Same price next season
It's been a very quiet week in the World of Arsenal Football Club. The Club have clearly taken the sensible course of action and decided to keep smalltalk to a minimum after the debacles of the previous few days. Bacary Sagna was wheeled out as the lamb to the slaughter this week for the usual "we must bounce back" interview and it was not exactly well received. As I've said before I'm sick of this rubbish from the players as the performances on the pitch show the words on the internet to be empty sentiments. The quiet week has coincided, for me, with a week at work that hasn't lent itself to writing about Arsenal in any case. The main disappointment I've had since the weekend is the way that Sky have once again interfered with our scheduling to the effect that I will be unable to attend certain games that I could have before the TV changes. Typical.
The main news from the Club this week came yesterday with the announcement that season ticket prices will remain unaltered this year. In the circumstances I am far from surprised. Gazidis claims that this is something of a magnanimous gesture given the "rising cost of player wages..." etc. I couldn't really give a toss about the rising cost of player wages as that is the fault of the Club. If they have got a large number of average players on high wages then that is something they have to deal with. The supporters should not be penalised for the mismanagement of players contracts.
What has surprised me is that the announcement has been made so early. I suspect the Club wanted to avoid last year's speculation of an increase across the board when they announced their Club Level price rises. It seems that the Club Level season ticket holders will be forced to pay 2% more for their renewals, in contrast to the freeze for us regular plebs. I couldn't really care less that they are getting an increase as most of them were rich queue jumpers jumping on the Arsenal bandwagon when they purchased their seats in 2006. Something tells me that there won't be any protest marches with regards to the Club Level seats.
If there is a concern to be had over a price-freeze it is that we will see even less "investment" in the playing squad. This season we paid more than 6% extra and saw no big signings of note. When you pay the highest prices around you deserve to see the Club bringing in some World Class talent, rather than just selling it for a knock-down price to Barcelona - the money we got for Fabregas was an absolute insult. If we're not paying any extra this year then God knows what the Summer transfer business will be like...
I was very pleased to see the players picked to play in the Reserves the other night. I have to say it was a real shock to see such an experienced line-up. It would appear that the "senior" players that were in action performed very well, and displayed a good attitude. Frankly, when you're being paid to play football, I would hope the attitude is always good. I've never understood why players from the "first-team" that sit on the bench for most of the time do not play Reserve football. How can you expect a guy that has sat among the substitutes for two months to suddenly come in and play well on a one-off? Yossi Benayoun is a prime example of this, culminating in his performance at Swansea. In my view the Reserve team should be used properly, just like it used to be, and their games should be played in the stadium, not behind closed doors on the training ground (or at Barnet, for that matter). As well as bringing just a little prestige to the Reserve games, it would be nice for the youngsters involved to experience playing in a massive arena. It would also give some local youngsters the chance to attend the Grove for free and see a few stars in action.
Finally in this brief round-up I want to comment on the fact that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has not been called up to play for England. Stuart Pearce seems to have a long-held vendetta against Arsenal's young players. You will recall how he insisted on forcing Theo Walcott to play in an end of season tournament a few years ago, and Theo suffered the injury consequences of it throughout the next year. Then he decided to drop Jack Wilshere from a crucial qualifier because he believed the boy needed bringing down a peg or two (this was after Pearce's boss had given Jack an England debut a few weeks earlier). Of course the cretinous Pearce was forced to bring Jack on as a sub to rescue his side and get them the win that qualified them for last year's Summer waste of time. Now, it seems, it's the turn of The Ox to get the Pearce treatment.
Fabio Capello had made it quite clear that Chamberlain was likely to be involved in this squad, before he quit the job. When Pearce announced he would be picking an inexperienced group there was no doubt whatsoever that our boy would be in the squad. It sums Pearce up that he would then choose to leave out the player that has shone for his U21 team this season, and has been lighting up the Premier League since the turn of the year. I don't understand what Pearce's problem is with Arsenal, but is clear something irks him. Perhaps it is the fact that his severely limited intellect leaves him unable to communicate with our Manager, or that successive Arsenal wingers made him look a mug numerous times (I'll never forget Glenn Helder's debut when he humiliated Pearce time and again, and left him on his backside in front of the Clock End/West Stand with a glorious piece of skill). Whatever the issue is it is stifling the career of a third Arsenal youngster, and I'd like to see Wenger questioning it publicly in his press conference this morning. If Fraizer Campbell and Tom Cleverly can be picked for England when they've hardly played for their Club you have to wonder what is going on with Oxlade-Chamberlain.
As a further aside on the whole England set-up I can't let one other thing go by. Nico Yennaris has shown his worth to Arsenal on occasion this season (I would have him way ahead of Carl Jenkinson as an understudy to Sagna) yet he has also been overlooked for selection. England's U21 squad contains players from the lower divisions who will never be international footballers as long as they carry a hole in their backsides. So you have to wonder how a player who has been involved in the first-team at Arsenal, and put Nani in his pocket in the Premier League, does not get a look in. It just about sums up U21 football and the FA in general.
I'll preview the North London Derby tomorrow.