The mass walk out at Arsenal was a total indictment of the quality of support for the club


By Tony Attwood

Before yesterday’s game Arsenal had had ten wins and one draw in succession in the league.   And yet after the two Villa goals went in, Arsenal fans, in fairly large numbers, started to leave.

The implication from those fans was very clear: “we only support you when you are always winning,” and it was a message the media has taken up with glee.

Of course, the performance and the result were disappointing, although across the years since Arsenal last won the title there have been worse.  And it was not as if Arsenal had not lost 0-2 at home before.   That is what happened against West Ham on 28 December for example.

In short, the current team and its management are very good, but they are not perfect and so there will be drops in form from time to time.

Obviously, the match is there to be played by the players, not the crowd, but there is no doubt that the crowd can have an impact – which is why we sometimes see players making the gesture of raising both palms upward over and over to invite the crowd to make more noise.

But that is not all.    Despite Arsenal’s rise to the top of the league before yesterday’s game this has not been a perfect season.  Consider for example the ressults that started on 9 December with the previous defeat to Aston Villa.  That began a run of three defeats and a draw in five league matches.

A similar run now will of course mean that Arsenal will end the league in second or third place rather than top.   And it is possible because football is both a technical and a psychological game. 

The latter is the reason that we have talked several times about the “blip”.  For the danger to Arsenal is not anything that comes from a single defeat, but that a single defeat leads to a run of poor results.   And the mass walkout at Arsenal before the end yesterday certainly enhanced the possibility of that happening.

The message to the players, in fact, was clear.   Win, or we give up on you.

Arsenal were top of the league before yesterday’s match because Arsenal had only had that one drop in league form (in December) before that game.  But if yesterday’s 0-2 defeat heralds a second blip, then almost certainly Arsenal will end up second or third, rather than top.

And the great tragedy in all this is that Arsenal had been given an extra chance by the recent declines in form of both Liverpool and Manchester City.   The trouble is that a Manchester City drop in form tends to be much less of an affair than an Arsenal drop in form and results in no mass walk outs.   This time it lasted two matches, – draws against Liverpool and Arsenal.  Since then it has been three league wins in a row with 13 goals scored and four conceded.

As for Liverpool yes they have had three defeats and a draw in the last six games, but only one of those defeats and one of those draws was in the League and the fans stayed with them.

My point is simple: everything depends on how quickly Arsenal can recover from yesterday’s unexpected and very disappointing result, and their road to recovery would have been helped enormously by a crowd that recognised that all runs end at some time, and which celebrated 10 victories and one draw in the last 11 league matches.

But no, a lot of fans couldn’t take it, and couldn’t give their unconditional support to the end.

Of course ultimately it is the eleven men on the pitch and the management team that runs the show (with occasional help or lack of it from the referee).  Ultimately it is not us that changes things, but those of us in the ground do have a part to play and a mass walkout because this game is not going the way of the previous 11, is not helpful.

As things stand, Arsenal remove fans’ season tickets if they fail to attend or pass on their ticket for over five matches in a season.   I think that’s wrong.  Season tickets should be removed for failing to stay to the end.

The notion that Arsenal have to do well before we give support has long been a problem in the ground, and it has long been clear that it can have an effect on players.   This was one of the worst examples.  Yes the players were to blame, but those who left must bear some responsibility too.

16 Replies to “The mass walk out at Arsenal was a total indictment of the quality of support for the club”

  1. Complete nonsense article frankly. Just an over the top reaction of a different kind to the tsar pathetic and utterly predictable capitulation as Arteta unnecessarily tinkered with his team. Not to mention his Willianesque selection of Zinchenko in the face of all the compelling evidence to not do so.
    Given the dreadful problem of accessing the station I see nothing wrong with trying to beat the crush and 30 minute wait when the team is abjectly being beaten

  2. It is especially annoying as real fans cannot get tickets.
    Some of the football in the first half was sublime. To leave early as some kind of protest against a team that have entertained and worked as hard as this team just demonstrates the sort of fan that gets sought after tickets this season.
    At least the away support wil be behind the team on Wednesday.

  3. And that is indeed the problem Al m. It takes around ten minutes to walk to Finsbury Park Station from which there are multiple underground and overground trains on a multiplicity of lines, and no difficulty to access the station. And yet the excuse used is the crowd at Arsenal station. I think that backs up my argument perfectly.

  4. well, we are seeing the difference between spectators and supporters.
    Which is no surprise given the way prices have hicked up over the past decade.

    Wanna see supporters ? go down a couple of leagues.

