Tag Archives: League Cup

Youngsters to get chance against Blackpool

Arsenal will look to extend their unbeaten run to 13 against Blackpool tonight.

After the 11 game winning run turned into 12 unbeaten at the weekend against Crystal Palace, Unai Emery is expected to ring in the changes.

Against Palace, a few players looked tired. It was a lethargic performance. One which came from 3 games in 7 days, and Arsenal having played a European away barely 60 hours previous.

Arsenal beat Brentford in the previous round of the League Cup with a surprisingly strong team. With Liverpool in the Premier League coming up on Saturday, it is expected that Emery will rotate with his squad, with very few playing against Blackpool who will be in line to start against Liverpool.

Petr Cech will return to the side in replace for Bernd Leno – the German has solidified his position as Arsenal’s number one in recent weeks.

Right back will be interesting. Hector Bellerin is currently struggling with a muscle injury; so it is not expected that Stephan Lichtsteiner will be risked. This could see a return in a first team Arsenal shirt for Carl Jenkinson.

Sokratis will be one of the few to start against both Blackpool and Liverpool; having missed out on the Crystal Palace game.

Alongside him will either be Shkodran Mustafi or Rob Holding. My bet is Holding as I think Emery will go for the experience of Mustafi and Sokratis at the weekend.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is likely to return to the side at left back following a length lay off. With Nabhco Monreal and Saed Kolasinac still sidelined with niggles, neither will be risks. All 3 would then be in contention for the game against Liverpool.

The League Cup will be the only competition Mohamed Elneny will be given a consistent run out in this season. I expect him to be alongside Matteo Guendouzi in the middle of the park. The teenage Frenchman is likely to make way for the Lucas Torreira / Granit Xhaka partnership on Saturday.

Having found himself out of Emery’s plans in recent weeks, Aaron Ramsey will play as the furthest midfielder forward.

Emile Smith Rowe will play on one flank, continuing his progress in the team.

The other wing position and upfront could depend on who Emery wants to give a chance too.

It is a fight between Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah, with Danny Welbeck filling the other position. I expect Nketiah to be up top, and Welbeck on the wing.



Arsenal should be praised for cheap tickets

Over the years we have been huge critics of the prices of Arsenal ticket prices. Seasons tickets are too much, they price out a lot of fans. Category A prices, ranging from £64 – £120+ are extortionate.

By the time you add in travel and food, it would cost more for a family of 4 to go watch arsenal v Manchester United than it would for that same family to go to Tenerife for 7 days all inclusive.

A lot of the recent anger stems from the move from the Home of Football, Highbury.

At the time, a lot of fans did not want to move, but at the time it was sold to fans that a larger attendance would mean the club could massively discount tickets. We all remember the back page of the Islington Gazette, announcing that the move will generate these cheap tickets.

But football moved on. As we moved, the rise of mega-rich owners took over, with Roman Abramovich and his tanks full of cash.

Saddled wit huge stadium debt that the club were struggling to pay off, and the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United outspending the club in the transfer market and on wages, the club became heavily reliant on stadium income to finance this debt, and keep some sort of competitiveness.

It meant that instead of tickets dropping, they went up, as Arsenal began to record gate receipts.

In 2010, 4 years after the move, match day income accounted for 42% of the clubs total revenue. In 2017 it represented just 23%.

Ticket pricing issues is not a new thing.

I read a snippet from a news article back in the 1950’s a year or so ago. The article was about Arsenal fans being priced out of football.

Then we have Fever Pitch.

In the brilliant Nick Hornby book, the rising cost of ticket prices in the 1980s in mentioned a couple of times.

Moving on to the 90s, we all remember David Dein’s North Bank Bond Scheme, but what tends to be forgotten is the 38% hike in ticket prices in 1991. In fact, from 1987 to 1993 ticket prices rose 100%.

When you look back at ticket stubs from those years, paying £10.50 for a game looks ludicrously cheap. And it is. But 6 years before it was £5.25. This 100% jump would have priced out a lot of fans.

