Arsenal fans have truly become the Twelfth Man at the Emirates

Whether it’s our manager, players or supporters, the majority are commenting on the relationship developing between the Arsenal team and the crowd at the Emirates.

To be fair it wasn’t hard for Arteta to improve that bond.

In the last few years of Arsene Wenger’s reign there was an obvious divide within our fanbase.

Some Gooners felt the grass would be greener if the Frenchman left, others like myself stressed only when that happened would we realise how hard it was to constantly qualify for Europe under the current ownership.

Who’s right and wrong is a debate for another day.

Irony that is hard to ignore, Arsenal were mocked for ‘only’ finishing top 4, something that we would now celebrate .

The perception were the Gunners were in a cycle. Happy to take the revenue of Champions League money, but never a serious challenger.

Whether the Kroenke Family policy has changed is a topic for another occasion.

As a Red Member, I recall attending home matches and knowing that if we didn’t break the deadlock by half time the atmosphere would change. You would physically feel that anxiety around you.

Even those with zero affiliation towards the badge became aware of the strained partnership with Arsenal and its customers.

The likes of AFTV made us a laughing stock, gave us a reputation of Banter FC.

Where once we were renowned throughout Europe for how we tried to play, we became known as a toxic group of fans.

It seemed impossible anyone would treat the greatest manager in our history the way we did, and you sense Mr Wenger still hurts regarding that lack of loyalty.

The likes of Mustafi and Xhaka have gone on record of how online abuse impacted them mentally.

It’s not that divide has gone away.

The funny part being the same people who attacked their peers for defending Mr Wenger, now defend Arteta for equally ‘only’ finishing 4th.

The truth has always been there is no one right or wrong.

It’s simply men, women and children, all from various backgrounds, who bleed red and want the very best for the club.

Nobody wants to be negative, but after nearly two decades without a title, years of selling our best talent, we just become immune to being disappointed.

So, while (including on JustArsenal) we clash sometimes, it’s because we have more in common than you think.

We all noticed the club’s regression, and worried about a failure to be in Europe for the first time in quarter of a century.

No longer were we the team who played free flowing football who you could bully.

No longer could you point to world class youngsters who just lacked leadership .

It didn’t matter who the manager was.

The simple truth was Arsenal were no longer very good.

Two consecutive 8th place finishes were proof that few, if any, of our players would make the 11of the top 3.

It wasn’t a shock to get humiliated at Anfield or the Etihad anymore.

So Gooners realised that the youngest squad in the division needed help, that 12th man.

To ridicule them and make them scared to pull on the shirt would be counterproductive.

Gone were the days where we win most home fixtures comfortably. Players needed help getting over the line.

Contrary to popular belief, all any fans want to see is their team being the best version of themselves they can be and those associated with that team caring.

By signing players last summer under the age of 23 and listening to Edu and the BFG, there was reasons to believe that the club had in fact reflected on their failures and made an action plan.

Time will tell how genuine that action plan is?

Will Smith Rowe and Saka one day be sold to a rival?

Will we stand still once back in the CL?

I have my suspicions….

Yet for now, we have an identity and an ethos.

As for Arteta, while his micromanagement on the touchline grates on me as I want him to trust players to express themselves, the man cares.

Ramsdale, Ben White, Tierney are British players who know how big Arsenal were growing up and could be again.

We have academy graduates who have grown up at the club now in our first team.

The turning point was the Man City fixture.

Sure, the atmosphere had been great in the NLD, but we won that day.

On New Year’s Day, every player in red and white were given a standing ovation because they left their blood, sweat and tears out on the pitch.

That’s all we can ask….

Gooners have been scarred so many times that it wouldn’t shock many if we choked, and the pressure of the run in proved too much .

That we lack that mentality in key moments of matches.

That’s why most Gooners in the stand are trying to make up for what we don’t have.

