The Arsenal Fans Didn’t Help Last Night by Dan Smith
I write this on the coach travelling back from our Europa League exit wondering what aspect to focus on. I have written too many times about our weak mentality. I could question some gooners who say Leno is the third best keeper in the Prem and the Auba debate goes on, is it enough to be putting the ball in the back of the net or should your striker be doing more in 2020?
What frustrated me throughout the evening though, even when we were on course to qualify was our fans. Winning two-legged football is all about your game management and we as Arsenal fans play our part in that.
I’m not expecting us to rival Olympiakos’ incredible support but let’s compare how they encouraged each of their men. They know they are not the best side in the world and for long periods had to watch a lot of defending, but when they won a corner in the second half it was celebrated like it was a goal. They understood set pieces were their most likely route to success and encouraged the visitors, feeding belief into them..
What about us Arsenal fans?
When they went 1-0 up with half hour to go, we acted like it was 5 mins left. The nerves had grown at half time with everyone fearing what a goal for the Greek Champions would mean. In reality they had had one shot on target and at the interval we were doing enough.
Do you think a Man United or Man City would get so nervous when leading on aggregate? Do think a Chelsea or Liverpool would panic if they had 30 mins and then extra time with their fate in their own hands?
Arteta must have spoken about the danger of an Olympiakos goal, how that would make the Arsenal fans at the Emirates edgy. And that’s a problem, the anxiety in the air (not for the first time) made it hard to play in, and teams know that. Olympiakos knew at the interval they had the crowd where they wanted them and were going to use that to their advantage.
I don’t get that this campaign, of all campaigns, why Arsenal fans would be getting impatient, like we have a divine right to be 4-0 up inside 20 mins. We have been so poor this season you should be supporting, because in reality we are not good enough and some of our squad need as much help as they can get.
Why some would act so shell-shocked that we might concede a goal baffles me. We dropped points at home to Southampton, Brighton, Sheffield United, Palace, Chelsea, City, etc. So of course it was possible the Champions of Greece might be competitive against a side 9th in the League table.
I saw Pepe try and make things happen, but his touch kept letting him down; I saw Saka lose confidence; I saw Lacazette miss a sitter, and no one brave enough to make a run.
Shouting and swearing at these lads won’t change things, it’s actually self-deprecating. Don’t get me wrong, it’s up to those on the pitch to lift us but as much as the visitors were inspired by what their followers did, we make it harder for ours?
Look at Leno’s mistake; A bread and butter pass back. Boot the ball long and we are in the last 16 but he takes such a poor touch, he gifts them a corner. Yes, he panics, which is a reflection on his character – but why is he so nervous? This wasn’t a World Cup Final…
It’s because for 120 minutes he sensed how toxic it was and let it consume him. He feared failure, knowing the grief he and his peers would get if the worse was to happen and it crippled him. If he felt relaxed, he kicks that ball away and we are through.
There’s a reason why Anfield sees so many comebacks in Europe and equally why teams always feel we will give you an opportunity.
There’s a lot wrong with Arsenal FC from top to bottom. Every department should look at themselves and ask how can we do better? Including the Arsenal fans at the Emirates…