First thing to do this morning is nip something in the bud quickly.
Per Mertesacker went the NBA London Game on Thursday night rather than to Arsenal v Tottenham in the FA Youth Cup.
This decision has led to huge criticism by many uneducated members of the media and fans. Most are looking for easy hits or RTs on Twitter.
Mertesacker is the Academy Manager.This means he oversees the operation at Hale End – where members of the Arsenal Academy train.
The U18s are not considered part of that academy. Once you reach U18 level, you move across to London Colney to train with the first team
You can not expect Mertesacker, Unai Emery or whoever to go to every game, every time. They have other things to concentrate on, and are allowed a life outside of work.
Going to the FA Youth Cup does not fall within Mertesacker’s contract parameters.
Now he might have gone out of interest, or to see how an U16 performed if they are stepping up a level, but on this occasion he decided to go to a basketball match.
A huge basketball fan, the NBA London Game is a once or twice a year thing.
So let’s just ignore the white noise and fake news surrounding his “absence”.
In other news, Arsenal are set to donate around 600 tickets for the FA Cup fourth-round tie against Manchester United. This after a dispute between the clubs over ticket allocation.
FA rules dictate that home clubs must make 15% of tickets available for the FA Cup. This is 9,000 tickets at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal have given Man U just 5,000 tickets, citing safety concerns.
Every club must get a safety certificate for every game. They must have this signed off by the local council and the police. In the past (when we play Tottenham in a mid week cup game, for example) the police have stopped us giving away the full allocation as they can not guarantee the safety of all fans.
Whether the council or police are behind the drop in allocation, or Arsenal are just hiding behind Health & Safety is not clear.
There is also a bigger story at play here. One which is rarely written about. And that is the fact that Manchester United never give visiting teams a full allocation for cup games.
The FA have approved Manchester United to give visiting teams a lower allocations for FA Cup ties at Old Trafford, where around 11.7% of the 76,000-capacity is handed over to the away team. This usually happens without much comment from the media.
This is potentially tit for tat with Arsenal. “We do not get full allocation when we visit you, so why should we give you full allocation”.
The same happened against Tottenham in the League Cup.
Spurs never give Arsenal their full allocation, yet a lot of fuss was made when we failed to give them theirs.
One problem with the 9,000 tickets is they are then lower and upper tier, with club level and executive boxes filled with Arsenal fans in between.
In the past when away fans have got upper and lower tier, there have been stories of those Arsenal fans in the middle tier being spat on, coins thrown and urine poured over them. This is clearly unacceptable and Arsenal’s first priority is the protection of its own fans.
Back in 2014 Everton (a club with a reputation for throwing urine) only got 9%
The FA responded to complaints stating the 15% was “subject to the local Safety Advisory Group (SAG) agreeing to that ticket allocation number.
“The SAG is made up of services such as the local council, police, fire brigade and the club amongst others and issues the stadium’s health and safety certificate.
“In regards to the Arsenal v Everton Sixth Round tie at the Emirates on Saturday 8 March, the local SAG has chosen to allocate just under 9% to the Everton supporters.
“Although we appreciate the disappointment in the SAG not granting the full 15% allocation, it is nearly double the amount of tickets that Everton would have received for the Premier League fixture at the Emirates back in December.
“The FA does not have any input into the decision of the SAG and cannot change it as this is a matter of health and safety.”
So here is an idea. If you want to have 15%. Stop throwing coins, spitting on, or throwing urine at fans below you.
Today is Chelsea. Not much to say except we need 3 points.