Good morning lads and ladies… wait… do any women read this blog? I mean, beside my partner who religiously reads the blog because she loves me. Anyone?
Anyway, big match weekend here on the blog. First, the match is being played on Fox Soccer Channel which means that I get to watch the match live here at home, in my skivvy’s. That, in turn, means that you all get to enjoy me liveblogging the match, in my skivvy’s. Then we’ll end the weekend on Sunday with an orgiastic Good, Bad, and Ugly. It will be the Full American this weekend, folks, indulge yourselves!
Ahead of the match our boy Diaby is injured again. I hate to say it, but Arsenal need him healthy, the contrast between Diaby and Song as far as attacking is concerned is very stark indeed and with Fulham pulling in to Emirates and backing the bus in front of goal this evening we need all the attack we can muster.
The good news on the attack front is that Walcott will start full training on Monday, Eduardo is expected to be back for the Burnley match next weekend and perhaps Adebayor the next week for Roma. None of which helps against Fulham.
I do expect Arsaviour to start tomorrow which should give the team a lot more creativity and flair going forward. Quite where he will start is still up in the air, but if I had to guess I’d say on the right, Nasri on the left, and the Song and Denilson pairing in the middle. Personally, I’d rather Arsenal play with the 4-2-3-1 that they worked to great effect against Roma which would mean van Persie up top, Bendtner out right, Arsaviour in the middle, and Nasri on the left. Then at 60 minutes, take off Arsaviour, bring on Vela out left, move Nasri to the middle, and if we’re up a goal, put The Pass Master in on the right.
Now that I’ve said it, Wenger will do none of the above and probably put The Pass Master in from the start and bring Bishcoff off the bench or something. Who knows…
All I know is that I don’t want to sit here and liveblog the same kind of stultifying event I saw last weekend at the Emirates.
Speaking of stultifying, for Fulham’s part, a 0-0 draw is exactly what they are looking for, after all, they have only scored three (3, tres, troi, 三) away goals this season.
THREE AWAY GOALS ALL SEASON.
That little nugget makes Fulham the absolute most defensive away team I can ever remember — even Derby scored 8 away goals last year and that wasn’t because they were playing defensively it’s because they sucked eggs.
So, if you all thought we had a hard time breaking down Sunderland, you’re in for a real “treat” as you get to watch the most anti-football of all anti-football squads.
Maybe it’s the cold medicine but my head hurts just thinking about how 4th place rests on overcoming this mountain of a team, with their mountain of a center half (Brede Hangelaand), and here we are relying on our little tiny corpulent Ruskie. Ohhh…. 1-0 to the Arsenal would be a great result.
While I’m on the topic of fourth place and really the importance of this match, yesterday my Antipodean reader asked how I think the team might not be profitable when Gazidis is assuring fans that Arsenal don’t need Champions League football.
There are several things that lead me to this conclusion. First, if you look at the 2008 full season financials, the amount of profits that Arsenal socked away for that year is just a little over £6m more than their earnings from the Champions League campaign. Granted, that number is after tax, of which they will no doubt pay less since they earned less and whatnot, but the point remains: Champions League qualification is worth a lot of money, roughly £15m
Now, take a look at this table. Each team’s earnings from live broadcasts, Europe, and their cup runs is detailed. If you remember, last year Everton finished 5th and Villa finished 6th. Notice that difference between Arsenal’s earnings and those two teams: £19m between 4th and 5th place and £22m between 4th and 6th place. The higher you finish in the Premier League, the more exciting your team, the more money you make from television, Europe, and cup runs.
Then there’s gate receipts. With turnover for home games at over £3m per match and Arsenal playing 6 home matches in last year’s CL run, plus some match revenue sharing for some away matches, we could conservatively put that number at £18m for the Champions League run.
Thus, in the worst case scenario, a 6th place finish (we are closer to 6th place than 4th), just in match day, prize money, and television revenues Arsenal will lose nearly £40m. Which is exactly what Arsenal’s before tax profitability was last year.
If you subtract an inevitable decline in shirt sales, ticket sales, and other concessions that would follow a 6th place finish and the concomitant decline in supporters I think you can see that losing out on 4th place would be a dire situation. That means that either Gazidis is bat-shit nuts, has some special knowledge that the club hasn’t released, or is bullshitting the supporters. I don’t know which, but if I had to guess it would be the last option.
I’ll admit that my numbers might be a bit off, I’m just going by the data that I’m given. But the importance of 4th place cannot be emphasized enough. The captain is gunning for it, van Persie is supposedly holding out on a new deal because we might not make 4th place, and Martin O’Neil is willing to shit on Villa supporters who paid nearly £1000 each to travel to Moscow to secure it. It’s worth a lot of money, Villa are desperate (to the tune of £90m in debt) to secure it, and this is the week that Arsenal need to dig in and secure it.
In little over a fortnight, we’ll know if Arsenal have the goods. Teams are going to play “anti-football” and no team will do that better than Fulham tomorrow. So, while every match is crucial, this match is crucial-er and they need a positive start, or all of the work that Wenger has done over the last ten years might be undone in this one.
With that said, I’ll see you all here tomorrow at 7am for the liveblog. Personally, I’m hoping for a miracle from Arsaviour.
Diaby is fit for the match. See how all my negativity paid off?