The point I am making is that looking back, ticket prices will always look a lot cheaper. Everything does. Houses, milk, bread. But back then, it certainly did not feel cheap to go to football. It was still expensive in the early 90s, in comparison to early 80s when you could go to games for 4 times less.

The brilliant blog by the Arsenal History lads has a wonderful excel spreadsheet highlighting Arsenal ticket price rises since 1980.

I am starting to sound like I am justifying ticket prices, I am not. They are still too high and are pricing out a lot of fans.

The issue I will always have is Arsenal get beaten up in the media for having high ticket prices, when the truth is all of football is now expensive.

The BBC publish their Price of Football study every November. It is good in theory, but it often paints a poorly misinterpreted picture, and gives the media a chance to write negatively about Arsenal.

Arsenal usually top the league for cost of season ticket. But what is always ignored is that Arsenal fans get 26 match day tickets for their money,

So last season, Arsenal were 3rd in terms of most expensive tickets.

For the (unbuilt) new stadium, Tottenham’s cheapest season ticket will increase to £795. This shoots them straight to the top of the table and, at £41.84, makes them the first club to have the cost of their cheapest ticket over £40.

Some clubs manipulate the table as well.

For example Manchester City’s cheapest ticket is £299, but they only have a hundred or so of these available, and it is not a fixed seat – you are moved around the ground filling in space where there is available seating.

I always wonder when clubs will begin offering a single £5 season ticket just to mess with the BBC.

Is £34 a game really that expensive?

One criticism of Arsenal’s structure is the 26 games.

Over the years, the likes of the BlackScarfMovement have campaigned for a “season ticket lite” that drops the cup games. If this was implemented, the cheapest season ticket would be £651. That would be a lot more affordable.

A season ticket lite would come with some caveats, such as you would lose your priority for cup finals. It would not be fair for those on the season ticket lite to have equal priority for those on the full season ticket who have pre-paid for the cup games.

Moving the discussion on, whilst the Category A tickets are pricey, as previously mentioned, these actually subsidise cheaper tickets elsewhere. And I to not think the club gets enough praise for making these cheap tickets available.

For as long as I can remember, back into the Highbury days, Arsenal have offered cheap tickets in the League Cup.

Against Brentford, it was £10 lower tier, £20 upper for adults. Kids were £5 lower tier, £10 upper. And there were plenty available at both prices.

That means the family of 4 that are spending holiday money to go to Manchester United at home could have watched Arsenal for £30. That is not £30 for a single ticket, but £30 for the whole family (£10 each adult, £5 each child).

If this is not affordable, I do not what else fans expect the club to do.

Of course, part of the problem is many fans do not want to go to the “smaller” games.

45,000 turned up to watch Arsenal beat Brentford. 60,000 will turn up for Arsenal v Manchester United. It seems fans do not go to games “to see The Arsenal”.

As a kid, I would not care what game my parents got tickets too. I was just delighted to be at Highbury. Has that mentality not changed?

£10 a ticket to watch Arsenal. Fantastic.

The Europa League also provides tickets at good value.

Despite lazy journalists claiming that Arsenal are watching Europa League football for rip-off prices, you could get an adult brief for just £15.50 and Junior Gunner tickets for £4.25. The most expensive tickets are £23.50.

Again, these are good value.

The cheapest ticket to Watch Leyton Orient in the Conference is £16.

It is therefore cheaper to watch Arsenal in the League Cup & the Europa League than it is to watch Orient in the 5th division of English football.

Top end tickets might be too expensive, but the club should be getting praised for the pricing structure in the two cup competitions.

It is also just £26 to watch Arsenal play in a Cat C game. Some fans would call this a fair price for all games, I would not disagree. But this is subsidised by the more expensive Cat A games.

So for £26, £10 more than it costs to watch Leyton Orient, you can see Arsenal in the Premier League. That is the same ticket price as the 2001 season, playing at Highbury, before categorised price structures.

And there is more.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Emirates on a Friday night to watch Arsenal v Spurs in the Premier League 2 – the U23 league. The cost of my ticket? £0. nothing. Nowt. Tickets were free.

So you could go down The Arsenal and watch some of our brightest young players – the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah – for nothing.

