The Armchair Gooner

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

Don’t worry! Mathieu Flamini will save us!

Arsenal 1-3 Villa: Fans used subtlety to get their point across…

Morning folks.

Okay. That was sh*te. The English language is complex, mellifluous and wonderfully varied, but sometimes a little bit of profanity sums things up better than any carefully chosen conglomeration of words. Sh*te…

Let’s get one thing out of the way first; the referee was beyond awful. He was so bad, I pondered wether he was being controlled from afar by a maniacal Spurs fan. Quite comfortably one of the worst displays of officiating I’ve seen in a while. Yet, I can’t put down yesterday’s result to anything other than an appalling case of mismanagement over the summer.

We all knew something like this was coming. Throughout the close season, the Arsenal community, known for its bickering and opposed factions, was in universal agreement about one thing; the squad needed to be strengthened. Jettisoning the deadwood was a good move, but doing so left a threadbare squad. Day, weeks and months passed, and I was certain we’d do something positive in the market before the season begun. We didn’t, and now we have nine fit first team players. NINE.

I’ve defended Arsene many times in the past. God knows I revere the man for all he’s brought to our club in terms of past accomplishments, but I can’t defend him at the moment. If there is a logical reason for our failure to bolster the ranks, I can’t see it. There isn’t a paucity of quality players out there. There isn’t a lack of funds. There isn’t a lack of appeal in joining Arsenal.  Manchester City signed two strikers on the same day. Even Spurs (bleugh) have brought in Paulinho and Soldado.  There isn’t a good reason to have not done our business months ago.

We’ve signed a young Frenchman with a bit of a dodgy injury record, and let 17 players head in the opposite direction.  To begin a season this short, when we’ve had every opportunity to improve is unforgivable, and only Arsene can take the blame for it.

The only shred of positivity I glean from yesterday is the hope it serves as a similar boot-to-arse as the walloping we received at Old Trafford a couple of years ago.  Then, we were in a similar situation to now – albeit we aren’t losing our top players this time around. The squad was brutally exposed that day, and will be again if we don’t do something.

I expect we will. Arsene will probably re-sign Mathieu Flamini and maybe snap up another defender from Turkey with eating problems and a penchant for dangerous drving. All done at the last minute to patch up holes everybody and their grandmother could see a mile away.

Negativity and bitching isn’t something I like to do. Ordinarily, I’m quite the rational soul. I almost feel dirty typing these words, but I challenge anyone to defend what’s occurred, to give me a cast iron, logical reason for our failure to address extraordinarily obvious problems.

The defeat is bad enough. We shouldn’t be losing home games to Villa. Worst of all for me is the state of the team – tattered and painfully thin. I’ll love them until the day I die, support them when they take to the pitch regardless of how I may feel. I just wish someone at the club would do something, anything to make me believe they feel the same way.  And if Arsene can’t any longer, then I’m afraid it might actually be time for him to go.

That’s all for today, folks. The above may be a little disjointed, but I’m writing off the top of my head and as quickly as possible. I’ve a really busy day ahead of me today, but I’ll be popping by to read some of your comments at every available moment. Should be an interesting one…

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Aston Villa (h): preview, news and predicted starting XI

Aaron Ramsey was sick of people yelling “freeze!!”.

Morning, folks.

Can you smell that? That’s the sweet smell of football returning. Take a moment to inhale and savour… It feels like an eternity since it was last here.

The summer may not have gone exactly as we’d hoped (understatement) and it’s a great pity I am unable to discuss the merits of a few new signings, and the impact they might have had on the team. We’ve got Yaya Sanogo, and through no fault of the young Frenchman’s, he already been very unfairly dismissed as “not enough” or “another injury-prine bargain buy”.

Today, it’s the time to put all that to one side – at least for 90 minutes. Some will feel the need to vent their frustrations at Arsene Wenger, and there has been the odd claim from fans that abusive songs will be directed towards the Boss. Personally, I can’t see how any of that is worth the effort. Yes – I agree with anyone who is disappointed and frustrated, but let’s support the team today. It’s the first day of the season, there’s a clean slate. Save the booing and discontent for later…

Injury wise, we have quite a few key figures on the sidelines. Mikel Arteta will miss 4-6 weeks having very recently sustained a thigh injury. Captain Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal both are unfit and Abou Diaby has defied the odds to make an incredible recovery from fitness to take his starting place in the treatment room.

