The Armchair Gooner

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

The cost of being a football fan in 2013.

Afternoon, folks.

I have quite a few contacts around various places, and I get sent a fair few things to use on this site. Ordinarily, I’m fairly picky about what I publish, but this info-graphic from Net Voucher Codes struck me as very interesting. Below is a comparison of costs between England and Germany’s price for supporters, and other elements put side-by-side between Premiership clubs.

Revealing stuff, and it shows just how high prices are at Arsenal.

The Cost Of Football ‚?? An infographic by the team at NetVoucherCodes.co.uk

The comments are below. Let me know a few of your thoughts.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Arsene hits back at the critics, ex-players know best, and The Dark Knight Rises.

Putting a parking ticket on Bane’s Fiat Uno had repercussions.

Morning folks.

I love Christopher Nolan. I love every movie he’s done. Last night I watched The Dark Knight Rises in its entirety for the 3rd time – it truly gets better every time I watch it. You might wonder why an Arsenal blogger is talking about this. The reason is; would my affection for Christopher Nolan’s movies stop me from saying if I thought he made a bad one? No – my views on Arsene Wenger are absolutely the same.

Whilst watching the movie, it struck me there are a quite a few similarities between TDKR and the current climate at our beloved Arsenal; structures as shackles, warring factions, the rich elite and their disregard for others, an 8-year absence of a mythical figure (or trophy…), and the passing of a mantle to another.

Granted, Arsene Wenger isn’t likely to fly a nuclear bomb out of London in the nick of time, and it would be a shame to see half the first team squad buried underneath an imploding pitch. Well, perhaps not Squillaci.

I think you get my drift, though – don’t you?

When interviewed after the Villa game, Arsene faced up to some of the critics – notably the away fans and their choice of song – and he had some strong words to say:

“I leave it to you to judge. I try to be as good as I can be. Is it hurtful? Look, I have managed for 30 years at the top level and I have to convince you I can manage the team?

“How many games have you managed? I promise you if you manage one I will sit in the stands and chant ‘you know what you are doing!'”

When asked about the Coquelin for Giroud change, something I thought was ridiculous, he added:

“You can discuss every substitution. You think what you want.

“I do my job and I let people judge it. I do that every day and I do my best every day. I know why I do it.

“What is the thinking behind the substitution? I will not explain every decision I make, you judge the game and I sit here and explain to you our game.

“You are all great managers! I read the newspapers every day and I can tell you that you are always great managers!”

Sounds to me very much like the words of a man tired of the constant questioning of his management. I can’t say I blame him, but I cant say he wasn’t asked questions that needed to be asked.

I’m just a blogger. My football experience is hardly top-notch, and I was never particularly adept on Championship Manager. I have my opinions on my team, and right or wrong, I’m entitled to them – just as all you good folks that comment are. I’d be an idiot to claim I know better than Arsene Wenger – I certainly don’t. However, as I’ve stated before, no one is beyond reproach, and no one is infallible. Arsene Wenger has made mistakes. He has to answer to those mistakes, and the away fans have every right to voice their concerns.

Most ex-players seem to agree. Today I watched a video in which David Seaman stated his belief that Arsenal need to spend – to lay down a marker and bring in some real quality. Could I disagree? Nope. We do need to improve the squad’s depth. Will we? That’s another matter entirely. Perhaps Wenger is restricted by the board, or perhaps his vanity prevents him from doing something that would appear to be concession of defeat.

It’s a odd atmosphere at the moment. Supporters are unsettled, bickering, and veering from one extreme to the other at the slightest of provocation. At the end of the day, we all want the same; a successful, financially stable club. I see the only way forward is to adopt a middle ground between the two. Perhaps too much is placed on the latter.

Thats all for today folks. Leave me a few of your own views in the coments. I look forward to reading them.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow.

Wilshere, Podolski, Koscielny, the abuse of Ramsey, and comfortable qualification.

Arsenal 2-0 Montpellier: The whole stadium was awe-struck by Podolski’s volley – except The Ox, who had a bit of a nap.

Afternoon, folks.

We’ve qualified. Wether we top the group, or finish as runners-up remains to be seen, but Arsenal are heading into the last 16 where we’ll most probably have to play Barcelona.

Last night was something of a rarity; a fairly bland and comfortable win, and one that came with no concession. We took the points with two superb goals from Wilshere and Podolksi – Olivier Giroud’s contribution to both shouldn’t go unnoticed – and we never looked in any danger of losing to Montpellier. With Schalke also winning, they go into the final round of games a point ahead of us – finishing 1st will depend on us taking 3 points in Olympiakos, and Montpellier taking points off Schalke.

Whilst it would be difficult to offer monumental praise to anyone after such a routine and formulaic display, I though Laurent Koscielny looked immense at the back. He’s struggled on occasion to find his best form, but he looks like the best centre-back at the club when he’s on his game. With Gibbs now fit to play, it leaves Arsene with a selection problem; does he drop Koscielny in favour of returning Vermaelen to the centre. or leave out Mertesacker and risk upsetting the balance of the central pairing? It’s a tough call to make, especially since the captaincy hasn’t brought out Vermaelen’s best form.

