The Armchair Gooner

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

Crystal Palace (h): Team News, Thoughts, Injuries and Predicted Starting XI.

Destiny holds 29.

Morning, folks.

Matters that are related to on-field antics make a very welcome return. Temporarily, the hideous exchange of insults and opinion can be put to one side and we can all gloriously unite as one to support the team. Perhaps. Well.. probably not. In truth, it’ll only get worse. Jesus…

I’m all about the joy folks. If you can’t enjoy football, why the hell bother? Vows are often made and broken when faced with circumstance that displeases. When I state I shall look only for the joy and humour, I mean it. The moaning and squabbles I’ll leave to those more inclined to do so.

So, let’s talk some delicious team news, shall we? Let’s. Continue reading

West Brom (a): Thoughts, team news and potential starting XI

“Yep – that’s my career disappearing over the horizon”

Morning, you rowdy lot.

To your average Arsenal fan, Nicklas Bendtner is an anathema. He certainly possess a degree of talent, that is hard to deny. When the mood takes him, the lumbering Dane can be a handful for even the more cultured and capable of defenders. However, these days it’s his antics and behaviour off the field of play that grab the attention.

Let’s not beat about the bush – he’s a tw*t. Anyone who requests his shirt number to be in line with the wages of his new deal – 52 – shouldn’t be described as anything else – even if he did deny it…

I never thought we’d see him an Arsenal shirt again. He most probably thought the same. But as the “interested parties” soon realised Nicklas couldn’t possibly drop a penny below his current wages to play regular football elsewhere, it soon became apparent we’d be stuck with him. Couple that with our inability to secure the services of a forward to lighten Giroud’s workload, and you have tonight’s scenario; Nicklas Bendter will put on an Arsenal shirt.

Or so it’s alleged across the media.

For the trip to the Hawthornes, we’ll see the usual farrago of selection for the Capital One Cup. I expect to see the odd sprinkling of first team regulars that could use some competitive football along with a few of our talented youngsters on the periphery of things.  And Bendtner. Bloody Bendtner.

Guessing what Arsene will do in these games is very tricky. Were we playing a Premiership game, predicting the starting 11 wouldn’t be too difficult – easy in fact given the current paucity of available players. That’s a list you can now add Theo Walcott to for the next few weeks.

So, here’s my very best guess at how we will line up:

Nicklas’ triumphant return?

As for the game itself, it’s certainly a potentially tricky one. I’d expectWest Brom to field a relatively strong team, but use it as an opportunity to give minutes to certain players in the same manner we will.  Given the lack of options, our bench could very well be stronger that recent weeks tonight, and contain the likes of Ramsey, Ozil and Giroud should we need to chase the game in the second half.

Of course, Arsene may even spring a surprise on us. For some time I’ve had a sneaky feeling he might start with Ozil today – if only to give our new German friend another opportunity to become familiar with the rigours of away games in the Premiership.  I’d also hoped he’d start with young Chuba Akpom up front, as he is immeasurably more deserving of the role than Bendtner, plus he appears to have a future at Arsenal.

All shall be revealed in due course.

I think we’ll win tonight, but I’m far from super-confident. The team has performed well recently and gathered some good momentum. The team that takes part tonight is likely to be a disjointed version, and it’s hard to say how they’ll perform. If they hit the ground running, I’ve no doubt of progression. But, it could be one of those nights. It certainly has the ingredients.

I shall predict a 1-2 win.

That’s all for today, folks. What do you think the team should be? There’s been a great deal of debate surrounding our selection, so don’t be shy – drop your thoughts in the comments.

I’ll be back tomorrow. For now, I’m off to have some breakfast, a mug of tea and plot further to take over the world….. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Sorry…

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.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the cup tie with Blackburn (match preview and team news)

Saturday February 16th: FA Cup, Blackburn (h): A match preview coming to you from sunny Bristol.

Morning. folks.

You can safely say it’s the first day of spring. Here in Bristol, the clouds have taken a day off and taken the miserable air and chills with them. It’s a beautiful day. No better day for FA Cup football.

Blackburn are shit. They were shit when we walloped them last season, shit when they got relegated and have since been shit in the Championship. That fact worries me no end. When faced with formidable opponents, our players are forced into a state of concentration – as I expect they will be when Bayern come calling. Complacency is our worst enemy at times, and that’s what I fear most today. Blackburn may be shit, but they have enough players with Premiership experience to cause us problems if they play to the occasion.

The team news mostly surrounds our defence. Jenkinson will miss the game through suspension, Vermaelen is definitely out, and Koscielny faces a late fitness test. Wilshere, Cazorla and other notable faces are widely tipped to not feature today in order to keep them fresh for Tuesday.

