After Arsenal lost to Watford at the weekend, fan reactions around the Emirates Stadium seemed to get a bit out of hand.
Having not lost an FA Cup match in 756 days, Arsenal were finally knocked out of the competition on Sunday afternoon. After the game, the stats suggested it was one way traffic for the Gunners and that they were extremely unlucky not to come away from the game with a win.
In fact, had Danny Welbeck not missed an absolute sitter in the dying moments, Arsene Wenger’s side would have been assured of a replay. On the day however, it was not to be and the Londoners bowed out of the competition.
However, for Arsenal fans, it seems that losing an FA Cup fixture once every two and a half years just isn’t acceptable and yesterday evening, the weekly flip flop from ‘Wenger In’ to ‘Wenger Out’ reached riotous proportions.
Outside the ground, some Arsenal supporters got into an actual physical altercation as fans of the London club struggled to cope with the fact that they’d lost a game of football.
Walking past AFTV and they’re all fucking fighting. Physically fighting. Everyone standing around cheering it on. Fucking embarrassment !
— ~Wilshere~ (@laurenx_afc) March 13, 2016
Here’s the video!!!
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) March 13, 2016
Horrible and all as this was, perhaps it can be explained by adrenaline and simply getting carried away. After all, sport does funny things to people. The fans were heated, they were upset, these things happen.
However, things like this, don’t ‘just happen’.
After Arsenal’s loss to Watford, one Gooner felt the result was so unacceptable that he decided to stage a one man protest in his back garden by burning an Arsenal shirt.
Why? In protest of manager Arsene Wenger because… because Arsenal had 71% possession and 20 attempts on goal? Because Danny Welbeck missed an absolute sitter in the last minute and really, Arsene Wenger should have literally held Danny Welbeck’s leg and rolled the ball into the open goal for him? Give me a break.
Although it should not in anyway be condemned to question your club’s manager, surely Arsenal supporters should see the absurdity in the timing of their protests.
With 9 games left in their current league campaign, the Gunners are still very much in the title race. At this very moment Arsenal are six points behind Spurs with a game in hand. They are 8 points behind leaders Leicester. Those who believe they are not in the title race are very much wrong. (Manchester United had an 8 point lead over Manchester City at this stage in 2012 and we all know how that one finished up.)
Even the sternest ‘Wenger Out’ advocate should be able to see that it would be far more logical to wait until the current season has reached its conclusion before throwing the toys out of the proverbial pram.
For what is there to achieve except discourage the current group of players still battling for the title? Will the club really part company with Arsene Wenger before the season is over? No. They simply will not.
So wouldn’t it be far better to simply enjoy the rest of the season and to support their team rather than spreading toxic negativity that is without question contributing to their own twisted prophecy?
The psychology of group perception is hard to wrap one’s head around, but in football, it is very much a real phenomena.
Bizarrely, in sport, a mentality or train of thought can spread across a large group of people and sometimes, take hold of an entire group of fans. With Liverpool for example, their fans as a single entity are often referred to as ‘deluded’, and with clips like this, it’s easy to understand why.
Deluded and all as Liverpool fans may sometimes be, at least they are loyal and optimistic. They support their team. With Arsenal however, something far worse than ‘delusion’ is being associated with their fans.
There is something rotten spreading around the Emirates stadium, something poisonous and toxic and if Arsenal supporters don’t quash it soon, it will leave a stain on their history so putrid it will be impossible to wash off.
Whether Wenger is the man for the job anymore is an entirely separate argument, but surely Arsenal fans should have enough respect for his time at the club not to see it end like this. With clenched fists and burning crests.
If Arsenal don’t win the title this year, I say this to the club’s supporters that wave banners and call for their French manager’s head; if Arsenal don’t win the title this year, it’s not Wenger’s fault, it’s yours.
John Murphy, Pundit Arena