The Armchair Gooner

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

Mesut Ozil Is A Bionic Space Flop From The Planet Ashtotron

Welcome to Arsenal…

Morning, folks.

There’s a little bit of a lull at present. There always is between games when focus is elsewhere and the baying rants toward whichever figure/player has upset someone this week – always one, isn’t there – have calmed down. With news at premium and folks having temporarily given up on arguing with each, any and everything, there’s not much to discuss.

I’ve very briefly touched on Mesut Ozil, but only in small measure as addressing the accusations thrown his was only really serves to offer further incendiaries to already out-of-control fires. There’s no point when you understand why such insipid and blatant articles exist; those that write them and their employers can only attract hits by doing such a thing. Continue reading

Ozil, Arteta, Sanogo, Giroud and Vermaelen All Play Part In Huge Cup Win.

Joel laments conceding and, more so, not being in the embrace.

Morning, folks.

Feels glorious, doesn’t it. That sweeping euphoria of knowing that Arsenal have not let you down and that we will be front and centre when Wembley hosts the semi-finals. Whatever you may think about games other than the final taking place at the national stadium, being able to say, “Arsenal are going to Wembley” has an undeniably mellifluous ring to it.

Yesterday was a great performance when one was needed. Before kick off and up until we took an unassailable 3-1 lead, I couldn’t relax. My stomach churned, I paced and thought of nothing other than the fact there was a game. I often write about that sensation. At times it must come across as complaint when it is anything but. Feeling so on edge, so worried, is a beautiful thing; it means Arsenal are playing in a match that’s important.

And the FA Cup is important. Continue reading

€8m striker on the way, Captain’s future and a big weekend of football.

David couldn’t choose what to watch from the endless stream of football.

Morning, you splendid little badgers.

You’ll be pleased to know my stomach has settled down and reached some semblance of normality today. No longer am I enduring any discomfort. Not today. In the interest of  keeping up my reputation as a f**king idiot, I shall use this reprieve to consume even further. It would be an opportunity wasted if I didn’t, wouldn’t it?

*goes downstairs to make coffee and pancakes*


Right, news time – time to trawl through all those sites out there and see what’s happening in the wonderful world of Arsenal. There’s a busy Premiership fixture list today. Manchester City will in all likelihood take our top spot away as they’ve a home fixture with lowly Crystal Palace. Short of something truly miraculous happening – Chamakh hat-trick anyone? – I can only see a home win, and an extremely comfortable one at that.  Having beaten Liverpool on Boxing Day, our Sky Blue rivals are building up a head of steam. Most people’s clear favourites for the title are thunderously acquiring results over Christmas. Continue reading

Sagna out, Wenger in, Vermaelen gushy and the importance of bouncing back.

“What? I haven’t left anything on the carpet. Or in your shoes”

Evening folks.

I’d like my current relationship with Arsenal to the one I share with my cat. I love that silly cat. She’s adorable. Then she shits on the carpet and I want to bloody throttle her. Against Bayern and Blackburn, Arsenal well and truly shit on the carpet, and there’s going to be a great deal of purring and cuteness required in the coming weeks for the nagging desire to strangle that overwhelms me at present to subside.

With such focus on the manager, eyes have wandered slightly from the importance of our up coming fixtures. Before we make the frightening trip to Germany in search of an act of God, we face Villa, Everton and a trip to White Hart lane. Expecting anything from Bayern would be like me waiting patiently by my front door for Penelope Cruz to show up naked, but the league fixtures are as important as they come. 9 points from those 3 game won’t just put us back on track, it’ll make the shining trophy that comes with 4th place a distinct possibility.

I’ll be previewing the Villa game tomorrow.

Elsewhere in news, a few stories has caught my beady little eye. Firstly, captain not-quite-so-fantastic, Thomas Vermalen has predictably lent his support to Arsene in these trying times. With the guns from fans blazing, our manager – rightly or wrongly – has made it abundantly clear he won’t be stepping down from his position.

Arsene said, when asked if he had considered quitting:

“No. Not for one second.

“Of course we had no euphoria because we have gone through a disappointment on Tuesday night but apart from that we are responsible people who know what it is to fight.

“We live in a world of emotion, of excess, and it is down to people who have responsibilities to put that into perspective and keep solid and keep guiding the club in the right way.”

You can almost hear the plethora of keyboard warriors temporarily suspending excess masturbation for the day to flock to message boards with harsh words to say. I admire his stubbornness, his refusal to quit when the chips are down. But there is a part of me that thinks, for his own sake as much as anything, that the time to do exactly that may not be too far away. Nothing lasts forever, and even the greatest of things has to be replaced.

