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You can support Arsenal or you can walk out. One of these is better for your mental health

By Tony Attwood

According to most press reports lots of “angry Arsenal fans left the stadium in protest while others stayed to chant their disdain for the team’s showing, wailing: “We want our Arsenal back.”

No one seems to have found any of the “lots of angry Arsenal supporteres” to interview in terms of how they felt.

How do they feel?  Stupid?  Drunk?  Annoyed?  Surely interviewing these fellows ought to be one of the stories of the day.  Maybe I have missed it.  Maybe the Sun found one.

But dozens?   I think there were 4000 at the away end so that would make well under 1% who left.  Doesn’t sound so good then does it.  “Under 1% of Arsenal fans left at half time”.

So what did happen on Tuesday 30 October 2012?

Arsenal had 65% of possession, and Reading 35%.  Arsenal had 65% of the goal attempts too (34 to 19).

The team had nothing to do with our first team that was beating QPR last weekend:

Damián Martinez,
Johan Djourou, Ignasi Miquel (Jernade Meade, 108), Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson,
Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong (Olivier Giroud, 62), Serge Gnabry (Thomas Eisfeld, 63),
Andrey Arshavin, Theo Walcott, Marouane Chamakh

Walcott had a bash at playing through the middle at times, Chamakh who can’t hit a barn door with a mallet from 3 inches scored two, and we ended up playing 4-2-4 (as my mate Ian pointed out).

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Here’s what one correspondent of Untold said,

“The players may go back to the dressing room smiling and patting each other on the back but by and large they were nothing short of a disgrace and I am thinking specially of kos, djorou, coq and pingpong when I say that. Others may disagree but I thought that both full backs were dire and only marginally better than the two centre backs (how the fcuk can noel hunt score that header off jenkinson ??), I thought that chamakh was awful until he scored and walnut gave us no fcuking help defensively all night long.”

OK – that’s a point of view, and we published here – twice actually.  But consider this for a moment from a psychological position.

You can go to football because you support your tribe, and because you think football is fun, and because you want to be with your mates.   But when it gets to the stage of slagging off your own team because you have just won 5-7 away against a Premier League team, then surely a plot has been lost.

What would you sooner have?   A perfect defence and a 0-1 victory?

Let us go to another report at half time.   Many of the Arsenal fans, another paper told us, “left the stadium in disgust and missed their team’s comeback. Wenger said that those who stayed helped inspire the transformation.   I felt sorry for our fans and I would like to give them credit tonight. A big part of them stayed behind and I am happy that we paid them back.”

And for those who left? “I give them less credit,” he replied.

Here’s another view.  We have people who call themselves Arsenal fans who are complaining when the home manager of (I repeat) a Premier League club (who used to play for us too) said that this was the “worst defeat of my career”.

He also said what Mr Wenger said, Walcott’s goal for 4-1 was the turning point.  “When you give good players an opportunity, they take it. I really wanted us to get a fifth goal to finish them off, which seems a ridiculous thing to think when you’re 4-1 up. But we didn’t play in the second half, what we did was kamikaze stuff.

“We were really, really good for the first 35 minutes … but then when you see what we did in the second 45 minutes, it was bizarre to say the least,” continued McDermott. “When you consider that we were 4-0 up and who we were playing against and we end up drawing 4-4 [after 90 minutes], it’s just embarrassing for us all.”

We then had the argument about over time before McD said he had now given his players two days off to recover from this ordeal.

The 12 goals scored is the highest in one match in modern league cup terms beating Aston Villa 8 Wycombe Wanderers 3 in 2003.

Reading have played Arsenal 10 times and lost all 10 games.  McD said, “It was kamikaze football in the second half and extra time. Even at 5-5 it’s extraordinary.
So there is the choice.  We go four down and you lose and make a fuss, and then find you have missed the game of your life, or else you just say and be a loyal supporter no matter what.
Psychologically staying is better – it is always better mentally to see something through.

The books…

The sites…

28 comments to You can support Arsenal or you can walk out. One of these is better for your mental health

  • ClockEndRider

    I was at the game, and certainly I saw no one leaving from our end. At the end, it seemed every bit as crowded as it was at the start. So I guess an estimation of a low percentage of leavers is pretty accurate.
    Which is somewhat different to the situation the home supporters found themselves in. Still, why would the media let inconvenient truths get in the way of yet more fictitious fabling?

