Arsenal’s shocking failure on 3 November will live long in the memory





By Tony Attwood

The Europa League games are part of the season ticket package, although the three group-stage home matches clearly don’t excite everyone who has paid their money in advance.   Some put their seat up for sale via the notoriously unhelpful club re-sell programme, some were turfed out of their seats and made to sit elsewhere because Uefa officialdom demand a good view, and some of us travel from near and far in the hope of watching a good match.

I was there, but the game itself is not what I take away from yesterday evening.  Rather it was the behaviour of the Zurich fans and the complete inability of Arsenal to cope with them.   Did no one have any idea that there might be some away support there?  Did no one think that they might bring in vast numbers of flares and other pyrotechnics?   Come to that who decided it was ok for them to bring an array of drums in (although those only assailed our ears not the physical safety of a lot of people in the stadium).

In one sense those away fans were doing a good job for their team, making an incredible amount of noise throughout the whole event, and of course I have no idea if any of them were hurt, but one thing is sure it was incredibly dangerous, and security broke down totally.

In fact, here’s a simple question.  Why am I, a season ticket holder, frisked each time I enter the ground, when the vast number of large flares and pyrotechnic devises were allowed in last night seemingly without let or hindrance last night?

Was it maybe that no one noticed that tickets for the away section had been sold?  Did no one bother to read reviews of what matches are like at Zurich’s own stadium.   “There was a strong and extremely off-putting drug smell at the stadium from some of the fans – only during the match,” is just one example comment.

And if you think I am being a bit of a fuddy-duddy in my old age, do take a look at the video above.  And when you have done that have a look at the video below – this was before the match between Zurich and PSV.

So what were Arsenal’s security team playing at?  The flares and fireworks went on all the way through the game.   Does Arsenal security think that the game was well-managed and the whole affair was safe?  Do they think no one was in danger?

And I am only talking about what it looked like from my seat in the front row upper tier?   (Fortuantely for me the fat cats of Uefa didn’t demand my seat for this match).

There is a complete inability at Arsenal to control the away support and to keep those of us who don’t want to riot and create mayhem, safe.  That is not to say I was hurt or suffered in any way but this is not how football should be.   Given pictures from the past Zurich should not have been sold tickets, there should have been much more security, and the police should have been involved in and around the ground in case any of their fans got through.

And yes I know that would have meant some law-abiding citizens would not have been able to go, but if that were the case maybe enough publicity would be raised to make Uefa do something for once.

As for the question of whether Arsenal were taken by surprise, you might care to scroll down this article on the official Arsenal site, and look at one of the pictures.

In terms of the football this is how the table looks.


UEFA Europa League – Group A 2022/23
# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 6 5 0 1 8 3 5 15
2 PSV Eindhoven 6 4 1 1 15 4 11 13
3 Bodo Glimt 6 1 1 4 5 10 -5 4
4 FC Zurich 6 1 0 5 5 16 -11 3


We’ve avoided the next round thankfully, but at the cost of showing the world, there is no security at Arsenal stadium.

9 Replies to “Arsenal’s shocking failure on 3 November will live long in the memory”

  1. Tony, thank you. I was expecting your comments, having watched the game on television.

    From the start, clouds of smoke over the whole pitch were affecting the general visibility and it must have been difficult for the players to see, – not to mention any effects from inhalation of the smoke. Few direct shots of the away fans were shown, until at one stage late in the game, there was sight of a mass of flame burning in the midst of their section. I cannot understand how security staff do not prevent such items being brought in, especially on the grand scale that was evident last night. Then when the pyrotechnics start, I wonder why no steps are taken to stop the practice and extricate the offenders. CCT coverage must make it easy to identify the people responsible.

    Perhaps I am also an old fuddy-duddy also, but I cannot stand drums of any kind at football matches . They should be completely forbidden at every level throughout the world – the same applies to bands – the England band which incessantly plays the Great Escape theme provides an additional good reason for not watching international football. It is very annoying via television reception. It must be unbearable within the stadia themselves.

