Firstly, let me introduce myself as the newest writer for Clock End Talk, happy to have the chance to get some opinions out there!
I want you to think back to the last time you genuinely enjoyed going to the Emirates. Genuinely. Not enjoyed a result, or a comeback, because you could look to recent hammerings of Liverpool and Manchester United either side of the summer in 2015 or the late, late Welbeck winner against Leicester in 2016. I mean when you genuinely enjoyed going to our “home” ground, Ashburton Grove, Emirates Stadium.
For me, it was February 26th, 2012. Arsenal were in a mess and Spurs came into the match 13 points clear of us. While the numerical gap is “only” four right now, it is a similar state of affairs. Spurs look like a team that want to challenge for top honours and we look worringly clueless. However, on that day, we turned around a two goal deficit into a 5-2 victory in what is still my favourite experience at the “bowl.” When Sagna and Van Persie scored before half time to get us level, I remember walking back from the toilets at half time and there was this sudden burst from the clock end. People were screaming, shouting, chanting. We genuinely believed we had them where we wanted them at 2-2 and that we’d go on and win.
The rest, as they say, is history. Tomas Rosicky scored the third before Theo managed to score the next two (despite doing his best to take a poor touch on the 4th). The atmosphere in the ground was the best I had ever heard, it was electrifying. We will need that kind of spirit on Saturday 18th November 2017. And it’s the one game I can rely on the fans to be 100% up for it.
For too long, the Emirates has been this sterile, corporate cathedral that also hosts the odd football match every now and then. Fans are discouraged from standing, while the idea of shouting and chanting at a 3pm game is often treated with surprise at best from 99% of the ground. Arsenal fans have their enthusiasm squashed before they enter the ground, with the tedious “Arsenal Football Club welcomes…” banner outside the away fans entrance.
The away fans go on to have the time of their lives in that corner of the Clock end, as our announcer extends a “warm and sporting welcome to the players, staff and fans of the opposition” while we endure a mellow atmosphere at best, and often the lack of enthusiasm passes through to our players, many of whom appear lacking of the heart and passion need to represent The Arsenal.
The Emirates, as you may or may not know, was inspired by the design of the Parc des princes (PSG) and the Stade de France, amongst others. While the Sade de France is a national team stadium, PSG are hardly known for their intimidating atmospheres. The Emirates was designed with Arsene Wenger’s ideals in mind, even down to the circular dressing rooms so nobody feels left out. I almost get the feeling Wenger enjoys the quiet. Its’s well known that he doesn’t like shouters in the dressing room, so there is every chance he’d prefer us to be sat for 90 minutes and politely applaud at what we like.
Some will say we are spoiled at the Emirates. We have a perfect view from every angle and a leather padded seat that we should enjoy. What I am asking from everyone in that pristine, spherical, sterile bowl on November 18th, is to not use those padded seats. Turn the bowl into the cauldron. Make it as loud and as uncomfortable for Tottenham Hotspur as possible. Don’t extend a warm and sporting welcome, as they don’t when we arrive at White Hart Lane and won’t at Wembley. Make it a place that should inspire people to play football, not make people shit scared of making a mistake. Make their players feel tiny and our players feel huge. If we do our bit, as I know we will, the players have no right not to respond and do their bit.
Pochettino has yet to lose to Arsenal in 3 years of Premier League football as a Spurs manager. That’s not good enough. So for 2 hours or so; forget Kroenke, Gazidis, Wenger (to a point), Keswick. Worry about what’s important, our football team. And maybe, just maybe, the Emirates will feel a bit more like the home we were promised.
Up the Arsenal.