West Ham Preview, Tickets & FFP

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As he drives into work this morning, Arsène will hopefully have taken notice of sage advice imparted from his battered copy of K-Tel’s Disco Fever for Billy Ocean was indeed a wise man and Red Light (Spells Danger). Maybe if it had been about red zones, he would have done although I am not too sure that the single would have been so successful with that alternative title. It probably would have; I am sure that somewhere lurks a hit which was in fact just a reading of the phone directory with a disco beat as a backdrop. We used to buy any old rubbish in those days, it’s the only way something as awful as Convoy GB could have hit the top of the charts.

The FA Cup final against Hull has brought Arsenal out fighting, in a civilised way of course. Ivan Gazidis was rightly critical of the number of tickets received and with last year’s increased allocation to Manchester City, there is still the opportunity that more than the original 25k allocation will be available. With 40% of the crowd supporting neither side, the FA has got the sums horribly wrong. It might be the FA’s blue riband event but it is not a celebration of the game, a festival of football. It is a major domestic trophy, one that has a dulled sheen compared to yesteryear and the way to bring that back, is involving more genuine supporters. I know that there are many people who sacrifice time without reward at the grass-roots – we have all come across them – but the FA could recognise their efforts in other ways; how about giving them a set number of England tickets each year, God knows the crowds for those matches need boosting. As for the corporate crowd, why 17,000? That is nearly 20% of the capacity of the stadium! The FA Cup final, like any other cup final, is about the supporters of the clubs involved, not anyone else. The problem of inadequate ticket allocations is nothing new, it existed when the crumbling terraces stood beneath the twin towers. The failure of the FA to tackle the problem remains the same as well as football remains a hostage to its fortune.

Those fortunes may be increased if reports in the Daily Telegraph are even vaguely on the right track. UEFAs FFP regulations are about to bite the transgressors where it hurts. If a toothless mouth can hurt when it bites; I can’t remember if it does, granny hasn’t done that for a few years now. Manchester City and PSG are, it seems, included in 20 clubs who have breached the €45m losses regulations over the rolling cycle. The sanction of banning clubs from the Champions League is not likely to happen with fines or transfer window bans issued. The punishment which will make the sit up and take notice of the regulations, which will make other clubs sit up and take notice of the regulations, is not an option at the moment. Compliance, it seems, wants comes through acquiescence not confrontation. The French champions believe their sponsorship deal that makes them profitable, is all above-board. City probably the same; if they disagree, the option of appealing to the CAS exists and will most likely be taken.

And therein is UEFAs problem. Whilst Arsenal, Everton and others can complain that the punishment is too lenient, none will; it would be breaking ranks within the English game and the cosy cartel at the top shattered. Perhaps that is what is needed, a bout of righteous indignation from one of the Premier League but the problem with that is not the action but the fallout afterwards. It would be no surprise if there isn’t a regulation in the handbook which prevents member clubs from taking such an action. The presumption of guilt has, by the way, come from the newspaper. To fail these rules takes some doing given the vagueness of the regulations and if City can’t show that they are heading toward compliance, then more fool them.

But let’s be honest, fining a club or banning them from a transfer window, isn’t going to bring about any change in mentality, it will just make events cyclical: a couple of seasons of making the right moves financially, big transfer spend followed by heavy losses incurred, fine and transfer ban ensues, only for the cycle to begin again. If FFP is to stick, banning clubs from the Champions League is the answer but it won’t happen, not because of sponsorship revenues either – well, had it been Barcelona, United or Real in the dock, perhaps but not City and PSG. UEFA quelled the clubs ambitions by bringing them ‘in-house’ but it doesn’t change attitudes. The formation of a European Super League haunts every decision. At the moment, it would be under UEFAs auspices but annoy enough clubs – or the right (wrong) clubs – and the charade of the football family will crumble.

Thankfully the business of football switches to its proper place tonight; the pitch. It’s a must-win game in a season of must-win games and tests. Everton have as much of a home banker as they could wish for tomorrow night so any ascendency to fourth place by Arsenal might be short-lived. As much as three points serves that purpose, it also applies pressure to Everton who face Manchester United this weekend. They may falter, they may not but to expect them to do so in the way Tottenham have done in the past couple of seasons is foolhardy. The team which has collapsing form is Arsenal and they need to rectify that with victory this evening.

