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Worrying times for Arsenal as Gooners set to boycott West Brom game

As featured on NewsNow: Football news eNewsletter
 
 Sky TV must be wondering why they chose the Arsenal v West Brom game for live coverage given that armchair fans look just as likely as paying supporters to sit this one out. Given it follows the Liverpool Derby and Stoke v Spurs this week!

Arsenal fans are reportedly ready to stay away with the club putting tickets on general sale for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

That’s according to Richard Harvey of the Sun, who reported that this procedure has been taken due to “a lack of interest from regulars.” Dan King from the same outlet added the club fear around 20,000 fans will not turn up.

The Gunners face the Baggies on Thursday seeking to secure their spot in the top four of the Premier League; they’ll be just a point ahead of Manchester United in fourth place should the Red Devils beat Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.

According to David Hynter from the Guardian, 2,500 seats were available to club members on the official ticket exchange platform. There’s "a few hundred more" ready to be snapped up by the general public, too.

Hynter also added that while there may well be pockets of empty seats around the ground, the club report their attendances based on tickets sold, not bodies through the turnstiles.

While a Thursday night is far from ideal for supporters, and West Brom aren’t the most glamorous opposition, this is potentially a huge game for Arsenal. Fans are frustrated at a title challenge that has gradually deteriorated as the season has rumbled on, but now the club are fighting for the right to be involved in the Champions League next season.

As ESPN’s Tommy Smyth noted in the wake of the club’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday, the angst among the supporters is noticeable:

It even turned ugly during that match. According to John Cross of the Daily Mirror there were fans who told longstanding manager Arsene Wenger to “f--k off” as the team’s title chances went up in smoke. Once again it seems that when it comes to the crunch, this Arsenal side lack the ruthlessness to put t

What’s stirred even more emotion at the Emirates is the form of their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs are set to finish above Arsenal for the first time in 21 years, and given they’re just five points behind leaders Leicester City, they could still win the league.

The battle for fourth isn’t particularly appealing for Arsenal fans, as ESPN FC’s Miguel Delaney noted recently:

Anger will likely become apathy on Thursday according to these reports, and there are few sadder indictments of a manager than when supporters lose interest.

Arsenal supporters are often criticised for their penchant for leaving early and an inability to create an atmosphere at the Emirates. But they turn out in their droves every week and sell out the overwhelming majority of matches. The fact they’ve seemingly lost faith shouldn’t be used as another stick to beat them with; it’s up to the players and manager to turn things around.

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