The curious case of obtaining tickets for Arsenal games

The curious case of obtaining tickets for Arsenal games has become a very hot topic amongst arsenal these past few months. The war on touts has been fully waged as the noise reverberating from the fan base grows ever more loudly as the opportunity to witness live the closest chance for Arsenal to reclaim a league title in years has arisen.  What was always seen as a level playing field when it came to purchasing tickets has now become a virtual lottery.

It has now reached the point where you can log into the website up to an hour before tickets go on sale; sit in the waiting room only for when the sale time is reached you are updated with an estimated time of 40 minutes before you can enter the ticket office. The best I’ve experienced is being estimated to be let in 12 minutes from the start of sale and in every one of those times I’ve been updated before that time that the tickets have sold out, often within 5 minutes of sale starting! Shout out to @SheWore for sharing his experiences of this kamikaze experience on twitter, helped me to realise I didn’t become rubbish at purchasing tickets overnight but that a lot of fans shared the same experience.

Are wet here yet?

It’s crazy but at the same time this is new territory to tread for Arsenal fans, certainly of the Emirates era. I mean many people in recent seasons have been able to purchase category A games easily enough if they plan up front properly. They got more often than they failed but the beauty was that fans knew they had a chance. The last few home game tickets that went on sale just proved to be a pointless exercise for many fans. You entered that waiting room with a defeatist mentality and you knew deep down it wasn’t going to work out.  

So what has changed? Well it’s quite simple really…we’re good now. It’s been a tough past decade often failing to reach the standards and expectations we had set going back to those invincible days. Yes we have had some great moments lifting cups, welcoming European giants in the Champion’s League  and  such like but a sustained challenge for the title or even Champions league football year on year was no longer a given.  

The good times build excitement; the fans want to be there, they want to experience and be a part of the success and with that comes the rise in demand for tickets. To still be fighting for something at the business end of the season just generates demand and unfortunately there’s a capacity that gets reached. Arsenal Football Club now has a global appeal far greater than the 60k fans it can squeeze into the stadium. I saw a recent article from Arseblog that quoted that roughly 2/3 of the Emirates capacity is held by season ticket holders whilst there are around 30k silver members on the books and then a crazy number of red/junior gunners that are as high in 200k in number.

You don’t even need Key Stage 1 maths to work out that when there is a game everyone wants to see it becomes a very congested group to be a part of. I know the touts and their bots very much the focal point of the frustrations felt by the fans but with or without them the stadium just can’t host all those members. There will be casualties regardless.

When you think of it, I remember all the years back I would go to Highbury to watch games, I wasn’t a season ticket holder back then but I would attend plenty games in the early stages of the season. Once it got to business end of season the ease in which I could buy tickets soon evaporated. I would often miss the chance to visit Highbury during the run in to a season as the demand grew. Those days it was all about phoning the hotline (never kind on my phone bill) and being on hold for what seemed like an eternity, sometimes I got lucky but at business end of season less so.

Different stadium, same problems…

It’s interesting when I’ve seen some complaints on twitter from people who say they haven’t been able to purchase a ticket all season as silver members. Either they aren’t trying on the date and time the tickets actually went on sale or their actual statement of all season is more realistically translated to “the two or three times I tried to buy tickets”. Earlier in the season tickets were readily available to purchase, it has definitely become harder the further we progressed into the season but not bad enough to not get to a ticket to a game across the whole season.  

Have things really changed from then to now?  In a way no, it’s just been a while since we had been in a good old title challenge that wed forgotten how it could be like (if you wasn’t a season ticket holder that is).   

I feel fortunate enough to be a season ticket holder and have most definitely enjoyed the journey the club has had this season. My frustrations in the ticket purchasing experience has only been felt as I have been trying to help my Sister and Brother In Law who are both silver members and still on the gold waiting list to get tickets. They aren’t tech savvy enough and I have always been the one to purchase for them, probably the only people that make me feel young and still in touch lol, until ChatGPT takes over everything I still have a purpose.

