There’s no place better to start today than with the u-turn by Arsenal yesterday evening on the surcharge for ticket prices, announcing that they would not, on this occasion, enforce the charge for the Barcelona game. Funnily enough, I was actually halfway through a podcast talking about the issues of the surcharge and how it felt like the club is becoming more distant from us as a fanbase, so to say that it somewhat threw the tone of the conversation would be an understatement!
However, on this occasion, having expressed my disappointment at the way in which the club don’t appear to listen or care about myself or us as a fanbase in yesterday’s blog, this about-face is a welcoming bit of salvage PR and I think we should give the club a bit of credit. They have noted the outrage, they have tried to rectify this and limit the PR damage that this whole situation is about. Once again, this has not been about the money, it has been about the way that we have felt we are not listened to as fans, are increasingly ignored and felt like the club doesn’t care about how we feel. So to see the club listen, take heed and make a gesture towards the fans is a welcoming sign. Perhaps bridges can be built. After all, we all love Arsenal, so we all have something in common.
It was a small battle won against the wider issue – bigger than just Arsenal – of the war to make football more affordable for the common man.
Perhaps we can all get back to talking about the good stuff, eh? As in, the actual football? That’d be nice. And where better to start than Arsene’s presser yesterday. It was nothing revolutionary in terms of what he said. I had hoped that Welbeck would be available perhaps for the Leicester game, but sensibly Arsene is urging caution, putting an estimated return to the first team squad of three weeks. After ten months out it makes perfect sense, but at a time in which our goals are drying up, it is easy to see why fans like myself are so desperate to see us try something different when ‘Plan A’ isn’t working. Arsene did suggest that perhaps we’ve had a few unfortunate circumstances with the three shut outs for our attacking players, but in each of the games we have been guilty of profligacy. So whilst Stoke away is always tough, whilst playing Chelski with ten men will be an uphill struggle and whilst Southampton had a ‘keeper having the game of his life on Tuesday, you still have to look at the return from some of our forwards as not really good enough. I listened to the Tuesday Club podcast yesterday as I partook in my usual lunchtime run and Alan Davies read out all of the goal return for each of the aforementioned players. Giroud aside, it’s hardly Pires and Freddie figures. There needs to be more contribution from those creative players that are in and around the box and with Giroud’s goals drying up, we simply haven’t had the required return from the auxiliary scorers. If we’re going to win the league, something’s gotta give, because Giroud isn’t going to keep scoring every game between now and the end of the season.
Hey, we’re not going to go the rest of the season without scoring goals and at least we’re getting in to scoring positions, because if we weren’t it would have been more of a worry. Had we played like we did against Stoke in all of those three games mentioned above, i’d probably be a little more worried, but we’ve created chances. We do need Giroud, Ozil, Ramsey and Alexis to step up now. I’m not including Theo because his form has been so dreadful that I doubt he’ll play a part from the start on Sunday.
Hypothesizing on who will start tomorrow and how the game will develop will be something I’ll save for an early morning Sunday musing, for today is about our opponents around us, of which two play each other and one has themselves a three point banker. Watford haven’t won an away game since mid December and that was against Sunderland, so I expect them to roll over and have their bellies tickled against the Spuds. That will put us firmly rooted in fourth and mean that anything other than a win tomorrow will mean we lose further ground on those above us. Yes, somebody will be dropping points between Leicester and City at lunch time, but our concern needs to be keeping in touch with all of these teams, so whilst we’ll all be hoping for draws all round, I suspect what we’ll see if City and the Spuds picking up the required points and us playing catch up from tomorrow. It will add extra pressure, but we haven’t really coped too well with being top of the league recently, so hopefully this is a different approach the club is taking!
Finally, just before I pop off for the day to undertake my weekly “well you’re not going to football so you can do jobs around the house” day, let me say a quick word for poor old Tomas Rosicky. I love that guy. We love that guy. So to hear him speak so warmly about the reception he got, whilst at the same time talk of his frustration about the injury set back he has received, is both lovely and heartbreaking at the same time. I hope he can come back soon. A player with his dynamism, with his ability to quickly interchange passes with players around him and his speed of movement – even at 35 – is something that would be a vital asset in the coming months. I mentioned above about a ‘Plan A’ not working. well, he’s exactly the type of player with whom a ‘Plan B’ would gravitate around, so it’s sad and annoying that we haven’t been able to utilise him as much this season.
Catch you tomorrow with a match preview.