Lastly, Bacary Sagna has been warned that Arsenal will only sell him if they want to - he has no say so in the matter with a contract until 2014. Perhaps that’s stance we could have considered last summer when Manchester United came calling. I’ve long been a fan of Sagan, but in recent months his form has dropped drastically. Once you could rely on him to give you a consistently good performance, these days he’s huffing, puffing, and look utterly disinterested with it all. I personally wouldn’t have a problem moving him on in the summer, and he’s not quite the huge name departure the media are sure to make him out to be.

And that’s yer lot for today, you beautiful bastards. Thanks for reading, and, as always, head over to the comments and pour your little hearts out. I always like to hear from you.

I shall return tomorrow.

Vermaelen, Koscielny, Zaha, Big Ted, news, rumours, and other bits.

A fully grown man who still has his teddy bear? Yes – I am peculiar.

Morning folks.

A while ago i considering having a mascot for this blog – the bear I’ve had since birth, Big Ted. Having initially decided against that idea, I’ve now changed my mind. The Armchair Gooner has a mascot – he’s a dapper gentleman bear with a deep-seeded love for Arsenal, and an unrivalled hatred for Piers Morgan . You can follow him on Twitter. Make him feel welcome…

Onto Arsenal matters.

It was confirmed today that Laurent Koscielny’s groin strain will keep him out of the first team for a period of 3 weeks – a time frame I ignore completely as, in Arsenal terms, it could mean anything from 20 minutes to eternity. It’s a shame for Koscielny, as he’s just started to show signs of his best form, and he doesn’t seem as blunder-prone as Sagna and Vermaelen do at the moment.

Most of today’s news isn’t much of anything. There’s a few brief quotes from our capatain about how the team need to improve, and the odd transfer rumour that I refuse to believe – getting my hopes up about a possible bid for Fellaini will only lead to disappointment.

With a great deal of chatter mounting up regarding Arsenal proposed bid for Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, Ian Holloway has had a bit of a pop at Wenger, who may, or may not, have mentioned his admiration for the young forward:

Holloway said to The Sun(rag):

“Why is he talking about my players? It’s not the game,”

“I will be picking up the phone to talk to him as I don’t think it is right and proper with the greatest respect. That is totally bad etiquette.

“Wilf is a big part of our season and we have such a strong contract others can go and whistle.

“He won’t be available, no matter what the price is in January.”

Poor old Ian must be suffering from a stressy-pants moment. Arsene has hardly gone the full Barcelona route and made remarks about hostages and DNA. He’s mentioned his admiration for a player – a player who I doubt Palace will keep if big money is thrown at them. Seems to me Holloway might already know this.

And that’s about it out there in Arsenal news.

It’s a brief post today. Tomorrow’s will cover the Swansea game in detail. I’ll leave you with a bit of pleasent reading – Daniel Cowan produced this splendid article on North London Is Red, and I strongly recommend you give it a read – especially if you’re one of those who likes to blame things on Aaron Ramsey.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Walcott, Giroud, Podolski, Mannone, Vermaelen, and more legitimate reason for concern.

Arsenal 3-3 Fulham: Hugs for Schwarzer, head-in-hands for Arteta

Afternoon folks.

First of all; apologies for the late post.

I’ll begin with what I consider to be the one postive note of yesterday’s match – Olivier Giroud. Our big Frenchman is gradually looking like a real threat to opposition defences, and with the right service, he’s going to score goals. He was excellent yesterday, and one of the few who showed anything like genuine desire and commitment. There looks to be a decent partnership blossoming between him and Theo.

The rest of them? Well, it’s pointless to be too critical, as I’d only be re-treading a path that’s long since been worn. What started off looking like it would be a routine and comfortable victory at 2-0 quickly descended into another farce of epic proportions. Even with the scoreline in our favour, you could see there was very little belief in the team that it would stay that way. Worst of all, there was lethargy in place of the professionalism to close the game down. We shouldn’t be salvaging draws at home against opposition we’re expected to comfortably dispatch, especially when we have a comfortable lead.

We could have won it in the dying moments had Mikel Arteta tucked away his spot-kick, but it was an extremely bad decision to award a penalty in the first place, and a win wouldn’t have helped to paper over any of the cracks. There are evident problems at Arsenal, and there doesn’t appear any solutions on the horizon.

