Brum And Barca – We’re Getting To The Sharp End

Next up tomorrow is a trip to St Andrew’s to play Birmingham City. I don’t imagine Eduardo is looking forward to it much. The Brummies have more than their fair share of knuckle-draggers amongst their support. I imagine we call all “look forward” to tasteful ditties about the tackle that could have ended his career. Appealing to their better nature is probably futile. If the brains of such creatures were made of dynamite they wouldn’t blow their hats off if they exploded. I’ll do it anyway.
I love a giggle at the football. Hats off to the Hammers fans last weekend for their “We hate Tottenham more than you!” chant. Class! Singing about somebody getting their ankle and possibly their career destroyed is just sick. I’m no angel. Banter is part of football. Long may in continue. Like all things though there has to be a limit.
Much as I’m desperate to field the very best side we can against Barça, I’ll come back to my mantra about “one game at a time.” We should select the best available side tomorrow. We’re rapidly approaching the business end of the season where every game is vital. Big Bad Bill Gallas is unlikely to be available for either of the next two games. Thomas Vermaelen is suspended for tomorrow. The decision for the central defensive partnership appears to be two from three between Sol Campbell, Mikaël Silvestre and Alex Song. Playing Song in central defence would mean losing him from midfield. Silvestre has looked shaky in his last few appearances.
Faced with that choice last weekend after Vermaelen’s dismissal Arsčne elected to leave Silvestre on the bench and drop Song back to partner Sol Campbell. On balance I’d make the same decision tomorrow I think. To have any chance in the League I think we have to win all our remaining games I believe. Let’s worry about Barcelona after the final whistle tomorrow.
On the subject of Barcelona the available tickets for silver and red members flew out. A close mate of mine was amongst those to have lost out. He’s sick as the proverbial parrot. Those good people at Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association (AISA) have always pushed a “loyalty” based scheme for big-demand home games. It was always resisted by former managing director Keith Edelman. Edelman should always have our thanks for his role in getting the Grove built on time and on budget. He never really “got” football fans however. Neither was listening one of his skills. He belonged to the FIFO school of management (Fit In or F**k Off). His successor Ivan Gazidis has shown he’s far more inclined to listen. I suggest it’s worth floating this concept again.
The AISA committee member who looks after ticketing issues is Peter Budd.  Whilst I’m mentioning AISA if you’re not a member, it’ll only cost you a tenner (£15 for overseas Gooners or £5 for unwaged) or £100 for life to join.
AISA does excellent work for the Gooner Nation. Not one of them receives a penny for their efforts. Please support them by joining and, if you can, volunteering a few hours of your time to aid their work on behalf of us all.
I’m one of the lucky ones as a gold member season ticket holder. I’m guaranteed a seat for every game. There are tens of thousands of my fellow Gooners amongst the silver and red members who aren’t. With modern information technology it shouldn’t be beyond the club to organise a loyalty scheme similar to that employed for away match tickets. It must be galling for silver and red members who turn out for the less glamorous home fixtures to be shut out when the big games come around. It’s always going to be an exercise of getting a quart into a pint pot for such matches. We can and should make the system much fairer than it is at the moment though.
Memo to Ivan Gazidis. Let’s talk.
On a completely different subject work took me to a debate between Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe MP and his Liberal Democrat and Conservative shadows Don Foster MP and Hugh Robertson MP organised by BBC Radio 5 Live at Wembley FC (the Combined Counties League side, not the national stadium) yesterday. The debate was broadcast last night.
Gerry Sutcliffe provoked an explosion from an audience member when he said he opposed the choice to stand in safety in the top two football divisions in England & Wales by invoking the fire at Bradford City in 1985 where 56 supporters were killed. For anybody who knows anything – which should include the sports minister – that horrible tragedy had absolutely nothing to do with standing. The fire occurred in a seated stand. Sutcliffe then went on to say that he wouldn’t necessarily oppose safe standing areas in new grounds. This is new but completely illogical concession. The Alianz Arena in Munich, shared by Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich, was built without standing areas. Fans asked for them. The ground was retro-fitted with safe standing areas.
Here’s to three points tomorrow.
Keep the faith!

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