So what are my suggestions for a solution to the problem? I’m pretty sure those on silver will definitely snap up the opportunity of a gold membership if offered. I am not ashamed to admit that I had been a silver member for years and was quite comfortable being able to purchase tickets for the juicy games that fit around my busy lifestyle. The commitment to attend every single home game isn’t as easy as it seems if you aren’t exactly local (and sometimes even when you are local). I turned down the offer of a season ticket quite a few times as I just wasn’t sure if A. I could attend every game B. I could afford it. Eventually I took the plunge and have never looked back. So my advice would be definitely snap it up if you can and try and make cuts elsewhere to soften any financial hit.

The ticket exchange has become super competitive but I still hear success stories even this late into the season of people getting hold of tickets for the games. You get a lot of fans put their tickets up from the day before a game so just dive in and check periodically, refresh the page and keep trying. I’ve put my seat on ticket exchange and found it sold within 5 minutes. It may be luck of the draw but it’s a lot less risky and less stressful than buying from an unknown person on twitter who turns out to be a scammer. Also be realistic, buy 1 ticket for you alone, trying to source two tickets or more just makes things harder for yourself. Single tickets pop up, to find a pair is a unicorn.

This suggestion may be a bit farfetched but there are a number of competitions held on the arsenal website with tickets as prizes, some are free and require nothing more than answering a pretty easy question on arsenal and entering. Additionally there’s opportunities for tickets in the Arsenal members rewards section, all those points we accumulate over the season then lose because we wait too long and cant redeem the  beanie hats and umbrellas because they are already sold out by deadline. Often you can use those points to enter prize draws for tickets, VIP experiences at that. I certainly don’t make this suggestion to be patronising but someone has to win, what have you got to lose when entering a competition for free?

Arsenal rewards give opportunities to buy tickets
Get on those competitions!

At the end of the day the club needs to do something about the touts and bots etc that snap up tickets and post on the black market so that we all have a fair chance when trying, that’s out of our hands but we also have to be realistic that there are a lot of Arsenal fans in the same boat that want to go to the games now more than ever. It’s a frustrating factor but a nice frustration to have if it means we are challenging at the top of the table with regularity season after season. Unlike our neighbours up the road, we are selling out our stadium thanks to the excellent work Mikel Arteta has done with the team and challenging for honours  and not because Beyonce is in town to twerk.

“What do you think of Tottenham?”

Enjoy your day people

This post also features on Gunners Town site which I write for.


The Offices Are Gunner Be Red Just Like North London

There is no better feeling going into work than the feeling going into work knowing you have beaten your rivals convincingly at the weekend. One of the many things Coronavirus robbed us of was the opportunity to strut into that office on a Monday morning feeling eight foot high, feeling like a rock star.

No mercy for any Spurs fans that happen to share the office with you, this is our time, North London is Red and there is no comeback to that fact. Hide; just hide because we are enjoying our week and we don’t give a damn if it hurts your feelings. As has been your catchphrase this season “Cry, cry some more”.

That winning feeling on a Monday into work

If the government was on a drive to get bodies back in offices then they have missed a trick by not tapping into the football market when bragging rights are top of the agenda. I enjoy working from home, I also enjoy seeing faces in the office but I absolutely love seeing my spurs supporting chums after a battering over the weekend. It Pains when the Arsenal are on the receiving end of such a defeat but let’s cross that bridge when it comes, today we feast on human tears.

No need for a match review of sorts, I’m sure we have digested the game live whether in the Emirates or on TV, again on match of the day, again via the highlights on and then again through whatever medium we can get our hands on. It’s just a time to celebrate, enjoy and soak up those bragging rights after beating the supposed complete Tottenham team.

Don’t be fooled by any reverse psychology presented by the Spurs fans you know in the build up to Saturdays match. They were confident going into this match; they believed they could get one over us at the Emirates. They were arriving as an unbeaten team, thrashed Leicester in their last game and walked away from Stamford Bridge and The London stadium this season with a point each time.

