The Armchair Gooner

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

Arsenal introduce new style of uber-porn football. Ramsey, Ozil, Wilshere and Giroud…

Arsenal 4-1 Norwich: All 4 goals. This sexy.

Morning, happy campers.

How are you all feeling this morning? A little worse for wear due to a night of imbibing delicious libations in frenzied celebration of what wonders our mortal eyes witnessed yesterday? Me too. Well, I don’t have a hangover as I’m not a drinker, but I do have that unmistakable drop-off that unfortunately accompanies the previous day’s euphoria. Continue reading

Gervinho, Chamberlain, Szczsney, Blackburn, Bayern, Wenger and the worst day of the season by a mile.

Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn: Unbelievably shit-awful

Morning, smiley happy people…

Before I began writing this post, I sat down and tried to make myself think of something positive to say. I struggled for 2-3 minutes to come up with anything even remotely full of cheer to serve up to you today before I exclaimed to myself, “Oh, balls to this” and decided to get on with writing about how I actually feel.

Losing to Bradford and plummeting out of a cup competition we had a genuine chance of winning was humiliating enough. For that to be repeated in alarmingly similar fashion yesterday in nothing short of outrageous.

For all the talk of Wenger’s selction policy for that match, I actually agreed with him leading up to the game. It made sense to keep certain players fresh for Tuesday’s fixture with Bayern Munich, and those sent onto to the field should have had more than enough quality to overturn a Championship side.

To place blame on that, and that alone, is naive. The troubles within our club go far deeper. Countless occasions this season have seen our players take to the field with an unmotivated attitude and lethargy. Fans have every right to expect more, and every right to vent their apoplexy when mistakes and poor performances appear with such regularity.

And in these moments of despair, we look for someone to blame. The board, the manager, the players; it’s difficult to pinpoint the main contributing factor to the malaise at Arsenal, and the only sensible conclusion I can muster is a combination of all of the above. Arsenal has become a business focused on profit and sustainability, not a football team with aspirations of glory. That’s not something I’ve ever cared to believe, but it’s something I believe to be true.

Our manager, an undeniably great man, is a shadow of the man he once was; challenged, focused and with a desire to win. 8 years ago he had assembled one of the greatest teams in English football. Times change, however, and football is a different beast these days. The great change with the times, you need only look at the continued success of Alex Ferguson to see a man who adapts to that which changes around him. Wenger’s legacy and past glories will forever be the greatest period of success for Arsenal, but his inability to change, his insistence on vanity projects are seriously tarnishing that legacy.

I’m no Wenger apologist, nor am I the type to blindly back someone against such compelling evidence. However, to single him out for blame is as pointless as it is to do so for any of the other factors. Arsene’s responsibility lies with the team and the results they obtain, for that he takes the credit and the current cacophony of derision. The ambition, the desire to compete with others is something he cannot do without the backing of the board.

That’s where the real trouble lies for me – the club as a whole. Arsenal would happily obtain 4th every year and nothing else as it brings in the revenue and ends the season with a profit. If we can sell on a few star players, and bring in cheaper alternatives during the summer, our board will jump at the chance. Each summer that passes sees our squad weakened, and the danger of losing touch with others increases until one day it will eventually disappear altogether. That day may be a lot closer than we care to think.

In the wake of such an appalling defeat, it’s natural to focus on the negative. Some of you may even dismiss this post as doing exactly that – that I’m just a bitter soul ranting becuase I’m pissed off. I assure you that is not the case. I write today genuinely concerned and because I care.

We are Arsenal. We have a bulging bank balance, a world class arena, state of the art training facilities and a large and diverse fanbase. We are one of the richest clubs in football. We should be competing with the best, not making do with average players and low expectations.

Whatever your allegiance, we all want the same thing. I’m almost afraid to say it, “We want our Arsenal back”.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Don’t hold back – say what’s truly on your mind.

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.