A very good morning to you all from a deliciously sunny north London.
And today we’re in the unusual situation of being involved in an untelevised 3pm kick-off on a Saturday. It’s our first 3pm of the season, and only the second league game not to be televised live.
It’s fashionable at the moment to go on about the downturn in the popularity of football, isn’t it? Of course, there are so many potential reasons for a drop in attendances â€“ economic belt-tightening being a major one â€“ but I donâ€™t think it’ll affect us enormously at Highbury, at least not this year. My season ticket equates to Â£35.40p a game, which is a fair price if you ask me, but then my ticket is, I believe, the second cheapest available.
We had a few empty seats in the away end last year, and we might get that a bit if the opposition is geographically far away, the game on TV and the kick-off time antisocial this time round.
The challenge – if there is one – will not be at Highbury but at the Grove, where not only will we have an additional 22,000 seats to fill, but also a vast bank of 6,000 in the Club Level costing a staggering amount of money – Â£2,500 a year and upwards. The first year should be fine as pricing is frozen and interest will be high for the novelty value alone, but the time to judge will be the following season, when we can expect our first price rises. We shall see.
On to today, and we’ve got a few important faces missing. Senderos, Henry, Pires and Bergkamp are all out, so we’ve not got an enormous amount of experience up front apart from Reyes and van Persie. A chance for Quincy â€“ and maybe Lupoli? The latter, it is reported, will be allowed to go out on loan to sharpen up, and with his scoring boots, there’ll be no shortage of takers.
And I suppose I canâ€™t brush the Henry story under the carpet. I’m with the arseblogger on this one; that’s to say, a realist. Henry should remain with us, but I’m not so blind as to think he might not be tempted to move on one day (the accolade of being Arsenal’s all-time top scorer under his belt, in all probability).
That said, it’s an easy story to make up (two years left on deal, Vieira going, one plus one is three), and there are absolutely no quotes from Henry to back such a story up â€“ other than the bundle of ones from the last year of him saying how happy he is.