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The Cannon End of Season Awards 2010/11 31 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
14 comments

Hello, I’m back again and it’s that time of year for my end of season awards. I’d like to say these award winners were picked by you, the readers but I’m far too lazy for that, these are my picks of the season, let me know if you agree or disagree. It’s been one hell of a season with ups and many more downs but there are still imaginary awards to give out. My one and only rule is that it’s one award per player, some might’ve overlapped but lets give the others a chance… ay Jack.

 

Player of the Season

So my player of the year is young Jack Wilshere. What a season it’s been for him and only his first as a first team member. There was some competition for this prize, I’ve got down here Nasri, van Persie and Sagna as his rivals but no one can touch Jack in terms of consistent good performance through the season; Robin might’ve taken this one if he has remained fit but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

He was Arsenal.com’s player of the season too and he’s obviously become somewhat of a fan favourite. He is probably not our most technically gifted player but he is definitely up there – his ball control is incredible, he has great vision for a guy who has just got into this team and without a doubt he is our hardest worker. I’m a sucker for anyone who gives their all for Arsenal and that’s exactly why I love Jack so much. There is so much more promised to come from this guy, which makes it pretty exciting to be an Arsenal fan. I wouldn’t be surprised if I make him my 2011/12 player of the year again next season.

 

Young Player of the Season

Well if weren’t for him winning my main prize then obviously Jack Wilshere would be taking this one as well. Surprisingly there aren’t that many other condensers for young Gun of the season but my stand out man is Roy Szczesny. It’s been a great season for the young Pole as he has all but established himself as our no.1 thanks to Almunia’s poor performances and Fabianksi’s injury. Ever since returning from his loan at Brentford the fans have been calling for him to pull the gloves on for the first team and since being given his chance you can’t say he’s let us down.

He hasn’t been perfect, but he looks a solid ‘keeper capable of making great saves and I expect him to improve with games. Next season will be a vital one for him, next pre-season he will be expected to outperform fellow countryman Fabianski for the no.1 spot but I’m expecting Roy to be the next Polish sensation since Mr.Sheen.

 

Worst Player of the Season

I think this is a prize that many fans would wish we had a few replicas of to dish out but I have to pick just one. My shortlist includes Almunia – for his costly errors, Squillaci – for the same reasons, Denilson – for his lack of footballing ability, Rosicky – for his total drop in form and Eboue – for being a totally deluded idiot. Well I have to pick one and personally I’m going for Denilson. As far as I’m concerned I’ve totally had it and I’ll be gob-smacked it Wenger doesn’t cut his losses with this one in the summer. He had an okay season a couple of years ago but being dropped has done him no good whatsoever, he can’t even fucking pass a ball anymore and seeing him live, in action, fucking up everything he had to do at The Hawthorns this season was the final straw for me. Denilson, in the politest possible way, fuck off please.

 

Most Improved Player

Again, this is an award with Wilshere’s name all over it, or failing that Szczesny but thanks to my stupid ruling neither of them can have it. Instead it’s a chance for Djourou, Nasri or Fabianksi to take the imaginary stage and read out their imaginary speech. Samir Nasri had a great start to the season, he was our best player back then but unfortunately it was exactly that – back then. He went through that great run of form that faded out very quickly which was a big disappointment. I really hoped he’d get back to his best but it didn’t really happen so hopefully next year he can sort that out. I’ve been really impressed with Djourou this season actually, after missing the whole of the previous season through injury I didn’t think he’d prove so influential in the campaign just gone but it was great to see, more next year please Johan.

However my award for most improved player though goes to Lukasz Fabianksi. As his nickname, ‘Flappy’ suggest he hasn’t really been the best of ‘keepers we’ve had at the club, until this season. After Arsene decided enough was enough with Almunia he gave Fabianski the chance to step up and for a little while we all saw what the manager was talking about. He really was great; it was like we were seeing a completely different player. Unfortunately for him though, he injured his finger in a pre-match warm up and that was the last we saw of him. He’ll be back this summer though, eager to earn that place back.

 

Most Disappointing Player

My biggest disappointment has to be Thomas Vermaelen. It’s an odd choice for this award as his performances were not lacking – it was his attendance. I’ve picked him though because I believe his injury and resulting months of absence were a massive downfall in our season. It’s been a year of bad defending and maybe some of that might’ve been helped with Tom in the side. To say I’m looking forward to a full campaign from him next season is an understatement.