    This is the showbusinessing of the PL. Soon spectators/bettors will be screaming upset at players because they placed bets for in-match events like : at what minute will this player make his first shot on goal etc etc… it is now happening in the NBA.

    The old football is gone.

    Anyway, bad day at the office. as for Al m, thanks for the intelligent and constructive comment. Experts like you ought to publish a page every day…

  5. You are having a go at people that invested their time, money and hope for 8 months, praying that it won’t be groundhog day again.

    And then the team choke in the same fashion they do every year. That’s tough to watch, another year of full investment and support crumbling before your eyes because the team were not up for it in the same way he fan was up for it. These players are passing ships, getting heavily paid for a few years. They don’t care the same way the fans care, the fans are there for life. The 11 vs the 11 are far superior in ability, hence why they are paid so much compared to the villa players. But their heart and heads were not in it.

    So, they fans have every right to ease their own pain and suffering by not watching it get worse. They just watched and inferior team outplay and outcompete the team they paid a lot of money to go watch.

    Get off your soapbox and demand more for your time, money and support.

  6. I suppose what does worry me me is the notion that certain viewpoints should not be discuessed, while others should be put forward. But then it is the sort of comment that Untold Arsenal has been getting for 15 years or so.

  7. Sister Mary

    What a crock.

    Never once has my love, support and loyalty to Arsenal depended on success, OF ANY KIND.

    “Get off your soapbox and demand more for your time, money and support.”

    How very weird. I don’t demand anything. I love Arsenal unconditionally and have done so for nearly 60 years. I want and hope they win every game and then some trophies, but if they never won another trophy I would love them EXACTLY the same. I certainly would never walk out on them, boo or abuse them.

    I guess your idea of being a ‘supporter’ is somewhat different to mine.

  8. Agree completely Nitram. I hope we win every match. And when we don’t win I feel a bit sad. When we lose…. well I feel very sad for a while. But that is football and that is life. Good days, bad days… part of the game. As a supporter from abroad I would love to be able to sit in the stadium each match. Alas I get the one match a season most of the time. So for me it is TV watching or streaming the match on my computer. But never, and there have been terrible losses did I stop during the match. (OKay apart from when the stream went down…. but then it was clicking and clicking to find another one ….) I remember the drubbing at Old Trafford…watched till the end. I remember the league cup match at Reading…. 4-0 down after ….what was it half an hour? Every other of my fellow supporters in Belgium turned off their computers. My son who was watching with me couldn’t stand it anymore. I kept watching. In bad and good moments. When Walcott scored what look a consoloation goal at the end of the first half I said to my son who was in his bedroom: we will win this match. Yeah whatever he said. Okay I must admit even I as an optimist didn’t imagine us to win 5-7 at the end. But that is what supporting means for me and for most of us Untolders. We stick with our team. We enjoy the wins together even from afar. But we also stick to our team when things go against us. So yes it was frustrating yesterday. But having been in football for more than 50 years I know that this is football. Great moments and terrible moments. And without the terrible moments…. you wouldn’t enjoy the good moments so well.

    I always hope, but never expect anything or take anything for granted.

  9. @ Sister Mary

    So “support” is only given when winning eh?

    I can only assume you weren’t around pre-Wenger and only started following Arsenal, not to support them but, to associate yourself with glory. How very sad. I feel sorry for you.

    You could learn a lot from Nitam

  10. Walter

    I remember that game very well. I stuck with it too, but honestly Walter there was never any question I would. I truly believe that the real test of any relationship, and that goes for friends and family, is when times are tough. It is not only a test of the relationship but a test of character.

    And of course you are correct when you say the bad times simply go to increase the enjoyment of the good.

    My three most watched Arsenal games on you tube are all ‘come backs’

    The aforementioned Reading match. The 5-3 Middlesbrough match, and the ‘Italian Job’, although that was over 2 legs. My 3 favourite Arsenal matches, one thanks to a terrible start, one to a terrible first half, and one due to a terrible first leg.

    If support for a team was dependent on never playing poorly or never losing not a single team would have a fan.

    If fans walked out every time their team looked like losing, or just playing poorly, half the fans would be gone before the end in every match.


    “So “support” is only given when winning eh?”


  11. @Sister Mary,

    considering your comment, I’d say the grounds of pretty much all PL teams ought to be half empty or totally empty because apart from City, no team has the right to win anyway.

    And Pool! ought to have played in front of an empty stadium as they too bottled it last year.

    Why should fans from Burnley ever go to a game ? No damn reason. How about our neighbours Sp*rs ? Why bother ? You comment just does not make any sense. Maybe you ought to finance a flying banner for the next games saying ‘Arteta and Kroenkes out’.

