Inside Emirates Stadium, the barrier between the upper level and the corporate boxes on the lower level is not adorned with advertisements like in many other grounds.
Instead, Arsenal, as England’s third most successful club, opted to remind participants of all the accolades they’ve won throughout the club’s history, from a first FA Cup in 1930, to a record 14th in 2020, as well as 13 league titles and other trophies collected along the way.
Since the club left their former Highbury home in 2006, success may not have been as frequent as initially expected, but Arsenal are still expected to play in front of their own fans which creates a fear factor for them. visiting teams. , which means that they have also long been able to reprimand their opponents for “parking the bus” in the N5 postcode of north London.
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The Gunners’ stalwarts have had a reputation, rightly or wrongly, of not generating the most intense atmosphere on their field but right now the squad isn’t giving much to say.
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Despite an excellent pre-game reception for returning hero Patrick Vieira who was in the opposition dugout, and an early goal, fans quickly collapsed in their seats watching a sterile and ineffective passing game that has been a feature of much of Mikel Arteta’s time in charge.
Palace’s response to take the advantage in the second half aroused neither anger nor frustration, but simply resignation. Eighth in a row has essentially made a large part of Arsenal fans accept that a possible home loss to Crystal Palace is ‘what’s happening these days’.
Arsenal is in a state of apathy. There is no more hope or expectation among a very flat set of supporters.
After coming in as a replacement, Alexandre Lacazette ran to the North Shore grandstand and threw his arms up in an attempt to wake up the crowd and, to their credit, those who were still on the ground – a number were already gone without regret – when he snatched an equalizer in the 96th minute, greeted his goal with rare enthusiasm.
“Maybe because of the way we were playing at the time, they were a bit sleepy,” the Frenchman said afterwards. “So I just wanted to bring in the energy that I know they love, and change the game.”
‘Sleepy’ fans may have woken up for the late goal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Emirates will cease to be the place where they catch 40 winks in the future.
This season at home, Arsenal have been comfortably beaten by Chelsea, struggled to defeat poor Norwich and have now stumbled to one point against Palace.
Emirates’ only standout performance so far has been the half-hour blitz against rival Tottenham which, of course, has sparked intense fervor in the crowd. However, this looks a lot like an exception.
Palace are now four away undefeated at Arsenal and will be disappointed not to come away with three points, a feeling that could very well be the case with a number of visiting teams now.
Taking an admittedly small sample, in 2017/18 legendary manager Arsene Wenger endured his “worst” season finishing sixth in the Premier League and ultimately losing his job, but ended the campaign with 15 wins, two draws and only two losses on at home, scoring 47 points, second behind runaway champions Manchester City with 50.
Wenger replacement Unai Emery, in his only full season at the helm, had an almost identical record, taking 14 wins and three draws, which was only improved by Champions City and second place Liverpool.
Even in the first six months interrupted by Covid after taking over from Emery mid-season, Arteta has won seven of his first 10 appearances at the Emirates, losing only his first manager to Chelsea.
However, it took a turn last season, with the Spaniard winning just eight and losing seven of his 19 league appearances at the Emirates, while racking up a number of unfavorable records.
The loss to Leicester was the Gunners ‘first home loss to the Foxes since 1973. Wolves’ 2-1 victory was a first at Arsenal since 1979 and Burnley also walked away from the North London red half with three points for the first time since 1974 – a game that also marked a fourth straight loss at home, something that hadn’t happened in 61 years.
It was another disappointing night in the Emirates for Arsenal
Image credit: Getty Images
Of course, Arteta could rightly point out the lack of supporters at the stadium – something rivals Manchester United and Liverpool might also argue after their indifferent home records – so the fans’ return this season should have given a boost. welcome.
This is not the case.
The Arsenal boss is a divisive figure among the fan base and, while his defenders will say he is still rebuilding himself and making the transition, critics will point out that almost two years after the start of his term, there is still no clear idea. of what he’s trying to do.
Aside from the home failures, it’s worth pointing out that on the road things haven’t been much better with just one win and one goal in four games as they languish in 12th place in the league.
Football itself is uninspiring, bland and both drains the energy of supporters while also motivating rivals, which is demonstrated by the fact that playing at home is hardly an advantage. Something that will be of huge concern in the future.
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