The Armchair Gooner

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

Ray Parlour Brightens A Miserable Day For Arsenal.

It’s Only Ray Parlour

Howdy, folks.

A wiser man than I once said, “Don’t ever meet your heroes, you’ll only be disappointed” – a phrase I’ve taken as gospel since the fateful moment I first heard it uttered. Since that day, meeting current and former Arsenal players hasn’t been something of particular interest – I’m not sure I could take meeting Patrick Vieira and discovering he wouldn’t be willing to frolic through a plush meadow hand-in-hand. In slow-motion. As birds sing to us.

However, thanks to the delightful folks at Europcar Sport, yesterday myself and some of my friends from The Goonersphere Podcast where invited down to The Emirates to take part in a live Tweeting event during the Swansea Vs Arsenal game (I’ll get to that in a moment). The cherry on the cake here was being able to meet and interview bonafide Arsenal great, Ray Parlour. When the chance to briefly converse arose, Ray was a genuinely humorous and amiable fellow, apparently more than happy to answer questions and put pen to merchandise – the current away shirt I have adorned with his signature shall be framed and take pride of place on my wall at home.

Ray regaled us with stories from yesteryear and offered his personal views on the current Arsenal team Continue reading

Arsenal Out Of The Title Race; Cruel Misfortune Costs.

The Running Kim looked pretty useful.

Morning, folks.

When the match finished last night, I had a bath. Normally I’m strictly a shower kinda guy. That might sound like the most pointless and inane of admittance, but it is relevant in a way. Amongst other things, Arsenal can cause me to get wound up. When those other things combine with my beloved football team, they create a sort of uber-stress and the notion of soothing bath appealed to me. To cut a tedious story shot; I thoroughly enjoyed it – no candles – and, if you’re currently filled with Arsenal-induced tension, I can highly recommend one. I might even stretch as far as to buy myself a little rubber duckie.

So, onto the game…

For a minute I enjoyed it, the remaining 89 plus time allotted for stoppages was excruciatingly bloody awful. Nerves were apparent all through the team, which is to be expected, but the fear of failure amongst the players was palpable. The sense of Arsenal easing out games that once was a feature of our play has long deserted us. However, I can’t really offer that many excuses for what I saw. Any team with the aspirations we have should be dispatching Swansea with minimal fuss. We shipped and early goal and although we got ourselves into a winning position thanks to a quick double from Podolski and Giroud, the sense that we wouldn’t hold on was overwhelming.  Continue reading

Swansea (h): Team News, Thoughts And Predicted Starting XI

Andre Mariner’s pre-game preparations became more thorough.

Morning, folks.

What a few days it’s been. Barring the obvious horrors of recent football, I’ve been working far, far too hard for my liking. As I type, my weary bones creak and ache and I’ve bags the size of lemons underneath my eyelids. I look like a distressed Panda.

Mercifully for you lovely people, I retained just enough energy to write this post last night before a well earned snooze. Yesterday I discussed Arsene Wenger and some of the reaction to the notion of him being elsewhere next season. Seems to me the camp is almost completely split down the middle on that one. I’m still unsure myself, often veering wildly from one extreme to the other.

However, there is a slight glimmer of good news today and that comes, according to 888sport in the form of no suspension being handed to either Kieran Gibbs or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaim after the Andre Mariner fiasco of Saturday.

Continue reading

That Aaron Ramsey, he is SOOOO hot right now…

Swansea 1-2 Arsenal: “Suck it, haters”

Morning folks.

There’s a lot to be said for a team mentality. In recent seasons, I’ve looked at my beloved Arsenal and seen an abundance of very talented individuals, but what’s usually been the missing ingredient is a collective desire to win. When I cast my eyes over the current squad, I see both those things. It genuinely fills me with hope and expectation for what this group of players can accomplish.

A trip to Swansea might sound to some as a relatively easy fixture, but it is anything but.  Michael Laudrup’s team play excellent football, have a nucleus of now-experienced Premiership players and will give anyone a game on their own turf. The fact that they recently won away from home comprehensively against  Valencia shows you how good they are.  Continue reading

Arsenal can sign David Villa, transfer news, Swansea, and cheerio Chamakh!

First Andy Carroll, now Chamakh; West Ham fans were understandably delighted…

Evening folks. So much for 9am every day…(I have been unwell, so give me a break)

By now you’ll have all heard the news. Shisha enthusiast, hair-gel advocate, and much-maligned striker, Marouane Chamakh has joined West Ham on loan for the next six months. The transfer was a formality in the end.

Devastation, woe, heartache; these are a but a few of the emotions that swept over me when the news was confirmed. For many years I’ve admired Chamakh, both as a footballer and a trailblazer of hairstyles. Many evenings I’ve spent trawling through his extensive highlights on YouTube, yelping in awe at his mercurial talents.