His roll call might not have been too informative yesterday – a lot of ifs, buts and maybes about fitness – but he left no illusion about the importance of finishing fourth,

For many years I was sitting here and had to convince you that it was important that we were in the top four. Now it is in a reverse position, you say to me: ‘You realise how important it is for us. It is vital. It is vital for the young players as well. You learn more by playing against Bayern or Barcelona or Real Madrid than if you play in the Europa League. You don’t go backwards but you want to play with the top teams. It’s vital to me to do it. I want this club to play in the top level competition. For that you want to be in the Champions League.

There is a whole post in its own right about whether we learn anything from playing the likes of Barcelona or Bayern, there is nothing tangible upon which we can hang our hats. I wonder if Arsène is looking at the two the wrong way round, perhaps an analogy with possession of the ball; sometimes you have to go backwards to move forwards? As it is, he may dodge that bullet if Arsenal take maximum points from their remaining games, something of a tall order for a team that has taken two from the last twelve.

And yet, strangely, I expect them to do well tonight, to win comfortably even if the scoreline won’t necessarily reflect that. Let’s not build West Ham up too much and similarly overplay our problems. There is a reason The ‘Appy ‘Ammers are sitting below mid-table; they have taken 8 points from a possible 45 against teams in the top ten and none in the last four matches against those teams. Yes, they drew at Chelsea and beat Tottenham but they were so long ago as to be irrelevant. It’s a bit like us referring to beating Liverpool in the league and FA Cups as  some sort of form guide; they got us to where we are now but frankly the performance levels were a million miles away from those we have seen recently.

Saturday’s win, despite being on penalties, is a win and confidence boosting. The fall-out is a lack of recovery time and whilst the club is fighting the fans corner with the FA, they didn’t do much to help the players with the fixture schedule. Laurent Koscielny’s return to training might offer Per Mertesacker a well-earned rest but if Mikel Arteta doesn’t play, Thomas Vermaelen may need to play the defensive midfield role alongside Kim Kallström; surely Aaron Ramsey cannot play tonight? Such is the bare bones nature of the squad, Abou Diaby might yet make an appearance. No disrespect to him or his abilities but Ramsey is vital to the run-in and should not be risked or play Russian roulette with his fitness.

The best we might hope for in terms of the starting line-up is not too bad, Arsène has to apply the handbrake to his own predilection toward being bullish regarding the players fitness:

Szczesny; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Kallström, Rosicky; Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud

If Rosicky does not make it, Gnabry on the right is an option with Cazorla playing centrally. It might even tempt the manager into using the more orthodox 4-4-2 with Cazorla on the left. That certainly would meet West Ham’s physicality in midfield, a stereotypical aspect of all Sam Allardyce’s teams. It will be a battle, for despite his pleasantries, the West Ham manager would enjoy nothing more than walking away with three points that wrecked Arsenal’s Premier League ambitions.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

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377 thoughts on “West Ham Preview, Tickets & FFP

  1. I don’t know runebraker, what does happen when you shoot Giroud?

    Aren’t we lucky west aam are already on the beach. They have been terrible.

  2. after a shitty first 10 mins of the second we now look full of beans– hassling shooting actually looking like we care,
    still need a third goal- i cant shake aware the feeling we are one silly mistake to an equaliser

  3. Duke- goals happens and are more likely to happen if Giroud shoots instead of trying to be cute playing un peu de flick a gauche peutetre

  4. @Jonny

    I know, that was more the Keeper not controlling his box but I’m trying to find positives from Giroud’s performance instead of just killing him.

  5. Just saw the replay, absolutely great first touch and brilliant right footed goal by Giroud. Even a blind pig gets lucky and finds an acorn if he sniffs around long enough. That said, he is the only legitimate option we have to start at CF for the rest of the season and he needs to score a couple more in the last 5 games

  6. moe i agree carzola today has been super bunny, i like that even when he wasnt finding his game he hasnt stopped fighting

  7. I will tell you, Kallstrom has impressed thus far. He is literally chasing everything down and is even a willing runner in the attack.

