Arsenal fans ambivalent despite

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The promise had come from Ivan Gazidis. Arsène Wenger’s final game at the Emirates Stadium, the chief executive thundered, would feature “a send-off that the world will take notice of”. That is for later – 6 May against Burnley, to be precise. But what of the manager’s third last home match and, more importantly, the first since the announcement on Friday that he would walk away from Arsenal at the end of the season?

The hope and, indeed, the expectation had been for an outpouring of affection to mirror that seen from within the game and across social media since the bombshell was dropped. The idea from the club was also that the players would be galvanised for one final push – primarily to see them win the Europa League and salvage the season. They are back here on Thursday night for the first leg of the semi-final against Atlético Madrid – an occasion that Gazidis believes will be “electric”.
Yet this was a curious afternoon, marked by much of the ambivalence and frustration that has characterised the season, even if Arsenal cut loose towards the end to win and win big. The scoreline flattered them.
One of the many reasons that the Arsenal higher‑ups have been spooked into parting with Wenger has been the low turnouts in recent home Premier League fixtures. Season-ticket renewals have been down. An apathy has run through sections of the fan-base.
But the anticipated return of the disgruntled on sentimental grounds did not happen. Once again, the stadium was pockmarked by empty seats. It will doubtless be a different story for the visit of Atlético and, surely, Burnley but could Wenger’s goodbye not have stretched from two to three games?
A loud chorus of “One Arsène Wenger” rang out in the 90th minute – when Arsenal were 4-1 up – but it was noticeable that the home crowd sang his name on less than a handful of other occasions. None of the chants were sustained. It was a long way from being an appreciation of what Wenger has put into the club over nearly 22 years.
There remained an undercurrent of boredom, the sense of drift, which is another LaAdrian Waddle Youth jersey reason why Wenger has reached the end of the line, although it should be Dominic Moore Authentic Jersey noted that Arsenal’s Premier League season was over some time ago.
To Wenger, it was business as usual and he set the tone in the opening line of his programme notes with a classic of the understatement genre. “I’m sure you are all aware that …” he wrote, by way of introducing his looming exit.
He devoted another short paragraph to it before getting back to the only thing that matters to him – a discussion of the football.
The feeling around the club has changed since the confirmation of Wenger’s departure. Over the turbulence of the recent past, it has been rare to run into much pro-Wenger material from the fans but when they were asked by the club via Twitter on Friday for their memories of him, the messages were exclusively positive. Twitter can sometimes feel like a sewer. Not here. There were many touching tributes.
Wenger had strode off the team bus at a little after midday to a roar from a group of 30 or so fans who had access to that part of the stadium – this never happens – and when he took his seat before kick-off, he heard applause from those behind him and a brief chant of his name. He gave a cheery wave. It had to T.J. McDonald Authentic Jersey be said that neither the applause nor the chant went round the ground.


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