 

Best Summer Signing

The nominees for this award are Chamakh, Koscielny and Squillaci. I think we can rule out the latter there but you have to say that all in all the other two had decent debut seasons. Marouane kicked off his Arsenal career really well and got bags of goals in the opening few months but eventually he got a bit tired and that form died off but I was still impressed with his contribution and effort in the latter stages of the season. However for his all round performance it has to go to Laurent Koscielny. I know some Gooners aren’t his biggest fans but he has done remarkably well for his first season in the Premiership and despite a few silly mistakes he’s made some fantastic tackles and great headers. It’s a hard task to come to a new club, a new division and be expected to play nearly every game and play it well so he’s done really well when you consider the circumstances. I believe in Laurent and I think next season will be a much improved one on his part.

 

Un-Sung Hero

I was tempted to give this one to Chamakh because people started giving him a bit of stick towards the end of the season but it’s easy to forget his vital contribution at the start and also to not notice his commitment despite lack of goal towards the end. However this award is made for Bacary Sagna, he’s one of our best players but being in the position he is in he will never get the praise he deserves. He’s started to get a bit more appreciation to be honest and most people do notice the job he does but as a right back he’ll have to do something special to be player of the season. Just keep it up Bacary, you’re doing a great job.

 

Biggest Cunt of the Season

This is one of the new awards for this season and there were plenty of nominees. You’ve got your usual lot in there, Spurs, Chelsea, Stoke, Birmingham, Nani and the expression ‘Mental Strength’. However my winner of the ugliest award in football goes to the referee at the Nou Camp, Massimo Busacca for that red card awarded to van Persie. It was a total joke of a decision and I will never understand the rationale behind it. It completely ruined a great game and you never know what might’ve happened if we’d remained with 11 men. Massimove Cunt Busacca, you are a massive cunt.

 

Hero of the season

Not to be confused with the Un-Sung Hero award, this is almost the Sung Hero Award if you like; which goes to the man who was most heroic this season and stopped us from being ever shitererer. I’ve gone for Robin van Persie who went on an incredible goal scoring run since he returned back from his traditional yearly injury. He’s broken the record for consecutive goals scored away from home and has been our outright source of goals the second half of the season. He single-handedly kept this team in it at times and if it weren’t for him then we probably wouldn’t have even qualified for the Champions League. Keep it up Robin, just try bloody not get injured! With him fit for a full season I reckon he might get near those amazing goal rates of Thierry Henry.

 

Goal of the Season

For this award I personally like to weigh up the quality of the goal quite heavily with the importance of it. There have been some brilliant strikes this year but the one that springs most to mind for me is Arshavin vs. Barcelona (2-1). It was a brilliant counter-attacking move, the passing and vision in the build up was exquisite and the finish was so cool and so calculated. Most players in Arshavin’s position would’ve blasted it, probably high and wide but he curled it expertly low into the far corner but you have to credit Nasri with a great assist also. It was also an indescribable feeling seeing that goal in and to go 2-1 up on Barcelona. For these reasons it’s my goal of the season and I’m sure none of you will pass up the opportunity to watch it one more time:

 

Low Point of the Season

Unfortunately, I’ve got a long list of contenders for this one. There was some really awful results this season including the 3-2 vs. Spurs and the 4-4 vs. Newcastle. However from my long list the one that stands out the most is the Carling Cup Final defeat and the resulting collapse of our season. It is not a big trophy, we all know that but it was hyped up to be the ‘stepping stone to greater things’ and propel this side into the one we all know it’s capable of being. Obviously, that didn’t happen and it ended up being the ‘stepping in cow shit in your best shoes’ and totally destroyed our season. We won a grand total of two league games following the cup final loss and I think was the biggest factor in our title collapse.

The manner of defeat was just awful too, although we hadn’t played our very, very best we we’re looking like we would beat Birmingham in extra time then WHOOPS a big fat mix up between Szeczesny and Koscielny and we’ve allowed Martins to score into an empty net in the last minute. It was one of the most disappointing matches I’ve ever had the displeasure of attending and there’s nothing more you could really say at the time apart from a series of expletives.