  • the mickster

    why must we always have this rain on our parade stuff from the press ! incidently, all the BBC radio could focus on after was to get people who left to phone in, rather than look at the real story of an amazing, and unique comback.
    We were in the ground, at 0-3 & 0-4 there was a couple of ‘we want our arseanl back’ and anti Gazidis chants, but were always immediatley folowed by a ‘come on Arsenal’ chant. The backing from the away end was brilliant, compare this to the spuds end emptying antics whenver they go a couple behind.
    Incidently we missed extra time, no we didn’t leave ! we were in the 1st aid room as my dad was recieving treatment for injuries sustained in the 4th goal celebration, i hope all the others in that room are also ok !

  • walter

    I hope your dad is fine Mickster?
    That must have been some celebration when we scored the 4th goal…. Sorry to hear people got injured

  • walter

    This remembered my of the first Arsenal game I saw in the CL at Standard Liège.
    Before we knew the game had started we were 2-0 down. A young girl got sick and threw up all she had eaten between London and Liège. It all looked like a complete disaster with the furious home support of Standard making it the hell it is know for.
    And then we came back thanks to a Bendtner goal. And then Eduardo and Vermaelen scored in the second half to give us a win 2-3.

    What a night…. But this is nothing compared to what happened yesterday.

  • JrGoonar

    I can proudly say I was there and stuck it out until the end. Two of the highlights for me were – Signing readings own goal song back at them repeatedly and celebrating with them when they scored their fifth! What a night! Best £16 i have spent in ages. Anyone who did leave, I don’t hold it against you and I did for a second join one of the “sack the board” chants but to the people that stayed I salute you and we should be proud of ourselves because as the only gooner on my bus home the Reading fans were telling me they were very impressed at our away support which they have always heard is not good.

  • Philbet

    One fan gets up to get to the loo before the throng at half time, (hes had 5 pints before the game), the marauding TV camera catches him (because it suits Sky Sports), that is then multiplied into ‘Dozens’….utter garbage, but then again what do you expect?

  • nicky

    We Gooners from way back always insist that whatever team the Manager selects should always play with bags of “bottle”. In our support at all times for the team, we must also display “bottle”, i.e. a calm, steadfast demonstration of backing from the first whistle to the last.
    Last night’s fightback is nothing new.
    From the earliest records in our Club’s history, we have triumphed against all odds and also snatched defeat against certain victory……each in equal measure.
    That is why I sometimes feel that the pre-requisite to becoming a Gooner must be a detailed medical. Supporting Arsenal is not for the fainthearted, but if you can accept the triumphs and disasters and still keep the faith, the joys will, in the end, always outweigh the sorrows.

  • Mandy Dodd

    From what I have seen on some sites, many of those who would have been chanting ” we want our arsenal back” would quite happily squander all that has been good about outr club and accept any oligarch, businessman, money launderer, mafioso who they thought would bring money and trophies.

  • Matt Clarke

    A great game indeed – undoubtedly aided (for us) by those loyal supporters who stayed to the end (you few, you happy few).

    So, gratz and (a bigger) thanks! to all of you.

  • Stg

    The moral of the story is never leave a football match early(unless for family reasons) you just never know what can happen.

    I have left a game early because of I thought Arsenal were playing **** as I got to Arsenal tube station at 4.45 ish a big roar went up and we had equalised (think it was QPR many moons ago). Since that day I have never left a game early because of the football or result.

  • Stuart

    Or a motto I always teach new recruits, ‘always play until the final whistle’