  2. Someone must do a cost assessment taking into account the cost of proper security against the inevitable fine from UEFA for not controlling the safety within the stadium. Stewarding at the ground has been a bone of contention for a long time with the regular attendees often complaining of heavy handiness yet seeing away fans being allowed more freedom.
    I did not go for financial reasons . 6 games compressed into 34 days , 6 – 280 mile return trips to London and mayor Khan’s pound of flesh , crap virtually non existent public transport from North Norfolk, it all adds up.
    Still I put my ticket on exchange and ticketmaster duly took their 10 % as well so another supporter since 1956 will fade away .
    That’s life in modern Britain.

  3. I was there last night.

    As I can go so rarely, I still enjoyed myself simply on the basis of actually ‘being there’. It was a thrill.

    But it has be said 2 things were a disgrace:

    1) The away fans, or more accurately how they were allowed in with flares, and then how absolutely nothing was done to stop them. I went with the friend who got me my ticket, and his 16-year-old son and 16-year-old nephew. They look like what they are, 2 young schoolboys. Yet their rucksacks were searched not once, but twice. The second time, it has to be said, extremely thoroughly. Maybe they were looking for an overly sharpened pencil?

    The point is, there is absolutely no way a flare of any shape or form could have entered the stadium if the away fans were searched in such a manner. Therefore, they can NOT have been searched in such a manner. WHY?

    2) The referee was an absolute joke, as was VAR. The referee allowed them to kick us at will, and how VAR missed that shirt pull in the box in the first half I’ll never know.

    Despite everything we got the result we required. Well done lads.

  4. Chaps, ok I wasn’t there and watched on tv. Been going to Highbury from the 60’s and onwards to the Emirates. You are indeed old fuddy duddys! Agree flares and pyrotechnics should not be allowed in..Drums and atmosphere, why not!

    The march by Zurich fans to the Emirates looked orderly, if not noisy.

    I’m guessing you tut tut at the rejuvenated noise and songs from our own fans, that this season, have lifted the Emirates and the team!
    I’m guessing you stand in silence when ‘The Angel’ reverberates around the stadium.

    Thankfully, no longer a library..Let your hair down and enjoy what we have got, as you know it won’t last forever!

    Proud to be a noisy and passionate Gooner!

  5. The there are two points Alan. One is simply that flares are incredibly dangerous and there were a huge number of them being let off in a confined space – that is dangerous. Of course we all do dangerous things; I drove from the Midlands down the M1 to watch the game and that was dangerous, but I consider is an acceptable danger, and one I have to accept if I want to go to the game. But I think this is a danger too far.
    The second is that every time I enter the stadium I am body checked by someone on the gate presumably to see if I am carrying a forbidden object into the ground. Why are season ticket holders body checked when away supporters are not? Why are home supporters treated as more dangerous than away supporters? That’s not being fuddy duddy, it is having a reasonable questioning response to a situation

  6. Alan

    Doubt you’d be so accepting should somebody of been hurt by the ILLEGAL setting off of fireworks in a public space.

    Why does expecting Arsenal Football Club to apply the rules to away fans as they do to 16-year-old home fans make someone a ‘fuddy duddy’? Explain please.

    Why does expecting Arsenal Football Club to keep people safe make someone a ‘fuddy duddy’? Explain please?

    So okay you think drums are okay. That’s up to you. But they are not allowed. Not just into the Emirates but any football ground:

    “Along with “any article that might be used as a weapon”, spectators are not allowed to take into the ground: unlicensed musical instruments, including trumpets, drums and “other devices capable of causing a disturbance or nuisance”.

    So, I ask again. Why does expecting Arsenal Football Club to implement the regulations put in place to keep you me and everyone else safe, make somebody a ‘fuddy duddy’. Please explain.

    One final question.

    Do you think breaking rules, regulations, laws, is perfectly acceptable and why?

