Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A win at last, the new kit and tickets prices increase

Today, we spell redemption A-A-R-O-N.

I've always wanted to use an Anchorman quote in a blog post so this was the perfect opportunity. 

Firstly, apologies for the week long absence, but a lot of things have happened since my last post, so your "make-up present" is a big, juicy blog post with lots of lovely words and junk.

Now, down to business. Where else to start but the game at the Emirates? It was a terrific show of character from our players. We had barely anything to play for, had been completely buried by all around us, but produced a terrific performance to beat the league leaders. It was brilliant to finally beat Man United, even if it probably won't mean much in terms of our season. 

And what a performance by that man Ramsey! Only his second start since that horrific injury against our next opponents Stoke and he hardly put a foot wrong. Other than Nasri and Squillaci, who played 45 and 20 minutes respectively, Ramsey had the highest passing percentage, completing 92% of his passes. You can check out @Orbinho's Twitter for more excellent Arsenal statistics like that.

Aaron stepped into Cesc's shoes seamlessly, and I can't help wondering whether the outcome would have been the same with our captain starting instead of the Welshman. I must admit, when I found out that it was Ramsey and not Fabregas in the side, I immediately texted (as that's what us kids do these days) my friend who supports Man United congratulating him in advance on their win. That humble pie was the nicest it's ever tasted!

With the inclusion of Ramsey, there was a little bit of a tactical switch. We usually play a double-pivot* in midfield of Song and Wilshere, with Fabregas in front of the two, as opposed to Song being behind two attack-minded centre midfielders last season. It seemed like we switched back to that 1-2 set-up in midfield, with Song screening the defence and man-marking Rooney out of the game. He made many interceptions, including the one which led to our winning goal.

Wilshere and Ramsey played in front of Song, and absolutely ran the game. They were both terrific, and showed us what we'll be seeing in the not-so-distant future. There have been people claiming that that showed us how little we need Cesc, but I can't agree. People complain about us selling our best players and moan about how we continually go backwards and not forwards, but then they suggest we sell our best player! It really doesn't make sense to me.

What we need to do is add to the squad, and get rid of the players that don't contribute enough, like Denilson, Rosicky and Almunia, who I am absolutely sure are gone this summer anyway. Selling our best player would quite obviously be detrimental to our chances at glory. If anything, Sunday's game showed how good our players can be.

A lot of the time, some players seem to let Cesc and Robin take the responsibility instead of sharing it. Because of how big a character our captain is, they feel like it's OK. If all of our players took on equal responsibility, like on Sunday, and Cesc played to his best, we'd be a lot better for it. That's what we need to look at, as well as investing in the squad. 

Now, the second matter of this blog post - the Club's new home kit which commemorates our 125th anniversary. You can check out the pictures on the official website here, although I'd have thought everyone will have seen them by now. I'm a big fan of it, I like the badge and the whole kit looks pretty sharp.

One thing I've noticed is to do with the socks. Having seen the pictures on the website, I was pleased that red socks had been included for the first time in a while. It came as a surprise, but I was glad, as I think it looks a lot better. But then I came across this picture with white socks. I'll be interested to see which socks are actually used in most games. 

The only other question left for me will be which player to get on the back of the shirt - yes I still do that. I need to pick carefully - I got Reyes on the back, and he left a year later, then I got Rosicky, and that's not panned out well. I got Walcott last season and he was injured for ages. It's a bit like the Arsenal calendar curse - something seems to happen to the player on the current month! Luckily I managed to avoid getting Denilson on the back this or last season though. I was seriously considering it... bullet well and truly dodged!

The final issue to contend with today is the season ticket price increase. I have to say, it doesn't directly affect me, as the season ticket I share is paid for by my dad - if you're reading this dad, thanks! Still, it may affect the atmosphere, because loyal fans might be priced out. As a teenager I'm really not clued up much on the financial side of football - like the tactical side it's something I'm keen to learn about - but still, I can understand why people are angry about it.

It's good to see that Gazidis will look at a complete change of the pricing structure for the 2012/13 season, if by then we haven't all been destroyed by the "armageddon" in December 2012 of course. The tickets wouldn't be so expensive if our commercial staff, namely Keith Edelman, hadn't done a relatively poor job. Not only are we getting a terrible deal in terms of the Emirates sponsorship, but we get a shocking percentage of the money made by "our" club stores. It's definitely something that needs to be looked at, and I'm sure it has and will continue to be studied closely.

That's all for today, my hands/wrists/fingers are starting to ache, and the pillow that I'm resting my potentially bruised funny bone is starting to cause some uncomfort... Until tomorrow, when I have an interesting letter to the club to publish as a favour to a friend!

*I would really have little understanding about tactical terms like this if it wasn't for the excellent Arsenal Report website. I recommend you bookmark the site, as the analysis is top class. Joss and Ix, plus the guest writers, have inspired me to include a little more tactical jargon and analysis in the articles I write, so look out for that!


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