The 12th Man: Deluded Toxicity. 

The cycle continues. No, not that one you likely think I’m referencing. You know, that one where the transfer window starts of booming, only to be met in the final straight with despair and overwhelming disappointment. Whilst being a cycle that exists, this is not the cycle I am referring to. This cycle, the infamous cycle that plagues the pride, integrity and honour the Arsenal badge represents, is the cycle of the deluded Arsenal fan.

Optimism is a dangerous concept, leading to false hopes and perhaps inevitable disappointment. The deluded Arsenal fan however? Polar opposite, they prey on failure, leech on the first sign of trouble on the Gunners ship. Is the Arsenal ship currently plain sailing? Of course it isn’t, the ship has major holes in dire need of fixing. What the extreme, deluded Arsenal fan represents is one of the biggest holes plaguing this ship. The hole in the hull. 

Criticism is necessary in life. Acknowledging the faults in your armoury helps you better equip yourself against the rigours of life. This Arsenal team is full of deficiencies in the armoury. Lack of depth in midfield, inexperienced or below par defenders, contract dilemmas inexorably engulfing the club and all it represents. The ship of the Gunners is in danger in the storm of English football. It is the Arsenal fans who can help steer this ship to safety. Toxicity infiltrates the Emirates the first sign of lacklustre play or a subpar shot. Intelligence and physicality dictate the direction by which a game takes. Emotions dictate the speed of these turns. Take a look at the Leicester game, a goal behind with 10 minutes to go. A rare occasion, the Gunners faithful are raucous, bellowing the blissful syllables of the Arsenal name. What happens? The Gunners fight back, ruthlessly so, and claim an opening day victory in front of the mesmerised onlookers. 

You get the Emirates fired up and it’s a cauldron.

Then you head to social media….

Torrential abuse of the players, the manager, the tactics. You name it, the fans have abused it. As with anything, you should not take the minority as representative of the majority. The Arsenal dilemma transcends this trend. The abusers, the minority nonetheless, are ruthless, absorbing all the media attention, and with it, the attention of the players and the manager. I am aware, merely mentioning this topic I conform to the trend that is in dire need of removal. However, I’ll proceed regardless. One loss doesn’t not equate to eternal punishment in the dark realms of the premier league table, likewise, a win does not guarantee eternal success in the blessed heavens of the english football summit. What is need is logic and reason. There are problems at Arsenal, plain and simple. Problems that need discussion. Discussion needn’t turn to hostility and anger, who does this benefit? The early months of 2017 proved this point, the endless rage and sheer animosity directed at the players and manager was detrimental to the cause. At times, the fans have quite frankly been an embarrassment, epitomised at Selhurst Park, where Hector Bellerin was left embarrassed, standing like a lost puppy, pleading for the ball back from his own fans. A disgrace. This animosity has found itself steadily filter back into the minds of the Gunners faithful, but this time, in greater numbers than the prior minority. 

And then there’s the toxic minority…

Time is paramount. There is a week to decide the course of the Gunners ship. Rumours will link players away, seeking to steer the ship towards the inferno of hatred the deluded minority of fans have cultivated. Hate, anger and delusion, towards the manager, players, board and fellow fans only adds to the speed by which the ship approaches doomsday. You, the Arsenal fans, have a hand on the steering wheel, and with all the anger around the club, you must help steer the club away from the toxicity. 

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