Bayern Munich's start to the season is what many club's dream of, but now they face their toughest test when they return to London to take on old adversaries Arsenal. Their vastly different positions in the table will still not take away from the showcase the world will be able to witness.
Arsenal have their own intriguing set of narratives they are following, including one that may include an early exit from Champions League football. To get a closer look into the Arsenal camp, Bavarian Football Works has reached out to Thomas Wachtel, the Managing Editor for SB Nation's Arsenal blog The Short Fuse. Together we ascertain the mindset of the faithful Gunners and how they feel about their club.
Bavarian Football Works: The obvious question to probably ask first is how you feel about Arsenal’s Champions League campaign. After all, it’s not like Arsenal have been insufferable to watch in those matches; a few goals against the run of play and weird mistakes have made them look bad. Are you resigned to the fact Arsenal may not make the Champions league a priority?
Thomas Wachtel: Obviously losing your first two group games isn’t ideal. But you’re right – while neither result was a fluke, Arsenal’s probably played better than the zero points accrued so far. I’m pretty confident that the team that starts every game will make it a priority, and I’d be very surprised if the matchup tomorrow isn’t taken seriously. But if they don’t get a result, the road to the knockouts is pretty tough, so things could change. I very much doubt you’ll see a reserve team playing for Arsenal in the Champions League under any circumstances, though.
The Short Fuse
The Short Fuse
BFW: The biggest head scratcher personnel wise your new center forward: Theo Walcott. He has lobbied to play this position for a long time, but now when he plays there it looks weird and pointless. is Arsène Wenger really getting the most out of what he can do this season?
TW: I don’t totally agree with that assessment of Theo, honestly. He "only" has four goals so far this year, but particularly of late he’s wrought some havoc in the defenses we’ve faced. The 3-0 ethering of Manchester United doesn’t happen without Walcott’s pace and movement (not to mention his two assists), and the space that he opens up for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. He’s not Thierry Henry, certainly, and he has room to grow in the center forward position – as he has done on a week-to-week basis this season – but he’s shown me plenty that says the central move is going to end up paying dividends for him and for Arsenal. That’s not to say he’s going to score a hat trick against Bayern Munich or anything, but don’t be shocked if he plays well.
BFW: A stigma I hear gimokes around the world talk about is "I would hate to be an Arsenal fan because they don’t spend money". Petr Čech was their only signing this summer, but it is not like Arsenal don’t have good players. From a fan perspective, how do you think Arsenal has approached the transfer market? Have you lost faith in Wenger building a good enough sqaud to win titles?
TW: Well, Čech was a superb signing, and I’m glad to have him. I’d have liked more – an upgrade at holding midfield or a world-beating striker would have been nice, for sure – but I think the foundation of a good team is already in place. This isn’t a team that anyone’s going to bet on to win, say, the Champions League, not without those sort of major moves. But there’s really only three teams in the world I would bet on for that, so that’s not really a criticism. I think this team right now is good enough to win the Premier League. Whether they’ll play to the level they’ll need to achieve that is another matter, but it’s a definite possibility. So I would say I have not lost that faith, even though I would have done things a little differently to hedge our bets a bit more.
[BONUS QUESTION] BFW: Bayern fans have planned a delayed entrance to protest the high ticket prices at the Emirates, and some Arsenal fans have come to their support. How do you feel about the high ticket prices? Does it take something away from the ideal atmosphere you would like to see at Arsenal matches?
TW:I personally find it hard to get worked up over ticket prices, as an American who’s only been able to see Arsenal in person once in my life and a person used to high ticket prices for sporting events. I get the complaints – honestly, who wouldn’t like things to be cheaper? – but I also feel like there’s kind of a strange entitlement that some fans feel, that they should be able to see every single game their team plays in person. It’s a bit (no pun intended) foreign to me, so my feelings are perhaps less strong than they would be if I lived in London. It may be somewhat of a detriment to the atmosphere, but I’m not sure there’s a direct correlation between ticket price and decibel level, or that causation is there. It’s certainly not hurting attendance, though, so I’m not sure there’s a motivation for prices to drop.
So I guess a TL;DR version of that answer would be: I’d be perfectly happy if Arsenal (and other English teams, and NFL teams and MLB teams and everyone else in sports) lowered ticket prices, but I get why they are what they are, and past that my feelings on the matter are pretty vanilla.