  • Gerry Lennon

    I found one of the most difficult things to do this morning was to vote for MOTM. Bar the subs, all were tainted by the abject display in the opening 35 minutes.
    I felt sorry for Gnabry in his first start. He could not possibly shine when the rest of the midfield lacked any cohesion or leadership. Djourou’s game always seems to suffer when the pressure is on, thus made a poor choice of captain? Kos fared little better … perhaps we can appreciate Mert’s qualities without any reference to his pace?. Miguel struggled to be the outlet ball through the lack of movement in front, but nevertheless, ran himself into the ground. Indeed, got injured because he could move his feet out of the way quickly enough with that final tackle. Frimpong was one I was hoping to have a good game as the defensive midfielder, but seemed driven to get forward at every opportunity once the second goal came in. Like he has said himself, he is still learning. The video of this game will be a good tutorial?
    Jenks too, seemed to get drawn into areas he need not be in. For a player that has been at the top of his game to lose it in an instant is worrying? Coquelin was as guilty as any in those early moments? Unsure of position, physically bundled of the ball with ease, and sloppy passes everywhere …
    Luckily for them, and Martinez, they had time to redeem themselves in the second half. Neither Frimpong or Gnabry had that chance, but both had probably done their running by then. Then came the revelation of the night … Eisfeld. Despite his slight build he was able to make, and plough through tackles. His positional sense was what has been talked about, and he showed it with aplomb. That seemed to inspire Coquelin. Then there was Giroud. Got the instant impact of the goal. Made himself available for the ball to played be to him, and suddenly Jenks had a purpose to get a cross in. Walcott, who from the 1st minute to the 44th had been almost become invisible, suddenly was everywhere he should be. So he redeemed himself, if the first half goal was going to be just a consolation.
    However, my MOTM was the other who redeemed himself on many levels, Andrei Arshavin. Utterly wasteful in the first half, apart from supplying Walcott with his best two moments. But, and it is to his immense credit, he kept at for the whole 130 minutes. He ran and ran. Remind folks next time the word ‘lazy’ is used, of his efforts here that just might have set the club an the road to the first (of many?) trophies. You know when people say ‘their name is on the Cup’, usually after some lucky escape along the route? Well we did escape; a penalty? a sending off … Kos again! Not to mention some wayward shots that could have put our revival well and truly out of sight.
    Interesting things do happen. The Subs came on on the 60th minute. not the 65th. Who knows, next time AW might try and do a ‘Mourinho’ and make the change at half time when things look that bad again? Change of formation too …. was that really a 4-1-5?
    I thought they just took advantage of the tiring, and nervous Reading defense?
    Lessons to be learn for sure. The main one, make sure there is an anchorman who can organise the players, and not just the younger ones … Thank heavens for Per, I say?

  • soulrebel

    I just want to say I wish I had been there. I watched at home and after Reading’s 3rd went in I was all head in hands.

    I have been trying for weeks to get a good nights sleep, and had planned to be in bed the second the final whistle blew after 90 mins! Little did I know! After extra time I was practically jumping round the flat, giggling like a schoolboy.

    I’m so jealous of all of you who were there but am really glad you all had such a riot. And Mickster, I hope your Dad is OK, and I think the fact he got injured whilst celebrating the 4th goal is absolutely outstanding!

    I’ll never forget that match. Ever.

  • Andre Kelley

    Gerry Lennon,
    the formation in extra time really looked to me like a 4-1-5 with Coquelin as a DM, but often Arshavin dropped deep to take the ball to the attackers. Also sometimes when Reading had a short spell of possession, Arshavin and Eisfeld dropped deeper by the sidelines, making it something like a 4-3-3.

  • FinnGooner

    I missed match yesterday because I was tired and my wifi doesn’t work well (I got more tired from messages about Arsenal player trying to connect me than Reading scoring). So tonight I watched 2nd half and extra time (to be able to finish match by midnight I had skip 1st half). It was great and mostly I heard Arsenal fans support the club (based on voice there were more Arsenal fans than Reading fans).
    I’m proud of the comeback. Great teams can draw 4-4 after being 4-0 behind (without help from referee) Amazing teams can go and win 5-7.

    Wenger said we played 4-2-4 even it was really 4-1-5 since Tomas Eisfeld is attacking midfield.

  • 1NiltotheArsenal

    A quality post Mr. Attwood. Every supporter will “support” in their own way, but I don’t get any satisfaction over bemoaning and lamenting how utterly abject we were (and we surely were) for most of the first half.

    No team fights back from 4-0 unless they’ve dug themselves that hole in the first place. This is one of our most famous wins ever and it’s one to celebrate and talk about for a long time yet. We almost did it against mightier opposition in European play last year, but the Milan match was not to be.

    Now at last, we have something truly remarkable and positive to remember. We can only hope the starting squad can take something of that 2nd spirit into Old Trafford for 90 minutes at the weekend.

    Up the Arsenal

  • jbh

    4th Reading goal went it at 36 mins. At 38 mins Sky showed an Arsenal fan in Red club shirt and with glasses leaving his seat and moving to the exits. Cue the appalling commentators to claim fans (plural) were leaving in big numbers. Yet he was the only one shown. Also strange but I’m sure that the same fan was back in his seat after halftime as the cameras panned that way late in the game.
    Probably won’t be a ref review but “Friend” gave every 50/50 to Reading. He wasted 45 to 60 secs on many free kicks, getting the wall ready, etc. Did not censure any Reading player for the blatant time wasting in the second half, yet gave Martinez the hurry up for a delay with a goal kick in extra time, then booked him sharpish, thereafter. The sub in injury time at the end of the 90 mins took a full 45 seconds then Friend asked Martinez to take a goal kick again. The Walcott goal was scored after 60 seconds extra of injury time, so was fair. But with the general approach of Reading friendly Friend maybe he lost track of the time (incompetent and biased).