Now all that is gone. Another hero, another legend walks away from Arsenal, and we’re all a little sadder inside because of it. What are we  to do now?

Well, in all seriousness, we could replace him with a wounded donkey, but I’d like to think there are better options on the market. David Villa, for example. Even at 31-years-old, the Spanish international would be a brilliant signing. Not being one to put my faith in speculation and hearsay, I’m taking the reemergence of the rumours with an enormous pinch of salt – I’m practically throwing a bucket of the stuff at them.

However, those stories do persist, and the romantic in me hopes there is just a little shred of truth – especially now some state Arsenal have made a formal approach.

He’d be a brilliant signing, and if Arsenal can use the money owed them by Barcelona for the Fabregas and Song deals as a starting point for negotiations, then we might even have a foot in the door ahead of Villa’s other suitors. The romantic in me will continue to hope, but the realist still sees the whole saga as thoroughly mendacious, and likely to rumble on for weeks regardless.

With Arsene playing his cards characteristically close to his chest, and offering up his usual wildly contradictory statements to the press, calling any of his potential moves is an impossibility. He may not invest at all, or he may bring in 2-3 players. None of us – even those lovely ITK fellows – can truly know what lies ahead, we merely have hope and belief. Some distinctly more than others. I think we’ll bring some players in, and I think even the most embittered of souls is going to be pleasantly surprised.

In the meantime, we have a welcome distraction from league football on Sunday. I love the FA Cup. There is no better cup competition in domestic football across Europe. As a child, I remember fondly the romance and the passion associated with 3rd round day, and whilst that may have diminished over the years, it still remains.

Arsenal travel to Swansea hoping to avenge our recent humiliation. It’ll be a tough test against a good opponent. It also represents a chance for glory. There is no reason why we can’t go all the way to the final. On our day and playing well, we can beat anyone. Let’s start our journey on Sunday.

That’s all for today folks. Let me know your thoughts on the Villa transfer, on Chamakh’s departure, and on the other hot topics of the day – the hilarious bust-up at Man City between Mancini and Balotelli, for example.

I await your views in the comments. I shall return tomorrow.

Gervinho, Podolski, Sczcsney, Arsene, the ‘Arsenal-cokey’, and another terrible performance.

Arsenal 0-2 Swansea: Kieran Gibbs sums it up perfectly…

 Morning folks.

There’s been too much said that’s negative in recent weeks. As best I can, I try to look past the bad, and offer a little hope for some good. This morning, finding the optimistic side of my persona, and getting him to come to the forefront is practically impossible.

Losing is just a part of football. I can take defeat. I struggle when that defeat comes with a total lack of application from a team that can/should do better. Swansea didn’t sneak an undeserved flukey-goal-on-the-break-after-weathering-a-siege win. No, they comprehensively outplayed us on our own ground, and took the spoils deservedly. But for Szczsney, it could have been worse.

Whilst the game was live, I was in Bristol centre glued to a radio that wouldn’t work, and a Twitter feed than chose such an inopportune moment to freeze completely. Having now watched the entirety of the game, I can safely say that ‘abject’ and ‘woeful’ were the words that immediately sprung to mind.

Gervinho and Podolski looked utterly disinterested by the whole thing. Only Jack Wilshere showed the kind of hunger and fight you’d expect. I’ve had the misfortune to see some dire Arsenal performances in the past – most can be brushed off as freak occurrences or “one of those days”. There is a worrying trend with our team at the moment; the players look like they don’t fear losing, and those excuses don’t wash anymore.

Something is wrong at Arsenal.

Blame is easily handed out when frustration overwhelms. The board, the players, Arsene Wenger; they’ve all been singled out as reprehensible a million times over. I truly don’t care about who we can or cannot blame. I care about what happens from hereon-in.

Change must be implemented. I’m no expert, I don’t have ‘insiders’ at the club who can feed me juicy information; I’m just a blogger from Bristol. I can’t give answers, I can only hope that those capable of solutions get their collective heads together and work something out.

If that means a change of management, then so be it. If that means the morons that occupy our board and line their pockets at the expense of die-hard supporters all take a long walk off a treacherous hillside, then all the better. If solving our issues means splashing every bit of the alleged £70m we have in the bank, and quality players come in, then that wouldn’t go amiss, either.

But we can’t just do nothing a hope things will change. This season has followed the same alarming path as the last, but we’re minus a world-class centre forward to dig us out of trouble this time around. Stupidity can be defined as repeating the same mistake and expecting a different outcome. If we repeat anymore mistakes, I think we already all know where this is headed.

On a more jovial note, below is a song I created on Twitter, and I’m sharing it with you as a means of lightening the mood – and because I’d like to prove it was mine before someone rips it off. It’s called ‘The Arsenal-cokey’, and if you’re one of the many who ReTweeted  it, I thank you.

That’s all for today, folks. The comments are below. Vent, vent, vent…

I shall return tomorrow with more.

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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.