Saturday round-robin round-up

Good morning sarcasm fans, a very quick Saturday round-up for you as I have to bring the pup to the vets after his midweek illness. I suspect he’s quite fine as I came home last night to find him chewing quite contentedly on my Macbook which he’d managed to take down from the kitchen table. Fair play to Apple, they hold up quite well to puppy slobber.

Today sees the very first football of pre-season with round-robin tournament in Southampton. We play the hosts and Belgian side Anderlecht for 45 minutes each. Rangers were supposed to be in it but their whole going out of existence thing meant they had to be replaced.

There are a surprising number of first team players involved. Andre Santos, Kieran Gibbs, Gervinho, Marouane Chamakh, Johan Djourou, Vito Mannone and Francis Coquelin will be in the squad, while youngsters like Kyle Bartley and Henri Lansbury will be looking at this as a chance to impress. For someone like Lansbury, in particular, it seems now or never for him in terms of his Arsenal career. He’s done the loan thing, to varying success and he’s not going to get many more chances to make the step up. A good showing during this pre-season might be the deciding factor for him, so he’ll be keen to impress … you would hope.

There are some promising youngsters in the mix too with the most interesting being German Tomas Eisfeld (great finisher by all accounts, as cold as Eis in front of goal, you see), and hopefully we can put all those years of no trophies behind us by raising the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup later on. As far as I know there’s no TV coverage, Arsenal’s official Twitter account will give updates so I reckon that’s the best bet when it comes to finding out what’s going on.

It is still very, very early in pre-season and I guess our involvement in this tournament has something to do with the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain deal. Regardless of results of performances, there’s very little you can take from today’s games. It’s just one small step on the road to full fitness before the real stuff begins in August.

Meanwhile, the club announced a new ticketing category for next season. Until now games were just Category A and Category B, and priced accordingly. Now there’s a Category C which will be significantly cheaper than B, but to balance that the prices of A tickets will increase by around 23% with B getting a 2% increase.

Obviously that makes the most attractive games even more expensive which will draw some criticism, especially in these harsh economic times. Having the extra category, however, makes it more accessible for some fans and in particular should help bring new, young fans to the stadium who might otherwise not be able to afford it. AISA have outlined some other changes they’d like to see to the ticketing system so we’ll have to see what gets implemented.

Categories announced thus far are:

Category C  18th August    Sunderland Category C  15th September Southampton Category A  29th September Chelsea Category B  27th October   Queens Park Rangers Category B  10th November  Fulham Category A  17th November  Tottenham Hotspur Category C  1st December   Swansea City Category C 8th December  West Bromwich Albion Category B  26th December  West Ham United Category B  29th December  Newcastle United

Champions League and FA Cup fixtures will be based on A and B pricing. Pricing for the Capital One Cup (formerly the Carling Cup) will be similar to previous seasons, again a good way to get young fans into the stadium so it’s good to see that policy being continued.

Beyond that, not a lot going on today. So I’ll leave it there and catch up with you tomorrow.

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