Santi Cazorla returned from Ecuador on Thursday having played a significant chunk of Spain’s friendly, and it’s uncertain wether he will play from the start. At the back, the four players that served us so well and the end of last season will start, with Per Mertesacker taking the captaincy.

My predictions is:

It’s imperative we get off to a good start today. On paper, that’s a team that should comfortable dispatch Villa on our own turf. If we can retain the solid defensive performances of last season, and Ramsey can slot in to Arteta’s place with the same positional discipline, I see no reason why we won’t create chances and score goals today.

Giroud has had a good pre-season, and I’ll be looking for him to press on and have an excellent sophomore season. Our one new signing, Sanogo, will have a place on the bench today and could make his debut at some point. He might even come on to score a late double…. *ducks for cover*

That’s all for today, folks. Wherever you may be, enjoy the game, and embrace the return of football. Let’s be having a delicious 3 points today and a fine performance from the boys. We could use something positive to discuss. Leave me a comment below with your thoughts on the team for today, and what you think the final score will be.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

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.

Theo, Villa, Zaha, transfers, gossip, and the best/worst of 2012.

Happy NYE, you beautiful bastards!

Afternoon folks!

Winning on Saturday was splendid. For all the bouts of frustrating play, Theo showed us what he is capable of up front when he’s on his game. In the past, I’ve not been his greatest advocate or staunchest of supporters. There have been many times when I’d have happily throttled him as I watch seemingly easy passes bounce off him and to the opposition.

However, I’m not the type to refrain from admitting if I’m wrong. And I believe that I am. Our speedster in the No14 shirt has grown rapidly in 2012, and is finally beginning to show signs of how good he could be as a striker. The world won’t come crashing down around us if he chooses not to “Sign da ting”, but I truly hope he does. If his improvements continue, he’ll be an asset to whichever team he plays for – I hope it’s Arsenal.

As you might expect, in the days between fixtures there isn’t too much of note about. There have been many, many transfers stories and rumours. This tweet by Bury’s Tom Soares sent Twitter into nuclear meltdown yesterday:

https://twitter.com/TomSoares8/status/285495242289983488

Does that confirm anything whatsoever? Not at all. Wether you belive the Tweet is legitimate or not is irrelevant. The only place I’ll accept news from is the Club’s official website. The rest, amusing or otherwise, is unconfirmed, unsubstantiated balderdash. The reports of Cesc attempting to persuade David Villa to join Arsenal are just the same.

And that’s about it for today. I’ve got an evening of Indian food and alcohol in front of me, and I shall probably be expelling it from both ends come tomorrow morning. With that lovely image in mind, I’d like to wish all of you a fun filled NYE, and a prosperous 2013.

I’ll leave you with a bullet point selection of my best and worst Arsenal fan moments of 2012. Feel free to discuss and add your own in the comments section. I shall (hopefully) return tomorrow with a preview of the Southampton game.

Best:

  • Thierry Henry’s Leeds comeback goal
  • 5-2 against Spurs
  • 5-2 against Spurs
  • The 2nd leg performance against Milan.
  • Signing Santi Cazorla
  • Coming back from 4-0 down to win at Reading
  • Jack Wilshere’s return from injury

Worst:

  • Selling that Dutch prat to United
  • The 1st leg performance against Milan.
  • Bradford City
  • Gervinho’s selection of wonderful misses
  • Chelsea winning the Champions League
  • Piers Morgan
  • Shipping so many terrible goals
  • Walcott’s interminable contract saga

Thanks for reading!

Gervinho, Ramsey, Mertesacker, Cazorla, Szczsney, and a maddeningly unhelpful 0-0 draw.

Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal: None of the players cared for Koscielny’s nonchalant attitude toward competitive matches.

Afternoon folks.

