In praise of the tremendous backing for Mikel Arteta's Gunners shown by loyal Arsenal supporters this season as North London derby looms

Layth Yousif praises loyal Gooners near and far for the outstanding support they've shown to Mikel Arteta's Arsenal team this season

In praise of the tremendous backing for Mikel Arteta's Gunners shown by loyal Arsenal supporters this season as North London derby looms

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Whatever happens in the North London derby on Thursday evening, one of the most satisfying things to experience this season has been the solidarity between loyal, genuine Arsenal supporters and the team throughout the whole campaign.

To savour loud, loyal and unstinting support at the Emirates and of course away from home has been so heartening. Not least because it reveals what true Arsenal supporters are all about. 

The club has some of the most ardent fans in the world, let alone the country.

And let’s not forget the club’s away following sells out every single game, and they will be out in force in N17 on Thursday evening, cheering on their team once again, despite, no doubt the ‘hassle’ that will occur outside the away end.

It’s been great to see a passionate Emirates crowd back the team from the first minute to the last throughout this season, a complete change from the unfair reputation handed to them by a selection of grotesque internet caricatures generating fake hysteria in exchange for cash. 

Not to mention idiots on social media who proclaimed that they would support another team if the results continued to be poor, following those three defeats on the bounce back in August.

My message to those people is this: You can change your job, where you live, your partner even, but you cannot change your football team. 

To do such an abhorrent thing is to instantly and forever disqualify you from being classed as a football fan. Because genuine football fans are for life. They know they’re in for the long haul. It’s what they do. It’s what they’re about. To change your team is as traitorous as it is laughable.

Equally, to those who said they wanted Arsenal to lose to Norwich back in September so that Mikel Arteta would be sacked – I really hope you did find another team, because you’re not welcome here.

I want my team to win every match they ever play, from the U9s and every representative age group right up to the first team, with the same applying to all the women’s teams and anyone else lucky enough to wear the badge, including the club’s brilliant amputee team. 

To hope for a defeat is as wrong as it is counterintuitive. 

What a strange ‘supporter’ you would be if you wanted your team to lose against Spurs. Memo to those people: The clue is in the question. Supporters support. It’s what they do. 

It’s also been good to see a shift from the negative stereotypes propagated by certain platforms. It’s tired, it’s lazy and it’s cliched. 

And for those saying certain teams have louder atmospheres, well, they pay far less than the total's most Arsenal supporters have to fork out through the price of their annual season ticket. 

Devoted Gooners show their loyalty through their wallets as much as their vocal chords, which in these troubled times is no mean feat.

Arsenal supporters are as steadfast as any, full of rich terrace humour laced with wit and irony, not angry, inarticulate and tedious types whose knowledge of the club is as poor as their vocabulary. 

No wonder many sang: ‘We’re staying up’ after the victory against Norwich all those months ago, laughing at ourselves as much as anything. Because real fans are also self-deprecating. Not the hideous loudmouths you see on internet television. 

No wonder I am continually humbled by the incredibly warm backing I receive from so many on behalf of the whole team at the Gooner Fanzine, when I sell copies outside the Emirates on a matchday.

People aren't stupid. They know what true supporters are about. Because the Gooner Fanzine represents them. Not fakes and frauds.

Earlier this season I was interviewed by a journalist from L’Equipe, the daily French national sports newspaper about a wider piece on the club this week and I tried to underline the fact that the club had staunch, intelligent, informed supporters. 

I have been delighted as much as impressed by Arteta’s Arsenal continuing to build on such a talented young squad.

One thing is for certain, however, win, lose or draw loyal at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road on Thursday, genuine Arsenal supporters whether they’re at the game – or watching thousands of miles away - will continue to support their club through thick and thin.

It’s what we do. 

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