Arsene Wenger is unconcerned as Arsenal fans stay away from Emirates


Arsene Wenger may or may not be bothered about the attendance for Thursdays Europa league spanking of a collection of Belarusian shopkeepers but perhaps he should be.

Speaking to Arsenal’s official website after the game, Wenger said:

No, I think you forget about that once you are on the pitch. It’s true that you prefer the ground to be full, but tonight there was not a lot at stake on the competitive side. No matter how many sit in the stands, you have to give them what they expect – and that’s what we did.

You respect the decision of your fans. They knew we were top of the group anyway and you could basically expect that. You have looked around last night in the Champions League in game number six, I have seen many grounds not full, or half empty. That’s a bit the problem of the group stage.

If he needed reasons why you could stack cars in a stadium where people usually sit, he needed to look no further than the lack of appeal of a second tier competition and how he himself, has approached it.

The Europa league tends to only get interesting when the outcasts of the Champions league fall through the trap door and into the fray. Wenger himself has continued to use the competition as a vehicle for the second string, which is hardly a selling point for the fans.

It’s like going to see Rita Ora at Wembley, only to be told that she’s pulled a sicky and that you will now be serenaded by Alexandra Burke. Although I understand that it’s a chance to get everyone involved, the Manager might want to rethink that particular strategy when things start to hot up.

Perhaps when he is tasked with beating a team that doesn’t consist of individuals that have to supplement their incomes by selling chamois leathers, novelty bottle openers and freezer bags on the doorsteps of bemused housewives. 

The truth is that it will be nothing short of embarrassing if the North London club doesn’t win the Europa league or at the very least, make the final. On the way to beating a series of anonymous teams, the boss has produced a number of decisions that provoke and irritate fans.

The main one being that, Wenger has kept Wilshere in the Europa ‘bingo’ league, rather than test him fully in premier league for a full 90 minutes. Bizarrely, he would rather trust Xhaka, which at the moment is like trusting your elderly Aunt with a chainsaw.

Although Wenger praised Wilshere after the 6-0 drubbing, we’ve heard it all before and it doesn’t put Jack back on track.

Tony Cottee said on Sky: 

“I just don’t understand it.”

“Arsene Wenger says all the right things, how great Jack is and how pleased he is but then he doesn’t play him. If he’s a 100% fit he has to start in that Arsenal team, you have to find a place for him.”

Cottee is only saying what Arsenal fans have been saying for months and still we are waiting for Wenger to install him in the middle. My frustration with Wenger runs deep. Years have flown past with only the odd FA cup to our name and no matter what I say about the Europa league, it would be another cup to put your car keys in.

Mourinho used it to try to foster a winning mentality and even though I usually hate his tactics and methods, I am in agreement with the self titled “Special One”. Loosing becomes a habit and so does winning. The appetite for silverware becomes insatiable once it starts rolling in and if you can’t win the ‘crumb cups’ how do you expect to win the Champions League?

Arsenal’s failure to secure a Champions League place was always going to have some effect on attendances this season and the Gunners could have taken the initiative and reduced prices substantially in an effort to park bums on seats.

Anyone at the Emirates who feels fans should be grateful for the opportunity of watching plumbers and car mechanics kick a ball should note that anyone can watch Sunday league football at their local recreation ground for FREE.

I’m sure Sanchez and Ozil want to trudge across a pot holed car park to play on an uneven pitch that was last maintained in August, in front of two old ladies and their miniature poodles. If any supporters think that our current position in the ‘other cup’ will help secure the signatures of top drawer talent, they may want to think again.

It will require a certain type of player who relishes being part of something that represents a rebuilding project. One that will involve establishing a team that can realistically challenge for domestic and European honours and there aren’t many of those type of players around.

Fans cannot and should not be taken for granted, their attendance shouldn’t be expected and failure shouldn’t be treated the same as success by the club. The modern football landscape has changed and in a game that demands so much from its followers, it’s difficult to imagine that they will just turn up week after week like silent partners.

They are more likely, these days, to vote with their feet because of the exorbitant prices. Prices, like protests at football matches are increasing. The days when fans stood in the rain for little reward without complaining about stale chips, soggy burger buns and insipid bore draws has long gone.

If Wenger wants the stadium full, then let’s concentrate on the football and winning things, that will put pride back in the club and put those bums back on seats. 

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