How the crowd at Arsenal is now quite different from elsewhere




By Tony Attwood

In 2017/18 Liverpool lost no games at Anfield.  In 2018/19 it was the same – no home defeats.  In 2019/20 they not only had no defeats they also had just one draw.  The other 18 games were won.

But in 2020/21 it went wrong for them.  They lost six games at home.  But they recovered for 2021/22.  No defeats at home.  And through those five years they have been in the top four of the Premier League.

Now of course I know that is nothing compared with Wenger’s run in the top four, but still it is impressive.   And beyond any doubt it has been caused in part by the attitude of many Liverpool supporters in the ground.

It is, in my view, an attitude which was the antithesis of the attitude expressed by many in Arsenal’s ground during the latter part of Wenger’s reign, during the Emery era, and even during the early part of Arteta’s management of the club as we transformed our playing style but sank to eighth in the league.

The attitude at Anfield is, in my view, (and of course it is just my view as one who has visited Liverpool numerous times) one of superiority – which is not a good way to see the world in my view, but that’s how it feels to me.  A view that seems to me to say, “Liverpool will win because this is the club of Merseyside, and this is a part of the country that is superior in every way.  It is famous for its football club, for its music, for its rail network,” and yes even I would say the rail system from the suburbs into Liverpool centre works very well – as least when I’ve been on it.

As for its river, for its central part in the slave trade, for the number of rough sleepers and beggars on its streets…  Still a key part of Liverpool, but not quite what you want to boast about.

So the fact is that every time I’ve been to Liverpool either to watch a football match, or for a social visit, (or indeed to get married) I have felt a belief in the city and the football team that is not something I experience in other parts of the country.   And it is easy to see (in my opinion and as a person who has earned his living for much of his life as a social scientist, although not as a sociologist) how much this helps the club.  Arrogance may not be a particularly attractive personality trait, nor may crowd tribalism be a desirable social characteristic, but it gives Liverpool a huge benefit as a club.

Which brings us to Pep Guardiola’s response to his side’s defeat repeating the phrase over and over “This is Anfield” as he says he was “pelted with coins” according to the report.

His point was that things happen in that stadium which don’t happen elsewhere.  The key thing that happens, as far as I have observed, is a significant level of support for the home team and antipathy for the away team – a level which goes beyond that in many other grounds.

And as a result of this anything goes attitude, Jurgen Klopp has been accused of “bringing shame on the boot-room of Anfield” with his abuse of a match official during the 1-0 defeat of Manchester City.

Quite why it is like this I don’t know, and sociological studies of the issue can get very tangled especially when the issue of Heysel Stadium is considered as part of the background.  It was, as far as the evidence I know about shows, a disaster caused by Liverpool fans but which forced all English clubs out of Europe.  Why so much more is written about the awfulness of the Hillsborough tragedy, than Heysel, I’m not sure.  Is it really because of the numbers who died?  And also we might wonder why beyond Bradford the Bradford stadium fire is largely ignored these days. Maybe because of the 39 deaths at Heysel, none were English.  Maybe because the fire safety officers inspecting Bradford’s ground should never have given it a safety certificate.

Of course the phrase  “This is Anfield” does resonate, and Liverpool do manage to have a very good home record.   But they do go in for coin throwing at Anfield – and the answer to that point when I have on occasion tried to discuss it, is that it happens everywhere.   Which is a bit like saying a murder took place in north London, but murders take place everywhere.  Yes they do, but they should all be followed up, and the criminals dealt with.

That Liverpool don’t like Manchester City is clear – the reference by Klopp to the “state project” was well made and if there is such a thing as a well-placed insult that was right.

It has long been a theme of Untold Arsenal that there an extreme imbalance in the way the national media in England treat various clubs, and to see two of those who have been lauded by the media for so long at war with each other is rather amusing in a sense.  But whether those in official positions will be able to hand out suitable punishments to either of those clubs remains in doubt.  I don’t think they’ve been very good at it in the past.

What I do love however is the fact that at long last Arsenal is taking pride in its physical location.  “North London Forever”  really is our song associated with our area, unlike “You’ll never walk” and “Blue Moon”.

3 Replies to “How the crowd at Arsenal is now quite different from elsewhere”

  1. Tony

    If it is even possible, I believe Liverpool fans collectively suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

    As you will be well aware Tony, NPD is a mental disorder characterized by:

    ‘A life-long pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration and a diminished ability to empathize with others’ feelings’.

    Liverpool fans have a sense of self love, so pronounced it seeps out of every pore. It seems to me it is a condition that stretches across the entire City. They are the hardest workers. Friendliest people. Have the best music and the funniest comedians. They do nothing wrong and everyone else is always to blame. They are the best at everything DESPITE the entire World trying to do them over. Always the victim.

    Some of this may or may not be the case. That is of no importance. The fact is, that is what THEY believe. And they are allowed to believe this and even wallow in this belief, because nobody ever dares to refute a single aspect of it.

    The media are entirely complicit in perpetrating this notion.

    In respect of the football team:

    I think it’s fair to say, the level of criticism and abuse that has been aimed at Arsenal over the last dozen years has been off the scale. But why? This is how our record over the last 12 years, ranging from season 2010-11 to 2021-22, compares with Liverpool’s record over the 12 seasons running 2006-07 to 2017-18:

    Arsenal finished out of the top four 6 times.
    Liverpool finished out of the top four 6 times.

    Arsenal finished 8th twice and 6th once.
    Liverpool finished 8th twice and 7th twice.

    Arsenal finished 2nd once and 3rd once
    Liverpool finished 2nd twice and 3rd once.

    So as far as League finishes are concerned two very similar track records, Liverpool’s arguably slightly worse, but you would hardly believe it. We were ridiculed on an almost daily basis whereas by and large Liverpool’s dramatic fall from grace was discretely brushed under the carpet. It was never muted for one moment that Liverpool was no longer part of the big six, despite the fact they actually fell out of the top six 4 times.

    And this is where the media played their crucial part in turning, not only our fans, but our ex-players against us. No wonder our fans turned against their own given the level of media agitation. Compare and contrast with the overtures of love that remained for Liverpool over this period. ‘Next year will be the year’ was the drum they constantly banged.

    And let’s not forget during these respective 12-year periods Arsenal actually won 5 FA Cups. Liverpool won a solitary League Cup.

    The media’s influence on the fans, with their diametrically opposed takes on the respective clubs during these periods of ‘failure’ should never be underestimated.

  2. Nitram, you forgot to mention their exemplary personal hygiene. Having stood next to them in the Clock End circa 1965 I can assure you that they stank to high heaven. Mind you, they’ve probably had bathrooms installed by now.
    I’d say that Boris was spot on when he mentioned Liverpool’s “victim mentality”

  3. Similar situation on the North bank around that time as they did their standard turnstile storming 5 minutes before kick off
    and forced their way to the section behind the goal to wave their flags and sing their silly song.
    There were many groups that came to take the North Bank . Rangers with their whisky bottles , United with the oranges with razor blades in them , but Liverpool were the worst and the most dislikeable . Peeing on twelve year olds to get them to move.

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