If Arsenal finish 4th, there will be a lot of reasons why, but the relationship between Gooners and gunners is high on that list…

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith

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Tags 12th man fans Gooners


  1. “Ramsdale, Ben White, Tierney are British players who know how big Arsenal were growing up and could be again.”I’m sorry but you don’t need to be British to know about Arsenal past or that being British/English will automatically mean that the players will care more. TH14, Viera…and many more are the perfect example.

    1. Arsenal have become 12th man, who thinks of these headlines.

      Maybe the fans have become 12th man, but howcan arsenal become their own 12th man. pffft

  2. Very beautiful article. Well thought through and balanced.
    Whatever our opinions on the owners, manager or players at the end of the day we all want the same as Arsenal supporters. We’re all part of the same group.

  3. Good article. I haven’t attended any games live since lockdown but the twelth player is coming through loud and clear over the TV. Would love to take my boys to the Emirates with such a united fanbase – oddly enough more to see the difference Gooners can make when the team is down.

    The comparison with Wenger’s success in top four finishes is a valid one and I’ll confess to taking it for granted. But at the same time I think many felt we had become an elite treadmill team.

    Say Arteta gets us back in the top four for the next ten years but fails to win or be truly competitive for PL title of CL. I suspect he would be dealt the same fate that befell Wenger.

    1. We are going from strength to strength. With our twelfth man, Saliba pushing Gabriel & White for a spot, a world class striker and an upgrade on Xhaka then we will challenge for the title next year.

  4. The travelling supporters are the best ones. They chanted tirelessly at the Villa Park, even when we were losing at the Emirates

    I don’t think we would be consistent without the mental boost from the avid Gooners in England. Arsenal’s strategy in collecting likeable young players have been showing the results

    We wouldn’t have won many away games if we kept the ill-disciplined superstars who can’t adapt to the team’s playing style

  5. I think there partly is a misconception.
    Arsenal/Wenger weren’t critized for “only finishing in Top 4”.
    The frustration had much more to do with the lack of ability to make serious challenges for the title, and the apparent lack of focus on addressing that problem.
    There is quite a big difference, IMO

    1. But we havnt challenged for the title since Wenger ?
      It’s not like fans are happy now because we have challenged for the title

      1. I believe fans are happier now, because a slide from being title challengers many years ago, over being a Top 4 team to dropping outside Top 4, looks like not only being stopped, but being converted into progress. And a possible Top 4 at the end of the season will be celebrated for
        1) Progress compared to previous 5 years
        2) An important step towards more
        3) All achieved with the youngest and arguably the most promising team in the league

        As such not as a “trophy”.

        1. I used the term “Elite Treadmill Team” above and I think that captures what you are saying. That’s arguably where we were in the last decade of Wenger’s reign.

          It doesn’t feel like that now for a number of reasons – and AndersS you’ve described why in your three points.

      2. This must have been the best peice of article you had written in a while.

        A mention new years game against city as a good measuring stick and a faithful did took me to task.

        There is so many part of this article I could reinforce, but just hope the faithful take time out to read it in its entirety.

        Well said Dr. Smith

  6. Expectations rule. Wenger ‘failed’ 14 seasons in a row. Emery got 5th and made EL final yet was sacked the next season. Arteta ‘failed’ his first two seasons. If we finish 5th this season or next he will branded a ‘failure’. Player/fan relationship is a debatable subject. Players are regularly paid more in a season than most fans will be paid in a lifetime. How many fans will meet let alone hang out with players regularly? 60,000 strangers watching players they will never meet in games they have no influence over is like voting in an election where nobody reads the mark you leave on a piece of paper but we are told we ‘have had our say’. Football like religion is as much in the mind as in the flesh. After a win the players often say how important the crowd was but rarely mention the crowd when they lose. The Manager talks about character when the team wins but rarely when the team loses. Striving for an elusive goal remains an addictive opiate for football fans which never fades. The Grecian urn comes to mind. They say doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result is madness. By definition then 95% of Football fans are mad. Not anyone on JustArsenal I might add.

