Archive for September 26th, 2012

Arsenal’s purple patch will be short-lived – so enjoy it

42 comments September 26th, 2012

There’s plenty that’s new about this current Arsenal team. Perhaps most obviously, it seems to enjoy defending. Moreover, there’s a new set of personnel: it tells you something when Theo Walcott is suddenly the longest serving player.

Out on the pitch, they look different too. Arsenal take to the field in a home strip with a controversial blue hoop on the armband, and a strikingly unfamiliar purple away shirt. As a rule this blog focuses on events on the pitch, but seeing as this post is sponsored by JD Sports I thought I’d touch on a bugbear of mine.

Arsenal’s kits always seem to be the subject of some controversy – fans often feel disappointed by what they perceive as a failure to adhere to the traditions of the club. But modern football puts demands on the club which mean they can’t simply put out a classic red-and-white strip with a yellow-and-blue away year on year. Allow Arsenal’s Head of Marketing, Tom Fox, to explain:

“We liaise with our kit supplier Nike and we can’t limit the design scope too much otherwise it’s too difficult to come up with a new design. We do set some ground rules. For the home shirt, we say it has to be a red shirt with white sleeves. But beyond that, Nike needs scope with the design, also so that they can sell the shirt in China, the U.S. etc.”

Global selling potential is, unfortunately, a far bigger priority than the preservation of historical heraldry. As much as we’d like to see the traditional look year in year out, it simply can’t happen.

If you want to buy yourself a sponsor-less seventies replica shirt, there are plenty of places you can do that. In the meantime, we have to accept commercial realities and try our best to embrace the designs Nike put before us.

For what it’s worth, I think the recent purple reign kit is a pretty good effort. Whilst it’s not necessarily a colour we associate with Arsenal, the regal hue reflects the club’s history, class, and status. A quick glance at the away kit on show at Spurs shows how bad things could be by comparison.

As for the home kit, we’re lying if we pretend blue hasn’t featured on home kits before. Just have a look at this page to see how often it has occurred. And as Tom Fox points out, we and our wallets can be grateful for one thing:

“We’ve done a two year home shirt this year and we’re the only club in the world to do that.”

If you ask me, this effort more than merits hanging around for a couple of years. Especially if we keep playing in it as we currently are.

Coventry Preview: What a night for Nico Yennaris

866 comments September 26th, 2012

Tonight’s League Cup with Coventry City is a sell-out.  Considering it’s not included in season tickets, that means 60,000 seats, all sold and accounted for.  That’s the same as Chelsea and City’s combined attendance from their games last night.  Even taking in to account reduced prices, it’s a pretty extraordinary feat, and a demonstration of the appetite to watch Arsenal football club.

Tonight will be a vision of the future: a young team, and a young crowd too.  Here’s hoping it’s an enthralling game that wins the hearts of the next generation of Gooners filling the stands.

Arsene has indicated it’ll be a strong side sprinkled with a smattering of youngsters (update: the 18-man squad has now been named).  One of the more inexperienced players likely to start is Nico Yennaris, completing a remarkable double: the last time we played Coventry City, at Highbury, he was the mascot.

Suffice to say he looks a bit different now.  If you were wondering, the other mascot went on to become Michel Salgado.

When it comes to picking tonight’s team, there are a few certainties: Argentinian youngster Damian Martinez will make his debut in goal, Ignasi Miquel will play at centre-back, Emmanuel Frimpong will be on the bench as he continues his recuperation, and Andrey Arshavin will get a rare opportunity to start.

Filling in the gaps, I expect Johan Djourou to partner Miquel, and probably captain the side to boot.  That’ll mean leaving out Sebastien Squillaci, but I can hardly see the point in giving game-time to a player who is highly unlikely to feature this season and beyond.  At left-back Andre Santos is badly in need of game time, so I expect him to step in.  On the right, Arsene has a few options, but I suspect he might be tempted to deploy the young Spaniard signed from Barcelona, Hector Bellerin.

That’d mean shifting Yennaris in holding midfield – a role he has played regularly while skippering the Reserves.  With Frimpong unlikely to play more than twenty minutes, Francis Coquelin will presumably he handed another chance to impress.

Ahead of that is trickier to predict.  Arsene is keen to unleash the talent of 17 year old Serge Gnabry, but there are a queue of first-team players ahead of him looking for game time.  Arshavin has pretty much been guaranteed an opportunity, and I think he may find himself switching positions between the left flank and a central play-making berth, also occupied by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.  The youngster did not get on at the weekend and will be wanting to impress ahead of the Chelsea game.

On the right flank, Theo Walcott is due a game, and will probably start.  Of course, Arsene does have the option of switching Chamberlain and Arshavin to the flanks, and playing Walcott through the middle alongside another striker.  It’d be an interesting formation to look at, but I can’t see Arsene conceding to Theo’s demands so swiftly.

That other striking role will come down to one of Marouane Chamakh and Olivier Giroud.  I’d pick Giroud.  For me, Chamakh is in the same boat as Squillaci – treading water until he leaves.  Furthermore, the Frenchman is desperate for a goal, and you have to think that tonight will be as good an opportunity as any to get one.

With City and Everton both out of the competition last night, I hope we make a real fist of the League Cup this year.  We’re all aware it’s not a priority, but it’d be great to have a good run at it.  Starting tonight.

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