Arsenal 1 Fulham: but the low crowd suggests cost of entry isn’t the issue

By Tony Attwood

Last night Arsenal under 21s beat Fulham 1-0 at the Emirates.  It was a terrific game full of the most amazing skills from incredibly talented players; an absolute joy to watch.  It was one of those games where right up to the 86th minute when Zelalem scored there was a doubt if Arsenal would make the break through.

Entry was free to members (all members, red, silver, gold), and there was the catering facilities in the ground.

And yet under 2000 turned up.

OK, each to his own, but I couldn’t help thinking that some of the people who moan about the high price of entry, about not being able to get tickets to Arsenal matches, about being priced out of football and all that, are really more interested in moaning and knocking Arsenal rather than actually watching football.

Now I fully admit I don’t get to many under 21 games.  In the days when they or the reserves played in games in minor stadia across the Midlands (where I live) I would always go, but these days, with the 190 odd mile round trip, to London, and few under 21 games open to the public (and even fewer in the Midlands) I don’t go so much – given that I go to all the first team games at home, and a handful away.

But for a person who is struggling to afford the first team, seeing the under 21s at the Emirates is a brilliant experience.  Indeed for anyone who really doesn’t want to support the club by being a member, and who can’t afford the £31 for the lowest price non-member ticket into the ground, an under 21 game like this surely would be a must.

What we saw last night was a Fulham side that parked the bus, and an Arsenal team that tried every possible move to get around them – and finally did.   It was skill – skill – skill – very few nasty tackles from the Fulham defenders, and the few there were, were dealt with, through a solid bit of headmasterly like talking by the ref.  Quite a different experience from the Premier League.

In fact, no one set out to maim the more skilful side which made for the speed and enthusiasm of many of the players.

We didn’t have any over age players in the line ups, as far as I know, but we certainly did have some players who absolutely caught the eye.  Krystian Bielik at number 5, part of what was for much of the game a three men defensive back line, was superb, and you can see at once why Arsenal ventured into the market for him.  Unless something goes seriously wrong, he must be vying for a first team centre back position.  You can see why he is counted as a first team squad member.

Tafari Moore, unmistakeable in what I believe the younger generation call “dread locks” was amazingly composed at right back and also ready ready to step up (although my ability to call such progress is notoriously inept).

And they knew that ahead of them they had Gedion Zelalem in a central position in midfield, pushing and probing endlessly, with Ben Sheaf, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi all ready to pounce on anything.  Yassin Fortune (the young man who joined us in the package that brought Jeff Reine Adelaide) also made an entrance as a sub and looked impressive.

After the game Zelalem was interviewed by and said, “My goal came because I watch the first team a lot and they like to play quick one-twos on the edge of the box. Us youth-team players aspire to be like them so we try to play like them. It worked against Fulham and hopefully the fans enjoyed the goal.”


We did indeed, despite the smallness of the crowd (at least we were all in the East Lower so managed to get a bit of togetherness out of the occasion).

18 Replies to “Arsenal 1 Fulham: but the low crowd suggests cost of entry isn’t the issue”

  1. Tony, glad you enjoyed the game. The U21 West Ham game on August 28 is also at the Emirates and free to all members.
    Come on Untolders – let’s have an evening out and provide some support en-masse.

  2. I think the management could consider lowering the cost of tickets for the non Arsenal Special members to attract them to be watching our Under 21 team whenever they are playing at the Emirates Stadium. Only 2000 fans out which no one knows how many of them were digital members who were not covered by the free entry allowed the upper class members watched yesterday’s game. The attraction to watch our Under 21 home games by a large numbers of the digital Gooners and other football watching fans should be targeted by the Arsenal management. So that the Under 21 team can have at least 5000 fans to be cheering them during their home games at the Emirates Stadium. The good thing was our Under 21 team were focus on their game as they won it to take the maximum points at stake, which is the very important reason for playing the match. Arsenal are on the right path as some of those Under 21 Gunners will eventually graduated to the first team which is the main reason for setting up this Under 21 team. And reduce the buying of players all the time from the transfer market.

  3. As you say “cost of entry isn’t the issue”. From my own point of view as someone who used to live literally five minutes from Highbury, lack of interest prevented me from going to anything less than league or cup games. It wasn’t free then and the facilities were basic, so perhaps if I still lived in the area I could be tempted to go to these games.