    1. Why not, Fairfan? I admit that I am susceptible to the madness that you described here, and as many posters would say, that is the thrill of supporting a team wouldn’t you agree?

    2. fairfan, A realistic article but with a highly patronising last line. OF COURSE ALMOST ALL DYED IN THE WOOL FOOTBALL FANS ARE MAD! I definitely am!!
      NO doubt about it . A delicious intoxicating madness but a madness, all the same

  7. Lol…. First time i will be commenting on this page and this post is actually funny and biased. You should just come out as one that doesn’t fancy Arteta instead of just beating around the bush. You think any manager could have come in and done miracle on this Arsenal team with the mess and everything? Every Arsenal fan appreciates what Wenger turned Arsenal to and fans wanting him to leave was the right thing (maybe not the d way it went about). Fighting for top 4 is quite different and alot harder this time than it was during Wenger’s reign,so any team that gets the 4th position will definitely celebrate it. When Arteta came,changes was made and him finishing 8th twice should be understandable with the type of players he had then,now that he has his own team the way he wants it,he’s in line to get into the top 4 possibly.

  8. Arsenal needs maximum of six players to compete…3frontline fowards,2defensive players and 1 centerback
    Players to sell,lacazette,Pepe,nketiah,xhaka,elneny,holding,bellerin,torreira,guendouzi etc
    Players to switch position,try Ben White at DM and Omar Rekik too at DM ..they are better options than Lokonga

  9. Arsene Wenger’s biggest mistake was being loyal to players who were not loyal to him. That resulted in the toxic atmosphere we had. I’m just glad that the majority of the supporters realized in time, that it was the players who were the problem. It was really a shame that Unai became a victim. Kudos to Arteta for being ruthless, otherwise we would be doing what spurs and Man Utd are still doing after so many years. There is a valuable lesson for us to learn. Though it is important for us to support our players, we should not give them power to run the team. Social media has become a dangerous tool in the hands of players who manipulate fans. Big Up to Arsenal supporters for taking their team back from the rogue Mafia and allowing the manager to rebuild this once potent machine back to glory. Couple more good signings and this team will be very dangerous. And that with a well run sustainable financial model.

  10. The author went on.
    As a red member, I recall attending home matches and knowing if we didn’t break the dead lock by halftime the atmosphere would change. You would physically feel that anxiety around you.

    The place was toxic, now all that negative atmosphere in the stand would transfer to the the players on the pitch and they in turn becomes a nervous wreck.

    Cant tell you of countless time I would be at home watching the tv behind a big chair hoping, hanging on a slim lead.

    The opposition would smell blood and close in for the kill.

    Neves maybe right, last minute win like what we had against Wolves was unheard of

    1. Switching to the Emirates has definitely attracted more corporate prawn sandwich fans.
      Season ticket holder selling on to the highest bidder and pricing out passionate fan who can’t afford.
      We will never get back to the days of Highbury where the atmosphere was intense and crackling but when the Emirates is rocking it feels so good.
      Would love that atmosphere week in week out and hopefully a winning teams on the pitch helps go a long way to getting that atmosphere back.
      Baby steps
      Onwards and upwards

  11. In ernest the bond between the gunners abd gooners is so strong. I obverved closely this in a game against Wolves, Laca and Pepe were very good exhibits. You could see them connecting in gestures. That was very good and it paid devinded at last. Gooners for ever.

  12. The relationship was always good, it only turned sour when the fans thought the players were giving tepid performances, no fight and no resilience offered. When the players perform well, win lose or draw, but when they really seem to be playing their heart out than the fans appreciate that and make the appreciation felt by being the 12th man. Now the relationship is jelling well and long may it continue.

  13. The arsenal fans watching the match on the pitch are amazing and are really trying with the toxic and the atmosphere especially when loosing….. All in all I really appreciate the arsenal team and the fans that are in Emirates and pray that one day, I will be there to watch and support the team

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