Arsenal fans may have begun the week enjoying a laugh at the expense of their Spurs counterparts, who were given a dressing down by Andre Villas-Boas. But now Andrey Arshavin has shined the spotlight in their direction.
The much-maligned Russian, who spent four inconsistent years at Arsenal, claims the Emirates Stadium crowd gave no support to the players, contributing to their ongoing trophy drought.
Chris Richards of the Daily Mirror provides the quotes:
It felt like the crowd was at the theatre - good seats, expensive tickets and they wanted to see a show, not to support the team.
It was like there was no advantage in playing at home.
Many of the players - the leaders that were left from the club's time at Highbury - often complained that the atmosphere in the stands was so bad.
Arshavin’s time at Arsenal has to be considered a disappointment, having arrived for a club-record fee, according to Dominic Fifield’s Guardian report.
He produced some sparkling performances early in his time in North London, not least the four-goal blitz against Liverpool at Anfield, but too often he appeared lazy and disinterested from the left side of Arsenal’s attack.
Arshavin netted 16 goals during his first 37 Premier League starts for the Gunners, per ESPN FC, but that record suffered badly in the latter part of his stay, netting one league strike during his final two campaigns.
However, the claim that Arsenal fans did not help the team aligns itself with plenty of previous criticism of the club’s supporters. Arsenal’s old ground, Highbury, used to be dubbed the “Library” by rival fans, while Manchester City’s Samir Nasri attacked the Emirates Stadium atmosphere upon his departure.
Nasri said in Aug. 2011, per Daniel Taylor of the Guardian:
The City supporters are really passionate and it reminds me of [playing for] Marseille. Arsenal have good fans but they are not that passionate since they moved from Highbury to the Emirates. The crowd at City are amazing and that's what you want as a player – a good atmosphere.
Arshavin’s latest comments carry a similar insinuation to that of Roy Keane, which was aimed at Manchester United fans in Nov. 2000. Keane’s famous “prawn sandwich” rant suggested some supporters only attended the match for the occasion, rather than with the intention of getting behind their team.
The challenge has now been laid down to both Tottenham and Arsenal to erase the current portrayal of London fans, which paints them as lacking passion.
Villas-Boas recently slammed the White Hart Lane crowd—per Sky Sports—and quickly got a response in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup win over Hull.
Arsene Wenger will now hope Arshavin’s words have a similar influence on the Arsenal public ahead of their crunch clash with Liverpool this weekend.