It’s particularly tricky to guess Wenger’s selection. Assuming Koscielny fails his test, we could very well be witness to the unbridled horror of Squillaci taking to the field, or Sagna could slot-in alongside Mertesacker with Aaron Ramsey or young Hector Bellerin filling in at right-back. I expect there to be a few surprises today, and a few names rested.

My (wild) guess at the line-up would be:

That’s just one possibilty. Others include Gervinho or Giroud starting as the attack’s focal point.

I expect a win today. Bradford was a harsh and humiliating lesson learnt, and that lower-league banana skin has, hopefully, been traversed for the foreseeable future. A solid, focused performnace should see nothing other than comfortable progression to the quarter-finals, but this is the FA Cup – what’s should happen could very well not. Form and superiority go out the window on days like this, and we’ll have to expect Blackburn to play above their means.

I’ll stick what little reputation I have and go for a jittery 2-1 win for the Arsenal, with a winner from Diaby – not sure why, I have an inkling he’ll score today if selected.

If you’re looking to wager some cash of your own on a prediction, head on over to Bet Victor and register as a new member. All new customers will a recieve a new bet to the value of £25. You can register here.

Arsenal vs Blackburn odds.

That’s all for today, folks. Leave a comment or two with your views on the team, and your predictions for the outcome. I shall return tomorrow with a review and other bits.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the trip to Sunderland (match preview and team news)

Saturday 9th February: FA Premiership, Sunderland (a)

Welcome, delicious readers.

After a week of international football and gushy enthusing over the brilliance of our very own Jack Wilshere, today, the delights of football that actually matters – sorry, England – is back with us.

Most of the talk leading up to the game has surround our defensive, and the incredibly alarming prospect of Sebastien Squillaci being selected. Mercifully, that appears to not be the case, as most reputable outlets are reporting Laurent Koscielny will come trough a fitness test today to start alongside the BFG. Thomas Vermaelen definitely misses out with an ankle (I think…) injury.

With Wilshere and Walcott having played a large chunk of the England victory over Brazil, it is possible that both will be rested today. Gervinho is back from his brief excursion to Africa, but isn’t deemed fit enough or ready to take his place in the squad. Nacho Monreal will start the game at left-back.

My guess at how Arsene will send the team out is:

Sunderland away is one of those fixtures I don’t like. Martin O’Neil is one of those managers I don’t like. It may not hold the irritation factor (‘I-Factor’, as I like to call it) of a trip to Stoke, but Sunderland are sure to deploy neolithic tactics and approach the game in the most tedious and unimaginative fashion.

We have to credentials to win this one with ease. Our attacking prowess is far greater than that of our opponents. If we play to our abilities, and keep a focus and concentration at the back, the result shouldn’t be a doubt. We will, however, need nothing less than that. I want to win today to catch up with those above us vying for a Champions League spot, but most of all becuase the sight of O’Neil prancing about the touchline and leaping in the air makes me want to find a large bat and repeatedly introduce it to my face.

I have a beautiful face. Please don’t make me spoil it, Arsenal.

If you’re confident of the outcome, and would like to splurge some of your cash in a frivolous manner, take a gander at the deals available from Bet Victor. The prize for newly registered members putting down a £10 bet is Bet Victor will offer you back one to the value of £25. You can sign up here.

Sunderland vs Arsenal odds.

That’s yer lot today, you beautiful bastards. The comments below offer a handy section in which you can offer up your views, lambast me for mine, or pop down a few words of cheer and encouragement. It’s really up to you, and it’s always nice to hear from my readers.

I shall return tomorrow.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the game against Newcastle (match preview and round-up)

Saturday Dec 29th; FA Premiership, Newcastle (h)

Morning folks!

You know those fans that say they have a “2nd club”, or a “soft spot” for another team?  I’m not one of them. I’ve always seen it as Arsenal are my team, and all the rest are simply opponents – some more irksome than others.

However, if I were to be forced at gun point to name another team I have even the slightest affinity for, it would be Newcastle. I’m not entirely sure why that is. One of my earliest football memories is watching replays of that famous Ronnie Radford goal for Hereford against Newcastle in the FA Cup (I was born 6 years after it happened). Perhaps I felt sorry for them.

Today, however, they’re just another opponent, and one I’d expect us to beat. They’ve a decent strike force in Cisse and Ba, and any team that can score 3 at Old Trafford shouldn’t be taken lightly. Alan Pardew’s side is filled with good players, but results haven’t gone their way.

