Ticket hike, Szczesny and what might have been
I didn’t write any post yesterday because I wanted to write a thing or two about the first Champions League semifinal match that took place yesterday night. For starters, no red card was produced but the way Madrid’s players acted on the pitch was quite disgraceful. They were all on a mission to stop Messi from doing his thing on the pitch. Marcelo scythed him down close to the throwing line; Alonso hacked him in the middle while Greedybayor turned into a WWE wrestler and gave his signature smackdown move in the centre of the pitch. All the Great Little Wizard did was to get back up and continue unleashing his terror unlike CR7 that was crying to Zeus to release thunderbolts on the Barca players anytime he hit his rich ass on the turf. In as much as everybody thinks and says that referees and UEFA are on Barca’s side, one cannot fault the team’s amazing work rate, their telepathic interplay and their superb technical ability. Arsenal to an extent can raise their technical game to be as orgasmic as Barca’s but as my father says,
“Barcelona plays as if they have a patent to be with the ball at all times”
When they are with the ball, the opposition can’t get it and when they are not with the ball, they close the opposition down with such intent and commitment. Their defenders are attackers and their attackers defend very well. Madrid on the other hand acted like the Arcadians in the movie 300 and made a glorious mess of things. In 5 El Clasicos played this season, Mou-rhino’s high earning goons amassed a total of 4 red cards. He should thank his stars that he lived up to his bidding of bringing silverware in his first season at a club with the Copa del Rey title that Rafael Nadal the right back smashed under a bus.
To the things Red and White in nature, Pharaoh Ramses the 16th has talked to the media Vultures how the goal he scored against Man Utd was special to him. It was a good thing to see Ramsey get back on the score sheet after all he has been through in the last 14 months or so. It would have been more heartwarming if he got a goal in his first start for Arsenal against West Brom because it would have leveled the tie at 1-1 but we can’t get the Princess of Alamuth to give us the Sands of Time. After rVp’s header that hit the bar left Carson motionless, the ball got back to young Aaron but he lashed his weak volley at the open toothed goalie. The game will forever be remembered for what Twitter calls #ThatAwkwardMoment.
When Arsenal beat Man Utd on Sunday, AW the Alchemist and Wilshere talked to the media Vultures about hope but the goalie that saved two RooThug free kicks and one Nani shot had this to say,
“It was a great result, a terrific performance and was exactly what we needed after last week’s disappointment. We played with the ‘handbrake’ off because there was less pressure on us and the fans were fantastic”
Less pressure huh? I wouldn’t want to dwell on the issue of ‘pressure’ because we have shown times without number this season that the pressure of expectancy couldn’t be handled effectively by the playing squad. The last Arsenal team that thrived well under pressure but got unlucky was the squad that where 5 points ahead of Man Utd and 8 points ahead of Chelshit but they ended up coming 3rd. In the 2007/08 season, Arsenal held their status at the summit of the Premier League despite lots of intense pressure from Man Utd. They showed the World that they could stand up and be counted in the Super Sunday clash with Chelshit at the Emirates. Man Utd’s win at Liverpool meant that Arsenal needed to win Chelshit to stay on top and they delivered thanks to a vital header from the Mohawk wearing mercenary simply known as Uncle Gallas. The game against Birmingham was the turning point of that season with Eduardo breaking his leg and Clichy conceding a late penalty. Arsenal went on to record 3 more draws against Wigan, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, a defeat to Chelshit, a win despite playing with 10 men and 2 goals down against Bolton and a defeat to the old enemy thanks to Hargreaves brilliant finish. It’s rally painful that another defeat to Birmingham again started our downward spiral this season.
Szczesny emergence in the first team will undoubtedly be one of Arsenal’s bright sparks this season. He literally talked his way into getting to the team and has performed well ever since. I’m a big fan of Lukasz Fabianski but I feel that Szczesny might still be our number 1 next season. The young goalie talked to the media Vultures of the influence Mad Jens has had on him since his return from retirement. The most notable line was,
“It’s not about big things, because I haven’t made many massive mistakes, but he spots little details and uses his experience to help me. That’s really useful and I’m very grateful for it.”
It’s good to know that Mad Jens visit back to the Emirates has paid dividends. He was brought into the squad as back up and he said that he would be love to be an influence on and off the pitch. On the pitch against Blackpool, he screamed a lot at the defenders and eased the pressure off the players by tying up his boots when we had a corner kick to defend. Off the field, he has been teaching Szczesny how to stretch and he has had lots of fun with the Gunnersaurus.
Szczesny has also lashed out on the fans that want AW the Alchemist’s ‘head on a plate‘. He says,
“It’s ridiculous. If you ask any of the players, we will all stand by the manager. He built this team from nothing and he’s the best manager in the world, so I don’t understand why anyone would want him to leave. We all take individual responsibilities for our mistakes and everyone has played their part in this season’s disappointments. I think we just have to take it as a team. You can’t blame the boss because he stood by the team all season and supported us. We have a young team and have a lot of years in front of us, and a lot of trophies to win. Let’s be patient and show next year we are good enough to win the League”
Sacking AW the Alchemist would be a suicidal move by Mr. Kroenke because many players in the squad owe their footballing lives to the manager. I’m pretty sure that every other player is in the same frame of thinking with the young goalie.