Spurs fans really believed a result was on the horizon, I remember reading an article last week from a Spurs fan claiming that when we defeated them last season 3-1 they had a poor midfield consisting of Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele. This time it was believed things were different; they had their solid midfield base of Bentacur and Hojbjerg to stop us in our blocks. They had their star wing back in Perisic to fly down the flank and create things for their attack. They had their star acquisition from Barcelona Lenglet to snuff out the danger from our attack.  

I haven’t even gotten to their ultimate secret weapon: The Shithouse mafia. Romero, Richarlison, Kane and Son. Certainly the term Shithouse is not a new creation and over the years there have been many a player who have embraced and lived up to that tag with pride. Diego Costa definitely comes to mind yet this season it is a term that the Spurs fans have raved about as if they believed this is the key ingredient to a successful team. Litter your team with these types of players and you are supposed to reap the benefits from being a dirty team full of cheating, win at any cost, unlikeable players.

Not Today

Well they all started the match on Saturday, the fiery hot headed Argentinean Christian Romero, this loose cannon of a defender is a red card waiting to happen, their fans see him put in a dirty sly kick or elbow on a player that it clouds the fact he is more liability than reliable. Heung Min Son, the supposed nicest guy in football who would stop at nothing to get a man sent off to gain an advantage. He went down claiming to be injured after Kurt Zouma rolled a ball his direction last season, need I say more. Then we have Richarlison, a man so universally disliked for all cheating tactics that when he did eventually get seriously injured from a tackle during his Everton days all the commentators and fans alike saw the boy who cried wolf and dismissed his pleas and even when it was proven to be genuine nobody even felt the need for guilt and enjoyed it a bit. As for Harry Kane, he needs no introduction; we all know what he’s about.

Spurs quartet of shithousery came, they saw and they got hooked. With only Harry Kane staying on the pitch for the full 90 minutes, the remaining three were ineffective and made way after 70 minutes. One thing with football, it takes more than cheating to lead you to victory, how about doing something with the ball rather than playing up to your opponent all game? And if Spurs are going to base their defeat on the loss of one player in Kulusevski then they deserved to lose the game.

let’s celebrate boys

We can celebrate our boys; they deserved the win on Saturday. Thomas Partey was immense in the middle of the park, Xhaka’s importance continues to grow with each game he plays, and Saka and Martinelli were a constant thorn from the flanks whilst Martin Odegaard controlled the pace of the game from the middle. Defensively we dealt with everything thrown at us, the penalty we conceded could have been avoided during several moments before the initial tackle but we will learn from that. We didn’t let if phase us and the back four as a whole functioned perfectly throughout the game.

Jesus still continues to impress me. We really have signed a street fighter who will challenge for any ball no matter the size of the opponent. I don’t want to open that can of worms that is the talk of Pierre Emerick Aubamyang but what I will say is  as quality a striker he was for us one thing that was missing from his game was that fight within to get the ball and make it his. Too often he would get shrugged off the ball or lose an aerial battle and the frown would appear and the head drop whilst with Jesus he is an absolute pest who is up for a physical scrap for the ball.

Head dropped too easily

The will to fight and challenge merely compliments his ability and skill to make him the perfect player to fit into the Arteta system as the main striker. We are so grateful to have him, we are also grateful he avoided a booking in the game meaning he is available for the game next week against Liverpool.

The atmosphere inside the stadium was once again electric and I feel privileged to witness in person the turnaround in mood, vibe and atmosphere compared to the last couple seasons. The fans needed convincing before buying into the Arteta plan but they are now being convinced and the appreciation shown from them is evident. Maybe there’s just something in that Prime juice they sell at the Emirates, whatever it is let’s keep drinking it because we are headed in the right direction and Spurs were merely a pebble in our way.

Positivity juice clearly

Enjoy your week and give your Spurs friends (or not) hell.