There are moments supporting Arsenal when all you can really do is omit a disgruntled sigh, and put terrible performances down to experience. Yesterday, whilst we may have not endured swallowing the bitter pill of defeat, we witnessed a thoroughly awful showing from our beloved Gooners, and it’s brought floods of the same interminable questions with it.

You know the kind of stuff I mean; queries such as, “Where has our Arsenal gone?” or “Is it time Wenger left?”. I’m not of the correct frame of mind to start answering any of them – no, sir – as I think it’s essentially a futile debate. The reasons why Arsenal performed so badly aren’t immediately obvious, and to accrue knowledge we’d all need sufficient exposure to the inner workings of the club, and behind the scenes on the training ground. The vast majority of us have none.

At the end of the day, we’ll just have to accept we were shit, and move on to the next game.

It’s hard to assign anyone the dubious honour of being considered less shit than the rest, but Per Mertesacker stood out for me with another good shift at the back. We may have rarely threatened Villa, but we did at least appear strong and secure in defence – wether or not that has anything to do with Vermaelen’s absence is open to debate. Szczsney’s return has helped matters, too – a special mention should go to the save he made to turn a shot on to the bar. Brilliant.

Aaron Ramsey had a steady, but hardly spectacular game, and it was good to see him avoid his usual dose of blame – according to some embittered, clueless souls, he’s responsible for pretty much everything bad; defeats, draws, poor performances, the Ebola virus, plagues, famine, the Kennedy assassination…

Elsewhere, praise isn’t so forthcoming. Gervinho was shocking – he put in one of those performances he’s more known for; scampering about like a stabbed rat, with the first touch of an inebriated cow. He was terrible, and whilst I do think he’s got he’s got his good points, performances like yesterday make me question his selection.

The boss’ choice to rotate was sensible (maybe Cazorla needed a rest, too). We have a squad, and a lot of games to play in a short period of time. We’d be foolish if we didn’t use it. Many felt the omission of Wilshere and Walcott made us toothless in attack, but the players selected had more than enough ability to dispatch Villa. They simply didn’t perform.

Where I think errors were made was the substitutions. At no point did Arsene take a chance, or introduce a positive change. Coquelin for Giroud was bafflingly unadventurous, and smacked of settling for what we had – something we absolutely shouldn’t be doing against a side languishing at the foot of the table.

I don’t much buy into certain fanatics and their over-the-top bleating about sackings and revolutions, but I challenge anyone to defend Arsene’s substitutions yesterday. The man is not beyond reproach, regardless of how much he has done for the club.

To summerise; I’m going to take yesterday as a momentary blemish. We’ve a big game on Wednesday at Goodison, and a win there can make Villa Park a distant memory. Arsenal need to show us better. Let’s hope they do.

Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. The comments await your thoughts and cheery platitudes. Make use of them – they’re the life blood of any blog, and mine’s no different.

I shall return tomorrow.

Starting XI against QPR and team news. UEFA are morons.

Joey Barton demonstrates his famous 'tough guy' pose.

FA Premiership, March 31st: QPR Vs Arsenal

Saturday is here. Glorious football returns. Morning, folks!

Queens Park Rangers are one of those clubs I’ve built up a hatred for very quickly. My disdain doesn’t reach the unwavering levels I reserve for those grubby, inbred neighbours of ours, but any team that can claim to have been represented by Colin Wanker, Mark Hughes and Joey Barton in the same season deserves a morsel of abhorrence from even the most magnanimous of football fans.

Today, we don’t just need to score maximum points to sustain an excellent run of form, but also to strike a blow against the evil that does remain at Loftus Road. Our cause is aided by Djibril Cisse’s bizarre return to English football; he’ll miss a further four games having decided his tenure spent in the country will involve more ill-advised attempts at hacking opponents than it will goals.