  8. @Jonny

    Completely agree. I mean he could have put on Ox.

    Honestly this is the exact reason why I didn’t even want Ramsey on the bench because I knew Arsene just couldn’t resist putting Ramsey on.

  9. Kallstrom is battling in the midfield and is all over the place. I would actually take off Arteta or Kallstrom(only because he is on a yellow) BUT not Podolski.

  10. PODOLSKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    He is a fucking finisher, put him in the box in dangerous positions and Podolski will finish!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I called it, Podolski a brace!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. vintage poldi no chance for the goalie
    but he didnt celebrate again
    I am getting worried now lime

  12. Arsene I hope your fucking paying attention. Let Podolski play and stop forcing him to track back!

    Podolski said he wasn’t happy about being subbed off, he backed up his talk.

    He did celebrate that time and pointed straight to the fans.

  13. Ramsey is fucking quality.

    Looks head and shoulders better than anybody on the pitch.

    Except Cazorla maybe.

    He got an assist by the way.

  14. @bill

    Podolski has scored over the last 2 months!

    @Moe

    I think at this point he really is ONLY playing for the fans and his teammates which is a shame because he is the one player that has always seemed to keep the mood light not to mention his continued passion for not only the fans but the club as a whole is tremendous.

    I could bet that any other manager would take Podolski and say both outloud and tactically, you are one of the most clinical strikers in Europe and I’m going to put you into positions where you can attack and score goals.

  15. @Moe

    Imagine if Arsene could be tactically good enough to put Podolski in dangerous positions instead of forcing him to track back, got the best out of Santi and Ozil and kept Ramsey fit instead of running him into the ground. I think that we would be sooooo much better of a team.

  16. Isn’t it great when a player talks about being under-utilized and under valued and then going out and showing the manager exactly what he can do!

    Santi has been brilliant today. Jenks comes on for him.

  17. C

    Yep. The lack of rotation or tactical awareness from our manage r is astonishing.

    But I have to expect that Arsene would rather overplay his players than rotate.

  18. @Moe

    Completely agree! Which is a shame honestly because we have the depth and some quality to rotate especially in midfield.

    We could really have some depth if the manager would bring some players in but that is neither here nor there

  19. Good rally second half, thought football was much better and a higher pace! Note to players and Arsene, that’s how to win games…

    Get 4th, get the FA cup and get a new manager and have Wenger on the board, give him a statue…KEEP PODOLSKI!! Bring in Simeone and let him usher in a new era

  20. fuck me, Giroud scores and still people bitch. I really hope the lad goes.

    Arsenal look a better side with Ramsey in it. His box to box energy changes our side. Thought Tv5 had a solid game especially with little protection in front of him, his two interventions in the first half kept us in it.

    @Moe

    Ramsey is indeed quality, the kind of quality this side needs. We lack any zeal with him on there and yet bringing him in and having a runner willing to go beyond the CF makes one hell of a difference to the shape and nature of this side.

  21. For me, i think Some things are beyond what can be immediately seen… Arsenal responded well to going behind for a change instead of letting heads drop and further conceding in quick succession… I guess west ham does not have the quality others we have gone behind to had?

    All of you telling AW how and when to play Poldi… he bought him you know… Its like he inherited him from the previous manager and is barely tolerating him… There has been games when Poldi has been on the pitch and not scored… One or two others he has come in as a sub and scored… Allow the manager be the judge; i dont think it is for any sinister reason. Every player including the Messi’s of this would would rather play on even through injury than be substituted so its not exactly a rocket science level revelation that he is not happy being subbed… He is a professional though and gets on with it and it has worked well tonight..

    Really glad cos this win was crucially needed and the margin of it too especially after conceding first can only be good for confidence and goal diff. of course. LOL. anyone think the toned down celebration may actually be in response to the excessive and unfair criticism of Arsenal celebrations on Saturday?

    More than anything, Ramsey is back and the team is better balanced again… he has been missed!!!