This post will also feature on Gunners Town site which I write for.

A New Dawn At Arsenal? Palace Awaits

Its finally here, the football season finally kicks off tonight as we face off against Crystal Palace. What seems like an age from when we last kicked off against Everton on the 22nd May the football is back.

The new shirts are now released; squad numbers have shuffled about, pre season games completed and of course pundits have written off Arsenal’s chances of a good season; we really are ready for the big kick off. Not quite sure why Arsenal is always the overwhelming popular choice for an opening day fixture on the big screen but here we are. Others can look on jealously as the Arsenal play their part in kick starting the new season.

New season new kits

Given the disappointment in how it all ended last season it is refreshing that the general feel about the club from viewing the interviews and footage of the players and squad, talking to other fans or scouring through various social media platforms is one of positivity and belief in the team and the manager.

If we were to circle back this time last year there was such a negative, acrimonious and toxic cloud that surrounded the club. Fans were arguing with each other over support for the manager, ownership was a hot topic as protests were set up outside the stadium in opposition of the Kroenkes, the team preparation and recruitment was unfinished and left us looking far from our optimum for a season start. Covid added the final nail in the coffin as it disrupted our squad and left us with key players missing in the opening games.

Disrupted start last season

Anyway this season it all feels different. Pre-season on the whole was excellent, the results were all positive admittedly against teams at different stages of their own preparation for the coming season. On the whole the result although nice wasn’t the most important factor from these games. The players got minutes and built on their understanding with each other and enhanced their own physical developments and conditioning. We’ve made some shrewd signings and they have slotted straight into the team pretty much hitting the ground running. Of course its pre season and the football season is a totally different level of battle but it’s important that the new guys have integrated so quickly. It takes the pressure off a bit and hopefully the confidence remains sky high when we kick off at Selhurst Park. Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko are likely to start tonight whilst Saliba will make his long awaited debut for the first team in the Premier League (those EFL Trophy games he played in were pretty much U23 games). It’s an exciting time and you’d be hard pushed to locate an Arsenal fan that isn’t looking forward to getting the season started and seeing what is in store for us in the months ahead.

Hit the ground running

Fabio Vieira is still to kick a ball for us and his impact could be a welcome surprise. The transfer window isn’t closed yet as we could well see a couple more additions to the squad whilst many also move on.  

So as mentioned we take on Crystal Palace, 3 points are far from guaranteed as we have come to find them a bit of a bogey team over the years, we relied on an injury time equaliser from Lacazette to snatch a draw at home last season whilst the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park was a damaging blow to our top four hopes. WIlfried Zaha is a constant thorn in our sides and we certainly won’t be receiving any special favours from our former captain Patrick Vieira on the night. With the Arsenal team’s confidence sky high they will go into the fixture looking for 3 points but know it will not be an easy night. Crystal palace will take inspiration from their results against us and give us a tough battle; any points gained will be truly earned.

need to improve on last season’s results v Palace

So let’s look at the Eagle’s preparation for the new season. They had a few mixed results, drawing with Accrington Stanley and beating Millwall before heading off on a tour of Singapore and Australia where they faced off against Liverpool in a 2-0 defeat followed by a 3-1 loss to Manchester united and then a 1-1 draw with Leeds. They closed out their pre season program with a comfortable 4-2 win over Montpellier, Zaha, Guehi and an Edouard brace contributing to a 4-0 lead. Former Gunner Stephy Mavididi scored the two consolation goals for Montpellier. Much like our preseason you can’t read too much into the results however it’s always good to sign off with a win.

Our line up for the game? I believe the team pretty much picks itself and with a few key players namely Tomiyasu and Tierney not yet ready to play we will be expected to start with the same line up used last week against Sevilla. Ben White will deputise at right back whilst William Saliba will have his first audition for a regular starting spot in the team when everybody is back fit.

