Alan Smith believes that fan unity and a quick start will be crucial if Arsenal want to have a good season.
Alan Smith believes that a harmonious fanbase and a quick start to the season are necessary if Arsenal are to have a successful season.
Speaking to The Mirror, the Sky Sports commentator acknowledged the effect that last season’s fan protests had on the season, and says that fans now need to rally behind Arsene Wenger.
“It was a very difficult season last season with all the ‘Wenger out’ stuff and conjecture about his future,” Smith said.
“He’s signed a new contract and he’s going to be here for another two years so it’s important now that the fans do get behind him and the team.
“There’s no point in holding up banners after a poor game, you don’t want to get back into that situation — it helps nobody. You want a bit of stability now.”
Fan unrest reached new levels last season when a string of poor results after the turn of the year was greeted with banners – either in the stands or up in the sky. Fan groups attempted to organise protest marches against Arsene Wenger and Stan Kroenke, while the players were subject to chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” during a 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.
Smith raises a good point about how nothing the fans do can reverse the decision to give Wenger a new two year contract. While many won’t like it, it could be time to accept that he’s staying and get behind the team as much as possible.
The players could use their support as they’re looking to overturn a dismal recent opening day record tonight against Leicester. Smith fears Arsenal having to play catch-up.
“[A bad start] knocks your confidence and playing catch-up is never a good thing.
“They need to get their act together and start well, which they haven’t done many times over the last four or five years.
“The game against Leicester is important for that reason. They need to get three points on the board and kick on from there.”
Recent seasons have seen Arsenal lose on the opening day. With any luck, new signing Alexandre Lacazette will help Arsenal get a win. Smith has backed the French striker to do well.
“He’s settled well, settled quickly. There are a few French lads in the squad so that never hurts.
“There’s no doubt he’s an extremely good finisher. He links the play well and he suits Arsenal’s style of play, he gives you something different to [Olivier] Giroud.
“I heard Lacazette mention 20 goals [as a target for the season], which points to his confidence. He wants to get 20 or more and, if he can do that, it’s been a great season for him.”