It’s Saturday, there should be football

Morning all,

Remember when football used to be played at three o’clock on a Saturday… Well because the skull smashers are involved in the ACME Europa League which has something to do with Thursday nights and Channel Five (Much like Spursdays) our game this weekend is taking place on Sunday lunchtime.
In terms of news it’s all much the same as it was yesterday morning, Jenkinson is out along with Kieran Gibbs and long-term absentees Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Bacary Sagna. In his Friday lunchtime press conference the gaffer said he had yet to decide who would deputise at right back but that it would be one of Djourou and Koscielny. I mean obviously it will only be one of those two, it would be ridiculous for both of them to play there, they would just keep running into each others space, knocking each other, giving the opposition chances and generally getting in a right pickle – you just don’t ever see that from Arsenal defenders so why start now…
For my money it has to be the Swiss, with the back four all change once again there is no point in breaking up the ever improving centre back pairing of Koscielny and Mertesacker.
With regards to continued lay off Wenger says Jenkinson will be out for between ten days and two weeks, Vermaelan should be with us at some point in the same time frame as should Gibbs. Diaby is apparently a little further behind in his rehabilitation which frankly surprises no one and ‘ve only mentioned it here just in case we all forget who the hell he is.
It will be interesting to see who Wenger picks to start in the midfield, Alex Song is a certainty and I would be surprised to see Mickey Arteta lose his place. We’ll need the Spaniard to be every bit as scrappy and tenacious as he was in midweek but hopefully he’ll also be able to provide a bit more of a creative element to our play because there is little point in keeping the ball from Stoke’s evil clutches if we don’t do anything with it.
It would be a massive surprise to see Tommy Rosicky start his third game in a week so expect Aaron Ramsey to come back into the starting line up after his match winning exploits in Marseille to face the man responsible for stealing a hugely important slice of his career.
So actually, it seems fairly obvious doesn’t it…
Ok, so it’ll be interesting to see who makes up the front three… Please let it be interesting…
Robin Van Persie is a given, so let’s not cock about in a futile debate, but surely neither Theo Walcott nor Andrey Arshavin can be guaranteed a starting birth? They’ve done precious little to merit automatic inclusion but then the question is, who comes in for the pair?
Gervinho on the left in place of the Russian seems sensible. I still think the Ivorian’s decision-making is letting him down a bit, he does fantastically well when we gets possession of the ball making mazy runs, beating defenders and getting in and around the box but then he seemingly panics and fails to pick out the best option. To be fair to him, I’m not suggesting that happens on every occasion but it does appear to be a more regular occurrence then we would like to see.
While Wenger told the assembled media yesterday that he likes Arshavin and that the player has a great attitude he must surely be aware that the Russian isn’t bringing enough to the table at the moment and doesn’t warrant a start.
So who replaces Theo? Seemingly nobody…
We’re not going to see AOC thrown in, Shawcross would try and tear him to pieces. like a Yorkshire Terrier with an envelope freshly dropped through the letterbox but in a much more vicious, brutal, malevolent and barbarous manner. So I guess Theo starts on the right again, I just hope he does himself some justice this time around.
I do feel a certain degree of frustration on the lads behalf, he isn’t a winger yet he continues to be stuck out on the flank and expected to pull it out the bag. Sadly it just never really happens and the poor lad gets criticised by people like me.
That said I don’t really know which position would suit him better, we all know he wants to play through the middle but his finishing doesn’t justify it. Also I do think that if Wenger was ever going to give him the chance to prove himself as a striker it would have happened by now wouldn’t it?
I really do want to see Theo push on and become the player we’ve thought he would be and whilst I am not at all suggesting we cash in on the lad I do sometimes wonder if it’s one of those cases where a fresh start in a new environment would benefit the player. But could you imagine how frustrated we would all be if he left and started to turn it on game in game out at another club – I think I would have to peel my own face off and force myself to watch as a one-legged festering pigeon feasted upon it such would be my devastation.
We’ll look ahead to the game in a tad more detail tomorrow so for now the only other piece of interesting news is that I’m delighted to be lucky enough to be attending the Arsenal AGM at the Emirates next Thursday.
If it wasn’t for Fanshare and the Arsenal Supporters Trust I wouldn’t have a cat in hell’s chance so this goes to prove that if you want the opportunity to be involved with the club there is no better way then signing up to either/both FanShare and the AST. Hit the Arsenal Supporters Trust tab at the top of this page for more info on how to join. From as little as £2 a month it’s more than worth it.
I would also like to direct your attention to a new Arsenal based site – The Arsenal Collective a website designed to commemorate why we as football fans have chosen to become supporters of The Arsenal. You even find a little something written by yours truly if you hit this link
Right enjoy your Saturday and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Thanks for reading.
Paul.
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Keeping up on the pitch to keep up off it

Last night Dave and I attended the Arsenal Supporters trust meeting which had an emphasis on finance, highlighted by guest speaker Andy Green, a United supporting Swiss Ramble-a-like, and his Power Point graphs, facts, stats & figures as well as an overview of the clubs recent financial results from the AST’s Nigel Phillips.