The Arsenal team news is good. Rosicky and Giroud return from illness, and even long-term absentees Diaby and Santos are alleged to be returning to full training. We have what is very close to a fully fit squad.

As was the case in the previous fixture, then main selection headache will be wether Arsene starts with Theo as the lone forward. If Newcastle deploy similar tactics to the ones used in last season’s fixture – Tim Krul time wasting after 30 minutes, and a defence-minded approach – then I would fear for Walcott being rendered useless by a lack of space. If they come to make a game of it, if they don’t sit deep and try to keep a clean sheet, then our contract-dodging speedster could be very effective.

It’s difficult to predict what the manager will do, but I believe he won’t want to disrupt a winning side, and the 11 that take the field will be the same as the Wigan game:

Having not played on Boxing Day has seen us lose ground on the top four and slip to 7th in the table. At kick-off today (5.30pm) it’s possible we will have dropped further down the table, should results in other games not go our way. The team should be rested and focused for the game, and a victory is crucial in keeping up with the Champions League spots.

My prediction is a 6-5 roller-coaster of a game with 5 sendings-off and 3 penalties. Every time I predict a routine win, something bizarre happens. Hopefully this will have the opposite effect.

If you fancy putting some money down on the result, head over to Bet Victor. £25 worth of free bets awaits those of you that sign up a new members. You can register here.

Arsenal vs Newcastle odds.

Lastly today, a special word must go to Pat Rice; a loyal servant to Arsenal football club who has been awarded an MBE in the new year’s honours list. As I’m sure you will all agree, richly deserved indeed.

That’s all for today, folks. Tomorrow I shall return with a full match review. In the meantime, the comments section awaits your views on the game, the team selction, and your preferred choice of striker. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading.

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.

Lastly, if you’d like to wager some cash on the outcome, or anything else, you can get a membership with Bet Victor, and find yourself with a free £25 bet. Click here to register.

Arsenal vs Swansea odds.

The Arsenal starting XI for the game against Everton.

FA Premiership: Wednesday Nov 28th, Everton (a)

Morning folks.

First up – apologies for the lack of a post yesterday. It was one of those days that I cant avoid; busy, busy, and thoroughly annoying. There are restrictions placed upon me, the humble lone blogger, and sometimes I just don’t have enough hours in the day. I’m sure you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me – or perhaps you’re muttering obscenities to yourself as you read this. Either way, I’m sorry!

Today, we’ve an important game. Underneath the floodlights of Goodison we face a tough test, and we’ll be needing all of our mettle to come through it with a point or three to show. The Toffee’s early season flourish may have been temporarily replaced by a period of meandering, but make no mistake, folks; they’re a side capable of beating anyone on their own patch.

Today’s team news brings with it something of a surprise. A man who I had assumed ceased to exist, or had been abducted by a alien race intent on studying fragile footballers, Tomas Rosicky, makes a return to full training. He won’t be available for the game tonight, but it’s good to have another creative option in the squad.

Returning to the starting line up we should see both Wilshere and Walcott, and I expect the Boss to name his strongest available team – I’d be hard pushed to say who he’ll partner Mertesacker with – if at all – but my guess is Vermaelen will return to take the captaincy.

I’d go with this team:

There’s an unwelcome funk and malaise to Arsenal at the moment. Where we expect dedication and enthusiasm on the pitch, too often we’ve seen lethargy and floundering. The reasons why are irrelevant to me tonight. There’s a time and place for critiquing and debate, I personally chose to put that to one side on match days.

When I look across the team, I see players capable of far better than they’ve shown. If they perform to their standards, to the ability they clearly have, then we can get a result. If, however, they turn in another performance as woeful as those recently, I doubt we’ll have anything to discuss after ninety minutes is up other than another maelstrom of petty bickering between supporters.

I’ll be certainly hoping for the former. Arsenal are due a really good performance. Seasons can turn around on the back of single games, tonight could very well be one of those occasions. The shining optimist in me predicts 2-0 to the Arsenal, the misanthropic pessimist thinks he’s a fucking idiot. We shall see who’s right.

That’s all for today, folks. The comments await your thoughts on the team. How would you put the team out? Which side of my personality do you agree with? Let me know. Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game.

Lastly, if you fancy putting some cash on a whole variety of betting options, Bet Victor offers new members a £25 free bet – you can register here.

Everton vs Arsenal odds.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the game against Aston Villa.