  7. Alan

    Things that are banned in football grounds:







    Smoke canisters




    Dangerous or hazardous items

    Laser devices


    Glass vessels



    And any article that might be used as a weapon and/or compromise public safety.

    Now Alan, as you seem to think ‘Atmosphere’ and or ‘enjoying yourself’ takes president over public safety or causing a nuisance, could you please explain to me which of the above are too ‘Fuddy Duddy’ for you to obey?

    I mean personally I’d like to have a beer in the stadium. My Wife would like a smoke. My mate thinks standing up the entire match is okay.

    None of us do any of that because it’s either against the rules or likely to upset another paying customer. But hey, that’s just us being fuddy duddy I suppose.

  8. Tony, totally agree with first point, fireworks or such like shouldn’t be taken into stadiums. I said that on first post. On second point, I personally have no objection to being searched and subject to security checks, it’s in all our interests but you are right, same criteria must apply to away fans; one for the club to answer..

    Nitram, already answered and stated on first post, dangerous weapons or such like have no place in a football stadium, end of!

    Why fuddy duddys, because noise and atmosphere at a football stadium is part of the experience, it’s not a theatre, although Arsenal are playing some magical football right now!

    Now a question for you..Why do you think that anyone carrying a ruck suck into a stadium shouldn’t be searched? Would you feel the same if that someone took one of the items on your list into the stadium ?

    Another thing, I actually thought the ref was ok, very repetitive to hear a footy fan bemoaning decisions that don’t go their way. ! How about coming up with something original!

  9. Alan

    “….because noise and atmosphere at a football stadium is part of the experience”

    At what point did I dispute that. I too used to follow Arsenal throughout the late 70’s and 80’s. I’ve stood in the North bank when it’s absolutely packed to the rafters. The atmosphere was electric. I loved it. But was it safe? No. I ended up off my feet, out of control many times. A couple of times I ended up crushed on the floor. Just because somethings ‘fun’ doesn’t always make it right or safe.

    The atmosphere back in those days was often created, not by the football, but by the tribalism that existed between rival sets of fans. Tribalism that often ended up with fighting inside the stadia and running riots outside. I know I was there.

    The Zurich fans could have created a wonderful atmosphere WITHOUT the setting off of dangerous and illegal flares or the banging of illegal drums.

    I have no objection to, in fact like most people, I love an atmosphere. The noise and atmosphere those away fans created on Thursday was exceptional. It was thrilling. I do not deny that. I even enjoyed the visual spectacle the flares created. But that doesn’t mean what they did was acceptable, safe, or more importantly LEGAL. For some reason you seem to have no problem with any of that, simply on the basis YOU enjoyed it.

    I enjoy driving at 100 MPH on the Motorway and feel perfectly safe doing so. But despite how thrilling I find it; I don’t do it because a) It’s illegal and b) It is inherently unsafe.

    I put the health and safety of others, not to mention obeying the law, above my need for a thrill, or in this case a bit of added atmosphere.

    That does not make me a fuddy duddy.

    “Why do you think that anyone carrying a ruck suck into a stadium shouldn’t be searched”?

    And where did I say that?

    The boys’ bags most certainly should have been searched. As should have the bags of the away fans. My point was, if they searched the bags of the away fans in the manner those two young lads were searched it would have been impossible for a flare to of entered the stadium. Therefore, they could NOT have searched the away fans bags. WHY?

    The pencil comment was me being facetious as given the wealth of evidence available it was highly likely, nay, CERTAIN that the away fans would have been trying to secrete flares into the grounds. Yet they didn’t search their bags did they. Yet they DID search two schoolboys. What were they searching for in their bags when they didn’t deem it necessary to search for flares? Sorry it went over your head.

    “Another thing, I actually thought the ref was ok, very repetitive to hear a footy fan bemoaning decisions that don’t go their way. ! How about coming up with something original!”

    Something original you say? What like congratulating them for missing a stonewall penalty and allowing Zurich to kick our guys off the park you mean. Would that be original enough for you?

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