  22. C

    Great work today. We started slowly but have looked much better the last 60-70 minutes despite playing 120 minutes of football only 3 days earlier? In theory we should have been more knackered then almost any game of the season, yet we played our best game in quite some time. Before today Giroud had not scored in 6 PL games and Podolski had scored 1 goal in his last 12 PL appearances. Where has this arsenal been the last 2-3 months. I don’t think the issue has been Arsene’s tactics but the issue is in Arsene’s and the players heads. Somehow a fight for 4th place is not scary to them and the tired legs somehow regain their energy.

  23. We needed our players to step up and Podolski, Santi and Kallstrom dragged us until the rest decided to play.

    Podolski and Santi were brilliant, even when things were coming off for them they fought and pressed to get the ball back and did.

    Kallstrom battled and tackled and brought energy to a team that sorely lacked it. He was also a more than willing runner in the attack.

  24. miami its not bitchin re giroud- today encapsulates the frustration fans express
    he was really poor in the first half and it really affected how we played, he couldnt hold his position kept dropping deep, not holding the ball effectively, half heartened attempts at goal
    then he goes and does that- scores a truly world class goal, and he is back in the game, we are back in the game
    but boy would have made life easier for everyone if he had turned up first 60 mins of the game

  25. MA

    Isn’t it abit worrying that a single player can elevate the quality of play by that much? What does that say about the rest of our players?

    But Ramsey is just so good to watch.

  26. @MA

    The thing with Giroud us that from what iv read of people, yea he scored but his peformance left you still frustrated especially with his blown chance.

  27. We needed that…even if WHU were dreadful.

    Nice to see Podolski getting more game time. That left peg eh ?

    Considering the efforts of subduing Wigan for 2 two hours (ahem) just three days ago , I thought there were impressive efforts by the more experienced members of the side. Plus KK did well.

    Hopefully Giroud`s goal will mean the end of his sticky patch (pnarrrr) – & what a beaut it was !

  28. @Bill

    Lets remeber that Podolski didn’t start until the 2nd leg against Bayern so those stats are a bit unfair. The thing though is this Arsenal has been missing because our attack has been shit. Arteta and Flamini aren’t the same and you even saw the difference today that Kallstrom made today in his workrate and willingness to be a runner in attack not to mention his range of passing. Santi today was the Santi that we all know and love, the ball was played more directly and to Podolski in dangerous positions. We just literally played better and seemed mote willing to be more direct and play a bit faster instead of playing slowly and I do think that its tactics to go along with the players.

  29. Some top quality moments to savour- not bothered about the dross ones we have pontificated plenty on those – I’ll take the win right now!

  30. @C

    I started a response and then I stopped. I get people want to blame some one, so Giroud is the reason for our demise from the heights of 1st place. So be it, when he is gone it’ll be someone else targeted, nature of the game. Gervinho was cast in that mold, like him I hope Giroud is off and he blossoms some where else.

  31. We must build on this and with Ozil coming back and Ramsey coming back, we CAN’T go back to 5 midfielders and Giroud. We have the players and favorable schedule to get 4th and the FA Cup so time to get it done.

    But I still want a new manager next season.

  32. @C

    Santi in the first half often held the ball to much and over elaborated the play. Kallstorm was also responsible for a number of heavily wayward passes and got caught in possession 4 times. It wasn’t all gloss.

    Tv5 was my MoTM.

  33. C

    That’s the whole point, we just played better today. It had nothing to do with Arsene’s tactics or pace or any other those things we talk about all the time. We had the least possible pace of any team we could have had on the pitch and we had just played 120 minutes 3 days ago and we had fewer players available then almost any game we had played this entire season, yet we looked better then we have in 2-3 months. Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla are the same players we have seen during that time but today was one of those games where the spirit moved us. Fighting for 4th seems to do that to us.

  34. @MA

    I can agree with that for the most part. The thing is though with Giroud is that his performances with the whole team has suffered. I also think though that his affair played a major part in it. It also doesn’t help that Ozil’s style is best suited to a striker that has pace and movement not to mention a clinical striker. I don’t dislike Giroud I just don’t think he is the striker we need or the type of striker that we are accustomed too and fits our style and play when we are at our best.

