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*

Yummy.

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.