up a hatred for very quickly. My disdain doesn’t reach the unwavering levels I reserve for those grubby, inbred neighbours of ours, but any team that can claim to have been represented by Colin Wanker, Mark Hughes and Joey Barton in the same season deserves a morsel of abhorrence from even the most magnanimous of football fans.

Today, we don’t just need to score maximum points to sustain an excellent run of form, but also to strike a blow against the evil that does remain at Loftus Road. Our cause is aided by Djibril Cisse’s bizarre return to English football; he’ll miss a further four games having decided his tenure spent in the country will involve more ill-advised attempts at hacking opponents than it will goals.

The Arsenal team news is good. Laurent Koscielny has recovered from the tendonitis that kept him out of the Villa game, and should return to partner Thomas Vermaelen at the centre of defence. Abou Diaby’s season is showing promising signs of him making an appearance longer than the 40-or-so minutes he’s managed thus far, but it’s unlikely he’ll return to the squad. Jack Wilshere is still a couple of weeks away from full training. I don’t imagine we’ll see much in the way of change from our previous outing. My prediction for the starting 11 is:

Sczcsney; Sagna, Gibbs, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Gervinho, Walcott; van Persie

On paper, that’s a side that should comfortably dispatch QPR, and if we play well I’ve few doubts we’ll fail to do so. That said, caution is required. We need only look back to Liverpool’s recent capitulation there to realise nothing should be taken for granted. Wenger may opt to exclude Gervinho in favour of a player with better ball retention, or he may chose to offer up a starting place for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Arsene Wenger has been in the news yesterday having received yet another touchline ban courtesy of the breathtakingly idiotic representatives at UEFA. It seems all our manager has to to these days to receive European bans is pass wind mildly out of tune. He remarks about the Ref during the Milan game were both true, and entirely justified. UEFA should take note of the behaviour of certain high-profile managers they allow to go unpunished – Mr Mourinho – before they starting throwing around bans like they’re fucking confetti.

In responce to the incident, Arsene Wenger said:

“If I am [suspended] then it is not justified and I will appeal straight away.

I believe that they have transformed UEFA competition referees to be untouchable icons, where you cannot even have a word.

The only thing they understand after the game is the report.

I believe that when you have 25 years consecutively in Europe you can still ask the referee that you can have some discussion with him. It is very difficult to understand”

I’d like to think that some element of common sense will prevail in the end, but given the organisation in question, I’d say he’s more likely to receive further punishment simply for speaking. I yearn for the days actual football people gain jobs at UEFA, and not corrupt, bloated morons with the intelligence and charisma of a puddle of cat urine.

I’ll finish up today with a mention for Villa’s captain, Stilyian Petrov. Yesterday, it was announced he has acute leukaemia. I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing him the quickest and fullest of recoveries. Very sad news indeed.

That’s all for today, folks. Take a moment to comment and follow my Twitter account – @_ArmchairGooner