Ticket Prices And The Costs Of Having An Opinion

January 15, 2013

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“Sixty-two, it would appear, may just be the magic number. It is starting to feel as if battle lines are being drawn in the ongoing debate over the extent to which ticket prices for matches have spiralled out of all control, and if last Sunday’s match between Arsenal and Manchester City was notable for anything in particular, then perhaps two stories to have followed in its aftermath have proved to be particularly instructive in terms of showing us who will be on whose side as the argument rumbles on. First up is the small matter of the deselection of the referee’s assistant who seemed to summarise the frustration that so many supporters are feeling at the moment over not only the issue of ticket prices, but also concerning the attitudes of the people that have been the chief beneficiaries of the money that has poured into the game over the last couple of decades or so: the players themselves.” twohundredpercent

Revisiting the Price of Football
“There comes a point in every football fan’s life when the “sod it, I’m not going moment” occurs. For some Manchester City fans, contributing £62 to Arsenal’s coffers was a step too far. For me, spending £25 to sit in a rickety away end at Brisbane Road on a cold December afternoon watching Exeter toil against an equally uninspiring Leyton Orient side proved beyond even my levels of tolerance and fanaticism. Despite the game being only a short ride away on the Central Line and no other plans, it was too much. I stayed at home. But this isn’t about Arsenal, or Manchester City, or even Leyton Orient (although if Barry Hearn really wants to attract locals away from West Ham, he might want to consider lowering his prices a little), no matter how much the debate has descended into partisanship. While it’s quite easy to pick examples of equally high prices at Arsenal or, say, Spurs, this obscures the real issue – that ticket prices in general are too high and, especially in an age of austerity, risk pricing out the next generation of fans.” twounfortunates

Ridiculous! Ticket prices are getting out of hand.. but it’s not just an Arsenal problem
“The best thing to happen this week has been the highlighting of ticket prices in football. Make no mistake – it’s not just an Arsenal issue even though this Sunday’s game with Manchester City has put it on the agenda. City returned 912 tickets – priced at £62 – from their allocation of 3,000 for the game at the Emirates. I must admit that I find that remarkable. That City fans are staying away from a crucial game against one of their biggest rivals in a game which has significance in the title race. Football is like a drug. Following your team is expensive but it’s also addictive. The other team not to sell out at the Emirates on a regular basis has been Wigan. Not a major shock as they have a small fan base. Newcastle didn’t either last month. They, like City, have some of the best and most passionate fans in the Premier League. But it was December 29, just after Christmas and three days after another costly trip to Manchester United. It is expensive being a football fan. Ridiculously so. It’s getting out of hand. And most bloggers, tweeters and supporters point to Arsenal as being one of the most expensive.” Mirror


The Question: Has 4-2-3-1 lost its gloss?

January 15, 2013

“Football, as Sir Alex Ferguson noted last week, moves in cycles. He was talking about clubs and nations, about how certain places suddenly produce a great generation of players, but it is true as well of formations and styles of play. After the rise of 4–2–3–1 to replace 4–4–2 as the world’s default, the backlash is well and truly under way. As so often, the key lies on the flanks. The history of football tactics is, to a large extent, the search for space and when the centre is crowded it is on the less crowded wings that the key battles are fought.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Man United survives battle of midfield; more EPL thoughts

January 15, 2013

“1. Packing the midfield. Soccer formations are easy. You have to have a goalkeeper. That’s obvious. Forget three center-backs; a four-man defense works best. It’s in the balance between midfield attack that some coaches grown confused. The answer is to pick a five-man midfield to ensure possession and a two-man attack to make sure that possession is not wasted. A team playing that formation would win nearly every game. Some might object that this would be because it had 12 players on the field, but that’s the sort of stupid quibble with which small minds react to paradigm-challenging genius.” SI


Arsenal’s problems go beyond referee’s borderline decision

January 15, 2013

“There was something refreshing about Arsene Wenger’s take on the red card shown to Laurent Koscielny nine minutes into Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to Manchester City on Sunday. For once — and this is a criticism directed at virtually all managers, not Wenger in particular — he didn’t take the easy way out and blame the referee. It would have been simple — justified up to a point, even — to say that the game had effectively been decided by Mike Dean’s decision to send Koscielny off. That the defender committed a foul by hauling Edin Dzeko down is beyond doubt, but there is a question as to whether Koscielny denied him a clear goal-scoring opportunity; Dzeko, after all, did not have control of the ball and would have had to bring it down before Wojciech Szczesny came to clear.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


African Cup of Nations 2013 Preview: Group A

January 15, 2013

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“The Africa cup of nation which is the biggest football tournament in Africa, will kick off in South Africa from January 19th to February 10th 2013, promising to be an incredibly exciting tournament. As always the case at the AFCON, last year was filled with some beautiful football, great goals, drama and passion. Zambia surprisingly emerged as winners of the last edition after defeating favourites Ivory Coast in the final. The last time they reached the final was in 1994, just a year after 18 of their national team members died in a plane crash as they took off from the Gabonese capital Libreville. For Zambian football it was a devastating plane crash. Coincidentally last year final also took place in Gabon.” Think Football


Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool: United press

January 15, 2013

“Manchester United dominated the first hour, then hung on in the final stages. Sir Alex Ferguson named Danny Welbeck in his starting XI, with the out-of-form Antonio Valencia on the bench. Jonny Evans was out injured, so Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic played at the back. Brendan Rodgers kept Daniel Sturridge on the bench, preferring Stewart Downing and Raheem Sterling. Liverpool fought back in the second half, but took too long to get going, and United dominated the majority of the game.” Zonal Marking


Benfica 2-2 Porto: four goals in the first twenty minutes, then Matic and Fernando dominate

January 15, 2013

“An absolutely crazy start was followed by a much cagier, quieter period – both sides retained their unbeaten record. Jorge Jesus selected Lima as his second striker, and Nico Gaitan rather than Ola John on the left of midfield. Vitor Pereira was without his outside-right James Rodriguez, a significant loss. In his place, midfielder Steven Defour played out of position. There were three distinct phases in this game – (1) a goal-crazy opening 20 minutes, (2) Porto dominance for the rest of the first half, (3) a stronger showing from Benfica after half-time.” Zonal Marking


Valencia 2-0 Sevilla: two Soldado goals from corners

January 15, 2013

“A disappointing game between two sides that have regressed over the past couple of seasons. Ernesto Valverde named an unchanged side from the XI that won at Granada last time out, which meant Andres Guardado continued at left-back. Michel also selected an unchanged side, from the 1-0 win over Osasuna. Valencia dominated the ball and eventually broke through – but really, this was a good demonstration of why the two sides have underachieved this season.” Zonal Marking