It’s easy to blame Arsene Wenger. I agree totally that the accountability for performances rests solely on his shoulders. However, some of the players aren’t helping him – a lot of them are capable of far better. Lukas Podolski has lost some of the verve and energy that filled his early performances, and he’s started to whinge about playing on the left – something I find odd as he regularly plays that role for Germany. Since receiving the captaincy, Thomas Vermaelen’s level of performance has dropped drastically.

Whilst I couldn’t blame Wenger for the failings of established players from whom we expect better, his perseverance with certain squad members is baffling. Vito Mannone shouldn’t be anywhere near our first team. The injuries to Fabianski and Szczsney were impossible to predict, but we needed a keeper in the summer, and he didn’t get one. That’s a mistake he has committed time and time again, and we seem to pay for it every season when then injuries do kick in – you need only look to last January’s full-back debacle for evidence.

I’m not one of the people calling for the manager’s head, but I’m not an apologist who believes he can do no wrong. Selling our captain to Manchester United was a colossal blunder, and Robin’s departure has exposed just how much we lack a talisman in the current Arsenal team. Was it Wenger’s decision to sell him? He must of had a say in the matter. Gazidis claimed he was sold for “footballing reasons” – I’d love to hear exactly what those were, because I can’t think of any.

Results like yesterday have plagued us for years now. Players like Robin and Cesc have left for greener pastures for years now. Each season begins with false hope and quickly drops into anger and despair. Each season we look weaker than the last. Arsene Wenger is a man I worship, a man I hold as one of the club’s greatest – if not the greatest. However, I’m starting to think his best years may be behind him, and the club needs a fresh approach and some fresh ideas. Even the greatest have to stop sometime, and I prefer ours not to leave a tainted legacy behind him.

That’s all for today, folks.

The comments await your thoughts and reaction to the game. Let me know a few.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Giroud, Walcott, Mannone, Cazorla, Vermaelen, and a bit of the good with a bit of the bad.

Schalke 2-2 Arsenal: Nike’s new extra-padded sports coat enabled Arsene the luxury of not leaving the technical area when desperate for a tinkle.

Morning folks.

Had one of you politely offered a score draw away in Germany before the game started, I would have taken it. Given the game’s importance and the opposition’s quality, I would have eagerly snatched that point with no regard for the safety of your limbs.

What seemed a respectable outcome before kick-off, now comes with significant disappointment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still reasonably happy with the result, but having lead 2-0 and blowing it causes reflection on what could/should have been.

I don’t want to rip the team apart – not at all. I feel, however, it would be wrong to put too much of a glossy shine on the performance. Arsenal were good in patches, but those promising spells went hand-in-hand with lacklustre defending and the needless giving away of possession. The key point was allowing Schalke back into the game on the stroke of half time – a goal that stemmed from Cazorla giving the ball away in midfield at a time we should really be concentrating.

Doing that was typically an ‘Arsenal’ thing to do – the Arsenal of present, at least. Up until that point we had looked fairly comfortable. Had we gone in 2-0 up at half time, I think we’d have seen the game out. Instead, the nerves kicked in and we looked defensively shaky in the second period. But for some excellent stops from the garishly pink, Vito Mannone, we might have ended up tasting defeat.  At left-back, Vermaelen didn’t look entirely at home, and he decided to wear silk-soled slippers instead of boots, but gave the team an air of greater stability by just being there in place of Santos.

Offensively, we looked better with a striking triumvirate of Walcott, Giroud and Podolski. That injection of pace Theo gives us in the final third is something we’ve lacked in recent weeks, and something that visibly terrifies defenders. By mere presence alone Theo can create space for others when the focus of the opposition is on his speed. He took his goal well – his 8th of the season.

I won’t pretend I wasn’t one of the people who stated they didn’t see Theo as a striker. I still have my doubts, but he is a good finisher, and he’s always a threat to defenders – even when he’s having one of his bad days. With his contract still unsigned, I’d like to see him given the opportunity to play up front. I’d rather he was given a chance with us.

It wasn’t the awe-inspiring performance we hoped for, but it’s a long way removed from being appalling. We’re on 7 points in the group with two games remaining. I’m confident we’ll go through, and I hope we aim for the top spot in order to miss any of the big teams in the knock-out rounds.

That’s all for today, folks. Thanks for reading, you splendid lifeforms. The comments below await an explosion of your views on the game. Happy with the result? Think the team could have played better? Concerned by just how many Arsenal players slip over during a game? Let me know.

I shall return tomorrow with more stuff.

Santos, Vermaelen, Ramsey, van Persie, Wilshere, Cazorla, and real reason for concern.