  4. I live pretty far away- sunny Wales- but can only agree these games are a great opportunity for fans, and I’m in even stronger agreement with what you say about those who moan about difficulties with watching first team.

    Appreciate the write up,too. Exciting stuff.

    Uncanny that you zeroed in on Moore’s composure. I really liked him the few times I saw him play for us or in the u17 tournament he won with England, but might struggle to describe him as a player: composure is probably the best word for it. Not a bad trait to have given that the world’s best right back ,Lahm, has it to a remarkable degree.

    I find it pretty amazing that youth teams- youth teams!- are now opting for the old bus, against us at least. Ties in with my belief that those tactics are on the rise in a big way generally in the country, while against us the trend is even greater.

    They might be doing us a favour though- if the senior team has to face those tactics in nearly every single home match, it’ll serve the young players well if they are also facing them most of the time.

  5. Is this article serious?

    Can’t afford to go to a PL game so go to an U21 game instead and stop moaning? wow. Perhaps people dont want to spend the time watching the U21s game which is nothing more than a training session – on a Friday night. Perhaps fans don’t really believe any player will be a future Arsenal star and that they would be watching players far more likely to be loaned out and eventually go to another club.

    In case you hadn’t noticed football is being killed completely by greedy players, agents and clubs – Arsenal included. Passion for the game is dying. Crikey, the PLAYERS dont even seem to put much effort in these days.

    If people want to watch proper football – go to an amateur Saturday game or Sunday league game. The quality is lower but the passion for the game much higher and actually as a spectacle it is far more interesting than watching Arsenal U21’s.

    Stop trying to gloss over Arsenal’s disgusting ticket prices by firing bullets at fans who can’t afford to go.

  6. Congratulations Jamrayfootball, you’ve managed to hit the completely on the point (180 degrees away from the head) over the article. It’s recommending that you watch the U21s and pointing out that it’s not expensive financially. I can only guess that English isn’t your 1st language, so I’d recommend you get someone else to read these articles to you first before making such irrelevant comments.
    I would add that you’re absolutely correct over the greed of footballers (and their agents more so), but that’s not what the article is about.

  7. @Andy

    Nope – the entire point of this article was to say this:

    “OK, each to his own, but I couldn’t help thinking that some of the people who moan about the high price of entry, about not being able to get tickets to Arsenal matches, about being priced out of football and all that, are really more interested in moaning and knocking Arsenal rather than actually watching football.”

    This is completely obvious from the title of the article.

    It’s a snidely written hit piece one would expect from the Daily Fail.

  8. OT Why am I getting two (why two) league tables on the left of the page obliterating part of the comments, it really is a nuisance. Shouldn’t the table be on the right where it says League Table and shouldn’t there be just the one, not two. I am using google chrome, is anyone else getting the same problem?

  9. Oh man, what’s going on with that league table from our friends at football fancast? Bad timing,as well. I don’t want to look at the table at the minute.

  10. Tony,
    You might have given a short report on the catering front. Any more refined than on match days? 😉

  11. Speaking of food Nicky, did anyone get to one of those hamburger places, I believe on Essex?

  12. I have found that by zooming out about 5 times makes the comments just about readable.
    The idea of going to youth games is a throwback to my childhoood , however in those days it was reserve football and first team players were on the pitch throughout the Football Combination games . I think this is where the distinction lies , kids played South East Counties, men played Combination . If men’s football was returned probably so would the crowds although I have to say that attendances at Highbury in the 50′ & 60’s were not greatly attended albeit they were often mid week and mid afternoon.

  13. Jai Hind.

    Jayram – you are an embarrassment.

    Because the Under 21 games are free & are not full houses, shows that it is not price that keeps punters away.

    Tony / Walter please sort out the Table issue. It obstructs many of the comments.

  14. The timing is a issue. I live in Harrow and coming from office, getting this organized and all that, its not possible to make it. I am very keen to take my 7 yr for these games.
    And jayram, get a life, please. These games are not training sessions, every player wants to do his best so that they can make the first team. Anyone trying to come through the ranks will tell you that.

  15. @Menace

    I fail to see the link between not being able to afford to go to a first team game and turning up (or not) to a midweek U21 game.

    Think I am on pretty safe ground when I say that anyone suggesting that crticism of ticket pricing in the PL is unfounded because of attendances at U21 games is talking complete and utter nonsense.

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