Tag Archives: Sunderland

Too little, too late for The Arsenal

7 wins in the last 8 games mean that Arsenal are the Premier League form team. But it is simply too little, too late.

The best we can hope for on Sunday is that Liverpool slip up at home to Middlesbrough (they won’t) and that Arsenal sneak into that last top 4 place. But even if we do that, this seasons league campaign would have still simply been not good enough.

Unlike Spurs, Top 4 is not our everything. A club Arsenal’s size should be challenging for titles. Last season we finished 2nd, and it looked like we had shown progression. But this was false hope.

We actually have more points this season then we did last season. This shows that our finish of 2nd last year was not due to ourselves performing well, but more due to others around us not performing well.

Arsenal have stood still over the last 3 seasons when it comes to points totals:

2014/15 – 75 points
2015/16 – 71
2016/17 – 72-75

Our best league finish of a decade actually saw us with our least points total over the last 3 years.

Arsenal’s staleness actually go’s beyond the last 3 years.

2007/08 was the year we should have won the league. We were leading for much of the season. We ended up 3rd. It was the year of Eduardo’s injury. It was also the last time we breached 80 points (83 to be exact). Since then, we have been average, stood still, not progressed.

2008/09 – 72 points
2009/10 – 75
2010/11 – 68
2011/12 – 70
2012/13 – 73
2013/14 – 79
2014/15 – 75
2015/16 – 71
2016/17 – 72-75

We have averaged 73 points a season over the last 9 years. Every season has been the same. Promises of a big transfer window. A winter of dropped points. A rally at the end of the season to make 4th.

It is no surprise that yesterday so many fans stayed away.

Whilst there are hardly any positives to take out of our season, we can still finish the season on a high with the FA Cup Final now just 10 days away.

The 7 wins from 8 games might be meaningless when it comes to the league, but make it 8 from 9 and we should be going into the final high in confidence with momentum. And that it what is important.

Win the FA Cup, and we have had a better season than Spurs, Manchester City and Liverpool.

A unsuccessful league campaign does not mean we can not have a successful season.

Keenos

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Lowest Emirates Attendance Expected for Arsenal v Sunderland

I am not going tonight. Neither is many people that I know.

The game has been on sale for weeks. It went to Silvers, then to Reds, then to family and friends – allowing current members to buy an additional 4 tickets. And now it is on General Sale. This is the first time that I can ever remember tickets being available for an Arsenal game on general sale since the membership schemes came in place back in the mid 90s.

Due to the game going to general sale, the ticket exchange has also not opened. So not only are there a few thousand tickets still available, there will also be a few thousand season ticket holders who do not make mid-week games unable to sell on their ticket, therefore leaving their seat empty.

I am going to make a bold prediction. The stadium will be no more than 2/3’s full. That will be around 40,o000. Of course, the club will announce a 60,000 sell out as they announce tickets sold, not people through the gates. Laughable but actually every club do it.

The Sunderland end will also be half empty. With the game moved to mid-week, I imagine they have already only taken the lower allocation, leaving more tickets for Arsenal to sell.

Do Sunderland fans really want to make the 4 hour train journey (or 5 hour drive) down to London on a Tuesday when they are already relegated, to watch their side lose again? Probably not. The away end could be at its emptiest since Wigan had one man and his dog turn up a few years ago.

So why so are so few people turning up?

Unhappiness

The primary reason is it is people’s dissatisfaction with the state of the club at the moment.

I spoke a few weeks ago how I was mentally drained with Arsenal. How I was done with football for the season. Whilst I went to Stoke City away – and the Stoke game did remind me why I spend so much following the team over land and sea (it was a great drink up with some good people) – I am not going to Sunderland. I have paid for the ticket as part of my season ticket, but I am unconcerned with not going to the game.

I feel many other fans feel the same with me. They can not be bothered to go to a semi-meaningless game on a Tuesday night.

The poor performances this season, the managers arrogance surrounding his contract, the lack of passion shown by players, the overall poor management of the club, the embarrassing actions from the club, the manager, the players and the fans. I just can not be bothered.

This unhappiness with the club is why I am not going, why many season ticket holders are not going.

General apathy towards Arsenal.

Boycott

Alongside the general apathy at the club, a boycott has also been called by Arsenal pressure group No New Contract.

Pricing

The club have been greedy categorising the game as Cat B.

To limit the losses on us season ticket holders having larger refunds due to missing out on two cup games, the club made the decision to make Sunderland a Cat B game. It is usually Cat C. This means that the cheapest ticket is £36.50. That is a lot of money for a mid week semi-meaningless game.

