Intense questions, team updates, offside waffle + Arsecast 413

Arsecast - the Arsenal podcast

Hello everyone, welcome to Friday. Another week has flown by and we have a game against Burnley to contend with this weekend.

Arsene Wenger’s pre-game press conference took place yesterday and it was full of interesting snippets due to the probing questioning he received from some members of the press. Such as:

  • Is it important not to drop points to Burnley?
  • Is it important to win?
  • Is it important not to lose?
  • Is winning good?
  • Would you see losing as bad?
  • How crucial is that Arsenal emerge victorious?
  • Can you measure how vital it is that the Gunners triumph?
  • Please explain why not winning is something you’d like to avoid.

And so on. At least the bloke with the really annoying voice wasn’t there this week. The one who sounds like he has a permanent cold and is speaking through the cardboard tube you get from a roll of kitchen towels that have all been used up.

Although the manager did provide this nice comedy moment in spite of all that:

He confirmed that the club had extended the contract of Per Mertesacker. The German had an option for one more year and that’s been activated. I don’t understand any fuss because of the decision. It means we keep an experienced player, one who will play some part over the course of the season, and it provides us with depth at centre-half when he gets fit again. Where’s the problem?

He revealed that Francis Coquelin, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Gibbs are ready again for the weekend after missing out with hamstring, ankle and knee injuries respectively. There’s still no sign of Theo Walcott though, leading to some conspiracy theorists to suggest that an interview he gave after the Man City game in which he referenced players who ‘don’t put it in’ has seen him punished ruthlessly by the boss.

My suspicion is that a player who has down the years been quite injury prone and who has missed a chunk of almost every season through injury is probably just injured. Crazy talk, I know, but there you go.

Wenger was also asked about Marco van Basten’s proposals (touched on yesterday in the blog), and said one or two were worth discussing, but declared the idea of scrapping offside as ‘not interesting’, which is as dismissive as it gets (not quite as dismissive as Rennes manager Christian Gourcuff though, but still).

He said offside was a key part of what made football a game of intelligence and guile, saying:

Offside is what makes the teams be together, and it’s a big quality of a team sport. Defence gives a problem to the attack, attack finds the solution and the response, and the defence creates a new problem again for the attack.

So we have to keep that going, for the improvement of the game it’s important that you always face new difficulties.

However, he said the concept of ‘real time’, where the ball is in play for a set period, and the idea of sin-bins were probably worth some consideration. Right now though, it’s like an medical administrator coming up with lots of ideas to reform and improve the health system but leading with ‘Let the rich eat the poor to do away with overcrowding and people on trolleys’.

Finally, for those interested in such things, Arsenal remains in 7th place on the Deloitte Football Rich List, behind Man Utd, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Man City and PSG. Once more there’s focus on the commercial income as an area in which the club can improve. 30% of the income comes from commercial activity, with 41% of it from broadcast.

In comparison, Manchester United’s commercial income is 53% of their revenue, with 27% from television. Meaning, of course, they’re less reliant on an income source that may not be as stable as people think going forward due to declining viewing figures. I don’t think there’s any way Arsenal will ever generate the same kind of commercial revenues as United, but perhaps closing the gap between that and broadcast is something they’ll have to think about.

For some extra reading this morning, Tim Stillman’s column looks at how important Francis Coquelin has become for Arsene Wenger.

Right, time now for this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Tayo Popoola to shoot the breeze about Arsenal, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi’s backside, current form and more. Then I chat to photographer Jason Ilagan about his excellent project Humans of the Arsenal (@humansofthearsenal), how it came to be, where it’s taken him and the doors it has opened. There’s a brief look ahead to Burnley, Arsene Wenger is asked some silly questions, and a level teaspoon of the usual waffle.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download the Arsecast directly, use the link below the player (and it is 413 despite what the player says!).

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We’ll have news throughout the day over on Arseblog News. The Gent will be here with his weekly review later on. Enjoy the podcast, happy listening.

More from me tomorrow.

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