Mulling it all over while I couldn’t get to sleep last night due to the ridiculous amount of coke I drank in the pub before & after the meeting in an attempt to avoid a hangover this morning (To be fair it worked, I don’t have a hangover. I just wished I had managed to get some sleep) some key points stood out for me…

  • During the Kroenke takeover Arsenal Football Club employed Rothschild’s and Slaughter & May as ‘advisors‘ at a cost of £3M. There was no tender from any other financial institutions or law firms which may have provided cheaper advice, the club went straight to the banking and legal giants and in order to be told to either take or leave the American’s offer they shelled out almost the exact amount raised by the season ticket price increase.
  • Red & White Holdings believe that Kroenke borrowed every penny he spent on the takeover and could leverage that against the club at any time. Incidentally, were Stan to sell at the current price of £14k a share he would make a profit of £80m.
  • Alisher Usmanov’s RWH are still attempting to snap up shares and are contacting small shareholders and offering £14k per share, all while the AST Fanshare Scheme edges closer to hitting a brick wall. Arsenal/Kroenke are unwilling to release any shares to the trust and whilst RWH have intimated in the past that they may be willing to do so that is not going to happen if it weakens their own hand. Unless further shares are made available from somewhere fanshare is likely to hit the buffers and take an enforced break within the next few months.
  • Our wage bill is around the £125m mark whilst United’s is closer to £145m, although when you take away bonuses paid by the Manchester club and costs related to MUTV the gap is in reality about £10m.
  • Ironically when we were the side winning trophies a few (ahem) years ago we were no where near as close to Fergie’s side in terms of wage expenditure.
  • The £10m deal United have recently signed with DHL is not solely for sponsorship of the clubs training kit, the delivery firm will have their brands name bandied about all over Old Trafford. Under the restrictions of our shirt/kit sponsorship with Emirates we would be unable to sign a similar deal, it seems that with United there was a loop hole in the clubs main sponsorship deal with AON which allowed DHL to swoop in.
  • Manchester United have twenty-one separate commercial deals, ten of which are with communications companies in Asia. Arsenal believe they are starting to make significant strides and have recently announced new deals with Betsson, Carlsberg, Indesit & Citroen.
  • Our current lack of success on the field has and will continue to have a massive impact on our ability to undertake similar levels of sponsorship. Although as a corporate vehicle our geographical location and London postcode puts us ahead of United and City but it’s our global identity which lets us down.
  • This summers Asia tour was an attempt to boost that ‘global brand’ and whilst we only earnt £2m from our far eastern jaunt it opens the door to further investment and income and increases worldwide commerciability so it’s something we better get used to seeing.
  • The Emirates is making us money – our domestic match day revenue far outstrips that of United, City & Chelsea. So whilst there is still plenty of money related to the initial costs of the stadium move/build it is proving to function as it should – but again, this could all soon change if our on the field performances continue to suffer. Less success equals less bums on seats and money paid.

Right now in the race for riches we are managing to keep our heads above water but other clubs are catching up or in some cases running into an enviable lead by some distance. If we can bring in the kind of money that United do via commercial sponsorship our earning potential and potential to compete with the likes of City and their Manchester rivals would be on a par with any other club in the world. In order for that to become a reality we need to compete on the pitch, no body is going to pay the big bucks to a club that isn’t doing the business season after season. We may have the financial safety net to survive a season out of European competition but the margin for error is so small we can ill afford to sail anywhere near it’s reality.

While we may be the ultimate poster boys for FFP we need it to come into full force sooner rather than later, it would give us a clear advantage over our rivals. But the likelihood of it being enforced to such stringent levels in the short term is on a par with Marouane Chamakh winning the golden boot this season.

So, for all the talk of mega millions, earning potential, commercial viability and financial fair play one thing is ultimately as important now as it has ever been and should ever be – the football teams performance on the pitch is the key to everything…

Lets hope we can start putting that right against Sunderland at the weekend.

If you haven’t yet joined the AST then do so now by clicking HERE – it’ll cost you as little as £2 a month to become a part of this vital vehicle. No other supporters group shares the kind of relationship with their club as the AST do with The Arsenal and that is something we should all be taking advantage of.

Thanks for reading.

Paul

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