The day we had all been dreading came to fruition this summer when our club captain Declan Rice joined London rivals Arsenal for £105 million. A lot of fans weren’t pleased with Rice’s decision and understandably, felt slightly betrayed by his decision to join a London rival when the option of Manchester City was on the table.
But for me, I completely understand why Declan has joined the Gunners. He will be the crown jewel of this young, exciting team led by Mikel Arteta and I‘m almost convinced that he will be captaining them within a few years.
Playing in the Champions League is an obvious pulling factor but as much as we don’t like to admit it, they are a bigger club. If I was in his position, removing the obvious fact that I’m a West Ham fan, I would have probably done the same thing.
It was pretty obvious to me for a long time that Rice was leaving this summer and for the vast majority of the season I didn’t really mind his proposed move to Arsenal; just as long as he didn’t rejoin Chelsea. But as the transfer window drew closer and his move to North London creeped nearer, there was a reason I rapidly began to detest the transfer.
There are lots of fan bases that divide opinion. You have the classic, arrogant and self-entitled supporters of the big six which Manchester United and Liverpool fans all fall into. Tottenham fans are just deluded, and I’ve always found some Aston Villa supporters to be quite annoying with the consistent talk of 1982. But Arsenal fans have been irritating beyond belief on social media.
A proportion of the fanbase has always had that sense of entitlement and lack of class but you would think that after being widely regarded as a banter club for the last five years, that they would have learned some tact. Last year was the first time in the best part of a decade where the Gunners have actually looked like they could win the League. It’s their first time back in the Champions League since 2016, and all of a sudden they’ve come out of hiding and are acting like top dogs again.
It’s Ironic considering they bottled their best chance of a league title at the mighty bowl and remained trophyless. In the build up to the Rice transfer, they acted like it was a certainty that the 24-year-old was joining and became obsessive. Again, ironic considering this is the same fanbase that claimed Rice wasn’t fit to tie Thomas Partey or Granit Xhaka’s boots.
The gloating that took place once the deal was confirmed was pathetic in all honesty. The “Just sold your star, to Mikel Arteta” clip was admittedly funny but also pretty embarrassing considering how Arsenal fans view themselves as an elite club.
It’s a hat-trick of irony as Arsenal have a history for selling on their star players who have left for bigger and better things. Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabrigas, Ashley Cole and Alexis Sanchez, all left the Gunners to win trophies.
I think the thing that irritates West Ham fans the most about this move is that we all know how fickle Arsenal fans are and to put it quite blankly, they don’t deserve Declan in the slightest. Rice made his debut against an MLS All-Stars side and performed well. He then made his second appearance against Manchester United in which Arteta’s side were well beaten 0-2 and there were fans turning against him.
Arsenal Twitter was filled with comments stating West Ham had ‘robbed’ them and that his performance ‘wasn’t good enough’ considering his price tag. I know they’re fickle but two games? Come on. I never really cared about Arsenal, I’ve always considered it a derby but they were the London side that didn’t really bother me. Tottenham and Chelsea are who I consider West Ham’s biggest rivals, excluding Millwall.
That has all changed now. Nothing would make me happier than for us to beat them in front of a packed-out London Stadium or better yet, if they were to fall down to the Europa League and we were to knock them out. Victory would be sweet.