I would imagine the majority of these cheapest tickets have already been sold. What is remaining is a lot of upper tier, expensive tickets, the majority of which cost in the region of £50. That is a hell of a lot of money for a semi-meaningless game on a Tuesday night.

The club invited fans to bring along their family and friends. If a father decided to bring his 2 sons (or a mother her 2 daughters, in this PC world we now live in), you would be looking to fork out nearly over £200 by the time you buy 3 tickets, pay for trains, a bit of food, etc. And all this on a school night for a semi-meaningless game.

Had the club have got the pricing right and made it Cat C, then tickets would have been as low as £26. The most expensive would have been £38.50. These would have sold out, and then dissatisfied season ticket holders could have put their ticket on the ticket exchange, which would have also sold out.

The club have messed up big time. In an attempt to limit the refunds for season ticket holders, they will now be embarrassed by having a game in front of a half empty stadium.

Scheduling

The game is semi-meaningless. We have a chance of a top 4, but not much else. It is a pointless game on a Tuesday night. With GCSE’s starting this week, university exams going on, and it being a school night, today was always going to be a hard sell for Arsenal.

Mid week games often have a lower attendance than games on a Saturday. I rarely go to a mid week games. I get up at 5.30am for work. To then go to a game and not get home until gone 11pm, to then still need to have dinner and a shower before bed means that on mid weeker, I do not get to sleep until midnight. That makes it a long day, and then 5 and a half hours later I am back up for work.

I do not even go to big mid-week games. This year I skipped Bayern Munich and PSG. I do not remember the last time I went to a Champions League game.

There are many fans like me. The chaps who sit next to me live in Basingstoke. They do not go to mid week games as the commute is too long for them with work the next day. Same for the chap in front of me who commutes to every game from Birmingham. Then you have the lad from Northampton who sits behind me.

These are not people who should be told to support their local team. They are all North London born season ticket holders who have moved out of the capital for work / family.

A game on a Tuesday or Wednesday means they will not go .They rely on selling their ticket on the Ticket Exchange. But with it not open, there seat, like mine, will remain empty tonight.

The club can not control the scheduling, but they should have reduced the ticket prices to Cat C when it was moved to attract more sales.

Fragile Membership

The club constantly bangs on about how many members it has. The number of gold, silver and bronze members is well over 100,000. Yet when it comes down to it, most of these memberships are unused.

I would actually like to see (and I am sure the club have these statistics) how many memberships have gone unused this season. It seems a lot of fans – especially those abroad – have silver and red memberships without any intention of going to a game. They just enjoy telling their friends in Stockholm, Dubai or Bangkok that they are a member of Arsenal Football Club.

Some may well have used their membership, perhaps been once in 10 years. But essentially their membership is as pointless as the millions of pounds left unspent on Oyster Cards by tourists who took their card home as a souvenir and have no interest in returning to London and using the balance.

An argument could be made that the club should not sell memberships to foreign fans, and if you membership go’s unused, it should be discontinued. But the membership is a revenue scheme.

I would bet that the club brings in between £2.5m – £5m from the renewal of Silver and red memberships. They do not care if the majority go unused as they already have the revenue for them.

A lot of members with cards who have no intention of going to a game. Just like a lot of fans on the season ticket waiting list have no intention of buying a season ticket.

This leaves the club with a fragile membership, and an even bigger reason why the club need to get pricing right.

Expected line up

Cech
Mustafi Gabriel Monreal
Bellerin Elneny Xhaka Gibbs
Ozil Ramsey
Welbeck

Match Odds: Arsenal 1/9 Draw 10/1 Sunderland 25/1
matchedbets.com tip of the game: Danny Welbeck to score 2 or more 3/1

Enjoy the game (if you are going)

Keenos

Ups and Downs – An Arsenal Away Fans Thoughts

As the season is nearing its end, my mind often turns to the bottom of the league table, and top of the Championship. Thoughts and conversations with pals revolve around who we want to go down, who we want to stay up.

As someone who go’s home and away, with an away scheme membership (away season ticket) I travel the length and depth of the country every week with my pals. No agendas. No BS. Just a good group of lads going to the football.

For us, relegation and promotion into and out of the Premier League is important. Who are we losing. We are we getting?

It is always sad to lose a London club. Since the £26 ticket prices, we save a lot of money with easy trips round the capital. Birmingham clubs are similar. Just a little over an hour on the train, cheap train tickets, Birmingham is always a cheap trip up north.

On the other hand, last season the ‘worst case scenario’ came true when Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull came up. All rank trip to Northern towns. I actually have not made any of them this season.

So who do I want to go up and down?

With regards to relegation, I am happy with it being as is, with the current bottom 3 disappearing.