 

Highlight of the Season

So it turns out the highlight of the season was that Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona home win. To beat the European champions was indescribable and I’m just glad I was lucky enough to be there. I know we didn’t win the tie as a whole but we have to take what positives we can from this season and to beat them was just brilliant. I hate Barcelona, with a passion and for us to get one over on those fucking cheating, Cesc-stealing, ridiculous diving, paella-eating wankers was brilliant. It showed just what we were capable of on our day and left us all hoping we could do it. In the end it didn’t happen but it’s still nice knowing we beat the eventual winners.

 

Word of the Season

Disappointing
[dis-uh-point-ing]
1. To fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of.
2. To defeat the fulfillment of (hopes, plans, etc.); thwart; frustrate.
3. To bring or cause disappointment.

And that’s pretty much what it has been like to be an Arsenal fan this season. Roll on the next one.

The Cannon is 5 today: A look back on the half decade 18 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
9 comments

Five years ago this very day, on a May afternoon back in 2006 in Borehamwood I sat down at the desk and signed up to a Blogger account and put my finger and thumb to my chin to think up a name for an Arsenal blog. Back then I thought every name was taken, what must it be like now trying to come up with a title! I think I was about two paragraphs into my first post when I decided to scrap the whole idea and turned off the computer. So with now no intention to write a blog, I suddenly came up with the name The Cannon and I thought I’d give it another crack, this time on WordPress. So I sat and wrote the very first blog and to be quite honest with you I never thought it’d last; however the very next day there was some big, big news and that was that Thierry Henry would be staying; and from there the blog continued. There are blogs out there that have been running for a lot longer than me but 5 years is a bit of a personal milestone so it’s only fair to give it a mention I think.

I just want to start by saying thank you to everyone that has visited the blog over the years, it sounds a bit soppy but without the readers there would be no blog, I mean there would be no point in doing it would there? So I really appreciate every hit I get and I love seeing feedback from all round the world. I never thought that the blog would grow as quickly as it did and it was that early burst of interest that kept me going.

It’s been a very busy year in my personal life but no so much on here because of that. There have been a couple of (only very slightly football related) mental breakdowns in the past year that have resulted in some periods of absence but I think people are used to that now. There was a bad blip from late last year where I posted only once in October and then not again until the beginning of this year, and I regret that. In my, ‘hibernation’ lets call it, I lost a great deal of my readership and I’ve been working ever since to try and resurrect the blog but I know it’s a long process. I can see this busy period in my working life coming to an end soon so hopefully it’s back on track for the foreseeable future.

So the blog being 5 today, means that 5 years and one day ago I was in Paris for the 2006 Champions League Final where a 10-man Arsenal lost late on against Barcelona. It was heartbreak for all Gooners but I still think it was just a fantastic occasion to be involved in and I had an amazing time travelling across the Channel to support the Arsenal. Winning the trophy that year not only would’ve arguably represented our greatest triumph as a football club but also would’ve meant a piece of silverware, something we haven’t picked up since the FA Cup a year prior to that.

I was at that game in Cardiff when Paul Scholes missed his penalty in the shoot-out and Patrick Vieira stepped up to score the winner from the spot with his last kick in an Arsenal shirt. I remember it clearly I was up in the top tier of the Millennium Stadium right next to the United fans; despite how well I can picture the scenes they still seem fucking ages ago. 6 years ago this month we last won a trophy, ouch. We’ve come pretty close in that time including two Carling Cup finals, one against Chelsea back in Cardiff and also this year’s final vs. Birmingham at Wembley. I was present at both of those finals too and this year should’ve really been the year that we turned the saying from ‘Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in six years’ to ‘Arsenal have only won the League Cup in six years’. A last minute calamity between Koscielny and Szczesny meant we gifted it to the Brummies and we continue in our search for a big silver thing.

We’ve been involved in a few title races in those 6 years too but our lack of one of those big silver things has dented our confidence. Every time it has been the same old story – promise so much but fall miserably at the end. This year in particular has been the most solid example of that. Only a month or two ago we were in a position where the destination of the title was actually in our hands, now you have Arsenal.com running stories headlined: Champions League – What if we finish 4th? It’s a sorry state of affairs that we’ve allowed it to happen but our form has been so, so terrible since that Carling Cup defeat that we’re now looking to finish not second, not third but fourth.

