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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Oh I Do Love To Be Beside The Seaside

It was interesting that the club promptly relented last week, following the furore that resulted from their decidedly untimely decision to try and sting season ticket holders for an additional few quid. Seemingly due to the "Category A" nature of the last of our seven cup match credits, when Barcelona visit in a couple of weeks time, the club intended to add a small additional sum to next season's renewal cost, but big up to Lois Langton at AISA as her communication with the club seems to have played some part in persuading the PR dept. of the error of their ways as far as this surcharge was concerned.

Alexis doesn't mind stopping in the rain
Nevertheless, it was the fact that the suits at the club chose to alienate fans (even more!) at a time when we're in such dire need of the sort of unity required, to try and breathe some life back into our waning title challenge that only goes to demonstrate the complete and utter disconnect that exists between those running the Arsenal business.

Football in this country has always existed on the premise that the normal economic laws of supply and demand do not apply and that the loyalty of us fans is infinite. Nevertheless, as was ably demonstrated at the well supported walk-out 77 minutes into the match at Anfield this weekend, it would appear that some fans have finally chosen to make a stand, refusing to allow their beloved club to plumb the depths of their already empty pockets beyond all reason. 

I for one applaud their efforts. When Premiership clubs are all benefitting from the massive increase in TV and sponsorship revenues, on account of the huge global audience, it's high time that those supporters who are the very lifeblood necessary to create the live atmosphere which makes football quite so marketable, stand up and make it patently clear that we will accept "no mas"!

Mind you, even with extra-time and penalties, sadly a match wouldn't last long enough for Arsenal fans to stage a similarly timed walk-out to express our anger at the highest priced tickets at our place! Doubtless I'm being an idealistic dreamer but it would be amazing if there was the sort of solidarity amongst all supporters of Premiership football for further effective protests in the future.

The display by the Bayern fans at our place earlier in the season, in leaving their seats empty aside from a banner expressing their disgust at our ticket prices, with them all eventually marching into the stand in unison, this was brilliant. I would've imagined that it really wouldn't take long for the message to strike home with the powers that be, if they were faced with the serious threat of the embarrassing sight of huge swathes of empty terracing. Perhaps we need Bernie Saunders on the case because if he's seriously going to bring Wall Street to heel then Premiership ticket prices should prove very small potatoes!

Meanwhile, there's the small matter of bringing the hounds to heel for next weekend's fox hunt


Oh I Do Love To Be Beside The Seaside
Be it ever so humble
While the Gunners might've desperately needed to pocket all three points from our day out at the seaside, I'll be delighted if the Cherries go on to consolidate their highly-prized place in the Premiership because the humble, yet most hospitable environs of Dean Court stadium is a very welcome addition to the top flight.

With an allocation of only 1,100 away fans at the 11,000 seater stadium, Sunday's game was always this season's hottest ticket, with reports of our East Stand seats changing hands for utterly ridiculous sums (15 x their 33 quid face value!). It felt as if the weather was equally clement, with the bright sunshine that greeted our lunchtime arrival in Bournemouth.

Yet the sunny disposition of us Gooners soon gave way to exasperation, with the news that Coquelin and Campbell had been left on the bench. Considering the "make or break" nature of this encounter due to our recent slump, the consensus on the terraces was that Arsène had completely lost the plot, by leaving out the energetic Costa Rican in favour of the far less committed Ox and by failing to reinforce the somewhat ineffectual midfield pairing of Flamini and Ramsey.

With Elneny having disappeared due to his wife having given birth, we were left hoping that our new Egyptian midfielder hasn't got himself a harem at home and a plethora of impending progeny that might mean we might never see him back. But none of us could fathom leaving Franny in reserve.

Watching the whole-hearted way in which the Foxes went about vanquishing City on Saturday, the thought of the relentless likes of Kanté and Drinkwater running rings around Flamini and Ramsey at our place next weekend is utterly horrifying. Yet what would be the point of Wenger keeping Coquelin fresh for this encounter, if we'd ended up losing against Bournemouth and struggling to peg back an eight point gap between us and the league leaders?

Although the travelling faithful were in good voice, the underlying indignation only intensified for the first twenty minutes or so on Sunday, as the blasé body language of the likes of Ramsey and the Ox was in such complete contrast to the intensity seen from a Leicester side, who really look as if they're relishing their opportunity, for what might well prove to be a once in a lifetime tilt at the title.

During this opening period, only our two star turns, Mesut and Alexis, looked capable of the sort of inspiration necessary to raise the entertainment level beyond the mundane. While of the rest of our outfield players, the Flamster appeared so wound up that he came far too close to ref Friend rewarding the Frenchman with an early bath; as for the rest their lukewarm and lackadaisical contribution only lends weight to the accusations that they're treading water, in the hope of retaining the wherewithal to be able to shine at the Euros this summer.

No stopping Mesut
However in typically fickle fashion, we were soon lauding Arsène's genius, when first Ramsey teed up Mesut's opener and then the Ox chipped in with his first league goal in sixteen long months. Nevertheless, while the two goals in such quick succession might've virtually killed this game as a contest (albeit with the customary aid of Petr Cech's unimpeachable consistency), in truth judging by the amount of time that we gifted the home side in dangerous areas, more clinical opposition might well have punished the way in which the Gunners subsequently took their foot off the gas.

I was hoping that we might go on and bury Bournemouth, with the likes of Giroud and Alexis banging in the goals that would enable us to face the daunting task of subduing the Foxes next Sunday (not to mention Barca nine days after that) full of confidence. Yet as the weather took a turn for the worse and the heavens opened up with the arrival of storm Imogen as we headed back to London, it was somewhat symbolic that it should’ve rained on our three point parade. 

Spurs nine-goal advantage leaves us languishing in third and while we might not have achieved the sort of convincing score line that could've made some inroads into this deficit, we're most grateful to have begun taking some baby steps towards dissipating the gloom and doom and to at least begin to repair the damage done in recent weeks.

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