  • MIKE

    What the press saw and said was Arsenal fans leaving was Arsenal supporters leaving to go to the john or get a cup of tea at the half and because at that time Arsenal was down it makes a good sound bite and a bit of footage to show a Arsenal supporter making his way out of the stands before the whistle. If you could hear any of the reading supporters singing I would like to know what they where saying as ALL I heard was na na na hay Giroud. to the tune of “hay judy.” If the Arsenal Supporters all left then why did they drown out the Reading supporters in their own stadium? GO Gunners I may not be happy with the defensive side of that game to let in 5 vs Reading I sure as hell LOVED the way they came back to win. and I WOULD NEVER NEVER leave any game before the final Whistle even a preseason friendly. EVEN when 4-0 down all you heard was Go Arsenal True Gooners every one.

  • elkieno

    I couldn’t watch it cos it was on Setanta here and they are shit. I used to have it for FA cup games, but now ESPN are doing them I got rid of it. I didn’t regret it after 35min for sure, but yes, well you know how I felt after 120min.
    Anyway, I saw the highlights on internet and I saw one dude leaving or at least walking to the exits/toilet/shop who knows.
    Sure we played dire in 1st half but maybe we just didn’t think it would be hard, maybe Reading were right up for it and we thought that this team is really easy haven’t won a game in EPL so a walk in the park. After the 1st goal we were stunned and they had all the momentum so piled on more and more pressure, until 4-0. Then before halftime they relax, we nick one and half ends 4-1.
    Wenger/Bould rips into them at half time, MCD tells his boys continue same thing and get a 5th then sit back. We come out and our quality shows as we slowly peg them back and limit them to score only 1 goal as we score 6 more which is expected as we would pour forward and they can break..
    ALSO, this is a cup game, this is the ’romance’ of Cup competitions where giants fall etc. Leeds beat UTD 0-1 at OT, Swansea beat Liverpool, Bradford beat Wigan etc.
    That is why these cups are good as you wouldn’t see this kind of game in the EPL unless it was last day season deciding game.
    I for one enjoyed it and am glad UTD were taken to extra time too, as they will be tired like us.
    Also I am enjoying revelling in this historic victory, cos this weekend we might be brought back down to earth with a thud. I hope not, I pray to everything out there, I wear my luck charms, I don’t do certain things in the days before a game (promise myself, don’t do this or we will lose etc – how stupid right?)
    But my love never falters for the mighty Arsenal. When we do lose like v Norwich, I just avoid all blogs, internet sites cos I hate hearing/reading all the haters saying sack him, piss him off, get rid of Wenger and all that crap.

  • Gouresh

    they even leave when we are winning just to miss the rush. so why bother turning up? but leaving when we are loosing is natural… is angry, frustrared.
    speaking for myself, i have been following Arsenal since 84, and i get VERY VERY ANGRY, when we are not putting in the shift. i don’t mind loosing, but in the manner in which we loose is very important. i missed the first half, since i was playing with my kids and put on the TV at the 48th min, when we were 4-1 down. it was the old Arsenal, fighting, battling, not giving up…..that’s what you want to see. going by the reports, the 1st half we were still in bed! hell i would have shut off the TV, since i start getting irritable and my tounge gets loose and its not ideal with kids around. i get toooooo stressed when watching Arsenal play as i want then to win every match. some may laugh or mock me, but unfortunately that’s the way i am.
    At the end it was a great game to watch. i have a few less nails to cut not ot mention THAT stress level, but it was enjoyable, even if we had lost, because we were fighting battled.

  • amahgfur

    My fellow gooners here in Yogyakarta, Indonesia went mental during our regular communal screening after Walcott scored our 4th. We chanted ‘Theo…Theo’ followed by ‘You are my Arsenal..’ and jumped around until the extra time started. It was a fantastic night.

    Here, we had to wake up at 2 AM and stayed until almost 6 AM due to the extra time and our own celebration. Some of us had to go to work at 7, but it didn’t matter because we’re so happy that we didn’t even want to sleep.