So what’s next? In 2011/12 are we going to just stroll out and do exactly the same thing again? Well, frankly I don’t think it will be that easy. Man City are going to strengthen like you wouldn’t believe, as will Chelsea to an extent I imagine, United will build upon this year’s triumph and Liverpool are looking to break back into the top four. It’s going to be a challenge not just to fight for the league title but also to remain in the top four. I think for these reasons there needs to be some serious improvements for next year otherwise things are going to go from bad to worse.

I’m not the one to tell you how we’re going to do that but transfers are a start; they are not the solution, but they will certainly help. Mentions this week of Scott Parker haven’t been totally dismissed by me, he might not be the quality of player you’d hope we’d bring in but if we had a few more players with his mentality we would be in a much stronger position. We need more men that are willing to give their absolute all on the pitch and fight for the team – for that reason I wouldn’t actually mind us putting a bid in for Parker. He could be a back up to Song that we so desperately need plus show one or two what it means to actually earn your money as a footballer.

It’s set to be a busy summer of ins and outs but I also hope Wenger is working on a strategy for the future. Something in his philosophy isn’t working and I hope he’s not blind to that. I have a feeling (or it could just be a hope) that he’s going to be a bit more ruthless in the future and that might be shown by him cutting his losses on some disappointments this summer but we’ll see.

It’s a worrying but very interesting future ahead of us, and I look forward to the next 5 years writing about it. Thanks for reading, as always.

Villa thoughts from the East Stand: the fans aren’t happy 17 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
13 comments

This is usually the part where I apologise for disappearing again and round up what I have missed. Well I’ll tell you where I’ve been, I’ve just come off the back of one of the busiest working weeks of my life, so busy that I didn’t have time to write a blog, didn’t have time to catch up on the news and didn’t even have time for the luxury of sleep. I could’ve written on Friday or Saturday to preview the Villa game but frankly I felt inept having not read a line of Arsenal news in the week prior and I was catching up on some much needed sleep! Plus i went to watch Bournemouth vs. Huddersfield on Saturday in the League One Play-Offs for a bit of a change of footballing scenery.

It’s not like me to have avoided Arsenal news for so long, I’m sure that you’re just the same spending every day on different blogs reading up the latest news, gossip and opinion. It was kind of weird not having that last week but I guess it was a bit convenient as it sort of comes at a time when Arsenal isn’t exactly all bliss and wonderful. Since we last spoke we’ve gone and lost to Stoke and Villa, just two more losses to add to the huge pile of disappointment this year.

I was at the game on Sunday and it was a rather strange atmosphere, it all kicked off with the protest march outside the ground before the match, which almost set the tone for the day. I was in the ground with about half an hour to go until kick off and the stadium was rather empty at this point. In fact by the time we had kicked off it still hadn’t filled up and that was the way it stayed. It was still about 80%-90% full but there were empty red seats scattered all round the ground which just goes to show unless there’s been an epic flu outbreak in the North London area then a great deal of fans have seen quite enough for one season.

Then of course we were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes and that never turned around so people were pretty grumpy, including myself. Then late in the second half came the usual announcement of the attendance, which they claimed was 60,023, which is an absolute joke. I’ve been to the ground enough times to know what 60,000+ looks like and that was not it on Sunday. That number denotes there being a packed-out stadium to the eye and that’s not what we had, it was definitely a 58,000-59,000 number yesterday. They’ve done this all season though; they announce the attendance as the number of tickets that got sold not the number of people that turn up. Why are they doing this? Are they scared to show that they’re losing support or are they just unaware of the definition of the word attendance? The number should represent the number of fans that attend the match, not including those that had a valid ticket for the game and didn’t bother going along.

Anyway it’s a silly thing to get caught up on but the announcement of this number sparked a large portion of the crowd to start the boos and jeers. You could hardly hear the announcer say, “Arsenal Football Club would like to thank you for your continued support…” for all the boos ringing around. This led on to chants of, “6%, you’re having a laugh!” And, “Spend some fucking money!” There were others that I couldn’t quite make out but there was definitely hostility being directed at the directors’ box and bench. I’ve since heard that you could tell Wenger picked up on these chants and looked like he felt quite uncomfortable by them. In one way I want to say ‘good’ but another part of me feels bad for him.