I will always campaign for cheaper tickets, and show my disgust when prices go up. But I will also be fair and defend the club against media attacks, and point out when the club are making football affordable.

The cost of the League Cup and Europa League is a good deal. It is cheap.

If you went to all 3 games, Vorskla, Brentford and Tottenham, it would have cost you a total of £25.50.

That is value.


Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 1 Brentford

Arsenal (2) 3 Brentford (0) 1

Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) Third Round
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Wednesday, 26th September 2018. Kick-off time: 7.45pm

(4-2-3-1) Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Elneny, Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Smith-Rowe; Iwobi, Welbeck.
Substitutes: Bellerín, Ramsey, Lacazette, Torreira, Martínez, Kolasniac, Nketiah.

Scorers: Welbeck (2), Lacazette
Yellow Cards: Welbeck, Lichtsteiner

Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 49,586

Our first appearance this season in the Carabao Cup (aka The English Football League Cup) comes around again tonight, with a home tie against Brentford, who currently hold seventh position in the Championship; of course, The Bees didn’t always play in lowly divisions, as there was a time when they were one of our rivals back in the old First Division before the corrosion of relegation and decline set in for them in the post-1945 football world. Apropos to Brentford, they do actually play an important part in our history, as our 2-0 victory at the Old Place on 2nd May 1939 was filmed and used in the feature film The Arsenal Stadium Mystery, which incidentally was the last official league match before hostilities broke out four months later.

Back to tonight. Straight from the kick-off, Arsenal assumed dominance, but to be fair, it did look rather dicey in the goalkeeping department (again) with just a minute or so on the clock. A simple pass-back found Bernd Leno lose his footing and as the ball slipped away for a Bees corner, a collection of hands on heads from home fans could be seen around the stadium. Whoops. All forgotten though, three minutes later when, after a short corner from Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Mattéo Guendouzi looked up, and wasted no time in getting the ball across to Danny Welbeck who opened the scoring with a sublime header. Although shell-shocked Brentford started to come back into the match, our defence held firm, and thus became the bedrock for more forays into the opposition 18-yard box. It was one of these attacks that the second goal came rather inevitably eight minutes before half-time. Building from the back, we appeared to simply move at a canter through The Bees’ midfield in a familiar pattern of perpetual movement; Leno-Lichtsteiner-Mkhitaryan-Iwobi-Monreal-Welbeck. And it was indeed so that Danny Welbeck got both his second (and Arsenal’s too) of the night by merely stroking the ball into the net after this wonderful exhibition of pass-and-advance. Despite one or two failed attempts, we went into the break the leading team on the night, and deservedly so.

Returning after the break, we carried on where we left off, with missed chances that should, by rights, increased our goal tally. Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan must have regretted their squandered efforts, as  literally out of nowhere, Brentford got one back just before the hour with an incredibly well-taken free-kick that hit the back of our net. How can it be? Suddenly the mood in the stadium went from one of elation and confidence to one of nervousness and doubt all around for a period of time. In an effort to score again, Emile Smith-Rowe was subsituted for Alexandre Lacazette, and things started to look a bit better for us, briefly. After more close Bees’ chances, we made two more substitutions, and as per usual more wasted chances in front of the opposition goal became the fate of our strikers. But wait! A breakaway, a chance, and Alexandre Lacazette puts the match beyond doubt with our third and final goal of the night. A minute later, this game was done, and we can all be thankful that Mike Dean blew the whistle when he did, and we therefore find ourselves in the hat for the fourth round draw on Saturday.

Arsenal really made hard work of this victory in North London this evening. We allowed Brentford back into the match on several occasions, when by rights, we had enough talent and firepower to put this game to bed quite early on in the proceedings, but we denied ourselves the luxury of an early win by mere indecision and, it has to be said, periods of self-doubt, which Mr. Emery must quickly stamp his authority on when the team get back to London Colney tomorrow. Watford lie in wait for us on Saturday afternoon; we have to firm, dominant and ruthless at The Emirates then, and show everyone (not least our supporters) our true credentials in the Premiership race. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners.

Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.