I am bored of Sunderland now. Their constant battle against relegation year after year. If they were a horse, dog or fish they would be put down by now. Time to put them out of their misery.

The trip has improved recently with a new train from Kings Cross direct to Sunderland. But it is still a 4 hour trip, with no boozers the other end (unless you go via Newcastle). Sunderland station is in a run down part of the city (or perhaps the entire city is run down?). They will not be missed.

Also in the north-east we have Middlesbrough. Another dump. Whilst I will not be making the Monday night trip this season (thanks Sky!) I have done it before. It is another place that is not high on the list of places to visit in the UK.

Making up the north-east trio is Hull City Tigers. One of only 2 current Premier League grounds I have not yet visited (the other is Burnley). I have no plan to visit it. I went for a wedding in Hull 2 years ago. I do not plan to go back.

I would not shed a tear if all 3 went down.

Also in the relegation dog fight is Swansea.

Swansea is a decent away trip, if you are doing the night out. Full of Welsh slags. But if you are not doing a night out, it is a long old trip up their with Sunderland. Around 4 hours, their is usually delays, often engineering works.

In the last 3 years we have been re-rooted vie Gloucester, held just outside Swansea station for over an hour, and had to get a rail replacement bus service from Port Talbot. A good night out, but a tough old journey.

West Ham and above are probably fair enough ahead to not be dragged into it. Whilst the Hammers going down would be hilarious, going to the London Stadium is the easiest trip for me to do.

Leicester fall into the Birmingham category of being a nice easy, cheap train trip.

Sandwiched between are Burnley and Crystal Palace.

Palace have the London thing in their favour, although it would be nice to get rid of their embarrassing ultras. Burnley can also disappear off the face of the earth. A nasty little racist town.

Sunderland, Hull City Tiger, Middlesbrough, Burnley & Swansea. 3 of those 5 gone will make away days a little more enjoyable next season.

As for who comes up, it looks like Newcastle and Brighton are almost certain to have their Premier League status secured for next season.

Despite my hatred of the north-east , I actually do not mind Newcastle.

Whilst in terms of time the train journey is not too much different from Hull and Sunderland, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or a pub at the end of the train journey.

Newcastle has some decent boozers near the station. The ground is a short (but hilly) walk from the station. Plenty of options home (trains back to London every 20-30 minutes). It is a decent away trip. Add in that it is a decent night out too.

I am not so enthused about Brighton coming up.

We have done the trip down to the Sussex coast a couple of times in the FA Cup in recent years and both times, I was not too impressed.

The journey is not the issue, but I just do not like Brighton as a town. It just is not set up for football fans to turn up en masse and have a pint. We are looked at by locals as the scum of the earth. They do not want us in their establishments and seem like they can not wait for us to leave.

Add in that horrible little train to Falmer – Brighton are not actually based in Brighton – and a stadium which comes out of the identikit stadiums that sprung up in the late 00s / early 10s and all in all it is a trip I will not overly look forward too.

Everything could change, however, it we get scheduled to play them in August or September. Bit of summer sun and beers down on the beach.

It looks like a 5-way battle for the play-offs.

Huddersfield, Reading, Leeds, Fulham & Sheffield Wednesday.

Right off the bat, I do not want Reading.

Like Brighton, it is one of these grounds not built in the city or town it resides in. Instead it is build on an industrial estate which you have to get a bus too. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, not bothered about going back.

Sheffield Wednesday is another I would right off. After the League Cup defeat, I do not have great memories of the ground. It is falling apart. And is a pigs-ear to get to. Trains planes and automobiles come to mind as you have to get a combination of trains, trams, cabs and walking to get to the ground.

That leaves Fulham, Leeds and Huddersfield.

Despite having done Fulham plenty of times before, it is always an enjoyable trip.

Another London day out, easy to get too, plenty of decent boozers. I do not think I have ever had a bad away day to Fulham. Even when it was torrential rain. They would be my favourite.

Huddersfield and Leeds are two trips I have never done before so I honestly do not know what either would be like for an away trip.

It would be nice to have Leeds back in the Premier League. A proper club who were ripped apart by improper owners.

A nice easy journey into Leeds, with a bit of a horrid journey to the stadium ,it would be nice to have a proper club with proper fans back in the Premier League.

Huddersfield, whilst one many have not done in recent years, is probably bottom of the 3, purely because of the train journey. You have to get to Manchester Piccadilly then across to Huddersfield.

I think I will stick to my original thoughts and welcome Fulham back to the Premier League with welcome arms.

Despite everything that is going on at the club at the moment, I go to football for the day out. That involves the train, the beers, the mates, as well as the game.

When you travel up and down the country following your team, there is much more important things that make it a great day rather than just the football.

Keenos