Arsene Wenger insists that he respects Arsenals fans’ decision not to show up for the Gunners’ Europa League clash against BATE Borisov on Thursday evening.
Despite 54,648 tickets being sold, it’s estimated that under 30,000 Arsenal fans turned up to their team’s final Europa League group stage match this week, which is the lowest ever recorded attendance at the Emirates.
However, Wenger didn’t seem all that bothered post-match since his men had already qualified for the next round and finished top of their group before they had thumped BATE Borisov 6-0.
“I think you forget about that once you are on the pitch,” Wenger said.
“It’s true that you prefer the ground to be full, but tonight there was not a lot at stake on the competitive side. No matter how many sit in the stands, you have to give them what they expect – and that’s what we did.
“You respect the decision of your fans. They knew we were top of the group anyway and you could basically expect that.
“You have looked around last night in the Champions League in game number six, I have seen many grounds not full, or half empty. That is, a bit, the problem of the group stage.”
Arsenal ran riot on Thursday evening, having a total of 23 shots, 11 on target, to BATE’s 11, two on target. Although I’m sure I don’t remember the visitors even getting into their own half 11 times…
54,648 'tickets sold' pic.twitter.com/0SoKmvmsjR
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) December 7, 2017
While the Gooners who didn’t show up are perhaps mildly annoyed they missed their side scoring six goals in Europe for the sixth time ever, we had already qualified top of our group, so we know that no matter what the score, the result didn’t really matter. It’s even been the same for other teams, like Manchester City, in the Champions League.
Plus, 8:05pm on a Thursday night isn’t the most convenient time for a kick-off.
As Wenger says, while having a full stadium is nice, the stands being half-empty on this occasion is forgivable.
When the Gunners play their first knock-out round clash at the Emirates, I’m sure the stadium will be bouncing.