Arsenal vs Orlando City was 45 minutes of hell followed with a tasty shot/chaser that showed where we are heading as a club.
MLS is a league on the rise, better coaching, more exciting clubs developing, and a generation of top-tier athletes coming through that said no to NFL. The Premier League is also HUGE in America. The amount NBC pays for the rights dwarfs even what Apple pays for the MLS direct-to-market games.
My point, the MLS is a league that will innovate, especially with Apple helping, because it needs to have a moment post-2026.
One of the elements they do well, especially at the newer clubs, is ‘supporter sections.’ In English, they have safe standing, where the noisy folk go. LAFC, Austin FC, Seatle Sounders, and the Portland Timbers have atmospheres that would put most Premier League clubs to shame. They have a group of fans that are all a bit nuts, they work closely with them, and they make sure the noise in the stadium is orchestrated by them for the entire game.
Why can’t the Premier League have that?
Well, they can. But the Premier League’s overall capacity in games was about 96% last season. I know that’s tickets sold, but overall, there’s no league in the world that delivers more fans across the board. Our second division, The Championship, is the best attended second division in the world clocking in at 21,000 per game. MLS averages about 22,000 a game, it’s on the rise since COVID. But my point here is the Premier League doesn’t need to fix something that isn’t broken.
Arsenal didn’t need to fix Arsene Wenger, because on paper, he was delivering 4th.
No one paid attention to the grim reaper marching on his abilities, or the innovative talents coming into the league, by the time everyone realised that all was not well, we were ready for a painful 5-year rebuild.
The average age of a MLB fan in America is 58 and the skin color is very white. They didn’t pay attention to young people. The average age of an MLS fan is 37, the skin color is very mixed (don’t get at me with your ‘this is woke’ stuff, on a pure business level, this is what America looks like in the younger generations, so outside it being good to open the doors to everyone, it’s also the only way to survive as a business), as a sport it is on the right track and it continues to funnel young people through the doors.
Young people are the lifeblood of any sport. Average age of a Premier League ticket holder is 43. Clubs need to pay attention to that number in the good times, because you cannot go begging for young fans when you have a problem. And look, young fans are hard to come by, according to lots of private data I’ve seen working on big soft drink brands, the generation coming through doesn’t really give that much of a shit about live sport in the way my generation did when we were 16. Games like FIFA are genuinely gateway drugs to the actual game. Sports clubs are also competing for attention minutes with things that are cheaper an easier to access… TikTok, Netflix, Fortnite, and Roblox, to name but a few.
Live sport has to compete and funnel new blood into venues, otherwise, there will be empty stadiums.
This is a curveball, but Spotify worked out that people who created a playlist in the app were something stupid like 8x more likely to subscribe to Premium, so they invested in that feature with their paid media and creative spaces. I don’t have the data here, but I’d imagine there are two ways in at football… if your parents take you to live games, you are likely going to be a lifer. But phase two is when you get a bit older. If you can get to games easily with people your own age, you are going to start the cycle of being a proper fan minus parents.
That stage of fandom is really fucking hard if you’re a 22-grand-job-in-City, that-sounds-nice type of 24-year-old. £900 on ticket, £60 beers with your mates, train fare…
More defined supporter sections could be a good holding pen before you graduate into gen-pop tickets as you get old and withered and reluctant to sing or tolerate £5 rat burgers and £10 warm Carling.
Ok, don’t know why I went off on that tangent.
LET’S TALK ORLANDO CITY!
There were players on in the first half that clearly aren’t going to be here in a few weeks. They didn’t make a case for a stay of execution.
Pablo Mari, awful.
Nico Pepe, uninterested, awful.
Ains, just so bad.
Hector, clearly hating his life and existence in a red shirt.
These players aren’t good enough, they have no future, I wish we didn’t have to suffer them.
Where are the bids?
Arsenal need to shift players to buy now, so we need to get cracking here!
Our first half was basically like watching Emeryball. We were getting ripped through the middle, we had no creativity, our players were passing it around in circles.
… but we know that isn’t Arsenal now.
My biggest fear this window is the keeping position. Aaron Ramsdale hasn’t recovered his early season form. Yesterday, he dropped a brilliant one vs one save before totally switching off and letting a low/soft/telegraphed shot roll into the bottom corner across goal.
Not good enough.
Every keeper has a dip. Young keepers always do. But we can’t be tolerating 4 months of bad form and a really poor shot/save ratio. That goal was a worry because the understudy has never played in the Premier League.
Bernd Leno exiting feels like a risk right now.
When the tuned-in players came on, we were absolutely sensational.
Gabriel Jesus IS our Luis Suarez. The guy has a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove. He was structured chaos. Aggressive, clever, powerful, and efficient. He’s going to score a lot of goals in this system.
Eddie looked really solid in the second half. He’s ready for the season. His goal was very, very Eddie. He’s so alert and sharp in front of goal. Keep an eye on his shooting, he might not always score, but he’ll rarely miss the target.
Odegaard was absolutely singing all games. His assist production is going to ramp up a level now he has an actual target to find. The ‘big chance’ bores can find something more interesting to talk about.
Also, special shout for Sambi Lokonga who made some great passes and showed his range nicely.
My major concern was at right back. The first half had Cedric there, he seemed to be part of the second-stringer crew, and he was replaced in the second half by Ben White. If you see Benny Blanco there at the weekend, assume that’s the plan for the start of the season if Tomiyasu takes his time getting back to fitness. Here’s the thing, I didn’t hate it. He’s pretty decent as a right back and he inverts really, really well. I’d rather have Ben White at right back than Cedric if we get another long-term injury.
I was pretty annoyed that we had 58 players on tour with us, but then I realised that we’d asked Arteta to be more human in his managerial approach. He took everyone, made them all feel part of the squad, and that’s proper leadership. It certainly beats what Conte is doing by freezing players out he might not be able to sell. I think we leaned into the second stringers in the first half mainly because of the heat and the double sessions the players will be doing behind the scenes. All the embarrassing propaganda in The Daily Mail about Spurs players being the fittest in the league because Conte has them vomiting after laps is so, so laughable, let’s see where their squad is in January. You don’t overheat the oven when you bake bread, because it’ll rise too fast and fail. Same premise with athletes, if you overheat now, make no mistake, those players will be overcooked at the wrong point in the season and there will be a price to pay.
Talking of leadership, you gotta love all the weird shit Ten Hag is putting in the papers. The Sgt Major carry-on doesn’t work when you are in the big leagues of the EPL. Telling players they aren’t good enough and asking journalists to cover it is embarrassing. United fans are lapping it up: ‘Look at the standards, I love him.’
Flying millionaires around the world and telling them they can’t visit the Neighbors set is beyond pointless. Again, like fitness, these little microaggressions tend to catch up with managers in the end. It certainly didn’t work for Louis Van Gaal.
Back to Arsenal.
Preseason has been solid so far. Let’s hope the injuries to players like ESR, KT, and Tomi are minor and we see them back ready for the first game. If they aren’t ready, at least we have decent options to cover them, and at least the prep this season looks far more solid.
I cannot wait to get going.
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