Line up from Sevilla expected

I’m certainly excited for the season to start, my fantasy football team is picked and I’ve sent the fixture list to the Mrs so there is no confusion when I’m off to a match. Come on Arsenal! Let’s start the season right and beat Palace; it’s all or nothing now!

Enjoy your day people

This post will also feature on Gunners Town site which I write for.

Please feel free to join my fantasy league

Transfer Deadline Day – Is Mikel content?

So we have reached Transfer Deadline Day. That dreaded day which plays Russian Roulette with football fans mental health when activity has been non-existent throughout the month.

The transfer window is a time which I hate the most as it almost feels like daily a new name pops up as a potential target. The usual ITKs make an appearance whilst drip feeding nuggets of information which only succeed in whipping up a frenzy of speculation.

How genuine these links are can be debatable but for many information starved fans they run with it and go through a cycle of emotions as a player is linked, is close then the deal allegedly breaks down or they join another club whilst no actual concrete proof exists to prove Arsenal were even in for the player.

As I write this there has been no new signings confirmed to counter the string of exits that occurred this month. When you look at the bigger picture you wonder where Mikel Arteta is looking to improve the playing squad.

Centre Midfield

At the start of the month we were clearly short of players but by time we play our next game v Wolves on 10th Feb we should in theory have back all the players we lost to Afcon. Where we were short in midfield Granit Xhaka will return to the line up, Thomas Partey will miss the next game but will be back to complete what seems Arteta’s first choice to play in the middle. Mohammed Elneny will be back as cover alongside Sambi.

First choice pairing

Arteta had utilised the loss of Xhaka and Partey to drop Odegaard deeper so in trying to work out the thinking of Mikel Arteta he would in theory believe he has enough experienced midfield cover whilst having the option to blood the younger talents of Charlie Patino and Miguel Azeez.

That puts into doubt the desperation to get long linked player Arthur Melo to sign on the dotted line.


Having looked at the amount of football Martinelli and Saka have had to play recently, the returning Pepe (if he’s still in the good books) could provide alternative cover on the flanks but he is only one player. One would think that would be a position to look at however Emile Smith Rowe could and has been used in the flank positions this season. Would Pepe and ESR be seen as able cover for flanks with the addition to blood a youngster like Salah Eddine or Omari Hutchinson?

Not to forget Arteta has often brought Eddie Nketiah off the bench to also occupy a flank position. Not a popular choice to play there but I’m just going on evidence of what Mikel Arteta has opted for (recently against Burnley Nketiah replaced ESR to play there).

Full back

In defence there might be a case for recruitments but looking at the full back areas it seems Arteta has decided on his first choice full backs and has decided on his back up in the form of Tavares, Cedric Soares and emergency cover Ben White. Cedric may not be flavour of the month with fans at the moment but he provides experienced cover if needed to be called upon.

won the back up race with Chambers and AMN

Centre Back

The Centre back position is treading a fine line as beyond the first choice pairing of Ben White and Gabriel we have Rob Holding available to step in but beyond that other than drafting in versatile players who have slotted in there before such as Elneny and Tierney its seems a big risk to not have more experience available to cover.

Despite all the plaudits for the masses of talent pouring through the revolving doors at Hale End we aren’t quite at the stage to have an available youngster banging on the first team door that specialises at centre back.

Closest you would think is Omar Rekik who will be coming back to the club fresh from achieving some full international football experience at the Afcon. Initially a Dutch youth international when we signed him from Hertha Berlin; he switched allegiance to Tunisia and was drafted into their squad for the recent Afcon tournament.

 Making his debut earlier this year for his country it is experience that will no doubt aid in his development however he is yet to kick a ball in anger for the Arsenal first team apart from a couple appearances in pre season. It would see a major jump up the development ladder but the young defender would be high on confidence given his recent experience out in Cameroon.

Very risky a strategy but just trying to think through Arteta eyes I can’t see any signing coming in that would be an experienced stop gap as we had that already in players like Mari and Chambers. If a player does come in it would likely be young and for the future (although William Saliba would have something to say about that).