Man United 2-1 Arsenal; “Yeah, you’re right guys. I’m a bit of a sh*t”

Morning folks.

Not the best of moods around the Arsenal community, is there? Understandably so.

Defeat is something I find easier to take if I know Arsenal have given everything. It still hurts, it still upsets me, but there isn’t any shame in losing to a better team on the day if you’ve given your all.

Yesterday we didn’t do that. The 11 players on the pitch faced one of our oldest rivals with our ex-capatin – who we knew would bloody score – in their ranks. The ingredients for motivation and desire couldn’t be any more apparent. Yet those 11 players didn’t perform, and they showed little or no sign of urgency or the will to take control.

That worries me no end. There is a malaise at Arsenal for all the world to see – something is fundamentally wrong at the club, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss that as momentary blip. Our last 3 league games have been woeful and our cup victory, for all it’s remarkable comebacks, still involved a defence reasonably high in the pecking order shipping 5 goals at Reading.

There are a lot of folks out there who continue to back our manager without fail, and refuse to put anything but positivity in their remarks. I admire those people, I really do – I admire their unwavering allegiance to the club and manager. However, I feel they are absolutely wrong.

Something has to change at Arsenal. For every brief period of hope we are given, there is an inevitable slide back to the reality of our team simply being not good enough to compete. Yesterday, we gave United little to worry about. I can’t recall the last time we played them and gave them a proper game.

Is Arsene Wenger to blame for selling our best players every summer? Perhaps. Is he to blame for the manner of the teams performances? Unquestionably. Can you blame him for a terrible selction yesterday? Yes, he is absolutely accountable.

Why was Andre Santos in the team? It was excruciatingly evident that he was a weak link and would be targeted, and United did that at every opportunity. He may be a character, he may make us smile, but so was Eboue, and I’ve had enough of players like that in the team. How can he swap shirts with van Persie at half-time? I don’t care how chummy they might have been, for those 90 minutes, Robin was an enemy to every Arsenal player out there, and should have been treated that way.

Only Cazorla and Wilshere looked remotely like they wanted to get a result, the rest appeared to tread on eggshells and adopt the mentality of, “let’s not let in 8 this time”. Vermaelen, as brilliant as he is, has looked a shadow of his former self in recent weeks, and he was all over the place when he should be the one balling instructions and setting an example.

In attack we looked weak, toothless and bereft of any ideas. Podolski and Giroud barely featured at all, and when the game was crying out for an injection of pace, Wenger decided he would play Aaron Ramsey on the right of the attacking three – a selection that baffles me. I don’t like to get on Ramsey’s back. He regularly and unfairly is singled out by a lot of fans. He gets moronic abuse for little or no reason and his confidence is low. Why play him there when Theo is a much greater threat? It’s not Aaron’s position, and it’s unfair to expect him to offer what that area of the field requires.

To summersie; I’m angry. I can take United were the better team, and they deserved to win by a greater margin. What I cannot accept is the lack of fight. It took until injury-time to register a shot on goal.  At one point, Arsenal’s fantastic away support gave a 15-minute-long rendition of, “We love you Arsenal, we do”. Even over the commentary on 5Live, and during a busy kitchen service, hearing that made my hair stand on end. It inspired me. How can that not effect the players?

I look at the club I love at present, and I despair. The same tiresome problems are there. I don’t pretend to know what needs to be done, but I do know this; without significant change, without action, there will be no relenting of those problems.

That’s all for today. The comments eagerly await your views and thoughts. Let’s be having a few of them. Thanks for reading today, you beautiful people. I shall return tomorrow.

Vermaelen, M’Vila, van Persie, Ahmedov, and a maddening lack of news.

Brad Friedel paused to see if Spurs had signed anyone...

Good morning, fellow lifeforms.

Today is Saturday. Today is criminally bereft of anything resembling a news story. There’s nothing substantial; no meaty and informative news bagel to get our choppers of intrigue into. There are scraps. A few tid-bits here and there, and us bloggers are the internet equivalent of a pack of hungry wolves; I imagine we’ll start tearing each other apart for even the smallest of morsels before long.

Luckily, I’m tall and rangey, so should I be forced to drop-kick Tim Stillman for an ‘exclusive’, I think it’s something in which I could show proficiency. Let that be a warning to the rest of you, too. If things get desperate, I’ll not be afraid to resort to violence. Just don’t hit me in the face…

In the news I have found, I shall first begin by addressing those delicious “I’ll never want a transfer” quotes from Thomas Vermaelen. How refreshing was it? As Mr Kipling regularly exclaims; “exceedingly”. Sometimes I wish players would simply just come out and say things like that, or at least not keep us fans in the dark for so long- yes, Robin van Persie, the last part is aimed at you.