I can’t remember this well another time when I’ve seen such a majority of fans turn against the club like I’m seeing at the moment. The disappointment on the pitch combined with the price hike in the stands has left most fans bitterly angry. I have this strong feeling that we’re starting to become more like customers to the club than fans and sometimes that gets to me.

I’m not trying to say that I’m part of that percentage of fans that are actively campaigning against the club and I’m not one of the thousands that booed the team on Sunday but I’d say I’m in the large majority that feels like something isn’t quite right and I’m utterly disappointed. Unusually for the final home game of the season there were fans leaving with 10 minutes to go this weekend, any other game I’d just think it was normal but not this one. Then on the final whistle it seems the majority was heading for the exits and only a few stayed behind to watch the ‘lap of appreciation’. Given the opportunity, I have always stayed behind for this, I don’t know why I just quite like to see the players off one last time ahead of a boring summer but this time around after the final whistle I upped and left. I was pretty gutted about our performance and it typified the way we had failed this season and I just didn’t see any reason to hang around this time. You could say I was a bit depressed with the way everything had gone, I was genuinely upset walking up those stairs and although I had to think for a minute whether I wanted to stay or not I think I did the right thing.

I think this was the feeling that most felt however some did stay behind. Some stayed to applaud the players off as they came round and thanked the fans for their support however a staggering number seemed to stay behind simply to boo their team. I’ve seen videos and highlights from this lap and you can hear boos quite clearly through the applause. It’s a bit sad really I think, I mean as fans we have every right to show how we feel but for those people to go out of their way to boo the team was a bit wrong. I think what those people should’ve done what I did and head for the exits, I think the shock of the amount of empty seats for the lap would’ve hit home to the players and manager much stronger than a few boos. That’s just my opinion.

I’m not going to lie but earlier on Sunday I was thinking ‘this is our chance to wave goodbye to Cesc’ but I didn’t stay to bother. It’s sad thinking that I might not ever see him play again but oh well. His season is over, he wont be playing at Fulham either so we may have just seen the last of Cesc Fabregas in an Arsenal shirt. It’s going to be an interesting summer and he is just one of a few that could be going through the exit door at London Colney.

It’s set to be a busy, busy summer for Arsenal. In terms of transfers we desperately need to strengthen yet again and especially with the price rise fans are going to be angry if we don’t spend that extra money. I’m not quite sure who we might look to bring in yet, but there are a few names already being talked about for the exit. Fabregas, Nasri, Clichy, Bendtner, Arshavin, Rosicky, Gibbs, Denilson and maybe a couple others all have some probability of leaving this transfer window. Over the next few weeks Wenger will be having talks with some of these players about their futures and don’t be surprised if a few of those names are no longer with us come August. If there are to be departures I hope they are sorted out quickly though, I can’t be arsed to go through a whole summer of speculation and I the sooner they’re gone the sooner we can look to replace. All this talk is for another day and another blog post though.

It feels very much like the end of the season but we’ve got one more game to go away to Fulham. We’ve got pride to play for now and the small matter of automatic Champions League qualification which is now out of our hands.

Thanks for reading.

Stoke Preview: Just beat the bastards 8 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
7 comments

Those of you who read Friday’s blog will know that I’m pretty busy with work at the moment. Well I thought that I should mention as some kind of disclaimer that I haven’t been to sleep yet, I’ve been up all night working so if anything seems a little strange there’s your explanation. I’m pretty jealous of you people waking up this morning to this blog but I guess my lack of sleep if my own fault for putting things off for so long. Some things never change.

Anyway, enough of that and more Arsenal. The squad got the train up to Stoke yesterday and Robin van Persie tweeted this decent bit of news to us:

I can’t wait to see Tommy in action today. He might not start but it’s good to know that that achilles is finally sorted and he can concentrate on playing again. We could do with his fighting spirit and all round mentalness! However the focus today isn’t going to be on Thomas Vermaelen, it’s obviously all about Aaron Ramsey and Ryan Shawcross. Wenger has tried to play the story down but there’s no avoiding it really. Arsene has said that it will be good for Aaron to go play and even dropped his two favourite words in saying that the Wales captain is mentally strong.