So after going through full back, centre back, centre mid and flanks there is the possibility that Arteta is content with what he has so far?


In the goal keeping area there’s not much to discuss. I can’t see Leno leaving in this window. The rumours of the American keeper Turner doing the rounds suggest he will be an acquisition for the summer and so planned for next season. This will mean the German will likely be kept on and tasked to find a new club for next season.


Can’t see much call for recruitment in that position. Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard have that role stitched up whilst Lacazette has often occupied that position too when called upon and it’s also a role Bukayo Saka could well fill if required.

Central Striker

Now we have reached a position that seems to be the most in need to have acquisitions made. Given the massive cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the future of Pierre Emerick Aubamyang we find ourselves in a situation where our options are threadbare. Right now our two options to lead the line lay with Lacazette and Nketiah. If we cannot find any chance for reconciliation between the manager and the Gabon international then we will need personnel to come through the Emirates doors.

The lack of a main source of goals from our central striker has been one of our biggest Achilles heels in the team. One would suggest a striker that adds goals would be the missing piece to dovetail the growth of the team so far and take them up a notch in the ladder of improvement under Mikel Arteta.

Ostracised or not we have to admit the goals had dried up for Aubamyang long before his fall out with the manager. Alex Lacazette has filled in ably but at the wrong end of 30 there isn’t much scope to improve on what he offers already. Eddie Nketiah despite coming through the ranks and proving himself to be a decent striker he just falls of what we need for a striker in the role to get the optimum from our system.

It’s no fault of his own and he could probably move to another club which is more of a fit in football style to his strengths and bag a hatful of goals at Premier League level. Eddie feeds off service whilst we likely need a striker that can both feed of service and make goals out of nothing. It just seems there’s more demanded for the type of striker we need in terms of physicality, link up play, strength, finishing and creating goals for others (gosh, that’s a unicorn right there).

To get that type of profile of player is no easy feat and you have to wonder if that type of player is obtainable in this window at a not so inflated price.   

Vlahovic seemed the name that dominated all the rumours but that was put to bed when he signed on the dotted line for Juventus. Much similar to Locatelli last summer it led to a lot of acrimony on the social media amongst Arsenal fans at the players we lost out on.

here next season?

Nketiah and Lacazette are both players on course to leave at end of the season on a free. Throw in Aubamyang and that’s three players tasked with helping our fight for top four that are unlikely to be part of the set up next season. Balogun is out at Middlesbrough gaining valuable experience and Mika Biereth or the recently recalled Nikolaj Moller should not really be tasked with saving our season if any unfortunate injuries occur.

In fairness Mikel Arteta earned some kudos for what at the time was regarded as underwhelming signings but indeed turned out to be shrewd acquisitions which were all a success to some measure. Can Arteta repeat that trick again this window? Well first he needs to sign someone, the question is who? Callum Chambers joined Aston Villa completely out of the blue. Does Arteta and Edu have some deals under wraps to surprise us. Let’s see how the day unfolds, they have certainly cut things fine.

will moments like this return?

Going out of both cups in January probably put a pause on some potential deals getting over the line sooner but even without the cups there is still plenty to play for to the end of season. Arteta needs to ensure all the steps he has made forward this season are not regressing by the end when there are clear points in the season where mistakes could be pinpointed. Our January dealings so far could very much be the Damocles sword that swings above his head for the rest of the season.   

Arsenal Out Of The FA Cup Thanks To Their Own Doing.

This was a bad day at office, a really really bad day at the office. There’s just no scope available to defend it. We were terrible from the first whistle to the end and can have no complaints about the final result. We are out of the FA Cup; we started the day talking about going for number 15 and ended it wondering when we will break this 2022 New Year’s resolution of losing every game.

We had the luxury of the game being beamed free and to all on national television. No subscriptions needed, this was on ITV and the whole nation had the chance to witness the new Arsenal being formed in Mikel Arteta’s vision. The new Arsenal that went toe to toe with Manchester City and but for an awful referee’s performance should have walked away with all three points.