All in all, it was good to see victory achieved without too much exertion, and even better to see us progress where Chelsea (most probably) and Manchester City have failed  Рit goes to show that money cant always buy you everything.

Elsewhere, that oh-so alarming trend of Ramsey bashing has reared it’s ugly and unwelcome head – this time before a game even started. In yesterday’s comments section, a thread discussing team selection quickly descended in a stomping ground for the “if Ramsey plays we’ll lose” club.

Now, I’m all for criticism of players if it’s constructive and has merit. No player should be above that. However, It’s often seen about the Goonersphere that our Welsh midfielder gets his, and everyone else’s, share. His form has been patchy – yes. But there has to be a point where we realise that singling him out for blame at every opportunity is both counter-productive and foolish.

I like Aaron. I see bags of potential in him, and I think some fans conveniently forget that he’s been through a lot for someone so young when they’re on the hunt for a scapegoat. I wouldn’t dispute he should be playing better, but my reason for saying so is simply because I believe he is more than capable of it. He isn’t a “championship player”, or the one reason most likely to make us lose. He’s a young guy with talent that needs our support. We should give it to him.

That’s all for today folks. I’ve opened up a fresh avenue for more Ramsey bashing here, but I’d like to see the other side of that argument, too. Do you think Aaron is unfairly treated? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow.

AST meeting, Arsene, George, Manu and the board.

Good morning to you, ladies and sirs. Initially, I did intend todays’s entry to be a few views on Arsenal’s tactics and their lack of flexibility. There’s quite a bit of news to get through, so I’m postponing that one until tomorrow.

The AST meeting took place last night. Unlike many of my peers, the innermost secrets and idiosyncrasies of the club aren’t something I pretend to be at all au fait with. Yesterday I was glued to Twitter reading updates from folks attending, so I’ll do my best to relay the important and interesting parts.

When I picture the meeting in my head, I have a chuckle to myself. Imagine, if you will, an old Western Saloon; members of the ‘AKB’ playing poker, a grizzled bar-keep polishing glasses and a bespectacled man tinkling the ivories in the corner. Then silence as the saloon doors swing open and Pedro from Le Grove walks in. In reality, the venue is probably a dingy room with a few complimentary vol-au-vents and a vague hint of coffee, B.O and urine wafting from the assembled masses.

The setting, of course, is irrelevant; what’s of the upmost importance is the subject matter discussed, a great deal of which I already knew (our sponsorship deal with Nike is fucking atrocious), but they’re were some fascinating facts. For example; Alishar Usmanov offered investment, but the current board refused; Since David Dein’s departure, pushing for transfers is Wenger’s responsibility and he’s constantly offering prices way beneath the players value (Cahill and Mata); The club has ¬£50m available for acquisitions, but that figure includes wages and signing-on fees. Most obviously, it’s a universally agreed statement that Stan Kroenke is a bit of a fucking idiot. If you’re interested in the finer details, I suggest you check out the timeline of Walid Arsenal on Twitter – he was at the meeting and provided an excellent blow-by-blow account of what was said. Alternatively, you can check out the Mirror’s ever-so-slightly hyperbolic interview with Tim Payton of the AST which includes more information regarding fans’ views on Arsene Wenger, wages and the transfer budget.

In other news today, there’s been a bonanza of ex-Arsenal folks chipping in with their 2 pennies worth of opinion on the state of the club. He may be French, he may be quick, his name may very well be a porno flick, but Emmanuel Petit did make some very valid points:

“If Arsene has to leave the club they need to find a big manager to settle down and that would be very difficult for the next manager,” he said, “I think Arsene’s still the solution. They need to change a few things in the transfer market, change a few things in their politics to bring a competitive team.”

Along with our former French midfielder, bung-taker extraordinaire and turncoat ex-manager of Spurs (I’ll never forgive him for that) George Graham stated:

Yes, Arsenal are in crisis. It has been slipping away for the last couple of years. They’ve not been replacing those players who left four or five years ago.

‘They’re lacking leaders and the quality of the players they‚??re bringing in is just not up to the standard if you want to win the Premier League.’

Arsene’s not won anything now for the last six years so there would be doubt in there. They’ve got money and I can‚??t understand why Arsene has not gone out and bought some real quality players.

‘But he has a fantastic reputation and I don‚??t think the board will forget what he has done.

Again, and it does pain me to say so, I can’t really see a lot wrong in there. It’s undoubtedly beginning to get a little irksome when you’re constantly having sift through stories of one-time Arsenal employees throwing their opinions into the melting pot – at times with no small measure of hypocrisy. I think ‘crisis’ is too strong a word for the situation at Arsenal – Rangers are in a crisis. There are problems. Fortunately, they are are problems with reasonably simple solutions. The real question is whether or not our manager is too stubborn to put aside his failing philosophies in favour of rebuilding a winning team. I hope the truth has dawned on him in recent weeks, but I can’t be too confident. We are set to lose ¬£45m if we fail in reaching 4th, so his ability to sufficiently rebuild may be hampered somewhat. These are worrying times.

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