    Too bad that it is now more complicated to go to Paris, PSG is your team. They win the french league every time.

    By the way, one wonders how Bayer Leverkusen could have had fans going to games for more then a century… did not ever win the Bundesliga.

    Which just makes your comment the more idiotic.

    Or maybe fantasy football is good for you so if your team loses, it’s your fault. And you can shut off the playstation.

  12. Nitram , as you well know we are complete opposites, my desire to win is all consuming but even when down , leave before the end . Not a chance !
    If you leave early how can you analyse things properly ,every game is a story and you have to wait to the end to see the whole picture.

  13. @Sister Mary,
    I have supported Arsenal since 1958. I watch all the Arsenal games I can. I watch whether we are winning or losing, from the start to the finish. I am with the players willing them on. I feel part of the team, The highs are fantastic, the lows are awful. Something hurts inside when we lose. Some defeats leave scars inside. However, it is not me that I am concerned with, it is the team. Most of the things that you mention aren’t about the team, they are selfish thoughts, thoughts about oneself rather than the team. I have been expecting a tough end to the season as I think that we do not have a strong enough squad to maintain the high standard required to play two games a week at the very high standard required. If you watch the players you can see that most of them are getting tired and need a break. They are human not robots. They needed the crowd during the Villa game. They needed it at 0-0, they needed it at 0-1, they needed it most of all at 0-2. The crowd needed to show the team that they were still behind them. The margins are very fine at the top level. If Trossard scores from a yard out, it is a different game. We would probably have won. The team has played incredible football this season, some of the best I have seen during my time as a supporter. One of my biggest delights in the last couple of seasons is how Arteta seems to have fostered a real unity between the team and the crowd. It didn’t seem to be there on Sunday. To my mind there were too many selfish people in the crowd.

  14. While we were truly not up to par against them , we still had our chances to win this one . Kudos to them for outplaying us . They deserved their victory.
    We seem to have run out of ideas and went into a defensive shell , which played into their plans .
    I could not see where our goal would be coming from

    And it was so disappointing to see the stadium emptying long before the game ended.
    Hope we get back to wining ways . The sooner the better.
    Up the Gunners !

  15. AllanC

    Very good analysis.

    “I have been expecting a tough end to the season as I think that we do not have a strong enough squad to maintain the high standard required to play two games a week at the very high standard required. If you watch the players you can see that most of them are getting tired and need a break. They are human not robots.”

    So have I. I would think most people have. Whilst I think we have a fantastic squad, I believe it is not as good as Man City’s. I also believe that as good as it is it isn’t ‘miles’ better than everyone else’s and as such we have to play at our very best when we play other top 6, even top 10 teams. If we do we can beat them, convincingly at times. But if we don’t, and they play well, we could, and as happened the weekend, will lose to these teams.

    What happened the weekend was always a possibility. Other examples are Villa, Newcastle and Fulham away.

    And that is why, as you say, the run in is tough. We have lots of games where we need to be at our very best. We could, at our very best, win every one. Even in Europe. But are we likely to play at our very best in almost every game from now until the end of the season?

    It is highly unlikely, and in fact a bit silly for anyone to think we can, or even should, as some seem to think. But the reality of the situation is we pretty much, not only need to play at our best every match, but to turn that in to a win in almost every match.

    Even when we had the best Arsenal team ever in the shape of the ‘Invincibles’, we dropped points on the run in and lost to Chelsea and Man Utd in the CL and FA Cup. It is a tough tough ask.

    Then you say:

    “If you watch the players you can see that most of them are getting tired and need a break. They are human not robots. They needed the crowd during the Villa game. They needed it at 0-0, they needed it at 0-1, they needed it most of all at 0-2. The crowd needed to show the team that they were still behind them”

    Again spot on.

    Taking your first point. Yes they are tired, as are other teams. Which is why Arteta knows he has to rotate. Now, how he rotates is difficult. As I said earlier, we will all have opinions on who plays, doesn’t, comes on, gets taken off. But we are not in the hot seat. Arteta is. Whatever Arteta does will not be what everyone else would of done. That’s the nature of the beast.

    But as you saw in some posts above, no latitude is given at all. It’s their way or no way. Heaven forbid we don’t win every match and all all of a sudden Arteta is a ‘tsar’. Really?

    And of course your second point is where this all began.

    “The crowd needed to show they were still behind them”

    And on that score they failed dismally. Shamefully .

  16. Even Ian Wright called this out, that the players will feel dejected to see some fans leaving early instead of giving their all right to the end.

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