Bad day at the office

We spent the last couple days applauding the club for their bold and inspiring No More Red campaign which meant we would be donning the unique white only kit in the aid of awareness and support for an end to knife crime violence. Unfortunately what was an amazing gesture was then left tainted by a performance that didn’t allow the shirts and the cause a result it warranted. The campaign hasn’t fallen on deaf ears and I’m sure it will result in so many positives for the youth of today, it’s just sad that on the pitch there was nothing memorable to recall.

So, one of the biggest problems with yesterday’s game was the personnel that were available to be utilised. We went into the game with an absolute threadbare squad and questions have to be asked why we put ourselves into such a position?

We all are excited by the talent that is being churned out with such regularity these days from Hale End but the bench we had for the game yesterday was a worry. Filled with a majority of youngsters who haven’t played for a single minute in the first team is not ideal in the worst case scenario where we need to chase the game.

Yes, the argument is due to AFCON call ups, Injuries and Covid-19 this forced the hand of Mikel Arteta and we had to hope the quality on the pitch was enough to do the job asked of the manager so that we wouldn’t be in desperate measures.

This is where I argue why we have made the move to loan out players without adequate replacements signed or available within? Now I’m not saying having Ainsley Maitland Niles and Forlarin Balogun would have single handily won us the tie but you cannot deny these are players of first team experience which could have been options.

At what point do we honour the wishes of an unhappy player over the needs for the club at that very moment in time. Could we not have decided to loan out AMN until after the FA Cup game? At the end of the day we are making a loan deal here, not a multi million pound sale with the risk of losing a big fee due to a potential injury. Whilst we were struggling to get a foothold in the game at the City Ground Ainsley Maitland Niles was in action for Roma against Juventus.

Player we could have done with yesterday

The AFCON that has reduced the availability of Thomas Partey, Elneny and Pepe, all players that would make a difference for us yesterday was not a surprise competition that came out of the blue. The loss of these players has been anticipated well in advance so why hasn’t any potential cover/replacement been acquired in preparation?

Names have been mentioned but nothing has materialised at what could be a make or break week for our season. The first hurdle of the FA Cup is now gone, we face a testing trip to Anfield this Thursday  for the Carabao Cup Semi Final followed but a battle against our North London rivals Tottenham on Sunday. We need personnel, personnel that can hit the ground running because at this stage it would be massively unfair to now burden our untried youngsters with the responsibility to salvage our hopes for a top 4 finish and any last remaining chance of silverware.

As it stands we are left with Xhaka and Emile Smith-Rowe returning to bolster our options. I just don’t think it’s enough to rely on because we would be making a massive assumption no other injuries or Covid-19 infections will occur between now and when/if anyone comes in.

I know Forlarin Balogun has had a lukewarm impact this season so far but he still would have been a viable option starting or from the bench yesterday. Eddie Nketiah lacked any impact for the frontline yesterday and it would have been more reassuring if Balogun was available in addition to Lacazette. Like I said we have a three game week and should have been in a position to have some players afforded minutes only in emergency and not a self inflicted emergency due to some questionable decisions on transfers/loans.

I had mentioned in my blog yesterday that I didn’t think Mikel Arteta would start Charlie Patino yesterday due to the fact that we were playing away. That’s not to say Charlie wouldn’t be able to handle pressure but more to fact youngsters have usually been afforded starts with a home crowd behind them to ease them into a game. The belief is there in Charlie and it’s hoped the start for him was more to do with faith and not down to lack of options.

I’m not a football manager and never have been but I would question blooding any young starlet it would be beneficial to have an experienced partner next to them to help guide them. In such a game Xhaka would have been a good partner but as we know he is out with Covid-19. So what we ended up with yesterday was Patino partnered with Sambi Lokonga. Sambi has had a great start to his Arsenal career but he is still technically in his integration phase into the Arsenal midfield. He’s very young and still developing his game, he then had the added responsibility to look out for a younger more inexperienced partner in Charlie.

