You know what, refusing to celebrate is one of the most ridiculous things in ‘the modern game’.
I am very much an advocate of modern football, particularly the way the game is played now, but players scoring against former clubs and then not celebrating is barmy, not a show of respect. If you’re that fussed don’t leave, or don’t play for another club if you’re forced out, or refuse to play against your former team.
It felt fantastic to see Danny Welbeck celebrate at Old Trafford last season. Two years before it looked contrived as Robin van Persie scored against the Gunners and then tried to look guilty, about an hour before he nearly broke Bacary Sagna’s leg. The pumped and emotionally charged celebration the Dutchman displayed a year on was over the top but it made everything perfectly clear: he didn’t care about upsetting Arsenal fans.
You can still respect your former club, but it isn’t disrespectful to celebrate for the club you leave them for. Why would it be? So will Thomas Vermaelen celebrate if he scores on Tuesday night?
“Yeah, probably. You have to show respect for who you’re playing for as well. I feel like that’s not always real,” said the former Arsenal captain. Good on him.
“I play for Barcelona now, so I hope we win. I will never deny I have warm feelings towards Arsenal, it’s a club that’s been very good to me. I’m very happy that I played there.
“Sometimes you go different ways and that happens in football. Now I’m at Barcelona and I want to go through.”
Rightly so. You are allowed to have respect, admiration, gratitude for a former side while celebrating madly when your current side has scored a big goal.
Vermaelen isn’t even likely to play on Tuesday, he’s obviously even less likely to score, but if he does he’ll be well within his rights to go mad. It’s a big Champions League game and bound to be an emotional evening for the defender.
If he makes the squad this Arsenal fan will give him an excellent reception to thank him for his service, rather than join in with the sort of idiot who booed Bacary Sagna back in December.