There is nothing like a bit of perspective, which is usually very lacking in Arsenal fans. Gooners will moan about losing to Bayern Munich and Chelsea, while Sunderland fans are cheering all two wins they have managed this year while spiralling to bottom spot in the Premier League!
I just had to laugh when I read this article in the Chronicle this morning from Stuart Rayner, who travelled the 300 miles down to watch his team lose, while half the Arsenal fans didn’t even bother to use their season tickets!
Maybe some Arsenal fans should use a bit of empathy when moaning, even when we win……
It was hard not to shed a tear for Arsenal.
Second favourites for the FA Cup and going into the final week of the season three points off securing Champions League football for the squillionth season in succession, times are tough at Ashburton Grove.
So it was that the Gunners not-so-faithful chose this televised Tuesday night game to express their anger at Arsene Wenger’s desperate clinging to power by staying at home. The official attendance was a smidgeon under 60,000 – a number so fanciful it could have come from a General Election manifesto.
Like Sunderland, Arsenal add season ticket holders to their tally whether or not they make it off the sofa. As at the Stadium of Light, the gaps in the terraces were glaringly obvious.
The visiting fans must have been struggling to contain their disbelief.
You think you’ve got problems having to put up with Mesut Ozil in your forward line? Try having his opposite number Fabio Borini as both played inside-right in Chelsea-style 3-4-2-1.
Arsenal fans want to see their miserly manager spend more in the transfer market. Sunderland have just gone down with a wage bill which last season was £83m.
Throughout the game Arsenal’s greater class was evident. While they weaved pretty patterns across their pretty pitch, Sunderland misplaced passes and stabbed interceptions back into the path of the team they had just won the ball back from.
At half-time it equated to the same outcome for both teams – the square root of diddly squat.
But whereas 0-0 represented a great result for Sunderland, who increasingly came to understand that prettiness and penetration were not one and the same thing, it was not in Arsenal’s plans – not when they had a three-point gap and a goal difference deficit to make up on Manchester City in the final two games of the campaign.
Despite their 2-0 win, it looks like the Wenger boys might have to do with poor man’s Champions League, the Europa League. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to them.
For once, the boot was on the other foot for Sunderland’s fans. They could enjoy taking the mickey out of their opponents for not being up to scratch.
“You’re not very good,” they sang towards the home supporters – well, okay, the exact words were nothing so polite but that was the gist.
“This is a library,” they added, on account of the quietness within the ground, not the lack of people using it.
“Champions League, you’re having a laugh!” Heading for the Championship is no barrier to a bit of Schadenfreude at a bigger club’s expense, thank goodness.
Watching the Gunners fans’ squirm was a pleasant distraction for Sunderland’s fans, who did not sing an anti-Moyes song all night.
If the home contingent are blessed to have the opportunity to watch players of the quality of Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to entertain them every week, the Wearsiders are lucky – for one more game of football at least – to have Jordan Pickford to marvel at. The Washington-born goalkeeper was in tremendous form, and the defence in front of him gave him every opportunity to showcase his considerable talent by allowing themselves to be sliced open by Arsenal’s slick passer. There were comfortable saves, sliding saves, diving saves and stretching saves.
Only in the 73rd minute when Sunderland very politely stood back and allowed Alexis Sanchez to tap in were the home fans able to have a bit of a gloat. Eight minutes later when the Chilean found the net again, some of them headed out into the rain. By full-time the stand opposite the dugout was practically empty of home fans.
“Wemberlee, Wemberlee,” those that stayed sang to cheer themselves up from this miserable existence of theirs.
Hopefully they enjoy it. It has been a tough old campaign for the men from north London. Sunderland are lucky – they go into the final game of the season knowing exactly what their final position will be. While the Black Cats are soaking up the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal’s will be glued to their phones at home to Everton hoping for good news from Anfield or Vicarage Road.
Sunderland supporters do not realise how lucky they are…
After reading that, do you still think us Arsenal fans are hard done by?