Now this is not to say the midfield was overrun by any means but my point is it’s not the ideal scenario to partner such limited collective experience in the middle of the park. And this is what takes you back to the question why did we have no other alternative options when we knew so many numbers would be missing for that position of the field?

We have had Jack Wilshere training with the club for the last few months; can you tell me registering him as a player even as cover for this month is such a terrible idea? The issue with Jack has always been the injuries not the ability. Having Jack Wilshere rather than nobody is not a crazy, ludicrous idea. He has been training with the club, would know the plays and would fill in instantly if needed.

An opportunity missed?

I just struggle to get my head around the decision to let bodies go and not have cover especially when you have one literally on your doorstep.

One thing we as a club suffer from is doing things the right way at detriment to our advantages. We often used to hear the term the team is too soft, you need a nasty, dirty bastard on the pitch to do the horrible things that benefit the team. The same almost applies in off field actions; you want the club to act in best possible way to achieve the end goals.

Look at Liverpool  for example, to determine they had the best chance of advancing past us in the Semi Final of the Carabao Cup they ensured the game for the first leg was postponed to benefit their cause in order  to have availability of their stronger players. We all know their Covid-19 outbreak excuse was very suspect but they used every sneaky tactic within the rulebook to gain their advantage. They ensured they could do whatever they had in their power to work for them rather than face a beating at the Emirates. That’s the mindset we need to incorporate at times to ensure Arsenal comes out on top. It’s fine being sneaky and have a dirty streak on the pitch but you need that off the pitch to maximise your chances to win things.

This is where as I mentioned earlier we have sent out Ainsley Maitland Niles and soon Forlarin Balogun on loan because they need the loan rather than stopping to assess, “wait, we may need these players this week, lets delay the loan deal and use them”.

So back to the game (although right now I’d rather forget it) lets touch briefly on the Tavares incident. We are all likely in agreement that the young Portuguese was not having the best of games. The passes and decision making were not quite coming off and Mikel Arteta decided in all his wisdom the best action was to hook the player after 30 odd minutes. Not only can that cause a potential disruption in the dressing room but it also provided great embarrassment to a player in a week where we need to make the most of the limited bodies we have available for some massive games.

He wasn’t having the best game as I mentioned but Mikel had the added advantage of being able to coach and provide instructions to the player as he was situated on the same side as the manager. This was the perfect opportunity to coach the player out of a bad patch of form on the pitch. Instead Arteta chose to substitute him rather than seeing out until half time. Now there may have been an exchange of dissent from the player not picked up by the cameras which could have played a part in the decision but I personally felt the 34th minute wasn’t the best time to flex the non-negotiable muscles.  Plenty Arsenal players were misplacing passes and not performing to the best of their ability so it just felt bizarre given the limited options we already had available.   I hope this moment didn’t lead to any backlash in the dressing room which could result in some disciplinary action because at this moment in time we cannot afford to cut off our nose to spite our face. We need every available player fighting for the team in harmony right now.

Now despite what seems to be coming off as a bit of a rant (I am writing this article immediately after the final whistle), I am not calling for the managers head. We are moving in the right direction, the players acquired match the DNA of how he wants to play and the team will hit inevitable bumps along the way. Yesterday I have to state he got things wrong, the team were lethargic and stale, his in game decisions could have been better and whether it is in his control or not the transfer business should have been timed to not leave us short in numbers especially for the competitions we have realistic chances of winning.

Right now it seems we are going to have to fumble our way through next few weeks with just plan A on the pitch as we have no alternatives to offer a Plan B or C. Our opponents will be able to telegraph in what team we play as we have limited options, I just hope we can ride that storm and our plan A team can do the business in the remainder of our make or break week and/or month.

Enjoy your day people

This post will also feature on Gunners Town site which I write for.

Try to enjoy your day people, better days ahead

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