By Tony Attwood
Somewhere, someone worked it out. “This was Arteta’s 100th Premier League game as manager: he took 75 points from his first 50 games, and 100 from the last 50.” Wow. Arsenal are getting better.
And not just better by being top of the league
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… but also having a stadium that is rocking. And how those tiny totts down the road must be hating it. In 2021/2 they won their first three games, remember, and then lost the fourth to fall to seventh, showing three goals scored and three goals conceded in four games. Now we’ve shown them how it really is done.
Suddenly the media has picked up on the fact that ‘Tequila’ by The Champs is a new anthem – although they have missed out on something else: we all sing “North London Forever” before the game starts, and that really is emotional.
Indeed, it is that song which has built an extra sense of expectation and community at the start of each match, and all praise must go to Arsenal in ensuring that each referee waits until that verse is sung, before blowing the whistle to kick off the match.
And then there is the fact that we now also have a very active bunch of people at the clock end all dressed in black, who have totally re-energised that end of the ground too. No mention in the media of course, but we can see those guys – and what fun they are having.
I don’t know how that happened – was it Arsenal who encouraged it? do we have a new person in charge of stadium emotion? are these new factors just a coincidence? have we all had enough of the media ceaselessly, remorselessly talking about that anfield joint being the home of football emotion?
Whatever it is, it is working. The atmosphere at Arsenal stadium is unlike anything we have had for years, and it is clearly having an impact on the players. The players who have been with us for a while think, “Wow, what a place to play”, and those who have joined this year clearly think, “We’d better put on a show”, and every Arsenal supporter there is willing the team to win, rather than having that awful viewpoint that says, “Do something good and we might cheer.” (Remember the old insulting media-encouraged phrase “The Highbury Library”? None of that now.)
And all it took was two songs and a bunch of noisy hardcore supporters at each end of the ground. Who’d ever have thought it?
Of course having the youngest team in the league helps, as does having the youngest manager in the league. And our having watched a total rebuild of the team both in terms of players and style and approach and attitude helps too. But there is a sense in the ground – and indeed around the ground – that we are doing our bit. We are NOT waiting for the team to deliver. We are celebrating their performance before the match kicks off and all the way through. It makes a huge difference.
Indeed, we have shown that we, the supporters who pay the money to watch, actually matter, and the people who run the ground have agreed.
Of course, we haven’t yet managed to kick the snarling journalists out of their privileged free seats, so that we can write the discourse as well as generate it, but for the first time at the stadium, I think that maybe that day might come. The freeloading journos have been utterly left behind, taken by surprise, still pumping out the old garbage that what happens is what they say happens, rather than what really happens is what the players make happen and what we, the supporters make happen. But now we have got our club back, our stadium back and our team back.
And what else from yesterday? Eddie as a substitute was a whirlwind, a brilliant burst of energy to match what was going on around the pitch by putting it into effect on the pitch.
And speaking of Gabriel, Arteta said, “he has changed his mentality”. Yes, that looked as if it were true. But so have the supporters in the ground changed just as much. And slowly, over time, it may even get to be understood by the snarling free-loading journalists who have for years thought it was clever to take their free seat and then write negative nonsense about the club.
We’ve taken our club back, and what an amazing difference it is making. Obviously the snarling negativists in the press box are bemused and will be expecting to regain control of the narrative again – and soon – but with luck we – the players on the pitch and the supporters all around it – won’t let that happen.
Of course, we are not going to win every game, and we are not going to take every trophy. But my goodness, watching Arsenal has certainly we are making Arsenal fun once more.
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