The Arsenal team news is good. Laurent Koscielny has recovered from the tendonitis that kept him out of the Villa game, and should return to partner Thomas Vermaelen at the centre of defence. Abou Diaby’s season is showing promising signs of him making an appearance longer than the 40-or-so minutes he’s managed thus far, but it’s unlikely he’ll return to the squad. Jack Wilshere is still a couple of weeks away from full training. I don’t imagine we’ll see much in the way of change from our previous outing. My prediction for the starting 11 is:

Sczcsney; Sagna, Gibbs, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Gervinho, Walcott; van Persie

On paper, that’s a side that should comfortably dispatch QPR, and if we play well I’ve few doubts we’ll fail to do so. That said, caution is required. We need only look back to Liverpool’s recent capitulation there to realise nothing should be taken for granted. Wenger may opt to exclude Gervinho in favour of a player with better ball retention, or he may chose to offer up a starting place for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Arsene Wenger has been in the news yesterday having received yet another touchline ban courtesy of the breathtakingly idiotic representatives at UEFA. It seems all our manager has to to these days to receive European bans is pass wind mildly out of tune. He remarks about the Ref during the Milan game were both true, and entirely justified. UEFA should take note of the behaviour of certain high-profile managers they allow to go unpunished – Mr Mourinho – before they starting throwing around bans like they’re fucking confetti.

In responce to the incident, Arsene Wenger said:

“If I am [suspended] then it is not justified and I will appeal straight away.

I believe that they have transformed UEFA competition referees to be untouchable icons, where you cannot even have a word.

The only thing they understand after the game is the report.

I believe that when you have 25 years consecutively in Europe you can still ask the referee that you can have some discussion with him. It is very difficult to understand”

I’d like to think that some element of common sense will prevail in the end, but given the organisation in question, I’d say he’s more likely to receive further punishment simply for speaking. I yearn for the days actual football people gain jobs at UEFA, and not corrupt, bloated morons with the intelligence and charisma of a puddle of cat urine.

I’ll finish up today with a mention for Villa’s captain, Stilyian Petrov. Yesterday, it was announced he has acute leukaemia. I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing him the quickest and fullest of recoveries. Very sad news indeed.

That’s all for today, folks. Take a moment to comment and follow my Twitter account – @_ArmchairGooner

Bac back, not Jack and Chamakh’s lack of knack in attack.

Greetings, carbon-based lifeforms.

As I’m sure you’ve already heard; Jack Wilshere’s recovery from injury has suffered a setback. Some media outlets are already selling the news as the worst possible scenario; he’ll miss the rest of the season, and Euro 2012. It’s only a matter of time before The Daily Mail run a story about his legs being removed and then roundly persecute him for being on benefits. I imagine they’ll feature a picture of Jack pushing himself around the streets of London on a little cart, like Eddie Murphy at the start of Trading Places. Whilst it is all undoubtedly worrying, nothing is concrete yet and Arsene has spoken on the issue saying:

“He has had a little setback that is under investigation at the moment so I cannot give you how long he will be out for.

“At the moment he is seeing a specialist and as soon as we know more we will communicate. It sets him back a little bit but for how long I don’t know.

“It is the same foot but a different problem to the injury he had surgery on back in September.

Let’s all collectively cross as many of our body parts as is physically possible and hope it really is nothing more than a tiny pothole on the road to recovery. With our midfield still missing that little bit of guile, the one cunning bastard who can unlock defences with a pass, we need him back to mount a serious push. If it is serious – and the club know if it is – a dip into the transfer market becomes more of a necessity.

Bacary Sagna, on the other hand, could make a swift return to action having recently been back in full training – much to the delight of his teammates. There is even talk of him starting the game against Villa tomorrow. Having been denied anything remotely resembling a functional full-back for some time now, the return of one of the leagues best is a massive boost.

Also returning is Chamakh, after Morocco were unceremoniously dumped out of the AFCON. I liked him when he first started, but since that time he’s become fairly…. No, massively ineffective, serving only to falter around the pitch like a walking advertisement for Shockwaves wet-look gel. With Thierry Henry looking certain to be above him in the pecking order whilst he’s here, I can’t help but think January was a perfect opportunity to ship him out and get someone fresh in. Even the boss’ faith in him appears to have run out. Once again, I find myself praying for Robin van Persie to stay fit. At a top club like Arsenal, that simply isn’t good enough.

Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. I’m off to watch Liverpool Vs Manchester United in the vein hope they’ll find a way to both lose. Please leave a comment to raise a few points, or just to commend me for the rhyme in this post’s title. My Twitter page is here for you to follow -@Puddleduck1978.