FA Premiership; Saturday Nov 24th, Aston Villa (a)

Morning folks.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Villa Park. I’ve seen the Arsenal live on a fair few occasions. Arsenal fans regularly enjoy discussions about their favourite goal, and the moment that always stands out for me when quizzed is having witnessed Robert Pires score this goal live. I won’t lie to you; I was near orgasm when that hit the back of the net – my brother would gladly describe to you the look on my face, and the elated noise I omitted.

These days Villa are, well… pretty bloody useless. Currently languishing in the bottom three, they’ve reached nothing but mediocrity this season, and that’s been on one of their good days. This worries me no end. Arsenal always seem to raise their game and perform – Old Trafford aside – when the chips are stacked against us, and we’re expected to lose. In games like today, I fear the emergence of the dreaded complacency monkey.

The team news is essentially the same as it was on Wednesday. Walcott, Diaby and Rosicky all remain sidelined, and Gervinho and Gibbs are back in contention. I get the feeling Arsene might be tempted to rest Cazorla or Giroud for this one, but given his recent words about his side “finding their rhythm early” against Villa, I’m going to predict a team very similar to the one that faced Montpellier – I think he’ll use this game to bring Gibbs back in to the side.

We could start like this:

I’m expecting us to beat Villa. They’ve a few potentially dangerous forwards, but if we play like a unit, defend well, and attack them from the off, we’ll beat them. Anything less than three points today would be disappointing.

That’s all from me today, folks. What are your views on the team? Would you opt to rest some of our more fatigued players, or is building on our recent wins more important? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game.

If you fancy a bet on the game, you can head on over to Bet Victor who have all the latest match day odds and deals for new members. You can register here.

Aston Villa vs Arsenal odds.

 

Starting XI against Wolves, preview and team news.

As his teammates lost their heads, Roger Johnson seized his chance: "What body-spray is that, Ref? You smell like an enchanted meadow"

FA Premiership, April 11th: Wolves Vs Arsenal

Midweek football greetings, delicious reader.

I’ve got a cold. I know you tune into these posts primarily to hear about the latest Arsenal news, and I apologise for what is about to follow. I’m a man, I’m unwell and you know what? I’m going to have a moan until I get a little sympathy.

My head hurts. My eyes are glazed over, leaving with me the shifty glare of a drug-addled deviant. Worst of all, I can’t stop spraying sneezes across the room as if my nose were the barrel of a shotgun. I think I may have killed the cat…

Anyways, enough moaning. I’m sorry. You didn’t need or want to hear all that.

Tonight, it’s all about the Arse.

Spurs’ hilarious faltering at home to the mighty Norwich has left us with the ideal opportunity to put some distance between them and us – 5 points worth of distance, to be precise.

Usually, these are the type of games I’d expect Arsenal to do something silly in. However, I’m going to take heart from those previous mistakes and put a little faith in the team and their ability to learn from them. The QPR defeat wasn’t exactly our crowning glory; merely a momentary blip in what was otherwise an excellent period of form. Beating City and dominating them has put us back onto the track for 3rd place, and I fully expect us to brush aside Wolves tonight exuding minimal fuss.

The only major absentee will be Laurent Koscielny who picked up a yellow on Sunday and is now banned for the next two matches. He’ll be a big loss against a team that is certain to attempt to exploit our perceived weaknesses in defence by pumping long balls into the area. He of the enormous eyebrows, Johan Djourou, will deputise. Gervinho sat out the City game with a minor ankle knock, but should return to the squad and Kieran Gibbs is unlikely to play because of what Arsene Wenger curiously called a “fatigued groin” – an ailment that plagued my teenage years.

My guess at the line up is:

Szczsney; Sagna, Santos, Djourou, Vermaelen; Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Walcott; van Persie.

I’m often confused by the choice to play Ramsey on the left. Wenger seems happier in opting for a ball-retentive player there than he does with the impact and pace of Chamberlain – a player I’m perhaps a little too enthusiastic about starting games. Whether it be the Wales captain, or Yossi Benayoun, playing a player unaccustomed to wing-play on the left side of midfield does strike me as strange.

Having said that, it’s a strong 11 and one fully capable of dispatching Wolves with comfort. Of course, this is football, and things are rarely as easy and straightforward as we expect them to be. Wolves may be plunging quickly towards the abyss of Championship football, but we shouldn’t allow any complacency to creep into our minds. Winning is vitally important. Keep the momentum going and we’ll get 3rd. It’s ours to throw away now. Lets make sure we keep a hold of it.

That’s all for today, folks. I’m off to bed before the game starts tonight. I’ve sneezed 9 times whilst writing this. I hope you enjoy the game from wherever you may be watching it.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Take a moment to comment and follow my Twitter account – @_ArmchairGooner