Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Vermaelen's six relapses - Anger over season ticket prices - Bendtner's eyes up Germany

Morning Gooners.

False expectations. That's something I don't enjoy. Yesterday every Gooner's hopes were raised after the Swiss FA announced Johan Djourou's injury wasn't as bad as first feared. 

Wasn't that great news we all though. How excellent for both the player and the club that he won't be out of action for three months.

But then came the news that the Swiss FA had jumped the gun and that Arsenal believe he still will miss the remainder of the season.

Obviously it's a huge blow. With Djourou in the side we have not lost a Premier League game he's played in and I think I'm right in saying we've only conceded four league goals when he's been on the pitch.

That is an absolutely amazing statistic.

It's going to be a huge ask for Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squilllaci to step up and make sure we're not soft in the centre. Both in their maiden Premier League campaigns, they seem unable to play with one another without conceding. 

Let's hope the motto - defend as a team - is ringing in every player's ears at London Colney. We need them all to step up.

As for Djourou, he will see a specialist with regards his injury which may or may not require surgery. Let's all keep our fingers crossed - we could see him sooner than expected.

The one man who we all hope will be back soon is Thomas Vermaelen.

However in an interview with Belgium newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, he's revealed the true extent of his injury.

He said:
"I relapsed six times. That was hard. Every time I had a goal to come back, but that was then broken again and again.
"I am now cautious. It is frustrating that I cannot play. I had never been injured for so long. On some days it’s mentally very tough but I see this as a test. Perhaps it is also good for my career and it will make me stronger mentally."
He was huge for us last season. Everytime I'm told he's on his way back, he has a set back. That's why Arsene Wenger is now not keen to set a time frame.

Even the player does not know when he'll be back. It must be so frustrating for him.

Elsewhere there are stories in both the Daily Mirror and The Sun about the cost of season ticket prices rising next season. 

The rise in Club Level is 6%, according to reports. However the price increase of tickets for areas outside these seats has yet to be released.

It's not a surprise that people are getting upset. Whilst I have every sympathy for the ordinary fan who's purchased a seat in Club Level just to be able to attend games at the Grove, these are premium seats which start at £2,500ish a season and designed for the corporate hospitality market and that should not be forgotten.

However I do agree with the Arsenal Supporters Trust that other revenue streams should be looked at prior to the cost of season tickets being raised. I think it's all too easy for the club to put an increase on to its members rather than look outside the box for ways to bring money into the club.

It won't be long before the price of the cheapest season ticket is £1,000. We're not far off that now. And prices are never going to decrease.

The club have to tread carefully here. I know many fellow season ticket holders who were angry about the allocation of tickets for the Carling Cup final and vowed not to renew if weren't offered a ticket.

Arsenal claim they have tens of thousands on the waiting list - yes, this is indeed true - but getting these people to become paying customers is another thing. I know of people who were no where near the top of the list being offered a season ticket during the close season. You can jump to the top of the queue because those in front of you may well be unable to pay for the coming season.

It will be interesting to see what rise the club has in store for normal season ticket holders. I personally hope they gauge the mood of the fans prior to any decision.

And finally, it appears that Blackburn Rovers aren't good enough for Nicklas Bendtner. His representatives have been briefing the Daily Mail saying he'd prefer a move to Germany. It appears more and more likely the big Dane will leave at the end of the season.

I really hope this isn't the case because I believe he's going to be an excellent player given the chance.

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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