The Armchair Gooner

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

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.

“5-4, we’re gunna win 5-4″ Milan give Arsenal a bloody good hiding and questions need to be asked.

Morning folks, or perhaps I should say “mourning folks”…

Where to begin? That was a barrel of laughs, wasn’t it? Did you enjoy the game? Have you got a smile on your face a mile long? No? Oh…

There are individuals out there that will revel in the waves of discontent crashing over the temporary sea-walls of optimism. I was beginning to believe we had turned the corner; I thought those moments of sheer ineptitude where a distant memory. I’d love to make this post uplifting, to offer hope for the return leg, to raise the spirits of whomever is casting their peepers over my blog, because I imagine you’re all as down-in-the-dumps and morose as I am.

Yet, I’ve reached the conclusion there’s nothing remotely good to be taken from last night. At times, we were as disorganised and shambolic in defence as I’ve ever seen from an Arsenal side. Milan were good, but they’re an above average side at best. Barcelona would have torn them to pieces.

I’m so fucking annoyed. Seriously. I’ve just launched a scathing barrage of obscenity at my cat, as she’s just had the audacity to mew at me in a manner I’m certain was mocking. My phone is turned off, lest the remarks of rival supporters result in me climbing to a lofty vantage point with a high-powered rifle. I daren’t even look at Twitter. That’s the state of things: my cat is laughing at us and I’ve had to become a social hermit. Thanks, Arsenal…

I’m a big reader of Le Grove. Along with Arseblog, it’s the one site I read on a daily basis. At times, they’ve been accused of being too negative towards the manager; of daring to critique a man who has, undoubtedly, given so much to our football club. For the past few years, Pedro and Geoff have remained resolute in pointing out the flaws others choose to ignore; to sweep under the proverbial rug in favour of blind allegiance. You know what? They’re right. They ask the questions that have to be asked.

Why didn’t Chamberlain start? Why did the manager remain ensconced in the dugout throughout the entire match? Would Alex Ferguson have sat there in silence? No, he’d be in the technical area screaming bloody murder at his team if they played that badly. Where was the drive in the team? Where was the leadership, the communication? Why does Theo Walcott continue to be selected regardless of how unbelievably shit-awful he performs? Why didn’t we replace Cesc and Nasri? Why are our back-up players so regularly insufficient replacements? Why don’t he have a ‘plan B’ tactic? We are the 6th richest club in world football, why did we wait until the last minute to invest in the team?

You can’t look at Arsenal from a supporters point of view and not despair. Fundamentally, there is a great deal wrong with the club. This time a year ago, we were beating Barcelona with a midfield that contained Fabregas, Wilshere and Nasri. All three were missing last night. One’s injured, the other two departed and haven’t been replaced. The lack of passion, leadership and creativity in the San Siro was painfully, painfully noticeable.

Of the starting XI, only Laurent Koscielny came away with any credit, and he went off injured at half-time. Arteta was sloppy, Ramsey spent 90 minutes trying to pick out the corner flag, Vermaelen looked off-the-pace, Rosicky and Theo didn’t track back enough. If we’d played our hearts out and lost to a better team, I wouldn’t have a bad word to say. But we simply weren’t at the races in any respect whatsoever. If it was a blip, a one-off awful performance, I’d be happy to put it down to experience. But its not; the same thing keeps happening. Our season is moribund and fast becoming an embarrassment. Saturday’s trip to Sunderland now fills me with dread. After witnessing our breathtaking capitulation last season at a similar point, I’m hoping.. No, I’m praying the team will unify and get through this tough period. Then I ask the most important question of all; who’s going to pull us out of the slump? The answer? I truly have no idea. Robin van Persie can’t do it by himself.

I apologise for this post. Much like yesterday, it’s disjointed and shit. I’m writing whilst still angry, but I’ve chosen to publish it as it’s an honest and accurate summation of my current mindset. I’m always going to love The Arsenal, I’ll support them whatever may be, but I can’t say there aren’t things that need to change. For the first time, I’m wondering whether the manager is first on that list.

The biggest shame is that result was how we ended up saying goodbye to Thierry. His contribution deserved better, and I thank him for what he has done.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Leave a comment below and follow me on my Twitter account – _ArmchairGooner.