One of the best things about football at this time of year is how games come at you thick and fast (unless you are a Spurs fan). No sooner have you recovered from one game, you have to start getting yourself up for the next. And for Arsenal this year, it is not just that games have come thick and fast, but they have been big games too.
Liverpool, Manchester United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich. In the space of just 11 days. Whilst Liverpool fans will spend this week still cryarsing over a defeat which was never their fault, or attentions are fully on the next game. The Champions League tie against Munich.
Personally, I have quite negative thoughts about this upcoming game. Not due to side itself, but just towards my current feelings towards Arsenal and the Champions League.
Firstly, I am one of the many who have opted out of the game. I did this with a heavy heart. I love The Arsenal and would walk over hot coals to see then play. But with a 3% ticket rise already for next season, going to Bayern Munich at home would have added £100 to my season ticket price next season. Whilst that is affordable, I had to look towards the future.
Were we to beat Liverpool (we did) and then draw an FA Cup quarter final home tie (we did), my season ticket would then go up an additional £50 (approx). That takes my ticket to £150 more than this season. And that what if we beat Bayern Munich? And then beat whoever we draw next? That would mean an additional £300 on top of this seasons price – and also makes the 3% even more unjustified.
I am unable to justify a potential £300 increase so have had to make sacrifices. And that sacrifice is Munich. Will I be going to Everton? Yes. I prefer the FA Cup (more on my issues with the Champions League later). I am just more comfortable missing 1 game – such as Munich – to enable myself to go to further games later in the season. Especially if we get a sexy tie again; an away European trip will be on the cards. I wish I was there, but sadly ticket prices means this fan can’t go.
I am not a massive fan of the Champions League anyway. I find the group games often boring, predictable and laborious. For the group stages, you turn up, on a cold winter night, to watch us beat some Eastern European side 2-0, in a boring game where the result is not in doubt and Arsenal are just going through phases. It is not the excitement that TV makes it out to be.
The knock out stages do add a bit more excitement. Obviously going away is a different kettle of fish. But at home, they have also become stale. The same names, playing each other, knocking each other out. Where as 15 years ago, it was exciting playing Barcelona (albeit at Wembley), it has now become predictable. We would have now played Bayern Munich twice in 2 years. And if we were to get through, there is a high chance we could face Manchester City, Chelsea or Manchester United. Exciting.
The Champions League is about money. Not success. It is geared towards TV companies getting enough high profile games that they’ll pay through the nose to be the preferred broadcaster. This money then filters through to the clubs.
Arsenal would have already earnt around £30-£40m from the Champions League. Unless we win it, that figure will not rise dramatically. I am of the opinion that we should ‘take the money and run.’ We have more chance of winning the Premier League and FA Cup. Let’s go and put out the kids in both ties against Munich, get knocked out, but leave the first teamers fresh the domestic battles.
With games coming thick and fast, you need to shuffle your squad. You need to prioritise. For me, the Champions League is the least important this season. Let’s throw the game. Stick out the youth team, say to UEFA “thanks for the money, but we’re out” and concentrate on winning the double – which is most certainly on.
I am sure when we beat Munich 3-0 at home, my opinion will change. I will regret not going. Until then, I will be happy enough that we have something to look forward to this week, whilst fans of other clubs are still harping on about the weekend’s games (or whenever Spurs last played).
Up The Arsenal.