The Armchair Gooner

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

FA Cup: Everton (h) – Team News, Thoughts And Predicted Starting XI

Jack’s grace and curious facial expression will be sorely missed.

Morning, folks.

Picture the scene; a tall, gangly Bristoilan barely able to keep his eyes open is writing this post at 3am. Having spent the night playing poker and occasionally bursting into glorious dance to records by Ke$ha - that happened, deal with it – I’m absolutely shattered, but instead of heading to a deserved slumber, I’m jotting this preview for you.

Dedicated, aren’t I? Well.. truth be told, folks; I can’t face having to get up to write this in time for the game today, so I’m boldly pushing through the exhaustion and the urge to dance again to do it whilst I have the will.

The game today is massive to such an extent I daren’t allow myself to ponder the ramifications should the result not be favourable. Arsenal are in 3 competitions and, realistically, two of them are beyond us – the league not so much, but the Champions League will need divine intervention to enable progression. Continue reading

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

Aston Villa (a): team news, thoughts and predicted starting XI.

Tomas politely and gently enquired about Anthony Taylor’s peculiar decisions.

Morning, folks.

As you might recall, the reverse fixture to today’s game at Villa Park caused something of an uproar. That fateful day; the day Arsenal supporters felt the lowest they have for some time, Anthony Taylor produced one of the most hapless and cretinous displays of refereeing I think I’ve ever seen.

He was a, as Alan Pardew so eloquently put it yesterday

Since that day, Arsenal have come on leaps and bounds and victory tonight will see us reclaim the top spot in the Premiership. To some, the match is a formality. Our opponents might be on their own ground, but their form is utterly woeful at present and they don’t look a team at all – more a collection of miscreants ambling about the pitch in hope of accomplishing something of note – like in those zombie films where the undead wander aimlessly without any human being to gnaw upon. 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.

Arsenal’s starting XI for the visit of Aston Villa.

Saturday February 23rd; FA Premiership, Aston Villa (h)

Hello, fellow Gooners.

Ordinarily, the visit of mediocre opponents wouldn’t be considered a game of huge importance. Aston Villa are not flying high on the back of impressive results, nor do they posses a squad capable of competing with anyone on their day. However, they will turn up at the Emirates confident of being able to get a result. Arsenal’s persistent floundering and recent disappointments empowers the teams we face, and I view today as a tricky fixture indeed.

The team news sees Bacary Sagna unavailable with a knee injury, but Nacho Monreal is back after missing the Bayern thumping through ineligibility. Thomas Vermaelen’s recent poor form might see him miss out, with Arsene expected to bring in Monreal and Carl Jenkinson at full-back, and stick with Mertesacker and Koscielny in the centre.

Up front, Theo’s piss poor showing through the middle on Tuesday probably didn’t go unnoticed, so I’d wager Giroud will return to lead the line, with Walcott dropping to the right side where he tends to be far more effective. Our regular midfield triumvirate will remain as it was.

My guess at the team would be:

As is so often the case, I view the game quite simply; if we play to our capabilities and concentrate in the defensive areas, we will win. Sounds simple, right? Well, with Arsenal it is invariably anything but. Lethargy and complacency creep into to our game with such alarming regularity that it’s impossible to know what’s going to happen.

Today’s game is vitally important with fixtures against those competing for 4th place with us coming very soon. 3 points are what’s needed today above a reactionary performance. The future may look pretty bleak, there may not be any silverware on the horizon, but getting 4th is still important – if not exactly a bloody trophy…

I’m confident we’ll emerge the victors today, and I’ll say we will do so 2-0.

If you fancy having a cheeky flutter on the outcome, head on over to my friends at Bet Victor. They’ll kindly offer a free £25 bet to those of you that sign up as new members. You can register here, and check out all the latest odds by clicking below.

Arsenal vs Aston villa odds.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. Use the comments to forward a few of your own team selections. Who would you start? Rosicky for a bit more urgency in the midfield? Would you drop Vermaelen after his recent performances? How do you think the match will go? Let me know.

I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game.

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.