Arsenal beat Wimbledon in style, and finally the club sort out security

by Tony Attwood

The roar that greeted the arrival on the pitch of Bukayo Saka said it all – many of the fans who were at the game last night had probably never seen him in the flesh before, and he didn’t disappoint them, with a peerless display.

The same crowd didn’t give quite such a welcome to Emile Smith Rowe who had come on quarter of an hour earlier, but the arrival of these two was a nod to the fact that many of the crowd that looked to be over 50,000 will never have seen either of those two in the flesh before.

It was not a perfect display of course, for this was nothing like the team that will take on a totally different contest on Sunday, but at least we can be slightly assured that the security section are getting their act together in time for that.

Gone was the teenage shouting mob masquerading as Security prior to the previous home game.  Instead everything worked smoothly, the bag checking was put back to a logical place just prior to entry to the ground and everything worked smoothly.

And this with a large number of fans who had clearly either not been at the ground in the previous couple of games, or had never been there at all (given the large number of people looking very uncertain at where to go).

So a lesson to Arsenal: treat us as reasonable human beings who have paid to come and watch a football match and that’s how most people will behave.  Shout and scream in our faces on the way in while having a lot of people rushing around clearly out of their depth, and problems start.

Eddie Nketiah’s backheeled flip of a goal was a masterpiece in itself, and the manager did single him out, saying “Eddie gives us a lesson every day in how a professional should do his job.  He gets his head down, trains harder than anyone, supports every teammate. I’m so happy for him.”   That’s how you get management right too.

Of course we dominated the possession (67%) and the goal attempts (14-4), and those who had never been to a football match (let alone an Arsenal match) were shown just how much fun it can be.  It would have been good to have had a complete apology from the club for the security at the last game, but at least they finally did get it right.  And with Tottenham visiting on Sunday, probably just in time.

Because although football matches in England are generally not violent affairs, this is not how it is going across Europe, and yetsterday’s news from the continent was just the latest in a long list of appalling acts this season.

A bus of Bordeaux supporters, the team now coached by Vladimir Petkovic, was ambushed last night by a group of Montpellier supporters.   Police and the fire brigade were called and 16 were injured in the fighting. 

Of course the local prefect (the representative of the state in  the region) gave a speech doing what would have happened if such an event had occurred in England; condemning the violence and saying, “that all measures necessary will be taken to severely sanction and ban these hooligans from the stadium ”.

The Montpellier fans were waiting for the coach at a roundabout, just after it left the motorway at the entrance to Montpellier and attacked it with smoke bombs and iron bars, and once the coach had stopped what the French media call a “general brawl” ensued.

Obviously the police turned up and eventually the road was cleared and the bus then departed for the ground where firefighters and ambulance crews were waiting.  Fortunately there were no more than 16 injuries, according to the emergency services.

No arrests have been made as the police struggle to identify the perpetrators.

The French media are tending to blame, in part, the past season without fans in the stadia for this and a whole series of incidents recently. There was fighting between supporters of Lens and Lille on Saturday in Lens, and a pitch invasion.   The game between Nice and Marseilles was overshadowed by a pitched battle involving players, supporters and members of the management teams of both clubs.

And those are just a few of the incidents.

But that was France – why mention it here?   Because the way Arsenal supporters were being treated by the representatives of the club prior to last night could easily have led to a spiralling decline in behaviour.  Treat people worse than animals, as was the case before, and some people retaliate with violence.

Arsenal have still not apologised for getting security so wrong at the Norwich game, and I guess they never will, but last night felt like a normal game once again, and hopefully that transformation was just in time.

9,000 visiting supporters in the lower south bank did their part too, of course, but what is going on in Europe at the moment (and that example above is just one of many being reported across Europe in recent weeks – although of course never in England, because we don’t do European news) is a reminder of how quickly it is possible to change people’s behaviour.



4 Replies to “Arsenal beat Wimbledon in style, and finally the club sort out security”

  1. It was not so much like that at block H turnstile last night. A pinch point was created as fans flowed from both directions and ended up in stand off. Neither direction knew what was going on so carried on pushing forward from the back regardless. People started to panic and it was like that for a good 40 mins, children were being lifted on shoulders to avoid being hurt etc.

    The staff in the lounge above were taking photos and videos on their phones, yet no stewards arrived to help sort the mess out with loudspeakers or clear directions. Instead a few fans hurdled the fence and started trying to direct the fans accordingly and sort out the mess.

    I wasn’t impressed from a club the size of Arsenal and their neglect for anyone outside the ground.

  2. Gary I am very grateful to you for that comment. I shall pass it on to AISA – the fans group. I’ll obviously remove your details but AISA will I am sure use it to pass the information on.

  3. Will anyone watch and ref review the Watford match this Saturday? Apparently a ref from Australia will be reffing the match.

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