Arsenal and United: Why We Enjoy Supporting The Underdogs

Conor DavisContributor IFebruary 5, 2011

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05:  Jason Puncheon of Blackpool celebrates after scoring his teams second goal with James Beattie during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Blackpool at Goodison Park on February 5, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

After seeing Arsenal throw away a four goal lead to Newcastle and Manchester United lose their unbeaten streak to bottom of the league Wolves, it got me thinking about how we all love to see a good upset every so often.

Although being an Arsenal fan, I couldn't bear to watch Newcastle come back, I'm fairly sure every other non-Arsenal fan loved witnessing the first comeback from a four goal deficit in the Premiership's history.

I doubt it was any different for those who watched the Wolves end their three game losing streak against the current league leaders Man United.

The Red Devils have recently been tipped to repeat the Gunners' unbeaten season from 03/04 but those hopes were put to an end by a resilient Wolves team who came back from 0-1 down to win 2-1.

These matches are great examples of how a neutral spectator tends to support the underdog.

So why do we love to support the underdogs?

The answer is fairly simple and obvious—it's because we don't expect them to stand a chance.

From my experience of watching football, I've always wanted the team that's least likely to win to pull out a result (provided they're not playing Arsenal of course).  I love to see a good team that thinks they can walk a game get shell-shocked by a so called mediocre opponent.

There's nothing like seeing a underrated team show great effort and fighting spirit to grind out a result.

Half of the fun in supporting the underdog is that they're so unlikely to win, but when they do, it's extremely satisfying.

This doesn't just apply to soccer.  It's present in nearly every sport, with unknown sportsmen constantly beating the best against the odds.

It's great to see that nobody is invincible and when teams, fighters or players get knocked off their thrones the results are often satisfying.

A prominent example of an underdog, outside of soccer, is Muhammad Ali.

Ali was pegged at 7/1 to beat Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight Championship in 1964. These are substantial odds for a two-horse race and yet Ali managed to overcome them and prove the bookies wrong.

Fortunately, these upsets have become quite common in the modern game.

There have been plenty of them this year as well as in previous years.

Blackpool's shocking win over Liverpool at Anfield comes to mind, a game in which the bookies had the Seasiders at 10/1 to win!

Another one that stands out is Rubin Kazan's win over Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Rubin Kazan was a relatively unknown team who managed to beat one of the best squads in the world on their home soil.

These admirable results from underdogs are great for the game.

They inspire other teams to give everything against the bigger clubs and are very interesting and enjoyable to watch.

They also force the best teams to take every match seriously and they are often punished if they underestimate their opposition.

With the title race getting more interesting with every passing week, I wouldn't be surprised if Arsenal and United are subjected to more upsets this year. 

The winners of the Premiership will be the team that can consistently put 100% into each game and drop points to as few weak teams as possible.