If somebody isn’t going to sign a contract, or they want a fresh start elsewhere; say so.  Why not? Why not simply come out with a clear statement and be honest? We don’t want to hear any of this “I’m waiting until the summer to discuss a contract, I want to concentrate on my football” nonsense. That’s just a cop-out. Football is increasingly becoming a playground for spoilt money-grabbers and whiney, petulant egomaniacs with only themselves in mind – yes, Eden Hazard, that last part is aimed at you.

I loved Thomas Vermaelen before those quotes, I now love him that little bit more.

In transfer news, Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Ahmedov is hankering for a move to Arsenal. Currently he  plies his trade in Russia for that team with the ridiculous name; Anzhi Mackachakclakcalackaflackamacka…. you know the one I mean. He was, I recall, the hugely-unknown player we were linked with last year that caused great uproar on Twitter. He has allegedly aquitted himself well in Russia, and he still hopes for Arsene Wenger to come calling. He said in a recent interview:

“I’d like to try out playing football in England, and the team I favour the most is Arsenal.

“I’m satisfied with my own performance in the Russian league but if there is an offer from Spain or England then I won’t say no”

He plays as a defensive midfielder, which has lead the various press outlets to immediately assume our reported deal for Yann M’Vila has collapsed. With that deal looking more and more unlikely as the days go by – it’s surely dropped considerably from the “99% done” category into less favourable realms – I wouldn’t rule out Wenger weighing up different options.

I can’t pretend to know huge amounts about Ahmedov, such is my limited knowledge of Uzbekistan’s great football exports, but it is worth mentioning he was awarded his club side’s player-of-the-season award ahead of superstars like Samuel Eto’o.

And that, my friends, is about that.

Thanks for taking a few moments of your time to read, you beautiful so-and-sos. There are comment below which await your thoughts, and my Twitter account which awaits (and appreciates) your follows – @_ArmchairGooner


Good win, 3 points, Thierry’s a legend and other bits ‘n’ bobs.

Like a salmon!

FA Premiership, March 21st; Everton 0-1 Arsenal

Morning, folks.

Great 3 points, wasn’t it? Okay, it was far from any of the vintage Arsenal performances of recent times, but it was earned in a manner we’ve been unaccustomed to; like the Arsenal of old. 1-0 to The Arsenal.

It goes to show the benefits of having your first choice defence in place. Our back four looked solid throughout. Everton showed plenty of industry without any real threat – their only real opportunity came in the shape of a Drenthe ‘goal’ wrongly flagged for offside by the officials.

We had chances to put the result beyond doubt by bagging a 2nd, but it wouldn’t be an Arsenal performance at the moment if they didn’t cause us to uncontrollably fidget and repeatedly make trips to the lavatory in nervous exhaust. We took the lead through Vermaelen’s glorious leap as early as the 8th minute, and from that moment forward there was a palpable sense of discomfort throughout the various live and online communities; we all collectively dreaded that sinking feeling only an equaliser brings.

But, we held on, and Everton rarely troubled Szczsney. Vermaelen was again immense at the back and Laurent Koscielny’s superb displays are rightly seeing him considered one of the best centre-backs in the country.

Certain people in the media, like Chris Bascombe at The Telegraph, may report our victories through gritted teeth, seemingly happier to focus on our early season failings than anything good we have done, but I choose to take the positives. Yes, we have faltered in places and we won’t win a trophy this season, yet we’ve out-performed the expectations of all the so-called experts, and we’ve done so under great adversity.

My only regret is the errors made over the summer. Had we sorted out our transfers earlier, and addressed certain deficiencies in the squad, I do begin to wonder just where we could be now.

That’s the past, and it’s irrelevant. Focus should be on the future. We’re 3rd, we’re 6 points ahead of Chelsea and a point ahead of Spurs when we previously lagged 10 behind. If we can keep our squad together and make some additions, I think we’ll continue to surprise many people.

I’ll finish today with a mention for Thierry Henry. I didn’t think it was possible for me to admire and love the guy anymore, then I read this story about him flying some 5000 miles to visit Fabrice Muamba. Truly he warrants the label ‘legend’ – a term brandished around far too easily for my liking.

That’s yer lot for today, folks. Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Take a moment to comment and follow my Twitter account – @_ArmchairGooner