  • the mickster

    Thanks chaps yes the old mans ok, just a cut on his leg, ironically, the only other time we missed goals was Coventry away in the 80’s we had a shunt on the motorway on the way up and so didn’t think the lights were working, so one nil down, and 5 mins to go dad said, we’ve got to go to try and get back in daylight, as we got to the exit, yes you’ve guessed Mariner eqaulised, as we got to the car, a massive roar went up, yep you guessed it, we won 2-1 ! ( oh, and the lights did work !)
    I can never bear to miss either start,restart or finish, to me, that’s not supporting, ironically, often the people who moan the most at the players for not trying etc, are the last in their seats and the first to depart.

  • Rufusstan

    Gotta say I agree wholeheartedly with the article.

    To add a bit about the Arsenal fans leaving, its amusing how this shows how the media take a small incident out of context and blow it up. The poor guy who was the catalyst for this seems to be the Indian bloke walking down the stairs just before half time. The TV get a nice juicy close up, the commentators pick up on it and bingo we have a story.

    Ironically the guy was simply slipping out for a half-time pint. He gets back to his seat to discover his burgeoning fame and has to defend himself on twitter by posting photos during the second half. I cannot find the link to his twitter, but its out there somewhere.

    Personally, I have to admit I have left before the final whistle–twice.

    The last time was against Everton (I think), we were 1-0 down and as we went into the last few minutes I had to go on an ‘or else’ from the family. Of course as I was walking up to Arsenal tube I heard the explosion of delight form our equalizer. At that point I decided never again.

    The only other time was against Chelsea in 09-10. We were 2-0 down with 5 minutes to go. I was in block 6, at the front, so standing in the rain (a wet, windy November Afternoon) all match. We were all behind the side, trying to get back into it, when Drogba breaks away to the far end. He went down as if pole-axed just outside the box and I just knew. I turned and started to walk up the steps. About 3/4 of the way up the cheer came from the bastards at the other end, and I didn’t even look back.

    Not sure what the point of all that, except maybe that it happens to all of us sooner or later. It was surprisingly cathartic to write the second one though 🙂

  • rantetta

    Here’s the Arsenal fan who “left” (for beer):

  • rantetta

    I was there. He passed me.

    *Sky, BBC, etc have no agenda re: Arsenal*

    Aha. aha. ROFL. LOL etc, et al

    NB: 2nd line should read Fulham v Arsenal:

  • goonermichael

    I had a “fan” next to me at the Villa cup game a couple of years ago. He went on and on about Wenger being shit and Walcott being rubbish. It was so bad that I really wanted to leave at half time. What stopped me was the fact that we were losing 2 nil. I thought people would think i’d left because we were losing. I stuck it out and we won 3-2 and guess what. The twat who’d been going on and on was gone with 20 minutes to go.

  • weedonald

    I am going to submit a post regarding the psychology of so-called ¨supporters¨ who choose to behave in a hyper-critical, insulting and corrosive manner towards Arsenal….not just the AAA mob but the ordinary bloke who can’t take any setback or defeat without becoming totally depressed and abusive.
    There is a certain psychological profile of fans like the above pessimists which can be defined as like an obsessive personality disorder but linked to addictive ideation. Anyway it will bring smiles to Gooners faces I predict.
    If we don’t do well against MU…watch out for the screaming outrage which will be vented onto cyberspace in its most irrational and vitriolic form.

  • kenneth Widmerpool

    Weedonald, you’re right its happened!I’m always a bit shocked how much the mainstream media has its knives out for the Arsenal.
    Plus now we have the new scapegoat for the team, Andre Santos! Not content with chipping Arshavin down, the new thing is to blame Santos for everything, despite the fact the bloke does actually want to go forward and score if possible.He wasn’t the only one who made mistakes on Saturday! One minute the media are enjoying the fighting between players, the next the FA want more sportsmanship, then the pundits scorn Santos for wanting VP shirt.Shifting goalposts methinks.
    The Arsenal away support is terrific though, they generate incredible noise, if only it was the same at the Emeroids.
    Lets hope Mr Stewart Robson doesn’t keep spreading discontent when we again need a bit of unity. Things aren’t as bad as many are making out, just a bit more fight needed.
    If anything I personally think that we’re missing Alex Song more than VP. Its a shame that the Schalke game has so much pressure on it already, I also hope that Der Prinz will wake up a bit, its sad to see his slump- he was like a firecracker at the beginning of the season.