What happens when Arsenal play really well, score four goals, including one of the best seen in many years, and their fans leave Ashburton Grove happy? Well, if you’re a journalist for the Express, you attack the same fans for not creating an atmosphere similar to the one at Anfield on Wednesday night.
Arsenal v CSKA Moscow in the Europa League and Liverpool v Manchester City in the Champions League. Two games that even a child will tell you are incomparable.
So, of course you’d want to compare the atmosphere at both games to criticise one set of fans. That seems perfectly reasonable.
Tony Banks, writing in the Express on Friday, said, “AT ANFIELD on Wednesday the crowd had simply willed their beloved Liverpool on to victory against Manchester City in the Champions League.
“The sheer venom that spilled down from the Kop unnerved a City side who were a shadow of their normal selves. Anfield on a European night, with the crowd up for it, has always been known as a cauldron of sheer passion and will to win.
“The Emirates Stadium, not so much. But boy did Arsenal – and in particular their manager Arsene Wenger – need the fans to be in full voice, or as full a voice as Gunners fans get these days.”
Arsenal fans, despite some empty seats, were in great voice for a game that would rank in nobody’s consciousness as the definition of a ‘big game’.
Had Liverpool being playing CSKA Moscow instead of Manchester City, I’m sure their atmosphere would have been much more subdued than what we witnessed at Anfield midweek.
Their fans also wouldn’t have attacked the coach carrying the players but, you know, it’s all about the ‘atmosphere’.
Banks continues, “There have been lots of empty seats lately at the Emirates. For some games recently the stadium has been at most two-thirds full.
“There were once again pockets of space around last night. Five hundred tickets had been sold to CSKA, but their section was at best only half-full. And with the stand-off that exists between the UK and Russia politically at the moment, this tie began with an air of tension.”
The only tension surrounding this match was purely football-related. I doubt you will find one single Arsenal fan who gave a toss about the political tensions between Theresa May and Vladimir Putin.
“It was not exactly raucous at the start but Aaron Ramsey’s goal helped. Suddenly the fans were singing,” Banks continued, letting us all know he has ears.
“It still was not Anfield. But they cheered their heroes home. Politely. The advance on Moscow next week? Arsene’s army should manage it now.”
Arsenal fans are criticised for accepting mediocrity. They are criticised for not turning up in protest of that mediocrity.
They are criticised for not singing and now they are criticised for not singing loudly enough in a game that had zero baggage attached to it like the Liverpool-City tie.
If ever there was a case of a journalist scrapping the bottom of a stinking barrel just to have a pointless go at Arsenal fans, then this article from Banks is it.