I can only guess, but I would imagine Aaron is quite up for this one. I think he will be going out there to show that’s he’s back and that’s about it really. I’m not expecting him to lamp Shawcross in the chin or anything, although I would very much enjoy that. He seems a pretty calm and professional guy and I think he’ll just get on with it, do his job and play to the best he can.

As for Stoke though, they’re still very bitter about what Ramsey did to Shawcross. I mean how dare he put all that stress and unhappiness on poor Ryan and the mental trauma it inflicted on him must’ve been just awful. I’ve read some ridiculous stuff on Stoke forums this week, there are people out there fully willing to boo Aaron for whatever their reasons are and there’s even people going as far as advocating him breaking his leg again. I know not all Stoke fans are the same but I can pretty safely say they are a massive bunch of cunts.

Since Stoke joined the Premier League we has formed a little rivalry between the clubs. The managers, the fans, the players, the staff – everyone at Arsenal and Stoke hate each other. I’ve caught the bug and I hope we destroy them today. I loathe Stoke City and whatever misfortune they get is fully deserved in my opinion. It’s going to be a pretty heated game on and off the pitch this afternoon, I’m excited.

We’re without Fabregas, Diaby and Nasri plus I haven’t heard how Djourou and Clichy are doing either. I know Djourou travelled because there was pictures of him getting a massage up on twitter yesterday but I’m not sure on Clichy. It’s not going to be our best line up but it’s one that should be able to beat Stoke:

Szczesny
Sagna – Vermaelen – Koscielny – Gibbs
Song
Ramsey – Wilshere
Walcott – van Persie (c) – Arshavin

I’m not very confident about my guess of the team this week. Vermaelen and Gibbs there could easily be replaced with Djourou and Clichy depending on fitness. Also Walcott and Arshavin don’t strike me as the sort of players for this game either; Theo’s pace could be devastating against Stoke’s defence but I’m worried about the pairs ability to fight. We’ll see. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bendtner start in what could be one of his final games for the club.

However that midfield I am confident about. It’s the trio that faced United and did so well and I’m backing them to continue that form into today. They just worked perfectly, Song did the right thing and just hung back sorting everything out and making it hard for strikers to get through to our back four whilst Wilshere and Ramsey alternated in attacking runs and sitting back and it all worked like a well oiled machine.

I always have that niggling concern of will the players be up for it? Too many times we’ve dropped points from not turning up against less glamourous opposition and to be frank I’m fucking tired of it. I have a feeling that today we’ll be alright though, as I said the atmosphere will be pretty intense today and it’s a game that both teams just really want to beat the other. As in the winning and losing sense rather than the fighting sense…well hopefully.

I would love nothing more than to shut those fuckwit Stoke fans up by beating them today. Hopefully the players feel the same. I’m off back to work now but I’ll be tuning it at 2 o’clock this afternoon for what should be a tasty game.

Come on Aaron, come on Arsenal. Let’s do it.

News round up – United, Stoke, Ramsey and ticket prices 6 May, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
1 comment so far

Hello and welcome back after another traditional unexplained break by The Cannon. I have good reason though I promise, I’m in the final few weeks of my degree course and things are pretty hectic at the moment. Well they should’ve been hectic for a long while but as is usual with me I’ve put everything off to the last minute and I haven’t even had a minute to think about the blog never mind write on it. So I apologise to those of you left disappointed – I’m back, for now.

I’ve missed a fair bit in the time I’ve been gone. Firstly we beat Man united, which is always good. ‘Always’ is probably not the best choice of word seeing as it’s not very often we put one over on our Mancunian rivals. It’s a shame that we blew it against Sunderland, West Brom, Blackburn, Liverpool, Spurs and Bolton to make the match last weekend almost pointless but you have to try and enjoy beating United all the same. The result didn’t really make me think what might’ve been though, it’s obvious how much this team feels the pressure and with the pressure well and truly off we were able to come up with a result. As much as I thought we were going to lose I wasn’t surprised that we won under the circumstances. That doesn’t make any sense does it? I know what I mean anyway.