  35. @MA

    Didn’t say it was all gloss and I have said that about our 1st half. It was absolute shit, but the thing that I saw and I could be reaching, was that when Kallstrom, Santi and Mozart did lose the ball, instead of walking or botching to the ref like we have seen, they went and tried to immediately press and get the ball back.

    Verm was good but he also go caught of position for the goal. I do think he played better.

  36. @poodle

    Happy with the players, yes I am. Opinion still hasn’t changed, Arsene’s time has come and pass but he will always be recognized for everything he did for this club.

  37. Poodle,

    isn’t it nice to play when the other team don’t turn up, west aam were fukin shite…I’d say it helped no end in making us look good….hopefully the next 5 teams don’t turn up and then it could be a good season….saying that though Ramsey back I think some of em could turn up if they like.

  38. What Paulie said.

    Giroud shouldn’t be blamed for Arsenal woes. He should be blamed for that fucking terrible haircut though.

    Ever since his dalliance made the tabloids, he’s annoyed me no end, That goal he scored was sublime though. So fair dues. He was never going to be good enough to be the top striker at this level, which all things considered, his hardly fault.

    It’s sad to see what we’ve missed in Ramsey 🙁

    Probably not the time to be banging on about Arsene’s future again (suffice to say i agree with MA). Ozil back soon, looking at the respective fixtures, think we’ll pip Everton to 4th. Let’s face it, we have plenty of experience of fighting for a CL place, which can’t hurt either.

  39. My own fault- I was blog-browsing waiting for ‘t kettle, one site’s comments on a current posting were positively nasty.
    Time for bed said…..
    Wishing you all a good night!

  40. Poodle

    When we win, we are happy. When we lose, we are sad.

    But amidst all that has been a dreadful collapse of epic porpotions. And a manager whose tactical ineptitude or philosophical stubbornness have cost us dearly. He needs to go, I love the guy but he is stubborn beyond belief.

  41. Poodle,

    Moreover you know how it goes now, we know the script , play good when opposing teams allow or don’t turn up or are not good enough then when we come up against quality or teams with determination we inevitably struggle to impose our game . Nothing new tonight.

  42. And let’s hope hole city have one pie on wembley at the weekend and our scramble to the promised land can gain even more momentum.

  43. we needed that
    first half was shite..
    second half we controlled a shite team

    its amazing how we can beat a team with all the injuries we have..the injuries have been overplayed by some folk, tonight showed that…for sure they arent welcome but they are no excuse for the amount of points weve dropped and some of the scorelines weve been twatted by..

    sick of all this 4th place v fa cup tripe the media are banging on about as well..beginning to sound like the divas..

    simple innit…do both..

    good goals from podolski..great goal by giroud..hes still got alot of work to do to win me back..a great goal and abit of badge kissing doesnt get him out of the bad books im afraid..5 more goals and i’ll think about it..

    liked our back 4 tonight as well…it looked solid with no wonderers…goal conceeded was kalldashians fault for losing his man..

  44. Duke – yer not wrong – my flatmate was totally appalled by West Ham. They were just terrible.

    Still that aside – fourth should now be ours. 100%

  45. the difference between this game and previous games is we had someone in the box at the right time ready to twat it..

    take nothing away from girouds goal tonight but his first half miss and his inability to connect to pods cross has been seen all to often in recent months..hes been shite and weve suffered…

    whereas you know its a goal as soon as podolski swings his left peg back and tonight he was in the box twice the ball came to him twice and you know the rest..otherwise it could have been more points dropped

  46. Yeah, what’s with Olivier’s haircut , Harry ?

    It looks like there was a fire drill at his barbers.

  47. After 120mins last time out, a team trying to regain some confidence and form whilst still bedding back in returning players a 3-1 win is most welcome so fair play to the team for that. Let’s hope we can build on that these next few games so we have an fa cup final to welcome with a team back on song.

  48. Podolski’s finishes can be such a great thing, his positioning was central for both, which just makes me wonder what a two prong attack could do for us. Giroud has a long way to get me back onside as well, but his finish and touch for the goal were excellent and he got much better in the 2nd half… much like the team.

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