Plenty to talk about after a week of nothingness with Arsène’s presser yesterday and a few things coming out of the club.
Firstly, the important stuff, which is that Rambo should be ok for Sunday, Wilshere is alright and even a little bit of good news with Mkhi, who might be back for the first leg of the Atletico game. Absolute music to mine ears and it’s a welcome boost at a time in which, let’s face it, we’re ailing as a club.
He will add more creative spark to the Europa League team and given our defence we’re going to need all the offensive goodness we can get next Thursday I reckon.
As for Rambo, the key question will be whether to start him ahead of the Madrid game in a match that means a little more than it should given our abysmal form, but still not enough to take mega chances with players who are notoriously fragile. More to ponder on that in the coming days.
The manager was also asked about the dwindling fan numbers and of course as you’d expect, he tried to spin that with ‘special days’ but perhaps the most worrying commentary from him of all was his comments that season ticket renewals and games being close to sold out meant that he didn’t really see where the problem was.
In fairness to him he said that we need to worry next season if it remains the same and of course said nice things about the fans, but blow me, his comments about being sold out sound like they’re from the Kroenke and Gazidis corporate handbook. If Arsène can’t see that the gradual emptying of the stadium is down to both the pitch and the apathy of having him at the helm, then all of these comments that we make about him not being blind to the criticism, are clearly wrong. How on earth can he not see the swathes of red seats every week and not realise what is happening? It’s baffling beyond belief.
And worryingly, with every day that we draw nearer to the end of the season, I grow more fearful that we’ve got another year of this decline.
We’re not even secured of a sixth position. Last night Chelski did us a favour by beating Burnley. Chelsea. Did us a favour. Does that leave as bad a taste in your mouth as it does mine? Because that’s what we’re reduced to at the moment. The scraps of enjoyment that come from other teams.
We’re now two points clear of Burnley with a game in hand and if Stoke pick up anything against the Clarets then we’ll have a bit of a cushion before next weekend; the inevitable annual defeat to Man United.
Arsène also talked about Santi Cazorla being back at the club and he was asked whether he’ll ever be able to play top flight football again. Tragically Arsène said he did not know, which is more depressing than blog words can articulate, because for such a footballer with such gifts to be denied the autumn of his career because of his own body is a crying shame. Even clicking on the link about the article on the website makes your heart sink, as you see that smiling face, and wonder what he must have gone through psychologically to have had to sit out the best part of 18 months. It must be crushing.
I doubt we’ll see him this season and I doubt he’ll play for Arsenal again, but what a player he’s been for the club, what a talent and what a shame we’ve been robbed of yet another one through injury.
The manager also spoke about Jack but at this stage nothing anybody says seems to point in the direction of him signing. With Özil there were little signs here and there, background noise, etc, but that is not the case with Jack and to be honest it’s probably now at the stage where it’s best for all parties. We probably need to move on as much as he does. I just hope he goes abroad. I doubt he will, but I can hope, so that’s the best I’m going for when it comes to Wilshere.
And that’s pretty much all that I took from Arsène’s press conference, although let’s save the final discussion point for the club, who yesterday announced that they would subsidise the travel for Arsenal fans going to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the semi final.
It is a disgrace that Atletico are charging £80 for away fans and we all know the hoo-har that was made by Bayern fans when they came to our place. Lots of media coverage, lots of disapproval across Europe, but will we see the same condemnation of the Spanish side? Of course not. It’s just English teams that rip off their fans…obviously…
A great PR gesture by the club at an estimated cost of around £160k, but they had to be dragged along a bit to get there, I’ve been told. I know this issue is only going to relate to a small number of fans going out to Spain, but the wider issue of fan ticket prices have been raised and quite frankly it stinks. The Premier League and Football League have done a great job in capping the price for away fans at £26. Its time UEFA followed suit. The money in these competitions is not made through fans, the real money is through sponsorship and TV rights and at a time in which we as fans as a whole – not just Arsenal fans – are being squeezed more and more with everything associated with our clubs, it’s a good gesture to stop the inflation of away prices.
Perhaps the club could have taken this decision a little earlier, but ultimately they have done the right thing, so we can be pleased that at least they listen to us.