Is there a more dislikable team than the current Arsenal side?

Whether it is Arteta's histrionics on the touchline or their entitled fans, they are infuriating

Issa Diop (WHU) and Declan Rice (WHU) at the Arsenal v West Ham United EPL match, at the Emirates Stadium, London, UK on 11th December, 2021.

In an alternate universe, this article could’ve been featured in ‘The Gooner’ Arsenal’s number one fanzine. A son of an Arsenal-supporting mother and a West Ham-supporting father, my footballing background could’ve been very different.

Alas, my father’s mother who lived a stone’s throw from Upton Park stuck me in a West Ham baby grow and unconsciously from there my footballing journey began. Another baby Hammer was signed up for a lifetime of ups and downs.

So, my dislike of Arsenal hasn’t always existed, indeed, growing up I have often stated I had a soft spot for the North Londoners, after all, it would only be fair to mother. Recently though, since Arteta has taken over at the Emirates, that soft spot has turned somewhat sour.

Arteta has brought recent success to the Gunners, with his side recently sitting pretty on top of the Premier League table, ahead of Manchester City, who keep slipping up when their opportunity to topple the Londoners arises. This article was born from a WhatsApp message during the Citizens’ recent victory over the Gunners — it read: ‘Is there a more dislikable team in the Premier League than this Arsenal side?’  

Put simply in my mind — they are comfortably the most infuriating team in the League at present. Whether it is Arteta’s histrionics on the touchline, their entitled fans — who have historically brought embarrassment onto themselves on Arsenal Fan TV, or the current media love-in where apparently launching a ‘Prime Energy’ bottle at Kevin De Bruyne is deemed ‘harmless’.  

Imagine for a second that were West Ham fans doing that? We would’ve been vilified. My disdain for Arsenal and Arteta began last season during our visit to the Emirates.  

With us losing to a woeful refereeing decision, and the clock ticking, an Arsenal player laid stricken off the pitch, by the letter of the law that means play can continue. Arteta leaves his technical area, which is against the rules, and rolls his player back onto the pitch to ensure a lengthy momentum-sapping delay in play.

My blood was boiling. How on earth is that in the interest of the game? Football is supposed to be an entertaining sport and there is the Arsenal manager stopping the game unnecessarily.

No doubt the media thought it was fine though, after all, it is the darlings of the Premier League. Now let’s move on to their fanbase (sorry Mum — you’re alright), for those of you who watched the ‘All or Nothing — Arsenal’ documentary on Amazon Prime — spoiler alert: it was nothing that year at least.

Arsenal fans featured on the show all wanting Arteta out with the club sitting in the top seven, as Arsenal deserve to be in the top four. That is the level of entitlement we are dealing with. Fast-forward a couple of years and, suddenly, he is being labelled as a ‘cult hero’ on a BBC Sport feature.  

I know football fans are fickle, but blimey. It is almost as if the Spaniard needed time to build his team and set out his message. There is no such thing as instant success in football. Furthermore, remember when, according to Arsenal fans, Declan Rice wasn’t fit to tie Thomas Partey or Granit Xhaka’s boots?

Well, if recent rumours are to be believed, our skipper may well be set to join the Gunners in the summer. Another nail in my dislike of Arsenal’s coffin.  The club tapping up the captain of a Premier League club to secure his services; all the while, he is deemed ‘not good enough for the mighty Arsenal’ by their entitled fanbase.

I was hoping Declan would either go abroad or join Manchester City, who will make him an even better player than he already is. It would be so horrible to see him leave to go there, where if he doesn’t set the world alight immediately, the Arsenal ‘faithful’ will quickly turn on him.

Looking at the season as a whole this year, do Arsenal deserve to be top of the tree at present? Absolutely, and it pains me to say it. They have been terrific and Arteta really seems to be building something in North London.

However, I do think this year will be a season too early for them, I ultimately think Pep’s men will pip them to the post with another fixture between the two sides to come at the Etihad, which I suspect will prove to be the decider. With Rice at the Gunners and a few other transfers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arteta’s men challenging again next season, and if they can handle the demands of Champions League football and a title race, it wouldn’t shock me to see them lift the trophy in May 2024.

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