To off field issues, the ticket prices in the Emirates Stadium will be increased by 6.5% next season. They are saying that the rise is in line with inflation and the 2.5% VAT hike.
Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association (AISA) has expressed anger at the move. The spokesman for AISA says,
“We are very disappointed and this will inevitably mean some long-term fans are forced to give up their tickets.”
AISA will endeavour to help such fans cope with the increase by setting up a scheme to enable them to pay for their tickets over a number of months. They wrote to Kroenke last month calling on him to freeze ticket prices. They said that it will be an opportunity for the new majority stakeholder to ‘win over fans’.
To confirm the price rise, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis justified the hike by pointing out that it was the first increase in three seasons.
“We thought about this increase very carefully, we fully understand fans are facing rising costs in many areas of their lives and their club faces the same issues. We have acted responsibly over the years to balance the impact of even inflationary increases on our fans with the rightful demand that we compete at the highest level and we will continue to do so.”
In February, Arsenal recorded a £2.5m loss in the half-year to December 2010 and according to the Arsenal website, current ticket prices range from £34 to £96 per game. Arseblogger and Yogi’s Warrior have interesting pieces of the ticket price issues. It’s worth a read.
When Chris Foy blew his whistle to end Man Utd’s 7-match unbeaten run against Arsenal, I’m pretty sure that so many thoughts ran through AW the Alchemist’s mind.
He has been forced to endure two horrific and nightmarish months which the Gunners went from sitting atop of World Football’s pedestal to ending it all with nothing to write home about. For the last five silverware-absent campaigns, he had tirelessly defended and developed into what the tactician believed was an effective powerhouse squad, was capable of securing an undistinguished “quadruple.”
However, a demise lead by Carling Cup Final defeat saw the young Arsenal squad crumble. Injury drained, psychologically deprived and confident obviated, Arsenal exited the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and a mere EPL win in their last seven encounters ensured their chilling grip on the title race and leaders Manchester United diminished.
But Arsenal’s win yesterday was fitting. After all the criticism and disbelief the young Gunners prevailed despite the absence of captain and maestro El Capitan and injuries sustained midway to playmaker Nasri and their best defender Djourou.
There was not a poor performer in the Arsenal XI whilst there was no one more deserving than Aaron Ramsey, who calmly scored the winner in the 56th minute. However, the win leaves a sense of regret more than anything for the club. The win ensures Arsenal is only six points behind leaders Manchester United and three points behind Chelsea. Mathematically they are still a chance but realistically their title aspirations have subsided.
But quite frankly 2010/2011 should have been the season when Arsenal finally ended their renowned trophy drought and secured the EPL title with relative ease. There is a long list of encounters that have gone begging with the Gunners simply not able to clinically finish off opponents before eventually conceding to a lacklustre draw or even defeat.
In September Arsenal conceded a final second goal against Sunderland to succumb to a draw. TR7 killed a bird in the sky with his spot kick whilst African Blondie Song got his marching orders. Weeks later West Brom came to the Emirates and went back home with maximum points thanks to Almunia’s incompetence in goal. A month later, Arsenal put up a very lethargic performance after going 1-0 down to Newcastle at the Emirates. That was the game that leapfrogged WWE’s Edge to stardom. The defeat was soon followed by one of the most disappointing games I’ve ever witnessed as an Arsenal fan, the North London Derby.
After boasting a 2-0 lead after 25 minutes, Arsenal conceded three second-half goals to somehow lose 3-2 to Tottenscum. Arsenal ended the year on a poor note with a tame draw at 10-man Wigan thanks to an own goal by the Squisha.
The Gunners put up consistent performance in January period but it became eradicated when Arsenal somehow drew the impossible with Newcastle. After 22 minutes an unstoppable Gunners stormed to a 4-0 lead and maintained the lead until the 68th minute. However, Abou Diaby’s sending off early in the second half coupled with Johan Djourou’s injury and some horrific Phil Dowd refereeing saw Arsenal somehow squander the match, drawing 4-4. The post Carling Cup Final hangover also resulted in three successive draws with Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn, all matches in which a typical Arsenal dominated possession and created sufficient opportunities but were unable to materialize the winning formula.
All matches were pivotal in Arsenal’s season and had circumstances gone differently, there could easily be a different outlook for Arsenal but one cannot dwell on the mistakes as this season has evoked tremendous promise for this young Arsenal outfit. It is evident that AW the Alchemist has formed a strong squad at his disposal but is just lacking minor chances and new presences which can be easily acquired in the upcoming summer thanks to the funds Wenger now boasts.
The season has also provided a further growing plate for a number of the young stars in Wenger’s squad whilst the desire and hunger will surely be unstoppable. However there is no denying Arsenal should have won something in 2010/2011 but something could still happen if we get the beard of Gandalf, Albus Dumbledore and Merlin. If we can’t provide that we’ll have to wait till next season.
Finally, Jack Wilshere has been announced in the squad that would represent England in the European Under-21 Championships that will take place this summer. I still hope that everything will go according to ‘how I planned it’. That way everyone goes home happy.
Today’s El Capitan’s 24th birthday so you can send your birthday wishes to him through Twitter @cesc4official.
I have just one birthday request for Arsenal’s captain…
Not to leave us this summer.