So despite that result we still look out of the title race unfortunately. Wenger said today that we need Chelsea to win on Sunday but I think he knows deep down we’ve blown it already. Chelsea kick off at Old Trafford immediately after our game at Stoke and a second loss on the bounce for United would allow Chelsea level on points with them. It’s quite remarkable that they’ve got into a position for that to happen, I guess you have to take your hat off to Chelsea for their recent form; it’s where we have failed. If we were to win at Stoke then a Chelsea win would put up three points behind both of them. A great position it sounds but with just two games to go I wouldn’t get too excited and go online betting on Arsenal to be Champions. Plus there’s the whole if we win at Stoke too…

The Britannia has been a tricky ground for us in recent years but we won there last season and I’m hoping we can do it again. We’ll be without Fabregas, Diaby and Nasri, however we managed to beat Man United without most of them so surely we can do Stoke. Also Djourou and Clichy are doubts but Vermaelen could return to the squad. It’ll be great to see Thomas again if he does make it; it’s been far, far too long. Wenger admits that he would’ve tried to bring in a replacement if he knew he was going to be still out which is kind of frustrating to hear because I never got the impression the manager was left so out of the loop with the situation as much as the fans were. It’s decisions like that which may have ultimately cost us silverware this season but there’s no point in getting hung up on it now I guess…

So with Fabregas out Ramsey will continue in his place and there is a fair bit of hype about his return to Stoke 15 months after that terrible leg break. Arsene has tried to play it down but there is obviously going to be something said about it. I hope that it’s all positive though, I hope Aaron uses it as motivation to have a good game and show not only everyone else but himself that he has fully rehabilitated and found his form again. I read some hilarious but shocking stuff on a Stoke City forum today, they’re still so bitter about what mean old Aaron did to innocent little Ryan Shawcross it’s unbelievable. I can’t actually comprehend that they’re discussing booing him for what he did. Actually maybe I can, how dare he break his leg at their ground?! It’s a joke.

I guess we’ll see if there’s any drama on Sunday but I think Ramsey is professional enough just to treat it as another game and hopefully, like I said, if anything he uses it as motivation to have another good game on the back of last weekend.

Moving on and there’s been a lot of talk about the rise in ticket prices announced this week. There’s a 6.5% rise on tickets for next season which doesn’t sound like much but when it comes to renewing season tickets we’re talking about an extra few hundred quid. They’re saying that the rise is in line with inflation but it’s not like anyone is getting a pay-rise in line with inflation or that what goes on, on the pitch has improved considerably. Had we won something this season then it might’ve been slightly justified but it’s all come a bit out of the blue really and it’s a decision which will price many fans out of seeing their club.

It’s not just that though, Red and Silver Memberships have gone up in price considerably too. Red has gone up to £31 and Silver up to an astonishing £49. I think that it’s absolutely ridiculous that they charge that much money for the simple privilege of being able to buy tickets. It’s a joke really. So that’s a 6.5% rise in ticket prices but a 25% rise in Junior Gunners, 50% for Silver and 55% for Red. They’ve kept that one quiet haven’t they?

It’s frustrating because as Arsenal fans we have no choice. It’s not like we’re just going to all jump ship because it’s got too expensive. We are (well most of us are) Arsenal fans customers for life so we’re suckered into this. They can charge us what they like and we’ll have no choice but to pay it if we want to see our team. I will reluctantly pay it, most of us will but it’s sad that some people will have to give up going to see Arsenal because they can no longer afford the cost. I know there are reasons for the rise but it’s harsh on fans to get the money from them when there’s been all this talk recently of millions of pounds exchanging hands for shares and sponsorship deals. In the past year or two we’ve given out a lot of new contracts and along with other expenses the money has to come from somewhere and unfortunately it’s us.

I’m going to leave that discussion there because there’s not much we can do about it and also this blog is getting pretty long. There may be protests etc but at the end of the day the rise has been put in place and they’re not going to change it now. We’ll just have to cut the costs elsewhere by not buying a half time pie, not buying the shirt and not buying the programme (which is going up to £3.50 a pop I hear). But knowing me I’ll end up buying all three of those things anyway…

Talking of the new shirt, just quickly before I go I got an email from Nike with some photos and videos that you might like to see. The photos you’ve probably seen/I can’t be arsed to upload them all but I’ve uploaded the video to youtube for ya.

Okay thanks for reading, I’ll speak to you soon.

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